Disciple All Nations

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


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Sermon Series on Prayer

Laugh and Last

Friends (and a few who were not friends) have commented on my sense of humor. Both of my grandfathers possessed great senses of humor as did my father, so I guess I inherited it. Nevertheless, it has kept me balanced and sane.  William Arthur Ward, a Christian motivational writer said, “A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”  Mark Twain once wrote, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” The quote, “Laughter is the best medicine” has been attributed to numerous persons. As one who has faced a share of challenges – challenges that could either be faced with tears or laughter – I confess that humor has been instrumental in survival. It is even said of the Lord, “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh” (Psalm 2:4).  So, look for humor, find occasion to laugh, enjoy life. (My book, “Mud Hen in a Peacock Parade” is a collection of humorous stories from my life.  The Second Edition is available on amazon.com.)

Bigger and Better

During a March Spring Break week in the early 1970s a small group of university students from then, Pan American University, made their way to South Padre Island, where several hundred fellow college students had gathered.  There was a difference in their purposes.  The hundreds were there for the S’s – sun, surf, sand, suds, sex. The group from Pan Am was there to minister.  Complete with a mobile medical clinic, they cared for 150 persons – mostly sunburn, Jellyfish stings, and overdoses – and they shared the Gospel.  They continued to return each spring break, until leaders in other campus ministry groups decided to join.  I personally travelled to numerous campuses, teaching beach ministry methods and recruiting students.  Soon there were hundreds of ministering students for thousands of others.  My pastor-father once told me, “No matter what you do, someday, someone will come along and do it bigger and better.”  Sure enough, as the years went by, the ministry opportunity took on a name – “Beach Reach” and gained participants.  This month, 1256 committed students from thirty-five Texas campuses plus five out-of-state campuses made their way to South Padre Island to minister to the multiple needs of several thousand others – and eventually shared the Gospel with 11,795 others.  Two hundred seventy-six students went to the beach seeking something that started with a S, and found Salvation. Seventy-nine were baptized in the Gulf waters. I remain so very proud of those few Pan American (now University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) students who in the early 1970s began something that so many others have continued to do.  Do your best, then cheer on those who are doing it bigger and better.

God is a First-Responder

I didn’t cry much when I was young but when I did, someone was always there to care for me – grandmother, mother, aunt.  As I grew older, my need for someone to respond to my cries decreased, even as my times of crying were reduced.  I grew up with the philosophy of life that says, grown men don’t cry.  But I never completely stopped crying. I spent a lot of time bottling up my tears, believing that if there was “no crying in baseball “ (a line from one of my favorite movies), there ought not be crying anywhere else.  Then one day I cried and my faithful responders had all departed for heaven.  The occasion and details of my tears are unnecessary here, but the fact is, I cried, and no one responded. I began to ask myself, if a grown man cries and no one hears, is it still a valid cry?  When I wasn’t really looking for it, I found a comforting verse.  On an occasion, Isaiah assured the people that God, “will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you” (Isaiah 30:19). Even if no one else hears and responds, God does. That’s all I really needed to know, and pass on to you.  Go ahead and cry when the occasion calls for tears.  God is a first-responder.

 

The ABCs of Ministry

It happened again.  I’ll spare the details. This time it was one of my former Seminary students, a winsome, deeply committed young man. He had risen too fast from the small church where he began to serve, to a larger church with too much responsibility for his age and experience.  He remembered a classroom lecture I once shared entitled, “Satan’s Great Track Record,” with three points: Sex, Power, and Money, but he said he assumed it was for others in the room. In delivering such a message to my want-a-be-ministers, I had an advantage – I grew up as the Preacher’s kid. With a Pastor as my father, I wasn’t allowed to do certain things, go certain places, participate in certain events, date certain girls, etc.  When I was dropped off at a small Baptist college, located a long way from home, my father said., “Son, remember who you are when no one knows who you are.” His statement both guided me and haunted me.  Not everyone grows up in that kind of environment, with that kind of advice. John Maxwell report-ably said, “When leaders believe they can do whatever they want in private even if it contradicts what they do in public, they violate their calling.”  Again, my advantage – I had a strong upbringing and a powerful calling.  I tried to pass it on to my students.  Sometimes it worked, other times, it failed. What God asked of Ezekiel, He needs to ask again to those who have influence over the young ministers, “Have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us’” (Ezekiel 8:12).  Pass on to those who follow you, the simple ABCs of ministry: Acknowledge God’s call.  Behave yourself. Cling to the cross (more on this point later).

 

A Better and Longer Life

The advertisement promised a better and longer life.  All I had to do was order and eat their food and consume their drinks.  There were even a few brief testimonies from physically fit people telling how they had lost weight and toned up their bodies to look much younger.  There was even a response card – postage pre-paid.  All I had to do was check an option related to payment and quantity of each shipment. One problem with the ad was that it didn’t have my preferred option available.  I’ve lived eight decades without their product, most of them in good, or at lease acceptable health.  While my physically fit body departed several decades ago, my doctor recently told me I was his healthiest patient in my age group. (I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but I’ll take it a face value) A “better life?”  Better check the quality of my life before proposing that you could make it better.  As to living longer, well I believe that my departure has already been appointed (Hebrews 9:27).  I filed the advertisement in one of my preferred filing places and drove to Whataburger.

Adopted

During the first week of my Freshman year at Howard Payne College (now University), in Brownwood, Texas, I was walking from class to the Cafeteria when suddenly there was someone walking beside me.  She said, “Hi! My name is Betty.”  I replied, “Hi!  My name is Dan.”  She said, “ I know. I worked at Glorieta Conference Center this summer and some of your friends told me about you.”  The next time I saw Betty was at church on Sunday morning. Along with approximately a dozen other students, Betty and I both joined Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, where they had an “Adopt a Student” program. A family came forward announcing, “We want to adopt a boy and a girl; a brother and a sister.”  They took Betty and me.  Having always wanted a sister, now Betty was the sister I never had.  For the next four years, I watched my adopted sister be a sister with many students, especially international students, studying far from home, needing a friend.  Then we both graduated, and it appeared our special relationship would end.  I enrolled in Southwestern Seminary, but who lived in an apartment on Seminary Drive, but my adopted sister, Betty.  For the next sixty-three years, we remained adopted “brother and sister.”  Along with our spouses, we re-united while living in Austin for six years, and later in Fort Worth, for eighteen years.  We served together on the Alumni Board of Directors of our alma mater and enjoyed our visits during annual college Homecoming events through the years.  Last week, I participated in the memorial service for Betty Ann Fowler Smith who had gone to her eternal home.  But our relationship still has not ended.  Since “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family” (Ephesians 1:5, NLT), Betty and I will someday, be brother and sister again in God’s forever family.  See you, Sis!

Stopping by the Surgical Center

I stopped by the Surgical Center recently to pay a visit to a long-time friend who was recovering from surgery.  We met in our 20s, when we were both newly graduated, newly employed, newlywed, newly Dad.  Our paths crossed many times through the years. We talked often, shared a meal occasionally, prayed together frequently, even reminisced from time to time, using one of God’s greatest gifts, the gift of memory.  Many of our conversations began with, “Remember when . . .” Glad we’ve lived long enough to need surgeons, prescriptions, lab technicians, therapist, etc.   A lot of our mutual friends have moved on to their eternal reward, perhaps even thinking that we didn’t make it.  We will join them soon enough.   We’ve checked all the boxes, and turned the future over to Jesus.  As soon as our houses –  “not make with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1), are completed, we will be ready to move in. We’ll move our membership to the Church Eternal, where once again, we’ll know all the songs. Meanwhile, we’ll just keep sharing memories, even if we have to meet at a Surgical Center to do so.

 

Desiring to be Different

Ever wish you were like someone else?  I am healing from my tenth MOHS (skin cancer) surgery, this one on my forehead, right between the eyes.  I’ve had others on both sides of my face and on my nose, even one on my temple. accompanied by six weeks of radiation.  I asked the Surgeon why.  His answer was simple – “fair skin and Texas resident.” I tried to blame it on my mother, remembering her words, “Go outside!  Take off your shirt!  Get some sun!”  It wasn’t her fault. She was only offering advice based on her training as a Registered Nurse.  She knew I needed the Vitamin D provided by the sun.  My Surgeon further took my mother off the hook, by adding, “You can go to the mall, park on the edge of the parking lot, walk across the lot into the air-conditioned buildings, and if you’re not wearing a hat, you’ll get skin cancer as you walk.”  So, I’ve given up golf, daytime sports events, trips to the beach, yard work (thank you, Jesus), and trips to the mall, replacing all of this with multiple micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D3.  I’m just a Jacob, wishing I was an Esau (Genesis 27:11).

 

 

Underdogs

Underdogs

Before Dallas had the Cowboys or Houston had the Oilers, back when I was a treen-anger growing up in Houston, I was a Green Bay Packers fan.   Why?  From childhood I was told I would be attending Baylor University, so I grew up loving the green and gold. Then I chose to attend elsewhere, and Dallas and Houston secured football teams.  The effect of this love of green and gold made me a supporter of the underdog.  Also, my own football career, such as it was, ended with an accident-related broken second vertebrae of the neck, but prior to that, I always played on an underdog team. According to Wikipedia, an “underdog is a person or group in a competition, usually in sports and creative works, who is largely expected to lose.” Perhaps all of this is why I was so open to being a Jesus follower.  I was a no one, until The One, made me a someone.  A few verses were helpful to me in those underdog days:

  • “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Ephesians 4:13)
  • “So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16)
  • “But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
  •   “If God is on our team, who can play against us?” (Romans 8:31, from a translation I can no longer find.)

So, all you underdogs, it’s time to overcome.

Old Man, New Methods

Two years ago, I had never heard of a Podcast. Then I was asked to be the guest on several and I determined that this was not too difficult for a man my age to learn. About this time, I was invited by new friends Vidal and Josue Muñiz (father and son) to allow them to assist me with a Podcast based on my teaching ministry with the Valley Baptist Missions Education Center in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Together we have learned a multitude of new things. With Vidal as my co-host and Josue taking care of all the technology, we have re-formatted our “Discipleship Directives” Podcast in order to link it to my corporation – Disciple All Nations, Inc. based on Matthew 27:19-20. To view the YouTube version and possibly subscribe, go to https://www.youtube.com/@Dr.DanCrawford.  I’m not sure if you can actually teach an old dog new tricks, but I am proving you can teach an old man, new methods.

 

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