Disciple All Nations

Enhancing On-going Ministry Through Equipping, Encouraging, and Interceding

Making the Best of a Name

For the last two decades and more, we have lived on Rota Circle.  I have told many people that all the streets in our neighborhood have Spanish names, and in Spanish Rota means circle, so we lived on Circle Circle.  I was assuming that to be true.  It made sense to me – rotator, rotary, rotunda, Rota, etc.  Last week we had a friend from Mexico visiting with us and when I told her we lived on Circle Circle, she laughed.  Then she explained to me that in Spanish, Rota meant broken or wrecked.  I looked it up.  She was correct.  We do not live on Circle Circle, we live on Wrecked Circle.  How depressing!  How embarrassing. Why would anyone name a street after a something that was broken or wrecked?  Names are important.  They represent an image. They allow people to make quick judgements. When God created man, he gave him the name Adam, and one of the first jobs he gave Adam was to give names to everything put under his care. The writer of Proverbs said, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1). Even Confucius said, “If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.” I didn’t name my street, even though I tried to translate it, but I need to make the best of it.  Any names in your life of which you need to make the best?

Retirement – Again

When I retired from the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Seminary in 2007, I said to anyone who would listen, ”I’m retiring from a position, not from a calling.”  Since then, one of the things that has kept me busy fulfilling my calling is serving as “Spiritual Life and Leadership Mentor” for the WestCoast Baptist Association (metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada).  Now, due to a combination of age, health issues, family concerns, and decreasing financial resources related to Disciple All Nations, Inc. (from which all my ministry travel is paid), it is time to retire . . . again.  Once again, I am retiring from a position, not from a calling.  I frequently said to my students, “The word ‘retirement’ is not in the Bible.”  I’ll never forget the day a student brought me some new translation (more likely a paraphrase) that I had not seen before and showed me the word “retirement” in the Old Testament.  However, it related to the retirement of the Temple Prostitutes, but it was there.  So, I had to adjust my comment to say. Depending on your translation (or paraphrase), the word “retirement is not in the Bible.”  Either way, even if the word is there, the call of God has no such retirement date.  So, I will keep on preaching, teaching, traveling, writing, mentoring, serving, etc. as circumstances and finances allow. My current guide passage is Psalm 71:17-18 – “O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day, I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come.”

Sent Out

Willie Nelson wrote it and often sings it – “On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again.” This past weekend, I took my first flight in almost two years, for a wonderful weekend of ministry in Rapid City, South Dakota – speaking to Church Planters on Friday night; leading a “Prayer-Shaped Disciple” conference with church leaders on Saturday; and preaching Sunday morning at Christ Church for my long-time friend, Garvon Golden.  Even though I’ve preached almost every Sunday since the beginning of the COVID Pandemic, I have done so within driving distance from home. Maybe it’s just me, but there is something about getting on an airplane that makes me feel more “sent out.”  The disciples had no such mode of transportation when they were repeatedly “sent out” by Jesus (Matthew 22:3-4; Luke 10:1), yet there seemed to be something special with being sent vs. their daily walk with Him. If God choses for you to do all of your ministry near home, so be it.  However, if God sends you out, and you choose to stay at home, that is called disobedience.  As long as God sends, I will go.  How about you?

 

Considering Heaven, but Not Yet

I’ve finally reached that age – that age, where friends my age are dying.  I’ve lost several over the past few months, another last week.  Actually, I have not lost them.  I know exactly where they are.  With each new pain and with every visit with a doctor or specialist, I realize that my time of joining my friends is not far away, and their passing, makes heaven look even more attractive.   One of my favorite writers was Lewis Grizzard, who was a columnist for the Atlanta Constitution-Journal when we lived in Georgia.  I loved his book titles as much as the contents.  One favorite title was, “Elvis is Dead, and I Don’t Feel so Good Myself.” I understand. But here is some good news – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints“ (Psalm 116:15). All my life, I have sought to please God.  It is comforting to know that when the end comes, I will still be “precious” and pleasing to Him. But for a while longer, I prefer that my trips to the cemetery be driving behind the hearse.

 

Meeting Half-Way

A friend in another town, and I, had trouble agreeing on where to meet for lunch.  I was offering to drive to his town, and he was, likewise, offering to drive to mine.  Finally, we agreed on meeting at a well-known restaurant, located half-way between our two towns.  At least we were biblical in our decision.  I have often wondered if we have presented an incorrect picture of the prodigal son returning home.  At least, my image has always been of the Father sitting on the front porch looking down the road in hopes he might see the young prodigal returning home.  Perhaps, when scripture says, “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him” Luke 15:20) it was the father, who, in the fullness of time, had begun traveling down that road toward the wayward son, and they met somewhere on that road.  After all, long before Jesus shared that story, God said, “Return to Me . . . and I will return to you.” (Zechariah 1:3).  If you have ever sensed you were far from God, start moving toward Him.  He might meet you, half-way.

 

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing

In the early days of my ministry, an elderly minister said to me, “Don’t ever turn down an opportunity to preach.  Always be ready.”  Six decades later I’ve done pretty well following his counsel and I am finally learning why he offered that advice,  Every time I preach, I receive a special and unique blessing.  Maybe it is the presence of someone who I’d known in earlier years or in other places.  Perhaps, it is a new acquaintance who shares a greeting from a mutual friend.  Recently I preached for a very small church, of mostly senior adults.  I could have easily declined the invitation.  Had I done so, I would have missed a comment of blessing from one who named for me, a number of her former pastors, asking if I knew them. Then she said, “This sermon blessed me today.”  How many sermons had she heard? How many times had she been blessed? But, she said, “This sermon” was a blessing to her.  Maybe that’s why an elderly Paul, told a young Timothy, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).  I suppose there is an exception to every story, and this story is no exception.  There was the sweet, elderly lady in my second pastorate who said to me on her way out of the auditorium, “Brother Dan, every sermon you preach is better than the next one.”  Think about it.  Meanwhile, be blessed, and be a blessing to someone today.

 

 

Least Likely Obedience

Have you ever known anyone who gave every appearance that they could make it on their own, without any need to obey an authority or set of regulations? Sometimes it is the least likely, who obey.  When God called Jonah, there were a series of disobediences.  Jonah went to Joppa rather then to Nineveh.  He went down into a small ship, rather than going up to a great city.  He went with sailors to Tarshish rather than going in the presence of the Lord.  So where does one find obedience in this story – in the least likely place. “The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17), then “commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” (Jonah 2:10).  Twice, the fish obeyed the Lord. I know.  You might be thinking, “this is a fishy story,” but sometimes, the ones who appear to be the most self-assured, self-appointed, self-confident, will disobey, while the least likely will obey.  Do you find yourself somewhere in this story?

 

Young Lions and an Aging Lion

I do not have an accurate count, but after twenty-two years on the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Seminary and an additional four years as a retired, adjunct professor, I had approximately 5000 students. Recently I have been receiving invitations from some of them to preach in their churches.  When there, I am frequently asked about my memory of the pastor and especially what grade they made in my class.  My response is, “With 5000 former students I only remember the really good ones and the really bad ones, but I do remember your pastor.”  After their reaction, I add, “The really bad ones don’t invite me to preach in their churches.” The truth is most of my former students were in the “really good ones” category. A few of them even write books and ask me to add an endorsement.  The Bible often refers to “young lions” (Job 38:39, Psalm 34:10, Isaiah 5:29, Jeremiah 2:15, Nahum 2:11). I loved my years with these Seminarian “young lions,” and I am honored when, after many years, they remember this aging, but still active, lion.

 

A Prayer Passage for my Pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.  As I pray for my Pastor this month, I am led to Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica, where he prays that “God will consider you worthy of His calling”   (2 Thessalonians 1:11, HCSB).  This “calling” began at conversion (according to 1 Thessalonians 4:7) and continued through a life of service. The “calling”  was the first link in a chain that terminated in glory, thus it is used to denote the whole Christian life.  Within this “calling,” some are called to full-time, vocational ministry.  Herein, I find my Pastor in this passage.  In “The Pursuit of God” A.W. Tozer writes, “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.  The motive is everything.”  That which motivates pastors to do what they do, is the special call of God on their life.  To accomplish this special calling, a pastor must, while still being human, live above the rest, a person beyond reproach. In so doing, a pastor lives “worthy of” God’s calling.  So, this month, I will pray that my pastor lives and serves “worthy of His calling.” What will you pray for your pastor this month?

Responsible for Your Own Load

I just spent a great two-days at my college Homecoming.  Most conversations began with “Do you remember . . .”  One fascinating discussion centered around the great discoveries made during our freshman year. It set me to reflecting on many great discoveries of my freshman year. The first great discovery and perhaps my greatest, happened about one week after my arrival. I opened the drawer in my dorm room only to discover no clean underwear. That had never happened to me before. Later that day, I had to walk approximately one mile to the nearest washateria carrying my load of dirty clothes. The discovery had to do with personal responsibility. American author and motivational speaker, Wayne Dyer said, “Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument, or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period.”   While there are always things others will do for you (in this case my mother always providing me with clean underwear), there are those things for which you, yourself must be responsible.  The Apostle Paul said as much when he wrote, “Each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5).

 

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Sermon Series on Prayer