One of my wife’s favorite movies is, “The Shop Around the Corner” starring Jimmy Stewart.  If you have never seen this great old film, a more modern adaptation is the movie, “You’ve Got Mail”, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

One of the reasons we like the Jimmy Stewart version is because it is set in Budapest in the 1930’s.  Every time we take a mission team to Romania, we fly in and out of Budapest, Hungary.  The day before we head home, we take each group to Budapest for a time of sight-seeing and it is always a good time of fellowship.  Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and everyone enjoys our time there.

Several years ago, while walking around the Castle Hill district of Budapest, Lisa and I discovered a unique little shop around the corner from Saint Matthias Church.  To reach this particular shop, you have to walk through an archway that leads to a large courtyard that is lined with shops and cafes.  After you walk through the archway, you almost immediately turn to the left and walk through an ancient looking door that leads to a downward winding stairway.  At the bottom of the stairway you find yourself in a tiny shop that is filled with antiques of all kinds.  There is hardly enough room to walk around.  Shelves and display cases are filled with antique jewelry, coins, military medals, books, and hundreds of other items.  Some of the items may be a few decades old, while others may have been made several hundred years ago.

The shop is managed by a young man who oversees the business for his father.  One of the things that has always amazed me is that no matter what item you pick up and ask about, the son knows the story behind every single piece.  I have always enjoyed it when he tells me the stories behind the treasures.  He knows the story behind each item because his father sends him all over the country to redeem them.  Some of the things are in a rough condition when he purchases them.  However, once in his shop, they are cleaned and put on display so that others might enjoy their beauty and worth.

In some ways, this is our story.  The Father sent His Son to redeem us.  Jesus, however, did not redeem us with gold or silver or with the corruptible things of this world, but with His own precious blood. ( 1 Peter 1:18-19)  We are His trophies of grace.  You and I are, in a sense, on display before a lost and dying world.  The world needs to see what the Lord can do in a life that has been transformed by the Master’s hands.

You and I are not hidden away in a little shop, but as Paul wrote, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.  Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor; sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

Jesus knows our story and He loves us anyway.  He purchased us anyway.  He placed us in His great house when He cleansed us from our sins.  He has made us His treasure and His trophies of grace, not to remain on a shelf, but to be a vessels of honor, sanctified, useful for His purposes and glory, and prepared for every good work that He chooses for us.  By His grace, may we be vessels of honor that are a blessing to others and that bring honor and glory to the One who redeemed us.

In Christ’s service,



Why He Came

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, let us remember why He came and how that ties in with our ministry to others.  First and foremost, Jesus came to save us.  The angel told Joseph that Mary would, “bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)  He was born so that He could die.  Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would bear our griefs and carry our sorrows.  He would be wounded for our transgressions and bruised (crushed) for our iniquities.  Our iniquities were laid on Him and by His wounds we are healed. Jesus died on the cross and rose again so that we could be forgiven and be saved.  You and I have the glorious privilege of proclaiming this Good News all throughout the year, not just at Christmas.

Also, in one of His first public acts of ministry, one Sabbath day Jesus read from the book of Isaiah. He read from the passage we know as the sixty-first chapter.  This is part of the passage from which He read:

   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good  tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”

Jesus declared that day that He is the fulfillment of this Messianic text.  You and I, however, as His servants on this earth have the honor, the responsibility, and the calling to minister to others in His name.  There are many things that we can do and that we do under the banner of ministry.  As you read through the verses from Isaiah 61, ask yourself if your service for the Lord includes any of the things mentioned above.  What about your church?  Does your church have the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon it?  Is your church truly preaching the Gospel?  Is your church seeking to heal the brokenhearted, is it proclaiming liberty to the captives, and the other things Jesus touched upon?

As we come to the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, let us thank the Lord for giving us the honor of serving Him and serving others in His name.  Let us make sure, by His grace, that our ministry to others next year and in the years to come, will be a true continuation of the ministry for which He came.

Merry Christmas and God Bless,

Allen & Lisa

The late Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, once wrote, “There are no shortcuts to holiness.”  She is right, but sometimes I wish there were shortcuts.  For example, wouldn’t it be nice if there were, “three steps to holiness”, or if there was a holiness pill you could take and instantly become “Super-Christian”!  But, as you know, there exists no such thing.

Only God can make you holy.  Only the Holy Spirit can make you more like Jesus.  You and I cannot live the Christian life in our own ability, but Jesus can live His life in us and through us.  Holiness isn’t a formula to follow or a state of moral perfection that we can create.  It is the life-long, daily process of the Holy Spirit making you more like Jesus.  The Holy Spirit transforms us more and more into the image, the likeness of Jesus Christ, and that takes time.  The Divine Sculptor, the Holy Spirit, takes the hammer and chisel of the Word of God and chips away everything in our lives that doesn’t look like Jesus.  We must have the desire and we must daily choose this separation from the world and the flesh and separation unto the Lord, but even the desire must come from the Lord.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)

Everyday you and I must choose death to self.  For a life of holiness, it is self on the cross and Christ on the throne of our hearts.  We choose the resurrection life of Jesus as our own.  The Risen Christ in us is our hope of glory and our only hope of holiness.

As I stated earlier, this takes time.  Satan would love for you to get discouraged and give up.  He would love for you to try to find a shortcut.  God, however, is not growing a squash out of your life; He desires to grow us into, “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)

There are no shortcuts on the Highway of Holiness.  It is a journey of walking with Jesus and walking in newness of life, His Life, everyday.  It is the road that you and I need to be traveling on.

In Christ’s service,



Romania 2014

We want to thank all of you for your prayers during our recent mission trip to Romania.  God is so amazing.  He answered every prayer for our trip.  The weather was the best we have ever experienced in Romania.  There were no problems with our flights, and everyone stayed healthy while we were there. Most importantly, the Lord blessed with many opportunities for ministry and for sharing the Gospel.  Everyone on the team contributed in helpful ways.  Because of your prayers and gifts, we were able to:

-Provide several hundred Bibles and hundreds of Gospel tracts

-Share the Gospel with over 700 people in the clinics and evangelistic services

-Leave much needed vitamins, antibiotics and other supplies at the House of Hope

-Provide all 24 children at the Houses of Hope with winter coats and two pairs of shoes

-See 50 people pray to receive Christ!

We were able to have a medical clinic in three different villages.  In these same villages, we held evangelistic services at night.  On Thursday, Chad Ward, pastor of Forest Hill Baptist in Linden, was able to go with Pastor Mihai and speak to a high school class at a state school in Satu Mare.  Chad was able to talk with the students on a variety of Bible related subjects and to share the Gospel.

On Friday, in the village of Tataresti, we had an unexpected opportunity for children’s ministry during the medical clinic.  School was out that day and about seventeen children spent most of their time outside the church with some of our team.  They played soccer and other games and we were able to feed them lunch.  The Gospel was also shared with them.  You could tell that several of these children were physically hungry and also hungry for someone to love them.  What a blessing it was to minister to them.

Saturday we spent several hours at the House of Hope #2.  While the rest of us spent time playing with the children, Dr. Eric Harding and his wife, Katherine, gave the children flu shots and an examination.  As I stated earlier, we were also able to leave medicine and a generous financial gift for the Houses of Hope.

Our translators, as always, were incredible.  We thank God for these young people who love Him and the people of their country.  They worked tirelessly alongside of us all week.

I must share with you one story of a young lady who worked with our team during the week.  She grew up in another religion and we were able to sow seeds of the Gospel in her life all week.  She observed us closely and we knew that all week she was counting the cost.  During the Sunday morning service at Bethel Baptist, she indicated that she prayed to receive Christ.  After the service, I talked with her to see if she had any questions.  Earlier in the week I talked with her about Jesus being the only door to Heaven and that she must go through Him for forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.  All week as various team members shared with her and expressed God’s love toward her, she said she felt that God was drawing her closer.  So I asked her if she had walked through the door.  She said, “Yes, and He was there.”  Praise the Lord!  Testimonies like hers are what it is all about and you, dear partner in this ministry, were a vital part of her story.

In preparation for this trip we read and prayed over some of the passages in the Gospels that talked about Jesus and His disciples going from village to village preaching the Gospel, having compassion on the people, and healing the sick.  What a privilege it is to be a part of His Great Commission.  Those of you who gave and prayed were also on this team.  God answered your prayers and multiplied your gifts for His glory.  We could never thank Him or you enough.  So once again we say along with the psalmist, “And blessed be His glorious name forever!  And let the whole earth be filled with His glory, Amen and Amen!” (Psalm 72:19)


Mild, Medium, or Hot?

Mild, Medium, or Hot?  These are the usual choices you and I have when purchasing or ordering certain brands of salsa.  When it comes to the degree of passion we have for the Lord, we also have a choice, but choose wisely.

Too many Christians choose to be mild.  Too many worship services are mild.  Mild is safe, mild is tame, mild is, well… mild.  We should want our lives and our passion for Christ and for the lost to be flaming, set your world on fire, hot for the Lord.  We get passionate about sports, passionate about food and our favorite places to eat, passionate about our children and grandchildren, and so many other things in this life.  I believe there are actually many people who are waiting for those of us who know the Lord to get passionate about Him!  Unfortunately, there are some within the church who prefer mild.

David’s wife, Michal, was offended when David unashamedly worshiped and praised God with all his might as the Ark of the Covenant was being returned to its’ rightful place.  Apparently, she was embarrassed by David’s passionate worship of God and so, she rebuked him.  Basically, David said to her, “Sweetheart, you think what you saw today bothered you, I’ve got news for you, it’s going to get worse.  I’m going to praise God even more!”  Michal was bitter and sadly, the Bible records that she had no children.

How true of those who are mild and medium for the Lord; they bear no harvest for Christ.  Friend, ask the Lord to keep you on fire for Him everyday of your life.  Love Him, worship Him, live for Him, and serve Him with all your heart and might.

In Christ’s service,


The Sunday morning message challenged the congregation to realize there really is a way that each one of  you can serve the Lord.  Not everyone is called to be a pastor, a missionary, a Bible teacher, a soloist, or a worship leader, but we need to realize there is at least one thing we can do to serve Jesus and others.

I gave the invitation and, as always, invited people to come to faith and trust in Christ.  As a part of the invitation and decision time, I also invited all who were led to come and pray and ask the Lord to show them how they could serve Him.  Almost immediately, a young lady in her twenties came forward and asked me to pray with her.  She said to me, “Bro. Allen, I want to do something to serve the Lord, but I don’t know what it could be?”  We prayed together and I told her that I would think about it and pray about it and that she needed to do the same.  We would see how the Lord would lead.

As I thought about Toni’s question and prayed for her, the Lord gave me an idea.  I purchased the necessary items she would need and headed to her house to explain my idea.  I knew that Toni had an electric typewriter.  (This was before the days of personal computers).  I gave her several boxes of various themed greeting cards that were blank on the inside.  I asked her if she would begin a ministry of sending get-well cards, sympathy cards, and other types of cards to our members as they had need.  She was so excited!  Now she had a way that she could serve the Lord.  You see, there is something that I haven’t told you yet about Toni.  Toni has Cerebral Palsy.  She could only type those messages one slow, painstakingly patient keystroke at a time.  But type she did.  Can you imagine the blessing it was for people to receive those cards of encouragement and then realize that Toni had typed that personal message for them?

Toni has Cerebral Palsy, but she did not use it as an excuse for not serving the Lord and being a blessing to others.  Perhaps you need to quit making excuses and instead, start asking God to show you how He can use you for His glory.  Ask Him.  He will show you.  What are you waiting for?

In Christ’s service,



Pressed Olives-Pure Oil

In Exodus 27, as the Lord gave Moses instructions for the construction and worship of the Tabernacle, He told Moses to, “command the children of Israel that they bring… pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.”  This oil was to be used for the Menorah, which was placed inside the Tabernacle.  The oil was obtained  by pressing or beating the olives.  One commentary states that this yielded a grade of olive oil that was clear, colorless, and gave off much less smoke than the regular oil that was sometimes used.  In other words, it burned brighter.

Not many of use would choose the press for ourselves, but from time to time God will place us in His press in order to squeeze more and more of the world and self out of us.  We should desire to be emptied of self and filled with the Holy Spirit.  It will not always be a pleasant process, but the result is a grade of oil that is purer than before.  The more pure the oil, the brighter the lamp burns.

The psalmist prayed in the ninety-second Psalm that the Lord would anoint him with fresh oil.  May the oil of the Spirit fill us and may we burn brightly for the glory of God in a world that desperately needs to see His Light.

In Christ’s service,



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