Previous month:
February 2015
Next month:
April 2015

Life Matter: Specific Prayer

"Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting" - Psalm 139:23-24.

The Bible is full of inspired prayers that you can employ for yourself and for others. Today's verses represent a somewhat dangerous prayer, for the psalmist was asking God to take a set of spiritual x-rays on his inner being to see if everything was as God would like it. Specifically the psalmist was looking for anxiety and offensive ways that would prevent him from walking in eternal life, right here right now. When you get specific with God, He gets specific with you and this prayer is specific. It reminds me of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus how he could obtain eternal life: "When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me'" (Luke 18:22). The young man was saddened by the answer. Is there anything you are afraid or need to ask the Lord? When you ask, be prepared for the answer.

Today's reading - Psalms 136-140


Life Matter: Faithfulness

"Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
    who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
    and praise the Lord" - Psalm 134:1-2.

There were some priests who drew night duty as they served in the Temple. This psalm urged them to be diligent and faithful to perform their duties, even though the temptation may have been to sleep or slack off due to the hour when people normally rest. If God has impressed on you to do something, then it doesn’t matter what others are doing or how many hours it takes you to complete the project. If they are sleeping, playing, enjoying leisure or sitting idly, you are to stand watch and do what the Lord wants you to do. Paul wrote, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). In what is God asking you to be faithful? Faithful in school and studies? Faithful to fast? Faithful to write or teach or stand with a friend?

Today’s reading – Psalms 131-135


Reflections from Guyana

It’s not often that one gets a chance to reflect on his life over the last quarter of a century, but that’s exactly

Welcome Back
The airport had not changed much in 26 years.

what’s going on with me while I am here in Guyana. Guyana was the first country I ever visited outside the U.S. I came here with another pastor in 1989, right before my move to pastor a church in Orlando, Florida. It was a difficult trip – it still ranks among my three toughest journeys – mostly due to the conditions here then, along with my own inexperience as a traveler.

In 1989, Guyana was only 23 years old as a country, having broken away from England and changing its name from British Guyana to Guyana. Guyana means ‘land of many waters’ in the local language and it is appropriately named. It has four major rivers, all of which empty into the Atlantic Ocean on Guyana's coastline. Every one of the four are a muddy brown, and all are quite large at their mouth. I remember taking many ferries and water taxis when I was last here. Now they have built bridges and everyone has a car. When I was here in 1989, transportation was difficult. Now the vehicles whiz by on the road outside my guest house, where I am staying with my friends, Pastor Ovid Schultz and his wife Ukline.

Guyana Sunset
Guyana Sunset

In 1989, I don’t think I had electricity for an entire day for the 17 days I was here. We had to fetch water from a backyard tank to flush or bathe. Food was scarce and the mosquitoes were vicious. I spoke 17 times while

Cane Juice
Time for some refreshment!

I was here and never had electricity during any meeting. I did not bring earplugs or bug spray – that tells you how “green” I was – so I didn’t get much sleep. I had no idea roosters can begin crowing at midnight, and my roommate snored like a chain saw. One night I recorded him snoring and when I played it back to him, he denied it was him on the recording.

Today I am enjoying all the comforts of home. I am staying in a home built by a

House
The Home Where I am Staying

Guyanese couple who live in New York. They plan on retiring to this home in a few years. I am lying on the bed under a ceiling fan. My host transports me in a minivan. The electricity has gone off not once. I am eating all kinds of fruits and veggies – I think we call it organic in the States – and I am losing weight for all the right reasons.

As we drive around, there are still many scenes I remember from 1989. What’s more, Guyana reminds me a lot of my experience in Africa. There are animals grazing on the

Church Bldg 2
Balm of Gilead Church Built by the Members

side of the road. People drive with their horns and not their brakes. The sun is scorching. The rains come unannounced and end quickly. The people walk to where they are going and use parasols to protect from the sun’s rays. Children all have school uniforms and Toyota vans stop to pick up passengers who stand along the side of the road, waiting to go to market or school or church.

And church services remind me of Africa, too. The worship is enthusiastic and vibrant. The accents are thick, but English words can be identified just enough to enter into worship. The buildings are built for the tropics with metal roofs, windows that open for maximum breeze and concrete block construction seems to hold the cool of the night and the heat of the day in place long after either are gone.

Lucius
Pastor Lucius Bruyning, My First Host

I visited with the pastor and his wife who hosted me 26 years ago. They now live in a town called New Amsterdam (the Dutch once “owned” Guyana before the British did). It was special to see Lucius and Esther, who are now running an orphanage as well as pastoring a church. It brought back fond memories of their gracious hospitality as they tolerated my silly questions and awkward attempts to minister in a foreign land.

Since 1989, I have accomplished a few things, one of which is figuring out how to

Marlon and Ovid
Marlon Fraser (center) Owner of the School and Pastor Ovid

travel well and minister in cross-cultural situations. I have written books, launched media programs, taught at the university level, made a few church transitions, came in and out of pastoral situations, and earned my Doctor  of Ministry. I have awakened every morning thanking God for his faithfulness over the last 26 years. I have made many mistakes during that time, but one constant that has kept me going during the last quarter of a century is my trust in the Lord. He has brought me a mighty long way, and I am ever so grateful.

I have told the Lord I will go another 26 years if that’s what He wants, but I know I may not have that much time. Therefore I am dedicated to making every day count, much as I have done for the previous 26 years. It has been nice to return to Guyana with something to say, and I have had the chance to say it here to government staff, a hospital team, a church and an evening school. My hosts believe I will be back soon, and I am open to that possibility.

Speaking of my hosts, I would not be here if it wasn’t for the friendship and devotion of my friend since 1989, Ovid Schultz and his wife Ukline. Ovid has been a faithful friend over the years, diligent to stay in touch with me whenever he came to the States. We have spent a lot of time together over the years and our friendship has survived the test of time and distance. I am here to celebrate the ninth anniversary for the church that Ovid founded in 2006, Balm in Gilead Ministries in Village No. 30 in East Berbice. I have done my purpose seminar over two nights and Sunday I spoke in the church ninth anniversary celebration. Thank you, Ovid, for your encouragement over the years. I trust we will have many more years to enjoy our relationship, but of course that is in God’s hands.

Tuesday School
I am introduced at night school by the head, Marlon Fraser.

I will close with this thought. What could you do if you had a 25-year plan for your life? How much could you accomplish for Him? It doesn’t matter if you are 80 years of age right now, if you had a 25-year plan, you would certainly accomplish some of it before you go home. And who knows, God may give you the entire 25 years! If He does that, you will be glad you started now to make those years count to the maximum.

Thank You, Lord, for bringing me back. Thanking you for taking me forward since 1989. My life is yours; I owe you big time. Whatever you want me to do, whether here, in Africa or anywhere else, I am glad to do it, for my Lord and my Friend, who has sustained me all these years. I am a blessed man and this week has allowed me to reflect on just how blessed I am. Now it’s time to start planning and living my next 26 years.


Life Matter: Rejection

"The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes" - Psalm 118:22-23.

Jesus was a man who knew rejection: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). Yet even though He experienced rejection, God chose Him to be the cornerstone of salvation. It is of note that today’s passage is quoted in three gospels, the book of Acts and Peter’s epistle, for God wanted all to know that man’s rejection was not the final word on the matter (take the time to look them up). Your rejection by others is not the final word either, for if God has chosen you, your purpose will prevail as God promised: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b). Have you experienced rejection by those close to you, perhaps even by the church? Be reminded today that God is with you and stands with you to help you do what He created you to do. Be encouraged!

Today’s reading – Psalms 116-120


Life Matter: Your Breakthrough

"He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
    as a happy mother of children" - Psalm 113:7-9.

God is the God of the turnaround. You can be in dire straits one day and the next you can have all you need to prosper. When you think of it, you are just one phone call, one chance meeting, one idea, one speech, one sales call, one appointment away from the breakthrough for which you are praying. When I read today’s verses, I thought of what Mary said when she found out she was pregnant: “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:50-53). Can you thank God today for your breakthrough, even before it comes? Can you encourage yourself today that you are just that close to the fulfillment of your dreams and prayers?

Today’s reading – Psalms 111-115


Life Matter: One Way

"God has spoken in His holiness:
'I will exult, I will portion out Shechem
And measure out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is Mine, Manasseh is Mine;
Ephraim also is the helmet of My head;
Judah is My scepter.
Moab is My washbowl;
Over Edom I shall throw My shoe;
Over Philistia I will shout aloud'” - Psalm 108:7-9.

God is the God of all the nations and people groups. Many are in rebellion and refuse to submit, some live in ignorance of God’s truth and still others who realize this do little to further the work of missions and world evangelism. In this day of tolerance, there is the opinion that there are many ways to God, but God’s word indicates there is only one way: “Salvation is found in no one else [Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  What are you doing to help spread the good news of the gospel, not only in your neighborhood, but also to the ends of the earth? Why not adopt a people group or nation and pray for their salvation? Can you give money to help those who are on the front lines of missions work?

Today’s reading – Psalms 106-110


Life Matter: Stalkers

"You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon" - Psalm 91:5-6.

There are no lack of life-threatening trends that stalk mankind. New, exotic diseases baffle experts and elude their antidotes. Terrorism is on the rise and seems to be in every corner of the world. Bizarre violent behavior is in every country. Economies seem to teeter on the verge of collapse. Yet the words of Psalm 91 remain true for those who know the Lord. Now only does this psalm promise God's protection, it also states that the righteous won't even be afraid of the stalkers. Are you afraid? Do you find your fears affecting your daily activities? Are you consumed by and fearful of the daily media reports of danger? If you are, read Psalm 91 along with the Lord's admonition to Joshua as he was about to enter the Land: "Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous" (Joshua 1:6-7a).

Today's reading - Psalms 91-95


Life Matter: A United Heart

"Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name" - Psalm 86:11.

This verse states three truths, maybe you see more. First, you never lose your need to learn the ways of God. That requires you be taught by knowledgeable people who know and love the Lord. What are you studying and learning in the Lord? What are you reading? Are you part of a local church that teaches the Word? Second, you are accountable to do what you learn, to "walk in the truth." Jesus said, "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them" (John 13:17). Are you doing what you know you should do? Third, God must help you have a heart that is totally devoted to serve and learn from Him as He promised to do: "And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 11:19). Are you cooperating with God's work on your heart?

Today's reading - Psalms 85-90


Life Matter: Heartburn

"I will listen to what God the Lord says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
    but let them not turn to folly" - Psalm 85:8.

In today's verse, the psalmist first made a commitment to listen to the Lord's voice. Do you listen to God's voice? He speaks every language, speaks through circumstances, through other people - some who know Him, some who don't - and especially through His word and His servants who preach and teach His word. The writer acknowledged that God promised peace to His people. Do you have peace? If not, is it because you are somehow not listening to the Lord? It's easy to miss His voice as two disciples who knew Jesus well did not recognize Him when He came to visit: "When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'” (Luke 24:30-32). Is your heart burning with His presence, but you don't recognize it? What's holding you back?

Today's reading - Psalms 86-90


Life Matter:

"I will listen to what God the Lord says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
    but let them not turn to folly" - Psalm 85:8.

In today's verse, the psalmist first made a commitment to listen to the Lord's voice. Do you listen to God's voice? He speaks every language, speaks through circumstances, through other people - some who know Him, some who don't - and especially through His word and His servants who preach and teach His word. The writer acknowledged that God promised peace to His people. Do you have peace? If not, is it because you are somehow not listening to the Lord? It's easy to miss His voice as two disciples who knew Jesus well did not recognize Him when He came to visit: "When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'” (Luke 24:30-32). Is your heart burning with His presence, but you don't recognize it? What's holding you back?

Today's reading - Psalms 86-90