Help! I’ve Lost My Son!!

27 05 2019

“Ian, Ian, I’ve lost my son…his name is Ian!  Ian, Ian, where are you? Help me,”screamed the frantic mom pushing the empty stroller down the aisle of terminal A.  I had just arrived at my gate, returning home from being out of the country. This mom was hysterical and desperate.  She had one single focus…finding her lost son.  Everyone began standing, looking all around and wondering what they could do for this fear-filled young mother.  Those persons who are parents immediately felt her pain because most could empathize with exactly what she felt having more than likely a similar situation happen at one time or another.

 

Soon an announcement came across the P.A. system saying, “A little boy was found at gate 2C.  If you’re his parent, please return to gate 2C.” Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was relieved as she turned to head back to the gate.  We all felt her relief and our hearts returned to our chests.

 

I sat down and almost immediately received a very special picture in my spirit.  I saw our heavenly Father running frantically down the aisle, through the hall, in our schools, at our work places, down our street and in our homes calling our names, knowing we were lost.  Most of us didn’t realize our lost condition, but He did and He pursued us with everything He had.  In fact, He gave His Son, Jesus, to pursue us, to seek and search for each one of us. His love as a parent was and is reaching out to us, beckoning us to come follow Him and never be lost again.  Have you answered His call?

 

I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again.(Ezekiel 34:16 NLT)





Visiting Santago de Cuba

20 05 2019

After a 3:00 AM start, long lines at Jet Blue Cuba in Ft Lauderdale, Florida and some very different immigration questioning entering the nation, a friend and I finally had feet on the ground in Cuba at 8:00 AM May 1st, 2019.  About forty minutes later, our Cuban pastor contact came to pick us up in our rental car for the week.

 

Having just been in Haiti days earlier, I found Cuba to be very green, covered with trees and flowers all along the highways and very well maintained.  There is a noticeable absence of traffic as the Cubans do not own cars.  The highways have mostly trucks, taxi’s, touring buses, a few cars and a large number of motorcycles, the most interesting had added side cars.  My personal favorite to capture on the roads and the small towns along the way were the 1940’s – 1950’s cars and trucks.

 

Santiago de Cuba is a city of half a million people.  It is the second largest in the country, where the Castro revolution started, where the capital was at one time and where Fidel Castro is now buried.  It is perceived to be the “warmest” city in Cuba because it’s in a valley.  Luis, our Cuban pastor friend, is not from this city, but felt called to plant a church here after he had one convert from a personal visit many years earlier.  The Lord had him move to the city which was not possible at the time because Castro would not allow the sale of your personal home in order to move to another location.  But, as Luis repeated a lot, God provides.

 

It is very different being in a nation in which the government owns most everything: the water, most buildings which include the stores and hotels, the hospitals, the trucks on the highway, the electrical power generating plants, the farms and fields, etc.  Almost every job is directed by or run by the government and the average worker makes $20.00 – $25.00 per month.  A doctor could make as much as $60.00 per month.  Luis shared with us that the Cuban government provides five pounds of rice, five pounds of sugar and oil to each family, nothing more in the way of food. He said for the average Cuban family this amount lasts for about two weeks.

 

Friday evening, we had a worship service at Luis’ building.  (Luis’ home and church building are physically connected as are all of the “underground” churches.)  The building would hold 125-150 somewhat comfortably, but we must have had well over 175 persons. The buildings in the city do not allow for air to flow through them and with the humidity and the number of bodies present, I’m guessing it was in the high 90’s.  Our pants and our shirts were soaked through with sweat.  But the worship was awesome and Luis allowed me to share the word that night.

 

Luis asked me to give an alter call and I am guessing around dozen plus people came forward to give their lives to Jesus.  And then it was like someone threw a match on a pile of gasoline-soaked rags.  The place exploded with dancing, prayer, deliverance and fiery worship.  We came back to our room around midnight exhausted, but a bit dumbfounded at the revival and presence of God in this place.

 

The same thing happened the next night and the next.  Cuba is experiencing revival like nothing I have ever experienced in my 48 years of being a Christian.  Young and the old are coming to Jesus and it was thrilling to experience.  Every church we visited has a building plan or a church planting plan because of the exponential growth taking place.  I felt privileged to not only see it, but experience it first-hand.

 

Have you been on a mission trip lately?  It will totally and radically change your life!





9 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage and Grow Older Together

13 05 2019

Over 44 years ago, Mary and I promised to never, ever use the “D” word when it came to our relationship – divorce.  We have kept that promise.  Along the way we have discovered there are a lot of things we can do as a couple to provide strength to the marriage relationship.

After eliminating the divorce word, decide to maintain honor in your relationship.  Honor is a hard word because none of us act honorably every day, at every moment.  Honor means to hold in high respect and worth and high public esteem.  To honor the marriage relationship is to place it before the children, your job and your ministry, but not before your God.  Love God first and then your closest neighbor, your spouse.

 

Keep giving each other space.  That means when she needs some alone time, do your best to help her make it happen.  If he needs a guy’s night out, help him plan it.  That “space” can help to recharge your batteries and who doesn’t want their life mate to return refreshed?

 

Share your financial expectations and maintain your budget.  Money can cause the biggest disagreements.  At least it did in our marriage.  All too often couples have differing money values, but a money date where we openly discuss our goals and look over our finances can really help the two of us to be on the same page.  Money dates could happen as often as weekly, but need to happen at least monthly.

 

Speaking of communication…never stop.  In fact, over communicate as often as you can.  You just can’t beat talking!  Taking a daily time, at least 20-30 minutes of time that is not interrupted by the children, the phone or the TV, is invaluable to your relationship.  It will keep you on the same page.  Whether it’s the kids schedules or your weekend plans communicate, communicate, communicate.

 

Be good to yourself and to one another.  Take care of yourself and your health.  Try to look good for one another.  I know, you have baby food on your sweatshirt and dog hair on your pants, but for heaven’s sake take the time to clean up a bit, have dinner together once in a while and share words of appreciation and encouragement. It will go miles in your relationship. This also means prioritizing dating your spouse.  Dress up, get a babysitter and spend time together laughing and having fun.  The investment is worth any cost because the return is incalculable.

 

Give each other room for failure.  Failing is a part of life and through it we often learn what doesn’t work.  I fail, you fail, we all fail.  Stop being so hard on the other person, acting as though you don’t fail.  When we give room for failure, we are showing good will and giving one another the benefit of the doubt.  Walk and talk through it and then forgive. Forgive quickly. Forgiveness is medicinal and we are both desperately in need of it.  Forgive as you have been forgiven.

 

Refuse to allow sexual intimacy to be stolen from you.  It’s yours and yours only. While frequency may decrease and children make it challenging, do not lose it.  Create a schedule if you have to and maintain it.  Nothing removes the “little foxes,” those growing annoyances, like love-making and nothing keeps passion alive like sexual intimacy.  Make a promise to yourself, to one another and to the God who gave this gift to you to never let it go.  You are one and sexual intimacy reinforces your oneness.

 

The glue that holds all this together?  Prayer.  Learn to pray together.  There is no better way to communicate, resolve issues, gain wisdom or “cast your care” than to pray together.  You will find the intimacy you have only dreamed of if you’ll pray together.  You will discover answers to lifelong problems, to long-term financial disagreements, to present frustrations and to future visions and goals.  Prayer is intimacy of the highest degree in marriage as together we reveal our hearts’ desires to God and to one another.

 

Lastly, seek the wisdom of others as needed.  None of us can go it alone.  We need mentors: older, wiser married couples in our lives.  We need a local church that provides teaching for our family and causes us to look beyond ourselves and to the mission of helping others.  We need those who will challenge us to be better parents, lovers, friends, employees, business owners and servants.

Read through this blog together, discuss it and then ask your life mate how the two of you are doing in the above areas.





God Experienced Divorce

6 05 2019

If you have been through a divorce, you know first-hand the devastation and loss that travels with the experience.  There all always more damages than one can possibly be prepared for.  Often, a divorce has been forced against someone’s own personal will, while the state laws favor the breakup of the marriage and leave them no choice or alternative but a divorce.

 

Further, many of the same persons struggle in their relationship with God once they have been through a divorce.  They wonder about His rejection or whether or not they are able to remarry. But there is good news for you if you fall into one of these categories.

 

God experienced divorce and He knows just what you’re feeling, what you’re going through and what you’re questioning.  In Jeremiah chapter three, the prophet Jeremiah writes these words inspired by God, “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.”  God said He was left with no choice but to divorce an unfaithful love, Israel.

 

However, before this chapter ends, God tells Jeremiah on several occasions to go and share these words of affirmation, “Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord, I will frown on you no longer for I am merciful…for I am your husband…for I will cure your backsliding.”  He, in his faithfulness, takes an unfaithful people back.  He just can’t stop showing His mercy, His kindness and His forgiveness.  That is the heart of the God we serve.  Even though He experiences unfaithfulness, He remained faithful to Israel.

 

You and I are grafted into that same family through God’s Son.  Even if we were offense-free and divorce was forced upon us, we can be assured of our Father’s love, acceptance and approval. We too can experience His faithfulness and His mercy.








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