Thursday, May 29, 2008

11 Days and counting!

So, we leave for Kenya in 11 days, and we have been quite busy around here preparing. I got my international driver's license today, so I can officially drive in Africa, which is a little scary! We have the suitcases out, and we are starting to put together all that needs to go. We will be so busy over the next three months, so it can be a little daunting to pack for such a trip. By God's grace we will have all that we need, and His name will be glorified.
So, in the meantime, I wanted to share with y'all that I taught a class lof about 50 adults last week on 1 John 3:1-6. It was such a great experience and I had so much fun imparting the things that God had laid on my heart about the passage! And, at the risk of sounding like a tremendous nerd, I am officially on a podcast!! I think that is so cool!! Here is the link to the site, if you are interested in checking it out:
222 Podcast

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Extreme vs. Obedient

So my husband and I went on a date a few days ago (which was sooo wonderful!!). We went to the move theater and saw a movie called "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." If you have not yet seen this movie, I cannot recommend it enough, especially as a God-fearing people, because it has incredible implications for the direction that our society, and world as a whole, is going. The movie is a documentary about the tension within the Academia world of Science between those who believe in Intelligent Design vs. those who believe in Darwinism. The tension is not only real, but quite hostile, as those who believe in Darwinism tend to think quite little of their Intelligent Design counterparts, to say the least. There was name calling and personal attacks, not to mention blacklisting for career positions and slandering of character.
There was one part in particular that really stood out to me. One of the Darwinist Scientists was talking about his vision for the future world, saying that the scientific community would like to see science and technology becoming more and more the prevailing guidance and "religion" (as he called it) would be less and less important in a person's life. That decisions would be based upon science and technology more and more, and less and less based on religious beliefs. Where now, they see religion as a "main dish" in a person's life, they would like to see it reduced to a weekend "side dish," a simple Sunday gathering that would be nice for a morning, and then everyone could return to normal life afterwards.
Not only is this scary, but it is already happening. And one of the biggest problems now is that the Church is allowing it to happen. What happen to men and women of integrity who speak the truth boldly, with no fear of natural consequences? What happen to leadership fearing God and not man?
I recently came across a story out of the University of Toledo in Ohio that shocked and greatly disappointed me. You can find the links here. The gist of the story is this:
There was an opinion column published by the University newspaper editor talking about the great injustices being done to the homosexual community, talking about their civil rights were being violated, comparing the injustices of the homosexual community to that against African-Americans or handicaps. A university administrator, and African-American woman, responded to the opinion column with her own opinions on the matter, stating that she strongly disagreed with the comparison of the homosexual community to the African-American or handicapped communities. She cited her own Scriptural beliefs about God's divine order of things and then the natural consequences that come from choices that we make, either in obedience or disobedience to God's divine order.
This university administrator was subsequently suspended from her job by the university president, who cited that her beliefs did not line up with the values of the university. In an official statement, it was said, "Those beliefs are better suited for Sunday morning services only."
Do you see what is happening, friends? Do you see the direction we are headed as a people. My great fear (if it could be called fear) is that the Church in the West will come under great persecution before it decides to wake up and take a stand. The world calls us judgmental and closed-minded because we choose not to embrace the sins of the flesh. I hate my own sin because it breaks the heart of my God. I will no more love the sin in others. But while I will not embrace the sins of the flesh, I will embrace the people, as they were created in the same image of God as I was. It is not a matter of being hateful people, it is a matter of being discerning, hating the actions while loving the people whom God created. That is our great challenge. But we must become a people devoted to standing on the principles of God, speaking truth no matter the consequences, so that the actions of this university administrator would not be seen as extreme, but would be a concerted message from believers across the nation and around the world.
I was at a gathering of believers not too long ago where someone referred to me as the "extreme among them," (presumably because of our calling to serve overseas). That humored me at first, but then made me quite sad. Why would I be thought the extreme, when I am only being obedient? Is true obedience extreme? It should not be! It should be the norm, so that it not a select few who are carrying on the work, but the overwhelming majority who are all doing their share. I assure you that I am as broken as they come, but as God is putting back together the great mess that I created of my life, He is working. There is nothing extreme about that. Well, maybe it is. Maybe it is time for the Church as a whole get radically extreme, lest we will be considered an insignificant "side dish."

In Need of Laborers

There are some stories in life that the heart does not readily forget. There are some words that so pierce the soul that it leaves an ever present heart-shaped indentation that cannot be explained away. One such story was told at a marriage conference that I attended with my husband some years back. The speaker was relaying a story about being in the Denver airport, waiting to board the underground tram to get to the next terminal. He was telling us that as he was waiting to board the train, he noticed a single mother with four children, all loaded down with luggage and various items. The youngest of these children was a beautiful little girl, maybe four or five years in age. He was the father of four boys and had never had a daughter, so he found himself somewhat entranced with this beautiful little girl. He said that as the train pulled up, everybody was crowding the door to get on board, and as the doors opened, it was just chaos as those on board were trying to push past those crowding their way on. He said that as he got on and got himself situated, he turned back to the door just in time to see it closing, with this little girl standing on the other side. In all of the chaos, she had not made it on the train, and her mother had not yet noticed. As the train began to pull away, tears began to stream down the little girl’s face. She stood on the other side and watched her family roll away from her. This man, a pastor and speaker, approached the woman immediately to let her know that her beautiful daughter had not made it on the train, and as the mother began to panic, the man assured her that he would go back to get her and return her to her mother’s arms. The man left his luggage and valuables with this terrified mother, got off at the next stop, and went back for the little girl. As the train pulled up, he could see this precious little girl, standing in the same spot in front of those horrible doors that closed her out, sobbing. He stepped off the train and explained the situation, assuring the little girl with as much information about her family and whereabouts as her mother had told him, and then simply asked her if she would go with him to be rejoined with her mother. She threw open her arms, sobbing all the while, and went with him.

The image of those horribly unforgiving doors closing out the lost is just heart wrenching. There will come a day when our train will arrive. We will be called to board, and all those who do not know Jesus will be left on the outside of those doors as they close and we pull away. The day will come when we will look back toward the doors and see our loved ones, our family and friends who do not know Jesus, standing on the other side. The doors will close and the terrifying realization will come over us all. They will not be joining us for this journey Home. What a dreadful thought, yet we take little action to prevent it. We have become a people of excuses and justifications, rights and limitations. We want to protect ourselves, as if our own lives are ours’ to protect. In the process of protecting ourselves, we neglect the needs of the rest of the dying world. In the process of finding comfort and security for our own lives, we have distorted the gospel of salvation into one of complacency and resignation. We have become content with the fact that our names now rest in the Book of Life, and have ignored the calling and responsibility that goes along with that great privilege. We have reduced His saving grace to mere fire insurance. We put boundaries and limitations on what we are able to do or what we are comfortable doing, forgetting that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine. We limit what He can do with us and in us by limiting what we believe He is capable of doing. We pat ourselves on the back after doing a project or two, resigning that we have done enough for the time being. Is it ever enough though? Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The end has not come, the world does not yet know, it is not enough. Our work is not yet finished.

As we are preparing to leave for Africa in a few weeks' time, the reality of where we are going and what we are doing is sinking in more and more. There is so much work to be done, and yet the overwhelming majority of God's children are not stepping up to take share in the work. It seems as if the Church is losing ground. But how can that be, since we know how the Story ends? Raise up laborers, Father. There is work to be done.