Lion’s Den

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Yesterday was a shining example of God’s Grace in my life and the ministry of Military Fellowship Center. Though I am not at 100% following my bout with pneumonia, I was able for the first time in over three weeks to put in a fourteen hour day (which I do every Friday and Tuesday). It was extra special though for two reasons.
First I was able to keep my commitment to host this months “Military Connections” meeting for local ministries that specifically reach our Marines and Corpsmen. We had about a dozen ministers over to The Center and I cooked them a spaghetti lunch, gave a tour of the grounds, and we discussed outreach to the fresh troops at Camp Gieger and Camp Devil Dog Chapels.
I was able to rest afterwards and get some real study in on a sermon. I took a quick break to ride into town and visited the 2nd & Charles bookstore. They always have a free bin of books outside of damaged books or just books they think wont sell. In that bin was “The Olivet Discourse” by A.C. Gaebelein, a book just on the passage of Scripture I am studying for my next sermon!
Finally we held our Friday Night meeting. No energy to cook again so we had Pizza from our favorite local shop Lazzara’s. And instead of a formal Bible Study I held one of my “Lion’s Den” Q&A sessions. I’ve been doing this since my days in the Pastorate, allowing any question from the Bible, about the Faith, or really anything to be posed, putting me in “the lion’s den” and forcing me to answer. I love it. We’ve done it before at the Center, but never before have we had the response we had last night. We started around 7:30 after most had their fill of pizza and the Q&A lasted until after 9! In fact we stayed at the table so long no one wandered over to the Activity hall to play pool or ping pong.
Most of the Questions were centered around End-times, but we also touched on topics like Forgiveness, Suicide, True Salvation and more. Plus there was a personal testimony by one of our Troops that simply shut mouths and teared up eyes. It was amazing. God gave me my voice back for those precious hours, and like many times as a pastor, my voice began cracking again right afterwards. The Grace of God knows no limits! He Enables the called.
I am simply humbled and awestruck at His goodness.

Forgiveness

          “I want everyone to remember that we cannot change what happened….. But we can change how we relate to it.”
          Instead of tearing down monuments, kneeling at the pledge, rioting and looking to politicians to fix everything…. forgive.
          No one in this century can call themselves a victim above God’s Chosen People who were murdered and tortured en masse.
          I remember a month or so ago it was “right” to say you can punch a random person who identifies as a Nazi.
          Here is a woman who at the age of ten was tortured by the Angel of Death, Josef Mengele, and forgave him.
          This is a long video by internet standards (14 + minutes) but you need to watch it.
          As Jesus forgave those that nailed Him to the Cross, we need today to learn the power of forgiveness. Nothing that is capturing the headlines will heal this nation. Only The Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He offers and demands we emulate will. And the Church should lead the way by asking for and calling for forgiveness. Jesus showed us that nothing is un-forgivable. Until they nail you personally to a cross, you cannot complain… and even then, if we are going to be like Jesus, we have to forgive.  Folks say ‘I can forgive but I cannot forget…’ not true. You know you have truly forgiven when you remember the pain but it no longer hurts, effectively forgetting the hurt inflicted on you.
          I have always preached from the pulpit that holding a grudge, refusing to forgive only hurts you as the victim more.
          “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” – Matthew 5:44

 

Update…

 

Recently on a Friday afternoon I texted Joseph, who would be graduating the next week and shipping out from Camp Johnson. It would be his last night with us. He was able to come out so I went to Camp Johnson at 1830 that night. Joseph met me at the barracks as usual. As we were leaving I ran into Ryan, a Marine I had met at Reconnect afternoon meetings on Wednesdays. He asked if he could come out. I said, if you are allowed, sure. He ran inside, changed out of his Cammie’s and came back down 5 minutes later, with Abraham, another Marine. Excited, I brought back three when I went out for just one Marine!

Fast forward to 2130, and I am dropping off the three, and spent a little time counseling Ryan on his walk with Christ. After dropping off the men, I am walking out of the barracks and run into Keaton, another young Marine I met at Reconnect. He wants to come out to the center as well. GOD IS GOOD!

Joseph graduated from GSS (Ground Supply School) on July 19 and shipped back to Paris Island to work Ground Supply there for the next four years. I attended his graduation and was not surprised that he won the Motivator Award from his class.

I want you to know that On September 25, 2017 we will be hosting our 65th Anniversary Banquet for Military Evangelism at the Shady Maple Banquet Hall in Lancaster, PA. Invitations will be in the mail in the next week. Please RSVP to the invitation as soon as you can so we can plan properly. We have a special program planned. For many of our supporters it will be the first time Patty and I get to meet you! Pastors, please mark this time and bring as many as you wish from your congregation. We can reserve tables for your church. Cost for the dinner is $22 per person. If you are not on our snail mail list and would like to attend the banquet, message me in the comments or email me at militaryfellowshipctr@gmail.com

Big things are coming from Military Evangelism. I can’t share everything right now, but be in prayer for a big project that we are exploring. Details will follow!

Thank you again for your faithful prayers and support. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

If you would like to make a donation to Military Evangelism through our online portal simply click HERE. You will be taken to our secure online giving site where you can enter your information and make a one-time or set up a recurring gift to the ministry.

‘Till Jesus Returns,

Dave Mason
General Director
Military Evangelism

Jenga

A few of our Marines missed this weeks Friday Fellowship. Other obligations, working too long, just plain tired and passed out right after work. The life of a Marine is rarely consistent. Though our group was smaller than usual, we still had a great time.

We are nearly finished our study of Romans, which we started on the first Friday of February, 2016. We brought back one of the favorite meals we have ever done, the Hot Dog bar. Four types of Hot Dogs, including North Carolina Red Hots, and all the fixings you would find at a New York hot dog stand. Seconds and thirds were had by almost everybody.

JENGAThe highlight of the night was Giant Jenga. My son Luke made the game from 2×4’s last year. Two rounds ended with a crash and lots of laughs.

We have many of our Marines shipping out this year, either leaving after completing their contract, or being PCS’d to other bases. We continue to reach out on the bases in Jacksonville and covet your prayers as we labor to bring more into the fellowship.

DAVE MASON

Dance

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“Never give a sword to a warrior who can’t dance.” – Old Celtic Proverb

 

I woke this morning with this old saying running through my mind. I first read it back in 1990 in Robert Bly’s book “Iron John” and then in 2006 in John Eldredge’s “The Way of the Wild Heart.”

 

For me it means never be so consumed with the battle at hand that you forget why your fighting. Jesus said “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” -John 10:10 Life is meant to be enjoyed. And it can only be fully enjoyed, completely engaged in when our lives are tethered to The One who created life. But often those of us who are saved find ourselves not enjoying life. We are filled with anxiety, burdened with cares, overcome by the world or our own religious systems we create to keep us on the straight and narrow.

 

I’ve been  a minister of the Gospel for 20 years now. I have been in about every type of church you can imagine. What has floored me is the lack of joy I have found among the brethren. I am Baptist by practice, and Baptists usually don’t dance. It’s mostly because we have been trying to stifle young passions, and I understand that. But believe me, Jesus danced. His Jewish heritage demanded it. Dancing is an expression of joy, and wether you dance or not, you need to experience and express joy in some way.

 

I read about Jesus turning the tables over in the temple and I know He is a warrior. I read about Him at the Wedding in Cana, being derided but the Pharisees and Sadducees for being a winebibber and a glutton and I know He was a dancer. A  joyful person who laughed a lot and smiled more often than not, who probably played pranks on the disciples and told a lot of jokes. Its not that those things are missing from the Gospels, its that they are not emphasized as the Gospel writers had a job to do – deliver a message about Who Jesus is, what His doctrine is, and what He accomplished during His earthly ministry.

 

I think one of the reasons we have so little joy is we are so afraid of failing. We build fences around our lives to keep righteousness in and sin out. The problem is, when no one is looking (not even God, we reason) we start finding ways around, over or under the fences. We see a failure as irredeemable, unforgivable, un-Christian.

 

Wanna  know a secret? come close, I’ll whisper it.

 

We all fail.

 

We all have to at time come back to our Father and ask for forgiveness. The possibility of failing should not keep us from living lives of joy. The firm knowledge that when we do fail God will forgive us IF we come to Him in faith should encourage us to experience Joy. This knowledge is never a license to sin, never an excuse to  venture down the dark alleys of our minds. I met a preacher once who told me he believed in the Eternal Security of the believer, but would never preach it. I asked why. He replied that knowing your eternally secure would only encourage most Christians to keep on sinning! So the Truth is subject to the limitations we put on God’s Grace.

 

Fight your battles. You’re supposed to. We are called to be Warriors for Christ. Stand for the Truth, take the slings and arrows of the world and volley back love and grace and truth. but don’t let your fear of failing rob you of Joy.

 

And then, however your expression of Joy takes form, physically, within the heart, alone or among friends and family…

DANCE.

Changed

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I had the opportunity to attend the Graduation Ceremony for Ground Supply Services at Camp Johnson this morning. I was there to support a Marine we have been bringing out to the Center during her training. She graduated and was assigned to Camp Lejeune so we will be seeing a lot more of her.

While there I had the opportunity to talk with a Master Sergeant who helped with the paperwork to bring another Marine out last week for the first time. When I thanked him for that his eyes lit up and he told me he had to thank us. He said the change in that young Marine after just one night at our Center was amazing. A young man who was introverted, quiet and kept to himself suddenly was beaming, smiling and outgoing. the MSGT thanked me again and said he would be encouraging this Marine and others to come out to the Center.

Its amazing how much God can use very little things. A simple night out to have dinner and Bible study had a profound effect on this young man’s outlook on life.

I love it when God shows up.

 

 

Tacking

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First day in the office of the year, and nothing measurably accomplished. Of course. After taking off some time at the end of last year (last week) I hit the office this morning with great expectations. The problem? most everyone I needed to talk with today is off work. January 2 is a holiday for most. No mail service, Insurance and phone company reps are off, no one is responding to my emails.

Sigh.

Time to recalculate and spend this afternoon writing and studying.

It reminds me what my friend Ron Sears once told me. Its possible to sail against the wind if you sail at an angle to the forward wind and “zig zag” and move forward. Its not as fast as when the wind is at your back, but forward momentum is achieved. I have never sailed, but Wikipedia agrees with Ron so I am guessing he’s right.

When your plans fall through, do you get frustrated? Or do you tack against the wind and get a little further in your journey?