MIFG...just like Dr. Penland

20121104_200644

 

Anywhere the person who is devoted to Jesus Christ goes, Jesus Christ is there with them. Oswald Chambers

Last night it was a privilege for Dina and I to observe and be a part of (via Zoom and Youtube Live) a farewell/retirement celebration for Dr. Thomas Penland, the Headmaster at Taejon Christian International School (TCIS) in Daejeon, South Korea. Dr. Penland faithfully served the Lord in that place for twenty-four years.

As an ardent Christ-follower and professional educator, Dr. Penland used his days at TCIS to educate students with excellence, serve and encourage others around him, and to glorify God in all things. His life mission and motto for the past forty-five years has been to have, “Maximum Impact for God” (MIFG).

After last night’s celebration of Dr. Penland, there is no doubt that he accomplished the mission of MIFG in his time and work at TCIS. As scores of people shared about Dr. Penland’s service and influence at TCIS and beyond, they referred to him as a model, inspiration, blessing, leader, minister, father, educator, encourager, missionary and friend. IMG_8014

Twenty-four years ago, Dr. Penland and his wife, Shirley, were available to God and felt called to serve at TCIS. It was their “ministry”—their obedient response to God’s call in their lives. And now, like a mist that appears for a little while, their work and service at TCIS is finished, but the rest of the story is yet untold as it ripples outward for God’s glory into time and eternity.

I want my life to have “Maximum Impact For God” (MIFG), don’t you?

Well, it begins today—your “ministry” begins today. Wherever you are and in whatever you are doing, make yourself available to God; look to Jesus every moment of every day, let Him fill you with His love, light and Presence, and God will use you for His glory. All of us are “called to the ministry" of being Jesus in our world—and if He is lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself.

And as you make yourself available to God, your life will have MIFG…just like Dr. Penland.


fear ≠ the last word

IMG_6943Are you in the midst of trouble, struggle, desperation, disappointment, hopelessness, the Covid 19 pandemic, . . . FEAR?

Please read Psalm 34. Read it again and again. Let God’s Word fill, strengthen, nourish, soothe, keep, protect, assure, comfort, help and lead you in these difficult days.

The writer of the Psalm (King David) is just like you and me. He was experiencing fear, trouble and great need, but he didn’t face it alone. He trusted in God—where need is not the ultimate reality, trouble is never the final answer, and fear is never the last word.

Consider these verses from Psalm 34 (NIV):

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

    and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,

    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all

God sees, knows and cares about you and me. Stay close to Him. Keep your heart pure and your mind fixed upon Jesus. Cry out to Him in prayer! God is not put off by your sadness (crushed spirit), discouragement and disappointment (brokenhearted). He wants our hearts, our trust and our faith to be in Him alone. He will deliver us and we will praise His Name!

It is when you have been scared to death and God has brought you out of the trouble, that you can sing God’s praise. When you are in a right place and cry out to Jesus, who is your only hope, you are in a situation ripe for a miracle. When you have no way to pay your bills and God provides, then you walk away while singing his praises. The trouble itself turns our minds to Christ and gives him the opportunity to show himself good and powerful in our lives.

—Dennis Kinlaw, This Day With the Master, (Aug. 12)

 


From my journal . . . I will trust

IMG_7865From my journal this morning . . .

This morning I awoke to worry—about our world, my children, my friends and the future. I know I shouldn’t start the day this way, so Lord I look to You. Thank you God for Psalm 22—a prayer from the lips of one facing trouble (who probably woke up to worry too).  I looked to Your Word and Psalm 22:4 NIV caught my eye.

In you [God] our fathers put their trust;

they trusted and you delivered them.

O God, in Psalm 22 things are bleak, the oppression is real and the situation looks hopeless. But the psalmist made a choice and looked to you. That is what I must do. And then, in my online prayer time with Daniel Henderson, I heard this:

In troubled times we have to make a choice how to respond—will it be based on what we feel, on what we see around us, or on what we know to be true?

This made me think of Hebrews 11:1 that says,

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and confident of what we do not see.

There is no feeling or seeing included in this verse—it is all about trust and confidence (faith) in what we know to be true. And what is true is Jesus, the Word of God, God’s love for us, and the power, presence and help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Jesus is my rock, shelter, fortress, helper, provider, savior and Lord. God I need you!

A cry brings God. A cry is mightier than the polished phrase. —Samuel Chadwick

I will not worry. I will pray.

Lord, I trust in You today, I look to You today, I call upon You today.

I cry out to You today, in Jesus’ Name!


alarmed?

DSC07982

How’s your faith today? Faith is hard, even on the best days. I just read my daily dose of the news and I don’t know about you, but I need a faith boost. Faith doesn’t come through gritted teeth or positive thinking, it comes through God’s Word. It is alive and life-giving, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We must look to God’s Word.

“. . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV)

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat gets some concerning news and his faith is lagging (like mine). It says in verse 3 that he was “alarmed.” So what did he do? He prayed (see vs. 6-12).

I am hanging onto vs. 12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

That is prayer. Prayer happens when we call upon the Name of the Lord.

God help me to put my eyes upon You today.

“. . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)

Are you alarmed today? Pray! Look to Jesus! Call upon His Name!


But Now . . . (An Easter Poem)

Sun end of bridge 2

 

But Now . . .   by Ryan M. Roberts

Where Jesus walked, the disciples followed;

But not all the way.

“Where I go now, you can’t.  But later . . . ”

Was all that He would say.

 

After midday prayers, Peter’s words rang out,

“No matter what or where or who;

You are mine, and I am yours,

I will die with you!”

 

Amid friends, huddled ‘round the fire that night;

“Hosanna in the highest!” a bright memory.

With hope high and resolve low,

The glow faded into Gethsemane.

 

Watching ends in darkness,

Prayers turn to sleep,

And Peter’s vow, though earnest,

Was more than he could keep.

 

He followed Jesus at a distance;

Keeping warm by the fire of his foe.

When asked, “You’re with Jesus, yes?”

Three times his response was, “No.”

 

Then came the loss, despair . . . the death.

A look, the whip, a crown, the hill,

A cross, the cry, a spear thrust forth;

The King of Kings to kill.

 

Three days passed, Peter sat alone;

With guilt and regret—his choice.

Now what? Now where? Now who?

“He’s gone!”

Peter leapt at Mary’s voice.

 

He ran to the tomb, bent low, went inside,

Echoes, predictions, rags filled the space.

“Tear down this temple and in three days it will rise.”

Peter left, wonder full on his face.

 

There were sightings and sayings that, “He is alive!”

Stories no book could contain.

Yet ashamed, Peter watched the Christ from afar;

He should laud, but his failures remained.

 

Peter said to his friends, “Let’s fish,” and they went,

To row and to cast was no chore.

The fish, they were few, but the company good;

Then they heard a voice from the shore.

 

Jesus was there, by the fire, cooking fish.

He said, “Come my friends, let’s eat.”

Peter pledged all his love—heart, mind and soul,

Jesus smiled and said, “Feed my sheep.”

 

“Your own efforts and failures, left you lost and in chains,

But through my wounds and my death you are free.

Where I went, you could not go on your own,

But now . . . in my power, Follow Me.”

 

 

 

 

 


peering into the fog

DSC02425

 

I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us.

     ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 

These are difficult days. Life as we have known it has changed. Plans, dreams, financial portfolios, and aspirations have all been replaced by disappointment and concern. Stores, restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, churches and schools are empty, the roadways deserted, hope abandoned.

It seems like time has stopped. But it hasn’t.

The clock still ticks, the calendar pages still turn, and life happens. These are not the moments we planned on. This isn’t what we hoped for.  There is no clear picture of when or how this will end. We see through a glass darkly.

What are we to do?

Today, I'm looking to Jesus and taking my cues from a couple of my spiritual heroes, Elisabeth Elliot and Billy Graham.

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now. Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart

 

 


All I know . . . (morning devotions)

IMG_6304I have no idea what kind of man he is. All I know is that I was blind and now I can see for the first time in my life! (John 9:25, TPT)

This morning in my Bible study and devotional time I saw a picture of myself—and my former self.

In John 9 (TPT) there is an account of Jesus healing a blind man and it really messed people up! The man was healed and he immediately ran off in joy to tell his friends, family, and the world, his good news.

The onlookers, the Pharisees, the doubters, and the skeptics were buzzing with questions. Who did it? What happened? Was the man really blind? Is this for real?

The people that witnessed the healing say, “Yep, I’ve seen that blind beggar here every day for years and now he can see.”

His parents say, “Yes, that is our son. No, he doesn’t have an identical twin. He was born blind and has been blind his whole life. But don’t ask us, ask him, he’s an adult.”

The (former) blind man said, “A man anointed by eyes with clay, then I washed, and now I can see for the first time in my life!”

The Pharisees, doubters and skeptics asked, “Who did this? Who was this man that opened your blind eyes?”

The (former) blind man replied, “For all I know, he’s a prophet of God!”

Round and round, the grilling continued . . . Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Finally, the man who was blind, who lived his entire life in darkness, in isolation, in constant need, who had no hope, no future, and a life of unanswerable questions, spoke up.

He said, “Listen, I’ve already told you multiple times, I don’t know who the man was that healed me. I don’t know what kind of person he is. All I know is this—I was blind and now I can see for the first time in my life!”

Later, Jesus went and found the healed man and they talked. Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”

The man whose blind eyes were healed answered, “Who is he, Master? Tell me so that I can place all my faith in him.”

Jesus replied, “You’re looking right at him. He’s speaking with you. It’s me, the one in front of you now.”

Then the man threw himself at his feet and worshiped Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe in you!”

And that’s when I saw a picture of myself—and my former self.

I once was blind, my life was full of darkness, isolation, constant need. I had no hope, no future, and a life of unanswerable questions. And then Jesus came into my heart and life.

You can ask me all kinds of questions about morality, suffering, politics, theology, the economy, the coronavirus and even death. And all I can say for sure is that once I was blind, but now I can see.

How's your vision this morning? Do you see yourself in the John 9 account? 

In John 9: 39 & 41, TPT Jesus says, "I have come to judge those who think they see and make them blind. And for those who are blind, I have come to make them see. ... If you would acknowledge your blindness, then your sin would be removed."

Today I live by faith in the One who loved me and gave His life for me. He is light in the darkness, He gives sight to the blind and he is Faithful, always and ever Faithful. Sometimes in my morning devotional time I sing. Here’s a little song by Sara Groves about God's faithfulness.

 

 


growing faith in the midst of "shelter in place"

IMG_7649How’s your faith these days? Mine needs some work.

But what does that look like in these days of “shelter in place?” I don’t know about you, but my faith isn’t growing much in the midst of my questions, grieving, stir-craziness, depression, Netflix binges and my endless scrolling through the barrage of “helpful” posts, quips and quotes on social media (. . . like this one).

I need God’s help, and the best way to grow in faith is through God’s Word.

“. . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17, NKJV)

Deep reading and Bible study may not be your thing, and even if they are, you may find that type of focus difficult in these days of confining chaos.

Recently, I came across an idea from the life of Billy Graham that is helping me during these trying times. It is strengthening me in my faith by getting me into the Word of God.

The idea comes from an article by Jerry Jenkins titled, “Precious Memories: Billy Graham.” In the article, Jenkins tells about a time when he was meeting with Billy Graham to gather information for the biography that he was writing about Dr. Graham. At one point he asks Graham about how he maintains his own spiritual disciplines (how he grows in his faith) and therein is the gold.

Below is the portion of the article that I found helpful. I pray you find it helpful too.

For our last session, we sat knee to knee across from each other in his modest office. My goal was to see what readers could glean not from all the experiences he had enjoyed as a worldwide Christian leader, but rather from his own personal devotional life.

But, as usual, I broached the subject the wrong way. I began, “People look to you as a spiritual leader, a model, almost like the Protestant pope—”

“Oh, no, they shouldn’t do that…”

“But they do. Many see you as the Christian leader of our time—”

Mr. Graham said, “They really mustn’t do that. When I think of the number of times I’ve failed the Lord, I feel this low,” and he reached and placed his hand flat on the floor.

And I thought, Billy Graham has failed the Lord?

I kept trying to ask the question, basing it on how he was so revered. He would have none of it.

I said, “Well, just tell me how you maintain your own spiritual disciplines.”

Finally, I had hit on something he was eager to talk about. He leaned forward, boring in on me with those piercing blue eyes. “The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing and to search the Scriptures. And I do that.”

I was stunned. “You pray without ceasing?”

“I do,” he said, “and I have every waking moment since I received Christ at age 16. I’m praying right now as I’m talking to you that everything I say will glorify Christ.”

I could barely speak, yet still I wondered if there was takeaway value here. Had he set the bar so high no one could emulate him? When I found my voice, I said, “What form does your searching the Scriptures take?”

Mr. Graham said, “Wherever I am in the world, in someone’s home, my home, a hotel room, here in my office, anywhere, I leave my Bible open where I’ll notice it during the day. Every time I see it, I stop and read a verse or two, or a chapter or two, or for an hour or two. And this is not for sermon preparation; it’s just for my own spiritual nourishment.”

Now we were getting somewhere. Everyone wants a daily devotional life, even if they can’t pray without ceasing. I said, “How do you get back into it if you miss a day or two?”

He cocked his head and squinted. “I don’t think I’ve ever done that.”

“You never miss?”

“No, I said it’s nourishment for my spiritual life, and I don’t want to miss a meal.”

Over his shoulder, on the corner of his desk, lay his open Bible, just as he said.

Did you catch that?

“Wherever I am in the world, in someone’s home, my home, a hotel room, here in my office, anywhere, I leave my Bible open where I’ll notice it during the day."

Wherever we are, even in the midst of "shelter in place," there is a way to grow in faith 


light enough for my next step

DSC04793

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding . . .       

(Prov. 3:5, NIV)

These days are unprecedented. There is no personal or experiential understanding to lean on. So, where do I turn? I trust in the Lord. I start the day with Jesus. I need help. To find light enough for my next step on this unknown path I look to His Word, and to words from His saints who have gone before. And then I pray. I call upon the Lord for guidance, strength and the Holy Spirit’s help to live, serve and love like Jesus.

My gleanings from this morning touched on not fretting about tomorrow, being responsible with today, realizing treasure in tribulation and drawing closer to Jesus. God is using these passages to help me today. I share them with you.

Tomorrow makes today’s whole head sick, its whole heart faint. When we should be still, sleeping or dreaming, we are fretting about an hour that lies half a sun’s journey away! — George MacDonald, p. 40

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now . . .  — Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart

Without tribulation some of life’s noblest treasures would never be found. Tribulation is the flail which releases the grain from the imprisoning sheaf and gives us the bread of life. — J.H. Jowett, Come Ye Apart, p. 57

The world, the flesh and the devil will put imaginary grief in your way just when Jesus Christ is wanting you to enter into fellowship with His sufferings. — Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race, p. 24

God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that. (1 Corinthians 3:8-9, MSG)