Building People. Spreading Hope.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Explosive Blessing is Coming Your Way

During my recent trip to Asia, I learned about the Chinese bamboo tree. This remarkable tree is different from most trees that grow in that region. While most trees steadily grow over a period of years, the Chinese bamboo tree does not break through the ground for the first four years. Then in the fifth year, an amazing phenomenon happens — the tree begins to grow at an astonishing rate. Over a period of five weeks, the Chinese bamboo tree can grow to a height of 80 feet. As if captured by a slow motion camera, you can practically see the tree growing before your very eyes.

Life often happens in a similar way. You can work for weeks, months, or even years on your dream with no visible signs of progress, and then all of a sudden, things take off. Your business becomes profitable beyond your wildest dreams. Your marriage becomes more vibrant and passionate than you ever thought it could be. Your passion to reach the world through Build International Ministries becomes more compelling than you have ever imagined!

All of this requires two things – faith and hard work. Those who tend the Chinese bamboo tree have faith that if they keep watering and fertilizing and working the ground, the tree will break through. You must have the same kind of faith in your "bamboo tree," whether it is running a successful business, walking in health, raising well-behaved children, or getting your finances in order. You must have faith that as you work hard, live healthy and exercise, train your children, invest in your spouse, or develop wise financial habits, that you will see rapid growth in the future.

This is what happened to Ruth. Scripture tells us that Ruth was loyal to her mother-in-law, Naomi, even after her husband had died. When Naomi wanted to return to her own country, she gave Ruth the choice to return to her kinsfolk. Ruth was loyal at heart. She decided to follow Naomi.
 When they reached Bethlehem, they did not have much more than a roof over their head. Naomi had a relative who was a wealthy man and owned a lot of land. Ruth went to the field owned by Boaz and gleaned after the reapers. It was hard labor, a hand-to-mouth struggle, for Ruth and Naomi. God saw Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi and her willingness to work hard and serve the True and Living God of Israel. Ruth found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

 God sent Ruth explosive blessing. One day, Boaz went to check on his land and saw Ruth gathering after the reapers. He inquired about her and told his men to “leave handfuls of grain on purpose” for Ruth to take home (Ruth 2:16). Soon after, Boaz began to develop a liking for Ruth. Soon they were married. Think about it. One day Ruth was working in the field, and the next, she became the owner of the field!

Friend, this is how God wants to bless you. He knows how hard you are working to grow your “bamboo tree.” You have planted, watered, and fertilized the soil, and now is the time for explosive growth and increase of God’s grace (unmerited favor) in your life. He is orchestrating connections, divine appointments, and opportunities for explosive blessings to overtake you.

The scripture says, “When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in.” (Psalm 112:4) Notice it does not say God’s blessing will start to drip or faintly appear; it says His light will come bursting in. In today’s context, it will be an explosive blessing. It will not just be a small addition to what you already have, but it will set you up for the next five, ten, or even twenty years ahead!

When the lame beggar at the temple Beautiful approached Peter and John for some small change for lunch, he got much more than he had bargained for. (Acts 3:1-10) It was the day of God’s explosive blessing to be unleashed upon this disabled man. Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have but in the name of Jesus, rise up and walk.” The Bible says, “Immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” He went on his merry way, “walking, leaping and praising God.” One moment he was begging for lunch money and in the next he was strong enough to go to work for himself and earn a living for his family. That is the kind of explosive blessing God has in store for you!

 What is it that is holding you back? God is poised to bless you with unprecedented blessing. Cast away your small thinking and begin to expect the explosive blessing. If you are asking God for what you can achieve by yourself, you are not thinking big enough. God said, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance.” (Psalm 2:8)  That is what God has done for me. In the last twenty-six years, I have ministered in over forty nations.

It is time for you to receive your explosive blessing.

Sometimes, in our doubt, we dig up our seed and plant it elsewhere, in hopes that it will grow faster in more fertile ground. This is why people change jobs every year. We also see people change churches, organizations, and even spouses in the pursuit of greener pastures. More often than not, these people are greatly disappointed when their tree does not grow any faster in the new location.

Do not make the mistake of getting in a hurry and pulling up your seed. Stay committed and connected. Bloom where you are planted. Remain faithful to what God has given you now. There is a tsunami of breakthrough coming that will catapult you to a place of God’s explosive blessing. Your “fifth year of growth” is here now. Like the Chinese bamboo tree, you will experience astonishing growth. Like Ruth, you will go from working in the business to owning the business!

You have a bamboo tree inside of you waiting to break through. Keep watering, believing, and working hard; you will be flying high before you know it.

An explosive blessing is coming your way. Get ready for everything to change in your life!

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

See Your Impact! Reaching China with the Good News

I have just returned from our mission trip to communist China where social media is forbidden and freedom is restricted. Persecution is rampant and the Word of God is in short supply. But our God is alive in China!

My first stop was in Hong Kong (a special administrative region of China). There I reconnected with my pastor friends (I was based there for 13 years) who are still faithfully serving the Lord. Sunday services were packed with hundreds of worshippers – mostly young people. After the message, people flocked to the altar to be saved and ministered to. As I prayed for them, I saw many respond with tears and humble hearts. I heard of another church with over 10,000 people! God is working.

In my previous letter, I shared about Pastor Joanna who has a network of 6,000 believers. Along with a team of three others, she came to spend time with us in Shanghai. They are on fire, but they have no one to mentor them. We had the opportunity to love on them, encourage them, guide them, and pray over them; this was one of the highlights of our trip. They went back to their community committed to love God more, and serve His people better.

Our next stop was Wenzhou where Christianity is growing at an astounding rate! It is a prosperous region of China. We met one pastor who told us his network of churches has over 600,000 believers! He took us to visit some of those "churches." One was located in an electrical switch manufacturing company. The owner is a Christian. He told us, "At first I had to hire anyone I could find. But now more than 80% of my employees are Christians." In the darkness of night, we sneaked into his factory. All 120 of his employees plus more were worshipping the Lord at the top of their lungs! What a great time we had ministering to them.

We also were able to minister at a drug rehabilitation/Bible School/Church facility. In China, both the possession of drugs and drug use are punishable by death. This was a secret location where drug addicts come for help. Teachers are former drug addicts, set free by our Lord. There were over 100 people – mostly young – eager to hear from us. When we gave an altar call, half of the congregation came forward.

Another highlight of our trip was distributing the Bibles you helped to provided. Every time we distributed a Bible, we saw, smiles, tears, joy, and gratitude. It was a great consolation to leave our persecuted brothers and sisters in China with the most powerful gift in the world,  - the Word of God. It is not only changing their lives, but their culture and nation, as well!

We cannot thank you enough for going with us to China through your prayers, encouragement, and support. You have an inheritance through everything that was achieved on this trip. Please pray and help with the remainder of the budget for this trip. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Let me end with a reminder of God's promise to you, "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them (Hebrews 6:10)."

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Don't Commit Treason Against Yourself

One of the greatest challenges in life is forgiveness. Millions of people, even Christians are trapped in the prison of unforgiveness. And it robs God’s people of their peace, joy, health, and happiness. As we celebrate Easter, we can draw inspiration from the Master, whose ultimate goal was to forgive our sins and show us how to forgive others.

We all have unfair things happen to us. You may not think you can forgive those who have hurt you. But the truth is God has placed the ability in each of us to forgive because He knows we ourselves need to be forgiven. That is why the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus is so crucial to our faith. Without His forgiveness, we are doomed forever. Without learning to forgive, we abdicate our amazing future into the hands of our offenders. When you forgive, you set a prisoner free, and that prisoner is - you!

When we allow anger, hurt, and resentment to control us, we are allowing those who hurt us to have control in our lives. When we dwell on these thoughts and relive them over and over, we poison our own future from being able to blossom and flourish in the hand of a merciful God.

Several years ago, I had a painful experience with a co-worker. I invested thirteen years to train and groom a young man. He was like my son and a brother in the faith, – a jewel in my crown.

In the last year of working together, the Lord kept prompting that something was wrong. Time and again, I ignored it. In my eyes, this young man could do no wrong. How could he? After all, I had taught him right, – not only from my wisdom but also from the experience of my own mistakes. Without any probing on my own, the Lord exposed everything. The lies, betrayal, and deception came to light. I gave this man a choice to turn around but he did not want to. We parted ways.

I was angry, bitter, and resentful. I would continue to review the evidence stacked against him. I would read the emails that were lies. This offense consumed me!

Knowing better, after a period of time, I wrote him a letter of forgiveness. I expressed my desire to forgive him. I told him I would not hold any grudge against him. I tried to make it as easy on him to reconcile as I could. Unfortunately, he wrote me back without much of an apology, blaming me instead, covering up his wrong. I realized at that moment it was time to release this offense to the Lord. Since that day, he does not control me anymore. I feel great about forgiving him, but I feel better that I do not carry that offense anymore.

I have preached many messages on forgiveness, but this incident taught me a great lesson. Forgiveness is not benevolence, it is a necessity. It is about letting go of something that happened to you in the past so you can take hold of the amazing future God has in store for you. When you forgive people who have done you wrong, God will bring restoration to you. He will settle the account in such ways you never could. He will bring justice that no earthly judicial system can match.

After the resurrection, Jesus came back to talk to his disciples. In John 20:23, He said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” What this verse says is that we have the power to forgive an offense or we risk the danger of becoming the same person we hate.

It is far better to forgive and forget than to hate and remember. When you do not forgive, you bear arms against yourself. Do not commit treason against your own life and purpose. Your future depends on many things; one is your ability to forgive. Unforgiveness blocks blessing; forgiveness releases blessing. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because we are not willing to forgive someone (Mark 11:25).

Forgiveness is not easy, but it is possible.  Here is a three step process that can help  you. First, make a decision to forgive (even when you feel otherwise). Second, say out loud or express to the person who offended you, "I forgive you!" Third, frequently remind yourself of your own need of forgiveness from the Lord. Quit dwelling on the offense. Stop replaying it in your mind over and over. Stop fueling bitterness by giving it an ounce of your time and energy.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:31-32, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (NIV)."

The best way you can celebrate this Easter is to release the past and claim the future. Forgiveness does not erase the former, but it does improve the later. Ask yourself: If God is willing to forgive all my sins, who am I to hold out on forgiving others?

Forgive - it's the last thing the enemy wants you to do!

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