Saturday, July 5, 2014

Swimming With the Sharks without Getting Eaten Alive


Life is not for the fainthearted. Our world simmers from Russian aggression to Islamic State militants
to our Southern Border Chaos to Religious Liberty Persecutions/Pressures Worldwide to juggling massive state and consumer debt to pre-fall campaign strategies. I wonder if God laughs at our madness or cries out of compassion. How do we negotiate it all? How do we swim with the sharks and not get eaten alive? I sure don’t have all the answers and I don’t think you can make it out of life’s waters without being harpooned… but I’ve been experiencing the fruit of the “With” Principle.


Christianity is not a subject to be mastered,
 but an infectious way to live “With” Jesus
 and shared “With” Others

Mark 3:14 says, “And he appointed twelve, so that they would be with him and that he would send
White Sulphur Springs Retreat Center
them out.”
Paul practiced this same approach with Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, Silas and so many faithful men and exhorts us in the “With” Principle throughout Timothy and Thessalonians. In June, I finished up a three-month stint at the Capitol during session, followed by eight days of teaching to military officers with Officers Christian Fellowship as well as numerous appointments and Bible studies with leaders. What stood out to me was the value of the “With” Principle. It is the simple truth that the best discipleship and spiritual formation flows out of being “With” people while the Holy Spirit is in your midst. My work is not flowing out of any program, canned approach, special expertise or an agenda. I am planting a seed, watering it and watching it grow. I shepherd leaders, enfold strays and relate to people, not as a job, but as a way of life. It is just sort of like breathing. I don’t know any other way.

Some of the Military Officers and their families
It is so easy to approach relationships out of agendas sometimes hidden agendas. I’m enjoying the “With” Principle. I don’t have to have all the answers and don’t have to always be on the top of my game. I am a fellow traveler and sometimes struggler. In fact, last week when I taught on the topic of failure, it produced the greatest discussion of my eight day stint. I disciple out of a man’s life by asking questions. I disciple out of my life by sharing victories, defeats, experiences and learnings, and I disciple out of Jesus’ life through the Word. I’m seeing the kingdom is at its best when underground, counter-cultural, stealthy, quiet, humble, hopeful and positive. Too much of the Faith seems to be negative, loud, problem-centered and angry.

“Always be sure you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you low to hate him.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I feel like Andrew this month who got to tell his friends, “You have to see this!! We’ve met the
Teaching Session to Military Officers
Messiah!” (John 1:42) This month I have seen leaders freed up from bondage. I’ve seen men truly hear His voice and enjoy Truth chase away lies. Some with dark clouds and shark bites have discovered hope. I’ve experienced the joy of men I walk with go off to foreign mission fields or debate a panel of atheists. I walk with leaders living in shark infested waters choose to cling one more day to Jesus even as they await their rescue. Yup, walking “With” men has been good this month. Give it a try. Somebody needs to be “With” you and With “Jesus”.

Praise and Prayer
1. Pray for my first Grace Adventures Retreat on September 26-28. Consider coming. If you are out of
I also enjoyed speaking to the staff
state and can fly in…I will make sure we pick you up at New Orleans Airport. Pass the word.

2. We have a few days with Jonathan and Patricia next week. We are looking forward to it.

3. Pray for God to transform leaders to have a deep devotion to Jesus and become leaders of character.

Betting the Farm on God,

Michael

Sunday, June 29, 2014

GRACE ADVENTURES MEN'S RETREAT


AN ADVENTURE TO LIVE, A BATTLE TO FIGHT, A BAND OF BROTHERS TO KNOW


When: September 26-28, 2014.  Arrive after 4 p.m. Friday, ends noon Sunday

Where: Solomon Center, 54296 Highway 445, Loranger, LA 70446 (20 Minutes from Covington/Mandeville)


Registration Includes: Two nights lodging with all linens, all meals and beverages, various activities during free time, teaching, materials and an invitation to live the life you were meant to live! Call Earl Bollinger for questions or more information: 985-373-8025.

Cost: S200.00 per person/double occupancy. Lock in spot by paying in full or a $100 deposit ($55.00 more for a single room).  Make check payable to “Grace Adventures” with any roommate preference.

Teaching: Michael Sprague and a band of brothers from our community. The retreat is hosted in a setting of beauty and adventure and includes teaching sessions, film clips, a time of reflection and great guy activities. We have designed more than a retreat-it’s an expedition of the soul and a chance to meet a band of brothers. This is not a retreat about seven things a man must do to be a nice guy but a call to engage in the ultimate battle no matter the scars that come along the way. The rewards that come from joining the battle will echo throughout eternity…but we can’t fight alone.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 22, 1984-June 22, 2014…30 Years of Pastoral Ministry



It seems like yesterday that I was ordained to the Gospel Ministry.  It doesn’t seem possible that 30 years have gone by. You know what they say, “At first you believe in Santa Claus. Then you don’t believe in Santa Claus. Then you are Santa Claus. Then you look like Santa Claus.” Time flies. I’m convinced that God chose me to be a pastor. I can’t help but shepherd people. It is what I do and who I am, and by God’s grace I will do it until the day I die. I cherish the time I served as a pastor at Forcey Bible Church and then at Trinity Church. I enjoyed every moment helping to create Disaster
Response, and now I have been blessed with the opportunity to reach leaders through the ministries of Grace Adventures and the Capitol Commission. Paul said this of those he encountered along the way, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5). Know this, I take each and every one of you wherever I go and trust me when I say that I am a better man for having done my service in your company. Now I’m looking forward to 30 more years … if the Lord wills!!!
Donna and I both say, “We couldn't do this without you!”  This is not an overstatement. It's a fact. So... Thank you!”
As you view the pictures, please thank God and celebrate how He is using YOU through our lives and ministry to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
And here's the real kicker, Only Heaven will reveal the ripple effect of your investment—because Donna and I aim to make disciplemakersWe really are YOUR disciplemaking missionaries with Grace Adventures.

Still Learning
I want to be a lifelong learner and it is refreshing to be reminded and refreshed in God’s ways. Mark 4 is the amazing Parable of the Sower. Remember there is the SEED, SOWER and the four SOILS - Hard, Rocky, Thorny and Good. Most farmers plant with precision in long straight rows, but Jesus is shocking, vivid and counter-cultural. As sowers we are to throw seed everywhere recklessly not cautiously. Why?
We are not smart enough to know the condition of the soil. You never can tell who will be receptive.
These past few weeks I have seen this truth. It is easy to pre-judge and think so and so is interested in Jesus and so and so isn’t. I met a political lobbyist that I didn’t think would have any interest in the Gospel. A friend called me to say he was bringing a guest to the Bible Study … it was that guy. He hardly missed the rest of session and now wants to continue throughout the year. Another man who I wouldn’t have thought would be thinking about Jesus approached
me and said he had never opened a Bible in his life. However, that week he got an NIV Bible and read all of the New Testament and was trying to find out if he was going to hell because he was divorced. I invited him to Bible Study and he said he would come. I was rebuked yet reminded and encouraged that I am not to play God only throw seed!!
Praise and Prayer

1. The three month legislative session is over. Much was accomplished. Good fruit came forth. New relationships were built. Pray for my continued connection with leaders all over the state. Pray for fruitful one-on-one appointments with leaders as they desire to become self-feeding followers and disciplemakers.


2. June 20-27 I will speak and Donna and I will minister daily for
eight days at the Officer’s Christian Fellowship Retreat Center in White Sulphur Springs, Pennsylvania. What an opportunity to share the Word and life with military leaders.
3. Pray for refreshment in soul and body after a very busy first 5 months of the year. 


4. September 26-28th Grace Adventures will be holding a Men’s Retreat. Please put this on your calendar. Those of you in other parts of the country, I’d like to invite you to attend. You can fly into New Orleans and I will pick you up!

 
5. Pray for my involvement in a television series entitled, “Beyond History” that will reach 60 million homes. I just taped my first 30-minute segment called “The Crimson Thread.”



Betting the Farm on God,
Michael