Do Not Be Dismayed

This week I have been reminded of the importance of putting on the whole armor of God daily. You can bet that if you’re working anywhere close to the front lines of ministry that you will battle the enemy, who seeks to silence you, discourage you, and thwart your efforts on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Do not be dismayed.

The Apostle Paul gave the Christians worshipping in Ephesus some very sound sage advice, explaining to them to be prepared for combat not only against things seen, but also things unseen. Paul understood that powerful forces existed then, as they do now, desiring to derail our ministry and destroy our witness as we seek to share the love of Jesus with a hurting and ailing world.

Fortunately, our power and strength does not rest in ourselves, but in the Almighty God we serve. Therefore, we can go forward with confidence that God is with us, fighting on our behalf, clearing the path of obstacles attempting to be roadblocks as we go about doing the work He has called us to do.

How can I pray for you?

Blessings.

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“When the enemy comes with shame and blame, tell him to go measure the distance from east to west and get back to you.”-Louie Giglio

The Whole Armor of God

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we  are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)

 

Ministering Through Writing: The World Needs to Hear Your Voice

I moderate an online critique group, the Christian Writers Circle, on Scribophile. Certainly, it is not a ministry outlet I expected when I left the private sector to work in ministry. As it turns out, God has had a different plan for ministry than I personally had envisioned. Today, I recognize that for me, writing is ministry, just as much as being a worship musician is.

Part of my writing ministry is this blog, The Devotional Guy. Since launching it at the end of 2013, I’ve seen the blog grow, albeit slowly. Ministry isn’t quick. Often, individuals minister without fully seeing the fruit of their efforts. Noah built an ark. None of his neighbors appear to have been converted by his monumental exercise in faith. Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, not only didn’t have any converts, he made people angry by preaching the truth. They wanted to silence him in a very permanent way (if you know what I mean). Yet, he wrote prolifically and so his voice continues to be heard in the generations that came long after his. The results of God at work aren’t always as clear and obvious as people (like me) want them to be. Yet, we press on faithfully.

You may have recently decided to use your writing talent to share the Gospel, to inspire people, and to do good things for the advancement of the Kingdom. You quickly learn that writing is often a solitary endeavor. Know that you are never alone. There are others–you just have to find and seek them out–who share your passion for blogging and writing to inspire.

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This past week, rummaging through the clearance shelves at my local Half-Price Books, I ran across the book “Writing to Inspire.” It looks like an old book. The print is reminiscent of the early word processor fonts that we thought were so impressive when they first hit the scene. Yes, kids, word processors were considered advanced technology once upon a time. Crazy. The cover is faded and slightly tattered. Published in 1982. Yikes! I feel as old as the book looks now.

“Writing to Inspire” is an anthology edited by William Gentz featuring articles written by several faith writers of a generation past. In the 1980s, the religious market for writing was exploding. The book offers insights on how to get published and find niche markets geared for Christian writers. Several of the articles offer insights into writing better and producing marketable, readable stories, poems, articles and scripts for Christian television and film. It’s a good book highlighting an expansive subject.

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Knowing that others came before us helps us. The Bible, supernaturally inspired by God, is written by human hands. Jeremiah had a friend, Baruch, who served as his scribe and is believed to have helped Jeremiah with writing the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and the Book of Kings (1 Kings and 2 Kings).

2 Timothy 3:16-17(NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So, you see, writing has played a significant role throughout the history of faith and has proven to be an instrumental ministry to believers through the ages. Blogging is simply a digital form of writing, that can be used to advance God’s kingdom and bring Him praise and glory in the process. Do not be discouraged my faith-writing friend; God promises us that He is with us wherever we go.

Keep writing and blogging! 

The world needs to hear your voice. 

 

Images courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.

Ministering to the Men at the Union Gospel Mission

Since 2011, I have had the privilege of leading a team of volunteers who venture down to the Union Gospel Mission Dallas to conduct 4th Friday Chapel and minister to the homeless men temporarily residing at the Downtown Dallas shelter. Some of the names and faces have changed over time. Others have remained steadfastly the same. This is true on both sides of the pulpit. Of the 300 or so men who come to the shelter located at 3211 Irving Boulevard, some have been there every single time since my wife Terri and I started going there to minister to them. Others have graduated, gotten back on their feet. Some have strayed, leaving the structure of the shelter to return to life on the streets.

I read an article the other day that proclaimed that the universal consensus is that homelessness can be alleviated if we will simply provide more affordable housing. I certainly don’t doubt that this is part of the solution. But I don’t believe that is all of the answer. Almost all of the men had a place to call home once. That tells me there’s more to the story then we might like to think or than we’re ready to hear.

Indeed, experience has taught me that homelessness is a multifaceted problem. The men need jobs and better skills, both work-related and lifestyle focused. While some might recoil at this thought, it is true that there is a spiritual component that must be addressed in addition to dealing with the physical challenges that these men face. You see, many of these men have had their spirit broken. Others, need guidance in how to live among others. Some genuinely don’t know right from wrong; at least not anymore.

There exists a clear physical deficit that we must address. We should feed their bellies. We must train their hands and educate their minds. Indeed, we have to develop more affordable housing. But, in the process of meeting their real physical needs, we cannot starve their souls. We must not fail to speak to their hearts.

These men need to have their hope restored and their faith rebuilt. They need to know that despite the current circumstances that they find themselves in, God has not forgotten nor forsaken them. While they may feel unlovable, they need to hear that God does indeed love them. And that’s the message we try to share with them.

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:37-40 (The Message)

Going down to the mission every 4th Friday, our ministry team is able to share the love of God with these men in a real and tangible way. We have a time of worship, singing songs of faith and praise. We share a message of hope from the Word of God, and we stand with them in prayer, crying out to the Lord alongside them, lifting up their dreams and laying down their burdens. That we would do this may come as a shock to people. You might read this and wonder how what we’re doing is helping these men recover from their fall from grace. And that’s ok…we have seen the evidence confirming that it is.

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We show these men, considered to be the last and least, often lonely, many lost, that they are worth loving and that they have value. Yes, their lives matter. Yes, their lives have value. Yes, life can be better than the present situation they find themselves in. Yes, with the help of others, they can rise above their current circumstances.

I am proud of the men and women who serve on our team, including my wife Terri, who I have witnessed grow in her ability to meet these men where they are and show them the love of Christ in her glowing smile and kind words.

I am thankful for our ministry partners, Matt and Laurie, Ed C., Michael G., and Bill and Ann. Their faithfulness and devotion to this ministry is remarkable and noteworthy.

It’s been said that there is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will. I’m glad He has us here, in the palms of His hands, using us for His praise and glory. That He would use a broken vessel like me seems truly unbelievable, if I’m honest about it.  Yet, He does. Thankfully.

Blessings.