It may seem late but we wanted to give our 2016 team members time to enjoy the results and gifts we sent in December before sharing this with the world. I so want you to be encouraged at what God is doing around the world so I have to share. There are many more stories to share, some of which you may have heard but there is no way to get them all in. Such topics are best reserved for in-person conversations.
I mention a book in the newsletter that impacted us greatly in the later part of the year. If you read and are interested in the name of the book shoot me a message on Facebook or through our contact page. Enjoy!
*If you prefer, you can Download the PDF and read it locally.
2016 Year In Review (Web)
I have been blessed in this season to have my daughter desiring to spend time with me as I do some farm work. Going to take care of the cows, running a track loader or a bulldozer, putting out hay. She likes to go along and learn about it all, especially where animals are concerned. When it comes to long hours in the cab of a tractor she usually gets tired and gives up, mostly out of discomfort. In those moments, deep in the woods on a mountain as I mulch trees I spend time with my daddy and his Holy Spirit speaks to me. If you are a parent you understand how he began using your kids to teach you things shortly after they arrived.
One recent day I had one such moment. I was thinking about all I want to do for the kingdom and how I just wish Daddy would tell me what to do and let me get about doing it. Then he spoke…”I just want you to want to help me.” Immediately my eyes filled with tears as I instantly was back to my daughter helping me. It’s like God put me in his shoes and Kaitlin in my shoes to show me his heart and it was such a sweet thing. In my minds eye I was taken back to a recent day when we were going to feed cows for my dad. She insisted on coming along. She loved being with me and every aspect involved in the process. But her desire was not just a come along and watch, she wanted to learn and do it. Unhooking the electric fence, counting cows, looking for new calves, getting feed scoops or opening gates and closing gates. She would reach out every so often to see one of the cows would let her touch them. There were parts she couldn’t do like carrying 5-gallon buckets of feed. But, while I carried the bucket, she grabbed a handful and put it in the feeder too. She loves feeding the cows!
After only a few days Kaitlin learned so much about doing the cows that she knew how to do it almost on her own. I still went along. I still made sure it was right. I still made up for any mistakes or misses she had but she was capable and doing it. But the revelation I received in this moment was two-fold. First, I recognized something that wasn’t taking place. Kaitlin did not come to me and say, “Daddy, what can I do to help you.” Kaitlin just joined in on what I was doing and learned it. She came along and had fun doing what her daddy was doing and from it she learned in great measure and short time how to care for 20+ cattle in multiple fields. At the same time, I never expected her to do it. I always knew it was my job but I was thrilled she came along and to be honest, having her made it SO much better. Not just easier but also more fun. I loved watching her grow, do big things, and laugh at things like cow manure on her boots or sometimes hands. We didn’t define the time as “time with daddy and Kaitlin”, but, it was just that. I loved it!
Then I had a second revelation. Kaitlin’s main motivation for coming to do cows was not really me. She loved spending time with me and making memories. She loved learning and growing. She loved that she could show me her capabilities. I think she took pride in letting me sit on the UTV while she opened the electric fence but none of this was really her motivation. Her motivation is the fact that Kaitlin LOVES animals! She wanted to know what I was doing to care for them and because she loves them she had to learn how to do it. Her love compelled her, not out of obligation, to learn how to care for them. She knew she wanted to care for them but that she needed me to do it properly. She wanted to do as much as she could trusting that I would cover her lack. Knowing I was there to cover her lack gave her a great confidence. When she first went to open the electric fence she was scared but my encouragement helped because she knows I love her and would not put her in harms way. Perfect love casts out fear! Because Daddy was there she learned everything there was to learn about taking care of the cows. To the point she almost could do it herself and it was all driven out of her love for the animals.
Suddenly, I was out of the flashback. I was now in Kaitlin’s spot as the child and he was in my spot as the father. At that moment I really teared up as I realized exactly what he was saying. God was really saying, “I don’t want to give you a job. I want you to join me in something you love because of your genuine love for people.” And just like that, with such clarity, I could see it, like an open invitation to just ride along and learn, seeking my way to help and spending time with him in the process. He is already doing the required work. He’ll encourage me when I am scared, pick up the heavy loads when I can’t and really do as much of the job as I don’t want to do all the while giving me subtle hints on ways to help out. It’s like serving in love and complete freedom!
Now, my father is back at it taking care of the cows. I am no longer involved unless he needs my help with the cows. But an interesting thing happened. The day after I stopped doing cows Kaitlin came to me and said, “Daddy, can you call grandpa and tell him he needs to come get me when he does the cows?” She loves those cows so much that she will make sure she is doing what it takes to care for them, just like her daddy taught her.
Recently I was spending time with someone when they said, “Man, I need to have more faith like you have. I need to see God do the amazing things you do.” I definitely understood where they were coming from and have been there. Heck, I am still there looking at great men and women of God like Wigglesworth, Lake, Etter, and Kuhlman and wishing I had more. I don’ t think true relationship with God is ever a satisfied one. If we want God there is always more to get and we are always seeking it. If the hunger for more ever dries up we might be losing focus.
As my friend finished his words though, the Holy Spirit spoke something to me. It is the body of Christ that we are all different for specific purposes. I suddenly looked at the apostles John and Peter and realized how different these men were and yet, how they needed each other so much. Peter is known to be extreme. Take this example;
- PETER: Lord, you’ll not wash my feet at all!
- JESUS: If I don’t wash you then you have no part of me
- PETER: Lord, then wash all of me!!!!
For Peter, it was all or nothing. He was always extreme. There is something powerful about his extreme nature. It gave him boldness! He wasn’t afraid to step out and often make a mistake. He is rebuked by Jesus on multiple occasions. Remember “Get thee behind me Satan”? Peters strength was his extreme boldness and faith and it resulted in him walking on water, lifting the man at the gate beautiful, and speaking to 3,000 on the day of Pentecost. But, it also caused him to slice off a man’s ear, deny Jesus, and live arguably the most emotional life of any of the disciples.
Then there is John. John is there watching Peter walk on water, cut off ears, raise the guy at the gate beautiful, get rebuked and speak the gospel to 3,000 on Pentecost. He was there closer than anyone. They were best buds after Jesus raised. In fact, I imagine when Jesus presented himself to them after his resurrection and Peter jumped in the water to swim to Jesus that John probably stayed the course in the boat, laughing, excited and maybe a little irritated with Peter. Somehow, in our eyes we look at Peter and think we all need to be like this. But, John did not feel this way. John was exactly who he needed to be.
Who was John? He was the guy laying his head on Jesus’ chest. He was the last to remain of the disciples. He wrote the gospel of John, my favorite, and arguable one of the most powerful books of the Bible. He also wrote 1 John, 2 John and 3 John. He received a great revelation from God, The Book of Revelations. So, let me ask you, would you rather walk on water or lay your head on Jesus’ chest?
Actually, I don’t think we should try to be like either of them specifically. We are to be who God made us. I only use them as examples to make a point. God gives each of us strengths and with that weaknesses. But, we mostly focus on our weaknesses. We see what we are lacking, what we are not doing, how we should be more like…[insert name]…, or how we could never do “that” and condemn ourselves into trying to be something other than who God made us to be.
Look at Paul! He was nothing like Peter. He hated speaking in public, he was very learned in the scriptures, and he loved to write. God used him as well. I don’t want to suggest the following is exactly how God does it but think about how God uses these men. We need John to have a deeper understanding and keep guys like Peter from being too extreme. We need Peters to step out and do the really crazy stuff in faith and motivate others. We need Paul to really get a full picture of scripture and teach it to others and we aren’t limited to these gifts alone.
So, let me encourage you today to embrace your weakness and don’t try to change it. Instead, find someone who offsets it and work with them to accomplish kingdom goals. Embrace your strengths and focus on them. Use them and be pleased with how God made you and be OK with someone else walking in their strength. You might be a John and the Peters of this world need you to keep them from getting too crazy. This is the body of Christ, the “many members” as Paul talks about. When the foot and hand can be comfortable in their strengths and rely on the other for their weaknesses then we can really make a difference for the kingdom.
Our June 2016 Newsletter hits the internet today! It contains a number of stories from our trip to Myanmar and how God used Josiah, our team, and I in reaching unreached peoples, healing sick, pioneering into dark places, and doing exploits for Jesus. We hope you enjoy reading!! If you are encouraged by these stories please send us a comment, contact or Facebook message letting us know how you have been blessed by these stories.
After our recent trip to Myanmar and Thailand, Josiah and I participated in an interview with my friend Bryan Entzminger, host of the Engaging Missions Show. We kicked off a series of shows on kids in ministry (something really close to my heart). I am super excited about this series and the future guests. Please consider visiting and subscribing to the Engaging Missions Show if you have a heart for missions or you would like to be encouraged by all that God is doing around the world.
If you have not heard some of our stories from Myanmar and the amazing things God did take time to listen to a few of them here. Josiah is a little nervous starting out but I was so proud of him not only in learning to operate with the Holy Spirit at 11 years old but also to get on the radio and share his heart and the stories from our trip. I hope you enjoy.
Listen here or pease consider visiting The Engaging Missions Show website.