MATURITY, MINISTRY & MONEY
"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen
the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."
Dear Friends & Partners,
A week from today, I will be landing in India. I will have a week of ministry each with long time partners, Bishop Ezra Sargunam in Chennai; and Murli Menon in Coimbatore. At both places I will be teaching Bible College and Seminary students from my book, The Gardens of God, plus helping them set up large drip irrigation gardens to produce fresh vegetables to eat and sell. In addition, we will be planting 300 coconut trees at the “Hope City,” the newest project of the Evangelical Church of India (ECI). We also plan to start one of several Tilapia Fish Projects to provide high protein food for children and students.
I am shooting you this email to let you know that I really need your spiritual and financial support for this latest mission.
One of the privileges and securities of age is the benefit of experience and perspective. You have lived long enough to see and experience God's great faithfulness through many seasons of life. Therefore, long-term friendships and partnerships are one of the greatest blessings of life. Of course, our foundational friendship is with God through Jesus Christ. While we do not deserve to even be His slaves, He has called us "friends" and "brothers" (Jn. 15:15; Heb. 2:11). So whether in marriage, ministry or missions – the more mature the relationship the greater the love…the greater the trust…the greater the fruitfulness…the greater the joy!
One of the basic principles of life is this: the root determines the fruit. God said that a remnant of His people would "...take root downward and bear fruit upward" (II Kings 19:30; Isa. 37:31). So, the deeper the root, the richer the fruit. We shouldn't be surprised, then, that the Bible exhorts us to be "…rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. 3:17). And if we are "...rooted in love," then the dominant fruit of our lives will be agape love because "God is love" and "The fruit of the Spirit is love" (I Jn. 4:8, 16; Gal. 5:22).
Therefore, the "Great Command" to "...love God" with our whole being and "...love our neighbor as ourselves" (Matt. 22:37-39) cannot be separated from the "Great Commission" to "…go and make disciples of all the nations" (Matt. 28:19). Christian ministry and missions is about loving people with the love of Christ. As a result, we are to build loving covenant relationships and not just functional relationships with our national partners. Because God is a relational God, He calls and commissions us to make relationships our priority. That's because relationships are the only things that outlast everything else. Projects are temporal; relationships are eternal.
At the ripe old ages of 70 for me and 69 for Patt, we are experiencing and enjoying the truth of that principle in both marriage and ministry. While this seventh decade is not the easiest season of our lives in some ways, it is definitely the most fruitful and fulfilling. Every day we thank God for our relational richness with each other, with our children, grandchildren, friends and national partners! None of our relationships is perfect. In a fallen, sinful and selfish world, there are no perfect relationships or partnerships – in marriage, ministry or missions. But they are still our highest calling…top priority…and greatest joy in life!
Through the Spirit and Word, we have sought to be deeply rooted in the love of the Lord Jesus. We have also sought to be deeply rooted through love in our relationships and partnerships with strategic national leaders. Short-term, casual and superficial relationships are never fulfilling or fruitful. So we have sought to go for depth before breadth in our relationships and partnerships. God has graciously honored this beyond our wildest dreams! As a result of investing our lives in these wonderful national partners God has sovereignly connected us with, we are seeing both depth and breadth of impact for the Kingdom of God "…exceeding abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think" (Eph. 3:20).
It is because of these wonderful Kingdom-building relationships that “retirement” is not in my vocabulary and not on my radar screen! The words "relationship" and "retirement" are oxymorons. They are mutually exclusive concepts! You do not "retire" from relationships – in marriage or ministry! Or at least, we were never supposed to! God doesn't "retire" from His relationship with us. Neither can we "retire" from our relationship with others. I could not imagine "retiring" from my marriage with Patt or my relationships with my children, grandchildren, friends or partners! Through the "good, bad and ugly," we are to hang in there and keep trying to deepen relationships and enrich partnerships as long as God gives us life.
So, Patt and I want to thank you for your friendship and partnership, first through NDI and now through JLPF. As we transition through Spring and into Summer, we lovingly ask for your continued financial support. Whether a one time gift now, or a monthly gift of whatever amount God would enable you to give – we will be most grateful for your continued financial support. I know that we are living in difficult financial times – which makes every gift more appreciated than ever! So thank you in advance for whatever you are able to give.
I already have a very full summer and fall schedule of travel and ministry confirmed. But Patt and I need your financial support in the following areas in order to fulfill our faith commitments…
Please make a special gift now as the Lord enables you and know that 100% of your gift will be used as you designate!
In His Faithful & Fruitful Love,
PS: You can speed your gift our way by giving on line via credit card by clicking here.