Never the Same

I’m in Quito, Ecuador.
For the past 17 years I’ve taken students (and adults to help me) on two-week international mission trips.

My friend Steve Goley, with Big World Ventures out of Tulsa, Okla., actually puts the details together for me (flights, ministries, hotel, translators, etc.) so I can simply concentrate on loving and ministering.

My main job is to speak each evening. When everyone comes back to the hotel, we have a hot meal and then an evening service we call  FUAGNEM: Fired Up And Going Nuts Every Minute!

Each summer we see more than a thousand people give their lives to Christ through this ministry. We collect their information and give that to local pastors who want to disciple them and get them involved in their churches.

May I confess something?
I’m exhausted. Just finished speaking at a camp in VA
and barely had time to repack and do laundry before flying overnight to Quito. Part of me is longing to be home.
In my own bed.
With my two dogs, Obie and Amos.

But I’m here because it’s right.
For the past 17 years it’s been right.
It’s my chance to see God move in big ways.

And more than making an impact in another country . . .
the real reason I do a missions trip each year is for our students.

Most teens view their relationship with Christ as a feeling—
and it’s usually how they feel when their hands are in the air
and they’re swaying to praise and worship music.
This is Christianity, they think.
This is what it means to love God.

Sometimes I wish we’d just stop all the music and teach students there are other ways to worship.
Before you condemn me, please hear me out.

When we enter a relationship with God,
It’s something that’s so sacred
so huge
so holy
it transcends our understanding.
It’s BIG.
It can’t be contained in how I feel when my hands are in the air
And I feel the beat of drums swelling in my head.
In fact, it has nothing to do with this.
It’s beyond that!
It’s saying, “I won’t renounce” when the machete is at the throat of an Iraqi Christian.
It’s making time to read the Bible . . . daily . . .
no matter how tired we are or how much we have to do.
And it’s praying constantly.
It’s trusting God for what we can’t see.
It’s weeping before Him and yearning until our hearts feel raw from praying for genuine intimacy with Him.
It has nothing to do with my favorite chorus.
And on these trips . . . I see our students go beyond the music.
I watch them push deeper than the excitement of an overseas trip.
I see the light go on in their eyes as I speak to the group about living in radical obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
And I hear their confession. I see their growth.
And we have revival.

Revival. Not a word we hear much anymore.
Most teens have never heard the word.
And when they experience it, they don’t know how to label it.
They come to me with tears running down their cheeks saying,
“I’m a Christian, but I’ve never been challenged like this.”
“I don’t hear stuff like this in my church back home.”
“I’ve never been challenged like this before.”

And I wonder what IS being preached in many of our churches.
Or if many are simply places to feel good.
And I question if most teens who think they have a relationship with Christ really do have a genuine relationship with Him.

So I do this trip every year.
Because I love revival. And I love introducing teens to revival.
And I love hearing them testify. Many don’t even know what a testimony is. They learn quickly.

And when I watch a teen lead someone to Christ . . . it’s amazing how his confidence soars! Nothing is impossible, if one can lead someone to God! Sharing our faith is a definite confidence booster.

And by the end of the trip, to see how worship has completely changed from feel-good music to truly being in awe of our Creator God . . . to being speechless before Him . . . to grasping even a bit of His power . . .

Well, that’s why I’m here.
And missing my own bed is a very small price to pay.

Share with me your thoughts on how YOU experience genuine revival. And why do you think many churches no longer have revival?

Masterpiece

The paint is still wet on the canvas.

The colors glisten in the sun.

Texture and technique equal vibrancy extraordinaire.

The Artist has created brilliance.

 

But instead of putting down His brush, He waves it over His creation and breathes directly into the painting. The colors receive His breath and begin to move. Rhythm gives birth to shape. Silhouettes become personalities. Life explodes through the canvas.

 

It’s a masterpiece. What the Artist has captured is beyond your imagination. You don’t want to blink for fear of missing something.

As your focus intensifies . . . you’re able to see beyond the kaleidoscope of vivacity . . . and you’re stunned.

You’re looking at you.

 

The Artist has included you in His painting.

It’s hard to swallow.

Your heart is racing.

How is this possible?

 

It may be hard to believe . . .

but breathe a sigh of relief, because it’s true.

 

YOU are inside the greatest painting in the world.

In fact, even before the Artist picked up His brush,

you were on His mind.

 

He knew the color of your hair before He painted it.

He saw your laugh lines before sketching them.

He places so much value in who you are, that He never thought twice about placing you in His creation. In fact, if you look a little closer, you’ll see a resemblance between you and the Artist . . . for He fashioned everything in this masterpiece after His own image.

 

YOU are in the painting.

YOU are part of the masterpiece.

YOU have reason to rejoice.

 

As you study the work before you,

it begins to move . . . and you realize this is not a still painting.

It’s a moving piece of art.

 

Let’s not simply look at the painting or admire it from a distance.

Transformation never comes from simply viewing.

The Artist has extended His hand.

He has issued the invitation.

Will you join Him?

He invites you inside the masterpiece.

 

Go ahead.

Step inside.

Look around. Characters are moving swiftly now.

The Artist Himself is quickening. He’s engaged. He, too, is inside the painting. And He’s moving more rapidly than anything else on the canvas.

 

What’s He doing?

Look around.

Notice every detail.

This is all about you.

 

Soak it in.

The Artist is shifting everything in the painting to get to you.

From His vantage point, it’s you on center stage.

The painting revolves around you.

He’s literally moving heaven and earth to get to you.

He’s chasing you.

He wants you.

He’s calling you by name.

 

Allow yourself to be captured

and

captivated by Him.

 

It’s all about you.

If you were the only one in all the world to paint . . .

He’d still use the richest, most vibrant, all-expensive colors

on you.

 

It’s all about you.

You’re the one for whom He died.

You’re the one for whom He refused to stay in the tomb.

You’re the one for whom He has purchased the new canvas.

 

You’ll meet some fascinating personalities affected by the Artist.

You’ll become part of the story inside the stories the Artist has breathed onto the canvas.

 

Go ahead.

Accept His invitation inside the painting.

Discover your story by learning His.

Along the way, you’ll engage in 18 encounters that prove

it really is

all about

you.

 

(The above is the introduction to my new book Masterpiece: 18 Encounters With Jesus That Prove It’s All About You)

Where’s Your Heart?

God spoke a lot about a man’s heart.

Know it by heart . . .

When you break someone’s heart

He’ll want a heart-to-heart with you.

David was a man after God’s own heart

But he soon had a heavy heart

After breaking God’s heart.

From the bottom of his heart

He had a change of heart.

David crossed his heart

That he would follow God’s heart

With all of his heart.

He did.

And God still refers to him as a man after His own heart.

Cool how God finds it in His heart to forgive, forget and   restore!

 

Did You Know . . .

• Michael J. Fox’s middle name is Andrew.

• My middle name is Sue. (No, it’s not Susie Sue. Susie is my nickname for Sue. I’ve always been called Susie. My first name is Marjorie—after my mother.)

• Twelve percent of all the Coca-Cola in America is drunk at breakfast.

• That God collects your tears (see Psalm 56:8)

• Anthophobia is the fear of flowers. (I’m glad I don’t have anthophobia! I love flowers. My favorites are roses. Around my front porch area, I have several rose bushes in bloom. I’m growing pink, yellow, red, orange, light green, peach, white and even purple.)

• There are some things God can’t do. He can’t go against His nature of holiness. He can’t lie. He can’t sleep. He can’t fail. He can’t lose. He can’t stop thinking about you. And He can’t be blamed if you don’t make it to heaven.

• Summer on Neptune lasts for 40 years! But the temperature is minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit.

• If you’ll read three chapters of the Bible every day, and if you’ll read five chapters every Sunday, in one year you will have read the entire Bible.

 


 

Have you read the Bible in its entirety? Some folks make it a priority to do this every year. I know an evangelist who reads his Bible several times through in a year.

My pastor mentioned in one of his sermons that many Christians don’t read the Bible at all—except for what’s flashed on the screen each Sunday in church.

Where are you with reading the Bible?

Just Being Careful

There’s a tan spot on the outside of my hand that I’ve had for a few years. It just looks like an age spot, and I never thought twice about it—until the other day when I happened to touch it and noticed that it was slightly raised.

I panicked.
Skin cancer.
Melanoma?

I made an appointment with the dermatologist only to find out it’s “nothing to worry about.”

But as I left his office I couldn’t help but think, Better safe than sorry. I mean, it’s good to be careful, right?

God is calling us to be this careful in our spiritual lives.

What kind of boundaries are we establishing?

When we hear or see something on TV that goes against His character, shouldn’t we be repulsed?

JUST WHAT IF we took the same measures when seeing something we shouldn’t that we do when we see something suspicious on our bodies? “Oh, no! It’s harmful. Get rid of it.”

I realize we can’t help but be “in the world.” But, of course, Christ calls us not to become part OF the world.

That can be a fine line, can’t it?

Are you drawing the line where it needs to be drawn?

I’d love to know your thoughts.