I will forever remember as though we were standing there now, as you read these words.
The place: The walking bridge connecting the student parking lot to the bustling campus of Oral Roberts University, where the grandiose buildings and space age architecture were a daily reminder to the thousands of us students of Dr. Oral Roberts' charge to “Make no small plans here.”
The time: 25 years ago.
The experience: A life-changing encounter that would set the course for my spiritual future in ways I would never have imagined when I woke up almost late for class that beautiful spring morning in Tulsa.
With a mere six weeks remaining before graduation, and with a dream in my heart far bigger than myself, I was ready to go from this incredible place of preparation to be used by God to fulfill the Great Commission and reach our world for Christ.
Along with millions of Americans, I have watched The Bible miniseries on the History Channel. As much as I’m enjoying the TV series, the book is way better.
Highlights from Part 2 included: the crumbling walls of Jericho, Samson doing major damage with a jawbone, Saul and David’s dysfunctional relationship, and Nathan calling out David.
I can’t stop thinking about the sad story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah and Nathan, especially that last scene when Nathan confronts David. Because of a faithful and fearless friend like Nathan, and a forgiving and gracious God, David repented and ended strong.
He achieved All-American honors in football and was drafted into the NFL. He played for the Los Angeles Rams and the San Diego Chargers. But with success, Miles McPherson found himself trapped in drug abuse.
In 1984, Miles encountered the Lord Jesus and became a Christian. In 1986, after retiring from football, Miles went back to school and received a masters degree in divinity. Today he pastors Rock Church in San Diego.
I met Miles at a fellowship of Christian leaders recently in Dallas. While hanging out with him, I asked him what was the closest thing in his heart as a Christian in recent times. Here were his three thoughts:
Unprecedented ... historic ... record-setting.
These descriptors have become constants in recent headlines, specifically describing the increase in the frequency and severity of natural and man-made disasters throughout the world. Stories of flooding, wildfires, drought, unrelenting heat waves, earthquakes and tornadoes have filled the media.
As a physician, I have spent 25 years organizing and leading medical teams on trips to a number of major world disasters in more than 100 nations throughout the world. Today I sense an urgency to challenge and prepare individuals and churches to be ready for these natural and man-made disasters. My experience responding to tsunami victims, earthquake survivors, refugees, etc., has shown me that by equipping our churches for disaster response, we can demonstrate the love of Jesus as we become salt and light to our communities.
My wife, Joyce, and I planted our local church 29 years ago, Jan. 29, 1984, in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, N.Y. We were not sent out with any money and had only a handful of people who volunteered to serve with us. The following is based on all the mistakes I have made as a church planter, and the lessons I wish someone had coached me through.
1. Be sent from your local church. Unfortunately, many send themselves and just “went” instead of being “sent.” The Bible teaches us that we should not preach unless we are “sent” (see Romans 10:15).