This overwhelming sense that I have to continue to write is prompted by the Holy Spirit. I do not know where this is leading, but I sense there must be a record of it. Whatever will be happening in the future, this will somehow tie to it. My understanding of following Jesus has taken dramatic turns. The simplest way I can put it is like this: I punched in at the time clock for one last time. Many of you probably do not even know what a time-clock is. When I was younger, it was a clock that you would punch the time you arrived at work, and the time you left. You would get paid for the amount of time you were on duty. I believe God gave this analogy to me as a very simple way to understand what following Jesus means. This is what I envision:
Above the clock there is a sign that says this. “Before punching in, read carefully: Every breath you have for the rest of your life is dedicated to the three owners of the company. There are no breaks unless we are with you. There are no lunch times unless we are with you. There are no vacations unless we are with you. There is no sitting down on the job. You can never punch out. You can never get away from us. We will be watching you always. You will be learning every day. I will relentlessly teach you the same lesson until you learn it. There are no sick days. There are no excuses for not showing up. You are allowed to punch in one time, and trust us, you never want to punch out. Completing your work schedule to the very end is the most important thing you will ever do.”
How many of you would punch in? In Western culture it is all about the numbers. Quantity outranks quality every time. The sad reality is that most who think they are Christians are just faking it, much the way I successfully did for 25 years. Please do not take this comment in a judgmental way, but from a man that failed miserably most of his life claiming to be a Christian. If God can take someone like me and open my eyes, it is possible for anyone. When you are all in for Jesus, you gladly accept the list of things above and many many more. Your understanding begins to rapidly change and God allows you to participate in more and more things. Before we even left Africa, a couple of people got hold of me. One was a man I knew for many years. The other was the son of a another man I knew for many years.
Both of these men potentially had just a few weeks to live. One was already in hospice care. The other was in and out of the hospital. Both had lung cancer and many other ailments that appeared to be hopeless. I will discuss the story of these men in more detail in my next report. God put them in our path to see if we would continue to be servants seeking him daily. They were opportunities for us to serve. I sensed in my spirit that God really wanted to know if we are punched in for good or not. That means for every breath I take for the rest of my life, I am on duty. I understand why this would be such a difficult commitment to make. We have fantastic examples in the Bible from Jesus of course but also for many others. The same Holy Spirit that Paul and the disciples and many others received is the same Holy Spirit we can have access to today. So with that thought in mind, is it not possible for us to live lives serving Jesus to the same level of other icons written about in the Bible?
I will be the first to admit that this is going down a very slippery slope that ends in the pit of pride and arrogance topped off with ego. Even Paul himself says we can boast in one thing, and that is in Jesus. I am here to boast only of Jesus that any of this has even happened. I do not know how I know this, but some day, many people will read these words. There are many things that have been revealed, some to me, some to others. Most are not to be spoken of yet, but I am given a spiritual release to share the initial piece of the puzzle. From this point forward, when I talk about the people of the Bible, I will be referring to normal humanity, not Jesus. The reason is whatever God is leading us to is a story that humanity is to know and learn from. Believe me, it is hard to put down these words, but it is not really up to me.
God is taking a group of people on a journey for a specific mission. We could say it is pastor training and Bible distribution. I am absolutely thrilled to participate in such a thing. The reality is that is part of it, but there is something much greater at play. God is in the process of revealing enough of Himself to us for our faith to grow exponentially beyond anything dreamed possible. Dare I say to the level of some that are described in the Bible. I do not see anything in Scripture that would prevent such a thing from happening. I believe that God is going to show us how. In fact, He is already showing us. I can hardly wait to get back to Africa. I have not even been home a week yet, but something is key among the people there. Is it the extreme poverty and near-death starvation that plagued many of them most of their lives? Or is it a multitude of other reasons that they have had to deal with? I cannot answer with any degree of certainty. But there is something there, that is not here in the states.
Only the power of a living God could explain how one simple trip to Africa in December could result in such rapid expansion in eight months. Before the end of our first year, we will have the presence of our team members in three countries. This was started by two of us going and investigating what God wanted us to see. Looking back, it is impossible to fathom how this could have happened without the power of God. We are discovering there is great power in obedience to opportunities. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. God rewards faithfulness over and over again. Those that use the excuse that they are waiting on the Lord will miss out every time. God’s will is described over and over again in the Bible. All we have to do is choose to exercise it in whatever situation we are in.
Do not get me wrong, my records had not been very good, but I am striving to improve it through the Holy Spirit. My goal is every opportunity He shows me, I am going to be a willing participant. This is where biblical faith and moving mountains so-to-speak, comes into play. This is what God is showing us in Africa: By helping at the orphanage, bringing in the homeless man, and reaching out daily to those around us God is rewarding our faithfulness with deeper understanding. This deeper understanding is what gives us a sense of closeness to God and continued vigor to do better and go deeper. These are exactly the things that the disciples did, and what Paul did, and why God continued to take them deeper. God is showing that any of us can choose to live a story of biblical proportion in our lives if we are all in and willing to take extreme acts of faith.
Just the mere act of me writing these words is giving me a better understanding of what God is trying to show us. In addition to that, it gives me a heightened sense of importance of why I am to record these events. There is nothing special about any of us except one very important thing: We are all in for Jesus! If any opportunity reveals itself, we want to respond to it based on biblical Instruction. When we began to be obedient in this area was when God really turned up the learning opportunities. I believe the same learning opportunities were given to those in the early church. That is why people took such great steps of faith. God would rapidly give them increasing opportunities to be obedient to His word. With that obedience, their understanding increased.
This became a perpetual motion of obedience leading to spiritual growth over and over again. The more readily we can dive into this pattern of serving Jesus, the quicker our understanding will increase. We all marveled at what took place in Africa and at our fellowship table. Even Martin has commented on several occasions, that he has never experienced anything like it. Now, all of us have a supernatural excitement. The nearly unquenchable thirst that the Holy Spirit has stirred up in us has caused us all to have a ravenous appetite for more. This is what we need to do: Realize that opportunity followed by obedience, based on acts on faith, which pleases God, results in Him teaching us deeper spiritual truths. The greater the number of times we pick up on these opportunities, the more God will reveal spiritual truths to us. Ultimately if we take every opportunity that God places around us to love, we will have an equal number of opportunities to learn.