Friday, January 28, 2011
"I have chosen to live as if every conversation I have, as if everything I do either blesses or defiles someone else." I'm reading a book called Experiencing Father's Embrace by Jack Frost and was challenged by that statement this evening. Everyday my path crosses with so many different people, sometimes just passing by, sometimes they want something from me, or I want something from them, but no matter how formal or informal, how casual or intimate the conversation is I choose to pass on life and love or death and defilement. That seems so harsh to say it that way, death and defilement, and yet when I think about it, it's pretty accurate. My words can cause the death of someone's hopes, or can mar someone's view of God. If someone come up to me for the tenth time asking for school fees, even if I know it's not my place to give the money for fees for this particular person, there is a way in sharing that information with the person that either blesses or defiles, either builds up or tears down. Jack goes on later to make the statement, "Every misrepresentation of God's love to another individual is an area of sin and darkness in your life." Have I perfectly represented God's love today to everyone I met? No. Thank God for His grace and that He forgives. But I know by His Spirit He can continue to mold me and refine me and pour His love through me in such a way that I represent His love better and better every day. Am I willing to go through that refining? Yes. I desire Truth in my inmost being. Will it be easy? No. But I fix my eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of my faith. The love of God has transformed my life, and I want to continually pass that love and life on. Father God, help me to walk by Your Spirit, that I am able to be an accurate representation of your love to all those that I meet.
Monday, January 24, 2011
I was reading the book of Ezra over the last week and have been quite impacted by it. Listen to this, "As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. (9:3)" This is Ezra's response to the unfaithfulness of God's people, their deliberate disobedience. and He goes on, "At evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, saying, 'O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. (9:5-6)'" He cries out on behalf of his people. It strikes me that it is not he who was in individual sin, he had not intermarried with the pagans as so many others had, but he still mourned and interceded on behalf of God's people, and even identified himself as guilty along with the rest. He felt a certain connectedness with his fellow believers. It seems these days we've lost some of this as the bride of Christ, especially in the western church. To each is own, and don't try to tell somebody else what to do, let them go their way, and if they're in sin, don't try to come along side them because they might think you are judging them. We've lost being appalled at sin. We forget what it does to our Father's heart. We don't feel called to repent and cry out on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are stuck in sin. I remember a pastor once explaining that if we knew what our sin does to the heart of our Heavenly Father we would say of course gouge out our eye if it causes us to sin, we'd freely cut off our hand if it caused us to sin, if we even understood just a bit of what our sin does to our Father's heart. We know we are all apart of one body in Christ, as much as our american ways drive us toward independence, we are dependent on Christ and on the body of Christ, when one part of the body suffers we all suffer. I want to become more appalled at sin in my own heart and in the bride of the Christ, I want to come and plead before the Lord on behalf of my brothers and sisters. I don't want to continue on saying, ah, that sin is not mine, the sin of abortion, not my problem, the sin of pornography not my problem, the sin of adultery not my problem, they're not my problem if I'm not struggling with them, and yet these and other sins are eating away, slowly destroying the beautiful bride of Christ. I need to be concerned about this, I need to cry out to my God, begging forgiveness on behalf of my brothers and sisters. The Lord knows I'm not perfect, and I am always asking forgiveness for my own sins, but how often am I standing in the gap for the global church? Do I allow myself to become appalled by our sin as a whole, our unfaithfulness as a bride? Do I realize how it effects the heart of God? Lord, teach me, teach us, that it isn't just about ourselves, open up our eyes to see the state of the church as a whole and how we might join with one another and cry out to you Lord, appalled by our sin and begging for you in your mercy, to not forsake us in our slavery to sin, but extend to us your steadfast love!
The most encouraging part I found while reading the book of Ezra was the phrase that he used over and over again, "The hand of Lord my God was on me...the good hand of our God on us, The hand of our God is for good...the hand of our God was on us." Even in our sin, the good hand of the Lord is upon us, longing to draw us back to Himself, awaiting us to come to our senses.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
For some reason the last few weeks, I've at a loss as to what to share. And it's not for a lack of things going on. Maybe things that I used to find strange or funny are becoming more normal. I think I will just share what I've been learning over the last few weeks in some kind of list. Because they don't seem very connected, i'm currently doubting my capabilities to draw them all together in some creative way, so let me just begin.
-I learned when I feel free to open up and share some struggles that I have, or times when I've been trapped in some sin, it tends to bring freedom to whom I share with for them also to share. I like that freedom and transparency.
-I am prideful. Well...I am a work in progress anyway. I am currently doing a bible study with Betty & Abela about three mornings a week. (B&A are both 12yrs old and often find themselves at our house) We are reading through the book of matthew together and a couple weeks ago we read through the beatitudes. The first one, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven really struck me again. I began to pray that God would grant me this poverty in spirit and increase my knowledge of the desperate situation I am in without Him. And so having forgot that I prayed that I found myself a week later, speaking to myself, something along the lines of, man, why am I so not nice these days, and i need to learn how to be more loving, and I found myself getting frustrated with myself. It's then God reminded me of that prayer and really spoke to my heart, See, my child, see how I am constantly at work in you and how desperately in need of Me you are? And I thanked Him for revealing that to me and for answering my prayer. He really worked on my pride and I'm so grateful He answered that prayer, though of course I was wishing there was a less painful way. =)
-I learned 26 people can fit pretty well into a van made for 15.
-I learned that I can buy 12 Disney movies on one disk for 8,000 shillings (~4$).
-I learned if I really understood the power and potential in fasting, I would fast more and more faithfully.
-I learned that I can bite my tongue in my sleep and wake myself in the process.
-I learned that 72 degrees is cold.
-I learned that I have much more to learn about Mslm ministry.
-I learned it's really hard to plan my next trip home because I want to see everyone across the country, but definitely won't be able to...decisions, decisions.
-I learned today that Berna and I are going to be sharing the word of God at a youth conference in the village on Monday and Tuesday to about 100 youth. Nothing like giving you two days time to prepare...at least it's not day of.
-I learned the more I learn the more I have yet to learn.