Thursday, May 28, 2009

Doing fine after colonoscopy

Today I had a colonoscopy and everything went fine. It's really an easy procedure. The anesthesia keeps you from knowing that anything is going on. I believe in preventative health care, so any of you out there who are not doing preventative health care such as yearly physicals and procedures like colonoscopies, then I encourage you to step up and get it done. I do it for my family, for ministry and for me.

I saw again today why it's important to stay healthy. First, my wife. She's the sweet and most beautiful woman in the world and I know she loves me tremendously. All morning as I was waiting to go into surgery, she was holding my hand and telling me that she loves me. I know she was praying for me too. I need to stay healthy for her. I love my Martha and if the Lord doesn't come back soon, I want to spend every second I can with her on this earth. I love Martha so much. I've never been as happy as I am today, and life gets better every day with her. She always spoils me and did so today by cooking one of my favorite meals - beef stroganoff. It was delicious.

I also saw today that I need to stay healthy because there people out there who need Martha and me. I was very humbled when one of the homeless men we've been working with called today. Charles was working, but during a break he called to see how I was doing and if everything went fine with the procedure. That's enough to bring tears to your eyes. That shows he appreciates what we have been doing to help him.

Then, a married couple called us needing help. They didn't know I had a colonoscopy today. Martha stepped right up and helped them. It showed me once again that God has given Martha and me a wonderful ministry and people need us. I thank God for that.

My next step to staying healthy is losing weight. That's a challenge because I love to eat. But, I'm determined for all of the reasons I listed above. The better health I'm in, the better I am for my wife and family, and the more ministry I can do. I want to be healthy and available for God to use however, wherever and whenever He wants to.

I thank God for my good health. I thank God for my awesome wife and family. I thank God for this ministry. It's all His. We're just His hands and feet. Most of all, I thank God for His Son Jesus Christ ... my wonderful and awesome Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bible study continues in our absence

Wednesday nights are special times at the Love In Action warehouse as we hold weekly Bible studies. Martha and I always look forward to Wednesday nights as we minister to the homeless and men from the Houston County community corrections work release.

It was strange not being there tonight for Bible study. When the clock hit 7 p.m. we were sitting at home. The reason why was I have a colonoscopy tomorrow and this afternoon and tonight were my "preparation" time. Those of you who have ever had a colonoscopy know what I'm talking about. If you have never had one I do encourage you to get one when you are at the appropriate age or when your doctor advises you to get one. It's actually a very simple procedure and it's not nearly as bad as people make it out to be.

Thankfully the Bible study continued in our absence tonight. I want to thank Brian Turner for teaching the Bible study tonight. Brian is a LIA board member and assistant to the pastors at Harvest Church in Dothan, Ala. Brian is a great man of God and a tremendous teacher of the Word. I talked with him tonight and there were 22 at the Bible study. Praise God! That's a great crowd.

It's great to know that if something comes up and Martha and I can't be there, we have great board members like Brian who can step in and minister God's Word.

Friday, May 22, 2009

God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours

We serve an awesome God! It's easy to see that every day. It's also easy to see that God does indeed know what He is doing. Some times it doesn't seem like God moves when we think He should. But, I am learning (it's taken a while) that God's timing is always perfect.

In Isaiah 55:9, God tells us, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

The Love In Action warehouse is a great example. Early on we wanted a warehouse and started praying about it and asking God for one. About eight years ago we thought it was going to work out for us to get one, but we didn't. We were disappointed, but kept going forward with the ministry. Then, last September we moved into our warehouse. It was an answer to nine years of prayer.

Looking back, I see where God intervened and didn't let us get that first warehouse. It wouldn't have worked. See, it's all in God's perfect will and timing. We just have to trust that He is in control, no matter what the situation looks like or how we feel. When we totally trust in God, He makes everything work out.

It's been amazing how everything has been coming together at the warehouse. The other day I was looking at some notes Martha and I wrote down about what we wanted in a warehouse. That was two months before we even knew about the warehouse we now have. Almost everything we wrote down back then we either have now or it's in our plans. That's God. He does give us the desires of our hearts.

I believe in writing down your goals and visions. Pray about them. Give them to God. Trust completely in Him and watch what He does. When our goals and visions line up with God's Word, it will come to past.

To read and see more about what God is doing at the LIA warehouse, go to our Web site. I have updated it with more information and photos, including a photo slide show of the ongoing construction. Go to www.loveinactionministries.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

God's sweet Holy Spirit at work

We have had some really good Bible studies at the Love In Action warehouse, but tonight was the best ever. A great crowd was there with 18 in attendance. But it wasn't the number of people there, it was the presence of God that filled the room right at the beginning. It was incredible.

Doug Sommers, who brings the community corrections work release guys to the Bible study, said he had goose bumps throughout the entire service. The men were soaking up the Word of God. Most of them participated. Some read the scriptures. Some asked questions. Most of them shared different things that God has done in their lives.

My precious wife shared some powerful words. God used what she said to help one man let go of the anger that he had been feeling toward someone for a while.

The theme tonight was God's forgiveness. It was very powerful. The key scriptures we read tonight were: 1 John 2:1, Hebrews 4: 15-16, Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 32:5, and Psalm 103:12.

The Holy Spirit was at work the entire time. There was such a sweet Spirit in the room. When Doug got the men back to community corrections he said they were still talking about the Bible study. The homeless man I took back to his hotel room needed a good service like that tonight too.

Martha and I really enjoyed the Bible study. We got a lot out of it too.

Thank you God for your Word, for your Holy Spirit, and your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you God for your forgiveness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our lives are not our own

Pastor Matthew Barnett of the Los Angeles Dream Center once said, "Once you start putting yourself in another man's world you will never be the same."

He was talking about reaching out to the homeless, the hopeless, the hurting. He was speaking the truth. For the past nine years, Love In Action has been reaching out to the homeless, the hopeless, the hurting. From Brooklyn to L.A. and points in between, we have gone out on the streets to meet the people where they are at and tell them that God loves them and so do we.

It has made a tremendous difference in their lives. We have seen thousands accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We have seen the homeless come off the streets and live the lives God had planned for them. It's been incredible.

It has also made an awesome difference in all of our lives. Think about Matthew's quote for a moment. Put yourself in another man's world. That means you hurt when they hurt. You cry when they cry. When they struggle with something you are there with them. When they rejoice, you rejoice. Basically, you are living life with them.

The past year has been an incredible year of ministry for LIA. Martha and I have really done what Matthew said. We have taken the homeless to hotels to get out of the rain. We have taken food to them late at night. We have taken them to work before the sun comes up in the morning. We have sat out in the woods and cried with them. We have prayed with them about challenging situations. We have rejoiced with them. We have taken them to church with us, so we can all worship together.

We don't have children, but the feeling we get when we are in church with those we help, it just feels awesome. It's like we're worshiping God together as a family. It has to feel about the same way as parents feel when they are worshiping God with their children. We know that we are entering into the presence of God together. Then seeing them soak up every word the pastor is saying and talking about it after church is wonderful.

Living life with the homeless. Living life with them after they come off the streets. It is awesome. It has changed Martha and me. We never know what each day holds. It may be heartbreak, or it may be a joyous celebration. However God decides to direct us, we try our best to follow His lead. We aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, body and strength.

I told Martha and the other night that we live a very impromptu life. Martha said she wouldn't have it any other way. Then she said something very profound. She said, "Our lives are not our own." Wow! I've heard that many times in my life. "... You are not your own; you were bought at a price." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Our lives are not our own. Our lives belong to Jesus. We live for Him. We live to lead others to Him. It's an awesome life. Filled with all kinds of awesome adventures. It's filled with the love and joy of Jesus Christ. Martha and I praise God for our lives.

I challenge you to do what Matthew said. Put yourself in another man's world. Reach out and help someone. Live life with them. Lead them to Jesus. I guarantee you that you will never be the same.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Exciting times at the LIA warehouse

Martha and I are excited about what is happening at the Love In Action warehouse. We have done a lot of ministry out of it since moving in last September. We have shipped a large amount of supplies throughout the nation to help provide for the homeless, and we have shipped items to the countries of Haiti, Dominican Republic and Panama.

We have held Bible studies there as well and have seen people give their lives to Jesus during those times. We had another good Bible study tonight. We have the homeless, community corrections work release guys, and others from our home church attend.

Now we are well on our way to converting the front half of the warehouse into a ministry area for the homeless in Dothan, Ala. We started building a wall last Saturday to separate the ministry area from the warehouse area. Then this week Dothan Steel Fabricators put up a steel pole to support the wall. They did an awesome job and did it as a donation to the ministry. Kent, Jansen and the crew are a great blessing to us. Thanks guys!

Then, two men from Harvest Church, our home church, started putting the OSB walls up. Franklin Moore and Jim Kaye really did a great job. Bob Brown, another member of Harvest, did sheetrock work on the newly constructed restroom.

LIA board members Justin Swasey and Susie Tuck (my mom) worked in the warehouse Saturday with Martha and got a lot done. Justin moved a large cabinet from the back to the front of the warehouse and they sorted through and folded towels and organized our hygiene kits and clothes. I helped Franklin frame out the wall that day.

Franklin and Kelly Hudson, another member from Harvest, worked today on the plumbing. They tapped into the new water meter and ran the 1-inch pipe into the warehouse and halfway down the long wall toward the restroom we are constructing.

Franklin, Kelly and Jim are going to be at the warehouse again tomorrow (Thursday) to continue working on the plumbing. Those three men are a tremendous blessing. They are all retired, but they work harder than many people who are still in the work force. They do a lot for the Lord and I pray God's richest blessings on them. Thanks guys. Y'all are awesome!

Our goal is to construct two restrooms, install two showers, and a washer and dryer. The homeless will then be able to come to the warehouse and take showers and have their clothes washed. A homeless man asked me tonight when will the showers be ready. It's a great need.

We have clothes on racks for the homeless. That way they can pick out their own clothes. It's like shopping, but everything is free.

Then, we want to build a kitchen and serve breakfast. There's a soup kitchen not far from the warehouse and they serve lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, so we could fill a need by serving breakfast. We also want to serve dinner on Saturdays and have a worship service those nights as well.

So, a lot is going on and there's a lot more to do. It's exciting how God is providing and making the way. A big thank you to everyone who volunteers at the warehouse, prays for us, and supports us financially so we can help those in need.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Some takeaways from a great conference

I've had a couple of days to reflect on the awesome Spiritual Renewal Conference at Harvest Church, our home church in Dothan, Ala.

Les Beauchamp, senior pastor of Trinity Church in Omaha, Neb., led the conference. Jerry Hough, LIFEcare Pastor of Trinity, traveled with him. Praise and worship was led by Wayne Sigler of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala. He is the brother of our pastor Ralph Sigler.

Wayne and the Harvest praise team did an excellent job all week leading us into praise and worship of God. Martha and I felt God's presence so strongly as we worshiped.

We met Jerry Sunday morning before the first service of the conference. He is a great encourager and just an all-around great guy. We really enjoyed the time we got to spend with him during the conference. It wasn't nearly enough, but the little time we had together was great. The three of us had a great time of prayer together the last night of the conference.

Les was terrific. His messages were powerful and real. His delivery is great. And, what I like is the Les you see on stage preaching is the same Les you meet after the service. We were blessed to share a sandwich with him after one of the services. He's a great listener and he has such a great spirit. He genuinely cares about what you are talking about, and he is a man of great wisdom ... even if he is a Cornhusker fan and bragged about beating Troy. :-)

Here are some takeaways from his messages:

God really spoke to Martha and me during the conference. He challenged us in some areas and reaffirmed some things in other areas. One important thing the Holy Spirit really ministered to me was that I can't do anything in my own strength. Whether it's something I struggle with or concerns about not having enough funds for the ministry. I can't do it. I just need to turn it completely over to God and give it to Him. "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." - Psalm 55:22 "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7.

Very simple teaching, but very profound at the same time. And another very important point that the Holy Spirit really ministered to me this week was, do not grieve Him: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:30-32

Whenever we have anger, bitterness, etc., we grieve the Holy Spirit and it causes us not to be able to hear Him. He can't speak to us when we grieve Him. I've had to let some things go, and it's been great. We do indeed serve an awesome God! I certainly have been hearing a lot more from the Holy Spirit, and I notice that I'm operating a lot more in kindness, compassion and forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit also showed us that we need to spend more time in the Word. As Martha told me after the conference, "We made time for God this week. We put off doing what we normally do to be here. He wants us to do that every day ... make time for Him."

I have a very wise and godly wife. We're going to study the Bible more, and we're excited. As great as it's been doing the ministry, it's only going to get better the more we make more time for God. It's not all about the ministry work. It's about spending quality time with our Heavenly Father.

Thanks Pastor Ralph and everyone at Harvest for making this week so great and for inviting such anointed people to lead the conference.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

God, the homeless and the woods

Wow, what a night. It was a very intense night of ministry in the woods of Dothan, Ala. Martha and I spent the entire afternoon at the LIA warehouse working. Our good friend Franklin Moore came over and Franklin and I started building a wall that we need while Martha was busy sorting through clothes and other items.

We made it home around 7 p.m. and were playing with our dog Gibbs when my phone rang. It was a homeless man we've been working with for a week. He had some bad things that happened to him the past few days, including today, and he was ready to end it all. We talked for a while a couple of different times. I told him that he may not care if he lives or die but Martha and I do because we love and care about him. He said he knows that and he is thankful for everything we have done. I then told him that we were coming to see him. He paused for a moment and said, "you're coming tonight? I sure wish you would. Would you pray with me?"

Martha and I got in the truck, picked up a couple of pizzas, and went to where he camps in the woods. He calls it "Camp Frostbite." Right now it needs to be called "Camp Mosquito Bite." :-)

From 9-11 p.m. Martha and I sat with him at his campsite and mainly listened to him. We did talk some and shared the love of God with him, not in a preaching way, but as a friend would talk to another friend about God. My sweet wife, who has the sweetest voice in the world, share some powerful truths with him.

Some amazing things happened tonight. While he was pouring his heart out, without any prompting on our part, he just cried out to God saying, "God, if you have any forgiveness left please forgive me." Wow! That was awesome! We didn't have to lead him in a prayer. He cried out on his own.

We tried to talk him into leaving the woods tonight, but he said he would tomorrow. When we left tonight he was laughing and talking about how he was going to let God change his life one step at a time, and then go back into the woods to help us reach more of the homeless.

He has many issues, but with God he can overcome all of them. We won't push him or preach hard to him. We're going to continue to listen to him, then give godly advice and keep showing him the love of Jesus. That's been our approach with him and that's the way we will continue. That's the way he wants to be reached. He is beginning to open up more and more to us. That means he's beginning to trust us. I won't share what those things are. That's between us, him and God.

God is working in his life. Despite a couple of setbacks this week he has made progress. God is doing a work in his life. Please pray for him. God knows his name. Just please keep him in your prayers.

I want to thank our good brothers Brian Turner and Richard Jackson for praying tonight. We called them as we were going to the woods and asked for prayer. It's great knowing that people are praying for you when facing a situation like we did tonight.

Most of all I want to thank God for His tender mercies and for answering our prayers tonight. We serve a wonderful and awesome God!