Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Personal & Ministry Update

We’ve attended too many funerals in the last few months, and sadly most were younger than we are. Some you may know: Ty & Terri Schenzel, Josh Woodruff, and Mary Gunthert. Funerals provide opportunity to celebrate the lives of our loved ones, as well as to reconsider our own eternity and to realign our values and priorities for this life.

At most funerals today family and friends share pictures and memories, often with both tears and laughter -- which is good therapy for all.

It is not uncommon to hear some interesting stories and facts about people that you’ve never heard before! Many times, we’re truly unaware of much about how people lived their lives.

At my uncle Merlyn's funeral last May, I learned that as a Marine he witnessed the flag-raising atop Mt Suribachi on Iwo Jima in 1945.

I don't know about the rest of you, but at funerals my mind inevitably wanders into what will be said at my own funeral!

I received a phone call this week from one of my childhood friends who has faithfully prayed for us and supported us throughout our ministry. They had just received the news from staff at Mayo Clinic that he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). As I was praying for him and remembering our times together, I was reminded of my own close call last June, and once again my mind wandered to what would be said about how I had lived my life. Suddenly a new thought erupted into my head...

"Why are you concerned about what is said at your 'homegoing', when you should be concerned about what the Lord Jesus says at your 'homecoming' in heaven." 

Gulp!   My heart's desire is to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant?"

One of my life mentors, Paris Reidhead spoke about returning from missionary work in Africa and having an opportunity to visit the coliseum, where Christians were martyred and gladiators fought. As I remember the story, he was standing in the coliseum looking up at the elevated protrusion which is called the Bema, where the king or judges sat.

As Paris stood in that historic place, he was thinking about 2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

He recalls having something like a dream or a vision where he was standing in a long line of people leading to a great pair of doors where they entered one at a time. Positioned beside the doors were angels who handed a package to each person just before they entered.

Paris realized that in this vision his life was over and he was saved, going to heaven and waiting in line for a personal meeting with his Lord. The package the angel gave him was the sum total of his life, both good and bad, that was going to be tested by fire, revealing what was pure gold or straw that only looked like gold.

As Paris entered through the great doors, he got his first glimpse of Jesus, and he was caught up in awe and wonder. While he worshiped, another angel took the package from his hands and carried it to a fire grate under Jesus’ throne. He realized that what was to be revealed was not so much a gold crown to be worn proudly around heaven but rather his life offering to lay at the feet of his Lord and Savior who died on the cross for his sins. After a few minutes the angel used tongs to retrieve his package from the fire grate.

Paris was so caught up in worship and wonder before his Lord that as the angel came back, he just held out his hands to take the package without taking his eyes off Jesus. Then the angel said "Cup your hands." After a few seconds he looked down at his hands to see the gold offering of his life to the Lord Jesus and was shocked as he saw ashes... ashes...with a few specks of gold. He dropped his hands and realized that he was standing on a carpet of ashes..

His life was over, he was in heaven, but he had nothing but an offering of ashes to lay at the feet of the Lord Jesus. 

He then woke up by the shaking of the cab driver that had taken him to the coliseum. As he continued home from his mission work in Africa the cry of his heart was
"May I live my life in such a way that I have something more than ashes to lay at the feet of the Lord Jesus."

Looking Ahead:

Just over a year ago I felt impressed to begin moving into a time of intentional transition. One friend recently called it the season of moving from activity and doing, into the season of providing wisdom in the gates to those who are younger! I am 68 and retirement is not realistic yet, so I asked the Lord to help me by my 70th birthday to be at my place on the wall for the next 10 years without having to make any major moves. Everything is on the table except Sheryl! We told the Lord that we would explore any open doors...

I am convinced that my bypass surgery last June was part of God's plan to help get my health restored for the next phase. I remember waking up at 4:00 AM with chest pain that I knew was not normal and remember saying to the Lord, "I know you don't need me, but I would like to finish my assignment." Early last Fall, I realized that I was trying to come back too fast from that surgery when some additional instabilities surfaced. I’m now adjusting to new heart meds and diet restrictions. I’ve committed to doing my therapy so that I can wisely finish well...Pastor Murdoch, in his late 80's, is my inspiration!

So far we feel God has best equipped us to minister in and from Omaha, and in light of that, we have no desire or plans to move away or leave CFCI after 20+ years. 
  • We do feel led to shift more and more to mentoring and resourcing the next generation of Godly leaders. We are currently mentoring a number of ministry leaders and partnering with other ministries. Many of these situations are confidential, and therefore not shared in our public newsletters.
  • First Responders PrayerWalks has great favor in Omaha, and I am developing several people to help lead in addition to Pastor Bruce Williams and myself. You may see a bit less of me in the news, but I will be organizing behind the scenes. Last week at the annual Omaha Martin Luther King luncheon with the Governor, the Mayor, many other civic officials, pastors and community leaders, First Responders was honored with their action award...
  • Sheryl is beginning a new Bible study here in our home next week, and is calling it “Knowing God and the Mission.” To date, there are about 15 women who have committed to be part of this group, which will focus on knowing the Names and Attributes of God, and specifically how they relate to our practical everyday life situations. It’s a totally open group, representing a great cross-section of women, and anyone is welcome to join us! Contact for details.
  • Because of my surgery, we have not been back to Tijuana for over a year, but Pastor Jesus shared that the whole TJ Pastors network was praying. We would like to try to make a visit later next spring. Please pray about designating some donations to help us set our next trip to Tijuana? Also, we would welcome those who would like to come as part of our ministry team.
  • We are in the early development stages with several new mentoring\ministry partnerships that we feel will bring significant blessings to our city and in the mid-west. We’ll keep you posted as those develop more clearly.
  • Last fall we had a very positive meeting with what may become a network of ministries, churches and individuals that feel led to help prepare for persecution. We are currently about a month away from having a blog up where people can share spiritual leadings, insights and resources. This is something I feel the Lord has equipped me to help lead. If you are not on our membership list, just send an email and ask. 

We appreciate so very much each one of you who have partnered with us in ministry either financially or by praying for us.

Recent weeks have seen new personnel in the Finance & Accounting department at Christ For the City, and it has come to our attention that some of you do not always receive receipt letters for your support donations. Please be aware of a couple of details in your donations?
  • First, let us know if you do not receive a receipt and we'll look into it.
  • Second, please include a note with your gift that says "Gehrls Support".
  • And, third, if you are sending in a donation other than your regular monthly support, like for the Tijuana trip. Please let us know so that we can watch for it to make sure it goes into the correct account. This is especially true if you are a first time donor or occasional donor.
One final way you can help us is to let us know if you are aware of anyone who would be interested in hearing more about our ministry. As we age, our donor base is also aging, so we continually need to find new ministry partners. We would love to share what God has been doing with us, and in our city.

Please click on the "Partner With Us' tab above for more info.


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