Patience

This morning I got to do the one thing we all love to do. Visit the tax office to settle a dispute. Not a dispute really, just to let them know we are a non-profit and as such are not liable for the property tax bill the ministry just received for a vehicle recently purchased. 

As I entered the building I made a serious tactical error if I wanted to get out of there quickly. I held the door for a little old lady, followed her onto the elevator and let her exit first. I was supposed to meet Patty at 11:45 for lunch and had this timed just right. 

One clerk available. And a little old lady with a much more complicated situation than mine. The available clerk, and several who were tied up all apologized several times for my wait. The little old lady apologized. I just made my standard statement when in such situations. “Patience is a virtue, and virtue, in Greek, meant power. So patience is power!”

Mark 5:30…And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

Luke 6:19…And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.

The word virtue in both verses (and in Luke 8:46) is the Greek “Dunamis” and is translated 77 times in the Bible as “Power.” Its a word that we get english words like “Dynamo” and “Dynamite” from.

So if the old proverb is to be believed, Patience is Power. The phrase “Patience is a virtue” is not from the Bible. It probably dates back to the Canterbury Tales, or further back to a poem called “Piers Plowman”, but it has gained traction as a saying. And as the meaning of words changes in English, (“Let” used to mean stop something, now it means the opposite) so the meaning of this proverb can be thought of as fluid.

I’ve appropriated the proverb and gave it my spin from the Greek New Testament, because it rings true to me. Patience is power. I could have gotten upset, fumed a bit, let my anger well up at the AUDACITY of this little old lady stealing precious minutes from me I could be spending with my wife. Or I could practice patience.

James 1:2-4…My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

2 Peter 1:5-8…And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Patience matures us (perfect work). Power is the first thing we are told to add to our faith. From power comes knowledge and temperance (self control). These lead us to patience which bears the fruit of godliness, kindness and love.

I’ve learned through 22 years of ministry to be patient. The last 3 as a Missionary especially. It took 15 months to raise the funds for our building fund, 80% coming in the last two months of the fund drive. My goal was to be under roof to feed Thanksgiving last November. Then to be breaking ground in March and done by June 1. It’s June 4. The HVAC Mechanic just visited to day to measure and work up an estimate. We may break ground by September. We may not. And along the way there will be many more setbacks, delays and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 

But patience is power. The power to trust God. The power to bring even more to Him in prayer. The power to act like a grown up and wait my turn. 

By the way, I left the Tax office at 11:46, one minute after I was to meet Patty. I left my phone at home and she was going to return it at lunch, so I couldn’t call her to tell her I’d be about 20 minutes late. She got to practice patience and experience its power too.

Practice patience today.

THE 300

Thank you for your support, financially but especially prayerfully. Through your faithful partnership we have cleared all but one hurdle to making our building expansion a reality. Approval from the City has happened, blueprints are finished and submitted, and we have paid our plan fee and submitted blueprints to the city. Praise God that a building contractor has our blueprints and is working on his estimate at this time. PRAY that his estimate is within our budget and that we can begin building very soon. My great desire is to have the construction done and in use before Thanksgiving. Having that extra space will make it feel like a home away from home for those we feed at the holidays.

Setting the Table for the Seder

On Good Friday, this year I again presented my “Christ in The Passover” Seder dinner. We set out a full Seder plate and taught how Jesus used the third loaf of bread on the table, which is pierced, striped, broken, wrapped in a linen cloth, buried, ransomed and redeemed at the Passover table. And then He had the Disciples drink from the Third Cup, which is the Cup of Redemption. Everyone, even those who were here for last years, said they learned a lot and came away with a greater appreciation for the importance of The Lord’s Table.

Two of our regulars, Kevin and Kimberly, came back this month after Kevin’s extended cold weather training out west. We are thrilled to have their fellowship again. April also saw an influx of new Marines, as Ethan, Michael, Dylan and Kazeto visited and have become regulars at The Center.

We would ask that you Pray for our Deployed Marines: Bryan, Ryan, Michael, Oscar, Jayson, Greg, and Nic are overseas serving our nation for the next half-year. We can’t wait for them to return, but in the meantime, keep them in prayer that God would keep them close to Him and that they would remain safe and faithful.

It was great having Janice visit Faith Bible with us!

At the end of the month we returned to Faith Bible Church in Elkridge, MD. Faith was one of the first churches we visited when we took on this ministry 3 years ago. One of our Marines at The Center, Janice, was on special assignment at Walter Reed Hospital that weekend and she was able to join us. She gave a great testimony of God’s work in her life through The Center. It was great to see old friends and to meet their new Pastor, Dr. Sung Cho. We had a great time of fellowship and thank God for their Partnership.

If you follow us on Facebook, then you already know about “The 300.” It is our fundraising campaign to eliminate our monthly budget deficit. If you already support us we ask for nothing more, just your prayers that God would raise up an additional 300 supporters at $10 or $20 per month. At $10 we can operate in the black month to month. At $20 we could hire a full time Assistant Director (We already have a great part time A.D. in Luke, and he is more than willing to come onboard full time) With a full-time Assistant, we could add more Meal and Bible Study times throughout the week, reaching more Marines and Sailors. Basically, we could run TWO Centers in the same building, effectively doubling our outreach. But first, let’s get our budget fully funded, then, as God permits, we will expand and help even more of our Troops Find and Follow Jesus Christ.

If you know anyone who you think would like to partner with us and become one of The 300, please direct them to our Facebook or webpage.

Milestones, Deployments and Zoning Hearings

March came in like a lion and looks to go out like a bigger lion @MFCJAX! We had many personal landmarks in March, including our 26th Wedding Anniversary, Luke’s 24th Birthday and Luke and Callie’s first Wedding Anniversary. We are also preparing for the Birth of Abraham, our first grandson in June of this year.

At the Center we also experienced several landmarks. Brian, Ryan, Michael, Jayson and Oscar left on deployments to Japan, Norway, Spain, and the Middle East. Ezekiel finished his time with the Corps and went home to Colorado (He plans to enroll in Bible College this fall). Wesley got married and brought his bride Ashton home to Jacksonville to begin their life together. Micah and Paul left for Arizona for few months of training. Throughout it all though, God keeps sending us new Marines. Hardly a week passes that we don’t have a new visitor to the Center.

Giving Ezekiel his Challenge Coin from The Center

On March 3 we were blessed to visit and preach at our home church, New Life Baptist in White Marsh MD. The next week a missions group from Word of Life Chapel in Bainbridge, PA came to the Center and installed new doors, edged our lawns, and fixed and cleaned up one of our storage sheds. They were a great blessing. Thank you Word of Life! After that we traveled to Calvary Baptist in Denton, MD where Pastor Don Reynolds was hosting a pastors conference and he allowed us to present our ministry.

The work crew from Word of Life

There were two important meetings with the City of Jacksonville this month regarding our building project. First the city planning and zoning board met and voted unanimously to forward our application for rezoning to the city council. The next week the city council voted unanimously to allow the rezoning and building permits so we can move forward with the project. We have one contractor seriously looking at the project and hope to have a firm yes from him in the next few weeks. Please pray that next month I can write and give you a start date for the building expansion.

On the last day of the month we had the awesome privilege of baptizing one of our own. Jayson came to Christ just a few weeks ago after coming to the Center for over 6 months. He is deploying soon and wanted to be baptized before he deployed. We baptized at the church he is attending, Brookwood Baptist in Jacksonville. Thank you to Pastor Ryan Hearn and the congregation for allowing me to be the one to baptize Jayson.

Baptizing Jayson at Brookwood Baptist

Here is a sneak peek at our next project. We are currently operating on only 70% of the support we need on a monthly basis. We are putting out the call for new supporters. 300 new supporters. Back in the 70’s our deputation director Dr. Donald Dibble started “The 100 Club” – looking for 100 people to give $10 per month. Recently we were contacted by one of the original “100” and told of what a blessing it was to be part of the ministry. So we are relaunching this program for a new century. Just as 300 Spartans held off the Persian Army ( a battle every Marine studies) and like the 300 brave souls God left Gideon, we are looking for 300 soldiers for Christ to commit to supporting Military Evangelism at $10 or $20 per month. Thats $120 or $240 per year. Will you be one of the 300?

Challenges, Opportunities & Blessings

Everyone at the Center wants to thank you for your prayer and partnership as we meet the challenges in the new year, especially our building project. I have been in contact with many contractors but still have not found one who can take on our project. Please continue to pray that God would send us a North Carolina licensed General Contractor who has the time in his schedule to take on our project.

We recently re-launched our podcast “Field Notes with Dave Mason” which is available on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud. This third season of the Podcast (which started with Episode 44) features a new and exciting format. Each week I am recording our Bible Studies held at the Center, along with the questions and answer session that follows. Now you can sit in with our Marines and Sailors as we study the Bible and discuss the lessons together.

Recently, Micah, one of our regular female Marine attendees, started a women’s Bible Study at a local coffee shop under the supervision of Patty. They meet for just an hour each Monday night, taking turns leading the study and fellowshipping. It has already grown to 14 participants.

At the end of the February we hosted the North and South Carolina Baptist Bible Fellowship Pastor’s Conference at the Center. About 25 pastors attended. Pastor Josh Newton, who sits on our Board of Directors, and I preached, our Assistant Director Luke Mason introduced our ministry, my youngest son Ben led worship and one of our Center Marines, Micah, sang a special song. Another of our Marines, Mason Montoya also gave a testimony. Speaking of Mason, I was honored to stand with Mason’s pastor, Ryan Hearn of Brookwood Baptist here in Jacksonville, and pin his chevrons on as he was promoted to Corporal.

During one of our regular Friday night meetings, a visiting Marine spoke up after the Bible Study and wanted to share a verse of scripture his Gunny had given him that day. The Scripture was John 3:16 and he read it like we all would having first discovered it. This young man is searching and I believe will soon find the free gift of salvation in Christ. Later that night (around 11:00 pm) many of our Marines were gathered in worship, playing guitars and singing in our Rec Hall. Another Marine asked if he could speak to me. God was gracious to allow me to lead him to a saving knowledge of Christ that night. As for the time, you read that right. Our Marines are staying at the Center till nearly midnight (sometimes after) each week. They don’t want to leave. It just shows me that God has brought about my prayer that we would truly be a “home away from home” for these Marines.

Keep Praying for us, God is just getting started!

Dave Mason

THROUGH THE STORM

Hurricane Florence meandered through our area in September, leaving a trail of destruction from wind damage to flooding. An evacuation order was given for our county, so Patty and I boarded up our home, sandbagged the Center and quickly headed back to Maryland for a week. Many of our friends down here suffered damaged roofs, sheared siding and flooded homes. When we returned we found NO damage to our home. Just dozens of cubic yards of limbs and leaves in our yard. The Sunday after we returned four Marines showed up after church and cleaned our yard in under 2 hours!

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I am so blessed to report that your prayers on our behalf were answered. The only damage to our Center was a 4-ft. section of our white PVC fence blown out and a golf-ball sized hole in the small kitchen roof of the Center. We didn’t discover the hole until several days after we returned. Several Marines came out early our first Friday back and cleaned our yard of all the branches and pine needles. One of our Marines, Nick, climbed up on the roof to clean the gutters and discovered the hole. We were wondering- with 30 inches of rain and a hole this size, why didn’t we have any water damage in the Center? At the same time we discovered the hole, Patty and Greg, one of our Marines, were in the Kitchen getting everything ready for the meal that evening. They took down the Aluminum serving trays we keep on top of the refrigerator and found ALL the water that came in drained perfectly into the serving tray! I patched up the hole the next day and we fixed the fence later in the week.

Unfortunately, Florence was not as kind to the Chapel on Camp Johnson where I do the majority of our outreach. The Chapel, a National Historic site, constructed in 1940, had several of its roofs fail and over 6 inches of water in the sanctuary. Ceilings came down throughout the building and there is structural damage. The chapel will be unusable for more than a year as repairs are made. Compounding the situation, the current Chaplain, a very good friend of mine, is being transferred to 2nd MARDIV at Lejeune in November and his replacement is not due until the first of the year. PRAY we can start the Reconnect Service back up as soon as possible. I helped Chaplain Dunlap start this ministry and I want to see it continue.

Ministry continued through the storm and its aftermath. Many of our Marines have PCS’ed to other assignments all over the world. About 5 or 6 more are preparing to ship out to the frozen north on the other side of the planet this month for training that will last several months. And still more have 6 month deployments scheduled for the end of the year. Please pray with us for our Men and Women on deployment and training missions.

This past summer has been amazing, with dozens attending our Dinner/Bible Studies every week. The spiritual hunger and growth among our men is amazing. Weekly they come in telling of how they are sharing the Good News with their fellow Marines. While we continue our outreach, we look forward to reaching more Marines and Naval Corpsmen with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are still short on support for the year, offerings have been down for some time now – some of our churches have had to cut back – we may end the year “in the red” – any help to offset this shortage is appreciated.

Finally, a quick update on our building project. I am happy to report that drawings are currently being made by our Architect and we are on track to be permitted and ready to break ground in the first of the year. Your faithfulness has in our Building Fund Bank Account to currently show $43,000 of the $84,000 we need for this project.  And we just got a call that another $20,000 is on the way! That will put us at $63,00! Pray with us the remaining $21,000 will come in exactly when we need it. I am searching for a General Contractor with a North Carolina license who will work with us and our budget. Pray with us that we find the right man. We will be issuing the call for work teams to come down and help us build next year. Keep looking for that announcement as well.

THANK YOU AGAIN for your love, support, and especially all your prayers for us through this most difficult month.

Dave Signature

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