We have started two "house groups" in the past three weeks: one that meets in our home on Thursday nights and another one hosted on Friday evenings by a young couple in the village of Abercynon (pronounced abber-KUN-nun), about three miles north of Pontypridd. When I first arrived in Wales, Abercynon was one of the communities that had been identified as desperately needing a Gospel witness. A mission team from America went door to door in the summer of 2005, handing out invitations for a "Discovering God" course to be offered there, but we were disappointed in not receiving a single response from the community. Continue reading
It was embarrassing when we realized just how much stuff we had collected over twenty-eight years of marriage. Like most people, we had a few precious family treasures, like old photographs, letters, and creative artwork by our four children at various ages; however, many items should have been given to charity a long time ago. Unfortunately, I was raised as a “pack rat” by two parents who experienced the Great Depression: my mother grew up on a Mississippi dairy farm and my father spent his early years in poverty due to an alcoholic father who drank or gambled most of what he earned. Continue reading
Having spent years in the secular business world, I have often heard the following exchange between colleagues: “How’s business?” For some, it’s simply a business-like greeting, especially among competitors who wouldn’t dare reveal how things are really going; but imagine how the phrase takes on the nature of a serious inquiry from an investor who has placed millions of his hard-earned dollars in someone’s hands. He wants a genuine response and, since the person he’s asking is accountable to him, he wants an accurate accounting of the business. If the company is supposed to be making widgets, he wants to hear about the company’s effectiveness in taking raw materials and converting them into high-quality widgets that are making a profit.
The last words of Jesus can often be quoted from memory by most of his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We call this statement the “Great Commission,” not only because it possesses the quality of greatness among the words of Christ but also because He intended it to be the timeless charter, or the mission statement, of His followers. Making disciples is our mandate. As I heard someone say, it is not the great suggestion, or the great option, or the Continue reading
My first visit to Wales lasted two weeks, spending most of my time with pastors and church leaders, being accommodated in their homes and sharing in family mealtimes with them. The frenetic pace and frequent meetings left little time to explore the culture, let alone get a better idea of the cost of living.
At that time (October 2003) the exchange rate was $1.60 U. S. dollars (USD) for every Â£1.00 UK pounds (GBP). Gasoline was Â£0.79 per liter, translating into about $4.80 USD per gallon. Today, the exchange rate is $1.96/Â£1.00 and the cost of petrol fluctuates between Â£0.86 and Â£0.90 per liter; which means that driving a car can be a major expense! It costs us about $6.50 USD per gallon now, which means approximately $100.00 USD to fill up our 16 gallon tank. Many people do not even own a car in Britain, which may be difficult for most Americans to grasp, but our public transportation links are very convenient, timely, and usually more cost effective for one or two people to travel by bus or train than by automobile. Our son and his wife live in Sheffield, England, about three hours away, and they do not own a car; yet both of them travel by foot, bicycle, or bus every day to their respective jobs, social activities, and church meetings. One of the deterrents for them is the massive insurance cost for under 25′s. Even if someone gave them a car, they couldn’t justify spending Â£1,600 policy premium each year. Continue reading
This morning I ran across an intriguing statement written by a British colleague in ministry. He writes, “the theology that matters is not the theology we profess but the theology we practice.” It really made me stop and think. Most of us already know more than we actually put into practice, so one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to read less theology and live a more theologically-aware life. This will require a painful adjustment to my lifestyle. Yes, the dreaded “C” word (“change”) must become a reality if I want to transition “what I know” into “what I do.”
May God’s Spirit tap into the massive reservoir of truth stored in my head, making it flow down into my heart, moving my emotions (since I am far too reserved) and my will (for I am far too set in my ways) to serve the Lord in these days. What benefit could possibly be derived from listening to someone preach with passion and theological integrity, if it does not move me to more love toward God and my neighbor? What is the point of going to Christian conferences and seminars, unless the truth I hear will engage my stubborn will and cause me to make disciples of the nations? And how can I “enjoy” a lively and stimulating Bible study with other believers if the end result is simply more head knowledge with nothing to show for it? Here are a couple of things I am praying for in 2007:
- God, help me to invest more of my time and energies with those who do not yet know your Son as their Savior and Lord.
- Keep me from wasting my time in pursuing stimulating theological truth, unless I can see obvious benefits in my daily life and ministry.
- Use me to encourage my fellow Christians, especially those who are new in the faith, to simultaneously engage in practical ministry as they learn more of your Word.
- Lead me in the crucial work of discipling other believers, as well as being discipled myself, in the context of the Gospel community where I live and serve.
- Give me more passion for those who live on the fringe, of church and society, and to truly love them as you have loved me.