Our “Plan A”
A man's heart deviseth his way:
but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 KJV
is God's will for our life.1
If things had gone according to “Plan A,” right now Denise and I would be just returning from a three-week teaching trip in Perú, having ministered to about 140 leaders in the cities of Lima, Jicamarca, Huánuco, and Chancay. There was one small problem with that – barely a tenth of the amount needed for travel came in. And so, since we're completely dependent on the Lord's supply for these trips, it was easy to determine that Jesus must have an alternative plan, a “Plan B,” if you will.
Pieces of “Plan B”
So our Perú trip has been postponed until… well, we don't quite know yet. The Peruvian invitation is still open. But in the meantime, some interesting things have materialized from God's Plan B.
- More counseling and personal ministry time. In the last eight weeks or so, my counseling time on the phone and in person has doubled, with encouraging progress in some cases.
- More time for prayer, especially for God's increased supply for the ministry.
Jim in a private WAVA-AM studio2
More time for introducing the ministry to others in person, through various meetings, radio (see below), and Facebook, along with updating the “plumbing and wiring” on our website in order to facilitate regular giving by our partners.
- Radio opportunity. For five straight days I hosted National Prayer Chapel's “Pilgrim's Progress” show, a live, hour-long radio program in the Washington, D.C. listening area. Subject: “What's the Context?”, the “foundational course” for all that we teach on the mission field.
Eggs, with a Side of Irony
About ten days ago, while we were in Florida, I had breakfast with a small group of pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. After our discussion that morning, I'm more convinced than ever of these two things:
- Christians in North America need this “What's the Context?” teaching!
- Seeing the fruit of blessing in their own spiritual lives from regular, disciplined systematic Bible reading, Christians would become enthusiastic prayer supporters and generous donors, when they realize that this is the foundation of what we teach overseas.
I think the numbers are overly optimistic!3
At our breakfast we talked about survey stats from LifewayResearch and Barna Research: only 11% of Christians report that they have read through the Bible, and only 9% report they have read it more than once. (I can't find any stats on how many read it cover to cover every year. Twelve years ago when I asked that question of 36 local pastors about their congregations, “5%” was the typical reply.) Such numbers are sadly ironic among evangelicals, that is, those who supposedly hold the Bible to be the “inspired word of God.” Most typical reasons given: “I don't have time” (15%); “I don't prioritize it” (27%).
Plan “B” as in Bible
Just a few weeks back, I heard from my young friend Emily who listened to the “What's the Context?” teaching from the Iowa camp meeting at which I taught this past June. (See our previous report, An American Invitation.) She was thrilled that she had completed the Old Testament. And a radio listener I'll call “K.” wrote to me saying that she had re-committed to reading through the Bible annually. When I asked her how that reading had affected her spiritual life, she wrote back how God had been speaking to her through her reading:
I've been focusing a lot on the words of Jesus, because of a prayer that God answered one time, when I asked why I wasn't growing spiritually. Right away, God led me to two passages that showed me how important it is to follow the words of Jesus if we really want to know Him. One was John 14:21-23, where Jesus said that if we keep His words, He will manifest Himself to us. The other was John 15:10, where He said we would abide in His love by keeping His commands.
If your “Plan A” for spiritual growth and drawing closer to Jesus has stalled out, maybe you need a “Plan B” too – a “Plan Bible,” that is. I'm going to point you to a page that links to the audio and video versions of our “What's the Context?” Bible-study series. You'll have your choice of listening (from the website player or from downloaded MP3 files), or watching (through links to YouTube pages). There's also a PDF file of the class handout (complete with copies of the slides). You'll find it all freely available at:
and “B” as in… um… oBedience!5
Given our current financial needs, perhaps I should be challenging you to give to this ministry. But right now, I think it's more important to give something far more valuable to our supporters – a different challenge! Please listen to this “What's the Context?” Bible-study series. I suspect you'll hear things about the Scriptures you've never heard before! More importantly, I'm certain that if you rise to the challenge of reading in context (especially the context of the entire Bible), you'll see transformation in your own spiritual life. And you'll understand, in a personal way that I could never adequately describe, what this blessing of reading the Bible through systematically has done for leaders in the countries we visit.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them;
and Thy word was unto me
the joy and rejoicing of mine heart:
for I am called by thy name,
O LORD God of hosts.
– Jeremiah 15:16 –
Much love in Jesus,
P.S.: Yes, this is the kind of teaching we'd be happy to do at your church, retreat, conference, etc. And, yes, there's more on this subject of context (it's the special focus of the series Woman in the Kingdom of God), and many other topics.
- Image of ‘Time for Plan B' is copyright by and used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_iqoncept ↩
- Recording-studio image is courtesy of National Prayer Chapel. ↩
- Bible-reading pie-chart image is from https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/04/25/lifeway-research-americans-are-fond-of-the-bible-dont-actually-read-it/. ↩
- Image of the “Round Tuit” for would-be Bible readers, created using GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) by Jim Kerwin. ↩
- The “Plan ‘B' as in ‘Bible' graphic was created by Jim and Denise Kerwin. ↩