Is it not ingrained into every individual the desire to make a difference in this world? It may not be the up front, standing in front of people with words that provoke action or illicit the emotions of being awed and inspired – although it may. It may be the person that finds great satisfaction knowing that because he or she is standing behind a drill press 10 hours a day, or sitting behind the wheel of a tractor or combine on a 400 acre farm or in a cubical crunching numbers or pounding out phone calls just has the pleasure knowing that what they are doing is making a difference in the world one task at a time. We were created to have purpose, drive and to know that what we do in this life has the purpose of making this world operate well.
Last week, I had the good pleasure of being on both ends of the spectrum. That is, I tried to be as faithful as one could be by standing in front of a team of football players (along with two others) and share with them the most important message that could possibly be told – the good news that God gave us a gift of eternal life if we accept Jesus as our Lord. Many received that message with open arms and willing hearts. But you know, even if they hadn’t God still would have given me the satisfaction in knowing that what we did made a difference because we were simply being faithful. It was a true pleasure just to be faithful to my heavenly Father. I will admit though that seeing results is rather uplifting to the inner spirits too.
Then to be able to speak to a group of men in Illinois at a State wide Men’s Retreat with people coming from as far north as Chicago and as far South as Ferguson, MS and share with them also the depths of scripture and hear from so many how moved they were also brought a good sense of satisfaction.
Next the tables were turned as I went further north to the place I still refer to as home. I was able to speak at the church where I grew up, from 5th grade on, and although I was speaking to them… it was only because they had already spoken to me. I stayed with long time friends Dan and JoAnne in their wonderful home and they fed me my favorite pizza and the worlds best fresh salsa. It was Dan though who took an interest in me as a teen and he spent so many hours at our house after he accepted Christ as a young adult. He was just with me and took me places and he just knew how to be a good friend. Next I went to church where through the door walked person after person who had built into my life as a young boy/man. It is humbling to say the least to watch those you so admire listen to the stories of how God has used me and is using me but to know they “know” the little kid I used to be. They know my faults and mishaps as a young person. They are my Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders. They are the ones I wanted to emulate and be like when I grew up.
Making a difference is the thing God has created us to do. Make it a practice to see who is in your sphere of influence and who you have the ability to make a difference in their lives. Also though, look around and take inventory of who is having an influence upon you. If you are like me, you might desire to slip a little “thank you” to them and let them know of the difference they are making in this world and most importantly, you.
After travelling to Geneseo Illinois yesterday, I now prepare to speak at the two places that have been most influential in my life, especially as a teenager. God use the people of Faith Baptist Church, my home church from 5th grade through high school, to befriend me, teach into me, encourage me and help me grow into the man I am today. He also used another place to mold me and that place was Camp Manitoumi. Today I travel down to camp to speak from the same platform that I heard so many other Godly men speak from as a young person. I am humbled and privileged to return to the place of so many childhood and young adult memories, experiences and the place where God grabbed my life and where I released everything I am and have to Him. I am truly looking forward to this short adventure and ask that God uses me in others lives that same way He used others in my life. Let’s roll!!
Well, so many have been praying for this week with the football team and the potential spiritual impact that would be made. This is the update and what God has been doing today and most specifically this evening.
We just finished evening chapel and after the stirring of the Spirit among so many last evening and having been a little nervous about if we had gone to far to fast, God has listened to the prayers of his people. I was able to tell the gospel from the beginning looking back to Genesis 3 and bringing it full circle with closure in the book of Romans and most specifically chapter 10. The Lord stirred in several hearts and minds and we praise the Lord for the six young men that followed us out of the chapel and after further explanation from Ralph Lewis, they were waiting with expectant hearts to give their lives to Jesus Christ. You have to know that we don’t do any emotional build up. There is no music. There is no yelling and hollering but rather just a flat out, straight up presentation of the gospel telling of the consequences of sin and the free gift of heaven. We just ask if any are willing to man up and make the call and stand in front of their peers. Praise the Lord for the six that made a public profession of faith and please continue to pray. Please pray for these men but also pray for others whose curiosity has been peeked and for other conversations that took place, are taking place and will be taking place in the future that others would also have a sincere desire to give their lives to Christ also. God bless from Scioto Hill and we head home late tomorrow morning. As they say down here; “To God be the Glory!”
“The Buzz” is the popper words used to describe last evening and into today. After I finished posting on the blog last night, one young man who was rather agitated with some of the things we spoke about last evening came walking through the door (after he was to be in his cabin). I asked him to pull up a seat and said it was rather obvious I had said something that did not sit well with him and I wondered what it was. Without going into detailed explanation here, let’s just say it was a God moment that we ran into each other. While he has not given his life to the Lord and in fact is a long way from that point, he apologized to me for his actions and attitude. With our culture in America today, many believe some things we say seem racist or come from a heart that desires to divide. When they find that we actually care about them, there is a confusion that takes place because they have to process it. To prove the point, one of the camp staff named Rebeckah pulled me aside after our chapel and said a young man come up to the chow window as if to get seconds. He said, “I’m really not here for seconds but I want to ask you a question. Why are you so nice to us?” Her answer was, “Because we care about you and desire the best for you.” He said that just didn’t make sense but he wanted to let them know he appreciated them being so nice.
You see, we have taken them from the surroundings and culture they know and things are being reworked in their minds. They have a lot to learn about football but they have a lot to learn about the realities of life and they are truly learning about the truths of God’s Word. We heard from the head athletic trainer this morning that she was with her staff and two assistant coaches discussing for two hours what we covered last night in chapel. She spoke with one young man who confesses he has ‘opened his mind’ and no longer believes in religion or God or that there is one single way to life after death here on earth. (I spoke with him also last night).
So there is a buzz taking place in the Hills of Scioto. It is not locusts or bees or birds… it is of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of so many who have either very little understanding or extremely messed up understanding. Tonight we lay the gospel out plain and simple and would you be praying with us at about 6:30 to 7:00 pm and ask God that His Word would be sharper than a two edged sword and penetrate the hearts of these young men? The enemy is not happy and the battle is waging and it can almost be felt. Now we need the saints to pray. I will follow up and let you know of any happenings this evening…
All for One and One for all,
This post is for our prayer warriors.
The day was the typical grueling football camp type of day with hard and torturous practices, team meetings, etc… until this evening. After breakfast and supper we have the opportunity to speak to the entire team and staff about spiritual things. This evening the lid came off! After a mouth watering and incredible steak dinner with mashed potato’s, sweet corn on the cob and delicious banana cake, it was time for evening chapel. I had a complete message to give but the Holy Spirit took it another direction and rocked the house. I asked a question right off the bat, “What is God’s mission?” After a little discussion a hand was raised with a question. While answering that question two more hands popped up with other questions. It ended up being an open Q and A time for roughly 45 minutes and I am supposed to have 15 – 20 minutes. We covered questions of Lucifer being kicked out of heaven and what Satan is allowed to do today, to what sin is it that keeps a person from heaven, to what race was Jesus (we discovered many believe Jesus was black), to what does God look like, to what does it mean to be created in the image of God, to how to confess sin, to what is the difference between eternal and everlasting… and the list goes on.
There were some answers given this evening that have really shaken a good number of the guys and what they have been taught in the past and when confronted with the truth of scripture, well let’s just say people handle it different. Some might be upset. Others quiet but contemplating. Others came up right away with followup questions. Some were right on board but nearly everyone is thinking about various things spoken about this evening. In fact one offensive linemen came up to me and asked this question, “Is God fair? If He is why is it people with my color skin always seem to get the raw end of the deal?” That is a legitimate question and he was looking for a legitimate answer. How would you answer this question and how would you infuse the gospel into your answer?
Would you please pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit their would be a spiritual awakening with these precious young men? They are lovely in every way and this morning after taking one young man who lives in Cincinnati to be weighed, because a scale that weighs a 537 lbs person can only be found on a scale to weigh cattle down in these parts, this young man of 21 years of age said to me in the sweetest manner, “I have never heard anything about what you are talking about. Now who is this man named Jesus?”
What an opportunity God has given us indeed. Please pray for our time here as the gospel will be laid out plain and simple tomorrow evening and the young men will be given and opportunity to respond. Will you pray?
CSU @ SH Day2 ‘15
Day one ended with the foundation of the gospel being shared. The foundation is that the Bible itself is foundational, authoritative and inspired (God breathed). Then it was break out for the players and each of them going with their assigned coaches for position meetings. I am still amazed and the amount of work it takes for every minute detail that has to be covered. After meetings it was back to the cabins and get rest for the anticipation of the dreaded coming day.
Day two began at 5:15 am with the coaches rolling out of bed with raised voices psyching each other up as they had to be on the players to be in the best shape of their lives. Ralph drove them to the upper field in the complete dark so they could set up and be ready. The players showed up early to stretch and get their bodies warmed up for the strain that was about to begin. Next Coach Harper (we call his Sargent) blew his whistle and called the guys to attention… it was about to begin. He shared with them that he hoped they came in shape because it is his responsibility to make sure this team is in better shape than any other team in the country, and he meant it. The running, sprinting, running, sprinting, running and sprinting began. Someone threw up which brought a smile to his face as he leaned over and, as if to comfort him said, “That’s it. Let it all out.”
Immediately following morning practice came breakfast. The atmosphere is much more subdued and smelly than the previous evening’s supper but the food is superb and plenteous. If you ever wondered about Scioto Hills Camp food, it is second to none and no one goes away hungry. This was our first morning to speak with the guys to set the tone for the thoughts of the day. Ralph Lewis spoke this morning and he took the guys to the story of Gideon and what God did to show His power through very few men to accomplish His good will, purpose and mission.
Shortly after lunch, a young man learned his best friend had been killed. He is devastated as you can imagine and I was able to spend a good deal of time with him. The team is rallying around him but I might ask that you would pray that God would use even this to bring honor and glory to Himself at this time. This young man’s name is Murphy.
Please read the next post… Day 2 extended