On being focused

church-in-louisianna-by-rick-galvan-on-flickrI just recently made changes to this website…again. I thought I’d use my own personal domain and site to promote my side business, so I could augment the income I was getting from the ministry. Well, the ministry business is definitely picking up, so the window cleaning has to go. And this is a good thing.

Likewise, this site should be a place where I can talk about life on my own terms, instead of doing it as the local director of an evangelistic ministry to children. After all, what I say on the ministry’s website represents the goals and obligations of the ministry, and I have people to answer to. What I say here is what I have to say as a Christian man living in a world that is continually diminishing the importance of God in its own eyes. And what I say here may offend people. And when I say people, I mean the people of God. After all, the Bible does not tell us to criticize and accuse the world of wrongdoing. It tells us that we are to bring the Good News that God is not holding their sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). Actually, the Bible explicitly tells us that we are to judge those within the church (1 Corinthians 5:12), holding one another accountable.

If you are an ordinary believer who is confused or disappointed in how the world is going and you wonder what you can do about it, I can tell you from my own experience that the answer can usually be found by looking at yourself. After all, we have been given the command to GO share the Gospel that changes people’s lives, and the power to DO that. If that isn’t happening, it may be that we are simply not going and doing. And we often fail to do those things because we are not focused on obeying God. And when we are unfocused, things are blurry and hard to distinguish.

When I was first saved, I was very focused on obeying God. I put away the evil things I had been doing, like stealing for my boss and flirting my brains out with the woman who managed a restaurant I served. I began to pray for the people I was mad at. And I shared the salvation message  with sinners. After I lost my job because I wouldn’t steal for them any more, I started a small business and started doing prison ministry with my wife. We brought homeless people to our house, fed them, and shared our faith. I went house to house with a friend, asking people if they knew Jesus. Even though I had a wife and child and two businesses (we’d opened a Christian book store), we were very focused on obeying God and seeking first the kingdom of God.

But something happened over time. We started serving in the church instead of going out. Our focus was on inside ministries, like teaching Sunday school and in children’s church, going to Bible studies and small group meetings. It filled our evenings and weekends and we forgot the command of Jesus to go out and preach the Gospel.

As my business grew and prospered I still tithed, but I did not increase my giving to support evangelistic ministries that went out. We weren’t ministry partners with any missionaries. Our focus was on making a living, but obedience to God was more on the edges. Yes, I ran my business in a way that honored God. But the focus was on making enough money  to pay for a standard of living that was getting more expensive.

I got involved in local politics as a way to bring a Christian influence on my community, but it was an indirect way, on the edges. I was still being obedient in a blurry, off-center way. I was doing it my way instead of just doing what I was told.

It is interesting that no one ever tried to correct me. It wasn’t until I was finished with being a political candidate that my wife and I read John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life,” and we began to wonder what God wanted us to do with our lives. We sold our house and most of our possessions and moved into a small apartment and took some time to focus on what God wanted.

It turns out He wanted us to do like He told the Ephesian church in Revelation: “You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5. We needed to regain our focus, which we had lost over time.

In 2012 we discovered Child Evangelism Fellowship, a ministry that gave us the exciting opportunity to evangelize children, the most open-minded and neglected people group in the world! And not only that, because their methods could be taught, we could train others to be more than converts; they could be disciples, bearing much fruit!  “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8.

Today it is our vocation to raise up disciples who bear fruit, serving in Good News Clubs that teach children the meaning of the Gospel, and how to apply it to their lives. In the past 2 years, we have added over 110 new volunteers who serve our God by reaching the children for Jesus!

It is unfortunate that I meet so many believers who are too busy to obey God. They would rather while away their lives fishing or playing golf or watching football on television. They go to church, but they do not serve. They complain about the state of the world while not lifting a finger to change it. If this sounds like you, it is not too late to change. If you are still drawing breath, there is still time for you to refocus, return to your first love, and do the first works.