The Ministry of Reminding

“I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. . .  “ -Romans 15:14-15

One of the greatest joys I had in the Philippines was teaching the Scriptures to students who had never really studied them before.  I’d hand out copies of the New Testament and tell them the page number where they could find the passage we would study.  It was the first time many of them had experienced a simple, verse-by-verse discussion of God’s word with someone willing to answer their questions.

The same goes for my preaching ministry: I had to be careful about assuming my listeners knew anything about the text I would be sharing.  This was particularly true in some of the evangelistic preaching opportunities God gave me.

There was something extremely refreshing about doing ministry in this kind of setting.  What an amazing privilege!

This is not to say that Filipinos are biblically illiterate–there are thousands of faithful believers there who diligently study the Bible.  But my ministry was focused more on those who were new to the faith.

My ministry took an ironic turn here in the States.  I’ve had the privilege of preaching (short-term) in three churches.  All three congregations were of an older demographic: the average attendee had probably been listening to sermons since before I was born.

“What can I share that they haven’t already heard many times before?”  I asked myself this question as I embarked on this new season of ministry.

God taught me something very important: I don’t have to teach/preach anything “new.”   I’m not saying God lead me to “recycle” old sermon outlines from C.H. Spurgeon.  Preaching, after all, is applying the timeless truths of Scripture to our modern context.  But I realized that preaching is a ministry of reminding for many of us who have had already learned the basics doctrines of the faith.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m always learning new things when I prepare for (or listen to) sermons.  But I’ve let go of the need to hear “I’ve never heard anything like that before” when I preach. I’m just as content to know I have reminded my listeners of things we need to hear over and over again.  Here are a few examples that quickly come to mind:KevinSRC

  • It’s not about us.
  • We can trust God.
  • Life is fleeting.
  • God expects obedience.
  • We are forgiven in Christ.

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.  We need to constantly hear the gospel preached because we are a forgetful people.  I’m thankful for the ministry of reminding–both as a preacher and hearer of God’s word.

Eight Twenty Eight Book Review

eighttwentyeightA friend of mine blessed me with a complimentary copy of Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up.  Here’s my review:

This book is the story of Ian and Larissa, a couple who have inspired millions through this video testimony.

Ian and Larissa’s story started in a fairly typical manner.  They met during their college years, and a simple friendship began to transform in to something much more significant.  They began dating, and each of them sensed God was as work in this newfound love.   Ian began working to save for an engagement ring, and it was only a matter of time before he would propose marriage.

But their lives were interrupted by a horrific automobile accident that left Ian with severe brain injuries.  Larissa was told her boyfriend was not likely to live.  Ian did miraculously survive, but their future together was anything but certain.  Their relationship, if it survived at all, would never be exactly what either had planned.

Eight Twenty Eight takes the reader through Larissa and Ian’s extraordinary journey (through her perspective).  She watches Ian fight his way back from the brink of death and the darkness of a comatose state.  She reflects on memories of their courtship, all the while wondering if she will ever be able to relate to him again in a meaningful way (doctors warned that he may not even remember her).

I would say their story has a “happy ending,” but I don’t think that expression quite does it justice.  Larissa’s commitment to Ian becomes something more costly and beautiful than she ever would have imagined.

Read this book–it’s definitely worth your time.

Shawn Davis, my friend

My friend Shawn Davis passed away this morning. I rejoice that he has left the confines of a diseased earthly body to be with Jesus. But I’m sad to lose a one-of-a-kind friend.

I met Shawn back in 2000 while I was living in New Orleans (I had moved to NOBTS to finish my studies). He didn’t exactly fit the mold of a seminary student—most of us don’t have tattoos and multiple piercings. But I found him to be one of the most genuine, Christ-centered people I had ever met. It taught me a much-needed lesson about judging by external appearances. I realized Shawn wasn’t trying to be “cool” or “relevant”—he was just being himself. I think the best word to describe him would be outrageous: Shawn’s personality was even more colorful than the ink embedded in his skin.

Shawn, Ryan (another seminary buddy), and I had some great times in New Orleans. Our conversations included everything from serious theological discussions to jokes of forming a pro wrestling tag-team. Thinking back on these memories brings a smile to my face.

I left New Orleans in 2001. I saw Shawn and Karen (his wife) a time or two after that and we kept in touch sporadically while I was in the Philippines. We reconnected on Facebook a couple of years ago.

Shawn and I talked for a few minutes a couple of weeks ago. His voice was weak, but he told me how honored he was to be my friend and how proud he was of me. He challenged me to continue preaching the gospel before saying goodbye.

The honor was mine, Shawn. See you on the other side.

ShawnKarenKageNote: Shawn leaves behind a wife (Karen) and a young son (Kage). The Harvest Fellowship Community Church in San Antonio has created the Davis Fund project if you would like to help this family. Here are the instructions:

You can give online by clicking here and setting up an account. Enter your information and you will be taken to the giving screen. Follow the directions on the screen. At step 2 make sure you choose Davis Fund Project. Finish the steps adding your payment information. You can even setup scheduled recurring gifts if you want. 100% of the gifts designated to the Davis Fund go to that project. You will receive a year end tax statement automatically if you give in excess of $100.

You can also give by check/mail:
Davis Fund Project
c/o Harvest Fellowship Community Church
PO Box 700447
San Antonio, Texas 78270-0447

Be sure to write Davis Fund in the memo.

 

Two-Year Anniversary: Daylight Dreams

My Dream

My Dream

It’s been twenty-four months since I watched Mare Cris walked down the aisle. Her radiant beauty filled the room as she held back tears. She was overwhelmed with emotion as a room full of loved ones stood in her honor.

I was smiling and quietly joking with Erwin, my best man. Typical behavior for a groom, I suppose. But part of me still couldn’t believe this wedding was actually happening. It all seemed too good to be true, as though any moment I’d wake to realize it was all a dream.

Two years have flown by. My dreams are occasionally haunted by images of life without (or before) her.  I’ll subconsciously re-live my days as a romantically frustrated bachelor (or even my student years–those dreams seem to happen more frequently now that I’ve moved back to my home town). I’m always relieved to wake up and find my wife lying next to me.

Life is sweet when you wake to see your most beautiful dream.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.

–Proverbs 18:22