Friday, December 4, 2009

One Man Revival Turns One, Lessons Learned & Promises Hoped For

Hey gang!

No, there are no candles or cake and I won’t be changing over to Pull-Ups, but today is a special day for the ministry. It was one year ago today (12/03/08) that One Man Revival Ministries began on Blogger. I’d been doing a few blogs on MySpace, but made the transition over to Blogger. We still post most of the blogs on the Myspace page, but specials such as guest author appearances only post on Blogger. Why? Probably 95% of our readership is there, that also a big thanks to Networked Blogs and Facebook connections.

Since January, the website has been viewed almost 6,700 times. I would say that probably close to 2/3 of that number came in the second half of the year. Even with taking a couple weeks in October, more people have been reading lately. Of that, I am appreciative.

So in the first year, I’ve touched on a lot of topics and have learned quite a bit myself. One thing I learned when I taught Sunday school many moons ago is that I normally learn as much if not more than you as I prepare. I try to know my stuff when I write. There is a reason that James gives caution in teaching. When I write or speak about the Word of God, I never want to intentionally lead people astray from God. Occasionally, I’ll mistype a word or copy a scripture with an error, but it’s never intentional and never to twist scripture to make it say what I want it to say. Believe me, I know who the Judge and the Jury are. When I stand before God Almighty, I want to hear what any other servant of the Most High wants to hear; “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

For those of you unfamiliar with how One Man Revival started, I will attempt to give a brief story. In May 2008, I had just finished teaching as a substitute for one year here in Effingham County. The last month was a little crazy as my wife and I had our third child, Maggie, in April. During the school year, we had placed our eldest two children in daycare at Treehouse Too and they were excellent for us. But they were also filling up and could no longer guarantee three spots on a moments notice.

So during the summer, Mindy and I decided that I would stay home with our children. The cost of daycare was almost as much as my daily sub pay, so why not give my kids the best teacher that money couldn’t afford. After a month, I began to realize something. I was feeling a little lonely and slightly unfulfilled. The kids kept me busy, but I was starting to feel as if there was nothing of my time. I was playing computer games and not really using my time well. I was also starting to get bored of computer games.

In early September 2008, I began meeting with Peter Brown at New Hope’s Men’s Breakfast at Joe Sippers. I had admitted my boredom after I had shared my background with him. We had talked about how I at one time was a writer in newspaper and had blogged on MySpace to voice my opinions on issues. He asked me why I couldn’t do that for God? Instead of playing games, write for God.

I liked the idea and began asking God for confirmation if this was what he wanted me to do. That weekend, God began to deliver. I had pulled out a CD of Bob Carlisle’s Shades of Grace from the mid 90’s. The CD later became known for Butterfly Kisses and renamed that. However, there was always one song on there that I felt spoke to me. The song was One Man Revival. One line kept playing back from the song in my head. “If there’s gonna be a change, there’s got to be a change in me.”

Later that night, I was continuing to read Bill Hybels’ A Man After God’s Own Heart. Most of the book focused on David and why he was called “a man after God’s own heart.” I began reading in 1 and 2 Samuel and reflecting on how David was not perfect, but when he made mistakes and fell, he was always repentant to God. It wasn’t being politically correct to David, it was being completely laid bare and sincere. That’s how I wanted my writing to be, sincere and honest.

Finally, the next day, my wife and I went to church and Pastor Van Brooks was speaking on taking a next step. At the end of the service, he even made the altar call a confirmation. He said, “If you are feeling like God is leading you to something new to glorify Him, come to the altar and pray about it. I want to pray for you as well.” I didn’t need any more confirmation. I knew this was what God wanted me to do. So over the next two months, Peter and I continued to talk on Saturdays on how I would accomplish beginning One Man Revival. I started a new page on MySpace and launched elsewhere from there. At one time, I was putting the blogs on four different social networks. Over the months, I saw where the ministry wasn’t working and reduced to what you see today.

The ministry has changed a little over the year. When I began writing last year, I wanted the ministry to encourage people to keep going with Christ. I have to admit, some of that was for me. All of us have days where we feel like Satan has either beat us or that no one really cares if we are doing for the Lord. Maybe it’s just me. Anyhow, I would see people commenting occasionally. I would get an email here and there. I put a map tracer on the page and realized that within a couple months, someone from every continent had viewed the page.

I started feeling good about that. My ministry is reaching around the world. But soon, the comments stopped. There was a period that it seemed like no one was reading. I can explain that time period with two explanations. First, I was inconsistent with the writing. Most of the time, I was getting two, maybe three days a week of writing in and never at the same times.

It was closing in on my wife’s vacation in March and I began telling her that I was becoming too busy to do a good job. I had to take care of three kids, take care of her at night. The only time I had to write was when I was sleeping. Yes, I actually said that to her. I was making excuses. Why? Partly because I was afraid I wasn’t reaching anyone and partly because what I was saying might not really be encouraging anyone. I was becoming fearful of failure.

While on vacation, my wife and I did a lot of talking. She began giving me ideas of times I could write and even other ideas to write on. She even promised to give me more time to write. I think in all of the discussions, she came to realize how important doing the ministry was to me.

That was the time we came up with Marriage Mondays, to get ideas from other sources to help our marriage too. We also came up with Wisdom Wednesdays, which was from the Solomon in the beginning and Prayerfully Minded Fridays.

If you read back three paragraphs, the underlying words I didn’t say was that my ego was also getting to me. I wanted everyone to know that I wrote this cool spiritual column and that made me cool too. It’s always amazing how you learn a lesson. During the vacation, I went to a couple concerts and shared with people that I was writing a review and that it would be online within a couple days. I went to talk to the artists and tell them as well. No one was all that impressed and I was taking pictures with the artists and just having the feeling of importance.

I returned home to Illinois and had found that my review of the concert that I went to in Orlando had almost no comments. I went to my Facebook and Francesca Battistelli had clicked off of a picture of us. As I looked at her page, I realized that she didn’t like pictures that weren’t flattering to her. Admittedly, the only shot I got of us was one that she looked like she was about to put the beat down on me. As a fan, I was mildly upset. As a reviewer and co-minister of the Gospel, I was really upset. I sent her an email asking what her problem was and that the reason that fans take pictures with an artist is to be seen with the artist. It really isn’t about if the artist looks good. I was being honest, but after rereading that email, I began to see that I was losing focus and humility in what I was doing.

God did help me with the humility part. But he also began to reshape what I was doing. Just giving you guys an encouraging word wasn’t bringing people back consistently. I began to pray and ask God to give me something to say. He began to deliver. I truly believe that the ministry writings have been crisper since on the whole. In June, there was a series on Forgiveness that I think was the best writing of the year.

God also did something for me. He began to give me a hunger for His Word. I began a 90 days through the Bible study and even though I failed in completing it in succession (I still have the New Testament and a few of the minor prophets to do), He began to teach me Bible that I could use and begin to remember for later writings. I feel so blessed from it and if that was all I got, it changed me to make me want to be more serious about my walk with Him. But the best part has been as I have been given this gift from God, it just makes me want to share more of it with you.

The final thing I’ll talk about receiving from this year of writing is a stronger desire to make my writing have a place with my home church, New Hope in Effingham. In September, I wrote a few pieces on finances while our church was studying money. This month, as the church is studying gifts from the book of Colossians, I am teaching a series on the spiritual gifts from God. During the first three weeks in February, while our church is having a call to prayer, I am teaching on the spiritual disciplines in the prayer family. I hope to continue beyond that as 2010 continues.

As I have been teaching these last few months, I realize that I have taken on our church’s mission statement. Our church’s mission statement is Strengthening Families and Reaching the Next Generation For Christ. I’ll admit that I’m not a great salvation writer, but I do believe that families need to be stronger in light of the world today. I also believe that we do need to reach the next generation. They are finding computers faster now that ever. My four-year old can’t wait to have time on my computer because she wants to learn.

The other part of reaching that next generation though is in the area of discipleship. I’m a strong believer in Hebrews 10:25 telling us that we need each other in the body of Christ and you do need to have a local church of believers that you are interacting with as much as possible. But I also know that there are people hungry for more of what God has for them and also people who can’t be in a church (because of work schedules, shut-ins, etc.)that want what God has for them. That’s where I hope this ministry helps them. As I said earlier, people do occasionally check in from other countries. God tells us in the Great Commission to take the Gospel to uttermost ends of the earth. I may never know if someone from another nation comes to Christ or learns more about the Gospel because of the ministry until I meet them in Heaven. That would be really cool. “You saw my writings where? God, can I ask you where that is on the map?”

Year one has been good. God has blessed me far beyond what I could ever ask for. To have over 500 people subscribing to the readership is something that only God could do. I hope and continue to pray that God shares with me what you need to be encouraged and discipled in His Word. I truly do want to make a difference in the lives of the people who take the time out to read. There are so many places on the internet to find the Good News of God and you choose to come here.

Thanks for being here as this baby ministry turned one. May you be here as God continues to use it for His glory.

I love you guys!

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