Thursday

Finished?

So Jenny and I have been visiting a lot of folks this past month and yesterday was no different. We went to visit an old friend of ours and when I say old I mean 95.

Madeline still keeps her home on her own . When she prays its like being near a crashing ocean. Power! And all you want to do is blast your hands into the air and shout praise to Jesus. She has 30-40 5th and 6th graders over to her house every week. She feeds them cinnamon rolls and slushies and talks to them about Jesus. They are from broken homes and when someone tells them about a "heavenly father" they think about men who either aren't there or whose presence only makes bruises grow. But Madeline loves. She loves with the love of Christ and children are coming to Jesus and growing in their faith and being transformed from cases of abuse to children of God. When they get too old, she teaches them how to pray and those kids, now in high school, meet several times a week to intercede at the throne of the Father. Madeline calls them her prayer warriors but she knows they are the Lord's.

She is all of 4'10" and walks with the briskness of an autumn storm. She told us that at 75 (for her 50th anniversary) her husband took the whole family to Europe to see where they all came from. She climbed the Matterhorn. At 75. Though she did say that on the way down her quads were burning a little. So her grandchildren found her a little cane on the mountainside and she still has it on the wall of her bathroom. I saw that cane and I thought, "She's Yoda."

She's not green or a Jedi. But she's the sage who still has it. She's at 95 what most folks never are at all. Have you ever seen how little children are often scared of really elderly folks? Not Madeline. At church camp, the same camp where Jenny accepted Christ and later felt a call to full-time missions, Madeline is swarmed by children. Have a troubled kid? Madeline takes them and walks and talks with them. She prays for them. And never has a kid not been brought around. Amazing? Yes. Surprising? Not really. Not when you consider her Source. She is no more and no less than a child of God, a servant of the King of Kings. She lives a life of power in the hunched little body of a lady born in 1911. She is a worshipper of God and I can only ask Him to help me finish so well. Ahh, but she is not finished. Not until she is taken home to her Savior. She told us that she might fall on her face tomorrow but until she does, it's her life to love the little children and let them come to Jesus.

Finish well



Sunday

The wait of glory

I was driving home yesterday with Jenny and Deacon. We had been swimming at a country club here in Lubbock. It was nice. Beautiful pool, shade. If you got hungry or thirsty you just ask a gal walking around to get you a coke or a club sandwich and put it on your tab. In our case, someone else's - a very generous someone's - tab. Not bad. As a matter of fact, it was good. And a great time. But it got me thinking.

We're heading out to Guatemala because we want to. We're excited about it. We're not trudging off to suffer as global nomads for Jesus. We're just going where He wants us and we want to go. But there are some things we will miss out on. We won't have a country club membership. Honestly, what we'll miss out on is comfort and familiarity. And while it seems really holy to forgo those for the sake of the call, there's a part of me that likes comfort and familiarity. But how important is all that and what am I willing to neglect or ignore in order to maintain a 'comfortable life'?

All this comes I guess from something in Hebrews that's stuck in my thinker:

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
Heb. 13:11-14

We're strangers and aliens here. I said we were driving home, but really, home isn't in Lubbock or Flower Mound or Guatemala. It's in that "enduring city". Here on planet earth we're called to bear the disgrace He bore. That doesn't sound very comfortable. But it's not supposed to be a burden either. 1 John 5:3 says "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,". Yeowch.

It's sad, really, that I have to grieve the loss of comfort and stuff. I wish I didn't but I also know that there is something more important. Loving my God. He is better. His way is better. It's not always clear and it's not easy, but it's not a burden either. The burden (yoke) of the Lord Jesus is easy and light. It's freedom. How backwards does that seem? The yoke of freedom. But that's reality. That's life - eternal life - and I want to live it here and now.

Really living life here on earth means suffering in one way or another. And we don't like to suffer, at least I don't. But it's not forever. We're not yet in our "enduring city" but we can live in the freedom of eternity. How incredible is that?

Friday

Please wield correctly

So I was reading Psalm 3 today and verse 3 really caught me.

"But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head."

Shields don't work unless you are behind them. I know that the psalm says "about me" and that the Lord is not limited to place, etc. But work with me. It's poetry.

What does wielding a shield require of me? Trust. I have to trust that it will protect me from whatever is on the other side be it arrows or a sword, axe, hammer...name your impliment of war that shields defended against. If I don't trust my shield I am going to run and find something else. Something I can trust. Something that can protect me.

Now in this Psalm, David is running from his son, Absolom, who wants to kill him and take his throne. That's significant life-stress in my book. David's response is to trust in God to protect him, to put himself in a position where, if God fails, he will die.

David trusts in God completely...and he is not a perfect man! But he has chosen to look to God and say, "I'll get behind you. You will not only protect me, you will lift up my head, You will be my glory. I trust you."

I like the way the Message puts it:

"But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain. "

"His answers thunder from the holy mountain" I love that! "With all my might I shout up to God." I love that too! We have sterilized our relationships with God because when push comes to shove we often trust something else. God can take our shouts of joy, fear, frustration. God offers Himself as our shield and we think, "Hmm. What if He fails me. I'll trust myself or my education or my whatever instead." And in refusing to leap we miss the life abundant because abundant life is walking with Christ, trusting in Him, getting behind his shield and waiting for His answer to thunder. You know? Have you ever shouted to God with all your might? How did He answer you?

Man, I just love Psalms.

Tuesday

A visit with friends

Jenny and I drove to Midland today to visit a dear friend of ours and her family. We left about, oh, 10:30 or so and drove the 2 hours through pretty boring terrain. Mesquite trees and pump jacks. We stayed about 4 hours, had lunch, then drove back to Lubbock.

So why post about that? Because relationships are important. So important that four hours of boring driving to spend four hours of with a friend will always leave us richer, moe whole. We didn't do anything special. We ate with the family, looked at pictures, played with a baby boy and a 2 year old, talked, laughed and prayed together. We encouraged one another, challenged each other and left one another blessed.

And contrary to life in America (or anywhere else folks have enough money not to need each other), people are more important than things. Jenny and Deacon and I are important to our friend and her family. Why? Because we give each other stuff? Don't think so. We're important just because we are. We share a love with this family just because we do. We talk about the Lord, about our struggles, our fears. We pray for each other and we do more than say, "Jesus, we lift them up to you and ask you to be with them. Amen." We just talk to God together and thank Him and ask Him to help us. And somehow in eating and talking and laughing and praying we are strengthened and made more whole than before.

In John 17, Jesus prays for all those who will believe because of the testimony of the disciples. He doesn't pray that we get more stuff or keep up with the Joneses or even that we would have energizing worship services and happy lives. He prays that we would be one even as He and he Father are one. He prays that because of our unity the world would know that God loves them and sent Jesus to them. Is Christianity today a picture of unity? Is it more important that we worship with the right lighting or that we worship as one? It seems that the church has left her moorings in search of wholeness when unity in the Body of Christ is the holiest (and most whole) things that can happen. And I think that unity is better demonstrated in relationships than anywhere else.

Anyway...it's really nice to have friends to love...and be loved in return.

Friday

Cult of personality?

Oh, before I forget: Jenny and I are speaking at her home church (Lakeridge United Methodist) on Sunday. We have just 3 minutes before the offering! Please pray that the Lord gives us clear and succinct words that honor Him. Also, pray He brings in the remaining 10% of our monthy support and the $15,000 still needed for our one-time expense. Thank you! Oh, and Jenny's getting much better. Cough almost gone. Thank you for praying.

Ok. So I've been mulling over the TBS thing. The Great One (you know who you are) :-) told me to look at 2 Peter 1:4 regarding the Faith Movement. I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but I reckon you don't have to read it.

Here's the verse:
2 Peter 1:3-4.
seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Quiz time. What is it that folks of the prosperity gospel have plenty of, are always asking for more of, and if you ain't got it you are not following God's covenant; you don't have faith?

Money.

Now for some reason Paul told Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 tim 6:10). What's even more is the verses preceding:

8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Hmm. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that? Paul had no faith! Ok, back to 2 Peter.

We have His promises (which are"precious and magnificent"!). So that...what?
We may have fabulous wealth? We may life a life of increase? We would have a life free of sickness, pain, sorrow...Heaven on earth? No. So that we would "become partakers of the divine nature". WOW. Who gives a flip about money when we can partake in the nature of God? How important is money to God anyway? Does He need any? Does He want more? Will He still be God if the stock market crashes and money becomes worthless? Does the gospel still matter in a world without money?

When did the gospel become about me? It's about Jesus! The only reason we have anything is because of
"the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." All we can claim is that we know Jesus. And that seems to be enough because He has given us everything we need. We are supposed to have escaped the world and its corruption. Corruption caused not by the work of the devil alone but by lust, evil desires, our evil desires. And the love of money (an evil desire) is a root of all kinds of evil because it puts my focus on me.

One other thing and I'll be done. The fellow on TBS called the Bible a "covenant of increase". That sounds great. Except a righteous man, a man so important that he was tasked with announcing the Messiah, didn't think increase was all that big of a deal. In John 3:30 he says, "He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease." He apparently thought that the only one doing the increasing should be the Lord Jesus and I certainly won't disagree. I realize that this was pre-resurrection, pre-Pentecost. But does the principle remain? God's promises to us, and they are many and wonderful and should be claimed and shouted by every believer, are meant to help us partake in the divine nature, not the the things of this world. We are meant to decrease so that the nature of Christ may increase in us. And that sounds pretty good.

Your thoughts?


Tuesday

All quiet on the Western front

We have gone from full throttle freeway to Sunday drive.

We're going through Rosetta Stone Spanish and it is the best thing you can do next to having your own language tutor. It's amazing. And even fun. One thing we learned at PILAT is that language is a natural human ability. Anyone can learn it. If you have a language now, you can learn another one. You just have to learn the way your brain learns language. You don't learn language like you learn algebra and that's what we do in school. Anyway...if you have ever wanted to learn another language, talk to me about it. I can give you some really great tools. It's amazing.

Anyway. We're not sitting around watching soaps and eating bon-bons. But we're not constantly on the go. Jenny's got a bad cold/sinus infection and she actually has time to rest. Not bad. We are doing a lot of sharing life with Jenny's family before we head out as well as speaking at her church this Sunday. Oh, pray for that please. We are speaking briefly at the morning services and setting up a table. We are praying that the Lord brings in the rest of our support so we can leave in September.

I'm studying through Genesis and Hebrews and have parked in John 17. Absolutely amazing! Wow. God is so...unpredicatable and yet unchanging. He's just huge and amazing. John 17 is absolutely revolutionary. I may post on that later but I've got a lot to sort through. And have you read Psalm 145? READ it. Wow again.

I'm also reading Robert Frost's Poems. They fascinate me. How people write poetry like that is a mystery to me. I can appreciate it and really enjoy it, but writing it? I just don't know how.

Oh, and about the TBN thing. This may take awhile. Sigh...

There was a guy (didn't get his name) holding up a Bible and calling it "The covenant of increase". He said if you are not increasing physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually that you are not obeying the rules of the covenant. My father in law was in there watching. He had a stoke in 1999 and is paralysed on his left side. His body has been decimated by disease and complcations from the stroke. He loves God. He asks God to heal him but God has, at least at this time, another plan for Robert. This man on television heaps guilt on my father in law and brings not healing but hurt. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no unwholsome words come out of your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." This man who swings the word of God around like a club brought no grace to my father in law, no edification. And it...it angered me. The health and wealth/name it and claim it crowd is a cult who has perverted the gospel into a sales pitch to the hurting and the poor. I stomped in and told Jenny that if I ever see that man I would slap him in the face because he didn't deserve the effort of a fist. Now, I know that's not right and I'm not going to slap him. But I know they preach a gospel where the reward on earth is over-realized. I know my theology is not perfect. But I also know theirs is false teaching. May God deal with them.

Maybe all is not so quiet...

Wednesday

Back "home"

Well, we're back in Texas again and at this point anywhere in Texas is close enough to home. We're in Lubbock visiting Jenny's parents and family the entire month of July. We're saying goodbye and just spending time with people we love and who love us. We're also speaking at a church and meeting with folks, learning Spanish and figuring out how to best move to another country, but that's just 'business', not life.

We still have a lot of processing to do and we are thankful to have this time to do it. We feel like our brains are computers without enough ram. The little hourglass is spinning and that's ok. It's not often in life that we will get the opportunity to rest. We have to fight for it.

Lots to talk about but I'll get to that later. I'm also steaming mad at TBN but that's nothing new. Better cool off before I put anything in writing.