Thursday, May 6, 2021

SOULWINNING EXPERIMENT #1: BEGGAR TO BEGGAR


 (“He who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30 NKJV)

Dear Readers:

I’m so glad you stopped by. We’re going to try to demystify (“to remove the mystery from something; to explain or clarify”), to destigmatize (“to remove associations of shame or disgrace from”), and to overcome the fear of soulwinning.

When we think of telling someone about the love of Jesus Christ, do we become fearful of not knowing what to say . . . and how to say it? Do we fear failure? Do we think that other people will think we’re religious fanatics?

I’m in the same boat as the rest of you if you think these things. There’s no shame in admitting it. The first step to overcome fear is to admit it and face it.

I’m going to propose an experiment that I plan to try in the next week. You can join me if you like. I’ll report on the results next Wednesday. Following are the steps:

1. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry . . .” Think about and internalize what Jesus said. Then the quote by evangelist D.T. Niles: “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” Thinking of ourselves as beggars in need of the ‘bread of life’, then in turn telling other beggars where to find this ‘bread’, will demystify, and even destigmatize the act of soulwinning.

2. Pray for God to give at least one person in the next week to share this ‘bread’ with. Let’s start slowly. At this point don’t even worry about saying the right words, or quoting the right scripture.

I plan to do the same and tell you next Wednesday how it went. If I don’t find anyone to share with I’ll be up front and discuss that as well, and discuss what I think the barrier was. Then I plan to just move forward with further soulwinning experiments.

I’ll be praying for you, and ask you to pray for me as we embark on this experiment.

See you next week,
Arlen

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A SOULWINNING TEAM!


(“He who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30 NKJV)

Dear Readers:

I’m so glad you stopped by. We’re going to explore fact that it can be exciting to join a soulwinning team.

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” This is a quote by Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live. I’m not a big Saturday Night Live fan, but the quote is very appropriate for what it can be like for a team of soulwinners to win souls.

I’ve been retired now for about two years. I can tell you that I felt, and sometimes still feel lost without the goal of working with an on-the-job team of workers. Also, in the last year the Covid virus has separated us from friends and family . . . part of our teams if you will.

Becoming an older adult should not deprive us from being part of a team, nor should some other perceived barrier. Teamwork is not just for young players in high school or college sports. We ALL need to be part of a team that strategizes, and gives energy toward meeting a goal, or goals. We ALL have skills that can contribute to team successes. We ALL would benefit by giving each other high-fives when goals are met, as we see so often in sporting events.

Why aren’t we all part of soulwinning teams? I don’t understand the barrier. I don’t understand the barrier in my own life. Jesus made it clear his goal that his followers win souls and make disciples.

I think Satan has a hand in it. He is perfectly content and very happy if none of us becomes active to become a part of a team to win souls. I think he relishes the fact that we think that we can merely be a good, and even religious person without ever delving into the nitty gritty of what it takes to win souls to Jesus Christ.

I’m not talking about formal soulwinning programs and campaigns. I am talking instead about changing our mindset toward a soulwinning culture . . . one that places a great emphasis on prayer and actions toward reaching our loved ones, friends, and others for Christ.

There can be great power, joy, and excitement in being part of a team to win souls. I think there might even be some high-fives.

See you next time,
Arlen

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

THE ‘BROAD’ AND ‘NARROW’ ROADS


Dear Readers:

I’m so glad you stopped by. We’re going to explore what Jesus meant by the ‘broad’ and ‘narrow’ roads.
(Note: A video will be forthcoming to give you the chance to hear about the topic.)

In my last post I explored a little bit about the word ‘go’ that Jesus used in The Great Commission. I discussed the reason why I wanted to start a narrative, or a culture if you will, addressing the importance of winning souls to Jesus Christ. I called it ‘a dire need in my own life’ as the reason for starting the Soulwinnersr.us website in the first place.

But a dire need in my own life doesn’t even come close to the importance of addressing the dire need in the lives of others. You might say, “I don’t have a dire need to come to Christ. I’m just fine the way I am. I’m sure that I’m good enough to go to heaven.” But are you really just fine the way you are, and are you good enough to go to heaven?

Jesus’ statements in Matthew 7:13-14 about the ‘broad’ and ‘narrow’ roads have always troubled me greatly. I am drawn to stories about people . . . people that are famous, people that have almost unparalleled talent in various fields, whether it be sports, writing, art, acting, and many other fields. I wonder about these talented people most likely going down what Jesus calls the broad road to ‘destruction’ where so ‘many’ others go. The thought haunts me and I can’t go there often.

I am inclined instead to try to think more about the other road to ‘life’, even though Jesus said it is ‘narrow’, and that ‘few find it’. The question lies in the following: How bad is the destruction that Jesus talks about? On the other hand, how good is the life that Jesus talks about?

I’m not even going to explore all the places of the Bible that talk about these. You can explore them yourselves. After all you are the one that has to make the final decision about which road to go on.

See you next time,
Arlen

Monday, April 12, 2021

"GO!"


 

Dear Readers

I’m so glad you stopped by. We’re going to explore the topic ‘GO’, as it relates to the The Great Commission.
(Note: A video will be forthcoming to give you the chance to hear about the topic.)

Jesus explicitly told his disciples in Matthew 28:19, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus also commanded in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

What does the word ‘go’ mean? Webster’s dictionary has several definitions of the word ‘go’ used in different contexts, but the context which Jesus used was in command form and is defined as the following: ‘to move on a course’ or ‘to follow a certain course or procedure’. What then is the opposite, or antonym, of ‘go’? Fairly obvious you might think. It is to ‘stay’ or ‘stop’.

Jesus did not command his disciples to stay or stop in one place and expect the people to come to them. He told the disciples to go where the people were. You might think I’m being a little picky here, but what about our churches, yours and mine? And what about you and me individually . . . do we go out of our church buildings, or our homes, to make disciples? When is the last time our church people went out of their building to make disciples? When is the last time you and I went out of our homes to make disciples? I’m going to be very transparent to include myself. ‘Very rarely’!

That is what my website Soulwinnersr.us is all about. I want to begin to change the narrative about what it means to ‘go and make disciples’. I see the dire need in my own life, so I want to address it. I want to, as Jesus said in Luke 14:28, “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost to see if he has enough to complete it.” I want to weigh the costs both ways. What happens if I don’t go out into the world and make disciples? Then what happens if I do go out into the world and make disciples? I can then do a comparison list and come to a logical conclusion whether to ‘stay’ or ‘go’.

See you next time,
Arlen

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

WHY BECOME A SOULWINNER?


 

Dear Readers:

I’m so glad you stopped by. We’re going to be exploring the topic Why Become a Soulwinner? I want to discuss reasons in the coming weeks.

Reason 1: Jesus was a soulwinner.

  • This is the most obvious answer there is. Jesus’ whole purpose was to win souls to an eternal kingdom.
  • Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10.
    • Jesus made it clear, however, that the abundance he was talking about was not one of riches and favor. Jesus quelled this notion many times. After all, he said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Luke 9:58. Jesus also said that when we follow him we will experience persecution and hatred (Matthew 10:22).
    • The abundance Jesus was talking about was clearly abundance of the heart -- a heart filled with love, gratitude, purpose, and hope of eternal life. Paul wrote to Titus, “He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:6.
  • Jesus pleaded with poor people and rich people, people from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, and people with various political ideologies. Jesus pleaded, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. Notice the word all.
  • Jesus made it clear that a main purpose of God sending him to earth was “to seek and save the lost.” Luke 19:10.
There you have it. Jesus was and is the ultimate soulwinner. If this were the only reason why we should become a soulwinner, we should take it and run with it.

See you next time,

Arlen

Monday, March 29, 2021

SOULWINNERSR.US DEBUT


Dear Readers: 

I'm so glad you stopped by to look at an exciting adventure I'm embarking on. The final details will be forthcoming. I will be fine tuning as I go. 

The new 'adventure': I have turned “Arlen’s Living Water Springs” blog into Soulwinnersr.us website. All my old posts remain, but starting in 2021 I am changing the blog focus to reflect my passion . . . saving lost souls.

According to the Bible saving lost souls is the most important thing a person can do. Luke quoted Jesus in Chapter 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Jesus later in Luke talked about lost sheep and the moving story of the lost prodigal son who “is found”.

Becoming famous, popular, or rich is not where the real action is. Jesus said there is a great celebration in heaven by the angels over one lost soul repenting and being won to God. (Luke 15:10) So if there is joy in heaven over one lost soul won to the Lord, what joy we can also have in playing a part in lost souls coming to Jesus! I desperately want to be part of that action.

I’m not sure where this path is leading me, and what direction of this blog will be. I may do videos, but I’m not sure. Please pray for me as I pray for you. And I invite you to join me on the adventure of a lifetime. 

See you soon,
Arlen

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Great Commission: Inward or Outward Focus?


Dear Readers:

I’m so glad you stopped by. My blog today is about a concern that I’ve had for some time now, but has recently come into more focus for me. It’s about “The Great Commission”.

I gave my life fully to the Lord nearly 40 years ago on the day of my Amish Grandpa Yoder’s funeral. During that time I have attended many churches. Some people might even be inclined to call me a “church hopper”.

I think perhaps I have attended so many churches because I have been looking for something that has been evasive for me. I grew up in a Mennonite church. After giving my heart to the Lord I attended a Grace Brethren, a non-denominational, an Alliance for Renewal, an Assembly of God, a Nazarene, and an Open Bible church. I also visited many other churches along the way.

Each church has different emphases. The Mennonite church started out being moderately conservative with men and women sitting on opposite sides and evolved into being less conservative with a strong peace, non-resistance, anti-war stance. The Grace Brethren church had a radio program and was labeled “the friendly church” and did have some evangelical leanings with weekly altar calls. The non-denominational church had many former Amish/Mennonites and the emphasis was on what the Holy Spirit could do for a person.

The Alliance for Renewal Church was called “the hippie church” in the 70’s, and had a strong tradition of community with many people living on the property or nearby. The Assembly of God Church was Pentecostal in nature and had a little bit more open and exciting worship and some speaking in tongues. The Nazarene church had an emphasis on holiness and discussion of a second touch of God. The Open Bible Church I attend now is also Pentecostal, has exuberant worship, and strong intra-church community with a wonderful mix of older and younger people.

Finally, at the age of 63, I think I have discovered the missing ingredient in myself, and I propose, in the churches I have attended. I think it’s a lack of focus and training in The Great Commission. In other words, I think we, for the most part, have had an inward focus rather than an outward focus.

Most churches have much focus on what happens between the four walls of the church, but perhaps not much thought or discussion about outreach and making disciples as Jesus did, and as He taught.

Jesus went to the temple, but he did not live there, or even spend very much time there. He was out meeting people in their communities. He went to them, and did not expect them to come exclusively to him. He wanted to make disciples, not only temple attenders.

I think when the church focuses attention only on getting people inside the walls of a church I think it is missing the mark. I think that if we/I could learn to make disciples outside the walls of the church, the church itself as a whole would become more vibrant and exciting.

(Note: I am not trying to minimize the importance of having church bodies for people to attend. I think they are vitally important. I desperately want a church to invite friends and relatives. But I think the excitement and vibrancy of church bodies, and the church as a whole, comes from the members knowing that most of the work goes on outside the church walls, then extends inward.)


I value your opinion about what I've written in this blog post and welcome discussion about it.

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 GWL DRAFT



Diary Entry: 

I received an invitation to the GWL Combine!

I’m very excited, but also realize the daunting task that lies ahead to prepare for the upcoming 2017 GWL Draft.

Goal: To be drafted by a GWL team as high as possible and to affect the outcome of the battles, and to eventually win as many GWL Prizes as possible.

To Do:
1. Secure a position coach to work on fundamentals.
2. Study playbook 2 hours daily.
3. Exercise body and mind 2 hours daily.
4. Practice drills repeatedly until they become second nature.
5. Push through when it seems impossible.
6. Learn opponent strengths and tendencies.
7. Learn maneuvers to beat opponent to key spots.
8. Learn techniques to provide consistency to maneuvers to assure best outcomes.  
9. Study and learn how to work with team to produce optimum team outcomes.
10. Avoid distractions that sap energy from the task to become the best GWL player possible.

Definitions
1. GWL = Gospel Witnessing League
2. GWL Draft = Selection by a team to take steps to win GWL Prize
3. GWL Prizes = Men and women giving their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ

4. Playbook = Bible

“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Monday, April 24, 2017

Where's Waldo?...or Where's Bezalel?


Dear Readers,

I’m so glad you stopped by. My blog today is about a popular kid’s book where the reader tries to find Waldo in the midst of groups of people in various settings. It’s also about another person I recently came across who for some reason reminds me a lot of Waldo.

I recently read in Exodus 35-40 about a little mentioned man who “was filled with the Spirit of God”, and whom God gave “great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts”. His name was Bezalel.

The reason Bezalel reminds me of Waldo is because he is talked about often in Exodus performing and supervising all forms of tabernacle construction, from the large task of curtain making and decorating, to the intricate and holy task of building and overlaying with gold the Ark of the Covenant, and finally all the way to point where God’s Glory filled the tabernacle.

In a sense Bezalel is just like Waldo. He could be found in various settings in the Israelite camp around the site where the tabernacle was being constructed. He could be spotted, with a careful eye, supervising many different groups of people doing various tasks related to the construction.

I pray that you and I are filled with the Spirit of God and expertise to work with various groups of people to carry out the awesome task of building God’s Kingdom to the point where the Glory of God fills many hearts.

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Angels Are Watching!

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is the fact that our lives with Christ can be so exciting that even “The Angels Are Watching” us!

There’s a fascination with angels, and rightly so. But the angels that some people revere, especially in books and movies, may be more feel-good stories designed to make us do just that, “feel good”, but may not be based on hard evidence?

Peter wrote about angels. You and I weren’t there during the time of Jesus and the time of Acts for actual angel sightings, so it may be difficult for us to comprehend it.

The writer in Acts 12:5-7 describes how an angel, while Peter was in prison, awakened Peter, made the chains fall off his wrists, and led Peter out of prison. So Peter was directly helped by an angel (see picture), which may have been the reason he wrote more about angels later.

Peter talks in I Peter 1 about God’s “great mercy” by which we are “born again” because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and that he “raised Jesus Christ from the dead”.

He goes on to talk about how “we now live with great expectation” and “we have a priceless inheritance”.

But wait, he goes on to talk about fact that we should “be truly glad”, and that there’s “wonderful joy ahead”, and that we “rejoice with inexpressible joy” due to the great “reward” in “the salvation of your souls”.

But Peter’s not done yet! He then talks about the “Good News” “announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven“.

Then here it is! Peter wrote in I Peter 1:12, “IT IS ALL SO WONDERFUL THAT EVEN THE ANGELS ARE EAGERLY WATCHING THESE THINGS HAPPEN.” (NLT)

So there you have it. When you or I feel down we can realize that angels are eagerly watching us in anticipation of what will happen next in our lives!

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Oh Happy Day!" The Jotta A Effect



Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about what I learned from a little boy in Brazil. I’m calling it ‘“Oh Happy Day” The Jotta A Effect’.

My wife is always well ahead of me when it comes to web content and web videos gone viral. I ask her and she usually says the following, “I already saw that a couple weeks ago”…or "a couple months ago”.

Typically she doesn’t directly point out to me specific videos or web content unless she deems them very special and worthy of mention.

One such occasion occurred this week when she shared a 2011 video with a young 11 year old boy on a Brazilian kid’s talent show. I was somewhat blasé at first, but then I started watching intently, I saw what she meant about how awesome she thought his performance was, and by the end of it tears were rolling down my cheeks.

Why would the performance of an 11 year old boy bring tears to my eyes? It is what I might call “The Jotta A Effect” It was his sheer enthusiasm about the topic of his song “O Happy Day” that did me in.

I then started listening to the rest of his songs, all of which have gone viral, many of them in Portuguese, the official Brazilian language. I even cried at those when I saw his passion…and his wonderful voice.

If you have not already done so I urge you to now watch his videos and see if they have the same effect on you.


So what do you think? I immediately think of my lack of passion and lame attempts to express my love for God.

I recently have been “church hopping”, I guess what I’m doing, perhaps subconsciously, is looking for that elusive church experience where the people, the pastor, and myself can experience and express the same passion, perhaps Holy Spirit joy, as Jotta A, and can say definitively, “O Happy Day!”

See you next time,
Arlen

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Go Browns! Go Church!

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about what I learned from a Cleveland Browns preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers.

The Browns played their first preseason game of 2016 last Friday night at Lambeau Field versus the Packers. It was what I expected. There were some exciting moments, and some letdowns.

I had the same feelings often during the Cavaliers NBA championship run. With a win came excitement, and with a loss came disappointment. After a win I listened to each postgame interview, and got every tidbit of info from sports radio shows the next day. After a loss, however, I avoided all postgame interviews, and turned the radio off the next day.

Browns coach Hue Jackson was like the Cavs in stating that he is more concerned about the process in how the team got to a win or a loss than he was the win or loss itself. He makes it clear that he wants to win. But he uses the loss as a learning tool to find out what the team can do better.

I was so excited when Robert Griffin III (RG III) threw the first pass down the sideline to the newly transformed quarterback to wideout Terrelle Pryor from Ohio State. But then reality set in a few plays later when RG III threw an interception. Same old Browns…they get you excited then they let you down!

Then I started looking more at the process. I started looking at glimpses of improvement over past years. I jumped with excitement when 6’7” rookie Carl Nassib from Penn State tracked down a much smaller, quicker runner from behind. Rookie Emmanuel Ogbah from Oklahoma State played like a beast. Jamie Meder from little Ashland University, located in the city where I work, broke through to drop the runner for a safety.

Late in the game rookie QB Cody Kessler threw an outside fade route to Hollywood Higgins for a touchdown. He and his teammates jumped for joy! But a few plays later Cody ran back out of the end zone for a safety. He was clearly upset at the bonehead play, but his teammates and coaches came and patted Cody on the helmet and said an encouraging word to the heartbroken QB.

What I like most about games like this was the process of finding out what makes guys tick. It is emphasized time and time again by the coaching staff that they are evaluating the strengths and weaknesses that each player has. They try to accentuate the strengths and minimize the areas of weakness.

What would it be like if in the church we truly thought of ourselves as teammates on a quest to win a championship? We would jump for joy with each other’s successes, and give pats on the back to encourage us when we make bonehead plays.

And what if our pastors and leaders got to know each part of what makes us tick, if they tried to accentuate the positive parts of our personalities to reach people for Christ, and to minimize the parts of us that are not so positive, and if they used us in the most effective way possible?

I would very much welcome such an approach. It follows many themes of the Bible. One is in Paul’s first letter to Timothy: “Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1Timothy 4:7-8

Go Browns! Go Church!

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Have You Ever Thought About “The Book of Life”?



Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about the “Book of Life”.

I was listening to Revelation in the Bible this morning and a phrase the “Book of Life” impacted me like it hadn’t before. I had heard and read the phrase a number of times in the past, but this time was different.

I researched how many times the phrase is used in the Bible and found five. The first is Psalm 69:28 when King David in his exhaustion from being hunted down by his persecutors cried out to God,
“Erase their names from the Book of Life;”

In Philippians 4:3 Paul talked about
“Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”

In the first case King David wanted his persecutors to be erased from consideration to be included in the Book of Life. In the second case Paul acknowledged some of his trusted partners that were shoe-ins to be included in the Book of Life.

Revelation gives us more insight into the elusive meaning of the Book of Life.

In Revelation 3:5 the Apostle John on the Island of Patmos wrote to the most faithful followers of Jesus in Sardis the following revelation God gave to him:
“All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.” There is that word “erase” again, only in a positive context with the word “never”.

Revelation 17:8 talks about the “beast” (antichrist) coming up out of the bottomless pit after everyone thought he was dead, and those persons
“whose names were not written in the Book of Life” were amazed at the antichrist’s seeming resurrection. People whose names were not in the Book of Life were duped into following a failed leader whose eternal destruction was very soon coming.

But Revelation 20:10-15 has the most clear-cut description of the seriousness of whether a person’s name is included, or not, in the Book of Life. It is a little lengthy, but well worth reading:
“Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

So the Bible is very clear that having one’s name in the Book of Life, or not, is a very serious matter…a matter of eternal life, or eternal destruction.

See you next time,
Arlen

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dee Yoder, Hero


Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about heroes.

I recently watched all the Hunger Games movies. Katniss Everdeen, the hero of the movie, was the inspiration and “savior” against soft spoken but brutal President Snow who ruled from the opulent Capitol. He ruled, terrorized, and killed all the downtrodden, poor lower working classes in outlying land sectors.

Katniss was sometimes misunderstood by the oppressed masses. They fluctuated from skeptical to adoring, and everywhere in between. They thought at times she was a puppet of the Capitol, and other times she was the one, with the sound of the Mockingjay and the three finger salute, to inspire them to beat the odds to bring down President Snow.

The story has parallels to people in my own life, only they are real. One is my wife Dee. She is very caring and compassionate. But she is also very direct and not afraid to take on a challenge, especially when the challenge is from people who are using accusations to get their own way, or propel their own agenda.

Some people would try to convince others that Dee’s directness is mean-spirited and unchristian-like. I know otherwise. When it comes to rallying around an underdog Dee will be there, and I would want no one other than Dee to come to their/my defense, and I know if many of you would get to know her well would learn that she will always be fair and compassionate, but also very firm against what she thinks is wrong. I think this is very Biblical and Christian-like.

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” II Timothy 1:7.

and…

“Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.” Psalm 146:5-7

Katniss Everdeen was a make-believe movie hero that was fun to watch…but Dee is a real-life hero who we can really emulate.

See you next time,
Arlen

Monday, March 21, 2016

Where's Keith Green When You Need Him?



Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. Today I’m going to talk about a subject that I’ve been thinking about for some time. I talk about it fairly frequently with close family and friends.

It’s about Keith Green, a Christian songwriter, singer, and pianist popular back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s before he died in a plane crash in 1982.

Keith became a born again Christian in about 1975. He and Melody, his songwriter wife, soon began taking in people who needed help into their small home in the suburbs of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley.

More and more people landed on their doorstep, including recovering drug addicts and prostitutes, bikers, homeless people, and many single pregnant girls needing shelter and safety. My brother in Miami University of Ohio, and a myriad of other college students all over America began subscribing to the Last Days Newsletter. (Wikipedia)

In 1977 the effort grew so much that Keith and Melody started Last Days Ministries and they moved to a 140 acre plot in Texas.

What was it about Keith Green that people were drawn to him? I think it was because he had a singular focus on winning people to Jesus, because he personally experienced the life-changing message of the Messiah.

I have not heard that Last Days Ministries had large fundraising campaigns, tithe challenges, and big name speakers to bring income and popularity to the ministry. It seemed that people were drawn to Keith and a group of persons that just deeply cared about their fellow man, and did not want anyone to go to hell.

I put a link above to a YouTube video that shows only a bit of Keith’s passion to reach others for Christ.

I long for a person like Keith Green to come into my life. A person with no agenda except to reach lost souls for Jesus. And just perhaps…that person will rub off on me.

“Asleep In the Light” by Keith Green

Do you see?
Do you see?
All the people sinking down?
Don't you care?
Don't you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?

How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done

See you next time,
Arlen

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Man With Paranoid Schizophrenia Shifts My Focus to View of Horizon


Dear Readers,

To give a little background I would label myself a fairly focused person. When I’m like that I tend not to look at any other thing, but usually walk with my head down, looking at my object of focus.

I am only slightly aware of my surroundings, perhaps only enough to stay out of a head-on collision. But I ignore persons coming my way, and have to force myself to acknowledge them.

The same holds true when I’m driving a car. You might say you’re glad I’m focused on the road. The problem is that I’m probably not as focused on the road as you might think.

What happens with a person that is focused like me? I was made aware of that one sunny afternoon about twenty years ago while driving down the hill of Claremont Avenue in Ashland, Ohio.


I work in community mental health and at that time I was with a man who has the disabling condition of paranoid schizophrenia. He was a wonderful young man who at times had bizarre behavior, but also was very observant and thoughtful.

I was my usual self thinking of my next task. The passenger in my car roused me out of my reverie when he encouraged me to look at the picturesque sunny horizon and the large blue water tower in the distance located atop a factory building.

The point is I had been driving that same way almost daily for about five or six years, and never once noticed the horizon view.

Here I was, an educated man, and people think of me as a sensitive and observant person. But it took a high school only educated person who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia to urge me to shift my focus to finally observe the beauty of a horizon.

As a result of my then passenger’s observance, I more often, but not always, look at the horizon while driving down Claremont Avenue.


"I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon..." Proverbs 8:27

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, August 16, 2015

True Heroes!

Dear Readers,

There has been some talk about heroes, or role models recently. Charles Barkley had the famous line a number of years back that is listed in the picture below. He emphatically stated, “I’m not a role model”, or in essence a hero. He then said, "Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."
Also, there was a recent news article that went viral where one soldier declared that Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner, a past great Olympic champion in the decathlon, was a “hero” at the Espys for coming out as a female.
Lebron James is doing a great amount of philanthropy work in his hometown of Akron, giving large amounts of money for education. He is a hero in many eyes. I, myself, watch like a hawk about anything “Lebron James” and the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m a long-suffering Cleveland sports fan, who like so many others, are waiting for the first Cleveland sports title since the 1964 Browns.
There are many other people that many consider their heroes and they look to as role models to emulate. They are sports stars, movie actors, singing sensations, etc.

But, the Bible has a different take on who we, or our children, should consider heroes. David proclaimed in Psalm 16:3 (NLT): “The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!”

See you next time,
Arlen

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Spirit of Jesus



Dear Readers,

Don’t you wish you had easy answers to difficult questions? I know sometimes I face challenges that seem overwhelming and I don’t know how I’m going to resolve them.

I think I pray hard enough (or do I?) but the answers seem very elusive.

I’ve read many verses about the leading of the Holy Spirit and how He will lead me “into all truth”. But then I get into the quandary of defining truth, and for a concrete thinker like me the answers can seem endless what truth looks like.

I read a couple Bible verses recently that caught my attention. It made me wonder if I was making things too difficult. The verses were located in Acts 16:6-8 (NLT). They go like this: “Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia,but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.

Pay attention to verse 7 where it talks about the “Spirit of Jesus” that did not allow them to a specific place.

What would it take for you and I to be so in tune to God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, to have such specific direction given to us…and for us to discern it?

I pray and long for a day when I am so in tune with God’s will that I can directly tap into it to deal with difficult questions and challenges. How about you?

See you next time,

Arlen

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Will Cleveland Winning a Championship Bring Happiness?



Dear Readers,

The last couple weeks the Cleveland Cavaliers have been playing in the NBA championship finals. Much has been made of the fact that Cleveland has not had a sports championship for 51 years. The Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in 1964, three years before the beginning of the Super Bowl era.

All will be right in the northern Ohio world if Lebron and his cohorts bring home the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy…or will it?

I will be one of the most excited fans around if the Cavs bring home the trophy. My excitement will almost border on euphoria. But I question if it will bring me true happiness.

I give as an example Ohio State Buckeyes winning the NCAA championship. It was very much fun to see the underdog pull out the last two games over much higher touted opponents. But how do I feel about that now?

I doubt that the championship itself brought anyone closer to the Lord. And what do you think about the high paid athletes in pro sports? Do winning championships make them think about how meaningless their millions really are?

I will be a happy camper when a Cleveland sports team brings home the gold. But my highest amount of happiness will be when my family and friends give their hearts to the Lord!

"Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord." Psalm 89:15

See you next time,

Arlen

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Is It OK to Mourn?


Dear Readers, 

Tonight I went on a rant with my wife. I was not angry and my rant was not focused on her. I think I was a little bit melancholy. You see, I sometimes get into a state of questioning and in a sense “mourning”. During these times I usually think about the past, the present, and the future. I’m a sentimentalist at heart, although some people might disagree. And I have a degree of mourning about things. 

Sometimes I mourn when I wonder about the past. I wonder why I was born into my particular family and heritage. I wonder why I was raised in my Amish-Mennonite community. I wonder about the circumstances I encountered in my childhood, most of them good, but not necessarily extraordinary. My childhood church is now a huge church with large outreach in Holmes County, Ohio, and I wonder why it waited until I left to grow and thrive. I even wonder why my school sports teams waited until I left to become perennial state powerhouses that I can only experience from a distance. 

Sometimes I mourn when I wonder about the present. I wonder what my purpose is at this point in time. I wonder about my impact as a husband and a dad. I wonder about my vocation and what impact I’m having as a job developer in a community mental health center. I wonder about my tiny church and what impact we are having in the Mansfield, Ohio area. I wonder about Ohio, American, and world events and the impact they will have on the future. I wonder what it would take for government leaders and citizens to only worry about pleasing God and not worry about pleasing their respective political parties. I wonder what it takes to be a productive and discerning citizen. 
 
Lastly, sometimes I mourn when I wonder about the future. I wonder if I will have an enduring legacy that will be looked upon with respect and draw people toward God. I wonder about my wife and where her writing will take her, and what lasting impact it will have. I wonder about my son, and what it will take for him to reach his great potential. I wonder what it will take for family members and friends both nearby and far away, to change, and to perhaps wonder along with me what wonderful things God has in store for us. I wonder where my church can go, and what it can become in our community. Can it grow both spiritually and in numbers that I can experience it first hand, instead of later after I have moved on. I wonder if our government leaders can follow God’s leading rather than their political party. Also, I wonder if the worst of all people like ISIS individuals can have an awakening. 

I think it can be good to mourn about things, but perhaps to not go on a rant or to be melancholy about it. 
See you next time, 
Arlen