The Blessings of Team Ministry

Receiving Award for Samaritan’s Purse

Dear Prayer Family,

    If you are as old as I am, and I know some of you are so you will appreciate this illustration.  In the early 1970s, the Boston Bruins dominated the NHL (you remember the NHL, don’t you?).  Phil Esposito set the NHL record for most goals in one season. But if you remember, it was Bobby Orr who was responsible for a lot of Phil’s success. Many of Phil’s goals were called ‘garbage goals’ because he scored many goals off rebounds or great end to end rushes by Orr.

     I have felt like that this week in Venezuela as I am on my way home from a blessed ministry trip. We were celebrating 10 years of Operation Christmas Child here, I am travelling with plaques and recognitions given by the National Leadership Team to the Team at Samaritan’s Purse who collect shoe boxes of gifts for children from Teams of parents and children across Canada who send them to SP who sends them to the National Leadership Team who sends them to the Regional Leadership Teams who distributes them to churches who share them with children! Now I would call that TEAMWORK, wouldn’t you?  This week I had the privilege of accepting an award that really goes to all the TEAMS that I just mentioned!

National Leadership Team Venezuela

    This week I met a TEAM of over 50 volunteers who work with local churches. Some of these dedicated soldiers for the cause of Christ live 10 hours or more away from the capital city of Caracas and came to receive training and instruction. These are the people who see the boxes distributed to churches and then to the children. What a wonderful group of servants! I will you could meet them.

    The National Leadership Team won a special place in my heart this week.  When I arrived in Valencia, Venezuela last week I did so without my suitcase arriving with me.  If you have travelled at all you will know how frustrating that can be.  For me, this is the second consecutive trip that this has happened. The last time was not so bad as the suitcase arrived the next day and was delivered to where I was staying.  However, that was not the case this week.  All of my clothes, both dress and casual were in it.  Since we had a elegant celebration for the 10th anniversary, I also brought my new suit.  But I could now wear it because I did not have it.  The NLT were very kind supplying some of my basic clothing and toiletry needs! I did go a few days without my usual morning routine as you will note in one of the pictures below.

Nice hair and new shirt!

     Thank you for being a part of this prayer TEAM, your prayers sustain me and encourage me. God was faithful and blessed! I appreciate you all greatly for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until know!

For God’s Glory,


Impacting the World One Child at a Time

Hello my friends, I wanted to share with you this impactful video that demonstrates God’s love in a very tangible way! I pray it will be as impactful on you as it was on me.  I know some of you don’t use facebook and I wanted to share this with you in this way! Thank you!  Deb and I love you! 

March 9, 2012

Sharing the Gospel through a Shoe Box

The last couple of weeks I have been on a huge learning curve as God has lead me to work with Operation Christmas Child, which is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse (

As we travelled today from our staff retreat in North Carolina, we made a pit stop at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.  I must say that if you are ever in that part of the United States you need to stop there.  What a wonderful legacy Billy has left for the rest of us who follow him.  He followed Jesus Christ with all of his heart, I would even say that he has lived his life to exalt Jesus.  I feel so privileged to be a part of that legacy as I begin to interact with folks in Latin America.  This trip is a result of Billy’s obedience to the call of God in his life.

It reminds me that all of us are now building a legacy for others to follow. 1 Corinthians 3 talks about how church builders construct the people of God (His temple).  With what kind of material are will building, something that will last forever (gold, silver, precious stone) or that which is here today and gone tomorrow (wood, hay, stubble)? 

Thank you for your prayers and joining me in this God-given ministry!


Delight in the Lord

Psalm 37:4,”Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” is a verse that I have quoted often in my life.  Usually I do so trying to twist God’s arm to give me the my desires that are not necessarily his.  Many times those desires did not line up with what God was trying to teach me at the time.  Some were very legitimate desires, desires of service, but God was teaching me patience and more importantly, teaching me other valuable and vital character lessons that were much more important than the desires I was expressing. 

I have often been frustrated in my Christian life because I felt that verses like Psalm 37:4 were not really true in the practical sense of the word.  “This is a fine verse for those who get what they want but what about the rest of us?” I would say to myself and the Lord.  But I have come to understand in experience of living and trusting God that the Lord does indeed have His own timetable.

The most valuable lessons that I have been learning in my Christian walk is that God is constantly teaching me character lessons way before He shows me what He actually wants me to do for Him.  Many times, I found myself trying to twist my wife’s arm to convince her of what I thought was God’s will.  How strange for a Christian man, a pastor even, to go against the teaching of 1 Peter 3:1-6 and still expect God to honour his desires?  God wanted me to learn to walk in harmony with my ‘helper that is fit for me’ before I could ever hope to have my desires fulfilled.

Christian husbands need to learn to listen to their wives.  We are so busy most of the time trying to tell our wives that they need to submit to us, while we forget that there is a mutual submission that the Apostle Paul talks about that is just as valid as the submission that the wife is to give to the husband.  Wives do have a sixth sense about things, they do have a sense of spirituality and intuition that we men lack in a big way.  I needed to learn that lesson.

God, through His Spirit, has put into my spiritual DNA, the desire to serve Him.  That is first and foremost.  Our spiritual desires to please God and serve God come from God.  Therefore, we must wait for God to bring all the strands together.  We should not force situations or persons to do what we want.  We must be humble enough to see God’s timing in each and every circumstance.  There is a reason for the ‘no’ answer you maybe receiving from God.  We need to be attentive to what the Lord wants to teach us at that moment because it will prepare us for what lies ahead.

To serve God is the greatest privilege that you and I will ever have! It is my prayer that wherever you are in your spiritual walk that you let God be God and learn the lessons he has for you at this particular moment in time.

For God’s Glory,

Advent: The Season of Peace

Peace  is often described as the absence of war.  There, of course, is some truth in that statement, but there are many types of wars we engage in other than the military type we think of.  No doubt, the images of war that flash across our television screen demonstrate its horror and cost.  It is terrible and it is ugly.

However, there are different types of ‘wars’ that you and I fight on a daily basis.  These wars are subtle; they are the ones that are continually launched to destroy relationships, self-esteem, values, and integrity.  This is where the wool gets pulled over our eyes time after time.  These wars are dressed up in the best finery possible.  They are masked to hide their true identity so that we are blind to their attack.  For example, the drug culture is built on the premise that if one consumes that product there is a better world waiting.  The promise that it pretends to offer can never be matched by the reality it delivers.  Alcoholic beverage advertisements promote that when one consumes their product that there is a world waiting of sex, popularity and endless good times.  However, never does the drug culture or the alcohol industry show the dangers of the consumption of their product; they never show the lives and families that are literally destroyed because of their use. 

There are other wars that often engage in.  The things that enter our mind from various sources (be it from whatever media, the Internet, or even from people around us) also can bring conflict.  These can eventually be causes of a lack of peace in our hearts.  Now here is the good news, and I don’t mean good news like you just won the lottery or that I can wave my magic wand and make all the bad things in your life disappear.  The good news, the really good news, is that advent reminds us that peace came to earth on that first Christmas morning and to give us lasting peace. 

We humans like to try and find our own way in life.  We consider it very macho if we can take on the world and come out victorious.  Unfortunately, this war that rages in us cannot be won if we are left to our own devices.  We need outside assistance and that is where the advent comes into play.  This is also where it gets tough for us machos.  Because we do think we can make it on our own, we reject any aid for fear that it may crimp our style. 

The peace that God desires to give us is wrapped up in gift form. And just like a gift you must open it or  receive it in order to benefit from it.  The Bible says it like this: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”  This gift is so incredible that it leaves you gasping for air.  To think that a loving, holy God would give to humanity His perfect Son is the greatest news in the world.  This gift is so precious that God would never force anyone to accept His gift; he looks for willing hearts to receive that treasure. 

The solution to the war in your heart and mine today is not a self-help book or a you-can do-it speech.  But it is a baby who was born to die a death, a death that we deserved, to give us what we didn’t deserve, and His peace.  No, we don’t become perfect, we don’t have all the answers but rather, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you have THAT peace today?

Happy or Holy?

            What makes you happy?  Being with your friends?  Eating your favourite food?  Watching a good movie?  The theme of being happy dominates our society.  Do whatever you like, when you like, where you like!  If anyone gets in your way, then you can rain on that person’s parade for getting in your way.  How dare they stop you from being happy?  But, what about when God draws the line in the sand?

            There is a higher priority than being just being happy.  I like to be happy, I love it when my sports teams win and don’t like it when they lose, for example.  However, whether they win or lose, or whether I get to eat my favourite flavour of ice cream is irrelevant to God’s goals for my life.  This is where the proverbial ‘rub’ comes in life. Many people, including some who profess faith in Christ, stop living the way God wants them to live because He gets in the way of their good times.

            God’s priority is to develop our character to reflect His own.  He takes us from being self-centered people who are all about the good time and moulds us into people who are all about Him.  The apostle Paul talks about this in his first letter to the Corinthians. Specifically, he deals with that enculturated right that people had to make themselves happy by eating meat that had just been offered as a sacrifice to a pagan idol.  Just look at that meat, it is almost talking to us, “Eat me! I am delicious barbecued!” But Paul says that is something more important than enjoying a tasty steak.  The thing that was more important was that some people’s conscience would not allow them to eat that same meat. So if you put yourself first and not think about that person, you would actually be sinning against Christ! These younger Christians had not yet come to the place of a proper understanding that the idol was nothing and therefore they could be free to eat the meat.  Paul’s point was that their Christian lives were not about making themselves happy!

            This ‘right’ we think we have to be happy extends to the church as well.  People get upset in church because their type of music was not played, someone sat in their spot, and the preacher was too long or too personal or too boring, just to mention a few! Our consumer mentality to become happy seems to be unaffected by the fact that God calls us to be united in Christ, to serve one another, care for one another, and love one another.  Leaders have a hard time leading because people in the pew won’t allow them to use their spiritual gifts to their maximum potential.  Yes, at times leaders do lead to make themselves happy because of their drive for power and success.  But the majority of those whom God has called are people who seek to please God and honour Him!

            Happiness should be a by-product of living for God, not a central foundational experience.  Let’s not forget that the majority of the Disciples that Jesus called to serve Him and His people had their lives ended at the hands of those who sought to extinguish their message from the planet.  We in the Western world know very little about that kind of suffering.  But the one characteristic of each of those followers of Christ who gave up their lives for their Lord was joy!  Joy is the state of being content with life and with what God has given. Paul said, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

            There is joy in serving Jesus, a joy that no happy, fleeting circumstance could ever match!

Godly Passion

It is that time again.  Once every 4 years, countries around the world will compete for the Jules Rimet Trophy, as it was known between 1930 to 1970.  Today it is called the FIFA World Cup Trophy.  People will be glued to their television sets, tuned into their radios and booking sick days off work in order to watch and listen to the games.  Our family had the privilege of living in one such country that is football crazy.  What an unbelievable experience that was!  We remember how life game to a screeching halt whenever our team played!  Even the church prayer meeting was postponed until the penalty kicks were concluded, nobody could concentrate on praying while the game was still undecided!  One word describes that kind of atmosphere – passion!
The Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples that they were to love the Lord God with all of their hearts, souls and minds.  In other words, they were not just to go through the motions of being religious. They were to be so wrapped up in living for God that He was to be their all and all.  He was to be their passion.  I find myself more times than not of only floating from one experience to the next in life without involving or thinking about the Lord. 

It seems that when we fall into these ruts in life that God has to sort of tap us on the shoulders and says, “Remember me?”  For that reason, the New Testament book of James says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”  The trials that God brings into our life help us to keep our priorities right and keep our passion for Him burning strong. 
We human beings have a tendency to be full of self, and we like to begin to take credit where we see progress and success.  There have been many times after I have stepped down from preaching a sermon where I have accepted the credit and adulation of others.  Inevitably, the Lord steps in to remind me who really gets the credit and who really should receive the adulation.  We are His instruments that He has chosen to use in order for the glory to go to Him.   It is all about Him.  Whenever we think that God cannot get along without us, He reminds us in very tangible ways that it is we who cannot get along without Him! 
Passion in living for God does not mean that we will always be euphoric or energetic, but it does mean that we will be determined to see His hand in everything we do and in all that we are.  We will serve Him because He demonstrated His love for us and has called us to do those things that will encourage one another.  Passion for God is giving Him my all in all each day of my life.  It is a determination that He will be the first priority. 
Finally, to be passionate for God is to give back to Him what He has already given to us, namely and specifically, our lives. Whenever I get too far overflowed with me I am reminded of where God has taken me from.  Ephesians 2:1-10 helps me keep things in perspective, I am what I am by the grace of God.  I was once a sinner, full of self, full of ungodliness and disobedience to the Lord – but now – because of His grace, I am His workmanship in Christ Jesus created to do good works!   It’s unbelievable! That fills me with passion for God!  I cannot remain how He found me, I must live to bring Him glory and honour today and every day! 

Getting in the Way!

At times, we can get in the way of what God wants to accomplish.  Our opinions, our world view and how we judge the validity of an idea, at times block the progress of the church.  This is not anything new.  Well meaning, good intentioned believers have put up road blocks and obstacles for the advancement of the church for a long time.  I will never forget observing one of those famous business meetings in the church where I came to know the Lord.  Tempers arose, words were exchanged in a spirit of mistrust that seemed to envelope the building and in the end, and Satan was the victor. 

God was doing some amazing things in the early church.  He had told the disciples to go into Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth and share the good news of Christ (Acts 1:8).  It took a while for those first Christians to understand the significance of that plan.  Take the time to read the first 11 chapters of the history book of the New Testament, Acts, you will observe the movement of the Spirit of God. 

Beginning in chapter 2, we observe the day of Pentecost and the birth of the church.  It was all Jewish. Some were converts to Judaism who later became converts to Christ but Jewish in culture nonetheless.  These new believers met in the temple and in each other’s houses to receive the instruction from God’s Word, and to enjoy fellowship and to worship the Lord.  They were in Jerusalem and for a while it seemed that they were very content being there.  As readers we make the observation, “Hey, what happened to the command of Christ in chapter one verse eight?”  When we get to the end of Chapter 7 and the beginning of Chapter 8, a great persecution arose against the church and the believers scattered.  We read of the ministry of Philip among the Samaritan people (Acts 8).  Step one, the church was starting to get its wings!  They were beginning to minister to people of a different culture.  We are introduced to Philip’s ministry to an Ethiopian who comes to Christ.  Now we are getting somewhere! 

After reading about the miraculous conversion experience of Saul, who was responsible for the persecution of believers, we stop at take a observe chapters 10 and 11 of Acts. God is preparing His people to launch out into the deep, to move among people who did not share any cultural similarities at all with those first believers.  We must point out that it took God in His sovereignty for that to happen.   He speaks to a Gentile man by the name of Cornelius and at the same time He speaks to the apostle to the Jewish people, Peter.  He clearly shows Peter that the era of the Law of Moses has been fulfilled and that all men need to hear the good news, even those who were of a different culture that he. 

The rest is history.  Peter goes to meet with a man by the name of Cornelius whose house is now filled with his family and friends.  As Peter explains to them the good news of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, these Gentiles believe and receive the Holy Spirit! There is no greater miracle even today than that of God changing a life, none! 

As Peter returns back to Jerusalem the story gets interesting.  There were a group of believers who had the conviction that the gospel was for them and them alone.  When they heard that Peter had entered the house of a Gentile and ate with them and shared the Word of God with them, they blew a gasket!  “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them!”  You can hear the tone of condemnation!  “What were you thinking, Peter?”  They were saying, “God doesn’t work that way!”  “You should be ashamed of yourself acting like that!” 
Do you find yourself being critical at times of the passion other people have for Christ?  We believers can be so judgmental.  “That is no way for a believer to act,” we say in a ‘supersaintly’ way that is neither super nor saintly!  As Peter heard the criticism of these folks he related to them the story of what happened.  What would you think?  What side would you be on? 

Here is a verse that until recently I have not paid much attention to in all my time being a Christian.  It is Acts 11:17, “So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” The last thing I want to be known as is someone who opposes God and His work!  I want to be known as someone who is so passionate about God that I rejoice each time I hear of His work being done!  It is time for the church of Jesus Christ to get revved up for the things that cause all of heaven to rejoice.  God is not obligated to do His work the way we think they ought to be done! We are obligated to recognize His hand when His work is being done!  

A New Beginning

    Where have I been?  What I mean to say is that I have been a Christian for almost 30 years and have never been gripped by God like I have been recently.  God’s love is becoming the number one motivation for all that I am and do.  It is the reason I get up in the morning, the reason I pastor a church, and the reason I am a faithful husband and friend! 
    For years I have struggled with many areas of my life even as a missionary and a pastor.  I have struggled with personal relationships with others depending on what side of issues they were on!  But I am more convinced now than ever before that when God is at the heart of life; He literally becomes your heart beat!  You live for Him, you breathe His will.  This is not to say that there are not challenges out there in my life but it is a testimony to God’s faithfulness in the midst of those challenges.
    The book of Proverbs has been particularly used by God in this rebirth of His love.  Chapter one verse seven of this book of wisdom says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” When we place God in His rightful place on the throne of our hearts then we begin to see Him for who He is.  Without any preconceived ideas or unrealistic expectations of what we will receive from God, the only thing we do is fall at His feet in true unadulterated worship!  ‘The fear of the Lord’ has to do with understanding with our finite minds and emotions His greatness and our puniness!  When we look at the creation around us, its detail, its variety, and its richness we can’t help but worship!  How much greater it is to know His work of grace in our lives!
    Too often in my life I have worshipped God for me and not for Him.  How I sing, how I am dressed, who is looking at me, who thinks I am a great guy all are false motivations that blocked my ability to truly worship the Lord.  Having said that, dressing well is a good thing, trying to sing on key is a good thing if I can do that but they are not the MAIN thing.  Being a part of a fellowship of God’s people as we sing God’s praise is one of the highlights of my week but who cares if anyone is looking at you!  It is all about Him.
    Our battle with sin even as believers is incessant in this life.  There never seems to be a time when we can get a break.  We memorize Scripture and pace the floor trying to avoid those feelings and temptations that attack us when we are vulnerable to no avail at times.  Could it be that we are trying to win a battle that on our own we can never win?  When I first became a Christian I memorized I Corinthians 10:13,There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I quote in King James Version because that is how I first learned it.  God is the one who gives us the ability to win over sin when it comes a calling.
    Placing God at the very center of life is not a new teaching that I have just stumbled upon.  I have known it for a long time, ever since we sat in David’s basement and learned about it with a group of young men who were trying to live for God.  I recall the material demonstrating how God occupies the very centre sphere of life and everything else on the periphery.  Just like the coach before a football game, that is how it is supposed to be!  But life gets in the way and we lose our way. 
    I am forever grateful that God never gave up on me when there were several times that I gave up on Him.  I don’t know what the future holds but my commitment is to day by day place myself before His Throne and be still and know that He is God.  Would you join me?