Monday, March 24, 2008

Ridiculously Blessed

I was off today. After a very hard phone call with some member in our church who is really struggling, I thought a lot about how deeply and richly blessed I am of God. In my typical fashion I started numbering and putting them in chronological order. I didn't try to do this but these thoughts just kept coming to my mind.
1. I was thought of before I was born. Jer.1.5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart...that is such a cool thought to me. It blesses me with a sense of value.
2. I was formed and fashioned by God in my mother's womb. Psalm 139.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
3. 1954 - I am the 2nd born son of Oscar and Dorothy Woodall born in Miami, FL. Acts 17.26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
4. I have two amazing sisters who love God and are walking with Christ and have married really good men.
5. 1954-1965 - I lived in Miami, FL and had a great childhood of swimming, playing little league and back yard football.
6. 1965-1972 - I lived in London, England for 7 years and traveled the world.
7. 1968 - I became a Christian through Bud Hinkson of Campus Crusade for Christ.
8. 1968-1972 - I sought to walk with God in high school at the American School in London.
9. 1972-1976 - I attended Florida Bible College and got a good education and foundation in the Bible.
10. 1973 - I believe I was "called to ministry" when I heard that only two things last forever...the Word of God and people.
11. 1975 - I met and married the wife of my youth, Debbie Farthing.
12. 1976-1979 - Graduated and went on my first assignment to Reston Bible Church.
13. 1977 - Blessed with our first born son, David, on 7.7.77.
14. 1978 - Blessed with our second born son, Michael, on 8.18.78.
15. 1979-1980 - Moved to Portland, OR for seminary at Western Seminary.
16. 1979 - Blessed with our third born daughter, Rebekah, on 11.28.79
17. 1980 - Challenged to delight in and meditate on God's Word day and night...HIS FRUIT. HIS TIME.
18. 1981 - Blessed with our fourth born son, Stephen, on 10.10.81.
19. 1980-1985 - Many lessons learned selling ERA real estate franchises and Reedy Carpets.
20. 1985 - 1992 - Invited to pastor Circle Church. Started thinking about the mission and purposes of the church.
21. 1992 - 2001 - Years of brokenness and prodigals and the wilderness.
22. 1996 - Started Training Faithful Men at RBC and my personal mission statement.
23. 1997 - Met and counseled and healed with Denise Hirschlein.
24. 2001-2008 - Invited to North Point...an incredible church and ministry.
25. 2003 - David and Danae married on 12.13.2003 in Marco Island, FL.
26. 2004 - Invited to start mentoring 8 staff guys and turned 50 on 04.04.04.
27. 2005 - Stephen and Leann are married on 06.25.05 in Atlanta, GA.
26. 2005 - Built Carington Way for our 30th anniversary.
27. 2006 - Mike and Priscilla married on 09.02.06 in San Diego, CA.
28. 2007 - Andrej and Bekah married on 10.13.07 in a Castle in Slovakia.
29. 2008 - Enjoying intimacy with Christ and Debbie like never before.
30. 2008 - Enjoying great relationships with our 8 kids and looking forward to two grandbabies in July and October.
31. 2008 - Enjoying a great place of honor and influence and relationships.
32. 2008 - Little by little wisdom and wealth have increased.
33. 2008 - On 06.21.08 we will celebrate our 33rd anniversary...
...and I ask myself, am I not a ridiculously blessed man? Somebody please pinch me.
Only by the grace and kindness and goodness of our God.
What about you? Have you taken the time to count your blessings from God? It will do wonders for your soul.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Letter From God

I had a new experience this past week. I went away for 24 hours with a group of men and the leader asked us to go and write a "Letter from God." I heard of this exercise but never did it. As I sat alone and quiet before the Lord, I had some strange thoughts and feelings before I was able to write. These were some of the things I recorded before the letter...
" Be still and know that I am God. This is interesting. Most of the time I open my journal and write, "Father, ..." and I am talking to and writing to God. This exercise to write a letter from God has knocked me a little off center. Several questions...am I making up words? Am I trying to be theological? Am I afraid to write a letter from God? I would like to write words and thoughts from God and not just make up my own words and ideas. So...I sit and wait and center and pray and eventually write."

Good morning son,
Today is a gift. Every day is a gift from Me to you. I welcome you into it by the rising of the sun each day. I have everything under control. I am ruling and reigning over everything and every one. I love you. I am glad you are my son. I have chosen you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit. I have saved you and called you for my purposes and plans.
I have been writing your story before the world began. I know there were many times that you wondered if I was there and listening but I have been with you all the way.
I have led you and brought you to this pleasant place for My purposes. Keep seeking Me with your whole heart. Keep loving me as I have loved you. Walk in all My ways and I will pour out a blessing for you that you can barely handle.
Thank you for loving Debbie the way you are doing. I have blessed you with four children who belong to Me. I have good plans for all of their lives. Thank you for focusing on godly generations...you have your earthly Father to thank for that.
Walk humbly. Take the low place. And I will exalt you in My time and in My way. Keep trusting Me for every day you have left in this world.
I love you,
Your Father

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Different Needs of Men and Women-Parrots

The other day we received this letter from a newly engaged couple.
"I hear a lot of talk about how men and women have different needs, and I am the first to admit it's true. However, I have a tough time trying to pinpoint these needs so that I can better understand my fiancée. I think she feels the same way about me. Can you help?"
As singles prepare for a loving, Christ-centered relationship, it's important that they think through the different roles each will play, as well as the differences God has built into each gender.
Every cell of our bodies as men and women differ. The skeletal structure, for example, of women is shorter and broader. Women's blood contains fewer red cells, making them tire more easily. Women have a larger stomach, kidneys, liver, and appendix, but smaller lungs. Scores of other physical differences may influence the way each person in a relationship feels and behaves. But in addition to the more obvious physical differences between the genders, societal expectations and modeling contribute to a plethora of differences between the sexes—all culminating in several gender-specific unique needs.

Many relational problems evolve because men try to meet needs they would value, and women do the same. The problem is that since the needs of men and women are often so different, we waste effort trying to meet the wrong needs. If we are truly committed to valuing our life partner, we must not only understand and appreciate our partner's differences, but we must commit ourselves to meeting his or her unique needs.
Willard F. Harley, in his popular book His Needs, Her Needs, has given us a great tool to do just that. He identifies the ten most important martial needs of men and women. You may or may not agree with all of them, but they can serve as a good discussion starter:

She needs affection—It symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval. A hug expresses affection. For the typical wife, there can hardly be enough of them.
He needs sexual fulfillment—Just as women crave affection, so too do men want sex. And they don't just want their wives to make their bodies available. They need to feel their wife is as invested in sex as they are.

She needs conversation—Not just talk about her husband's problems orachievements, but about her problems and her hopes. She needs quality conversation on a daily basis.
He needs recreational companionship—After sex, the need for recreation rates highest for men. He needs time spent in a mutually satisfying activity—whether it is sports, shopping, cooking, painting, etc.

She needs honesty and openness—Mistrust destroys a woman's marital security. If a husband does not keep up honest communication with his wife, he eventually undermines her trust and destroys any hope of security.
He needs an attractive spouse—A man does not need a supermodel for a wife, but he wants her to make an effort to be attractive to him. He wants her to dress in clothes he likes and do her hair in a style that is appealing to him.

She needs financial support—A husband's failure to provide sufficient income sends shudders through the underpinnings of a marriage. A woman needs to know that her husband is taking care of their family's needs and their
future.
He needs domestic support—Old-fashioned or not, most men fantasize about a loving, pleasant home where few hassles occur and life runs smoothly.

She needs family commitment—Wives want their husbands to take a strong role in the marriage and express how important it is to them. They need to see evidence of a strong commitment to family life that is not overshadowed by work or anything else.
He needs admiration—Honest admiration is a great motivator for most men. When a woman tells her husband (who has been sweating it out at work) that she thinks he's wonderful, it inspires him and keeps him going.

Like we said, you may not agree with all of these "needs," but the number of people who have bought and read Harley's book is enough reason to take them seriously and discuss how each of your particular sets of needs differ.
Remember, if you commit yourself to meeting the unique needs of your partner, you will become irresistible to each other and insure faithfulness in your marriage. You will build a relationship that sustains romance, increases intimacy, and deepens awareness year after year.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Letter From My Older Sis

This morning my thoughts have been on our family and our family legacy. There is nothing more satisfying than to know that our children are walking in truth. As I write this letter my heart is overwhelmed not only with the heritage I have received from Mom and Dad but that I am enjoying with my children and their mates.
Every day I learn of another failed marriage; husbands leaving their wives, wives dis-engaging from their husband and my heart breaks. If statistics are correct there will be someone in our family who will get tired, or disengage and somehow feel that they have grounds to leave their marriage, and GOD forbid, their precious children.
MY desire today is to BEG everyone of us to make a commitment to our family name...We will make our legacy something that we will fight for. Will we seek ways to know all we need to know to live a life that is deeply grounded not only in the Word of GOD but also in Godly counsel and wisdom. We will not fight with one another but for the ability to intimately connect and understand our mates.
I am reading a new book I started yesterday called Influencer by Paterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler. In the book I read of a study I heard about several years ago as it relates to the chances of a couple staying together. I wanted to quote this passage as I found it very insightful.
"Relationship scholar Howard Markman took us into his Relationship Lab to show us how he learned that by focusing on only a few behaviors, he could reduce their chances of divorce or unhappiness by over one third. You don't have to study what interests the couple share or have in common or how they were raised or any of the different ways they treat each other. Merely watch how they argue. If Markman and his colleagues can watch a couple for just 15 minutes, they can predict with 90% accuracy rate who will and who wont be together and happy five years later. During those 15 minutes Markman will invite a couple to discuss some topic about which they disagree. If the argument involves a significant amount of blaming, escalation, invalidation or withdrawal, the future is bleak. If on the other hand, the same couple opens tough conversations with statements that communicate respect and a shared purpose, and halts emotional escalation in a respectful way to take a time out, the future will be entirely different."

May we all seek ways to grow closer to our mates as well as work on ways to communicate with the other persons best interest in mind.
I lOVE YOU ALL and am so blessed to be in this amazing family.
Just wanted you to know you were prayed for this am.
Love,
Linda, Mom, and Aunt Linda!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

ONE - John 17.11

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be ONE as we are ONE.
ONE. I love this. I love the idea of ONE. Debbie and I have been leading marriage conferences for years and have spoken of the truth of "ONENESS". I have always used the Scripture in Gen. 2:24-25 - For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become ONE flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
I love those verses and this truth. And I love that Jesus prayed for ONE. When I read this verse again this week, I found myself praying for ONE...ONE with my God, ONE with Debbie, ONE with my family, ONE with my team mates, and ONE with the leaders and members of our church.
Are you living as ONE? Are you praying for it?
ONE...what a beautiful number and truth.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Protect Them - John 17.11

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
I could not help but think about this truth of PROTECTION. I was captured by, "protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me. I started thinking about the protection of the Lord and came across these ideas and verses.
I am protected by:
1. The Lord - 2Th. 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
Psa. 12:7 O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.
Psa. 20:1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2. Discretion - Prov. 2:11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
3. Integrity and Uprightness - Psa. 25:21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
4. The Holy Spirit - John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
5. Angels - Heb. 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
As I thought of the Lord and His great protection, I prayed for protection for me, my wife, my children, my teammates and all the leaders and members of our church.
Are you experiencing and enjoying the protection of the Lord?
Let's keep praying for it and our loved ones.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Three Fathers-John 17.11

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
I have been in this one verse for several days. When I came to the two words, "Holy Father", I was ambushed by the Lord. I thought I was going to worship the Lord thinking about His holiness and being my heavenly Father. Instead these thoughts fired into my mind..."John, you are the man and minister you are today because of your earthly father." Wow! This was important for me because I have a strange story with my Dad. He was my hero from 0-22. From 22-43 he became very critical of things and people I celebrated. I tended to think about the season of my life when my father took many withdrawals from our relationship.
As those thoughts came into my mind, tears came as I remembered all that my Dad did for my growth and development as a young man:
1. He left the comfort of Miami, Fl and moved our family to London, England in 1965 to 1972.
2. He introduced me to my spiritual father, Bud Hinkson, in 1968.
3. He took us all over the world and gave us a great education.
4. He encouraged me to go to Florida Bible College in 1972 which shaped the direction of my life. It was there that I met and married my sweetheart Debbie in 1975.
5. He introduced me to some really great men and books that shaped me as a man.
I could go on and on...but the point is, the Lord showed me what a great earthly father I had and I wept before the Lord. I wept and gave thanks for all he and my mom did for me and our family. It was that morning that I realized I had 3 fathers...my heavenly Father, my earthly father and my spiritual father. What about you? Are you processing your story with your Fathers?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Am Coming To You-John 17.11

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
I was struck by the phrase, "I am coming to YOU". I have known since I was 14 in 1968 that I am going to heaven. I have known I have eternal life. But this time I realized that I in fact am coming to my heavenly Father. I love this. I love the idea of coming to my Father in heaven. These thoughts bring such love and joy and peace and hope. Are you excited about seeing and being with your heavenly Father? I am.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Still in the World-John 17.11

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
Jesus has left this world and returned to our Father. We are still in this world. I started thinking about how then I should live as long as I am still in this world? These are just a few thoughts that came to mind:
1. I want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus...who is seated at the right hand of the Father.
2. I want to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.
3. I want to seek those things that are above where Christ is seated.
4. I want to declare the greatness of the Lord, surrender my will and acknowledge my dependence on HIM.
5. I want to fear God and obey all of His commands.
6. I want the living Christ to bear much fruit in and through me.
As you are still in this world, how will you live the rest of your days in this world?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Bud Hinkson's DNA

I had an incredible thing happen this week. On Monday, March 3, after we returned from Macedonia, I met with Durwood to debrief our time. I said to him on Monday that I do not have a heart for other parts of the world, but something comes alive in me when I am in Eastern Europe. The obvious part is that we now have a daugther and son in law in Slovakia. We have a new family in Europe. I told him that I thought it was more than that. My story includes 7 years in Europe. My spiritual father, Bud Hinkson was the Director of Campus Crusade for Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. I remember many times Bud would come and tell us many stories of lives in Eastern Europe. I said to Durwood, "I wonder if I have some of Bud's DNA in me"?

Fast forward to Wednesday, March 5. I was sitting with a man that I only met once before and he told me of his journey with Campus Crusade and knowing Bud. He shared with me that in his time with the Lord that morning that he felt the Lord wanted him to share something with me. As he continued he said, " John, the Lord told me this morning that you have Bud's DNA in you and you are continue some of his work". It instantly moved me to tears. I could hardly believe it. I don't know what that means or how it gets worked out but it was such a cool, affirming experience. One exercise that Stephen encouraged me to do was list the qualities I saw in Bud as a teenager and continue to grow in them and pass them on. These are some of the things that came quickly to mind:
1. He was soooo passionate about the Lord and his Word.
2. He was so positive and energetic.
3. He was so encouraging and affirming.
4. He memorized books of the Bible in multiple languages.
5. He made you feel like you were the only person in the room with such focused attention.
6. He treated Debbie like a queen when I knew Deb was insecure about having him for dinner.
7. He had a zeal and passion for lost people and missions.
8. He modeled a devoted quiet time with the Lord.
9. He was very athletic and in incredible shape.
10. The Lord took him home at age 58 in a bicycling incident on his way to a friend's house for dinner.
11. We felt like we were with Jesus every time he came into our home.
12. He had a great focus on young guys and paid attention to them.
13. He had a hunger to learn and read great books.
Thank you Father for bringing me to You through Bud Hinkson.
May Your life and fruit continue in me because of him. I want to finish well as well.

In The World No Longer-John 17.11

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
I have been spending a lot of time in this one verse. It is packed with all kinds of truths and views. I love the thought that I will not remain in this world but will go to another place. I love the idea that I will go to the Father. I often wonder, what it would have felt like to live with no hope or no idea of the future. I am glad for a world view that speaks of this world and the hope of a world to come. Are you glad you will not remain in this world? Are you looking forward to going to the Father? I am!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Plan and Preparation for Easter

Today is March 1. We are only 21 and 23 days away from the most significant events in human history…the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How will you prepare to celebrate these days? Our community group meets on 03.04, 11, 18, 25 and we hope to prepare by reading John 12-21…the last week in the life of Jesus. I submit the following for your consideration and preparation.
03.04.08 – Introduce the plan for preparation…reading these passages over the next 7 days and jotting down what passage stands out to you.
12.1-11 – Jesus anointed at Bethany
12.12-19 – The Triumphal Entry
12.20-36 – Jesus predicts His death
12.37-50 – The Jews continue their unbelief
13.1-17 – Jesus washes His disciples feet
13.18-30 – Jesus predicts His betrayal
13.31-38 – Jesus predicts Peter’s denial

03.11.08 – Discuss chapters 12 cand 13.
14.1-4 – Jesus comforts His disciples
14.5-14 – Jesus the way to the Father
14.15-31 – Jesus promises the Holy Spirit
15.1-17 – The Vine and the branches
15.18-16.4 – The world hates the disciples

03.18.08 – Discuss chapters 14 and 15
16.5-16 – The work of the Holy Spirit
16.17-33 – The disciple’s grief will turn to joy
17.1-5 – Jesus prays fro Himself
17.6-19 – Jesus prays for His disciples
17.20-26 – Jesus prays for all believers

03.20.08 – Thursday Jesus is arrested.
18.1-11 – Jesus is arrested
18.12-27 – Jesus taken to Annas
18.28-40 – Jesus before Pilate

03.21.08 – “Good Friday” – Jesus is crucified.
19.1-16 – Jesus sentenced to be crucified
19.17-27 – The Crucifixion (Maybe watch the Passion movie)
19.28-37 – The death of Jesus
19.38-42 – The burial of Jesus

03.23.08 – Easter – Resurrection Sunday
20.1-8 – The empty tomb
20.10-18 – Jesus appears to May Magdalene
20.19-23 – Jesus appears to the disciples
20.24-31 – Jesus appears to Thomas

3.24-25.08
21.1-14 – Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish
21.15-25 – Jesus reinstates Peter

03.25.08
Gather to tell what the Lord did to and for us in this time of focused celebration.
I hope this season will bring a new and fresh celebration of the goodness of God to give us Jesus.
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!!!