Acts 9:5 (NIV2011)
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
Who are You Lord? That may be a question that many people are asking. I believe that for most people, including Christians, there is no true concept of who God is. We do not take the time to know about Him. We do not take the time to spend with Him or talk with Him. We do not allow ourselves to learn who He is. Instead, we decide who He is. We don’t look to His Word to discover the truth about Him.
One of my favorite quotes about our concept of God is from A.W. Tozer, “What comes to mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
If Christ were to appear before you as He did to the Apostle Paul, would you ask the same question? Would you even know who He is? I thought I did until this morning. Now, I know I would not have. Like many people, I have formed an image of God in my mind based upon what I desire God to be.
Sure, I read the Bible. I pray. I spend time in meditation and reflection. I have six college degrees and four of them from seminary. Yet, the need to know God is a constant pursuit, and it can become distorted from other sources, even Christian sources.
I don’t think my image of God was wrong, but incomplete. I wasn’t intentional in creating a false image. I think for most people we get filled with half-truths along the way and we use those to form our image and understanding of God.
Up until today I had thought that God needed me for the Great Commission. He needed me to fulfill His purpose here on Earth. He needed me to do the tasks that are in front of me. That I had a responsibility to fulfill God’s purpose for me, for His plan. If I didn’t then they will never be accomplished and what God wanted to do will never be realized. I made it about me.
The divine truth is that God doesn’t need me. God wants me. There lies the difference. God has invited me to be a part of His mission, not the other way around. He has chosen to allow me to participate, to be included. He has granted me a privilege.
I can compare it to this. There are times when I am doing something in the garage, and my 3 ½ year old daughter will want to help. I don’t need her to help. I know what to do, how to do it, and to be honest, it is easier if I do it alone. She will only complicate things, make it harder, make it take longer, and even possibly break something in the process.
So, it is with God. He is the patient, loving Father. He does not need us. We need Him. He invites us to join Him on mission. He allows us to help us in His task. He hands us the wrench to help with the project. He knows that now that we are involved, it will take longer, it will be harder and we may make a mess in the process.
But, just like my daughter, who stands so proud with that wrench, we get to help our daddy. We get to be a part of what God is doing. What an honor and what a privilege. Do we feel that same pride?
And, when she stands proud, guess what, I do as well. So, it is with God.
So, this morning I may have asked “Who are you?” God, You are the sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth. You are the creator of all things and the sustainer of all things. You have set the stars in place and called them by name. You are God, and I am just your son, proudly holding the wrench in my hand making a mess of things, but so pleased that You have asked me to be a part of what you are doing here on Earth.
Acts 7:48 (NIV2011)
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands”
These have been incredible days. God has been moving and answering prayer right before my eyes. I am amazed and in awe of who He is and what He is doing.
I started this fast with nine questions. Yes, nine questions for God that I am seeking answers too. I can tell you this, He has already answered a few that needed definite answers and given me direction and wisdom on some of the others. Yet, I know He isn’t done yet.
I have tried to be diligent to start each morning early, spend time in a devotion, prayer and Bible study. However, each day has not gone as planned, but I have stayed true to the portions of the fast where I can. I have controlled my eating, I have spent time in His word and prayer each day and I have continually placed myself before Him each chance I have.
What I have found is interesting. I am relying upon Him more each day. I am asking Him the little things. Usually I just make decisions, but I am asking Him what to do. I am relying upon Him for humility and patience. Given an opportunity to be mad and upset this week, I found myself on my knees instead telling Jesus that I needed Him to take over in that moment.
And, I cannot talk about this at the moment, but in the last few days God has opened a huge door and provided the means in which to step through in such a way that I am still just shaking my head and saying “Wow!” every time I think about it.
What I have remembered is this: God is faithful. And, just like Zacchaeus, when we are willing to get above the crowd, Jesus is there to meet us, speak to us, invite us to come with Him and show us the way to go.
Thank you for those who have joined me, either in fasting or in prayer, or both. We are on this journey together. And, not just us, but Christ is walking with us as we desire to draw closer to Him and give more of who we are to Him to use for His Kingdom.
This is a short video we put together to share the experience we had in Nicaragua. We could never have done this without your prayer and support. God is doing great things in the world, and it was truly a privilege to be a part of it.
When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? – Acts 3:12 (NIV2011)
Day three and four have been a little frustrating for me. I woke up late both days and have not spent the time in study and prayer as I would have liked each day. If we fast without prayer and study, then we are simply dieting. That is not what I am looking for here.
This morning as I thought about the above verse I recalled many times I have been amazed by God. The reality is that when God moves it really shouldn’t amaze me. Let me clarify.
I’m not talking about taking God for granted. I am not saying that God’s work isn’t worthy of praise and glory. What I am saying is that we should expect God to move. We should expect God to still perform miracles. We should expect God to be active in our lives and in our ministries. Not to the point where we take it for granted, or no longer see it for what it is.
So, in a way, maybe we should still be amazed, but I don’t think we should be surprised. God keeps His promises. So, when Peter asks the men around him, “Why are you surprised?” God may be asking us the same question, “Why are you surprised?”
Today I received a phone call of great importance and opportunity and I was surprised. “Why are you surprised?” That is what God asked me. I should not have been, but I was. I am surprised. God still answers prayers. God still performs miracles. God is still active and moving. God is who He has always been, and He has always been faithful.
God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? – Numbers 23:19 (NIV2011)
Let us not be surprised when He does. Let us be amazed. We should be amazed at His mercy, His grace, His love and His desire to use us to perform and accomplish His will upon this Earth. We should marvel at how wonderful He is. We should praise His name and testify to His glory.
So, I started today frustrated. Not at God but at myself. However, God is faithful and He met me where I was. He knows the desires of our hearts. He has answered a desire of mine today. Thank you, Jesus, for what You are doing and for what You still have planned for the days to come.
While He was together Or He was eating, or He was lodging with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. Lk 24:49; Jn 14:1; Ac 2:33 “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; – Acts 1:4 (HCSB)
This morning I got up early, ready for what The Lord would bring through prayer and study. I spent the first few minutes in a devotional I have been working through as part of my mission trip experience. I then opened my Bible to begin reading the Acts of the Apostles with fresh eyes and an open heart.
As I read the first chapter of Acts this morning I was immediately drawn to the above verse. One of the areas of prayer and desire that I have during this fast is that God would work on me in the area of patience, specifically patience when it comes to His plan. I am the master of knowing what God wants, how to do it and how to make it happen. Am I the only one?
I find myself constantly in front of God or even worse, in His way. If I get even a small clue to what God is up to, I set off running to make it happen. This has left me tired, frustrated, discouraged and quite frankly absolutely burned out at times.
I read this verse over and over. Jesus tells them not to leave. Don’t do anything! Just wait. He isn’t telling them to just sit and wait for nothing. Wait for The Fathers promise. I can imagine what they might have been thinking at this point. “What?!” “What do you mean wait? We have to get started! There is work to do! Jesus is alive! We must go tell people!” And yet, Jesus tells them, wait.
There is a lesson here I need to learn. I am reminded of one of my favorite verses
Be still, and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10 (KJV)
Be still. Wait for me. Trust in me. Believe that what I have planned is better than what you want to do. Be still, Adam. Just be still.
Yes, Lord. I get the message. I will be still.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (HCSB)
Today I have started a journey towards the very center of God. After spending almost two weeks in the mission field in Nicaragua I have come home possibly with more questions than answers. I went there seeking God and He was ever present. I went there seeking answers and He showed me many things. I went there seeking myself and was found.
I have been studying the early church and reading through the Acts of the Apostles. I am amazed at the presence of God and the miracles of God contained within the history of the church. What stands out to me most is the consistency of the disciples to pray and fast.
Fast? What’s that? Isn’t that something you do before a doctor’s appointment? What does it have to do with God? Everything!
What I believe is that we don’t often deny ourselves much of anything anymore. Here in the United States we pretty much have everything we need. Even the poorest in our country is by far better off than most people in the rest of the world. We are entitled to be happy, right? We deserve it, right? God wants us to be blessed, happy and not lacking anything, right?
To those things I would say, wrong. God has never promised us that we would be happy. He has never promised us that we would be successful. He has never promised us that we would not be called to sacrifice, deny ourselves and give all to the cause of Christ. The blessing that God promised is different than what our culture tells us. Blessed meaning happy on the inside with the joy of God that cannot be taken away. A peace that isn’t affected by outward conditions or circumstance. That is what I am after.
I believe when we deny ourselves for Christ we put Him at the top of our life. We place Him dead center in front of and above all other things. We focus our eyes upon Him and we determine not to be distracted any longer. Maybe I am crazy? Maybe I have gone too far? But, maybe, just maybe, I need to show myself and show God that what I desire is so important to me that I am willing to deny myself and trust in Him for strength, for health, and for the fortitude to see this through. Because I know, I cannot do this alone.
So, I am writing this blog for two reasons. First, I would like for anyone who would be up to the challenge, to join me. Your fast may be different than mine. I will be fasting food and only eating one meal per day for the next 40 days. I will be spending the time I would normally spend on the other two meals in prayer and study as I seek His will. Join me in fasting whatever you may be able to for the next 40 days. The principle of the fast is to deny yourself something and to replace it with seeking God through prayer, meditation and study. Let us walk this road together and put ourselves in the eye of Gods perfect will.
Secondly, I ask that you would pray with me and for me. I will post a prayer request each day for the next 40 days.
I am not writing this to impress you, but to impress upon you that we need to get serious about the things of God. We need to put aside all distractions and place God at the center of our life and our hearts. We need to be like Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. He could not see Jesus because of the crowd. So, he climbed a tree and called out. He was so determined to see Jesus, that his life changed forever. Jesus was there. Jesus is here. But, what is standing between us and Him? What barrier is in the way?
That is that question I am seeking the answer too. Join me. Let us fast, let us pray and let us climb the tree above all the distractions and the noise of our lives and let us begin to see our Savior clearly.
Well, we are finally home. Our travels included one final flight from Los Angeles to Kansas City, a bus ride from Kansas City to Springfield, and then another small bus ride from Springfield to Sparta. When we pulled up to the church I could see my family gathered with the others. It made me very happy to see my family waiting for me in Sparta. It was a joy to see them, swoop them in my arms and give them both a hug and a kiss after a long time away.
It was also a time of goodbyes for those whom I have traveled with through this amazing journey. There is no explanation for the evolution of friendship you feel for those who you share the mission experience with. After a few days of time spent together, you become lifelong friends and family. We have laughed together, cried together, hugged one another, prayed together, and heard each other’s fears, doubts and weaknesses. Above all that though, we have served with one another in the eye of God’s will and for that reason we are closer than most friends could ever hope to be.
Now that I am home, I begin the longer journey. I believe this is the hardest task. For what we have seen, what we have heard and what we have been a part of cannot quickly be forgotten, even if that is what we wish for. Any time spent in the eye of God’s will should have lifelong implications. It should leave you changed by exposure to His glory. For Moses, his face shined. His focus on God and his obedience to God’s will was evident to the people around him, so much so that Moses had to cover his face.
I don’t know about you, but I want my face to shine. I want the light of Jesus to be so bright within me that it radiates from me and penetrates the world around me. I want to be obviously unique because of my relationship to Christ. I want to be different from the world I live in because I have spent time in obedience to God’s will.
In the coming days, I will have more time to reflect and ponder these last two weeks in Nicaragua. Right now, I feel disoriented and out of place. Like I am trying to live in two different worlds at the same time. This is a normal feeling after a return from a mission trip. As I acclimate back into my community, I will begin to reflect on what God has shown me and the direction He has given to me.
However, what I do not want to do is to set aside all that I have learned, and not use it again until I return to Nicaragua. The mission trip may be over, but the mission of God never ends. My prayer is that I would continue to carry forward with God’s mission with that same devotion each day, no matter my geographic location. I think if one is truly living for God and has placed it all on the line for the cross of Christ, then we should feel just as foreign here at home as we do in Nicaragua, Brazil, or any other place on Earth. God has called us to live in this world, but be not of the world.
I will be posting more in the days to come as I spend time with my Lord and Savior in prayer and meditation. For now, it is hasta luego to my friends and family in Nicaragua. May God keep you safe until I see you again soon.
We knew what we were in for, but hearing it and seeing it laid out on an itinerary is not the same as the experience. I never could have imagined the toll it would take on us to get home. Four countries in twenty-four hours.
We awoke early Wednesday morning to depart for the airport in Nicaragua. It wasn’t just early, it was military morning early. We got through customs easily and flew out or Managua without any troubles. The flight to San Jose, Costa Rica about an hour later. Then we settled in for an eight-hour layover. Then it was another customs process, another ticket gate, and our flight to Guatemala City, Guatemala.
The customs official in Costa Rica noticed the seashells we had collected on Sunday, at our day in the beach in Nicaragua. One member of our team lost a very beautiful shell, because it could have been used as a weapon. Then it came to my bag. The customs official asked if I had any shells. So, I quickly showed him my bag. He took most of my large rocks and threw them into a bucket under the table. Why did I have rocks? Well, because my little girl collects rocks.
Anyway, he stated that I did not have permission to take those on an airplane. I was afraid that all of Erin’s shells would follow the rocks into the bucket, but instead he smiled at me, handed me the shells, and said, “souvenirs.” We had most of the conversation in Spanish, and I really enjoyed being able to communicate with this nice man.
That’s when it happened. Then I got to put back on my shoes, watch and other items. As I went to put my Gospel bracelet back on my wrist. The plastic snapped in half, flew up in the air like a rubber band weapon, and was launch over the custom agent’s head. It landed unnoticed in the chair behind him, as I stood there in shock. I was torn between being afraid of being detained and busting out laughing. Instead I quickly got my stuff together and moved off as soon as I could. I may have been the first person charged with assault of the Gospel.
Our flight from Costa Rica to Guatemala was the worst flight I have ever been on. We hit major pockets of turbulence the entire way. The plane moved side to side, shook and would drop suddenly. We were rattled the whole way. When we finally landed, we had just enough time to depart the plane, get through bag check, and then get back on. Then it was on to our flight to Los Angeles.
We arrived in Los Angeles at 11:30 PM to find the terminal closed down. The only area we had access to was the ticket counter. So, there we were, lying on the concrete floor or ledges trying to get some sleep. It was uncomfortable, almost painful, but I caught a few minutes of sleep until everything opened and we could get through to the flight gates.
We are now about to board our last gate for our final flight, which will take us to Kansas City. Project HOPE will be two vans waiting to take us on to Springfield. Four countries in one day. That’s a new record for me. We are ready to be home. We are ready to be surrounded by our families. We are ready to rest in our own beds and get some rest.
It has been a difficult two days of travel. However, if that is the price of what we had to go through to spend that final day of ministry in Nicaragua, it was worth it. I would do it all again, just for a chance to be a part of God’s work there. We are so grateful God for being with us on this mission journey. He was there with His grace, His mercy and His strength. We all felt it, and we rested in it.
Today was our final day of ministry here in Nicaragua. We will depart in the morning for a very long route home that will take us through Costa Rica, Guatemala, Los Angeles, Kansas City and finally into Springfield. We will be traveling by car, airplane, and bus. It’s over two days of travel to get home. Wow!
However, I couldn’t have asked for a better day of service to end our mission trip here. God had a purpose for us being here. We have been inconvenienced by the delay getting home. We miss our families, but it is all worth it. Project HOPE didn’t have a team scheduled to come and help with this project today, but God did.
Today we served at the Center of Hope, which is the ministry center that Project HOPE facilitates at the dump in Managua. This service today is a project that has been in the planning and had been envisioned for years. Today it happened. Today we delivered cook stoves to over 100 families.
When we visited their houses, which is a term I use loosely, you quickly see how simply these people live. There are no kitchens, no appliances and no modern conveniences. Many people cook over an open flame or on improvised surfaces with firewood. The result is multiple burn injuries, especially to young children. The family is also at risk from the smoke inhalation. Many people set up these make-shift stoves right inside their homes. As we placed these new stoves into their homes, we watched their quality of life increase exponentially. For $55 dollars US, lives were changed.
We were the first team to enter the homes of the people in this location. In the past, this area had been considered too dangerous, and the locals are very private. As I entered house after house, God gave me the opportunity to pray with families. I am so humbled by the experience of today, and by the requests for prayer that I heard. They did not ask God to change their circumstance. Their prayers were focused on what they knew to be important, the salvation of unsaved friends and family. Their prayers were for sick children. They did not ask God for wealth or happiness, because they know they are blessed.
What I figured out today was that even though we thought we were delivering stoves, we were really delivering hope and love. We got to be the hands and feet of Christ today. We got to be the answers to prayer. We thought we were visiting ramshackle housing, but we were being invited into homes. The homes of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now we turn our eyes to the future. Tonight, we will pack to head home. I don’t want to miss this moment. I want to appreciate what God has done for me, and what He continues to do here for these beautiful people. I want to hold onto what I have seen, heard and felt. I want to bring this home to my church and my local community. I want to remember the lessons of joy and humility that these people taught to me. I thought I was coming here to change lives, but it is my life that has been changed.