So not every guy proposes with lip syncing, rolling cameras, and a choreographed entourage.
Yeah — so what if your Dad didn’t?
He just pulled that beat-up Volkswagon Rabbit of his over in front of Murray Reesor’s hundred acre farm right there where Grey Township meets Elma Township, pulled out a little red velvet box, and whispered it in the snowy dark: “Marry me?”“He didn’t even get down on one knee or anything?”
You boys ask it incredulous, like there’s some kind of manual for this kind of holy.
And I’ve got no qualms in telling you no. No, he didn’t even get down on one knee – it was just a box, a glint of gold in the dark, two hallowed words and a question mark.
I know. When you’ve watched a few dozen mastermind proposals on youtube, shared them with their rolling credits on Facebook, marvelling at how real romance has an imagination like that.
Can I tell you something, sons?
Romance isn’t measured by how viral your proposal goes. The internet age may try to sell you something different, but don’t ever forget that viral is closely associated with sickness – so don’t ever make being viral your goal.
Your goal is always to make your Christ-focus contagious – to just one person.
It’s more than just imagining some romantic proposal.
It’s a man who imagines washing puked-on sheets at 2:30 am, plunging out a full and plugged toilet for the third time this week, and then scraping out the crud in the bottom screen of the dishwasher — every single night for the next 37 years without any cameras rolling or soundtrack playing -- that’s imagining true romance.
The man who imagines slipping his arm around his wife’s soft, thickening middle age waistline and whispering that he couldn’t love her more…. who imagines the manliness of standing bold and unashamed in the express checkout line with only maxi pads and tampons because someone he loves is having an unexpected Saturday morning emergency.
The man who imagines the coming decades of a fluid life – her leaking milky circles through a dress at Aunt Ruth’s birthday party, her wearing thick diaper-like Depends for soggy weeks after pushing a whole human being out through her inch-wide cervix, her bleeding through sheets and gushing amniotic oceans across the bathroom floor and the unexpected beauty of her crossing her legs everytime she jumps on the trampoline with the kids.
The real romantics imagine greying and sagging and wrinkling as the deepening of something sacred.
Because get this, kids — How a man proposes isn’t what makes him romantic. It’s how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.
And a man begins being romantic years before any ring – romance begins with only having eyes for one woman now – so you don’t go giving your eyes away to cheap porn. Your dad will say it sometimes to me, a leaning over – “I am glad that there’s always only been you.” Not some bare, plastic-surgeon-scalpel-enhanced pixels ballooning on a screen, not some tempting flesh clicked on in the dark, not some photo-shopped figment of cultural beauty that’s basically a lie.
The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls and that real romance is really sacrifice.
I know – you’re thinking, “Boring.”
Can you see it again – how your grandfather stood over your grandmother’s grave and brushed away his heart leaking without a sound down his cheeks?
50 boring years. 50 unfilmed years of milking 70 cows, raising 6 boys and 3 girls, getting ready for sermon every Sunday morning, him helping her with her zipper. 50 boring years of arguing in Dutch and making up in touching in the dark, 50 boring years of planting potatoes and weeding rows on humid July afternoons, 50 boring years of washing the white Corel dishes and turning out the light on the mess – till he finally carried her in and out of the tub and helped her pull up her Depends.
Don’t ever forget it:
The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.
Be one of the boring ones. Pray to be one who get 50 boring years of marriage – 50 years to let her heart bore a hole deep into yours.
Let everyone do their talking about 50 shades of grey, but don’t let anyone talk you out of it: committment is pretty much black and white. Because the truth is, real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for?
Who am I willing to take the reeking garbage out for and clean out the gross muck ponding at the bottom of the fridge? Who am I willing to listen to instead of talk at? Who am I willing to hold as they grow older and realer? Who am I willing to die a bit more for every day? Who am I willing to make heart-boring years with? Who am I willing to let bore a hole into my heart?
Get it: Life – and marriage proposals — isn’t not about one up-manship — it’s about one down-manship. It’s about the heart-boring years of sacrifice and going lower and serving. It’s not about how well you perform your proposal. It’s about how well you let Christ perform your life.
Sure, go ahead, have fun, make a ridiculously good memory and we’ll cheer loud: propose creatively — but never forget that what wows a woman and woos her is you how you purpose to live your life.
I’m praying, boys — be Men. Be one of the ‘boring” men – and let your heart be bore into. And know there are women who love that kind of man.
The kind of man whose romance isn’t flashy – because love is gritty.
The kind of man whose romance isn’t about cameras — because it’s about Christ.
The kind of man whose romance doesn’t have to go viral — because it’s going eternal.
No, your dad did not get down on one knee when he proposed – because the romantic men know it’s about living your whole life on your knees.
There are Fridays. And the quiet romantics who will take out the garbage without fanfare. There will be the unimaginative calendar by the fridge, with all it’s scribbled squares of two lives being made one. The toilet seat will be left predictably up. The sink will be resigned to its load of last night’s dishes.
And there is now and the beautiful boring, the way two lives touch and go deeper into time with each other.
The clock ticking passionately into decades.This post was written by A. Voskamp. You can find the original post here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/11/the-real-truth-about-boring-men-and-the-women-who-live-with-them-redefining-boring/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
On a Veterans Day broadcast program, televangelist Kenneth Copeland and controversial historian David Barton told listeners that soldiers should never experience guilt or post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from military service.
Reading from Numbers 32: 20-22, Copeland said, “So this is a promise — if you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war … you shall return, you’re coming back, and be guiltless before the Lord and before the nation.”
“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me,” Copeland said as Barton affirmed him. ”You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it. It doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there will get rid of it.”
Barton added that many biblical warriors “took so many people out in battle,” but did so in the name of God.
“You’re on an elevated platform up here. You’re a hero, you’re put in the faith hall of fame,” Barton said. “… When you do it God’s way, not only are you guiltless for having done that, you’re esteemed.”
PTSD has been a recurring issue among military veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs classifies PTSD as a mental health problem that can occur after a traumatic event like war, assault or disaster. In 2011, 476,515 veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD received treatment at VA medical centers and clinics.
“It is obvious that they do not have knowledge of the condition,” said Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor who has written on Barton. “Copeland and Barton err theologically as well by taking specific Scriptures written in relationship to Israel and apply them to American armies.”
This isn’t the first time Copeland and Barton have been “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” said Joe Carter, an editor and communications director for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“But for them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable,” Carter said. “Rather than downplaying the pain of PTSD, they should be asking God to heal our brothers and sisters.”
Barton has been a controversial figure in some circles. Texas tea partiers recently launched a movement to draft him to mount a primary challenge to Texas Sen. John Cornyn next year. Barton recently linked legal abortion to climate change.
In a recent program, Barton said half of students in Christian colleges leave church due to pagan professors. Last year, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson, citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, ended the publication and distribution of Barton’s best-seller, “The Jefferson Lies.”
A church led by Copeland’s daughter was recently linked to a measles outbreak. Terri Copeland Pearsons and her father have preached against vaccines.This post was written by S.P.Bailey. For the original post, go to: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/11/12/david-barton-kenneth-copeland-soldiers-suffer-ptsd-according-bible/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I am a die-hard Georgia Bulldogs fan. I rarely miss a game, and if I do, be sure, it is being recorded to watch at a later time, even if I know the outcome. I love Georgia football. And if I had tickets, which I do not, I would do everything I could to go to the game. I would amend my calendar, reschedule my appointments, and prioritize my activities to ensure my attendance. But if something happened, and I couldn’t make it, it would not affect the dynamic of the crowd, or the outcome of the event. It wouldn’t change, one little bit, the atmosphere. Simply put, my attendance would not be missed. The team would stick to their game-plan, the crowd would maintain their electric charge, and the prices would be exactly as they are. The same is NOT true for my attendance at church.
When a church member misses worship service, the church drastically suffers.The Bible is emphatic about church attendance. The writer of Hebrews challenges us with convicting words, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). Have you ever thought about the effect your absence has in the House of God? When you are not there:
- The body of the congregation is incomplete
- Your voice is not heard in the worship and singing of the saints
- You cannot actively serve others who may need your gifts
- You cannot contribute in the offering
- You do not receive the Word of God in a preaching format
- You miss out on corporate prayer
- You forfeit fellowship with other believers
- You send a message to the youth that missing church is acceptable
- You make it easier to miss the next week, and then the next
- You become susceptible to apathy and indifference
- You make it harder for others to bear the weight and burdens of ministry
- You miss opportunities to share your own struggles with the saints of God
- You cause unnecessary worry for your pastor, teacher, staff, and leaders
- You miss out on altar invitations, life-changing decisions, and spiritual experiences
I assure you, your church needs you. And it needs you to be there this Sunday. Faithfulness to the House of God is still a required characteristic for believers. From time to time we all need sabbaticals, vacations, and sick days. But when missing church becomes a regular or extended practice, we not only stymie our spiritual growth, we weaken the abilities of the entire congregation. I would like to encourage you to be in your place tomorrow, come ready for worship, and thank God He has purchased a place for you to attend. Now that, my friend, is even better than Georgia football!!This post was written by Kenneth Kuykendall. Even though he is a Georgia fan, here at Ironstrikes, we agree that church attendance is vital to a man's spiritual walk. For the original post, go to: http://kennethkuykendall.com/what-happens-when-youre-not-there-the-effects-of-missing-church/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Today at Church our Pastor talked about how as Christians we need to take the opportunity to carry people in their time of need. Although this isn’t a physical action, it does require effort. The action of carrying someone means to take someone and they are down in a valley or having a hard time and walking alongside them. Now your responsibility is to only walk with them as far as you are capable of, then someone else will take over. I got the opportunity today to carry someone. I’m not telling this story to toot my own horn, but to show the power of God!
I was at the gas station earlier and I saw a guy standing outside the door. I had never met him before and I don’t even know his name. He was holding an empty gas can. I asked him if he needed help, and he said “I am begging for change so I can get gas, I need to get to the south side of town and get some money from my mom so I can feed my children.” Now there is a disclaimer that comes with this. I usually don’t help people in this situation. This is because I know we don’t have a lot of money. But something made me go back to our van and get him some change. But something stopped me and I proceeded to take him over to the gas pump and fill his gas can up. He then proceeded to tell me that his car was down the street parked at an apartment complex. So I ran inside and purchased what I came for and took him home. The Lord changed my heart and my attitude during this experience. I got the opportunity to carry someone in their time of need. So I ask you who have you carried lately?This post was written by Ironstrikes member, NazyP. For the original post, go to: http://fpccnazyp.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/who-have-you-carried-lately/
I think every pastor, from time to time, sits in his/ her office and wonder what they can do better to grow their church. It is frustrating at times to work hard and to visibly see people losing interest in what you are doing. Pastors…let’s be honest…we feel that growing our church (whatever that means) is solely our responsibility. We try to come up with creative ideas that will get more butts into seats, manufacture excitement, and give people a great show to talk about for the rest of the week. I am more and more convinced that we are missing the point entirely.
I pastor a fairly small church in Fishers, IN called Fishers Point Community Church. We are a slowly growing church plant that has a ton of children and is overall very family-oriented. I love that worship community. As the Lead Pastor of this church, the first paragraph at one point described me perfectly. I felt responsible for everyone’s happiness and the steady growth of the church. Granted, I am responsible for strategic leadership, but growth requires more than what I listed…
One day, I sat in my office and had such a burden for my church. I began to feel as if there was something missing from what we were doing. I looked at our mission statement and it looked good…I thought about our music and it was great quality…I even critically analyzed my own preaching. Everything seemed great! Why were people coming into our worship services so tired and checking their watches during worship? It occurred to me that our church had never really taken any risks and had not selflessly served the community. I thought we did…I mean we had a great worship service to come to that anyone was invited to participate in…We were not actually serving people for the purpose of simply serving.
When we started targeting people to serve in our community we began to see testimonies regularly and people seeing God moving in their lives! And…most importantly we serve making sure that we do not do so just to get people to come to our church. We make sure that we just simply serve.
The most recent example was a project that we did for a single mother of 2 boys. We painted her house…It was so simple, but through this project the people that participated were changed. This woman was so gracious to humbly let us serve her. She seemed so appreciative. The next morning, in our worship service, we saw spontaneous testimonies, and God took over to the point that I had to surrender my sermon to God’s control. I didn’t preach what I intended. What happened that day can’t fully be described.
We have seen our local church invigorated because children and adults are involved in sacrificially giving their time, money, and energy to make sure that Christ is seen through us. People not only need to hear the word they need to see it. My vision for this church is to mobilze an army of sacrifically serving individuals to reflect Christ’s love around the community.
I have found that churches and individuals will grow and become passionate about their faith when they take the gospel message they are hearing and translate it to the animation of their hands and hearts.
It is transforming our church…It’s what God wants.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/09/12/simply-serve/
Church leaders do it all the time.
Ask them who they’re trying to reach. Their answer? Everyone.
It sounds appropriate. I get that. What else are you going to say?
After all, the Gospel is for everyone.
But that’s not the question. The question is who is your church designed to reach?
Is your church
for everyone? Really?What if it’s not?
Now, here’s the promise.What if…the faster you get away from the idea that your church is for everyone, the more effective you will be as a church?
Consider this:You are currently reaching a segment of the population—not the entire population.
I don’t know of a single church that has reached everybody.The people you’re reaching probably represent a particular demographic.
Even if it’s multi-ethnic, or multi-generational, you are likely reaching a segment of people within the broader demographic.Your church has a style, feel and culture that attracts certain groups
. In Western culture, people self-select based on what your organization has to offer, just like Walmart shoppers are different than Nordstrom shoppers.
In addition, the way you do church (a combination of your mission and vision, but even more importantly, your organizational culture and strategy) has an inevitable filtering effect:
is going to attract some people and bother others.
Your teaching style
and content is going to connect better with some than others.
The people who already make up your church are more likely to attract others like themselves; like attracts like.
and even the architectural style of the building in which you gather
(whether that’s a school, a theater, a gothic cathedral, a contemporary suburban mega-church, an A-frame 50s landmark, or a living room) make some feel at home while pushing others away.
Your leadership style
is compelling to some people and not so much for others.
I’m not saying this is the way it should be. I’m just saying this is simply true.
Now don’t miss this.Far too many church leaders spend their time fighting these realities.
Rather than cooperate with the way people naturally gather, too many leaders resist it.
I agree there are times we need to fight that. A church with no cultural diveristy in a culturally diverse city functions more like a club than a church. And a congregation with only the rich and no people on social assistance worries me. And some churches attract only insiders or an age demographic that makes the future impossible. When I began in ministry, we had mostly handfuls of people over 65 attending the churches in which I served. The future wasn’t bright, nor was the church effective in its mission.In those cases (and some others) you need to change your culture to reach the broader culture.
But still, are you going to reach everybody
Now, here’s the promise in an otherwise disconcerting thought-stream:Your church should be open to everyone, but you will be best at reaching a particular someone.
And that’s okay.
Instead of competing with that, why not co-operate with it?After all, your church is not the body of Christ. It is part of the body of Christ.Play your part.
Can you imagine the pressure that will release?You will no longer have to be all things to all people.Churches that try to be all things to all people often end up being nothing to no one
and lose their effectiveness in the process. Only a few manage to do more than a mediocre job in most areas. The seniors and the young adults and the kids and the teens and the empty nesters and the young marrieds and the singles and the blended families can’t all be equally important. They just can’t be.
Where I serve at Connexus
, our vision is to be a church that unchurched people love to attend.
As a result:
We don’t try to please people
who want a church for the already convinced.
We’re not worried
about reaching Christians who have no passion for friends and neighbours who aren’t in a relationship with Christ.
We don’t feel the pressure
to offer 100 programs and in fact often point people to community organizations or neighbouring churches that do much better jobs in those areas. Sometimes we encourge people to find their own way to meet those needs. We focus on the few things that will help us best accomplish our mission.
We feel free
to design our Sunday service to create an experience unchurched people want to come back to.
We specifically target
the feel of our services and culture to connect with a 30 year old unchurched man, believing that if the man comes, so (gladly) will his family and friends (and often his parents, and sometimes even grandparents).
I realize this is contrary thinking for most people, but for us it’s resulted in reaching more unchurched people than we ever have before (or than many churches in our community and country), with 60% of our growth being from self-identified unchurched people. Which is, after all, kind of why we started the church in the first place. And which maybe why you started or lead your church.
So…rethink this.Is your church for everyone?Or is the Gospel for everyone, and your church gets to play a part in that?
What do you think?
This post was written by Carey Nieuwhof. For the original post, go to: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/09/why-you-need-to-stop-thinking-your-church-is-for-everyone/#sthash.0kNd5NMo.dpuf
I wanted to tell you one story I encountered at Shepherd Community Center. It’s about Curtis Adkins, who when growing up looked like a tragedy waiting to happen.
His father left the family. They moved every three to four months in the city. Adkins would switch schools and fall behind, so school officials put him in classes for learning disabilities.
By middle school Adkins thought of himself as a troublemaker, and so did school authorities. He was expelled from one school and sent to another one. He landed in juvenile court on minor charges. He tried drugs, abused alcohol, and got kicked out of his mother’s house.
As a homeless teen, Adkins stayed on friends’ couches. Often that profile adds up to a life of crime and prison—but this young man also bumped into people who wanted to help him. A family took him in for a year, on the condition that he join the Shepherd Community Center. There he heard about the small Indianapolis Christian School, where he benefited from small class sizes and tutoring.
Adkins worked at Shepherd and the school to pay tuition. He learned to work at small goals instead of big dreams. He’d earn just enough money for the next semester’s tuition. He would master a basic English or math skill he had missed in earlier years.
Yet it wasn’t always a smooth ride, for Adkins or the people assisting him. Shepherd director Jay Height came to see why Adkins had been booted out of school. “He was obnoxious,” Height recalled. “I kicked him out when he was first here.”
Another family recommended that he join them on a short mission trip to serve in Bolivia. “I thought I was poor, staying with people here and there,” Adkins said. “Then I went to a Third World country and saw kids without shoes and moms raising their kids in the street.”
He also saw a new side of Christian faith. Adkins had tried to improve himself to please God: “Before that trip I felt to accept Christ that I would have to change so much in my life. My life would have to be perfect.”
He discovered a different perspective in Bolivia. “I realized that Christ loved me in spite of my sins,” Adkins said. “It wasn’t about ourselves or what we were doing, but it was about what God was doing.”
Adkins does not recall a dramatic conversion. Rather, he had seen many believers show him the love of Christ. Their perseverance in that love was a big factor in his journey.
Some teachers had advised Adkins to forget about college and consider a trade school. He was scared to think about college. But friends at Shepherd thought he could make it, especially after he discovered his audio learning style and made more progress in school. He also fell in love with soccer and wound up playing at Ohio Valley University in West Virginia.
Small goals helped him not get discouraged. He kept his GPA above 2.0 to stay on the soccer team, eventually graduating cum laude.
Adkins is now 31, married, with two children and a stable job. These days he serves at Shepherd Community Center, attempting to steer other at-risk children and teens to the straight-and-narrow path. Jay Height sees Adkins as an important part of a team aiming to break multi-generational poverty on the East Side of urban Indianapolis. “He’s helping us shape our programs because he’s been there,” Height said. “He’s improving our diversity of voice to include those who are the first generation out of poverty.”
When tempted to give up, friends who had helped him encouraged Adkins to change course: “I started moving in the right direction because I didn’t want to let these people down.” Now he wants to do something similar for those in the same part of Indianapolis: “People invested in my life at Shepherd. I felt like it was part of my job to come back and invest in the lives of others.”
Adkins doesn’t see himself as a self-made man. He’s grateful to the Lord and friends who came alongside him in times of need.
This post was written by Russ Pulliam for World Magazine. You can find the original post at: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/08/how_christ_changed_a_life
BE A MAN.
Let me tell you a tale of three pastors. All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
One pastor was talking about how the Military creates dependency. "In the military, you don't have to make any decisions, all decisions are made for you, you just obey orders. They feed you, house you, raise you into a fighting machine. They tell you where to live and who to make friends with." (Just in case you're wondering, no, this pastor has never served in the military, although he has had numerous military folks in his congregation.) Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his first church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. (He is well within the top 1% of financial earners in his church. To his credit he does tithe his salary.) His denomination tells him when to move to another church. Does that sound independent to you?
Another pastor was talking about how the new generation of churches will be smaller and transient with bi-vocational pastors. This pastor is a good scholar. He has researched trends in the church and realizes that is what he needs to be training the next generation of pastors to do. Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. His church isn't a mega-church by any standards but it is a good sized, medium church. He remarked the other day, "I haven't mowed a yard in years. People from the church come over and mow my yard (actually the yard of the parsonage where he lives that the church provides for him as part of his salary package)." Does that sound bi-vocational to you?
Another pastor, now at the end of his ministry due to his age, reflected with me regarding his life as a minister. He never had a church of over 250. He accepted meager salaries in spite of having seven children. He told me stories about God's provision: coats for his children that suddenly appeared on the doorstep one frigid winter morning, receiving "blue milk" and cheese from the local dairy, having an abundance of fresh farms eggs from an unnamed person in the community, working side-by-side with parishioners in painting and refurbishing the church (and telling of the wonderful theological truths and friendships that occurred during these times), caring for the church building by cleaning toilets, mowing the yard, taking out the trash, etc. Also, he never had a parsonage. Every home he lived in he either rented or owned (ironically, now at a ripe old age, on his meager salary, he owns several homes and they are rented by pastors or parishioners of his former churches). Each of these homes, he cared for in painting, refurbishing, caring for the lawn and shoveling snow. (Oh, that reminds me, he shoveled the snow at his churches. He wanted his church to be welcoming even during bad weather.) He stated he would never cancel church. "What if someone found their way to the church during bad weather only to find the doors locked? What if that was the time that they decided they needed Jesus? If even only one person showed up, I still had church." He NEVER wanted to count on the church to take care of him. He told me that he knew that he was called to be a pastor and in doing a pastor's work, he KNEW that God would take care of him. His salary was just to pay what expenses that he had as he never went into debt, owing no man anything.
Like I said in the first paragraph, three pastors: All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
BE A MAN.
It’s difficult to describe just how far Mbeya, Tanzania actually is from Indianapolis, Indiana. There really is no good way to get there"
In June, I traveled to Mbeya at the invitation of my friend Rev. Dr. Barnabas Mtokambali, to speak at a very special dedication of a church planting school that is situated a couple hours away in an even more remote, out-of-the-way town (if that’s even possible) called Makambako. Tanzania has a culture that values honor, so while I was there I was assigned a “driver” to get me to the various meetings, meals, and church services.
- 8 hours to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
- 10 more hours south to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
- 14 more hours on the very underdeveloped highway system in Tanzania.
His name was Pastor George James.
Pastor George is a quiet man with a very sweet spirit. He first gave his heart to Christ in 1988. Eight years later he felt called by God to become a pastor, so he went to Bible College and completed his education. After leading a local church for a few years, he became the principal of the Bible College in Mbeya. You don’t have to spend a long time with Pastor George to see that he has the heart of a teacher and a mentor. He lives on campus with his wife and two children, and has coached, educated, and trained hundreds of men and women for ministry over the last 10 years.
I spent three days climbing in and out of Pastor George’s late-1990’s Toyota Cressida, and he claims it was sitting there the whole time. Somehow I never saw it until our last ride together back to the airport. There, on the armrest between the driver and passenger seats, sat a burgundy leather Bible. But more than just the color or the binding, something very unique caught my attention.
There was a name clearly stamped in gold leaf on the lower right corner.
No, that can’t be right.
I was still a little jet-lagged. Worn down emotionally, physically and spiritually from three days of preaching. Were my eyes playing tricks on me?
YES! That’s what it says: KAREN COOPER
Karen is the mother of my life-long friend and brother-in-law, Erik Cooper. She’s been a spiritual mom to so many over the course of her life. Could it actually be possible that this Bible once belonged to her? I was already starting to get that sense something special was happening when I asked Pastor George how this had found its way into his possession.
“A few years ago, a friend of mine was travelling to Dar Es Salaam, so I gave him some money and asked him to try and find an NIV Bible. Many of the classes I teach are in English, and up to that point my only English Bible was a King James. He found this tabbed, thin-line NIV at a used bookstore in the city for 1,500 schillings (about one US dollar) and I’ve been using it ever since.”
For nearly a decade, Pastor George says that Bible has been his constant companion at every Bible college class he taught, every chapel service he has preached, and every Sunday morning service he has attended or led.
So how does a Bible with my life-long friend and brother-in-law’s mother’s name on it end up in Pastor George’s hands in Mbeya, Tanzania?
Needle in a haystack?
Karen remembers donating several Bibles to a “Bible Drive” at our local church in Indianapolis nearly 25 years ago. Initially, she wasn’t going to give away the ones that had her name on them or held any kind of “keepsake” value. But she distinctly remembers her father-in-law, Rev. Ed Cooper, saying, “Karen, Bibles weren’t meant to be kept on a shelf gathering dust. They were meant to be used.”
So right about the time Pastor George was leaving a life of East African tribal religion, animism, and witchcraft for new life in Jesus Christ, Karen Cooper gave away a few of her Bibles. And somehow, it seems, one of those Bibles ended up in a used bookstore in Dar Es Salaam, East Africa.
Until a few weeks ago, she had mostly forgotten and certainly didn’t know where any of those Bibles ended up. Perhaps now she does.
“So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
On a dusty road in Mbeya a few weeks ago, I got a little glimpse of heaven. Can you imagine what it will be like when the curtains that separate us from eternity’s perspective are rolled back and we will see all of the investments we have made in the Kingdom of God?
This post is taken from Erik Cooper's blog (son of Karen Cooper): http://beyondtherisk.com/2013/07/10/an-inspiring-story-25-years-in-the-making/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When living in Europe, I was on a business trip kilometers away from Karyn, my wife. Several of us went to a restaurant to have a meal. Over time, the group dwindled down to me, a female colleague and two other men. One of the men was dropping hints on the female saying that he wanted to see if her hotel room was bigger than his, to see her dog that she had back in her room, and other "seemingly" innocuous things.
I excused myself for a moment and as I stepped out of the bathroom to head back to the table, the woman was standing there at the door. She told me, "I don't know if you've noticed but "George" is hitting on me. I am really uncomfortable with him doing that. Could you make sure that I am not alone with him?"
She and I had become fairly good friends, we both had similar supervisory positions in the same company and I was kind of mentoring her since she was new to the position. I said to her, "what would you like me to do?" She responded, "when we back to the hotel (we were all staying at the same hotel), could you walk me to my room? That will discourage George and he will get the message I don't want him in my room."
I had no reason to believe that she had designs for me, but being a male with a big ego, I was taken aback for a moment. I had to make a decision. Which is more important at this moment? To respect and honor my female friend's request and risk people thinking I went to her room or choose to not be alone with her and avoid even the appearance of evil?
Do I choose to walk her to her hotel room and risk rumor or do I not so as to avoid any gossip? Do I choose to honor her or protect my reputation? It should be noted that she apparently did not have designs for me, she was wanting me to help send a message to a man who was engaging in sexual innuendo.
So, why the tire? Let me use this tire to illustrate the decision-making model.* Imagine at the center is my desire to please God in all that I do. That is the axle of this model. Now, imagine this tire divided into three parts. Each part representing the three goals of Ironstrikes. All of these goals are admirable and God-honoring. However, I was now faced with my personal integrity or honoring a woman , a choice between two good, yet seemingly conflicting goals.
This tire, separated into three parts, the three goals, is constantly on the move. For the tire to sit still and lay flat on one goal results in an out of balance tire. It will become flat if it doesn't rotate. At times, one goal is hitting the ground, at other times, another goal is in play. So, in following this illustration, no goal has precedence over the other. In making this decision, I had to keep those three goals in mind with full consideration of the axle, pleasing God, as the central basis. Pleasing God is what these goals revolve around.
I told my female friend that I would be glad to walk her back to her hotel room. As we went back to the table to conclude the conversation, I was praying about my decision and asking God for His wisdom. "Lord, did I make the right decision? Is honoring my friend's request more important at this moment than protecting my reputation?" The answer came pretty clearly.
Now, lest you think I'm crazy, no, I didn't hear God's audible voice. I felt a calm, a real peace at this decision and then in my head, God spoke thru my thoughts, in my own voice I heard, "You do what is right and I will protect your reputation."
We dismissed ourselves and I walked her back to her room. It was about a 15-minute walk. We got to the hallway that led to her room and she thanked me and went to her room. I then went to my room and called Karyn letting her know what happened so if she heard any rumors, she would know the truth.
So what do you think? Did I make the right decision? You may be thinking, "Dale sure made a big deal out of nothing." Maybe I did, maybe not. However, I learned how little things can become big things. I'm hoping that my example encourages you to be sensitive to God's leading in your life.
* I am indebted to my parents who devised this decision-making model. I have altered it here to fit this illustration.
BE A MAN.