Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Are SmartPhones producing Stupid People?

         Recently I have gotten into a grove of eating right and exercising more. I am committed to walking 5 miles a day and riding my bicycle at least once a week. It's been over a month now that I have done this and I've made some interesting observations of myself and others and I guess the culture as a whole. 

 Observation #1 Do I really need to take my cellphone with me everywhere I go? I tend to take it everywhere just in case.  I don't need to talk to others, text them or even use a fancy gps app, but yet my habit is "just in case" someone calls or I need others or they need me I better take it along. I believe I'm addicted! Are you? 

  Observation #2. Am I that important that I need to be accessed on my smartphone all day long?  Answer: NO.  The more accessible I am to others and they are to me the less I seem to get done anyway and the more distracted I can get from life in front of me.  

Observation #3 People use their smartphones everywhere like in Grocery stores, in restaurants, at airports and unfortunately while driving in their cars. Do you?  For those who say no, then good for you, but for the majority of Americans that is not the case. 

Other Examples:  A week ago I was in a high school speaking to the principal when I observed an interesting encounter. An 18 yr old girl who had her cellphone taken away during class ( because using it is forbidden )  choose to have her cellphone back and drop out of school verses having her relative pick up her smartphone after school or the next day.  I guess in her world everything precious revolved around that phone. She weighed out the value between immediate cellphone returned or finishing high school.  The cellphone won her heart over finishing her senior year and graduating. Which was smarter, the phone or the girl? 

A week earlier when I was landing on the runway in Boston I observed an entire plane of people getting out there phones to make calls. It was as if all the addicts at once were pulling out their phones and taking a hit or shot to get their fix. I know I'm not the only one who has a smartphone issue, but I am glad I am starting to see more then ever all it's negative impact on the culture and my own life. 

I read this article in the Wall Street journal the other day and here is one quote. " More than 80 percent of Americans use smart phones, but apparently they compromise our sleep, reduce our social awareness, and make us stupid."  I must admit I agree with that quote. I remember when I use to memorize more numbers and things, but with a Smartphone it can remember it for me which in turn causes me to have to do less with my own smart brain. 

For years I have tried to get my wife to have a cellphone. She has used them on occasion, but she has not had one and is rarely accessible by one. I do believe she is smarter for it in more ways then I ever realized.  She reads more, she is more focused, she is less distracted and she is accessible by our home phone or through other people in our family.  She's a Smartwife while I the husband posses the smartphone.  

Drive thru's now have posted signs that read like this "do not use cellphones while in the drive thru". As well as bank lobby's also have the same signs among other places. Using your cellphone in public places slows the lines down and people talk on them instead of being focused on ordering food, banking, etc. If you really think about it, using a cellphone is usually rude in public places and it's the result of trying to do multiple things at the same time. 

About 9 years ago before the smartphone revolution stormed our culture I was at a luncheon with some businessmen. One of them mentioned that when 12 year olds had cellphone he realized it was time to dump his. I did not get it then, but I get it now. Businessmen get more done with less distractions and with more focus. So when more people have access to calling more people then a business persons phone was typically gonna ring more. Several smart friends I've known over the years have disciplined themselves to realize they could do more if they could be accessed less. Some changed their habits and others dumped the phones to a emergency phone only for the glove box. 

     Our culture and the American people have come to expect immediate results in everything and that also includes access to each other's lives.  But there was a day when we would leave a message and maybe wait a day or two or longer to get a return call. 

Just because one device can do it all from knowing the weather to a instant flashlight does not mean everyone needs one. Maybe if we dumped the smartphones we would all spend more time with the people around us, get more done and be more focused and be smarter for it. 

Does the average smartphone user put limits on themselves and their phones? Probably not!  People now think less and focus less. While our phones are getting smarter,  the people are being dummied down. Have you ever walked into a business to buy something or to get served only to discover the employee was on their personal cellphone texting or starring at there smartphone with a lost in space glare? 

 I still have my smartphone, but I am coming to realize its time for me to be smarter about how and when I use it. I certainly do not want to be out witted by a stupid mindless device. Do You? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

1500 @ Your Door!

What do you do with 1500 people at your front door? 

"As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was". (Mark 1:29-34 NIV)

"The whole town gathered at the door." This sentence might sound like a figure of speech, but it's actually a fact. First we need to think about what happened in town before they got to the house and we need to ask ourselves what was the town like. In 2000 I was in that ancient town of Capernaum and it is right off the shore of the sea and now it's a tourist site of ruins. Back then however,  it was a small fishing village and estimates say it has a population of about 1500 people. 

     In our county in Florida there is a small town between county lines in the middle of nowhere as some folks say. It's rural, depressed in economy and  It has a store and a gas station and not a whole lot more then that. However it has about 1700 residents that call it home. When something happens in a small town of 1500 -1700 news of it travels fast. So when Mark's gospel says the whole town gathered at the door that must have been some sight to see.  

     When I was in a small African village this past Feb 2013 in Senegal West Africa I saw a small village show up for an outdoor movie.  What started off as maybe 50 people ended up well over 300 people. In just a few short hours news of something different or unexpected must have traveled fast. We had been digging a well all day and then news traveled that we were going to show a film that night.   

   There are several things about this historic encounter I enjoy about Jesus and his followers. First is they went to the Synagogue. This implies they had their priorities in line with God's concept of a day of rest and worship. The miracles did not start flowing in this village until the Sabbath day and and that evening after worship. This speaks to my spirit that we need a day of rest with God's people and when we rest and worship and listen to God's Word our faith to receive God's grace is quickened.  It was after the teaching of Jesus with His Authority of Scripture that we see one miracle after another.   The miracles went from Church to home and home to village. I presume the 1500 people were not in the synagogue on the Sabbath evening service. When I was in those ruins I would estimate enough room for maybe 200 maximum. 

      The fishing village of Capernaum had a kairos Day. The kingdom of God was at hand in the worship service, then the anointing of the moment flowed to the home of Simon and Andrew and by the time the rest of the town of 1500 heard about what happened at church they found our Savior and his disciples at home probably trying to have a nice relaxing meal.    

In this story I see how Jesus did not tell them to go away because he didn't eat dinner yet, but rather he began to minister grace, hope and mercy from the Father into as many lives as he could possible touch. And this 1500 at the door happened after sunset in the dark with maybe some good moonlight.   In this encounter I don't see the disciples praying and healing people with Jesus, but I envision them watching Jesus , observing and possibly being the crowd control folks as they (like the entire town)  were probably as bewildered with Jesus and the constant flow of miracles as anyone. So if 1500 people showed up with diseases and demons after dark for help I can only imagine it was a long night. The crowd eventually disappeared and Jesus seems to have gotten a little sleep. However, scripture tells us before Sunrise he slipped away alone to pray.  

What a day in Capernaum!! It stated in the outflow from the day of rest and worship and attracted the whole town to one door. 

After Jesus left that town I wonder how many were in synagogue the next Sabbath seeking God with a renewed appreciation of grace.  The greatest lesson I believe was likely for those disciples who witnessed something they later were to do themselves in years to come.  

The lesson for me is to go with the flow when God shows up. In summary I see an evening of worship on the beginning of a Friday night sabbath ( where a few unexpected things happened ) followed by a relaxed dinner in a home before some sleep. However, when arriving at the home for dinner someone is sick and grace flows again. Followed by a nice meal and fellowship before an unexpected knock at the door comes. After ministry at the door starts it just seems it never ended until maybe 4 or 5 hours later when the crowd drifts off to get some rest and Jesus finally crashes for maybe 3 or 4 hours.  Are we willing to let God redirect our plans like God redirected theirs? 1500 at the door is certainly a kairos moment of kingdom encounter that still speaks to hearts today including mine. 


Monday, October 21, 2013


Get Real
Get Aligned 
Get Going 

Our vision statement is simple, but it's packed with purpose, scripture and challenge. 6 words and  3 assignments! Starting with a spiritual encounter and ending with a sense of continuing commission.  Along the way to fulfilling any vision statement is what every truly born again believer will face and it's called resistance. Sometimes the resistance is within and other times the resistance is external, but indeed resistance. The book of James is filled with lessons on how to overcome those urges and walls of resistance that attempt to shut down the grace of God desiring to keep flowing through us to others. 

So let's unpack this short scripture to bring light to our daily lives.  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV).  The prior verses mention the desires, urges and challenges that can come up in our daily lives, but eventually James brings us to this verses of how to be an overcomer. The first word is key to the entire Word of God. Submit !!!!   Submission to God is always a formula for success. When Jonah resisted submission he ended up getting thrown overboard. When Saul resisted God's mighty move in the book of acts he was eventually struck down on the road to Damascus. Resisting God is not a good formula, but submitting to God is excellent advice. 

          When people are hooked on any addiction they are submitting to it and resisting God. When folks know what they ought to do and do it not, the scriptures reveal that to them it is sin. So the key to success always is submitting to God first and "with His power" then they are able to resist the devil and he will flee from us. Sometimes we get it backwards even though with good intent and then we still find we are powerless to overcome. If we resist first before submitting to God we may not be able to overcome, but the promise here today is submit and resist and then comes the fleeing of the devil. 

Keep submitted and you shall succeed. 

BlessinGet Real
Get Aligned 
Get Going 

Our vision statement is simple, but it's packed with purpose, scripture and challenge. 6 words and  3 assignments! Starting with a spiritual encounter and ending with a sense of continuing commission.  Along the way to fulfilling any vision statement is what every truly born again believer will face and it's called resistance. Sometimes the resistance is within and other times the resistance is external, but indeed resistance. The book of James is filled with lessons on how to overcome those urges and walls of resistance that attempt to shut down the grace of God desiring to flow through us to others. 

So let's unpack this short scripture to bring light to our daily lives.  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV).  The prior verses mention the desires, urges and challenges that can come up in our daily lives, but eventually James brings us to this verses of how to be an overcomer. The first word is key to the entire Word of God. Submit !!!!   Submission to God is always a formula for success. When Jonah resisted submission he ended up getting thrown overboard. When Saul resisted God's mighty move in the book of acts he was eventually struck down on the road to Damascus. Resisting God is not a good formula, but submitting to God is excellent advice. 

          When people are hooked on any addiction they resist God. When folks know what they ought to do and do it not, the scriptures reveal that to them it is sin. So the key to success always is submitting to God first and "with His power" then made available we can resist the devil and he will flee from us. Sometimes we get it backwards even though with good intent and then we still find we are powerless to overcome. If we resist first before submitting to God we may not be able to overcome, but the promise here today is submit and resist and then comes the fleeing of the devil. 

Keep submitted and you shall succeed. 

Blessings to you! Lgs to you! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I am a pastor and have been my entire married life in one role or another. 
I started in 1989 and now it is 2013. I started as a youth pastor in FL and now 
I am a senior Pastor in Florida. Things have changed. When I started Christians attended church services and functions as their regular routine to be with other believers, now if it fits into their agenda they will try to make it. When I started if there was a missionary, special guest or revival services people showed up excited, expecting , now you have to convince people why they should change their schedule for something beyond the regular services. When I started people wanted to pray and enjoyed praying; now very few will pray with others and hardly any tears are ever shed.
   When I started drug addicts were those who purchased them illegally from the drug dealers, now drug addicts are those hooked from their doctor’s prescriptions. When I started teenagers played outside, liked to go do stuff with the youth group and now if they have nothing better to do they might attend a youth function. When I started out
children and teens came with their parents, now grandparents try to bring their grandchildren if their parents will let them. When I started destroying your secular rock and roll records and cassettes was a sign of coming out of the world, not following the latest secular groups is considered the cool thing to do in the world.
      When I started people brought their bibles to church, now they leave them home. 
When I started people enjoyed small groups, now many avoid them. When I started
accountability meant letting someone know why you would not be at church, now accountabilty is none of your business. When I started sex outside of marriage was sin, now living with anyone is acceptable. When I started homosexuality was a shameful way to live, not it’s just another way to live. The culture has shifted, the church in American has 
declined but the Hope of Good News remains the same, but I am burdened.
I hope you identify more with how it was then how it is. If so, Praise the Lord, if not, then I'm burdened for you. I am burdened for our country, our culture and our churches.
I am burdened for our children, young parents and our communities. We need each other, we need to pray, we need we to repent and we need revival.
"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will healtheir land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A True Biblical Evangelist In Modern America

I was reading in my devotions one morning  when I came across this passage in  Luke 10:2-4 NIV. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

    A few weeks ago I meet brother Lawrence. I will spare you the details on how we meet, but we did and I have since  spent some time with him in the neighborhoods.  Money never come into play at all. Brother Lawrence calls himself a street preacher. I've yet to see him preach on the streets, but I've heard about it and I am amazed. He has told me many stories of him and Jesus in the streets as well. The actual preaching on the street aspect however is not the part that I see as the worker working in the harvest, but rather everything leading up to it.

      The first thing is that nobody is a stranger and he knows how to engage people quickly and as well seems to determine even faster if they are ripe for the harvest or not. He invites, inquires, challenges and connects. He is always looking for a person of peace that will welcome him and guide him to the local harvest field. He greets people for who he sees they will be in Christ and not how they are without Him.

    The second thing is that brother Lawrence knows where to find the harvest in a community or how to inquire where to find the harvest in a community. He does not look for the wealthy or the well to do, yet God can easily put them in his path as well. Brother Lawrence looks for the least of these in the area.

This evangelist has wisdom and is Spirit Led. Where he goes,  he is led by the  Lord as the Spirit works before him. After 20 plus years of ministry I've seen my fill of the typical self made evangelist who comes to preach to the church crowd , gets paid and moves on to the next church crowd. This evangelist is different and he actually  works in the fields with the church pastor or people and He trust His Father above to meet his needs as he travels along . Now  I know what a true biblical evangelist looks  like. He has no demands or expectations and is targeting lost people in a community verses those already professing Christ ( as weak as they might be).  I discovered  how few biblical evangelist there actual are out there in the highways and bushes of our communities.

       I see now that a traveling evangelist and a traveling revivalist are two completely different calls. What we really see today if at all are revivalist who travel to preach to the saints with occasional conversions of those who are mixed in with the saints.

   Lord grant us more brother Lawrence's in our days who go into the areas of our communities where most people have abandoned. Evangelist who preach the truth without a pulpit or microphone.

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Thanks be to God for the biblical evangelist.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The Joy of Lord is my Strength.

    It's been a good while since my entire family ( all 7 of us) went on a family vacation away.  Just a little over a month ago we took a week off to go to our oldest daughters college graduation and to move her home, but that did not have the feeling of a vacation even though it took a week off to go and return.  But this week is different.  It's been a plan in the making for many months to celebrate my moms 94th birthday off the coast of Maine. Had it not been for being an elected delegate for our General Church we would have been able to stay even longer in Maine then the 5 days planned before we need to leave to General Assembly.
         So here i am in a hotel room at 5 a.m. not able to sleep reflecting on family life vacations as a pastor while the rest of my family sleeps all around me. When we first did these kinds of trips they were all little ones, but now 4 of them are adult size with one of them flying home early to go back to work.  The days, months and years certainly do whisk by fast. Im so grateful we have unity and joy in our family. We have already laughed a lot on this trip and had one stop along the way of this 3500 hundred plus mile adventure. 
       In order to get away this time we had to have someone cover preaching in two different churches for me and for someone to do a funeral on my behalf in a few days while we are still in Maine. It takes a lot of preparation for us to leave town for this long and the Joy of serving The Lord helps us do that.

      Every time we prepare to leave we have to prepare the house and arrange for the feeding, caring of loving of 4 pets. This time it was 3 pets as our sons turtle winkie died the day before we left. We had to have a funeral in the back yard before we could leave. The Joy of The Lord helped us through those moments. 

      Before we could leave ALL the laundry has to be washed and dried before we can pack and go and like most trips the drier could not keep up and Becky asked me to take a few loads downtown to dry so we could leave on time. So at 6:30 am I am driving around looking for a Laundromat that is open. Again the Joy of The Lord is my strength. 

  Early that morning just two mornings ago I was sitting in the truck waiting on the laundry while preparing to read a devotional when a young girl at about 6:45 am rides up on a bicycle to ask me to borrow my phone to call her dad. A little hesitant to do such, but i agree and listen to the voice message left of a daughter asking her dad for help with money for her and her mom.   

        After she shared a little of her story she rides away on her bike and crosses the road when The Lord said help her.  So I yell the girls name from across the street just before she goes out of sight down the road. She returns and I offer her a job watching and doing my laundry while i take off for a few minutes.  When I return with a spiritual booklet and some money for her she helps me fold laundry as we talk about her life and challenges. I sense her need for a Savior and share the Gospel with her. By the time I need to leave she had prayed with me to trust In Jesus as her savior and was handed info on where she  could go to follow up with her new found faith along with some cash for her short seasoned job of laundry girl. The Joy of The Lord is my strength and as well this now this 21 year old young women has the Joy of the Lord  as she was looking for answers in a broken world of circumstances.  

       Vacations for me/us are never void of opportunity and challenges. But in the midst of it is all from the untimely death of a young turtle to the demands of the life and season of a local congregation and preparing to leave town,  the Joy of The Lord is our strength. 

I am blessed to have a great and fun family to love and do life with as we trust The Lord in the great adventure of the unexpected along the vacation journey to Maine and back. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Be A Dream Trader!

           People nearing mid-life often crash into some startling and unexpected observations. For instance, we all dreamed big dreams when we were younger. I did and I trust you did as well if you are over 50 and reading this. But as we move at a break-neck pace through our twenties, thirties, and forties, we eventually slam head on into the realization that “some” of our dreams will never be realized. 

     Eight years ago I dreamed of having our own home in hills of Virginia where we pastored. After many years of not being able to realize that dream I can see that God knew better than what I was dreaming. In was soon before we moved to Deland that the real estate industry crashed and we moved to Florida. Had we owned the “dream” then we might have regretted it around 2008-9.  God always knows best and has our best interests in mind even above our grand dreams.

However, not realizing our dreams throws some people into a mid-life crisis.  Some don’t make it that far with their aspirations, having already given them up somewhere along the way or not being able to accomplish them in there time.  Some run into conflict that makes them weary and they settle for less.  Still others make bold decisions to trade one dream in for another. 

That’s what Joseph did.  Talk about dreams!  He had some big ones.  At seventeen he dreamed his ten older brothers would bow down to him.  It’s enough he dreamed that dream.  What makes it worse is that he told his brothers about it.

The older brothers already had issues with the younger son.  Their father favored Joseph.  He had even given him a valuable, multi-colored coat.  That’s the modern-day equivalent of a parent of four teenagers giving one an iPhone and the other three a stack of quarters each for a pay phone (assuming they could find one on their travels).  The brothers banded together and tossed the dreamer in a ditch, eventually selling him into slavery at the first opportunity.   The next thing Joseph knew he was waking up in Egypt.

From there his life was a rollercoaster thrill ride.  One minute a slave.  The next in charge of an Egyptian official’s house.  The next in prison.  The next in charge of the prison.  Then he found himself in front of Pharaoh, called upon to interpret the leader’s dreams.  With God’s help he was able to warn Pharaoh he would have seven years of abundant crops that he should be put in storehouses in anticipation of seven years of famine.  Recognizing his wisdom, Pharaoh put Joseph second in command of all of Egypt.

And because of God’s personal involvement in his life, he was was able to save his family.  The same family that God was building into a nation.  Joseph was in position to bring his family to Egypt and give them the most fertile land to work.  And it was definitely fertile.  In the time they were there they were “fruitful and increased greatly” (Exodus 1:7).

Joseph could have lost his life getting caught up in the details of his life, chasing his dreams and desires like anyone of us could do.  Instead, he chose a better story.  God’s story!   

You can do the same.  If your life’s dream has stalled, look to God. If your dream now realized is not all you thought it would be, look to God. He can give you another dream.  A better one, not according to the world’s standard but God’s criteria.  Just like Joseph’s.  Then you’ll have a story to tell. Join us tomorrow at 10:30 at Delandnaz as we explore the life of Joseph from broken dreams to God’s best dreams. www.delandnaz,tv  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A nation fallen away from God

Whenever I think, "I've seen it all", it seems like I see more then what I could ever have imagined. When I became a born again believer in 1981 black was black and white was white. Right was right and wrong was wrong. But as I fast forward to today it's almost upside down. This week the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on why people of the same gender should be allowed to benefit from the commitment of holy matrimony. When I see the equal = sign all over the Internet among those who profess Christ I am shocked.

It is bad enough that the lost culture who does not even know about the power of the Gospel to save and sanctify has been so easily persuaded, but what does this foretell for those who associate and profess Christ? I refuse to digress here and defend what marriage is, because of what its obviously always has been, is and will be: (A permanent covenant between a man and a women instituted by God from the beginning.) If you don't see the simplicity of that institution I truly feel sorry for you. Oh how easily the prince and power of the air has deceived so many as he did Adam and Eve in the garden.

The concern I have today is the challenge this creates for the next generation. Lets just role play this out for a few generations. Imagine 20% of the general population being legally married to the same sex. Imagine how dysfunctional little children's lives and hearts will be? Imagine when men and women get bored with this level of sin? I mean how far away are we from legalizing other sins and abominations?

As I read and even debate with a few people it amazes me how easily the American mindset can be deceived and brainwashed, but it is more apparent in those who are in their 20's and under. This generation has grown up with gay TV stars, teachers in school, literature promoting two daddy's and so much more. This generation sees nothing wrong with immorality on every level. It's probably 20% of this generation that holds on to morals and values passed on, but what will the next generation look like?

If our nations last as it is another 15 years I will be shocked. Regardless of the laws of the land, it's the hearts of the people of the land that concern me most. The laws follow the hearts of the nation. The only hope in this country is the church of Jesus Christ. And even the church has been seduced to embrace so many hideous lies as well. We will either get a divine judgement or a great awakening soon, but I can't imagine that either can be very far away.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tourist or Servant?

When I came to Christ I sensed within a year a call to the ministry. Through my young 20's as I prepared for ministry I experienced a walk of faith through the American church model. In 1992 I took my first ever trip out of the country and went to Russia. God truly transformed me in more ways then I can even begin to express. Of many of those experienced I was apprehended by a police officer and detained for sharing the Gospel. Not the kind of experience one would use to encourage others they should go on a missions trip too.

Then in 1998 I went on another missions trip to Kenya, Africa. It was transforming in a completely different way. The culture, the climate, the people and of course the safari and gospel of transformation in my life and certainly in many other lives as well.

In the year 2000 I went on a Holy Land trip to Israel. This was not work and witness, but it was truly transformational. I will not soon forget that we were the only tourist in the city of Bethlehem the day after the Israeli military blew up a Palestine owner car in the streets. We were the ONLY ones touring in what felt like a ghost town that next day.

between 2006 and 2008 I went on two different trips to Jamaica and another one to minister among the Arizona Navajo Indians. In these trips (beyond constructions and work) we as well experienced cultural differences, the gospel transforming other lives and some other assortment of adventures. I recall when in Kingston, Jamaica we were on the roof of the church building enjoying the cool of the evening when a shot out started in the street below. Our team took cover and nobody truly knew what was going on. We never did see what happened and nobody got hurt among our team, but it sure was interesting.

In 2012 I went on another trip to Ghana West Africa on a Jesus film trip. Now that took on a different spin of all the other trips in previous years. Riding a motorcycle took the cake for adventure for me in a foreign country. Truly it was an amazing team and adventure in every move. From a wild and crazy experience with motorcycle breakdowns and hundreds coming to Christ. It was wild, fun and high adventure every step of the way. Getting into a van wreck with a bad driver on a deserted road in the back woods of Africa was breathe taking as well. That trip was absolutely the best ever. Until this past one.

Then in 2013 I returned to Africa with the smallest team yet, but a totally harmonious and fun group of guysl. I started off that trip by flying into an unexpected country of Holland to ride a metro and a boat ride in the freezing European winter to the hot edge of the Sierra Desert of Senegal West Africa. We rode in a completely outdated and unsafe 70's slapped together cab held together with only God knows what. Then we rode in a carved out log boat to a remote disappearing island off the coast. I got choked up one morning and couldn't breath and thought I might suffocate to within hours still being able to share Christ to a group of missionaries on retreat.
We rode motorcycles on 60 miles of deserted beaches while avoiding the waves of the Atlantic. We passed donkey carts on roads, beaches and once took a double take when I passed a camel on a dirt road. I wiped out in a small village on an oil slick with a motorcycle and hurt my leg. Got to visit a foreign medical doctor in a high rise and so much more.

In Senegal I kept thinking I was doing the things I had done before until we spent two days digging out a well for water to no success. I also got to finally visit the inside of a village hut after to seeing pictures of them for decades. I witnessed people oppressed by witchcraft delivered by the grace of God and witnessed demons manifesting through animals in angry opposition to the showing of the Jesus film.

Getting to drive a truck for 4 hours from the remote villages to the massive congested city of Dakar will not soon be forgotten. It was as if I was driving in the Daytona 500 with interesting competitors on the roads. Seeing our missionary on his motorcycle in front me not able to over take a massive truck on the highway to being passed myself in traffic by a forklift was a contrast in what should have been the opposite. Truly the mission fields of the world are full of adventures. I've learned so many wonderful things over these past 21 years exploring the world through work and witness trips.

Just the thought of a regular vacation in any of these foreign countries sounds completely boring. When I think about going to a country of the world I would much rather go to serve The Lord and his kingdom and experience the land, culture and people as a servant then as a tourist.

The adventures of missions through the Jesus Film partnerships or work and witness expeditions is the most amazing way to see and explore the world. You can do it in America or anywhere. To serve others is a holy luxury reserved for the saints of the living God.

Anyway ready to serve through a missions trip in 2014?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Missions - Power in Weakness

I'm on my way home from my 7th work and witness trip in 23 years of ministry. Some of the places and experiences I have encountered I would not trade for anything in the world. The call of a pastor is to preach the gospel to the lost and make disciples. When I first received my call I was an idealist. I had my vision of what being in the ministry would look like and now some 23 years later I see how much more interesting and unpredictable ministry truly has been then what I thought.
Last year I went to Ghana on the first ever biker and a backpack trip. It was amazing. We saw so many different things and so many come to Christ in less then 8 days. This past week I took a team of 5 including myself to Senegal. We as well rode motorbikes, meet amazing and wonderful people and seemed to travel hundreds of miles throughout the time. After 6 previous trips and two of them in Africa I thought I had Africa under my belt. I was wrong, but yet still transformed by His amazing grace yet again. I truly learned more about grace in weakness then I could ever imagine. Myself and two others encounters motorcycle accidents that changed the dynamics of the trip throughout the week. Our plans changed each time a different man went down and got hurt, yet through the challenges God was working and moving in our midst.
If it were not for two of us needing some medical attention none of us would have meet more of the people we meet and learned more about the challenges our missionaries deal with when they encounter their own health challenges. I truly sensed that He used our brokenness for His glory more then our abilities. Steve broke his collar bone and a wrist. He was such a trooper. He went through all the motions with such grace and yet his accident only put us off a day in our schedule.
When one of the local pastors found out what had happened and that Steve was still planning on coming out to the villages he was impressed with how much love we had to come so far as we had and still willing to endure so much inconvenience and hassle just for them. as he spoke those words tears filled my eyes as I heard him share his heart. I realized how God was working more through our suffering, pain and perseverance then how I thought he would work through our abilities and skills.

My injury seemed so minor in comparison to how God has demonstrated His grace throughout our teams collective pains and momentary affliction. Even though my entire right leg from the knee down is swollen, I have yet to really feel pain. Even as I write this I am not so sure I can even get my shoe back on my foot as it is so swollen. Yet I would not trade the perspective and grace of what I have seen and experienced for a fully functioning knee for anything. The Lord gave me a new verse in January 2013 for the year and has allowed me to experience it first hand. "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed unto his death.. Phil 3:10

Months before our trip the missionary told me not to expect as large of a harvest response in Senegal as I had experienced in Ghana. Because the people are animistic and Muslim they are harder to reach. I understood that statement and respected the experience and wisdom behind it, yet in my spirit I just sensed and trusted God for far more anyway. We had originally planned to show the Jesus film twice, but because of accidents and challenges we only showed it once. We prayed and were challenged to the very moment of showing the film. In summary before the night of the Jesus film showing we encountered plans delays, physical afflictions, 3 motorcycle accidents, witchcraft attacks and many other delays. Yet the night of the showing I believe there was approximately 500 people gathered to watch the film. We had sound issues and dead battery issues and yet the crowd waited at least 50 minutes for us to figure out the film and equipment.

We prayed a lot and looked to The Lord constantly and He always made a way. At the close of the film over 100 came to Christ that night. I was told if we had 1 or 2 converts we should consider it a successful mission. It was as if God works better through brokenness, weaknesses and challenges then we often give him space to work. As with most, I am not excited about suffering and challenges, but it does seem to be where His grace flows so wonderfully.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair"; (2 Corinthians 4:7, 8 ) If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:30 ).

Of all my previous missions experiences this trip was FULL of daily challenges. I thank God for accidents, weaknesses, delays and challenges - "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 )

Peter Migner, Pastor

Monday, January 7, 2013

#HashTags & #Confessions

A few years ago a lady in my church who is my age nicknamed me "Pastor Gadget" and we both laughed.  Since from her perspective I was the most tech savvy pastor she knew or person she knew the label made sense . Jean & her husband lived in the county and their  world was hands on and manual connections for productivity. 

         That was about 8 years ago and just recently did I finally figure out what #hashtags were and how they worked. Being a late bloomer on this latest tech term i felt like my nickname was lacking. I mean I could have googled the phrase and just figured it out. But I didn't get it and did not see the need for whatever it was about until it kept popping up everywhere. With even increasing amounts of people referring to them, using them and posting with them I kept my wonder and ignorance to myself . After all it was not something that really comes up. Even though it was part of the technology web savvy social media world of communication that I use I still got by without #'s . 

            Several times within the last few months I heard hashtags referred to on the radio and sort of thought that it helped me get it, but it was still fuzzy as I was not connecting it to the search field aspect yet.  When the QR codes came out I felt pretty savvy on that one. I was even a pioneer user on that tech tool. Matter of fact I felt pretty savvy when my associate at the time being 20 years younger then me  and very savvy had not even heard of it.  

So over the years I've always been  #pastorgadget to one lady only to discover how quickly I can become behind and obsolete within months or weeks in the eyes of probably so many others. If you are among those still ignorant of hashtags don't sweat it- it's really no biggie.

      I know some folks who have never had a computer who live  in my community. They don't have one, do not want one and lived life pretty sweet. I also know folks who live in Africa who are connected with a cellphone in the midst of the slow moving technology culture compared to the west and they connected to the entire world. How can this be and does it really matter in the light of eternity? 

         What a simple world we have and yet also how complex world we have made it for ourselves. The people who are off the technology grid so to speak are probably the ones who could survive and live off the land far better than those who are wired to the 9th devise and try to keep up.  
     SO what really matters? Does it matter that you and I know about. hashtags and QR codes or that We know how to pray and worship the creator of us all? Does it matter that I can breakdown on the road and call for help to have the road service assistant find me with the GPS on the phone or that I could wait until a stranger comes by to assist who sees the need? They actually both can be good. 

      I use  hashtags and QR codes  , I got laptops, iPads  and smartphones. I've got color copiers and flash drives - I can use a Dropbox or Instagram app on about my life online- But what really matters is that I know Jesus and Jesus knows me. Yes #Jesus matters more than keeping up or lagging behind in cultural trends.  I can blog or pray- I can enter a prayer request on my prayer app or just get on my knees pray clear through without even a bible. 

I really don't mind that old title pastorgadget, but I'd rather be known as pastorprayer or scripture dude then to ever have to try to keep up with this world that spins so fast with all the latest tags , tech tools and toys that I can't even seem to keep up with.  

  When it comes to spiritual matters don't wait until its too late - ask the questions while you can. Google Him while He can be found. Jesus is one #hashtag question not enough people are asking about that makes the most eternal difference of all. Without him there is no hope. Without him you will never be found. Tag yourself with #Jesus this year so others find HIm too. 

#prayingmore2013 #resolution2seekhimmore 
#savior #comingking