The next 5 posts are 5 chapters from the devotional I wrote titled, “Retweeting Jesus”. I hope you are challenged and encouraged by each chapter. These 5 posts are about the “tweet-able” phrases that Jesus spoke while being crucified. I pray that you draw closer to the Lord throughout this week as we prepare for celebrating His resurrection on Sunday! Have a Holy Easter.
The greatest injustice of all, would be having a world full of well fed men, women, and children with no disease, fresh water to drink, a rich supply of clean clothes, every orphan and widow provided for, yet all of these cared for people, still facing a reality in Hell because we didn’t give them Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.
That is the ultimate injustice. That would be the greatest trick of the devil. To have all this good work take place, but none of it matter eternally for those who were cared for.
ReturnHope wants to do something about this “greatest injustice.” However, this injustice can only be conquered by using a specific strategy that will impact not only women and children eternally…but men too.
It seems to me that there is a lot of ministry taking place around the world. Good ministry work. It seems most of this good ministry work is focused on the care of the women and children. I haven’t met anybody who is okay with watching women and children suffering. But if we want to solve the problems of the world…it is going to have to be through the changing of the lives of men all around the world too. Let’s admit it. Men cause war. Men have testosterone. Men are the muscle of the world. World problems are caused on a majority basis…by men. Change the men…change the world! Change the men…and women and children will be blessed too.
Injustices can only be fully conquered when the man is impacted along with the entire family for Jesus Christ as Lord.
ReturnHope wants to take on the impossible task of being used by God to change the hearts and minds of the men of our world and turn those hearts and mind towards the Lord Jesus. In this endeavor, think of how blessed the women and children of the world would be too!
In the American Church…there is a comparable man problem that relates to my point. If your Church reaches the mom of the family, the mom and kids will become the church, but the man of the family, more than likely, will stay home and not become the church and miss out on the growth opportunities that being the church creates. If the kids are reached, then mom will likely join the church too, but dad will end up staying home. What this creates is a frustrated mom and child(ren) because the heavy influence of unchurched dad outweighs the influence of the church on the mom and kids. (One hour of Church added with another 2 hours of small group influence for the mom and kids cannot compete with the other 168 hours of the week controlled by unchurched dad’s influence.) So, a church that aims to reach the man for Christ, can be confident that mom and the kids are highly likely to come too. It’s a whole family philosophy of how to design a strategy of the church…and the same should be for a world mission’s strategy!
The last 15 years of my life I have been privileged to travel to places like Peru South America, Uganda Africa, Jerusalem Israel and other amazing places. In these locations, I’ve encountered injustices that are ruling that culture. The same cause is evident in all these locations. The cause is… men aren’t leading or being impacted by the good news of Jesus Christ. Men are not being partnered with, or challenged to become responsible to their God given purpose to work, provide and steward the family that He gave them. Men seem to have been given up on, and I think, that is a perpetuator of injustices.
So much good work is being done around the world towards the injustices of lack of clean water, nakedness, lack of shelter, disease, orphan and widow-hood. A majority of this good work is being focused on the women and children. Now, understandably, it is a very good thing to help the women and children. ReturnHope International is going to do a lot of ministry for women and children everywhere…But…I beg of all people involved in the family of ReturnHope to be focused on being used by God to change the lives of the men of the villages around the world too. As we do all our work, I beg of the ReturnHope family to always be thinking about how our work is being perceived by the man of the family, or the men of the village we are impacting. If we are not careful we can easily create welfare situations where women and children become dependent on the American difference maker. Please Lord, don’t allow ReturnHope difference makers to mistakenly fill the position of the man of the family in the foreign culture! We want the native man to step up into his God designed role for him to be the provider and care taker of the family that God asked him to steward. As we do our work for women and children, let’s never stop thinking about the man and how our work might be affecting his heart, mind and self esteem. Let’s involve the man by walking alongside him as we do good work together for women and children!
We must go after the grown men too.
This is an impossible task. This is a task where we must begin by only praying and planning and then moving forward with what will be trial by fire. Chuck Swindoll said that when there is an impossible task that needs to be tackled, He will find an impossible person…crush them…and then use them to take on the impossible task. I’ve been told by quite a few that, “I’m impossible!” 🙂 The last 3 years, God has been crushing me and allowing me to be crushed by others. (I wrote about this on this blog site if you’d like to read it…click the following links…its two part and its called “The Crushing part 1” and then “The Crushing part 2”) I believe God has allowed this crushing to bring me to the point of right here..right now. He is asking me to take on the leadership of ReturnHope and team with you to use our talents to begin this impossible ministry. I imagine that when this life is over…our efforts will have been fully worth it…whether we failed or succeeded. Let’s spend the rest of our lives in this pursuit and then we’ll do high fives together about it all in eternity together…red, yellow, black, brown and white….male and female!!
Please start praying with me about our first encounter with a group of village men in Uganda. These men will be sitting in a big circle most of the day in a distant village. In the middle of the circle will be a large bowl of home made alcohol. Each man in the circle will have a long straw that reaches from the bowl to his mouth. This drinking begins in the morning and goes all day. At night…well…this is when evil reigns. These men in their drunken state rape their wives and abuse their daughters, beat their kids and fuel injustices towards total hopelessness….does this cause you to hate them? If so, then I ask you to pray for them and change your heart towards them. The men in this picture are only doing what they have been taught by their fathers, who were taught by their fathers… Pray that ReturnHope will break this vicious cycle by also reaching the men sitting in these circles. What is exciting for me is to explain to you what you cannot see in this picture. All around this picture are groups of other men who are not drinking and being responsible, groups of women singing and playing with their children and/or cooking lunch or dinner. Children are playing soccer or climbing in the trees and they all want to know you, and spend time with you. On every trip ReturnHope goes on, you will be able to choose which group you want to get involved with and interact with. It is truly an amazing adventure and trip that will change your life.
ReturnHope has a man on the ground in Uganda right now who is scouting out our very first village. We will enter this village by providing a fresh water well (Money is already raised for this well!) and beginning a relationship with the village leaders…the men, and also the women and children! The date isn’t set yet, but we are getting ready to go! I personally am going to be working on the men of the village. ReturnHope will need people who want to do good in the villages for the other people all around the village too. My gut tells me that this first trip might be more spontaneous that most of you are prepared for, but that is just a hard reality of the first trip ReturnHope takes. Once the first trip is complete, we will be able to plan ahead a bit more!
In the mean time I am asking you to pray specifically for the men we will encounter in this first village. Please pray frequently, so that when we arrive and meet these men, they will have been prayed for by hundreds of you…Hopefully thousands of you. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will help us pick God’s first circle of men that He wants us to influence. Pray that these men’s hearts will be prepared for our encounter. Pray for a man in the village who is a pastor who ReturnHope will equip with material and training to be even more impactful in his ministry work for the Lord. Pray that as we encounter these men, they will give their lives to Jesus and accept the challenge to work alongside us to conquer the injustices they face in their own villages and country! We as Americans cannot do the work ourselves, we must walk alongside the foreigner and team with them. We must be learners alongside them as we teach each other.
This will not be a one time encounter. When we enter a village, we enter into a life long covenant and relationship with the people of the village. We will return on occasion to continue with these villagers as our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ who someday will live lives that are not controlled by injustices. The relationships that we build with these men, women, and children will last an eternity. We will all impact one another in a mighty way. It really is a beautiful picture of returning hope to one another. I believe it is what God intended for the Body of Christ to be…aka…The Church.
Every time you eat…I’m asking that you would pause and pray for this endeavor. When you read your Bibles, pray again. When you meet for your Bible study, ask the group to pray specifically for our success in impacting this first village of men, women and children that we encounter.
Again, we (you & me — ReturnHope) are beginning in Uganda Africa. As soon as we pick our first village…I will inform you of its name and location and when we are planning on leading a group over! Our trips will consist of impacting Men, Women and Children. I will give updates all along the way. I pray that you will share this post with the people in your life who are looking for a purpose to get involved in that lasts eternally!
Will you pray everyday about all of this? Will you go with us over there?
It has begun.
Let’s ReturnHope to places that are imprisoned by hopelessness…and then ask them to pay it forward by returning hope to others too!
What a cool and challenging adventure!
A drum is hollow and that is why it makes so much noise when it encounters “pressure.” (A drummer with drumsticks is a definite pressure.) The opposite, is a barrel that is full. You can beat on it, kick it, yell at it and it just doesn’t make much noise. A full barrel is not easy to move.
Empty barrels make the most noise.
How would you define an empty barrel? I think, that a barrel is only defined by what’s inside it.
An empty barrel is…well…nothing but empty. Uninspiring. But….
Think of a barrel full of wine. A barrel full of oil. A barrel full of whiskey. Pork barrels. A barrel full of fun. A barrel with a rodeo clown in it! A barrel full of monkeys! When I think of those kind of barrels…Voila!…I get imagery, identity and inspiration.
So…a barrel is best defined by what is inside of it! This leads me to ask… What defines you? Where do you get your identity? WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR FILL? What are you full of?
So…let’s use the clown in the barrel illustration and just imagine that everyone of us is a clown and we all have our own barrels we carry around. Please understand, that we can switch barrels any day or every day. My posting this is not about me thinking I’m the God barrel and others are not. My posting this is for us all to measure only ourselves in the presence of God and work on being the God filled barrel as described below. The start of measuring where we are is understanding what the different types are.
What fills your barrel?
Self Filled Barrel…these types are just that…full of themselves. Always thinking about themselves. These types take way more selfie photos and post them on facebook, instagram, vine, twitter and other barrel filling venues, way more often than what is normal. Part of being a healthy person is having a healthy self-love, but that is not what I’m talking about when I mention barrels full of self. This barrel is a very selfish person and is very lonely because they love themselves the most. When this Barrel gets sick of themselves, it will then desire to be filled with material goods, better make-up, over the top body augmentations, that outrageously attention grabbing new automobile, money, jobs, and anything that tastes good to the self…or makes self look better. It’s all very self-ish.
Other’s Filled Barrel…Another type is the kind that runs around always needing others to fill their barrels. This barrel thinks very lowly of themselves..but you can’t notice that fact very easily. This type seems happy and bright. This type is very good at talking and can be known as a people person. But, if you pay attention, you will begin to see a pattern. This type politely begs for attention, by giving attention, hungers for recognition as they give recognition, yet they are empty. This type has learned how to get their barrel filled by others. They approach others and compliment others…WAY too often… and tell others that they are doing wonderful…even when they are not doing wonderful, they will tell you that you look great even when you put on clearly mismatched clothing and look ridiculous. They over compliment, coddle, innocently and complimentarily lie to you…regularly…and then sit patiently in front of you hoping that you will fill up their barrel with your compliments in return. This type of barrel has a lot of leaks in it, and thus has to continue the over-giving and false complimenting with lots of laughter, fun, and starvation driven attention. In our society today, this type is considered okay because we think we are helping each other by falsely complimenting each other. Our society has catered to this being natural. We start it with our children. Giving them trophy’s when they should have gone home empty handed. We tell them they are winners when…in that race…they were the loser. Education systems are talking about not using red ink anymore, it seems to harsh on our wonderful children. And then they grow up…and have to face loss, no trophies, and regular dissapointment…and we wonder why depression and psychotic medicines can’t stay stocked in our pharmacies. OTHER’S FILLED BARRELS!
God Filled Barrel. This barrel is the type of person who has figured out that their definition is found in only one being. God. Jesus. Holy Spirit. Which ever title you prefer of those three, or all three…this barrel is FULL. This barrel understands that they are not better than anybody else but simply have chosen a life of fullness and gratitude. This barrel can get angry and express that anger, but you are a light…I like the thought of being a barrel full of light! This barrel is lot like Jesus, because their barrel is full of Him…He is light. This barrel understands their imperfections to be only unique traits that their creator bestowed upon them and them only! This barrel knows it can share what is inside of it…because there is a lifetime guarantee of free refills. This barrel doesn’t get caught up in scarcity…a panic and fear of not enough to go around…so they just keep giving. This barrel can be kicked, burnt, cut, or broken and yet maintain its confidence because it knows its creator is the great barrel builder, healer and fulfiller! The God filled barrel has absorbed into its very fibrous container the Scripture passages of John 8:31-32 where Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you FREE.”
Colossians 3:1-4, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.Which one are you?”
The two passages above scream one phrase to me. “A God filled barrel is always full!”
SO…if I’m not a God Filled Barrel that’s always full…then what must I do to become one?…Please Note…this is not an easy task. Don’t be decieved into thinking that you can say a prayer and instantly become a God filled Barrel. Becoming a God filled barrel usually takes a lot of repair. Most repairs are noisy, painful and full of grinding, sharpening, pressure, realignment…and it’s usually a messy fix. To become a God Filled Barrel is a life long commitment to stick to it, even when it doesn’t feel good! So…here’s how to begin the process…
If you are the self-filled barrel, then you must humble yourself and recognize that you can’t keep it up. You can’t fulfill yourself the rest of your life. You must admit that you aren’t that good and you must take on the passages of Scripture that communicate this truth to you… “Consider other’s better than yourself.” You must work on becoming like Jesus who washed the feet of even His betrayer. HE IS KING, yet took on the form of a humble servant. You must transform your barrel to only be filled with who God says you are! God loves you so much…that even while you were a full blown selfie…selfish bigot, nasty self worshipper…God still chose to kill His one and only Son…so that He wouldn’t have to kill you to pay for your sins. That is love! That is identity! That is a God Filled Barrel! For a self-filled barrel to become a God filled barrel, I’m not asking you to think less of yourself…I’m asking to stop thinking of yourself, period.
If you are an Other’s Filled Barrel. You have got to admit people have become your gods. You worship the favor of mankind. Oh…this will be hard for you to admit if you are an other’s filled barrel. You have been so trained that your idol worship is actually the love of God for other people. You come across as a people person who really loves other people…and you do love other people, but if you are an other’s filled barrel, what you love more than other people and more than God is when people “love” you back! This is idol worship and you must stop it. This will be hard for you, because you have more than likely surrounded yourself with other’s just like you. You must admit that the friends you have in life…the one’s you really like…well…you only like them because they do for you what you do for them. “Birds of a feather…flock together!” If you are an other’s filled barrel, then, when you begin to change this about yourself…you are going to find out who your true friends are. What happens to an other’s filled barrel type, when they quit doing their false worship of others? They find themselves standing by themself, because the other… Other’s filled Barrels…went after others who will fill them up because you stopped being their God for them and stopped filling them up. If you are an Other’s filled Barrel, then you must only let Jesus Christ fill you up. Oh…it will always feel good to get compliments…but you will notice it someday when you truly become a God filled Barrel…because when the compliments come from people…you notice them…but you won’t need them to make you full!
If you are God Filled Barrel…then just be you. Keep drawing near to the ever giving, all consuming, all inspiring, King of Kings, who never quits, never leaves, never disappoints and always keeps His fulfilling promises….AND YOU WILL NEVER BE EMPTY! You will be able to look death in the face and with a crinkle in your nose and a squint in your eyes say, “Where O death is your victory…Where O death is your sting!” You are living for another life, another earth, another Kingdom…in fact you are bringing that Kingdom to this earth…to this life and to others!
The most critical thing about which barrel you are…it’s your choice. You don’t have to be stuck in any one of the barrels if you don’t want to be.
You are made to be a barrel full of God…a barrel of light!