Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wait On the Lord

Hello friends,

Here we are on the first day of Spring, March 20th, 2014.  New life is popping up all over the place; in fact, in my back yard it's popping up faster than I can keep up with it.  I've been trying for the last few days, in between rain showers, to get the place looking a little more presentable.  I've been pulling weeds, mowing, and trimming shrubs and have the calluses  blisters, and thorn pricks to prove it.  I tell you that, not to win any attaboys, but just to tell you the background for this posting.  I don't know for sure if this was a thought from the Lord or just the result of lack of oxygen from bending over and weeding for so long, but I think that I've come up with a spiritual lesson, so hang on, here goes.

As I said, every day is bringing on new growth, new buds, new leaves.  Only a couple of months ago I was wondering if Spring would ever get here.  Everything was so bleak and gray and dead-looking.  This happens to me every year.  I get antsy waiting for the bad weather to clear up and for the sun to reappear.  And I've never been good at waiting.  In fact, I hate waiting.  Moreover, I find it somehow irritating, when in the midst of my whining and complaining about not liking to wait, and how God is sometimes slow about getting the show on the road, the Holy Spirit all of a sudden brings a convicting verse to my mind.  I'm referring, of course to Psalm 27:14 where the psalmist tells us, "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"

I don't know about you but waiting for the LORD does not come easy to me.  I have to work at it, and I have to check my attitude often.  Let me give you an example, a red-hot fresh one from our current circumstances.

Ramel and I are confident that God has called us to the Republic of Ireland with WorldVenture as church-planters to work in Sligo.  We know that.  We have no doubts.  Furthermore, we know that it was God who called us to this task.  We didn't just volunteer because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  We know that this is a divine appointment.  But here's the kicker...God has us sitting on the back burner waiting for our funding to come in.  Worse...we are even having a hard time getting opportunities to tell our story.  But apparently God is nonplussed by this predicament.  It's bugging me no end but He's cool with it.  Doesn't He know we're on a tight schedule here?  Doesn't He know that we're getting old while He does whatever it is He's doing?  Doesn't He know that we have a plane to catch and people waiting for us in Ireland?  So what's the holdup, for crying out loud?  Why doesn't He just poke a few dozen people so that they will want to partner with us and help us get to Sligo?

Oops!  There it comes again, that pesky verse in my ear: "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"  Yes...but...but.

Like I said, I really hate waiting, but I guess God knows what He is doing.  Maybe He has something He wants me to learn by having to wait for Him.  Maybe He has some people He wants us to help before we go.  Maybe He wants to use us to challenge some churches concerning their commitment to help fulfill the Great Commission.  Maybe He just wants to knock some rough edges off of me so that I will learn to shut up and trust Him, even when I don't understand why He does what He does.  Maybe.  Maybe He wants it to be Spring in my life, with new growth, and beautiful evidences of His resurrection handiwork.  Maybe.

If you have any relevant thoughts on this subject please use the comments box below.  Even if you just want to join me in complaining bitterly about having to wait on the LORD feel free to post a comment.  Misery loves company and it's nice to know that somebody out there actually reads this stupid blog.

Thanks for listening to my rant,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On the Road Again

Hello friends,

A little over a month ago I started feeling guilty about being a slug and not getting any kind of regular exercise so I decided to start walking.  Besides, my doctor had been nagging at me for quite a while so to get him off my back I have gradually worked my way up from 1.5 miles a day to 4.2 miles and I walk every day.  In fact, I just got back from my evening constitutional.  I usually go out for my walk in the late afternoon or early evening.  At first I would come back weary and footsore.  Now I've gotten used to it and it doesn't bother me anymore.  In fact, now I'm a lean, mean, walking-machine, although I don't think I've lost a single stinkin' pound, which was another one of the reasons I started walking in the first place.  Bummer!  Ramel has  gone with me a few times but most days she declines my invitation.   She says that I walk too fast for her short legs.  I've offered to slow down and cut down the distance but she's still not buying it.  I'll keep working on her.

As I was walking along the road today I got to thinking about all the expressions or song titles we have about roads: "Hit the Road, Jack." "Take a hike." "Let's get this show on the road." "Back on the Road Again." "King of the Road." "On the Jericho Road."  The list is endless.

But for Christians the metaphor of the road has some special meanings.  We speak of life being a road, a journey.  We refer to our walk with the Lord.  We talk about running the race and staying the course.  The road of life is a word picture that all of us understand.

Ramel and I are on a kind of road.  We started down this road in January 2012 when at the Mission ConneXion NW Conference the Lord spoke to both of us and said that it was time to step out in faith and move back into missionary work.  Over the next few months He focused our eyes and our hearts on Ireland and then confirmed in a variety of ways that Ireland is indeed the place where He wanted to put us.  Since then this road has taken us through many different transitions and adjustments: resigning my 19+ years pastorate at Sellwood Baptist Church, resigning from the Portland Police Bureau chaplaincy, explaining to our 3 children and 10 grandchildren what we are doing, talking to countless friends and family members about what this will mean for our future, speaking in churches, camps, conferences, and retreats, etc.

We are still trucking along, confident that we are on the right road and going in the right direction.  However, sometimes the journey gets difficult.  The road gets a little steep.  We get tired and grouchy.  Well, at least Ramel does.  And frankly, the journey is taking longer than we anticipated.  We thought that by now we would have around 60% of our support raised and a whole team of prayer partners and financial backers walking with us on this journey.  However, we are closer to 15%, meaning that we still have a long way to go.

Don't get me wrong...we aren't throwing in the towel or doubting that this is the path for us.  We are just hoping that more folks will get as excited about the Open Door in Ireland as we are, and will want to help us carry the Gospel to Sligo.

Some of you have already signed on to be our partners, and for that we are very grateful.  If you have not yet done that will you at least consider it?  Please ask God if He wants you to come with us on this journey we're on.

*If you want to contribute with a one-time gift, large or small, click HERE.
*If you want to make a commitment, no matter the amount, even $10/month, click HERE.
*If you want to receive our email newsletters so that you can be a prayer partner, click HERE and email us with all your contact information.

We'll do our best to let you know about the mileposts we come to along this journey.  Please pray that we will keep on keeping on and not grow weary or discouraged.  Pray for open doors to share our story and tell people all the wonderful things God is doing in Ireland to build His Church.  Pray for us to have courage and wisdom as we try to pare down our belongings to lighten our load in anticipation of our move across the big pond.  Pray for our family as we try to prepare them for getting along without us for a while.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Your servants for His sake,
Mike, for both of us

P.S. You keep on truckin' for Jesus, too.