Friday, February 28, 2014

Looking For Answers? 2/28/2014 (rp)

"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.  Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord."  James 5:13-14

In this day and age, everyone has an opinion, advice and a solution.  Even the most casual survey at any bookstore will reveal rows and rows of self-help books addressing everything from how to fix a faucet to how to fix your heart.  The reality is that there need not be any qualification or expertise to write a book, yet the fame of the author will catapult it into the ranks of millions sold.  Recently a comedian/radio DJ wrote a book advising women to think like men in order to be successful in relationships.  The author is on his second marriage and his first wife rebutted most of what he said.  This did not prevent the book from becoming a popular movie and generating great sums of money.

Beloved, it is obvious that people want and need answers.  There are so many things we do not know about how to remedy, sustain or endure both circumstance and situation.  We are constantly seeking expertise in the areas that affect us.  The good news is life actually comes with a manual and it is called the Holy Bible.  Whatever your question might be, there is a spiritual answer.  It covers everything from what to do when you are afflicted to what to do when you are happy.  It has diet advice, financial advice, health advice and relationship advice.  It provides object lessons by relating case studies of individuals who have been through what you are going through.  It provides the story of the greatest person who ever lived and makes it a point to say that he is not one who was not touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" Heb 4:15."

If you are looking for the ultimate in advice, how-to, self-help and "what do I do now," try the Bible.  It is the best seller of all time.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Cowering vs. Courage 2/24/2014

"'Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me.  If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.'  Again the Philistine said,  'I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.'  When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid." 1 Samuel 17:8-11

Imagine a scene in which two great armies stand on opposing hills glaring at each other across the valley that separates them.  Imagine one of the armies having a 9 foot giant calling out to the other for a one on one with their champion to settle the whole matter.  Imagine this going on for 40 days.  And imagine the fearful army being the army of God.

We face the great challenges of the adversary every day, both as individuals and as the body of Christ. It seems that the world is becoming increasing bold in withstanding the word of God and that the battle is waged on more and more fronts.  Our children can no longer pray in school.  They are being taught that we evolved from some microbe in some primordial slime and worse, that we are descended from monkeys.  Christians in some parts of the world are being martyred for their faith. Their is an active effort to remove the God in whose belief this country was founded.  And we are experiencing moral decay at an alarming rate.  The giant adversary and his armies are taunting and threatening the people of God.  How long will we cower?

Beloved, we must remember who we serve and who is on our side.  We must also remember that the problems of today are not new.  Thousands of years ago, it was a young boy who asked the people of God, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" 1 Samuel 17:26.  It was a single voice that spoke up for the cause of God.  A single person who took on the enemy.  And it was a single act that emboldened the people of God who went on to victory. Imagine what could be done with 2, 3, 100 or 1000 faithful voices crying out to God for strength and courage to do what needs to be done.

Let us not hide in our sanctuaries and tremble at the enemy.  Let us engage.  Let us fight for what is right in all aspects of life, beginning with our own.  And let us be the people that God called us to be. Surely He will give us the victory.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Remember Who You Are 2/17/2014 (rp)

"Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them."  1 Cor 7:17 (NIV)

When I was a very young man, my dad used to always say to me, "Son, remember who you are."  At that age, the statement came across as less than chastisement but more than advice.  Of course I did not fully understand all of the ramifications of the statement, but the older I got, the more it made sense.  Dad was reminding me of how I was raised, what the rules and regulations were and that wherever I went and whatever I did, I needed to reflect those things.  In short, I represented him.

Beloved, this is true of all Christians as it relates to our relationship with our heavenly Father and leading godly lives.  He has given us His word and in it is found first, His overwhelming love and provision for us.  But it also contains His expectations, most of which are for our own good.  As Christians we must endeavor to resemble Him in all things.  We are reminded in Matt 5:16 to "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Further, it is important to not miss the fact that God lays out the path for His own.  This means that we might find ourselves in places or situations not necessarily of our own choosing but possibly of God's.  It may very well be that we are there to do the work of the Lord by accomplishing a certain task or reflecting His presence for the benefit of another.  When Paul, who was famously afflicted with a metaphorical "thorn in the flesh" asked to be relieved of it, he was told that God would be glorified through his affliction.  In other words, Paul's overwhelming love for and loyalty to God, despite his discomfort would be an encouragement to others going through the similar or lesser trials.

Let us endeavor to remember not only who we are but whose we are.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rosemita's Song 2/12/2014

"So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." Galatians 6:10

[Beloved, the following is an article I wrote during my recent mission trip to Haiti.  I pray that it will give you some insight into what still goes on there and that it will move you to pray for those still in harms way as well as those who leave the comforts of home to minister to them.]


Brought along primarily as a photographer to document the International American Medical Mission’s mission to Haiti, I also happen to be the minister of the O’Fallon church of Christ.  It was this capacity that sparked the most meaningful moment I experienced while in this destitute country.

There was a young lady that grabbed my attention as I made my photographic rounds.  She caught my eye because she couldn’t have been more than a few days old.  As I moved in to capture her receiving care in one of the tents in which patients were being seen, Dr. Charles Woodridge pointedly asked, “Are you going to take a picture of a baby we haven’t even helped yet?”  “Yes,” I replied. “That is what I’m here for.  My job is to capture the process of us providing help.”  With a look of grave concern overtaking his eyes, he said in a quiet but direct manner, “What you need to be doing is praying.”  I put down the camera, gathered everyone who was close and sought the face of God on behalf of the infant whose name turned out to be Rosemita.

It turns out that Rosemita had been born just 20 hours before that moment.  She was born to two parents in their home.  Her mother had received neither pre nor post natal care and Dr. Woodridge was the first physician the newborn had ever seen.  We further learned from interpreters who volunteered to work with the mission that she was born after just 7 months of gestation.  And now Rosemita was in trouble.  She would not take the breast and had therefore not eaten since she was born.  Further, the temperature was somewhere in the mid-90s that day and the baby was showing signs of heat exhaustion.  Other challenges included a heart rate of 200 and a glucose level in the 30s.

In later conversations, I learned that Dr. Woodridge is a very happy go lucky guy who is constantly laughing, joking and trying to bring smiles to the lives of others.  But I also learned that when he is serious about something, he is dead serious and he is serious about children.  In fact, he refuses to see adults on the mission unless it is an emergency.  There were other physicians and caregivers along for that.  A veteran of the U.S. Army, he had seen a lot of death and was not in any way interested in adding to the number he had seen by way of this precious little lady.  He said, “Every time I see one of these little ones die, it takes a chunk out of me and when that chunk is gone, it’s gone.”  So we prayed with everything we had.

After the amen, Dr. Woodridge started directing traffic around the baby even while he held her in his hands (she was not yet big enough to be held in arms).  He called for Leonardo Gilbert, Founding Director of IAMM, to do whatever it took to get an ambulance, a car or even a donkey to get the little one to the hospital because there was a very real possibility that she could die.  Bro. Gilbert, also minister of the Sheldon Heights Church of Christ in Chicago, IL, immediately moved into action, pulling together local administrators and interpreters to make things happen.

Meanwhile, the doctor called for a glucose drip, formula or anything that could be safely given to the baby to feed her.  Of course no such luxuries are available in Source-Metalas, Haiti.  It is an area so poor that it is not a matter of not having hot and cold running water, but that the water has to be retrieved by the bucket from a questionable source half a mile away over rocky and desert like terrain.  Two young ladies could be seen making this journey over and over again throughout the day to fill tanks inside the orphanage that hosted us.  It is estimated that a full bucket, which they balanced perfectly on their heads, weighed 35-40 lbs.

Very quickly, members of the pharmacy team provided a syringe and some clean water in which sugar had been dissolved.  Within 5 minutes of our fervent prayer, Rosemita received her first meal of about 10 CCs of sugar water at the hand of Dr. Woodridge.  The baby’s suckle reflex  kicked in and she was finally eating. 
The parents cried tears of joy and word of the good news spread throughout the IAMM Care Camp prompting other eyes to dampen and more than a few sighs of relief.  After about 15 minutes, her glucose levels were again tested and found to be at 99.  The news kept getting better but she was not out of the woods yet.  In order to have the best chance at life, she needed more care than we could give her out of tents using the limited supplies we had available.  She needed a hospital.

This is just one of the many stories that happened on day one of the five day mission.  IAMM has been coming to Haiti every year since the earthquake, some six years now.  The mission provides similar services in Jamaica.  Each time, we work in concert with local churches of Christ and base ourselves in orphanages where the need is often most acute.  From this base, local communities are served, often reaching into the hundreds per day.   A team of volunteer doctors, nurses, ministers, pharmacists, administrators and coordinators leave the comforts of home at their own expense to “go unto all nations” and do the work of the Lord.

We do not know the end of the story for Rosemita.  Our best hope and prayers are that she will grow into a wonderfully healthy young lady who lives a long and prosperous life.  However, in a country as challenged as Haiti is, one never knows.  The truth is, we rarely know how things turn out with the people that are served.  But we do know that we have done what God has called, equipped and gifted us to do and that is to serve.  And at the moment of service, the people’s gratitude, that of our brothers and sisters in Christ, is overflowing.  They wear their Sunday best to see the doctors and offer the best they have: their thanks.

By the end of the day as we began to lose light and therefore shut down operations, an ambulance finally arrived.  It was through a phalanx of handclaps and cheers that the parents of Rosemita climbed into the ambulance, a family who left with more hope than that with which they arrived.  Bro. Gilbert, as he always does, came through once again, making sure that the process works, that the resources are utilized to their fullest extent and that everyone is placed where they can do the most good.

As for Dr. Woodridge, he was not at the ambulance with everyone else.  He was still in his tent taking care of one last little one as the light dipped below the mountains to the west.

More information can be found about IAMM at  To support IAMM, contact Ardana McFerren at 773.609.IAMM or by email at



Monday, February 10, 2014

The Walk of the Talk 2/10/2014

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power."  1 Cor 4:20 (NIV)

We have all heard the expression, "talk is cheap."  The implication, of course, is that it is easy to say or claim a thing but that it is another matter all together to be or do a thing.  This is particularly true in religion today.  There are many people who claim many things but far less often are they backed up by reality and truth.  It is easy to put on a facade and mange the impression others have of us.  We show up at worship, say amen, pray reverently, slap a few backs, shake a few hands and check the box marked "holy" for another week, fairly certain of how we are perceived by God and man.  The question must be asked, however, what happens when we walk out of the sanctuary?  What happens at midnight?

Beloved, God is not impressed with any of what we say.  Adam, Abraham, Moses, Samson and David all said wonderful things and were all guilty of sinning against God at one time or another even as do we.  God is much more interested in the heart and mind.  It is in the heart and mind that truth, love and sincerity can be found.  And if they be found, they will be manifested in deeds.  It is through these deeds that the power of God can be seen in our lives.  It is not when we say we should love others as we love ourselves that the power is seen.  It is when we help someone who has hurt us.  It is not when we say that we love God but when we are obedient to His will and way for our lives in word, thought and deed that the power can be seen.

Words are important.  It is through them that we learn about our Creator.  The full expression of godliness, however, comes not from words but from the effect those words have on who we are and what we do.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Prayer Request 2/3/2014

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matt 28:19-20

This week I am journeying to Haiti as part of the International American Medical Mission.  The point of the mission is primarily to advance the cause of Christ.  Of the many ways to do so such as feeding the poor, building programs, water purification and so on, this group transports doctors, nurses, pharmacists and ministers to do the work of the Lord.  More information about the organization can be found at

On behalf of the IAMM, I solicit your prayers for the success of the mission, the health and safety of all of those who have volunteered to serve and the people of Haiti, particularly those who reside and work in the two orphanages at which we will work.