Tuesday, April 27, 2010

If I see another Mc Donalds, I think I will puke...

Driving, lots of driving. Potty breaks, lots of potty breaks. McDonalds, way too much Mc Donanlds! We made a journey to visit friends and family over the Spring break. We reunited with old friends and distant family. Kevin Titus and Anika were super troopers! I couldn't imagine sitting in car seats for hours upon hours, wait a minute, yes I can, I drove for those hours! Each new destination brought new rewards. We watched our first Blue Ray Movie, Anika and Titus met new friends and had a blast chasing cats and calling cows! We had excellent pizza, marvelous Mexican food, and then there was the balloon guy. A modern day miracle worker, I mean who else could make a Tinkerbell out of balloons!? Long hours on long roads were met with joys of fellowship, food, and friendship. We want to send out a thank you to all the friends and family who put us up for a night or three.

Catching up with old friends, I realized that every one else is on their own journey, even if they aren't conscious of the path they are on. As a member of the Body of Christ, our true journey starts as we decide to follow Jesus. Christ said in John 14:6,
"I am the way, the truth, and the light, no one gets to the Father but through me."
The way to what? Really, the way to what?! Where do we want to go, what is it that men and women seek? Why do I wake up in the morning? Why do I go to sleep? One common thing I found in talking with friends and family was a sense of frustration, a disappointment, a discontentment with the place they were presently. I mean, are you satisfied, do you feel fulfilled? Even I have experienced the deep rub of the reality of a disillusioned life. You feel you are at a place where you don't belong. You feel that you should be in a better place! You feel like you should be doing something totally different than you currently are. You feel that the accomplishments that you have collected are less than satisfying. I found disappointment as I focus on my own dreams and desires for my life. And when I found myself disappointed, I would look for things to fulfill the emptiness. For me it was hobbies. One time I had an Airsoft kick, another, I was in video games, another, I was preoccupied with new technology. I was frustrated about my work and started to feel unmotivated. I felt unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and quickly found frustration as those kicks could not satisfy my soul.
Our dreams can be our own treasure. Pretty diamonds and rubies formed by the dreams and hopes of what we want our life to be. We could fill up droves of treasure chests of all our dreams of what we think is good for our families and for our selves. We hold on tight, not to dare let go, or our identity would disappear with them. Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had and to follow him and the man went away sad because he was so rich. Matthew 19:21-22

21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Am I willing to let go of my dreams and trade them for God's dream and desires for me? Absolutely! When I think of the Awesomeness of God, I feel as though I should sink through the ground on my hands and knees giving Him all the Glory and Honor that He is worthy of! God, the Author and finisher of my faith knows what is best for me. The material dreams and fantasies, even if experienced will turn to dust and will rot. My soul is to be preserved for ever, one way or the other and I want to share in the incredible presence of Jesus on the day of judgement. What is a flat screen compared to souls saved from Hell? What is a nice house compared to be in the presence of Jesus Himself. How can one explain the greatness and awesomeness we will experience?
God, our Author and Finisher of our faith, has us exactly where he wants us. He has plans and purposes beyond our knowledge and conscious and it is through our disappointments and frustrations that exposes the emptiness of the world we so many times long for.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
When we are broken and left at a dead end, we can only look up. Our relationship with our Father, with Christ, is real. There is give and take. We ned to give thanks in all things. We need to give up our dreams and seek the dreams of God. And when I think of, "our dreams," I mean, human hopes and dreams that are mainly materialistic and selfish, not of the spiritual nature.
Luke 9:25
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
If we are to find fulfillment in our lives, we need to make our hearts right with God today! We need to seek His will for our lives and let go of our own will.
Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his crossand follow me.
For we do not own ourselves. We were bought with a price.
1 Corinthians 7:23
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
We pray that our family and friends find peace and confidence in Christ in every situation. To God be the glory for the great things He has done and will do!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lessons from the Basketball Court

5 seconds on the shot clock, score is tied, ball is in bounded, I come a round a high screen, I shoot, the ball seems to float off my finger tips, a perfect rotation, locked onto the basket, and swishes through the net with the sweetest whisper. The crowd goes wild! Yeah, I wish! For the last couple of months, I have been playing basketball at the YMCA, nothing like the heart thumping scene described above. In my early morning hoop sessions, I have come to learn some important lessons about not only my role on a 5 man pick up team, but about my role as a member of the Body of Christ.

So here is what I know about my basketball skills; I can make a 3 pointer in warm ups, but not in a game, I handle a basketball like I have two left hands, and I am as fast as an old hobbled horse. Now, I have found some things that I am good at, I can move the ball around to the open person so they can make the buzzer beater, I can set screen and picks for my team mates so they can get an open shot, I can rebound and box out, if I am in the paint, I have a really good chance of making a basket and my biggest strength, I am really good at fouling! I have come to these conclusions after many early 6 am mornings, running up and down the court. I have tried to be the 3 point shooter and hitting brick after brick, have cost my team a win. I have also tried to be the point guard and end up turning the ball over like a stack of pancakes, costing our team a win, and I have tried to shoot the winning shot in order to be the big shot and turning the ball over again! Lord, I will give the ball up next time! On the other hand, when I dish the ball off, my team mates seem to score more. When I set picks and screens, my team mates seem to swish it more! When I let them make the shots and let them be the hero, they seem to finish! What I have determined, is when I play, I am a better assest when I support the others around me. Now there our times when there is an opportunity to score by utilizing one of my strengths and I will take it. I fully give credit for any of my basketball skills to God as well as thank him for any of my weaknesses. Playing for team Jesus, I too have been given spiritual gift as well as every one who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
Paul, in Ephesian 4 talks about receiving Spiritual gifts from God:
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it[a] says:
"When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men."[b]
9(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]?
10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

I need to exercise the gifts that God has given to me so that Glory is given to God and not myself. I need to be careful not to seek gifts that glorify
myself for that comes from Satan. Paul, in Romans 12 says,
3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously;
if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
As a family, I, you, should also encourage others to practice and exercise their gifts as well. If you are sitting on the fence wondering if you should step out in faith to exercise your gift, walk in faith and with courage, for in Christ, all things are possible. Don't hide your gift, your talents, for we will one day have to account for our actions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Look left, look right, reach your hand out and touch the person closest to you and you just might hear the low roar of the battle rumbling in their heart! Rejection, isolation, loneliness, lies, liars, desire, desire, desire, rage, hurt, depression, betrayal, void, a deep, deep void, ambition, secrets, dark secrets, rage battle every day against our spirit and are blinded by the smoke, flames, percussion, and the smell of fear as spiritual weapons are discharged. Some days it feels like fighting for our lives, holding on by merely a thread. Somedays are full of peace, though it may be a false peace and we are ignorant to the fact that the battle in us as stopped because we don't recognize the inner war that is not of Flesh and Blood. All we see is the wars in the sand pits, the crumbling economy, weak real estate market, high unemployment, bankruptcy, and the list goes on and on. I read the news and listen to the radio and it all reminds me that this Hurt Locker we live in called Life, is one day all going to end as we know it. Things that were once important aren't so much and the things that weren't so important now are. Jesus walked the earth and he touched the sick people he encountered and showed them love by reaching out a merciful hand. Jesus talked about a resurrection, His resurrection and that we too can share in that if we confess our sins and believe that Christ is our Savior.
Each shoulder I bump, every ear I lend reveals souls fighting for survival, facing battalions that go on into the sunset. All I can do, all we can do is uplift our neighbors in prayer and wait in faith and confidence for God's power to show up in his perfect timing to save those that are lost and to bring back to life from which was once dead.
David recognized that the battle belongs to the Lord, but someone has to show up to the fight.
1 Samuel 17:45-47 (New International Version) David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

Lets show up to battle and wait on the Lord. Let us face the giants with confidence in Christ alone. Let us pray, lifting up our neighbors so that Christ be glorified and watch how God takes what was meant to do harm save lives.

Genesis 50: 19-21,
19 But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

Tomorrow we celebrate the most important day in all of history! We have been challenged and honored to share the resurrection story with our 2 year old. Who knows how much she understands but we know she Loves Jesus as much as a two year old can and that warms our heart!
Contemplating the Passion of Christ, it reminds Amy and I why we seek to follow where Christ wants to send us, to serve the Savior who has brought us out of Death and into Life. More and more I know this journey is about glorifying God and that it is through God's power and will that we will find ourselves in a strange land among strange people.
Amy and I are overjoyed about the responses we have received from our generous family and friends and yet we also know we still have a long way to go. But we remain faithful and full of joy of what God is doing in our lives and the lives of His people.
I know some people are very happy for us and excited and some others are not so much. Why leave a well paying job? Why sell your house and most of your belongings? Where will you go when you come back? It is so hard to raise monies especially in the hard times we face today? What about your kids and their health and safety? So many questions and answers that aren't good enough.
in Corinthians 1, Paul talks about the wisdom of Man Vs. the Wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1: 8- 25 & 27-31
8For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.[c]

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength...

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

I am thankful for Paul's reminder that following Christ does not always make sense to our family and friends, or even us, but Christ wants us to trust and obey. Continue to pray for us as we continue to pray for you!

In Christ, who is the Head and seated at the right hand of the Father, Amen!