This is How the Family of God Grows

This is How the Family of God GrowsHow does the family of God grow?  How does a man or woman who is spiritually dead meet Jesus Christ and be born again into the family of God?  How can we who are children of God encourage and love those who are lost into the arms of Jesus?

We live in desperate times.  People from all walks of life and in every socioeconomic stratum are in great need.  One needs physical healing.  Another needs relief from loneliness.  Still another needs freedom from addiction.  And they all need Jesus.  We all need Jesus.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)  There is great need for the hearing of the word of God in our families and in our communities today.  And the word of God that we all need is not just the word that is spoken in pulpits on Sundays and Wednesdays.  The word of God that we need is not just the word spoken by our missionaries and teachers as they travel.  No, the word of God that we most need is the word of how we live each and every day of our life before a lost and dying world.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9)  If you have been saved then you have been chosen and you have been given a marvelous and glorious task.  This task is of utmost importance and will bring you great blessings and great joy.  Your task is to proclaim the praises of Him who called you with your very life.

Joyful, thankful people are the most attractive, pleasant people to be around.  Those who are blessed and know it, and then humbly share their blessings with others, will always draw a crowd.  Although we all face difficulties and troubling circumstances we can still live a life of praise and thanksgiving.  And by sharing in our blessings and being generous with what we have we can meet someone else’s need.

What happens when those who are thankful and blessed meet those who are desperate and in need?  Ministry happens.  It is at this point that God is able to use His people to draw those who are lost and searching towards reconciliation with Christ.  This is a personal process that is unique in each and every situation because every person and every need is unique.

I believe that God is calling His children to get involved in the lives of the lost and hurting who are all around them.  In other words, it’s time to get interpersonal and nurture some relationships with people who may not normally be our first choice for a friend.  By the way we love unselfishly and without expectation of reward we may be the only picture of Jesus that some people ever see.

It’s time to let the lost person know, beyond anything else, that they are loved.  It’s time to let the struggling Christian know that they are not alone and that we are praying for them and will always welcome them back with open arms.  Most of all, it’s time to tell the world that God wants to reclaim his children and desires that all men be saved.

May we live a life of such light and fervor before the Lord that there is no question that the God we serve is real and is able to save the souls of men.  This is how the family of God grows.

My questions for you today are: Have you been invited into the family of God?  If so, are you now living a life that invites others to join our great family?

Alpha Predator Author Interview with Steve Taylor

Alpha Predator Author Interview with Steve TaylorBack on June 19th, I posted my book review of Alpha Predator: How to Be Victorious Over Life’s Ultimate Adversary and What to do When You’re Not.  If you have read the review then you know that the book and the man who wrote it holds a special place in my heart.

Today I am excited to be able to post a summary of a telephone interview that I got to do with Steve last week.  Steve was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give me a call and to bless me with his words and his wisdom; he has given me permission to write about that call here on Matthew515.

The first thing you need to understand about Steve Taylor is that even though he is a retired missionary he is still working full time for God.  He is currently a full time pastor in Pratt, Kansas and during our conversation he was power walking for exercise in preparation for his upcoming return to Zimbabwe, Africa on a mission trip.  More on that later.  Let’s get to the interview.

Me: “How did the idea for the book come about?  Where did that idea begin and how did it take shape?”

Steve: “I was in a difficult ministry situation at the time.  It was very challenging and I was in contact with people who were really struggling.  I wanted to tell the story of Africa in the midst of challenging circumstances.  Writing was cathartic and it was an outflow of my life experiences through words on a page.  My Dad really encouraged me to take what I was writing and turn it into a book so I attended a writer’s conference in Denver, Colorado and came back with a passion to write the book.”

Steve: “Being a full time pastor, Alpha Predator was mostly written between the hours of 10pm and 2am after everyone had gone to bed and the world had gotten quiet.  I needed that time that was free of distraction so that I could really hear God speak to me.  During those times my thoughts could coalesce into something solid as they appeared on the page.  Even then, it took nearly two years to finish Alpha Predator.”

Me: “And did I hear that you were perhaps considering a follow-up?”

Steve: “Yes, two actually.  One would tell more of how God called Shirley (Steve’s wife) and I to the ministry and our early years getting settled in Africa.  The other will be a Study Guide or Workbook to go along with Alpha Predator.”

Steve: “A copy of Alpha Predator found its way into the hands of a prison chaplain in Texas and that chaplain has shared with me that he is having great success using it as a teaching tool with the inmates there.  These are men who live very close to the evil that is described in Alpha Predator.  The Workbook is a direct request from the chaplain and others who are using Alpha Predator as a teaching tool.”

Steve: “Speaking with that chaplain and my experience with writing Alpha Predator really got me thinking.  Distractions are everywhere and we need quite time alone with God to really hear Him.  Old disciplines of the ancient saints like solitude, silence and fasting are necessary.  We have an entire generation that does not know how to be still and know God.  Solitude and alone time should be a blessing, not a punishment!”

Me: “I agree with you, Steve.  I feel like the theme of my life these past few weeks has been prayer and alone time with God.  I’ve never had a greater desire to talk to God and to get away from the distractions of this world than I do right now.  I think God is trying to remind His people of something.”

Steve: “God wants to reclaim His children.  That’s one of the main reasons I wrote Alpha Predator.  I feel like there are many Christians out there who have made mistakes and just don’t know how to come back home.  The story of the Prodigal Son is a story about a Son who left, made many mistakes, but then came back and was restored by his father.  It’s not a story about a lost person, but about a believer.  We have many Prodigal Sons today and the Father wants them back.”

Me: “I feel the same way.  I had a gentleman in my Sunday School class a few weeks ago tell me that the Lord had given him a thought to give to me.  This was right after I started Matthew515 and what he said really affirmed my ministry.  He said the Lord told him “My people perish for lack of knowledge” and that’s exactly how he relayed it to me.  It just underscored the seriousness of what the Lord had asked me to do and motivated me to not hold anything back.”

Me: “You make an annual trip back to Zimbabwe and I know that is coming up soon.  Is there anything you would like to share about that?  Are there specific prayer requests that you have about your trip that I could share on Matthew515 in with my church?”

Steve: “Every year I take a small group of men to the Zambezi River Valley near where I lived while I was in Africa.  We can’t go in as missionaries anymore so it has to be for the purpose of tourism and sight-seeing but we do minister as we are able.  Last year we started 4 churches and had 227 professions of faith in 18 days.

Steve: “We go into the deep bush, 200 miles from the nearest electric light and deliver basic necessities and medical supplies while teaching and preaching the gospel.  Through these trips we’ve started 28 churches and have trained men to take them on after we are gone and ensure that the ministry continues.”

Steve: “You should make the trip with me sometime.  It would change your life!”

Finally, Steve has asked that any who read this would pray for the safety of those who are going and for safe passage through the many check-points and roadblocks that they will have to navigate on their way into the bush.  He also asks that we pray for the well being of the team while in the bush because (in his words) “everything in Africa bites”.

*Follow-up: Although this post is nearly three years old, everything in it is still relevant.  Steve Taylor is still taking yearly trips to Africa and is still very much in need of our prayer.  I re-post this interview from time to time because I love Steve Taylor and respect the wisdom that he imparted to me through our time together.*