Friday, October 28, 2011

Help Us Choose A Furlough Vehicle

We've spent the first several weeks of our furlough looking for a vehicle to purchase. After chasing down numerous leads and driving lots of miles in borrowed vehicles (thanks to generous relatives and friends), it appears that our search is over. We have found a van that will meet our needs and hope to pick it up within a few days. Meanwhile, while downloading some pictures from our camera the other day, I had to laugh at how many vehicles I have taken a picture of this past month. I guess that's to be expected with vehicles "on the brain." So since we haven't given the van owner any money yet, I thought perhaps I should take a poll and see which vehicle you think we should get. After looking through my pictures, here are my five favorites:

Last week, I stepped out of our hotel room one morning to go and preach a Christian school chapel. I saw this limo waiting outside the hotel. I laughed inside and said, "Well, bless their hearts...look what they sent to fetch me."

The Hummer Limo

Monday, August 29, 2011

Introducing A New Book

I have finished my book on the subject of Christian growth, and it is heading to the printer. In this blog post I want to share the story of why I wrote the book and also tell a little bit about the content of the book. For those of you who use twitter, you can get daily quotes from the book and information about the book by following @morethanasavior. More Than Just A Savior will be available this Fall.

(The following is an excerpt from the Preface of More Than Just A Savior)

The idea for this book began two and a half years ago as I was preparing to teach a Bible study to a small group of men in our church in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. My topic for the four-week study was to be “Men and Relationships,” and I was going to teach the first week on “A Man’s Relationship With God.” 

Having been preaching and teaching for years, I had taught many times on that topic, even to some of those very men. But I began to pray and ask God for a new way to present the same old truth – that we need to walk with God. As I studied, read, and prayed, I kept going back and forth between several angles. Did I want to focus on our sonship? Did I want to base this lesson on the Good Shepherd? 

Monday, August 1, 2011

In Their Own Words - 2008 Video

This is the video that we showed to half of our supporting churches back in 2008. The churches that we did not visit in 2008 have not seen this, so I decided to post it on my blog. Although it is several years old, I praise God that the great majority of the faces you will see in this video are still coming to church, growing in grace, and serving the Lord!

We are right now working on our 2011 video which we will show in churches later this year. When our furlough comes to a close, I will post that video for our supporters who we do not get to see this time around. I also intend to post our 2005 video very soon.

Emma Playing The Offertory

Here is Emma Grace Benefield (9 years old) playing "Fairest Lord Jesus" at our church last week. After a year with no piano teacher, it is good to see the girls back into weekly lessons, even if it is just for a couple of months. I'm proud of Emma and all of her hard work on the piano.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tally Ho The Fox, by Herb Hodges (Book Review)

© Melinda Nagy | Dreamstime Stock Photos
There is no shortage today of books on missions, and I have certainly read my share. Aside from individual missionary biographies, there are three books that I have read in recent years which stand out in my mind as some of the most challenging books I have ever read. I recently reviewed "Nothing To Win But The World", and now I would like to review another one of this trio of outstanding books, "Tally Ho The Fox".

The author is Herb Hodges, a long-time pastor and evangelist. His main premise in the book is that modern-day churches are failing miserably to obey the Great Commission. One of the things I like most about this book is not so much that he says new things (although there are certainly some fresh ideas in the book) but the fact that he says things we already know in such a straightforward and powerful way that you cannot help but be challenged and convicted. He uses outstanding illustrations (many of which I had never heard), and he also has a sharp wit, a dry sense of humor, and a very effective use of sarcasm.

To see the main premise of the book and his engaging style, one must only read a few sentences into the introduction.
"...the typical church (in America) is jammed with "pew potatoes" whose only intent is to come to church, listen to a sermon, and go away, hoping that this course will help to privately smuggle their souls to heaven and help them to have a reasonably comfortable life on the way. Any resemblance between this lifestyle and the Christian life pictured in the New Testament is purely coincidental."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thoughts From A Funeral

Nobody likes funerals, but I went to a funeral recently which really blessed my heart. Pastor Sakaun is a national pastor here in Cambodia who was led to Christ about 12 years ago by my good friend, Missionary Rodney Ruppel. You can read a bit of Pastor Sakaun's testimony here.

A couple of weeks ago Pastor Sakaun called me and told me that he had just gotten word that his mother had passed away. Of course, I felt sorrow for his loss, but even more so because his pastor (Bro. Ruppel) had just left for the United States for furlough and was not there to encourage him. He told me that the funeral would be the next day, which was a Saturday.  I decided to take a van load of our church folks to the funeral to try to encourage this sweet family, and several things really challenged me.

The first thing that moved my heart occurred before we even arrived at the funeral. We had directions to the village, but did not know how to get to the specific house. I had been told to call when we got to the front edge of the village and someone would come out and lead us to the house. Usually it is not hard to find a funeral or wedding in a small village, because of the portable tent that is set up in the road for the event and the monks chanting over a very loud speaker. As this was a Christian funeral, we knew we wouldn't hear the chanting monks, but I thought perhaps we would see the tent. As we pulled up to the village we noticed the area was thick with trees; thus, we did not see the funeral tent. I pulled to the side of the road to call and ask where to go, and suddenly I heard a beautiful sound wafting through the village - the song "I Need Thee Every Hour"! I turned around and looked at our church people and smiled. "I guess we don't need to call after all." We followed the song straight to the funeral!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nothing To Win But The World, by Clay Cooper (Book Review)

There is no shortage today of books on missions, and I have certainly read my share. Aside from individual missionary biographies, there are three books that I have read in recent years which stand out in my mind as some of the most challenging books I have ever read. I would like to review each of these three books in subsequent posts. I will begin with "Nothing To Win But The World".

"Nothing To Win But The World" was written by Clay Cooper in 1965. Mr. Cooper was the founder of a non-profit fundraising group for missions called Vision, Inc. This book has a very distinctive flavor because of the era in which it was written. Two major issues from the 1960's are heavily referenced throughout the book: the Space Race and the Cold War. Mr. Cooper correctly concluded that Communism was not only an enemy to the political systems of the free world, but that it was also an enemy to Christianity. Consequently, although the topic of this book is the spreading of the Gospel, he made multiple references to the evils of Communism. 

While the book is not overly political in nature, there are definitely some fascinating political overtones, particularly in the foreword and the preface. The foreword was a very strong call for all Christians to rededicate themselves to the spreading of the Gospel, and it was written by then-governor of the State of Oregon, Mark Hatfield!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

That's Forgiveness

On Sunday nights I am preaching verse by verse through the book of Ephesians. Recently I preached from verse 7 about forgiveness of sin. While trying to come up with a good illustration of Biblical forgiveness, God brought a memory to my mind of something I had seen a couple of years ago here in Cambodia. This illustration is about an old train that looks kind of like the one pictured above.

Over the past 20 years, many families (most of them poverty-stricken) have built small houses and shacks along each side of the tracks where the train slowly rumbles through our city. When I say along the tracks, I mean that literally. In many of the houses you can stand in the front door and touch the train as it passes. The railways in Cambodia are in a state of great disrepair, but still the train (an engine pulling a few cars) comes through these neighborhoods periodically. Sometimes it comes several times in one week, and other times it may be a couple of weeks between trains. People have ropes and awnings strung across the tracks where they have set up small market stalls, makeshift restaurants, and laundry lines, and they have to move those things out of the way if a train comes through. When they hear the train coming, they usually have about 2 minutes or so to clear the tracks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Farmer Fred and the Three Visitors

     Once upon a time there was a farmer named Fred. Farmer Fred lived on a small farm in the heartland of the United States and had been farming for years. He understood the hard work and investment of time that was required to grow a crop. He also knew that from time to time because of a freeze, a fire, a tornado, or a drought, everything would be destroyed and he would have to start all over again. He understood and accepted that fact, because he knew that farming wasn't done in a day or a week. He knew that farming was a lifelong work, with success being the sum total of daily labor and long-term tenacity.
     One day a man dropped in for a visit with Farmer Fred. The visitor smiled real big, extended his hand, and said jovially, "I'm Big Bob". Then after a few moments of casual conversation, he got right to the point.
     "Farmer Fred," he said, "I admire your work, but it just seems so small! You know, years ago I farmed a little plot like you. I had my little farm, complete with a little red barn, a cute little silo, and a little farmhouse with a little picket fence. I grew some green beans, some corn, and a few acres of wheat. We were happy there for awhile. God was blessing our farm. But one day the thought hit me: My little 100-acre farm is so inconsequential! There are millions of acres of ground all over the world that need to be farmed. I figured if reaping a harvest on 100 acres was good, then reaping a harvest on a million acres would be outstanding!"
     While Farmer Fred was standing there listening, he was feeling a strange mix of emotions - a slight tinge of regret for the relatively little he had to show for his years of farming, and at the same time a growing admiration for this man with such a grand vision. He wanted to know about this "million-acre farm".
     "So what'd you do next?" he asked.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Open Letter To Christian Young People In America

Dear Friend,

Recently a group of Bible-college students and graduates visited our family on the mission field. During their stay they attended several of our church services, and I asked each one of them to give their testimony to our people. Besides telling how they were saved, each of them also shared how they had surrendered their life to Christ to serve Him. Every one of the young people were either heading for Bible college, in the middle of Bible college, recently graduated from Bible college, or taking online Bible courses. 

This made a huge impact on some of our young people. One of our really faithful young ladies came to my wife and asked, "Are there any Bible colleges in Cambodia? I want to go to Bible college so bad!!!" In the few days following, several more came to me with similar sentiments. There is certainly no shortage of colleges, universities, and vocational schools in Cambodia. In fact, several of these young people are currently attending school; however, the schools (both faculty and student body alike) are generally anti-Christian. They put up with a lot. Just the mere thought of attending a school to study the Bible in a place where the teachers and students love the seems to good to be true! We have opportunities here for people to study the Bible in an institute setting, but what these young people are enthralled by is the whole package deal - the dorms, the friendships, the daily classes, chapel services, etc. In a country where they are often ridiculed and mocked by friends, neighbors, and even family members for their stand for Christ, their dress standards, and their desire to live holy lives, to them Bible college sounds like an oasis in the desert.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Fun Train

I was very excited today to get our new book, The Fun Train, back from the printer. This book is a parable about life and eternity, and it's purpose is to make people stop and think about where they are going. I came up with the idea for this story several years ago while soulwinning along a railroad track. I asked one of the men in our church to draw some pictures to go with it, and his 30 black and white drawings made the story come alive. Normally our tracts have lots of words and few pictures. This parable has lots of pictures and few words. Our church people are really excited about giving it to their friends and relatives, because they think the story and the accompanying pictures will catch their attention. Many Cambodians do not have a very high level of education, so we feel it is important to utilize the method that they will most readily understand. 

I would like to especially thank three people who worked many hours to make this book possible.

1. Kang is a good man in our church who also happens to be an artist. I led him to Christ about 8 years ago, and he has certainly used his artistic talents for the Lord. 

2. Karona is a woman my wife and I led to Christ about 7 years ago. She did the initial translation of this story and then we worked together to get the translation fine tuned. She is a constant blessing in our church with her desire to serve the Lord.

3. Adam Wood is a fellow missionary here in Cambodia. He has the computer skills that I lack, and I appreciate his willingness to jump on board and do all the typesetting and layout for this project. 

Here is a synopsis of the story:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Make Your Church Hum, by Paul W. Powell (Book Review)

© Melinda Nagy | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I read a great little book this week. It wasn't exactly a book that is "hot of the press"! "How To Make Your Church Hum" was written in 1977, and it came into my possession the same way most of my books do...via a used bookstore. A few years ago I saw this book for sale, and it's title caught my attention. It was written by a Southern Baptist pastor named Paul Powell. The book is short (just 92 pages) and very readable, and it includes lots of great advice. You can see the simplicity of his writing style as well as the direction of the book by simply scanning the chapter titles:

1. Major on the Basics
2. Pray Much
3. Build Spirit
4. Wake Up The Worship
5. Preach the Word
6. Give Dynamic Leadership
7. Plan Ahead
8. Work Hard
9. Involve The People
10. Major On Outreach
11. Minister To People
12. Shape Up The Plant
13. Advertise Well
14. Cut Excess Meetings
15. Develop Good Stewards

All of the chapters were good, but there were several chapters that really stood out to me because of a great illustration or profound quote. Here are three of my favorites chapters and why I like them:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Candace Playing The Offertory

Our three older daughters are learning to play the piano. Yesterday our oldest daughter, Candace (who just turned 12 last week) played for the offering in our morning service. The song is "Always The Same" by Ron Hamilton. I hope you enjoy it. I know I did!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Very Inspiring Quote That Is Too Long To Tweet :)

I came across this statement by William Arthur Ward recently and loved it so much I just had to share it! When you read it the first time, it will sound nice and maybe even a bit trite. But read it again slowly, pausing to meditate and consider each phrase and what it really means. It was when I did this that the statement went from nice to profound. It is about not being content with the status quo. It is about striving for excellence instead of mere existence. In a nutshell it is about "second-mile" Christianity, as presented in the following verses.

"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." (Matthew 5:41)

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" (Colossians 3:23)

Now for the quote...

Who Is Indispensable In Missions?

The NFL's 2011 season isn't looking too good right now. I haven't followed it too closely, but apparently the players are dissatisfied with the amount of money they are making and the benefits they are receiving. I know, that's hard to imagine, but that's what I have read. A runningback for the Minnesota Vikings recently was quoted as saying that the way the NFL team owners are treating the players is "modern-day slavery". Oh, and the guy that made that ridiculous assertion was paid over 10 million dollars last season. Don't get me wrong. I'm not taking the owners' side on this. For all I know, they are just as greedy and selfish as many of the players, and perhaps they are keeping more than their fair share of the profits and cutting some corners on some of the players' benefits. I don't really know. I'm a long time football fan who does enjoy watching football games, but I'm not losing any sleep over the prospects of having no professional football for awhile. Actually, sports has become such a god in America that it may do this country good to take a break from it. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My New Favorite Song

I have a new favorite song! The song is called "Only Jesus". I don't know who wrote it. I have tried to search for information about the song, but so far I have been unsuccessful. The group that I heard sing it is the Calvary Quartet. I highly recommend the Calvary Quartet, but this song in particular is amazing. I have listened to it numerous times, and I don't think I have made it through the song one time without getting tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms. After listening to this song about a dozen times and having the same reaction every time, I began to analyze the song closely. I wanted to know what were the components that made this song pure gold. Here's what I came up with:

1. The words
Words, of course, are a very important part of a song, and the words in this song are about as uplifting as anything I have ever heard. The first verse lays out scenarios where a person is feeling sad, tired, disappointed, or discouraged, and points them to Jesus. The second verse speaks to those who have fainted or failed along the way and encourages them to consider Jesus, the only one who can renew their spirit. The chorus asks, "Who can wash my sin away, who can give victory every day, who is with me all the way?" Then comes the solid, unshakeable, and resounding answer - "Only Jesus"!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Word Of Praise For Japan

I really don't know what to say about the situation in Japan. It is indescribably sad, and I am praying for their country during this devastating time. I hope you will enjoy this beautiful picture from Japan instead of all of the pictures of destruction we are seeing on the news.

Today I read something nice and admirable about Japan in our local paper that I wanted to share briefly. A headline in the Cambodia Daily said, "Despite Crisis, Japan Gives $94 Million Aid to Cambodia". When I read the headline, I assumed that the aid surely was given a few weeks ago, before the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. But such was not the case. The very first sentence of the article said that yesterday (about 4 days after the earthquake and tsunami struck their country) Japan signed an agreement to give Cambodia nearly $100 million in aid for various infrastructure projects and demining efforts. Cambodia's Prime Minister said in a speech on Monday that Cambodia should be prepared for Japan to have to cut back on its foreign aid budget due to the severity of their current crisis. I do not know the amount of aid that Japan gave to Cambodia last year. They have been one of the top (if not the top) foreign country investing in Cambodia's rebuilding for many years. I can stand on our back porch and see the Japanese Friendship Bridge spanning the Tonle Sap River. Perhaps what they gave this year didn't equal what they gave last year. I don't know. But I do know that $94 million is not "pocket change". That's a huge amount of money for a country to give to help another country when they themselves are facing extensive and expensive damages in their country. It has been said that this current crisis is the greatest damage that Japan has faced since WWII. I find it to be very admirable that even in the face of this current crisis, Japan would still desire to be a help to others in need.

Being a preacher, almost every news article reminds me of a verse of Scripture, and this one was no different.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bible Memory Awards

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."     
Psalm 121:1-2

Next Sunday we will be presenting some awards for this past year's Bible memory efforts in our church. The awards include some new Bibles as well as some beautiful, framed Scripture pictures (one of them is pictured above), depending on how many verses each person said. I am always touched by how desirable these simple prizes are to our church people. Yesterday I bought two new kinds of Bibles that have just been printed, and I showed them around after last night's church service. Everybody loved them! One of the young ladies didn't say much or step forward to look at the new Bibles. When I asked her if she wanted to take a look, she sighed and said, "No, it will just make me sorry I didn't memorize more verses." I'm still waiting for the final list from my verse monitors, but when I get the final number of verses quoted, I'll include it in the next email update.  I'm looking forward to next Sunday when we will get to award these Bibles and pictures. This year's pictures turned out so nice that I wanted to share them with my blog readers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Benefiting From The Bible

If you asked the average Christian which book means the most to them out of every book they have ever read or owned, I believe most would say the Bible.  But although we talk about the Bible a lot, I wonder how many Christians are literally benefiting from it in a real and practical way on a regular basis. We don't get the benefits of God's Word by setting a Bible on the coffee table. Carrying your Bible to church every Sunday will not give you some kind of magical blessing from God. There is a process, some prerequisites if you will, which will ensure that you will receive the benefits that God wants to provide through His Word.

In Psalm 119:161-176 we see the progress of a man's relationship with the Word of God which ultimately culminated in great personal benefit. These progressive steps actually form a cycle which can keep itself going indefinitely. Some spiritual cycles in life are negative, like a rut. For example, the cycle found in the book of Judges as the Children of Israel constantly went from sin to servitude to supplication to salvation...and back to sin again. But the cycle in Psalm 119 is not a negative one. It is an extremely positive and helpful cycle which will keep the benefits of God's Holy Word flowing into a person's life.

1. Assessment

The first prerequisite to receiving benefit from the Bible is that one must have a proper assessment of it. If you do not consider the Bible to in fact be God's Word, if you do not value it highly, and stand in awe of it's truth and power, then you will never be helped by it. Notice what the Psalmist said in verses 161-162.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Grandma And Jesus

My daughter has been walking around saying something lately that I just have to share. There is no point or application to this story. It's just cute:)

Gabby with her doll that Grandpa and Grandma Benefield
sent her for Christmas

Several days ago while talking to her mom on the phone, my wife let our 2 year-old daughter, Gabby, talk to grandma for a minute. When she got off the phone, she spent the next several minutes telling everyone who would listen that she had just talked to "Grandma and Jesus". At first I didn't think anything of it, because she has been known to say some pretty interesting things "out of the blue". But over the next couple of days, she kept saying the phrase over and over. When relaying her conversation with Grandma to someone, it was "Grandma and Jesus". When talking on a toy phone, it was "hi Grandma and Jesus". When telling us something she forgot to say on the phone, it was "oh, I forgot to tell Grandma and Jesus". But she wasn't doing this when referring to both grandmas. Just my mother-in-law. (Sorry, mom!) 

It finally dawned on me why she was saying that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest Preacher - Evangelist Dave McCracken

We were blessed this past week to have Evangelist Dave McCracken preach two nights in our church. He and his wife, Nancy, were passing through Cambodia to see their long-time friends, Ray and Sharon Shull, and Bro. Shull graciously "loaned him" to us for two nights.

Since it is a rare treat to have a guest speaker like this pass through our area, we invited some other missionaries to bring their families and/or some folks from their church and join us for the services. What a wonderful time we had! We averaged over 90 people each of the two nights. The singing was phenomenal both nights as we sang encouraging hymns like Revive Us Again, All Hail The Power, and Power In The Blood. I absolutely love to hear our people sing, and when we added the people from several other churches, it was even better than normal. Bro. McCracken paid our combined churches a real compliment when he said he wished he could take the whole group back to America with him to show some of the Christians there how it's done!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Discouraging Times & The Christian Worker

If you are a Christian worker of any kind, you have faced discouraging times. I remember when we were starting the Good News Baptist Church in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Several times when it was time for our evening service, I had the church cleaned, the chairs set up, hymnbooks laid out, music playing, my sermon tucked away neatly in my Bible, and threw open the door ready to quickly step out of the way lest I be trampled by the surging throngs of people hungry to hear God’s Word! Then…(crickets chirping)…nobody came. Pastors certainly go through times when it seems like for every 1 step forward, their church takes 3 steps backwards. Missionaries no doubt feel at times that not one person in the entire country cares a whit about what they have to say. A bus captain may at times wonder why it seems the harder he works, the less interest kids seem to have. A Sunday School teacher may feel like throwing in the towel because even when their students attend the class, they don’t seem to listen to a word that is said. A soulwinner will occasionally return home with one thought on his mind: “What’s the point?”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who Are You Holding On To?

I took two of my daughters, Deborah and Emma, with me on the moto the other day to make a visit. All of the kids love riding the moto with me, and since they have all been riding since they were toddlers, they are pretty comfortable with it. While we were riding, one of them made a statement which really got me thinking.

But first, a word about the different ways that passengers ride motos here in Cambodia. I have noticed that while virtually everyone here is comfortable on the back of a moto, there are different ways that people ride. 

First, there are the clingy riders. Oftentimes the really young kids are the clingers. I have seen motos go zipping by with a little girl behind her mom or dad just hanging on for dear life. Sometimes their eyes are wide open and slightly terrified, and sometimes their eyes are squeezed tightly shut as if they are concentrating intently on not falling off.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interesting World Statistics

Whether you like statistics, geography, anthropology, or world history, there is something in this video for you. If you happen to be interested in ALL of those things, then this video is an absolute "must-see". In this video, Hans Rosling of Sweden presents an amazing perspective of the development of 200 nations over the past 200 years in just 4 minutes. I'm not going to try to explain it - just watch it. Then I'll make a few comments afterwards.

There are no doubt many opinions as to the "why" and the "how" of the progress of these past 200 years. Some would use a video such as this to support their belief in humanism. Others would say, "Wow, look what capitalism has done for the world". Many Christians would claim this video shows that 200 years of missionary endeavors has helped to lift the standard of living and quality of life for the whole world. And for every proposed theory, there would certainly be a rebuttal. But one thing I am completely sure of is that some major data points were not included in this tremendous piece of research. I will mention just two:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Marks of Spiritual Maturity

I have been blessed in recent weeks and months to see some very spiritual behavior and attitudes in the lives of some of our church members. I have seen people who a few years ago were like a fragile, young plant needing lots of spiritual investment, now exhibiting the strength and stability of a mighty tree. In a recent post I showed a Biblical pattern for investing in people. The Apostle Paul went to the city of Thessalonica on his second missionary journey and invested himself in the people there. The Bible says he imparted not the gospel of God only, but also his own soul. I think it appropriate when considering "investment" to also take a moment to consider "the return". In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, he talked about his investment in them. In his second letter, he talked about the return on his investment. Notice what he said to them in II Thessalonians 1:3-4:

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:"  

Paul was rejoicing and could not help but thank God for these precious people because of some things that he saw happening in their lives. When I read these two verses recently, I immediately thought, "Wow...that is exactly what I am seeing in some of our people!" Let us examine these three indicators of spiritual maturity that Paul raised.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Not The Gospel Of God Only

A Biblical Pattern For Investing In People

The ministry, by definition, is about people. While it is true that we oftentimes (of necessity) get encumbered with detail work and administrative tasks, ultimately the ministry is about people. There have been times in my ministry where I have gotten tired of people. That’s both horrible and hilarious at the same time. Horrible because the ministry is about people, and hilarious because…well, the ministry is about people. In recent years, God has used the book of I Thessalonians to teach me about the important work of investing in the people to whom God has sent me to minister. Even a casual reading of I Thessalonians reveals a very special relationship between the Apostle Paul and his beloved converts in Thessalonica. The key verse is 2:8 which says, “…we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls…”

It is possible to win people to Christ without really investing much into them. I know because I have done it! God has convicted me at times that although I was succeeding in imparting the Gospel of God, I was failing to impart my own soul. In I Thessalonians chapter 2, God gives us a pattern for investing in the lives of people.