Aldersgate Men

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tri to Gain Glory...

Some of you have been following my efforts as I prepare for my triathlon. I've posted quite a bit on my blog. In my quiet times last night and today, I tried to focus on the analogy that Paul gives us of a race in Hebrews 12: 1-3:
1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us (B)run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has (G)sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


It got me to thinking about how often we....errrr...I...lose focus on divine things, on God, and struggle with the things of this world. One of the things I recognize is the importance of that focus, how critical it is to maintain at all times if we are to finish the race that is set before us. Our training, the things we consume, the way we prepare, the hardship and adversity we overcome..all of these things prepare us for the race toward glory.

Imagine, too, the glory of winning that race!!! If I were to win on Saturday, I would recieve a medal that would tarnish, rust, and eventually turn to dust. How much more vigilant and focused then, should our training and focus be as we race toward eternity?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mark 2:17

And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."


Few places on earth deserve the title of "sin city" as much as Amsterdam. With a myriad of innovative ways to sell sex, and a liberal attitude towards drugs - Holland's capital draws a host of people lured by the relaxed attitudes and "easy money" it provides. The sea-port city in the heart of Europe is perhaps the most multicultural place in the entire world - no city in the world is inhabited by as many different people from other countries and cultures as Amsterdam. When i visit - i often feel like i'm at the Mos Eisley spaceport from Star Wars.

The infamous Red Light District is a place unlike any other in the world - "coffee houses" are really dope houses with the smell of reefer wafting outside, strung-out drug addicts wander around aimlessly. It's very clean and the old buildings, the cobblestone streets and the canal are absolutely beautiful sites to behold - just like most of the city. Aesthetically - the RLD is top shelf! That said, the most notable aspect of the RLD is the prostitution - here, women stand in windows, presenting themselves like merchandise. Live porno shops abound, as do drug and sex paraphernalia shops. It's all wrapped-up in a very festive type atmosphere. I wont even get into the "Gay Pride" thing...The city tour guides even promote the RLD as a place to "enjoy yourself in the festive atmosphere".

An old friend of mine from High School - Steve Ashworth actually lives in Amsterdam. Steve was our class valedictorian, he graduated from Baylor University with an Accounting degree, went to work for Arthur Andersen and was off to highly successful career as CPA - I'm sure he had "Partner" written all over him! While getting ready to start his MBA program he "got a call from upstairs"...

Today Steve is a Director with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Amsterdam. He is in charge of the training center and handles the YWAM finances and administrative duties in Amsterdam. During my last visit there I had the pleasure of meeting with Steve for the first time in 24 years as I sat-in on an orientation session he conducted for his new incoming staff.

{Steve - Addressing his troups and preparing them for what lies ahead. He is sharing how they need to view the people of their mission field NOT as what they are, but how God sees them - as His children whom he loves, and in whom He will do great works and miracles}

YWAM owns several buildings in Amsterdam - one is the De Poort training center where Steve lives and works with his wife Rhonda and their 3 children. The training center reminds me of a small technical college - it has classrooms, dorm rooms, a large commercial kitchen, a dining hall, a recreation center etc. Another building owned by YWAM is a large building in the very center of Amsterdam - across from the train station. This building is easily recognizable as the building with the "Jesus Loves You" sign at the top. YWAM receives rent income from the apartments. Among the buisiness tenants is an awesome Christian coffee house/art cafe' and a Christian book store.


The third building is a work in progress called De Cleft. De Cleft is in the heart of the RLD, a couple of doors down from what was the Church of satan (I'm not kidding), live pornography shops...the works. The Cleft serves as a ministry/outreach center to the RLD with teams of women sharing the love of Christ to the women behind the windows and other teams reaching out to the homeless and broken who congregate in this neighborhood.

Right next to The Cleft is another building that YWAM is now renovating called The Tabernacle of the Nations. It is a work in progress, but the vision is that, when complete, it will serve as a 24/7 house of prayer and worship that will be open to all.

The funding for renovationations on De Cleft is running very low and Steve was forced to tell the staff they need to slow-down a bit until more funding comes-in. It will be completed.

I was blessed during my visit by the enthusiasm and positive attitude of all of Steve's staff and volunteers. They work in one of the more overwhelming mission fields in the world - but they see it as a plentifultifull harvest! It seems like all of them (who, by the way have made many sacrifices to be there) are full of The Spirit and they are happy to be working in His vineyard - there is no place they would rather be than among the least, the last and the lost....sorta like Jesus huh? It was a blessing to me just to be around them - what a testimony! There are some incredible stories of His awesome healing power and grace that abounds in this community. These people have "gotten out of their boats" and they trust in Him to be faithful - and accordingly He continues to bless them and their work, which is why they are so bold and enthusiastic.

Lets keep them and those whom they minister to in our prayers.....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Whodat?

"A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father's shop. He has no formal education. He owns no property of any kind. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside. Walking from place to place preaching all the while even though he is in no way an ordained minister he never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing -- the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, propertyless young man who preached on street corners for only three years who left no written word has for 2000 years had a greater effect on the entire world than all the rulers, kings and emperors, all the conquerors, the generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who ever lived -- all put together. How do we explain that? ...Unless he really was what he said he was."

--Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Romans 8:28 (Part II)

Investigation of the accident has left many unanswered questions. What went so terribly wrong that day to cause this accident? The aircraft was well maintained. The pilot is an experienced flight instructor with many hours in this aircraft. The weather was good. The plane had barely lifted off the runway when Andy realized the engine was losing power and that he had a serious problem. He did what pilots are trained to do in such situations. He attempted to land the plane as best he could straight ahead. If this meant crashing into buildings or other structures (mobile homes in this case), so be it. The chances of survival would be far better than attempting a turn and spiraling into the ground. In a controlled crash such as this, we can expect the airplane to be bent, twisted and badly damaged, but not destroyed. Survival of the passengers, though not assured, is a real possibility. The unfortunate outcome in this instance was an intense fire fueled by a propane tank in one of the mobile homes that exploded shortly after the crash.

The prospects of the National Transportation Safety Board investigators ever being able to conclusively determine the cause of the accident are slim since the aircraft was almost totally consumed in the intense fire. While it would be nice to know the cause of the accident, having an answer will not accomplish much more than satisfying our curiosity.

There is however another unanswered question that is much more interesting. How did Andy manage to exit the airplane and avoid the same fate as Diane, Allison and Amy? Typical of most light planes, there was only one door for passengers and crew to enter and exit and it was on the co-pilot or Diane’s side. The only recollection that Andy or the local resident who pulled him to safety away from the fire have is Andy standing outside on the wing frantically trying to open the latched door to get Diane and the girls out of the burning airplane. There has been much speculation as to how Andy was able to exit the airplane. However, none of it stands up to critical scrutiny. Therein lies a great mystery. According to the dictionary an event that appears unexplainable by the laws of nature and so held to be supernatural in origin is called a miracle. Thus we have the Miracle of 235 Golf. Yes, a miracle in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Andy, though badly burned, is with us, Diane and the girls are gone.

Whether or not you believe God still works miracles, you’ll have to agree that Andy is the recipient of God’s grace. We don’t know why the events of June 25 played out as they did, but it seems God has a plan for Andy and chose to spare him from death’s grasp on that day. Andy is a witness among us to God’s grace. Lest you view this argument as just trying to put a happy face on a sad event, consider the good that occurred so far, all of it a direct result of the events of June 25.

For starters, an incredible amount of authentic Christian action has surrounded Andy since the accident. It is on a scale unprecedented in the recent memory of Forest Hills in terms of the number of people involved, the extent of the labors undertaken, and the duration of these selfless acts. Immediately and without hesitation, Andy’s church family, as well as others in the community, went to work to care for his needs. No need was off limits. From caring for the house, locating and caring for Whitney, the family dog, cutting the grass, finding and relocating Andy’s cars, locating important papers, sending him cards and letters, to visiting him in the hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. These many acts of agape love have been an awakening to others. So powerful are these works that some former members have returned to Forest Hills to once again be a part of this loving, caring community of faith. It is often said that an important strength of Forest Hills is its church family. The tragedy of June 25 put that claim to the test, and the verdict is clear. The family Forest Hills is indeed very strong.

A scholarship fund has been established for underprivileged high school seniors in memory of Diane, Allison and Amy. In just three months the fund has reached $92,000 and is well on its way to a goal of $1,000,000. Before long needy high school seniors will begin receiving grants from the fund, a direct result of the tragedy of June 25. Lives have been changed. People on the fringe of this tragedy and its aftermath have come to realize that there really are authentic Christians among us – lots of them – and that it not only right to engage in these selfless acts of agape love, but it’s okay too.

Such acts of love and caring have not been only the work of Andy’s Forest Hills family. During the two months Andy was in intensive care at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, he was the beneficiary of countless acts of support by local Christians that he did not know and that did not know him. The body of Christ in Allentown embraced Andy during his stay and, while the doctors and nurses worked to restore his physical health, two pastors and church members tended to his spiritual and other needs. They were there for him.

The exposure Forest Hills has received in the community through the television and news media has been phenomenal. Coverage went on for weeks. In addition, hits on the church website, which normally run 100-200 a day, jumped to 1000-2000 a day. Forest Hills has become much more widely known in the community.

The tragic events of June 25 have changed lives – many for the better as they have encountered God’s grace in action. We have been touched in ways we never expected and reminded once again that God is with us even in the midst of tragedy and that we are both the recipients and the instruments of his grace. As we go forward and the pain of the tragedy recedes, the Miracle of 235 Golf will live on. As Andy gets on with his life and tells his story of the events of the summer of 2005, as scholarships are given out by the JubiLee fund, more and more people will be exposed to God’s grace and have their lives changed for the better.

The Miracle of 235 Golf like the miracles of the Bible get our attention because they are so extraordinary. Now that God has our attention with this miracle, we can see the ordinary taking place powered by God grace. By opening hearts and minds to God’s grace, lives will be forever changed and the world will have more Christians walking the talk and fueling a hunger for a way of life that is better than they have ever known.

Andy Lee's message

Romans 8:28 Part I

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose........

Three dead, one injured after plane crashes into trailer park
By MARTHA RAFFAELE
The Associated Press

NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. - A small plane crashed into a York County trailer park and caught fire Saturday, killing three people, injuring the pilot and destroying three trailers.
The single-engine Piper Cherokee, which had taken off from nearby Capital City Airport, crashed at about 12:45 p.m. in the trailer park near Old York and Lewisberry roads in Fairview Township across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg.

"It appears the plane made it about 1,000 yards from the runway when it had some kind of malfunction. He did report he was having a problem," county spokesman John Bruetsch said.
Three passengers, a woman and two girls, died in the crash, Bruetsch said. The pilot, a man, was taken to Hershey Medical Center and later airlifted to Lehigh Valley Burn Center, Bruetsch said.
"It appears to be a family," Bruetsch said. The names and ages of the victims were not immediately available.

The plane crashed into one trailer head-on and destroyed a total of three trailers in the 28-trailer park, but there were no injuries on the ground, said Bruetsch, a public information officer for Cumberland County who was assisting York County.

"One trailer was empty, one family was on vacation and one family was away," he said.
Jeff Twiddy, 26, of New Cumberland, Pa., said he was driving about 100 yards from the airport when he saw the small red-and-white plane taking off.

"I saw that the airplane was real low coming off the runway. It looked low. ... I saw it was in danger." The plane went down about 30 seconds later, he said. Ben Kirkpatrick, 21, said he was sitting in his trailer when he heard the plane pass overhead and then heard an explosion. He went outside and felt a blast of heat, and didn't think anyone could have survived.

"Two seconds later, I see somebody climb through the trailer halfway on fire," he said. The man turned back and appeared to be trying to go back in, and Kirkpatrick and another man ran toward the victim to restrain him. "The next thing I know, the propane tank exploded and it knocked me clear across the driveway," said Kirkpatrick, his hands still bandaged from severe scrapes that required a trip to the hospital.

Robert Gretz, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters that he did not know where the plane was going or whether a flight plan had been filed. He said investigators were meeting with representatives of the airport, the maker of the plane and the manufacturer of the engine. They also planned to look at the pilot's experience and the maintenance of the aircraft, which was registered in Hendersonville, Tenn.
___________________________________________________________________
Update: Piper Cherokee, N235G, piloted by Andy Lee, and carrying his wife and their two children crashed on takeoff from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Capital City Airport. Diane, Allison, and Amy perished in the ensuing fire. Andy survived with third degree burns to 50 per cent of his body......

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Hav'n Church"

If you have ever known church goin, Bible believ'n black folks then you will be familiar with the phrase "hav'n church". "Hav'n church" should never be confused with just going to a church service.

"Hav'n church" is when your church service becomes a "Holy Ghost" party - a jubilant celebration of all His blessings - no matter what you may be going through at the time. It's a pure form of worship. If you want to really experience such worship - you need to be willing to invite the Holy Spirit and you need to forget about all that you left behind when you darkened the door of the church with your sorry self! You must put aside all the things that bind you, all the stumbling blocks such as pride, worry, insecurity, fear and most of all - your schedule.

Back in the day - in high school - i used to skip the regimented,stuffy, gilded, and stoic church of my parents and on occasion i would attend Ebenezer Full-Gospel Baptist church. It was a humble little church in a bad neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks. But, being an athlete in racially mixed school - i had many good friends in "that" community. One such friend was Daryl Frazier who's father, Rev Piphious Frazier III would bring-it strong...and we would "have church". After church, (which was over when it was over - maybe noon, maybe 2:00pm) we usually had a big pot-luck dinner. I was always treated as a special guest - all the deaconess' of the church would make sure that i got extra ribs, potato salad, baked beans....whatever - i even discovered that i liked collard greens and chitterlings! I would get home around 4 or 5pm with a full spirit and a full belly too! I remember being a bit uncomfortable over how these people - who were so very poor, always gave me so much and asked nothing in return - they always seemed so glad that i was there worshiping with them! I could never quite figure-it-out...it din't make any sence... all i knew was that i felt the love of Christ more amongst them, than i ever did with the people in my own church. It always struck me how the most precious thing in their lives was the church - not the church building mind-you, but THE church. (not unlike our brothers and sisters in Krichev i might add) Ahh good times...good times indeed! Those were the days....

Fast forward 16 years - my son Lance needs to visit the church service another denomination to fulfill his confirmation requirement. I decide to introduce Lance to the same experience i had when i was just a little older than him.

A member of my staff, and a lady whom i consider a very close friend and a sister-in-Christ is a member of church in downtown Harrisburg - similar to the one i frequented of my youth. She sings in the choir and is active in the church and she has invited me several times - so i used this opportunity to take her-up on her offer.

I tried to warn Lance what he was "in for". I told him as we went-in around 10:30 that he wouldnt necesarilly be out within an hour...noon or 12:30 maybe??? He didnt like the sound of that at all. He was also more than a little nervous about being one of two white folks in the church. He was peppering me with a zillion questions as we walked-in. Not knowing for sure what was in store - i told him it would be "different".

To make a long story short - as we were leaving the church....at 1:45 i asked Lance what he thought about it. He said it was "totally awesome" and he wanted to know when we could go back! I'm stunned - but happy.

I'm not sure what point i'm trying to make here...except perhaps we should take the choke collar of a set schedule off of our pastor and let him have free reign to move as The Spirit moves. Perhaps we are afraid to let-go...you never know, things just might get wierd! What will "people" say?

I wasn't there but i am pretty sure the early church preachers didnt have to keep their message to under 20 minutes...or else!? We can't allow that can we? No way man - we have places to go and people to see and schedules to keep!! So - if God wants to speak to us through our Pastor - he better darn well figure-out how to get it done within our schedule! Amen? Also - he better not say anything that convicts us...makes us feel uncomfortable or makes us feel like we need to repent of anything...dont bring-up Satan either, thats just "out there".

Maybe we need to stop going to church and start "hav'n church" instead - it's good for your soul.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Man's Testimony About Man

In John 2:24-25, John notes that Jesus did not need man's testimony about man:
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.

One of the most powerful things we can do as men is share our testimony with another man. I believe it is that life-on-life ministry that drives the power of Christ's church on this earth.

But I'll be honest too often my testimony is about man, not about Him and His Spirit. Also in today's reading:
The Spirit links Himself with us in our praying and pours His supplication into our own. We may master the technique of prayer and understand its philosophy; we may have unlimited confidence in the veracity and validity of the promises concerning prayer. We may plead them earnestly. But if we ignore the part played by the Holy Spirit, we have failed to use the master key.
--J. Oswald Sanders

Guilty as charged. Again. From now on my testimony will focus on Him and His Spirit, but mostly I will take time today to pray, and to make sure I'm not ignoring His Spirit:
The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer, but I mean those people who take time and pray. They have not the time. It must be taken from something else. This something else is important- very important and pressing, but still less important and less pressing than prayer.
--S.D. Gordon
Thank goodness He knows my weaknesses, my failures, my faults.. and most importantly my desire to follow Him.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Little Levity...

A young boy had just gotten his driver's permit and enquired of his father, if they could discuss his use of the car. His father said, "I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, get your hair cut and we'll talk about the car."

Well, the boy thought about that for a moment, settled for the offer, and they agreed on it. After about six weeks they went in to the study, where his father said, "Son, I've been real proud. You've brought your grades up, and I've observed that you have been studying your Bible, and participating a lot more in the Bible study groups. But, I'm real disappointed, since you haven't gotten your hair cut."

The young man paused a moment, and then said, "You know, Dad, I've been thinking about that, and I've noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair and there's even a strong argument that Jesus had long hair also."

To this his father replied, "Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?"