Monday, May 29, 2017

Flawed but Functional - Martin Wiles

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deuteronomy 7:6 NIV

Sin had ensnared another victim.

I listened as the newscaster gave a piecemeal report. The leaders of a noted megachurch were meeting behind closed doors. The pastor had planted the church 16 years ago on a college campus. From a small start, it grew into a megachurch with numerous satellite campuses. Thousands flocked to its campuses each week. The following morning, I listened to the newscaster again. This time the news was grimmer. The pastor had been accused of alcohol abuse and asked to step down. 

Had church leaders polled church members for advice on how to handle the situation, they would have been given a wide variety of opinions. Some would want him to stay, some would want him to leave, and some would have given intermediary actions between the two extremes. What will happen to his ministry is also up for grabs. Opinions of those in leadership positions will determine whether he ministers again.

Though God proclaimed His Old Testament people holy, they were often anything but. They dabbled in the pagan worship rites of their neighbors while trying to worship God simultaneously. Their repeated pattern was faithfulness followed by rebellion. God designated them as holy—and expected them to be, but they rarely were. Flaws decorated their lifestyles—just as it did the pastor of this mega church.

Flaws are inevitable.

I was born with a flawed nature. Christ gives me a new one at salvation, but He doesn’t perfect me immediately. I’ll have to wait for heaven to experience that. In the meantime, I’m flawed like the Israelites and the pastor—and all people. I journey toward experiential holiness, but flaws keep me from reaching it in this life. 

But the news isn’t all bad. I may be flawed, but I’m still functional. 

Though this pastor abused alcohol and was asked to step down, God can give him power over his addiction and use him again. God used the Israelites in spite of their rebellion. King David committed adultery, murdered, schemed, and lied, but God still found room in His service for him. And He has continued to use me even though I’ve made many missteps into areas I should have avoided.

You may be flawed, but you are still functional in God’s service. 

Prayer: Father, we thank You for using us even when we fail to be all You want us to be.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Prayer Changes Things…Or Does It? - Martin Wiles

Series: The Things We Say

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT

I prayed numerous times daily, but nothing changed.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, a life-changing situation had turned my world upside down. Because of the nature of it—and the prevailing belief in the denomination I belonged to--I could no longer serve in the profession I had been in for the past fourteen years. I prayed for God to open a door.

Individual churches had the authority to overlook and understand what had happened and call me anyway. Few did. Hundreds of resumes pummeled the mail system. One church representative called to say having me as a pastor would split his church—a call I thought could have been avoided. Two others called with salary offers no one could live on. Entering another profession seemed my only option. 

During this time in my life, disappointment, discouragement, and depression were my occasional bedfellows. Like Paul, I begged God to remove my thorn in my flesh. Though I didn’t hear His answer, my unchanging circumstances revealed it: “No.” 

Would I learn to do what Paul did—boast about his weakness, or continue wallowing in my self-pity? And, of course, some reminded me prayer changes things.

My prayer seemed to change nothing. Over time, I discovered it had. My prayer changed me. I let go of the bitterness over what had happened and my bitterness toward those who wouldn’t allow me to obey God’s call. Paul learned to glory in his weakness, and I did as well. 

Instead of stewing over my circumstances, I allowed God to use them for His glory. Since then, many have come to me for counsel because of what I’ve gone through—whereas they wouldn’t talk to others who couldn’t comprehend their pain. And in time, God put me back into full-time ministry. 

Prayer might not change the course of a hurricane or tornado, alter the mindset of a spouse who chooses to walk away, modify the course of a rebellious child, or revise the boss’ mind about a layoff, but it will change my perspective on the circumstances which in turn will alter my attitude. And when my attitude changes, so will my response. 

Prayer will change things. If nothing else, you.

Prayer: Father, may we be faithful in our prayers, trusting You to answer them in the manner You see fit.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Flashback Friday - Chewing Gum for God by Martin Wiles

Chewing Gum for God

“Hey, I’m going home to chew my gum,” he yelled from the bus as my wife and I entered the resale store where we were vendors. I was clueless, although it didn’t surprise me that she would connect with someone by using gum. Only later did the story unfold. 

While working at the store, my wife would occasionally see this physically and mentally incapacitated young man from the Adult Day Care Center parading around in his wheelchair and chewing gum. “Where is my gum,” she would ask, and he would smile. Read more...


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

When the Game Plan Changes - Martin Wiles

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 NLT

The week had been slow, but I’d been in full-time ministry long enough to know things can change in a second. And they did.

Besides my normal schedule, all I had planned for the next day was to pray with our church mission team at 6 am. They were leaving for Myrtle Beach, SC. Then I received a call from a church member. Her husband would be having surgery around 7 am. On the way to church that evening, my wife’s brother called. He was on the list to receive a heart transplant and had just left the doctor’s office. They wanted him at MUSC in Charleston, SC, at 4 pm the next day. He had no one to take him. Without the heart, his days were numbered. 

Suddenly, my game plan had changed—a change not only for us but for my two children. Since my wife keeps our grandchildren, a change in our game plan means one in theirs. They have no dependable backup plan so a last minute call from us can put them in a quandary. But they know I’m on 24-hour call and things can change in a moment.

I like to initiate change—when it’s needed and when the end result will entail a helpful alteration—but I don’t like it thrust upon me. I’m a creature of habit, and this change meant getting up two hours earlier as well as a four-hour drive to the hospital—and to an area I dislike. We’d be lucky to get home by midnight. A long day. And I’d have to work from the car. 

Trusting in the Lord with all my heart and depending on Him rather than my own understanding isn’t easy—or always convenient. 

A part of following Him means making myself available to opportunities He sends—even when they change the game plan. Our mission team needed prayer, and so did the man having surgery. My wife’s brother also needed our help. Three opportunities. Three chances to serve.

When God changes your game plan, trust He has a reason. Then enjoy the chance He’s giving you to serve.

Prayer: Father, though we don’t enjoy changes thrust upon us, help us trust that You have a reason. Then prompt us to serve in love. 


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