This has been a week in which I have felt spent physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I am trying to be very faithful in setting aside time to work out at the 24 Hour Fitness center nearby. I am using the elliptical machine, the exercise bicycle, the rowing machine and the situp bench. This morning I worked out for 75 minutes. I am so excited about this weight loss recently. I have lost 15 pounds in the last four weeks.
At church, we have started a ministry called "The Goodest Losers Club," since we can't use the title of "The Biggest Losers" from the TV show. Ours is a ministry of accountability and commitment for those who are dedicated to losing weight and becoming more health-conscious. We are having fun with it.
This past Wednesday evening, we started our first session on "The Truth Project," which is produced by Focus on the Family. I highly recommend this to others. It is an apologetic discussion on the real issues of life and faith and purpose. The big question for us this week was, "Do you really believe what you believe is real?" Deep thoughts came forth as we shared together. It is a 13-week series and is powerful.
I am working full-time for the Census office and doing my pastoral duties after those work hours and on weekends. I feel the drain of energy by the end of each day, but I seem to be sleeping better because of my workouts.
Today is Saturday, and I took time to go to a meeting at the local Southern Baptist association office for a sharing time with church planters. It is always an uplifting time to hear what God is doing in the area as men strive to help others see the hope in Jesus.
Just this week, our church planter in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles was feeling very weary and tired as he was faced with so much rejection as he talks to people there. He and I talked at length, as he asked me how we can keep going in the face of rejection. I told him that the struggle to keep going in tough times is the measure of our faith and it is the building of our character. We know that it is by his power that the gospel message is received, not by our oratory or powers of persuasion or personality. It is by Jesus alone.
I took the opportunity at work to share my faith with a man named Billy in my department. I said, "Can I ask you a real personal question?" He and I have become friends, and he said, "Sure."
I said, "If you died tonight and had to face God, and God asks you why he should let you into heaven, what would you say?" This man replied to me, "Wow, I don't know. I never thought about that." Then, he began to talk about how he has tried to be good and such. I related to him the gospel message and the plan of salvation through relationship with Jesus.
He has not made a commitment, but something interesting followed. Another man who works with us walked through the door and Billy said, "Hey, Al, if you died tonight and faced God and he asked you why he should let you into heaven, what would you say?" That started more good discussion, but I laughed to myself later. Amazing. Do you see what just happened? God just used a non-believer to repeat my words to challenge someone else to think of spiritual things. God is awesome.
Today, I got phone calls from a man who needs a pastor for a memorial service for his dad. I got a call from a young man who was in our Sober Living Program but left, and now he is calling for help spiritually. I got a call yesterday from a young man in the church who said, "I want to be baptized. Can I be baptized on Sunday, February 14, which is Valentine's Day?" I just got an email from a pastor friend whose dad is dying, and this dad has not accepted Christ as Lord. When asked by his son (my preacher friend), the dad said, "I have not made that decision for these 79 years of life, why should I do it now?" My friend, Mike Procter, is asking for prayer that his dad will not leave this earthly life without Jesus. Will you pray for him too? I will.
God continues to stir up Revival In Our Time (RIOT)!