TEN INCREDIBLE DAYS OF MINISTRY!

As the title suggests, our June missions trip was an incredible time.  Marsha and I presented material from our book, “God’s Blueprint for Marriage”, in four meetings, including a pastors conference.  It blesses us to see how our story of repentance, reconciliation and restoration touches so many lives.

Every trip to Peru is special, but this one was made extra special because we stayed with one of our adopted Peru families, Paul and Maria Diamond and their daughter, Alani. And we were accompanied by our spiritual son and grandson from home, Aaron and Andrew Hollinger, and by Diana Velasquez, one of our spiritual daughters, from Amarillo, TX,.

Andrew got his preaching feet wet with two youth conferences. Aaron ministered at a youth Conference, a business leaders’ workshop, and at Pastor Samuel Castillo’s church. Pastor Samuel was our Hispanic pastor here before returning to Peru to serve with his father.

We arrived on Thursday June 1, and went to work the next evening at a marriage conference hosted by Pastors Luis and Sofia Soldevilla.  In our first session we shared our testimony, and how Marsha and I learned to forgive ourselves when dealing with sin.  Out of that message over half of the congregation were set free from the guilt and shame of their own sins.  Saturday we spoke at another marriage conference, this one is San Juan de Lurigancho, hosted by Pastors Jans and Rachel Ramirez,  and we saw similar results.

We were at Comunidad de Fe and Emanuel Bible Church Zarate on our first Sunday.  Since that day was Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church, I preached from Acts 1 and 2, then invited each congregation to experience the Power of Pentecost and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Dozens responded to that invitation, filling the front of the sanctuaries.  There were many salvations at each service.

Tuesday June 6, Diana Velasquez and Marsha spoke at a women’s conference at Emanuel-Zarate.  About 100 women were in attendance, learning what it means to be brave women of God.

Wednesday we made a 2 hr 45 minute trip to meet with a house church, Christian Villa Club.  In my mind I was evaluating the trip to meet with a group of about 15.  But when one of those 15 received Jesus Christ as his Savior, I concluded, “Yes, it’s worth it!’

Thursday I preached at an Evangelical Church of Christ in San Juan de Lurigancho, where long time friend, Abraham Gueverra, is pastor.  What began as a very small turnout turned in to a nearly full house.  I had a message prepared on the blessing of giving, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to preach on Luke 15, The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, the Prodical Son and the Bitter Older Brother.  At the conclusion six people received Jesus, including the worship leader and drummer!

Friday evening we spoke at a parenting conference at Emanuel Bible Church San Juan de Lurigancho, to a predominately non-Christian group of moms and dads of children through ages 1-6.  We shared the importance of parents demonstrating love for each other and for the children, and an importance of growing up in a home without strife.  Following that we answered questions like,  “What do you do when your 3-year old has a temper tantrum?”, or “What’s the appropriate discipline for a 2-year old?”  Marsha’s years as a pediatric nurse in Tulsa helped her field those questions.

Satiarday evenning we spoke at a pastors conference in the Villa El Salvador district.  Marsha spoke to the women on leadership, and I spoke to the men on overcoming discouragement.  Over half of the 100 or so in attendance came forward for prayer for their discouragement.    Then,  in a joint session we both shared “Marriage is a Cross-Cultural Ministry”, from “Los Planes de Dios Para Matrimonio” (God’s Blueprint…”)

meanwlie on Saturday Diana was speaking at a women’s conference, while Aaron and Andrew  two meetings, the first for young adults on the second floor

Sunday morning I preached the 8:30 service at Catredal de Fe on “Seven Tactics of the Enemy and How to Overcome Them”, which is the subject of the next book I’m working on.  We left about 25 copies of our book, with instructions that the proceeds go toward relief for the victims of the recent flooding in Peru.  We were only about ten minutes out, en  route to our next ministry event, whe the church called requesting more copies!

Our final ministry stop was at the Evangelical Church of Christcin San Martin, one of our “home churches” in Lima, where Juan de Dios and Cristina Huaman are the pastors.  There, I preached a message of hope from Mark 4, when Jesus calmed the storm.  Following lunch with Pastor Juan and Pastora Cristina we returned to our host home, where we spent our final hours before returning home.

On my second trip (Marsha stayed home that time), God said not to count the number of salvations on our trips because it could lead to pride.  So, though I don’t know how many people received Jesus Christ as Savior on this trip, there were a bunch!  But, even if it were only one who was saved, it was worth the trip to that one!

Thank you for your prayers and support.  We are looking at November or early December for our next trip, and will keep our friends posted on our plans.

 

 

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The Church Needs 5-Fold Ministry Leadership

The term “pastor” has, in many cases, come to mean “senior leader” of the church.  But, in reality, “pastor” is but one of the five-fold ministry gifts given to the church.  A congregation that expects their senior leader to not only fulfill the responsibiliies of pastor, (shepherd), but also as the visionary (apostle), God’s spokesperson (prophet), soul-winner (evangelist) and trainer (teacher) is expecting more of their leader than that leader is capable of.  It simply can’t be done by one person.  That’s why God gave the five-fold ministry gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:11,  12).  

It’s been my observation that the growing, thriving churches aren’t led by a five-fold pastor,  but by an apostle, prophet or evangelist who can bring the sheep in. But, that leader has a five-fold pastor working alongside who is responsible for tending to the flock.  Pastors’ strengths, generally, are not conducive to church growth, but church maintenance, taking care of those who are part of the church community.  The leaders’ strengths, on the other hand, are conducive to church growth by catching a vision for the church and imparting that vision, first to the leaders,  then to the congregation and, ultimately, to the area in which the church is planted.

The church that recognizes that all five ministry gifts are needed to fully function is best able to fulfill its purpose and to grow. Stan DeKoven, President of Vision  International University, said in the school’s recent newsletter, “Pastors are but (at best) 1/5 of the team members required to equip God’s people for mature Christian living, and probably more than the 5-fold are needed to impart the requisite skills for the next generation of leaders/pastors.”   When we look at Ephesians 4:11,  12, we see the five-fold leaders’ roles are not to do the work of the ministry, but to “equip the saints”, or, as the NIV says, “to prepare God’s people” for that work.  

In conclusion, we must not expect more of our senior leader than he is capable of doing.  We should be working to raise up a leadership team of five-fold ministers under the Headshhip of Jesus Christ and the congregational leadership of one who can capture the vision and impart it to his team and the church.  The result, as found in Ephesians 4:13, will be unity, clarity, and maturity as we find our identity in Christ.

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GOING TO PERU IN JUNE!

Marsha and I are planning our next mission trip to Peru in June.  This trip came about after I was asked if we would be willing to minister in a pastors’ conference for 200-400 pastors.  I said that would be a possibility.

Next thing I knew, we’d been booked for the Pastors Conference on June 10, and also a parenting conference the evening before, and a church service the evening after!  So, we made some other contacts and our schedule filled up very quickly and we are booked solid for the trip.

We will be joined by Aaron Hollinger and his son, Andrew, and by Diana Velasquez, who went with us in 2015.  We estimate our expenses to be about $3000.   You may have seen news coverage about the severe flooding in Peru.  Any money we raise over and above trip expenses will be given to help flood victims.  Several churches with whom we have connection are active in flood relief efforts.

Please be praying for our team.  And, if you’d like to partner with us financially, please make your check to Word of Life Fellowship, and memo “Dixon Peru”.  The address is 808 SW 14th St. Bentonville AR 72712. You can also donate through the church web site, wlfar.com, and click on “GIVE”, then follow the prompts.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  You’ll be able to follow us on our trip on Facebook @pastorjimdixon or @marshastiredixon, or on Jim’s blog, pastorjimdixon.wordpress.com.  God bless!

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I WAS ON HIS MIND AS HE ENTERED JERUSALEM…

I can’t even begin to imagine what must have been going through Jesus’ mind as He entered Jerusalem on that Sunday.  The people were shouting “Hosannah! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”  Yet, Jesus knew that those same people would be shouting, “Crucify Him!”, just a few days later.  How His heart must have been breaking, as He knew his “triumphal entry” would require His death before true triumph would be seen.  In the Garden of Gethsemene His agony was revealed as He cried out to His Father, “Is there not another way?” yet, all the while, knowing the answer to that question.

In these seven days we Christians refer to as “Holy Week”, let’s remember that the celebration of the resurrection is preceded by realization of the agony that Jesus must have been experiencing as He walked the streets of Jerusalem that week.  We look at the cross as the price Jesus paid for our salvation, but His pain of suffering must have begun long before, knowing what was in the hearts of the same people who were shouting praises on Sunday.

Thank God we live on the Easter side of the cross!!!

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GOD KNOWS ME MORE THAN I CAN EVER KNOW MYSELF–AND STILL LOVES ME!

(Edited to Fit Me, From “There’s Hope for Today”, March 18, 2017)

Myers-Briggs says I am an ESFJ. By temperament I am a sanguine/choleric. By culture I am Southwest. My politics are conservative. My theology is Spirit-filled Evangelical, and my hobby is chasing storms. Do you think you know me now?

Here’s more. I hate golf, love chocolate, eat too much red meat and potatoes, admire musicians, read a lot, drive, eat, and talk too fast, and spend too much time online. If I were Gen-X, I’m certain I would be diagnosed with some hyper-disorder and drugged into a manageable state.

Have you got a read on me yet? A few more bits and pieces: My greatest loves, apart from God, are my wife, my kids (including their wives and our “adopted” kids), and my grandkids.  I’m running low on faith in politicians, weathermen, TV evangelists, tax cuts, stock markets, and “as-seen-on-TV” products. I rejoice in fatherhood, weep at the thought of our empty nest, laugh at least twice a day, sing with a voice only God could love, dream big dreams, believe in miracles, hold out with optimism, and always take three where a dosage of two is recommended.

If you were to add to this list my complete self-knowledge, my wife’s insight, and my sons’ input, you would have but a shadow of a fingerprint compared to God’s complete knowledge of me. And when all is said, and all is known, He loves me still. Amazing grace!

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What We Need is What Millenials Need, Too!

I read an article this morning on “Six Things Millenials Need From Pastors”.  The article listed The Gospel, Authenticity, Transparency, Passion, Effort and Love.  It dawned on me that Millenials need the same thing we need.

People said my “Boomer” generation would have trouble reaching the “Gen-Xers”, yet Marsha and I, over the years, have had no trouble connecting with that generation.  Many of those we have connected with call us “Mom” and “Dad”, reflecting a relationship we’ve taken very seriously, and we consider it a privilege to be spiritual parents to so many.  A friend of ours thought incredulous for us to think we have a “mom and dad anointing”, but I don’t know any other way to describe it.  The reality is, we extend to the the love, acceptance and forgiveness that was extended to us by Jesus Christ.  We don’t judge them, even when we may not agree with their lifestyle or their mindsets, but we recognize they are a work in progress.

I can’t help but think the Millenials can be reached with the same thing that has reached the Gen-Xers.  They want the same thing–love, acceptance and forgiveness.  They want to see their spiritual leaders exhibit the same thing we all want.  Unfortunately, however, Millenials are being labeled as self-centered, wanting everything handed to them, being awarded for  participation instead of effort.  And, because they are being labeled, they are often pre-judged before they are given a chance.

Instead of judging  Millenials, lets just love them, and give them the same things we need.  We all need Jesus; we all need purpose; we all need love, acceptance and forgiveness.  We all need the Gospel, authenticity, transparency, passion, effort and love.  Let’s work on meeting those needs in their lives, as well as our own.  After all, we’re all a work in progress.

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Burn the Bridges and Say “Yes!”

(The following came to me during worship at church Sunday morning.  It was for me, but I know it was for someone else as well.  Maybe it is for you!)

“I’ve called you for a purpose beyond yourself.  Until you are willing to say “Yes” to that purpose, I have no red to reveal to you how to fulfill that purpose.  But, once you say “Yes”, I will unveil the “How” of the purpose. Stop looking for a “Why” to your purpose and say “Yes” to the purpose, and the “How” will come to you in floods of revelation.  You’ll NEVER be fulfilled until you say “Yes” to your purpose..  Burn the bridges and say “Yes!”

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MINISTRY CALLING–WHEN IT’S JUST NOT HAPPENING

When there is a call of God on your life–and we all have a call of God on our lives–and it’s not happening the way you thought it would, or as quickly, it may mean you’re just not ready yet.  There is, likely, something in your character or preparation that isn’t in place.  I believe it’s likely the former.  There are some character issues you need to address.  In the meantime, impatience can set in, and you try to make things happen on your own.

Is it a character issue?  In my case, a character issue is faced was a performance-based mindset.  I had, most of my adult life, been a shaker and a mover, using my own devices to make things happen.  And, I thought that my “getting it done” was the guide to my acceptance.  In the process, I became impatient.  But  a good friend, Bill Fitzer, shared two scriptures with me that I latched on to, and they became the words I held on to as the Lord prepared me for the pastoral call I was destined to fulfill.

The first was 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (emphasis added).  It is His timing that matters, and only when my timing is His timing  (not the other way around!) that God’s plan is fulfilled.  His timing meant giving me time to deal with the character issues I faced.  And, the sooner I dealt with them, the more quickly His timing would be fulfilled.

The second was Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”  It wasn’t my works, but His gift that would take me where He wanted me to go.  Learning to use the gifts, and not my abilities, was a lesson I had to accept.  For, it’s He, not me, that really makes it happen.

I still, occasionally, have to remind myself of these two scriptural principles.  If you are wanting to fulfill the call on your life, and it’s not happening as quickly as you think it should, I encourage you to grasp these principles, and deal with your own character issues.  It’s a whole lot better when you let God move rather than try to do it on your own.

 

 

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Heart Attack! One Year Later…

A year ago today I was transported from the Mercy-Bella Vista ER to Mercy Medical Center, where I was immediately taken to the cath lab. Heart attack!!! Though I was in intense pain, I don’t recall having any fear. And, I knew that, at some point, I would wake up…but I didn’t know where–it would be either in heaven or the hospital.

Marsha Stire Dixon, meanwhile, was awaiting word on my condition. My cardiologist came to the waiting room after working on me for over 1 1/2 hrs., and said, “The procedure was unsuccessful; there’s nothing we could do.” My poor wife collapsed, believing the dr. was saying I’d died, when he explained that I was still alive, but my single blocked artery could not be penetrated to insert a stent. It remained blocked, and there had been some heart damage, but I had survived the ordeal.

It was after that I experienced some personal fear–fear that I would have another heart attack. The cardiologist said, “You’ve already had your heart attack. You’re not going to die from another one!” He said that with medication, diet and lifestyle change I’d live a normal life.

I began 12 week weeks of cardio therapy and worked my way back toward that normal life.

A year later, I take several meds. I eat better. I’ve lost weight (though I have a lot more of it to lose.) I’ve slowed down a little, though not as much as I hoped or expected to. And things are, for the most part, normal. Meanwhile, I stand in faith, knowing that healing is as much a part of the salvation package as eternity in heaven is.

So, a year later my heart is filled with gratitude to God for keeping me on this side of heaven. I can’t begin to express all the blessings of the past year, or the anticipation of the blessings to come in the future. I get to watch my grandkids grow up. I’m here for Marsha, who especially needs me right now as she recovers from her surgery.  And we’re in a ministry transition that excites me as much as the prospect of entering full time pastoral ministry did almost 30 years ago.‬.

Thank you, Lord, for leaving me here on earth for an extended season. I’ll do my best to fulfill that which remains for us to do. Amen.

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Gratitude for the Privilege of Serving the LEO Community

I’ve been indirectly involved in law enforcement all my life. My grandfather retired from the sheriff’s office in Wichita, KS, and was a major influence in my life. One of the careers in my adult years was as a broadcast journalist which connected me with law enforcement on a regular basis. But, it was in the mid 80’s I became personally involved in law enforcement, as a reserve deputy with a suburban Oklahoma City sheriff’s office.

Fast forward to 2000, following the deaths of three Rogers Police Department officers at their own hands, Police Chief Tim D. Keck met with Pastor Dave Hadsell and me to discuss establishing a chaplain program for that department. The program was launched, and I continued to serve that department under Keck, then Chief Steve Helms and, later, Steve Hamilton, who scuttled the chaplain program. Then, in 2012 newly elected Sheriff Kelley Cradduck asked me to develop a Chaplain Division modeled after the program we established at RPD and appointed me Chief Chaplain

Last year Shawn Holloway announced his candidacy for sheriff, and asked that if he were elected that I would continue serving as Chief Chaplain. And last night I prayed at the swearing in ceremony for our new Sheriff Shawn Holloway, the entire sheriff’s office.  Along with the deputies, the Chaplain Division members present were sworn in.

I shared the background to establish foundation for one of the most rewarding ministries in which I’ve been involved. I’m grateful to Tim Keck for trusting me to lead the RPD Chaplain Program, and to Steve Helms for continuing that trust. At BCSO Kelley Cradduck’s confidence in me during his tenure is deeply appreciated. And to Sheriff Shawn Holloway, thank you for your continued confidence. But my deepest gratitude goes to Jesus Christ who called me into His service.  I’ll do my best, under God’s guidance, to serve the men and women of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

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