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Of New Years, State Lines, Time Zones, and Men’s Lives
TUESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2013
Posted by: Grace Community International | more..
600+ views | 40+ clicks
Dear Prayer Warriors,

It is a new year and supposed to be, by all accounts, a time of reflection. For me, the New Year has always been sort of anti-climactic - like crossing state boundaries or the equator. I remember the first time I crossed a state boundary. To look at it on the map you would think it was going to be a dramatic change – a different color, different capital, a large black line which had to be crossed. Then the event occurred, and it was all pretty much the same except for the sign that read “Entering…”. I remember when we were going from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya by car. We came to a sign which read “Equator.” I got out and had my picture taken with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern, but to tell you the truth, both hemispheres looked pretty much the same to me. Looking at state lines, hemispheres and datelines are really a lot more dramatic and interesting on maps and globes than in real life.

Well, New Year's is that way to me. There is this dramatic build up, parties, countdowns and retrospectives, but when all is said and done, we wake up to the same life we left behind. For the Christian and for all mankind, the watershed event in anyone’s life is not on a map nor a dateline but rather the cross of Christ. It is the only event that occurs which truly changes one forever. The world seeks to create “events,” but they always fall flat.

This year the New Year arrived, and I got up, did my daily Bible reading, prayed through my prayer notebook and sought to live for Christ (as I seek to do every day). The Bible is deafeningly silent on the passing of a New Year and has nothing to say about it being a time of reflection for the Christian.

That is not to say the Christian is not to reflect, only that this is a daily reflection on the Word of God and a regular reflection on life. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:7 to “remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

So in obedience to this command, I wrote down some thoughts and regular reflect on and consider the great men God has brought into my life. Not because it is a New Year but rather because God’s holy, eternal, inerrant written Word recommends this pause and consideration. In this blog then, I will share with you the lives of three of these men I reflect on and seek to imitate.

1) Col. Robert (Bob) Lewis: (Col. USMC Pilot and decorated Viet Nam War veteran) Navigator Regional Director – Romans 12:3 & 16.

It was my first Navigator conference as a college sophomore. I, with the other guys, was sleeping in the “bunkhouse.” The cheapo housing with bunk beds, mud dobber nests, daddy long legs and all. There was this old guy in there with us. He was sitting on his bunk, talking with the guys, answering questions and had his Bible open on his bunk next to him. I thought, “who is this old guy bunking with us?” but to tell you the truth he really knew his Bible so I joined in with the others asking questions late into the night. You can imagine my surprise when the Regional Director of the Navigators, Col. Robert Lewis, was introduced as the main speaker! He told us to call him “Bob,” he ate with us, slept with us, played football with us and did the work project with us. All that time, he would answer questions, tell spiritual war stories and encourage us to make disciples. I never forgot that example and to the best of my ability have tried to emulate it to this day.

2) Dr. Ray Tallman: Dean of Moody Bible Institute Mission Dept.; Author; International Dir. Of Arab World Ministries; Missionary Statesman.

Dr. Tallman was my reader for my Masters Thesis at Moody Bible Graduate School. Ray ate in the cafeteria with the students and would spend time with them afterwards. When he found out my flight was going out on Sunday and I was going to be in the dorm alone on Saturday night, he insisted that I stay in his home. Ray has performed many acts of kindness to me and was the single driving force in opening the door to foreign missions for GCI. The thing that stands out in my mind about Ray was the day I was visiting the international headquarters of Arab World Missions in England. When I used the restroom, I noticed the standard “sign in sheet” for the janitorial staff as to when the restroom was to be cleaned. I noticed Ray’s name was on the regular rotation. I mentioned this to the office manager, and he replied with some embarrassment that Dr. Tallman insisted on cleaning the restrooms, even though he was the International Director of a multimillion dollar Christian mission organization. Ray’s humility and servant heart have been an example to me and one to which I aspire.

3) Jim Downing: Retired Commander USN; Vice President of the Navigators; Author; Missionary Statesman.

I was a brand new young campus minister with the Navigators. My ministry was not nearly big enough to put on a conference by itself, but I did have a team of seven guys who would go up the Navigator headquarters and conference center with me. I wrote Mr. Downing and asked if he would meet with us and minister to us over the Word. What I did not know at the time was that he had just been appointed to a new position and was leaving that very next week to take over the supervision of Europe, Middle East and Africa. He met with me and a small group of guys from TAMU with messages prepared from my letter. It would have been perfectly acceptable for Jim to have pulled some lessons from his file, but when he sat down with his notes, the first thing in the file was my letter explaining the needs of the team. You could see the marks on it where he had studied and prayed over it. Underneath were the hand written Bible studies prepared for each point. A few years later, I received a call from Mr. Downing who had agreed to meet again with me and a small team of men, this time from Oklahoma State University. He called to ask if I could move the meeting back a day. He had been asked to speak at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast but told them he had to check with me first. I have never forgotten the ways in which Mr. Downing made me feel important. He truly believed in the vision of building into men one-by-one, and I have tried to imitate this in my ministry over the years.

It was Jim Downing who encouraged me with these sage words after I reflected on a less-than-stellar conference message:
“Every Preacher has four messages -
the one he prepared,
the one he gave,
the one he wished he had given, and
the one he was quoted as giving."

When I reflect back over the lives of these and other men, I see a burning desire to make Christ Lord of every aspect of life, an unwavering commitment to the disciplines of the Word and Prayer as well as a clear vision of the need of the hour in terms of evangelism, follow-up and the spiritual reproduction of leaders, but then I see one more key attribute – and that is a servant heart. Because of their servant heart, all of these great attributes were able to be funneled into my life and so many others. By God’s grace I, too, will by “considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

By His mercy,
II Corinthians 4:1
Rev. John S. Mahon
Director – Grace Community International
Preparing for departure for Russia and points east…

Category:  Jan. 2013 - Home

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