Three Years and Going Strong

KevinMareCrisWeddingFebruary

Our friends’ wedding (February, 2015)

Mare Cris and I celebrate our third wedding anniversary today!  We are so thankful for the way God has blessed our marriage through the joys and trials of the past year.

We still face an uncertain future as we pray for God to show us what’s next.  But I know His timing and plans are perfect.  I also know any future that includes my wife will be more wonderful than I could ever imagine.

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.