Forgiveness, Restoration, Calling

 

FORGIVEN RESTORED CALLEDJohn 21: 15- 25

It has been a few weeks since we left off with the SEEING IS BELIVING series.  We have been following the post resurrection appearances of Jesus.  After He rose from the dead he remained and appeared to the disciples for forty days.  Jesus appeared to over 500 people during those forty days.

In my last message, we were in John 21: 1 -15. Peter had quit being a disciple and went back to fishing.  Nobody quits alone!  He quit and six other disciples joined Peter as they went back to fishing.  Remember, fishing was not recreation for them, something they did to get their heads straight.  Fishing was a career, a job!  They gave up on their calling and went back to fishing.

This is not unusual.  Every pastor friend that I know has either quit, threatened to quit, thought about quitting, etc.  Ministry can be frustrating and discouraging at times.  It is great when you get the opportunity to see people come to Christ and grow in their faith and then there are times when the ministry isn’t growing, people walk away from you or you reflect on your own unworthiness.  I have been there, but I have learned there is no quit!  I always go back to what Peter forgot that he said in John 6:68:  Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.  We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God”  What do you quit too!  There are no options, Jesus is the best thing going!

Peter and the disciples fish all night and catch nothing.  Another lesson that I have learned.  When you are not doing what Jesus calls you to, you will be unfruitful.  You may make money and have worldly success but you will be totally empty.

Jesus is on the shore and tells them to fish on the other side of the boat.  This is a familiar scene to Peter and the disciples.  Wait!  This is not déjà vu!  This happened before!  They cast the net on the other side and sure enough!  The net becomes full of 153 fish!

John realizes that that was Jesus on the shore and tells Peter, “It is the Lord!”  Peter who is suffering from guilt and condemnation from his denial of Jesus dives in and swims to shore!  Another lesson, when we have sinned and away from God, the best thing we can do is to turn and run to Him!  That is what the word, “repentance” means!  Peter does his best Michael Phelps impression and finds Jesus on the shore cooking them breakfast.  That is where we will pick up the story today.

I remember a time when I was the Janitor at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church.  I was laid off from the railroad and Father Paul Kuppe allowed me to work part time as Janitor.  Being that I had to be at church in the morning for work I would go to daily mass.  One morning I reluctantly went to mass as the night before I had gotten drunk and got in a fight.  I had a black eye, I was hung over and full of guilt.  When it came time for communion I did not go up. How could I take the Lord’s body and blood after being such a sinner the night before?  When service was concluding Father Paul stopped and whispered in my ear as he was coming down the aisle.  “Tim, when you do not take communion is when you need it the most!” That was 34 years ago!  I have never forgotten that!  When we are hurting, lost and away from the Lord His desire is to forgive, restore us and use us.  That is the message today.

Have you or are you in a place that you feel like you are away from God?  You are here today and that is a good thing.  Have you ever been a place where you felt like what you have done and who you have becomeis so bad that you thought there is no hope, no forgiveness? How could the Lord ever forgive me, let alone ever use me again?  Welcome to Peter’s club!  Let’s sit down and have breakfast with Peter and Jesus in John 21: 15 – 25

Peter has come to the realization that through his denial and sin he has lost his devotion to Jesus.  What is the use?

“Simon, son of John,” Jesus begins, “do you truly love me more than these?” The two of them are alone now. Jesus asks him to decide. But what are the choices? Does Peter love Jesus more than his fishing nets and boats, more than his house and family in the village, more than his quiet life in Galilee, more than the other disciples? Jesus means them all. After the first Easter, every part of Peter’s life crowded in to demand his devotion. He is trying to please them all. As a result, the Lord no longer has first place in his heart. Someone once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Jesus knows this. He once said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added as well” (Matthew 6:33). The Lord asks, ‘Do you truly love me first?’

Do we love Jesus more than we love ourselves?  That is the question.  When we choose sin, it is because we choose our own pleasure over our love for Him.  We have all been there, haven’t we?

What Peter failed to realize is that he was already forgiven!  When Jesus died on the cross He declared, “IT IS FINISHED!”  JOHN 19: 30.  The penalty and price for sin was paid for.  Peter was off somewhere lamenting over his denials.  He never heard Jesus say it!  Yet, he should have known after the three years with Jesus but he did not.

My first point today is what Peter had not realized:

  1. We are forgiven!

That is GRACE!  The minute Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know no what they do!’  and then declared “It is finished!”  Peter and every person who ever put their trust in Christ were forgive of every sin they committed in the past, every sin they currently were in and every sin that they had not ever committed yet!

I always feel such a caution when I share about GRACE! Some people will run with it and take it as a license to sin!  If God has already forgiven me then I can do what I want since I am already forgiven! That is a slippery slope to walk on!

What GRACE is meant to do, is realize that Jesus loves us so much that He was willing to pay such a price to forgive us.  This should make us think twice when sin comes knocking at the door.  How could I do this when He paid such a price to die for me!  GRACE should make us sin less!

Peter is living in guilt and condemnation! That is an awful place to be! Have you been there?  Of course, you have!  For over a week Peter has been carrying this burden of sin that the Lord had already suffered and died for.  If you are in sin and living with this guilt the Bible says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”  1 John 1:9 What this means is that we have to acknowledge that we have sinned.  We cannot just continue in our sin and expect the Lord’s forgiveness.  That is what I was talking about in the dangers of sharing about the Grace of God. You do not have to confess to a man but you have to acknowledge to the Lord that you have sinned.  Let me back up, you do not have to confess to a man, but sometimes that is helpful as it gives you accountability and there is a lot to be said about that.  We need to move on just as Peter needs to move on to what Jesus is really doing in this scripture.

My second point is:

Jesus desires to restore us

This whole account of “Peter, do you love me?” three times is Jesus restoring Peter to his call and purpose.

Let me give you the definition of restoration:  the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.

Why three times “Peter, do you love me?”  Because that is Peter’s purpose and call as it is yours and mine. God said in Deuteronomy 6 and Jesus said in Matthew 22, Luke 10, Mark 12“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.a 5And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

What have you lost because of sin?  Your marriage, family relationships, finances, a job, your health, your peace.  Jesus desires to restore all of that and it starts by loving His once again with all you heart, soul, mind and strength.

Let me read to you from Joel 2 from verse 25. This the kind of restoration the Lord desires for you:

I will restored to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.

26“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

The LORD Will Pour Out His Spirit

28e “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

30“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

The Lord has a purpose, a plan and a call for every one of us!

  1. Jesus call us

You have a call on your life!  What is it? The same call that Peter had “Peter, do you love me?’  Tim, do you love me?  Aimee do you love me?  Phyllis do you love me?  Jeff, do you love me?  Betsy, do you love me?

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?e” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Feed my sheep!

 Jesus never asked me, “Tim, do you love children?”  He said do you love me?  If I love Him then I will have the love necessary to love these kids the way I do. He is not asking you, do you love kids, teenager, the homeless, the prostitutes, etc. He is asking, do you love Him? If you do then you will love those he loves!

I was a children’s pastor in a church in Pittsburgh. We were reaching out to inner city kids all over Pittsburgh. That is how I met Jill.  I was in kid’s church when a short, red hair lady, named Joann comes to me and says I want work with you so I can learn how to do children’s ministry. She was going to Zimbabwe and wanted to know how to teach and minister to children. I said, great I can use the help.  Shen then informs me that she doesn’t like children! What?  I reluctantly accepted her help and she worked with us in church and also outreach into some of the worst areas of Pittsburgh as we ministered to children.  Joann moved to Zimbabwe and was key to helping a large church develop their children’s ministry and even adopted 2 Zimbabwe children.  Did she love kids, not at first!  Joann loved Jesus and was doing what he asked her to do because she loved Jesus!

Jesus forgave us on the cross.  The price was paid, It is finished!   That is grace.  His desire is to restore us to all that is lost because of sin, sins of our fathers, our sins and even the sins of Adam and Eve.  That restoration, begins here on earth and is fulfilled in heaven.  For now, He calls us to love by loving others.

Do you know you are forgiven!  If you are in sin, confess your sin to the Lord for He is faithful to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.  Love Him with everything you have and allow Him to restore you to everything He has for you.  For now, Feed His lambs and feed His sheep.  That means serve and love others so they will know Him like you know Him.

Thank God for John, Peter’s friend.  Chapter 20 ends and it seems like he ends his Gospel.  Then we see Chapter 21 and this story of Peter going fishing and breakfast by the sea.  I believe God used John to share Peter’s restoration with us.  If not we would have always known Peter as the one who denied Jesus three times.  Now we know Him as “Peter do you love me?”  Restored and used by God to lead the apostles and the early church.

 

 

 

 

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Believing Is Seeing

believing is seeing 4

I am sure you have heard the term “Doubting Thomas”.  It means “a person who is skeptical and refuses to believe something without proof.”  It originated in the passage we are about to read today. Have you ever been a doubting Thomas?  Does it take a lot to make you believe something?  Have you ever said, “I won’t believe it until I see it!”  There are times when all of us are a doubting Thomas.

In today’s world, there is so much information being thrown at us!  I know that all of you keep up with current events by using Facebook?  There is a saying “Believe half of what you read and none of what you hear.”  Debra often says I am gullible.  I tend to believe everything I hear.  That can get you in trouble.  I guess the other side of that is the skeptic who believes nothing you tell them.  I come home from Uber-ing and tell Debra I met someone last night and they were so broken and they told me they are coming to church today.  She often responds sarcastically, “Yeah right!”  Actually, over the last two years of driving only one person has come to church who I invited and they said they would come.  She came only once and Debra said she realized I was married and we never saw her again.  I guess I am gullible. Where are you!  Are you gullible, do you believe everything you hear?  Or are you a skeptic, an EEYORE?  “You can’t believe anything anyone tells you!

I guess with the things of this world we should have some skepticism.  But when It comes to the Word of God and faith in Jesus we need to open our hearts and minds and believe because at the end of the reading today Jesus says, “Blessed are they who have not seen but believe.”  That is what faith in Jesus is all about.  We do not see with our physical eye, we see with an eye of faith.  That faith is what makes us fall under the “Blessed” category.

Lets read from John 20: 10 – 31  The story of “Doubting Thomas”.

In the reading, today the first thing we see is the disciples, less Thomas, meeting on that first resurrection day.  This is after John, Peter and Mary have seen what they have seen.  John and Peter seeing the empty tomb, the empty Jesus cocoon.  Mary, the very first person to see the risen Jesus.  It is now evening and I am sure there has been quite a stir when others have come and found the tomb empty, especially the Romans and the religious folks who had Jesus crucified.

The title of this series in Believing is Seeing.  They saw the empty tomb and believed all sorts of crazy things, they believed all kinds of stuff except the truth, He is risen!  The Roman guards who were at that tomb were paid money to tell people that the disciples had stolen the body!  In fear, the disciples were hiding out behind locked doors.

Out of nowhere Jesus appears to them.  He is in His resurrected body so locked doors are not a problem to him.  He shows them His wounds!  Can you imagine how they must have felt?  The reading said, “they were filled with joy!”  That had to be an understatement!  He says, “Peace be with you!”  and then commissions them to go out and share this good news!  He then breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  In Genesis God breathed life into man and once again Jesus breathes New life into the disciples and they receive the Holy Spirit.  The word breath and spirit in the New Testament Greek is RUACH.  So, we see the Holy Ruach comes into the disciples

I believe it is at this point the disciples are saved or become “Born Again”. In Acts 2, we are heading there with this series we see once again Jesus giving the Holy Spirit to His disciples.  We call that the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”.  Remember John the Baptist saying, “I baptize you with water but there is one coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  This is what happens in Acts 2.  The Holy Spirit comes in us for salvation.  He comes on us for power.  We will cover this further in the future with this message.

Thomas is not there! Why?  This brings me to my first point today:

  1. The worst thing that a man can do when in disbelief or doubt, is isolate Himself.

Isolation is the devil’s tool. The devil will lie to you in isolation. It appears that Thomas is his discouragement and doubt is off sulking by himself.     “Woe is me!”

This reminds me of Elijah in 1 Kings 19

Elijah just has this tremendous victory.  He comes against worshipers of a false God called Baal.  He has a contest to see whose God is real.  God proves himself and then Elijah has these 450 prophets of Baal killed.  King Ahab tells his evil wife what happens and she threatens to kill Elijah so he runs away and hides in a cave.

But the LORD said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14He replied again, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

15Then the LORD told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshib to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. 17Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! 18Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!

People who get upset or disillusioned in the church all of the sudden just disappear. This is the wrong way to handle it. We need to be honest and discuss issues.  When we are down is when we need fellowship.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thess 5:11

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

Thomas comes out of his pity party and the disciples excitedly tell him about Jesus coming to them.  Thomas says, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

What arrogance!  He had been with these guys for 3 years and now he would not believe or trust them???  For 8 days the disciples had to put up with EEYORE!  They do not seem to lose their patience with him and neither does the Lord!  Jesus shows up again!  Locked doors again!  Jesus says to Thomas, “Peace be with you, put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

Jesus is patient with Thomas’s skepticism and we should be patient with the skepticism of others.

  1. Jesus is patient with our reluctance to come to Faith.

I have often seen the impatience of a Christian spouse with their unsaved mate.  In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, 1 Peter 3:1

This applies not just to wives, the Bible says we must submit to one another.  This kind of submission takes patience and grace.  WE NEED TO BE PATIENT CHRISTIANS, NOT PUSHY CHRISTIANS!

There is no need for Thomas to examine the wounds any closer!  He sees and believes and declares, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”

  1. Faith declares Him as
Lord and God.

The doubter took the Gospel further than any of the rest of them. Thomas took the Gospel all the way to India!  Even today in the province of Kerala, India, they call themselves St. Thomas Christians.  Thomas faith took him to India and his faith took him to martyrdom.  Thomas was executed for his faith.  He was speared to death.

Thomas saw and believed!  He received a faith that empowered him to take the Gospel further than it had ever been.  It gave him the faith and courage to die for Jesus.  Jesus said that same empowering faith is available to us who believe without seeing.

29Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Thomas is called Thomas the Twin.  We are not told who Thomas’s twin was.  It is it you?  Are you Thomas’s twin.  Are you a skeptic?  It is okay to be skeptical about information we get today but we need to lay down our skepticism concerning Jesus.  The young people I pick up today are so filled with skepticism in relation to religion.  They do not believe the Bible, they will not believe someone’s testimony and they dare not believe some preacher.  I hope Jesus is as patient with them as he was with Thomas.  Hopefully something will happen in their lives and they will cry out “My Lord and My God!”  Can you declare today “Jesus, you are my Lord and My God!”  Do you have a faith that would take you to the ends of the earth if needed?  Do you have a faith that would die for Jesus if you had to?  If you believe what John wrote about Jesus then Jesus said Blessed are you and you do have that kind of faith.

The disciples met on a Sunday evening and set a precedence for us.   This is why as Christians, we meet on Sundays.  It is the day the Lord rose from the dead and church has been meeting on this day ever since.  We are blessed!  They met because the saw and believed.  We meet because we believe and we see.

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FINDING YOUR NEW NORMAL

new-normal-sign

We are beginning a new series called “Finding Your New Normal”.  I was inspired by a book by Watchman Nee called the “Normal Christian Life.”  Watchman Nee was a pastor who pioneered the local church movement in China during the 1920’S through the 40’s.  His last twenty years of his life he spent in prison for preaching the Gospel.  He died in prison in 1972.

The book inspired me but I am not following the book exactly, but letting the Holy Spirit guide me as to the characteristics and lifestyle of what would be called “The Normal Christian Life.”  Some of the things we will cover will be forgiveness, deliverance, power, integrity, prosperity, discipline and influence.

Most of us live so far below what God would have as a Normal Christian Life that when we see or experience what is “normal’ it seems miraculous and extraordinary.  When we meet someone living the normal Christian life we view them as Christian superstars and heroes of the faith.  For example:  We have over forty children and teens who show up here on Thursday evenings to S.O.A.P. and learn Biblical life skills.  I have shared this with people explaining that most of the kids come on their own, no parent brings them or makes them attend.  I have had people declare that is a miracle!  In today’s culture that is unheard of, yet quite honestly it is and should be the normal for every church in every community.  We work overseas in Cambodia and other places donating time, money, food, beds, etc. to orphans.  Some have said that is incredible and miraculous!  No, it is what Jesus said is the normal thing to do if you are Christian.  Care for widows and orphans!

Society has spiraled so far downward that when we see someone doing what Jesus said to do we are amazed and call it miraculous.  Sometimes it is miraculous but the miraculous should be part of a normal Christian life.

My hope is that by going through this together that individually and as a church we will strive to life a normal Christian life.  If we can reach what the Bible teaches as normality things are going to change.  Lives are going to change!  You are going to change! Your family is going to change! Beaver Falls is going to change!

Are you ready to live the ‘Normal Christian Life”?   Can we together find new normal God has for us?

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WHO’S THE BOSS? 1 SAMUEL 24

Slide1

Our theme for the year is “Best Choices.”  Not just good choices, but best choices. If we are pursuing God and committed to following Him that will lead us to good choices and to “Best Choices”.  Every week I remind all of us that we are, for the most part, the sum of our choices.

This week’s spiritual discipline is “Submission”.  Now before all you ladies get your dander up let me assure you that I am not focusing this message on you and your submission to your husband, although (don’t throw rocks at me!) that is a small part of spiritual submission.

Slide1

Keeping with our boxing illustration, a boxer is submitted to multiple people is his pursuit of a championship.  We have talked before about him being submitted to his coach or trainer.  Each state has a boxing commission where he needs to be licensed to fight.  He is submitted to the referee during his fights.  He has to live a submitted life to be a champion.

Slide2

There is a New Testament Greek word for submission and it is “HUPOTASSO”.  It means to voluntarily place yourself under another.  It means to properly place yourself under God’s arrangement.  Another word for it would be “Lordship”.

When I came to Christ I declared Jesus as LORD and Savior.  Often times we accept Him as Savior but neglect the Lordship part.  Declaring Jesus as Lord means I will go where He wants me to go, do what He wants me to do and say what He wants me to say!  That is Lordship!   I have HUPOTASSOED my life! I have voluntarily placed myself under His authority.  He is Lord of my life.

By submitting myself to Jesus Lordship, places me also under the authority of other authorities in my life.  I am submitted to my wife, yes I am submitted to my wife!   I know the Bible says “Wives submit”.  It also says submit to one another.  Jesus has placed me as the head of my family but that does not make me a dictator and ruler who dominates my family.  By submitting one another I am committed to operate in loving Biblical leadership in my home and Biblical leadership is a foot washer, a servant.  I am also submitted to a board of directors for our organization, I am submitted to our local and national government.  I will share later from Romans 10 which tells me to obey the laws of the land and pay taxes.  And I must do that as long as those laws do not violate God’s Word.

How about you?  If you declare yourself a Christian, then that means Jesus is Lord. You should be submitted to all the things I mentioned above.  Will you go where Jesus tells you to go?  Will you do what Jesus tells you to do?  Will you say what He wants you to say?  That is submission to his Lordship.

Let’s go to the Old Testament 1 Samuel 24 to see David before he was king and how he was submitted first to God and because of that submission also submitted to a King who was looking to kill him!

To set this up let me tell you that at the point of this story David was prophesied to be the next king of Israel.  He had already defeated Goliath.  He was serving in King Saul’s palace when Saul became jealous of David.  King Saul had failed in his submission to God.  In first Samuel 13 Saul and his army were in a battle and hiding in caves.  They wanted to make a sacrifice and offering to God to gain His favor.  Only the priest was allowed to do that so they were waiting on Samuel who was a priest and prophet.  Saul got impatient and he offered the sacrifice.  Submission means to do God’s things, God’s way!   Samuel shows up and is totally upset with Saul and declares that Saul’s kingship was about to come to an end and God had someone new to be the king, David. Saul is never the same and becomes jealous of David and actually throws a spear at David to kill him.  David flees and begins a life as a fugitive as Saul pursues to kill him.  Let’s pick up the story here.

The first principle we learn from this story is that you must respect the office or leadership position of a person whether or not you respect the person.

“But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe.”  VS 5 David knew that by placing himself in submission to God placed him in submission to King Saul. David submitted himself to God to the point where it could cost his life yet he was voluntarily willing to do that.  Bosses, government officials, and even parents are sometimes acting in ways that make us want to lost respect for them.  That is when we must respect their position and trust that God has placed them over us.  Most of the time we are there to learn something about ourselves.

The second thing we learn here is that you cannot be in authority until you learn how to submit to authority.  I believe that both Saul and David learned something about David.  Saul declares, “And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule.”  Vs. 20  David passed the test and is now ready to be king.

We have to go to the New Testament in Romans 10: 1 – 7 to see our third and final principle.  God has given authorities in your life to shape and protect you.  We submit to governing authorities and laws until they violate the Word of God.

In Jeremiah 18 God talks about the Potter and the wheel.  God used this object lesson to teach us about our submission to Him.  The clay must stay moldable, pliable and certainly cannot jump off the wheel when life doesn’t feel good.

How submitted to God are you?  If you are like me there is a still some rebel in there when I hear this message, yet I know it is truth and it is part of God’s plan for my life.

Although we do not have official membership at the church by coming here to church you have HUPOTASOED.  You have voluntarily placed yourself under some basic things here like showing up on time. If you have kids, you manage your kids. You clean up after yourself etc.  These are some basic ways that you are submitted to this local church when you attend.

Recently some conflicts and situations have brought us to a point to realize that we have stop assuming that everyone has fully entered into the full purpose and plan for the church.  We realize and are establishing that there are different levels of involvement and submission to the plan God has for this local church.  God uses growing pains to help us grow sometime.  In saying all that we are recognizing and establishing three levels of involvement and here they are:

Attendees  – Show Up  You are welcome to just attend here.  Beyond the basics mentioned above that is all we ask of you.

Discipleship – Grow Up  Some of you have already taken the initiative to submit yourselves to discipleship here.  We are going to get more purposeful to help you fulfill your desire to be discipled, but realize with each level of submission comes more responsibility and commitment.

Leaders – Step Up  I was taught a long time ago that with more responsibility comes less freedom!  As you step up in leadership not only will there be even a higher commitment level but there are going to be things in your life that God is going to start pointing out in your life that needs to be dealt with as you lead others.

I would ask that you pray and ask the Lord where you are with this?  We respect wherever you are in this.

I believe God wants all of us as leaders somewhere in His work.  You may not be ready for that here and that is fine.  But imagine if everyone would find their place of gifting and expression and take the mantle of leadership.  The world has been waiting for 2000 years, the age of the church, for this to happen.  This is what it will take to fulfill the hope we have for better community, nation and world.

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Be Offensive In Your Giving

giving_940_wideOur theme for 2016 is “Best Choices”.  In our Confident Kids Program downstairs we are in a module called “Choices”.  The kids are learning how to make good choices.  The kids have learned that “We always, always have choices!   It could be between a good choice and a bad choice, a good choice and a better choice, or a better choice and the best choice.

I have chosen to use boxing through this current series to help us illustrate the messages.  There are many lesson to learn to be a Champion Boxer.   One bad choice can get you knocked out.  One bad choice you can lose your title to your opponent.  God desires us all to be champions but as we learned there are always contenders.  Those who would love to knock you out, take you down and destroy you.  In the realm of life, we all know that our main enemy is the evil one.  He comes to steal, kill and destroy.  John 10:10 We also realize that there is another contender and it is our “Flesh”.  That is the part of us that is not fully redeemed by the Holy Spirit.  It is our body and soul that works against the plan of God for our lives.  This part of you and me needs beaten into submission and this is called in our spiritual life, “Sanctification”.  Please understand that if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior your spirit is born again, fully redeemed and going to heaven to be with Jesus and until that happens He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, and help us.

Now get ready today for a battle between your spirit and your flesh!  I am going to present a spiritual discipline that for most people will get your ire up!  If you do not know what “Ire” is, it is anger and irritation.  So let’s try to listen to this message through our spirit man not our fleshly man and the spiritual discipline we are going to talk about is “Giving”.  Already some of you are squirming.

I want to first apologize to you for all in my line of work, or call, that have used manipulation to get people to give to their ministry.  We all have been turned off by the tele-evangelists.  I am sorry if they have offended you and turned you off.  I am with you.  I hate manipulation.  I personally struggle with talking about church and ministry finances.  I hate to ask people for donations to help our ministry work.  You know we do not make a big deal of the offering here at REACH Community Church.  I do not want to become that which I hate.  At the same time, we cannot let that keep us from submitting to this spiritual discipline that God has designed to help us grow and be what He wants us to be. God has designed us and desires for us to be generous and to have a spiritual discipline of giving.

 

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In my struggle with this message this week I also struggled to try to tie it in to our boxing theme.  How can giving and generosity be related to boxing.  In my search to find some pictures or illustrations I came across this quote by Jack Dempsey.  “The greatest defense is a good offense.”  As I read a little about Jack Dempsey I came to learn that he was one of the best boxers in history and he is still rated in the the top ten of all time even though he fought about a hundred years ago.  I learned that he was accused to taking a dive, in other words he lost a fight on purpose.  My first thought as I tried to tie this in to giving and generosity was that “He gave the fight away!”   That was only speculation and never proven.  But Dempsey said this quote, “The best defense is a good offense.”  As I studied and prayed this week I came to realize that our giving and generosity is a weapon against first of all the devil who wants us to be selfish, stingy and self-centered.  It is also a way to overcome those very things he uses with our flesh.

So how does this relate to boxing?  In boxing you have to keep your hands up to protect your face and sometimes you have to drop your hands to protect your body.   You have to learn how to duck and dodge your opponent’s punches.  That is part of being defensive.  I also realized that if you have a good “Jab”, you can keep your opponent at a distance.  He is afraid to come in too close as the jab is going to nail him.   The jab keeps him out here.  The jab is an offensive weapon and if used right and with discipline becomes a defensive weapon.

I have testified to you that both Debra and I were tithing when we met and we have continued to tithe ever since.  Okay, you may be asking what is “tithing”.  Tithing is giving ten percent of everything that God blesses you with. He gave this in the Old Testament to God’s people and we see Jesus reinforces it in the New Testament in Matthew 23:23  “For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,g but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.  Jesus endorsed tithing here.   I think we get it that you can be obedient to tithe and still be messed up as the Pharisees were.  At the same time, He absolutely says “You should tithe!”  I do not know about you but I am striving to obey Jesus in everything He asks of me.  I declared Him, Lord.  That means I should totally try to obey Him in all things including my giving which should include “Tithing”.

I say this as a testimony of God’s goodness.  I can testify of total provision in our lives.  We have experienced the miraculous in our personal finances.  We have seen finances come into our lives at points of need that we cannot explain where it came from.  We have seen our debts miraculously forgiven.  God has blessed us and the simple fact is that He has blessed us and I want to give back to Him.  That is key for us is that we realize that whether it is giving in our church, giving to the poor, helping other ministries, etc. when we release it from our hands we are giving it to God.  If a ministry or church does not properly steward your offering, it is on them.  We give to God and we release it at that point.  We understand that giving is “Worship”.

Tithing is not something we struggle with.  When finances come in, whether through a paycheck, a gift, or if we were to find money on the street, we tithe immediately!  It is a discipline and habit.  God said tithe off your increase so if it increases us, we tithe.

We will see that God desires all of us to be givers and it is not based on our financial position.  He desires us to be givers whether we live in abundance or we are living in great need.  The greatest way to come out of great need is to give.  You have to understand that God’s Kingdom is flip flop of the world.  The world and your flesh will tell you you can’t give because you won’t have enough.  God’s way is that if you give, you will have enough and more than enough.

Let’s look at a poor widow that becomes a giver.  A widow who gives out of her need and ends up having more than enough.  This is God’s desire for you!

jesus-teaches-about-the-widows-mites-2015-01-01In 1 Kings 17: 8 -24 The first thing we see is that you do not have to be rich to be generous.  God provided through a widow living in poverty.  Through the widows giving out of her need she releases a multiplication of blessing back into her life.  Jesus talks about this Mark 10: 29 – 30 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution.  Jesus commends those who give out of their need.  In Luke 21: 1 – 4 He gives us this illustration:

“While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.a 3“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

Next we see that giving requires faith.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”  Don’t look at what you have but what God can give.Obedience throughout the Bible always requires faith, but God rewards faith!  God blesses faith!

The last principle we see here s that giving releases supernatural provision in every area of our lives.  I talked about the jab, an offensive punch, becomes a defensive tool.  Giving is the “Jab” in boxing.  Giving keeps the devil away from our lives.  Giving keeps us from the left hooks out of nowhere, those unexpected financial attacks.  I believe is we are faithful in our giving to God can shield us from the those unexpected financial hits.

The widow’s faithfulness released the miraculous!  Her son was resurrected from the dead!  Would her son of been resurrected if she refused to obey Elijah?  I can only speculate but I do not believe it would have happened.  I am not saying that you can buy your miracle as the some tele-evangelists try to get us to believe, but I do see that the widow’s obedience to give out of her need released the miraculous.

God is a giver.  He gave us His Son! Through His loving generosity we have inherited everything!  God does not ask us to do what He is not willing to do.  Through giving His Son He gained many sons and daughters. Are struggling in your finances and provisions?  Do you ever feel like you are in a financial hole and you feel cursed?  Can I read one more section of scripture?

“I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ 8“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test11Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.a Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 12“Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.  Malachi 3: 6  – 12

God desires the tithe.  It is a starting place for you and all of us to begin to be generous.  Couple of notes here:  He says if you have not been tithing, ask for forgiveness and begin to tithe.  That is repentance.  Second he says bring it to the storehouse.  I believe the storehouse is your local church, where you are spiritually and physically fed.  You can give above the tithe, that is called offerings and you can give it where ever the Lord directs you, but the tithe should come to what you would consider your church.  Third, this is the only place in the Bible where God says “Put me to the test”. God said it so I am asking you to take a step of faith and tithe and see what God will do!  He promised and I promise you that He will totally provide for you above what you could ever ask or think!

Do you know that if every Christian tithed there would be no need for the welfare system?  Every need in the church would be met.  Widows and orphans would be totally cared for.  We would be a blessing to Beaver Falls and beyond!

What would happen if believers were to increase their giving to a minimum of, let’s say, 10 percent. There would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute. The global impact would be phenomenal. Here’s just a few things the Church could do with the kind of money:

  • $25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in five years.
  • $12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years.
  • $15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
  • $1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work.
  • $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.

Those are some amazing numbers.

I would love to see what God could to with REACH Community Church, your church if we were a 100% tithing church!  It would be miraculous!  It would be the Jab that would knock the devil out!   Please pray about tithing?  Be offensive in your giving!

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Fasting Will Change Your Life

We are learning Spiritual disciplines.  I have already talked about how boxers must develop some basic disciplines if they are going to be champions.  When you are a boxing champion there are always those who are going to challenge you for the belt.  Someone who wants to knock you down and take you out.  They are called in boxing the top contenders.  They are rated and let me share with you the top two contenders who want to knock you out!

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Here they are!  I think you know at least one of their names, the devil!  The other is someone else we been talking about, YOU!  Your flesh!   We have learned that we are a spirit, live in a body and have a soul.  Your flesh man that consists of your body and soul often times fights your spirit man.  Your spirit man is that part of you that dwells with Jesus by the Holy Spirit.  Your spirit knows better.  It gravitates towards goodness, righteousness, and holiness.  The flesh on the other hand wants to go another direction.  We have to learn how to fight the flesh and its trainer, the devil.  One way we can do this is through fasting.

I am not sure when in my Christian walk that I learned the value and power of fasting.  As we see Lent approaching, I can remember my time as a Catholic.  I took Lent serious and I gave up things for Lent. I remember eating fish on Fridays, NO MEAT!.  This is a form of fasting.  Lent always seemed to bring me closer to God.  It made Good Friday and Easter more significant in my life.  I later ended up in an Assembly of God Church where I met Debra.  I can’t remember exactly when, but I know during that time I heard teachings and testimonies about Biblical fasting and it stuck with me.

When I met Debra both of us were fasting two days a week regularly.  Perhaps this is why I could hear so clearly when the Holy Spirit told me to ask her to marry me after only knowing her a couple weeks!  Debra was regularly fasting, but when I asked her to marry me she said she had to fast and pray before she could answer.  She told me yes, two weeks later. (That was a long two weeks!) There are some lessons to learn right here.  My suggestion is that YOU DO NOT ENTER INTO A LIFELONG COMMITMENT AND RELATIONSHIP WITHOUT FASTING!

I already told you that I fast before I make any life decisions.  This has been decisions over career moves and ministry moves.  These were decisions that were going to affect the lives of my whole family.

I was on staff at a church in Pittsburgh in the late 90’s to 2001.  I was the children’s pastor.  It was a large church with a large staff.  Every January the entire staff was required to fast!   We called it “Times of refreshing”.  We had services everyday, sometimes twice a day.  Because it was required, the rebellious nature in me wined, complained, and resisted.  Did you ever hear of the little boy standing up in the car and the Dad yells at him to sit down?  The little boy says “I’m sitting down on the outside but on the inside I am standing up!”  That was me!  I did it, I submitted and fasted and grumbled the entire time.  I did this for three years at the church.

We left the church and January came around the next year.  As January approached something in me started to think about fasting and eventually I decided on my own to keep the January fast.   Nobody made me.  I willfully fasted on my own and have kept the January fast until now.  I am glad to say today that today this year’s January fast has ended!!!!

You are probably asking yourself what did you fast or how did you fast?  First of all, let me say this is my personal fast so next January you see me eat something you do not judge me!   I fast solid food.  I drink coffee, juices, smoothies, soup broths an occasional milkshake and of course water.  I have made adjustments over the years.  My youngest daughter’s birthday is January 9.  She told me, “Dad you can’t fast on my birthday!”  We would sometimes go out to dinner on her birthday and of course we always had birthday cake.  The next day back to fasting.  This year we went out to visit her to celebrate her birthday and also her graduating from Cosmetology school.  I did not fast during my time there for obvious reasons.  Also this fast and other Januarys I have adopted what I call a Catholic fast.  For me that means I can eat on Sundays but fast the rest of the week.  I say all this because your fast is your fast and no one should judge you on it.  There are some Christians that say a fast is only when you give up food and drink only water.  I have son in law that tried that and he got delirious.  There are people I know who do that and some I know have done it for forty days!!!!

I tell you all about this because of over twenty years of regular fasting I can say that “Fasting will change your life!”

Do I like fasting?  Are you nuts?   I love to eat!   It is hard, especially the first three days!  But I can truly say that I love the results!  Spiritually first, but also physically.  I will share from the Bible shortly and highlight some of the spiritual benefits.  But you can read online that there are great physical benefits to fasting.  It is healthy to occasionally fast.

How many of you have had some medical tests done and you had to fast overnight before the tests?  How many of you have observed Lent by giving up something during those forty days?  Many of us have already experienced some form of fasting.  None of us like to fast but I assure you that there are tremendous spiritual and physical benefits to fasting.  We are approaching the first day of Lent on Wednesday February 10, Ash Wednesday.  We are not Catholic here, nor are we under any denomination, but I believe that Lent can be a great time for all of us to grow spiritually.  I assure you that if you do this it will be the most meaningful Easter you have experienced.  So my goal is that all of us would observe some form of fast during Lent.  I hope you would be inspired by this message and pray about what you would do?  There is a spiritual principle that I share, “Whatever you give up for God, He always gives back something better!”

Did you know that Jesus fasted!? There are numerous fasts throughout the Bible for different purposes.  I thought we should use the One that we are to be like to help us to illustrate the value and power of fasting.  Let’s go to Matthew 4.

Let me emphasize that Jesus was fully man and fully God.  Someone might say of course Jesus could fast for forty days, He is God!   Jesus took on our full humanity.  He chose to experience every pain, struggle and heartbreak that we struggle with.  Fasting was as hard for Jesus as it is for us!

We see that after Jesus’ baptism He was led into the wilderness or desert to fast.  In Scripture, a “desert” ironically also where God richly grants His presence and provision for those seeking Him. The limitless Lord shows Himself strong in the “limiting” (difficult) scenes of life.

The first thing we see is that fasting will give you victory over the temptations of sin.  Keeping with our boxing illustration the devil has only three punches:

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”   1 John 2:16

We see him using these three punches or weapons beginning in the garden of Eden until now.  The first thing he uses is the “Lust of the flesh” – “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”  All of us have been to restaurants where they bring the hot bread or bread sticks out before the meal.  How many of you are like me and could make a meal out of this?  How many of you are like me and could get addicted to that hot bread with melting butter?  Can you imagine after forty days fasting and a plate of hot steaming, buttery bread put in front of you?  Just like us Jesus had to deal with this.

Have you ever heard the saying, “If it feels good, do it!”?  Are you aware everything that feels good is not good?  Lust of the flesh looks like this:  Eating addictions, sexual addictions, drug addictions, fitness addictions and alcohol addictions.  This list may not be complete but gives us a pretty good idea of what the Bible is talking about.

The next punch in the devil’s weaponry is the “Pride of life” – “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”  The pride of life looks something like this:  craving for attention, craving for position, craving for authority, craving for identity and craving for appreciation.  Have you been there?  Do you know someone struggling with the pride of life?

His last and final punch is the “Lust of the eyes” – “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”  It shows itself in the form of greed (desire for possessions), stinginess and hoarding, selfishness (unwillingness to share), envy (desiring what others have) and laziness (slothfulness) (the world owes me).

If you look at this closely you will see the devil was tempting Jesus with what Jesus already had!  Everything the evil one used Jesus already possessed.  It is the same trick he uses on us!  As Christian believers we possess everything the Word of God already says we have! (This is a whole series of messages in itself!)

The second principle we see here in Matthew 4 is that fasting can help with new beginnings.  Jesus was about to enter a new season of life.  Jesus was about to enter His life’s call.  Jesus was about to enter into His ministry.  This is why I fast as I make these kind of life decisions.  I started out in this message sharing how we have to contenders set against us, the devil and my flesh.  Fasting clears out the voice of the devil and my own voice as I seek direction so I can hear clearly from God.

The last principle we see in Matthew 4 comes from verse 12.  Fasting can prepare you for the struggles of life.  Immediately after the fast ends and Jesus comes off the spiritual mountain he has to face that his cousin, John the Baptist, has been thrown into prison and is facing execution – “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.”  Verse 12.  This was not the only was this bad news but Jesus came to realization that the road to the cross had begun!  Fasting gave him strength to deal with John’s death and also prepared him for the greatest trial of His life.

Are you bombarded with temptation?  Is the devil throwing a jab, a left hook and straight right at you?  Are you falling to temptation but you are tired and sick of it?  Do you need a new beginning?  Do you need to put the past behind and ready to go with Jesus is this new and better life He promises?

Do you want strength for the trials and battles ahead of you?  I suggest you try fasting!  FASTING WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Lent is here in about 10 days.  What could happen if we all fasted?  Fasted something?  Took a day each week or the entire time to give up food?  You can do this!  I believe if we all fasted something we would see great victory in our personal lives and in the life of this church.  Addictions would be broken in our lives or in the lives of our family.  We would face a fresh start.  It will launch some of us into new ministries.  We would be prepared when the storms of life hit.

Pray with me if you are going to join in a Lenten fast.

FASTING WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

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Justin McGurgan Brings Christian Youth Baseball Leagues to Cambodia

IMG_1241Justin joined our team last year for VBS Cambodia. Justin was the Youth Leader at New Life Community Church, Bellevue, PA. The New Hope Orphans in Cambodia captured Justin’s heart. After returning home last August, I called Justin and sensed his emptiness in working a construction job. Justin was an accomplished baseball player at Geneva College. He was coaching locally and ministering to youth in his church, but something was missing after leaving Cambodia. I did not know how to direct him, but I knew someone who could, Pastor Mark Geppert of SEAPC. Mark has always helped Debra and I find our direction and also connected us with opportunities that changeIMG_9513d our lives. Mark connected Justin’s love of kids, Cambodia, and baseball! Justin leaves on Thursday to join us for the VBS in Cambodia but will stay for a year internship as he serves the New Hope Orphans and starts and develops Christian Youth Baseball leagues.

Pastor Don Brown and New Life Community Church have their first full time missionary. Justin will need your prayers and support. We will continue to give you updates of his progress throughout the year.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to help Justin. He will need your continued support and you can do that through REACH.

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Coffee, Tea and S.O.A.P.

coffee tea soapWe are so blessed to have this amazing church building to help us reach people for Jesus. Attached to our main sanctuary is a beautiful chapel area. Our plans are to give this fellowship area a coffee shop atmosphere. It will be used for fellowship before and after services, but also during the week as a place for youth and adults to come meet, relax, study, etc. We will serve coffee, tea and refreshments. You are probably asking, “What does SOAP have to do with it?” S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. It is a Bible study and devotion method developed by Pastor Wayne Cordiero In Hawaii. Amazingly, I was in line to board the plane in Japan last evening and Pastor Wayne happened to be right beside me! I told him what we are doing and he got excited and told me to keep him updated. How about that for confirmation!?

We will serve the drinks and refreshments, but our goal is to make a place where people will S.O.A.P. “To be unique from other coffee shops bring your own cup for free coffee or tea.” We will eventually provide free WIFI. There is a small stage, which we will open up for people to perform wholesome entertainment.

REACH Community Church  716 10th Street, Beaver Falls, PA  15010  

Service 10:30 AM Sundays.  Power Kids Church for the children.  Coffee and refreshments served at 10AM

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Merry Christmas from the Youth and Children of New Hope Kampong Chnang

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Heartbreak In Phnom Pehn

It was our last evening in Phnom Penh, Cambodia after a successful mission to New Hope Orphan Home at Kompong Chnnang. Debra, my wife, Darren Ho and his daughter, Claryl, from Singapore walked about ten blocks from our hotel to the riverfront on the Mekong River.  This area caters to the tourist with many restaurants selling western cuisines and souvenir shops.  It was crowded with tourists, tuk tuks, street children and beggars.  It is a extremely busy area.

 

After our week eating the local foods in the rural area where the New Hope Home was located, we were ready for a more westernized menu.  We made our way down the street warding off the street vendors, beggar children and tuk tuk drivers as they solicited us.  We stopped at one of the many restaurants to view the menu displayed outside.  The restaurant was inviting with a clean atmosphere lined with comfortable wicker chairs.  Some westerners were lounging in the wicker chairs that extended out to the sidewalk.  While viewing the menu displayed just outside the restaurant, Darren noticed a young boy lying under the table.  He was dressed in only a dirty pair of shorts, curled up as if he was trying to keep warm.  We were shocked!  I bent down to him to make sure he was breathing.  He was but I felt his body and he was burning with fever.  

 

I was not sure what to do?  The westerner sitting near him said, “Leave him alone, he will be alright.”  Street children are plentiful here but I never saw one sleeping in such a place.  Normally they gather on corners together or in back alleys.  Bewildered we went inside to order our meal.  I could not focus on reading the menu and ordering a meal when this child lay on the cold cement just about ten feet away from us!  

 

My wife encouraged me to go check the boy again.  I made my way to him and bent to talk to him.  The two western men with European accents told me to leave him alone.  “He has a mother!  So let him alone… He’ll be fine!”  I was shocked at their indifference and annoyance.  I awoke the boy and asked if he could speak English. He acknowledge that he could.  His nose was running profusely and he had a deep cough.  I asked if he was hungry and he said that he was.  Darren and I left Debra and Claryl at the restaurant to try to find a convenience store or a bakery to buy some food.  We walked the side streets and found a 7-Eleven type store.  We bought some bread and chocolate milk for the boy. 

 

When we got back to the restaurant the boy was gone.  Debra informed us that the waitress shooed him away and as he was crying with a runny nose looking so fragile and scarred.  Darren proceeded to the street of try to find him and found him leaning against a bench. There were some young girls there and we asked them about the boy.  They told us that he had a heart problem and that his mother was around but did not care for him.  He took the food and we prayed for him and then made our way back to the restaurant.  

 

I was torn as what to do next.  The boy needed medical treatment but my fear was that if we tried to get him to a hospital or doctor, we could been seen as trying to kidnap him or traffic him.  As our meal was being served I prayed and asked Jesus to please help me to help the boy?  It was hard to have an appetite but I tried to enjoy the meal with our team.  Minutes earlier a teen street vendor had approached to sell us post cards and books.  We did not buy but because the boy knew English well we asked him what to do about the sick street boy.  He said he knew the boy and that his mother did not care about him.  He told us we could take him to a free hospital or to a pharmacy.  The pharmacy option sounded good to me so I asked if he knew where the boy now was. The boy offered to take us to him but said he needed money for school uniforms.  He escorted Darren and me to the next corner where there were many beggars sleeping on pieces of cardboard.  

 

There the boy was lying on the cardboard hugging his mother.  The vendor boy pointed to a big green cross just two shops down from where we standing.  It was a pharmacy!  I aroused the mom and boy and told them to follow us as we went into the pharmacy.  I was not sure how the people in the pharmacy would react to the mom and child as they were filthy and the boy was so sick.  No one objected and we made our way back to the pharmacist at the back of the store.  He looked at the boy and heard him cough and knew immediately what to prescribe.  He looked at the mom and boy with great compassion and then told me the boy needed anti-biotic and something for his cough.  We told him whatever it took, just give him what he needed.  The cost was just under six US dollars.  The pharmacist instructed the mom as to how to administer the medicine.  I warned her not to sell the medicine and she sincerely agreed.  Worry and concern for her son was evident in her face.  The young street vendor remained with us and when we said goodbye him and gave him a small amount of money for his help.

 

We proceeded outside.  A dirty little three year old child ran to the mom and boy. Obviously, this was another one of her children. The mom also appeared to be pregnant. Darren and I laid hands on them and prayed God’s healing, provision, and protection upon them.  We departed as they made their way back to their home on the cardboard bed on the street.

 

I felt like we did all we could have under the circumstances.  I wish deep in my heart that I could have been able to take him to a hospital.  I wish I could have gotten the mom into a homeless shelter, but in Phnom Penh there is no such thing that I am aware of.  I sat back in the restaurant to eat my meal and fought the tears.  If I released them I would have made a scene and sobbed uncontrollably.

 

I am still overwhelmed by the situation but I am determined to let it motivate me to do something for the street kids of Phnom Penh. I am going to research who and what is helping these children.  I am going to get involved even if it means giving a month or so of my time to go back to help.

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