Why Legacy?

We only have One Life - One Legacy that we can leave behind. We will live one life and by our actions provide the written material for our legacy. However, it will truly be written and interpreted by others after we have left this world.

So I ask myself, and I ask you, what is the legacy which you desire to leave behind?What did you write today in the chapter entitled "today"? Did you advance toward your desired legacy, or did you retreat? What you will become is who you were today.

As I write this blog I will be simultaneously challenging myself, and I trust challenging my readers to leave a legacy that matters. One that challenges and changes those you encounter daily and on your journey in life. You have One Life - One Legacy - make it count!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Light Wins"

The Scarlet Thread

The Empty Throne: Part 2

(The Scarlet Thread is a message series on the gospel of John. Each week I will post the sermon notes with some interjections. I realize they may be a bit difficult to follow as they are really in an outline form and not a narrative. To really understand the notes I highly recommend you go to iriverchurch.com go to the media button and listen to the message along with reading the notes. In the near future I will be launching a web site to better display theses notes and help the Pastors in Africa in a more user friendly mode.)

“Light Wins”

We all enjoy winners. Many of you will recall who won the last World Series... that's right my team the NY Yankees. But how many remember the team who lost the Super Bowl four times in a row... hint - my team - no one remembers... no one except maybe a Buffalo Bill's fan like me! Winning is something in our DNA that everyone in the world loves to celebrate. Winners are applauded, held in high esteem and emulated and paraded down Main Street USA. Today we have the awesome opportunity to look at the ultimate victor, who has never lost not even once! Now that's a record to celebrate!

The second message in the series on John is called "Light Wins". Yes, "Light Wins" every time!

Let's see what "The Scarlet Thread" has to say about the Triumphant Light.

"In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4,5

God Idea: Light means - everything you need to know about life is found in Jesus!

(Each week the God Idea - is the overriding principle for the message.)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

Jesus quickly identified Himself as the light of the world. He did so during a feast when all of Jerusalem was illuminated to celebrate a feast. The white walls of Jerusalem would reflect this light to make this the most brilliant night of the year. In the midst of this setting Jesus declares, "I am the light of the world."

It would have been a huge statement to declare Himself the light of Jerusalem but what He said was of even greater significance. By stating "I am" He was declaring Himself to be God. Those listening would have immediately recognized this fact which would infuriate the religious leaders of the day.

To say He was the light of the world was to declare that He would bring illumination to the minds and hearts of mankind. He was essentially proclaiming, "Light Wins".

Four properties of light come quickly to mind.

1. Light creates life.

(Jesus as "The Light" will bring new life to mankind - the dead in spirit will be born again to new life.)

2. Light brings revelation. Ps. 119:105

(Jesus as "The Light" will reveal the deep secrets of man's heart.)

3. Light reveals hope.

(Jesus as "The Light" in the darkness is a rescuer reaching out with hope to those in darkness.)

4. Light opens perspective.

(Jesus as "The Light" opens our minds are hearts to God's perspective.)

"Light Wins" every time. Turn off all the lights, turn on just one... who wins - "The Light Wins". Jesus as the Light always wins - Even the Grave Lost! “and the darkness has not overcome it”.

Two meanings are served in the phrase, "darkness has not overcome it"...

1. The darkness cannot “Overpower” light! (Never)

2. The darkness cannot “Comprehend” light! (It is impossible for it to understand the light.)

Both meanings are excellent interpretations of this phrase.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him

This begs the question: ‘If light wins, why do people stay in darkness?”

I've come up with four over-riding reasons:

1. To live and stay in “Darkness” is a choice! This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:19, 20

2. Darkness causes a loss of purpose and direction! Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going . John 12:35

3. Darkness creates confusion. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” 4

4. Darkness is ruled by Satan. to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God…” Acts 26:18a

MAKE THE CHOICE: Choose light! Go out in the light!

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Rom. 13:12-14

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:10-13

Sunday, September 26, 2010

She is only 17 and kickin it!

"The Difference of One"

What difference can one life make? Is one life one legacy very important. Let's be really honest - I mean really honest, can one person make much of a difference in this world?

We often hear the exhortation at conferences, "Make a difference with your life"! Youth hear it very often coming at the end of a youth event with the challenge, "God has plans for your life so make a difference." But is this reality or is this just wishful thinking? If you have ever had that thought you are human!

However, I am pleased to tell you that there are many who are "making a difference" with their lives - some very close to me and in many different manners. "The Difference of One" column will highlight those I know, encounter, read about or hear about, who have decided they will radically follow Jesus. Some are in business, some in the military, some in sports, and others in ministry. What will set them apart is they have already sold out to Christ. The playing field of this world already holds less sway on them than many of their peers. They have counted the cost and given their lives to follow the call of God in their lives.

They are unashamed followers of Christ. I call them "Everyday Hero's" because they simply do it for the love of God not the applause of man.

While others play along in life, these "Everyday Hero's" live their lives, sometimes silently and not recognized, making a difference for mankind and eternity. They are ultimately eternity minded. They love God with all their hearts and have dedicated their lives to the second greatest commandment. They love others with great abandon. Loneliness is common. Not many are willing to travel this lonely road. Certainly it will sometimes be a lonely path but one day they will celebrate with many souls impacted for eternity.

The person that inspired this idea is one of my favorites. She kicks it when it comes to loving the orphan. Her legacy is already more than most accomplish in a lifetime and she's only 17 years old. She just so happens to be my daughter, Emma. OK, I am biased, but it's my blog and I am the only voter! :)

Emma is only 17 years of age - how could she make much of a difference at such an early age? Let me share a little of her story.

At a very early age, Emma heard a group of children from Uganda sing at our church. The Watoto Children's Choir traveled across the US from Uganda, Africa. We would have the privilege of having four of these adorable children stay in our home. She talked and laughed the night away with these darling children. From that moment she began praying that someday she would go to Africa to be a missionary and adopt twin girls from Africa. Night after night we prayed and night after night the same prayer would come forth. And she waited. And then.....

Fast forward to 3 years ago. Emma began leaving pictures around the house, in my bedroom, in the bathroom, and especially on my desk of pictures of children from Africa. The captions she wrote read something like, "if we don't go who will?" and "they need me" and "here am I send me". She was a very persistent young lady even at the age of 14. She had heard from God and she was doing her best to be sure I heard. As any stubborn dad might do, I wasn't being moved at first... "your not going without me" I announced! Well that's all the Lord needed.

It wasn't long before Steve Tracey a friend of mine, asked me to do a Pastor's conference (I know Emma and him conspired) - so I was off to Africa. His daughter was already a missionary to Africa and when I shared my doubts he said, "Dwight, I decided a long time ago, I would rather lose my daughter to the mission field and Africa than lose her to the American culture. Enough said, I knew God had spoken.

Each time a person obeys God and impacts a life, their is a ripple effect of that life that creates a huge harvest. It is like a series of links that all connect back to the original link. The Bible teaches us in John, "By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit."

Emma has been busy the last few years - going to Africa 4 times. Each time a team goes, a conference is held, a person adopts it all goes back to Emma and her desire to make a difference in the lives of children in Africa. As a result of Emma's commitment to the children of Africa, below is a list of "her fruit".

Emma's fruit

  • 2008 Pastor's Conference Uganda (125 attend)
  • 2008 African Hearts partnership with The River Church begins
  • 2008 Dwight "Adopts" the leadership men of African Hearts
  • 2008 Orphans loved on at Sanyu Babies Home in Uganda
  • 2008 Several accept Christ at church service
  • 2008 Elijah and Elizabeth leave Sanyu and become part of the Saunders forever family
  • 2008 Linn ministers at a church in Senge Village seeing deliverance and healing
  • 2009 Pastor's Conference Uganda (135 attend)
  • 2009 19 people go on Uganda missions trip to have their lives changed forever
  • 2009 Emma holds first VBS in Ssenge village - over 200 kids attend (20 accpt Christ)
  • 2009 Isaiah leaves Sanyu Babies Home and become a part of the Vaughn's forever family.
  • 2009 A kitchen/ guest house is built for Ssenge Village home of African Hearts orphans
  • 2009 Living fence planted around Ssenge Village Home
  • 2009 Kaysia and Zeke begin the process of coming home to the Schalk forever family
  • 2009 5 accept Christ at church service
  • 2009 Crusade at village near Kampala - approximately 75 express desire to receive Christ
  • 2010 Informed over 500 churches are now teaching the Legacy Conference Material
  • 2010 Pastor's Conference (175 attend)
  • 2010 VBS 300 children attend - 40 accept Christ
  • 2010 Pastor's inform us that over 500 churches are now teaching the Legacy Pastor's Conference notes across Uganda
  • 2010 First Crusade in Ssenge Village - approximately 25 people receive Christ
  • 2010 Betty begins the process of coming to the Steiner forever family
  • 2010 Finley begins the process of coming home to Abby and Ryan and Aunt Emma
  • 2010 Ssenge Village complex finished
  • 2010 Justin Vaughn takes a team from his church, he came the first time the year before...
  • 2010 8 cows purchased to help my "adopted son" Luttuya, pay the bridal price so he can marry his sweet heart.
  • 2010 13 people go to Africa to have their hearts changed forever.

Now that's One life making a difference!

(Thanks Emma for being my first "Everyday Hero". For not living for this life but living for eternity. You inspire me and I know inspire so many others. Keep your focus girl. This is one proud Daddy. You know when we arrive at the village in Ssenge all the children come running yelling Emma - Emma - Emma! Why? Because they know you love them with the love of God and do so for the applause of heaven! You rock!)

Let her example inspire you to live your life to make a difference!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Scarlet Thread - The E

This week at The River Church we began a new message series on the book of John. Each week I will post the notes until we launch my new web-site which will be more interactive and make the messages available in a variety of ways. I have added a few transition notes to help you understand how the message progressed. Set forth below is only the notes not a written transcript so listening to the message would be very helpful.

I suggest that if you are using the notes to teach first listen to the message and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you to form your own message. My prayer is that these notes will both teach you and allow you, especially those in Africa, to teach others as well. May God bless you and multiply your fruit!

The Scarlet Thread

September 12, 2010

The Empty Throne: Part 1

John begins with these wonderful words, perhaps some of the most profound words ever written.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John1:1-5

(These words ring with Majesty! Jesus is God! God is always working his plan and John details this strategic plan to invade humanity . These amazing verses draw us to the heart of this great book. God's plan as developed throughout this book is set below.)

GOD’S PLAN: The Empty Throne permitted Jesus to reign in the Throne of your Heart!

But first, I would like you to know the author of the Scarlet Thread. Please meet the author of “The Scarlet Thread”, the gospel according to John!

John the disciple is the son of Zebadee. Mk. 3:17 (one of many)
➢ John, James and Peter formed Jesus inner circle. (one of three)
➢ John the beloved disciple. 13:23/19:26/20:2/21:7,20 (one of one)
➢ John stood by the church in terrible persecution.
➢ John an eyewitness to Jesus.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 1 John1:1

(Can you picture how important it is to hear from an eyewitness. Imagine being able to hear from an eyewitness to Abraham Lincoln, George Mueller, or Billy Graham. It would be invaluable to hear these eyewitness accounts. You would have greater depth of insight, stronger accounts, and it would be like a video being played in your mind. That's what we get in John! An invaluable eyewitness known as the one Jesus loved. He knew Jesus so well in his humanity, yet, he knew that Jesus was not merely a man but God himself!

The Empty Throne: 4 Foundational Messages

1. The Message of Pre-existence
: “In the beginning was the Word…”
Before Creation – Jesus existed!
At Creation – God spoke! Gen. 1
Re-Creation – this gospel tells us how to be recreated
OT: Life through Adam NT: Life now through Jesus

(Jesus pre-existed his earthly form. He was in the beginning, yet he pre-existed the beginning. To put it another way, there has never been a time that Jesus was not! Praise you Lord!)

2. The Message of Incarnation: “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
Jesus is God & Jesus invades the world! The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. J. 1:14

(Jesus invaded the world with His divinity as he became man. God made the first move to re-unite his original desire for relationship with humanity. This parts the curtain of our sometimes limited view of Christ to the Majestic Christ!)

3. The Message of Creation: Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
➢ Jesus the Creator: The Logos is the creator not a created being for everything came into being through him.
The creative capacity of God is Logos. What God does Logos does

(That's my God. Always creating! Making something new from the old. Calling the dead things to life! Yea, that's my God!)

4. The Message of Revelation: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."
➢ Jesus brings the message of Hope! ➢ The words of Jesus are words of revelation.

( The message of Revelation parts the curtains of heaven. Revelation is a pulling back that which has formerly been hidden. My next message will develop this further but for now, bend a knee to praise the Lord who is light and who brings light into our lives to reveal His will and desire for each one of us! Praise you Lord!)

Bottom Line: John wants us to read this as every deed and word of Jesus is a deed or word of God. That is how we should read the whole gospel.

To listen to this message:
1. Type in your browser iriverchurch.com
2. click on media
3. launch media player or download podcast

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waiting and Wondering

How do you handle life's uncertainties?

For me, waiting and wondering are a pair of words which create either great anticipation or the twists and turns of anxiety.

For instance, when Linny was pregnant and having our first child I was filled with expectation and anticipation at just who the Lord had planned for our first child. Waiting and wondering was filled with joy, guessing, and dreaming of whom the Lord had planned for our first child. We didn't take the easy way out, we didn't want to know, we just waited and wondered with anticipation. Abigail would enter our world in one moment with a sweet cry and the waiting and wondering was over. I'm good with that type of waiting and wondering. You, too, I imagine!

What I am not so good at is the other side of waiting and wondering. When you are waiting for news that could be change your whole world and wondering what the next season of life might look like! I admit I'm just not very good at this type of waiting and wondering.

We are currently waiting and wondering what the diagnosis is and plan of action is for Linny. Does she have cancer? We don't know, I am scared and we are left waiting and wondering.

By way of background Linny already has five auto-immune diseases. She has known her share of chronic illness for the greater part of her adult life. Most people do not see it because she refuses to let her illnesses get the better of her and she is certainly not a complainer.

However, recently she has been diagnosed with a thyroid disease, Hashimoto's Disease. This would be her fourth of the five autoimmune diseases. Then they found out she also has rheumatoid arthritis. I'm feeling, "OK, Lord, that's enough, cut the girl a break!" (We talk like that - and because He loves me He cuts me a break!)

That wasn't all! There was also a nodule in the thyroid which needed a biopsy. As the doctor did the biopsy he told her, "You have a very sick thyroid, it has been sick for a long time". If that wasn't enough, the biopsy came back inconclusive. The cells were abnormal and words like lymphoma and carcinoma were part of the possible diagnosis. But even still the pathologists just could not tell.

Does she have cancer? The doctors do not know. I do not know, I am left wondering and waiting. This is where I have trouble on how to respond.

It must be a man thing. My first tendency is to get quiet, pull inside myself, clam up. I place the situation in a drawer in the filing cabinet of my mind, then maybe, just maybe, I won't have to deal with it. There is a problem with this however, I've learned over the years this type of thinking leaves Linny on the sidelines to deal with her situation all alone. Worse yet, thinking I don't care.

So I've tried to change. It's not easy waiting and wondering if your wife has cancer. I certainly have the wide range of emotions. Some days, okay, maybe it's just really moments, I am filled with great faith with thoughts like, "there is no way the Lord will allow this Godly woman of mine, mentor to thousands, have cancer."

Other moments,however, I am filled with fear, anxiety, or 'what if' questions. I have learned I can not trust my emotions. They are false indicators and not trustworthy.

But I also do know that I can trust God. I trust His word; "the Word was with God and the Word was God". I can trust His faithfulness! I trust His plans for Linny and my life. I trust that He never fails. So I pray, I seek to hear a promise from His word, and then I set my heart to trust. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths".

I realize that when I am left waiting and wondering, He is knowing and certain.

I realize that when I am left waiting and wondering He is already at work.

I realize that when I have trouble sleeping while waiting and wondering, He is working the night shift.

Today we will go see the surgeon for Linny, and while we are there, still waiting and wondering, God is at work!

A Tribute To My Follower (singular)

Sometimes there are people in life which simply need to be recognized for their uncommon valor. They rise above the rest. They are not of the common man, but of the one who dares to be alone. Yes, this man rises above the rest!

Today, I pay my deepest respect and tribute to MR. DADDY. Mr. Daddy has stood alone many times as my one blog follower. But be assured Mr. Daddy, we are going to catch fire, and be like Linn and aplacecalledsimplicity. When we double to 2 comments we will have grown by 100%. We will then be only 1,100.000 clicks away from catching Linny.

So today, I take my hat off to you... (if I was wearing one I would). :) To others who wish to join my throng of one - join up now and beat the rush! :)

On a more serious note... i will try to start publishing several times a week! Just sayin!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why John?

Why a Sermon Series on the Gospel of John?

Dear Church and Friends in Africa,

This Fall I am beginning a new extended series of sermons on the Gospel of John. This will be a change from our traditional topical series of sermons.

Someone may ask, “Why start a series of messages on the fourth-longest book in the New Testament? Will you every finish before you die?”

There are several reasons I am led to do this kind of sustained exposition of John’s Gospel.

1) It is the word of God. And the discipline of preaching through it will protect me from simply focusing on my favorite topics, or even on my fallible judgments about what I think the people need on any given weekend.

2) I have never preached through one of the four Gospels. That’s a void I would like to fill.

3) There is a unique majesty to this portrait of Christ. There is no higher vision of Christ in Scripture. Andreas K√∂stenberger has written that “John’s Gospel, together with the Book of Romans, may well be considered the enduring ‘twin towers’ of [New Testament] theology”.

4) John is an unparalleled combination of simple facts and profound doctrine.

5) John was written by one who had a uniquely intimate relationship to the Lord Jesus on the earth. He was “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 20:2, 21:7, 20). There is a flavor of intimate depth in this book unlike any other.

6) Finally, I am hungry for more of Christ. I cannot think of anything more worthy of my time, study, and teaching than the gospel of John. This gospel more than any other will prepare us for the glory we will see of God in heaven. Yea God!

No book in the Bible has a more sustained focus on the glory of Jesus Christ than the Gospel of John. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). That alone is enough to want to dive in!

Would you pray for me? And for the greatest possible blessing of the Holy Spirit on our church and all who read for the sake of the good of the world and the glory of Jesus Christ. I am filled with expectation for the passion and love of Christ to be poured out on our congregation!

For those in Africa, pastors, teachers, evangelists I will be posting the weekly notes to help you teach your way through the gospel and so raise the discipleship level of your congregations to a whole new level. Together we will advance the Kingdom!

Full of Expectation,

Pastor Dwight