Two supporting churches in the same city filled with godly people, going through a crisis. People leaving, people aging, finances lagging.
The first church was in the suburbs, just off the Interstate. They had called a new pastor, and a Christian school now met in the facilities.
The second church was downtown in a heavily Hispanic area – almost intercity. It had seen better days. People moved out to the suburbs, and lower income people moved into the area.
Little did the church leadership and families realize how the way they faced the challenges would affect the future.
With the financial crunch, church number one decided to drop missions from the budget altogether. Afraid of change, they became ingrown and focused on their needs. Fear was their driving force, and they lost their vision.
Church number two saw the needs of those around them, and reached out. They weren’t afraid to change the way they did things. They made the Word of God central, but also focused on outreach and missions.
Choices, pros and cons – every decision made has consequences. Some have eternal consequences. How important it is to listen to the Lord and follow His leading.
Twenty years later …
We visited church number one. It felt surreal. These dear saints were frozen in time. The same people, the same hymns. Surprisingly the same pastor! This is the pastor they had asked to resign. They recently asked him to come back and be their pastor. He displayed God’s grace as he looked after the flock who had decided to find another shepherd.
In 1985 I didn’t think church number two would survive. It had dwindled to a handful. However with prayer, a desire to reach out, and a willingness to change the church is thriving! When we visit each time we are in the Dallas area we continue to see growth, both spiritually and numerically. It is a joy to watch God work. Yes, they are still a part of our prayer and support team.
Just like these two churches that I dearly love and appreciate, I have choices to make. Just because I am in full-time ministry does NOT mean I am following the Lord with all my heart.
I ask myself these questions:
* Do I have my priorities straight? Am I focused on the areas God wants me to focus on?
* Do I listen, really listen, to the Lord? As I read God’s Word do I pick and choose cafeteria style? Or do I allow it to penetrate my heart and saturate my life?
* Do I choose the best over the good? Do I have my priorities straight?
* Do I choose to use my time wisely?
* Am I flexible, and willing to change my plans when God nudges us in a different direction.
When we got married, Mike and I wanted to make sure we chose the pros over the cons. In order to do this we made Proverbs 3:5,6 the theme for our marriage, “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”
Here is one incident that shows how good God has been in directing our steps:
In August 2000 we were ready to return to England after our marriage. Somehow in putting our supporters together we had miscalculated. We were $500.00 a month under supported. Like the ‘elephant in the room’ we tried to ignore it, especially when we talked to our treasurer. However, this gracious servant of the Lord said, “Mike, I hate to do this, but you can’t return to England until you are fully supported.”
That was Thursday afternoon. We had our tickets to fly out the next Wednesday. We were staying with my dad and mom, and had been there two weeks. We knew we couldn’t stay much longer. We had visited our supporting churches from California to Pennsylvania. We had nowhere to turn but the Lord. So we prayed, and Mike wondered if he should look for a pastorate.
God did an amazing thing! From Friday to Sunday afternoon the phone rang off the hook. Over Saturday and Sunday God brought in the $500.00 a month we needed to return to our ministry in Leicester. This was our first test of faith together, and over that amazing weekend God proved Himself to us in a great way.
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