Friday, February 26, 2010

Making friends to and from India: Boujar & Shokhurkh

The top picture is Boujar. We sat together on my flight from Dallas to Washington, D.C. on my way to India. Boujar is from Kosovo. He, his two uncles and brother own Luigi’s Italian restaurant in Rockwall. Tell him I sent you and he might charge you an extra 10%.

Boujar told me about the war in Kosovo. His family had to move from their home during the war. He could no longer attend his school. He used to go to school with other friends at a neighbor’s house.

I was again reminded of what a peaceful and safe life I have experienced here in the States. I was also impressed with Boujar’s thankfulness for the help his country received during the war and the opportunity he has had living in Rockwall, TX. Please pray for him as he visits his father who is ill.

The second picture is Shokhrukh (or Shawn). We sat together from D.C. to Frankfurt. He is an epidemiologist. He lives in Uzbekistan. He is like so many people I have met on international trips. When I asked him questions about his life and showed him some pictures of my life, he kindly invited me to visit him in Uzbekistan. He said we could go climb some mountains and do some fishing. He promised that if I came for one month he could show me the whole country. He also said I could bring one other person. Who wants to go?

Let’s Pray Together.
Father, thank You for the fun of traveling and maybe people from all over the world. Thank you for your common grace in things like warm houses and safety. Help us to be a thankful people as we consider not only your physical blessings but the help we have received in Christ.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do you feel like my dog George?

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

This is George. Recently, I was taking a picture of our gate. George heard me. He poked his head out and cried as I took the pictures.

Seeing George there reminded me of a conversation I had in December. I was walking at White Rock Lake with Ron Snell. Ron and I were talking about our desire to be in the game of life and not be spectators.

We talked about how easy it is to be spectators. We talked about conversations we have had with other men. We talked about how many of us end up stuck on our couches watching hours of television, or day dreaming about what we would do if we had more money, more time, better health, or wishing we had more discipline to act on any number of things.

I don’t want to be like George. I don’t want to be stuck in the backyard dreaming about running free or crying to be taken for a walk.

There are dangerous side effects when George doesn’t get regular walks and runs. He tends to store up energy and frustration. When George escapes, he ransacks the neighborhood. I cringed the time he was chasing someone in their yard. He thought they were playing as they were running from him. I also cringed the time Vela came home and screamed at me because a neighbor screamed at her as she was retrieving him from their yard. Have you noticed any of these side effects?

What do you do to keep from being like George?

Monday, February 15, 2010

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

This Sunday we looked at Mark’s account of Jesus’ suffering in the garden of Gethsemane. I said that my hope was that as we thought carefully about this account, it would help us to say, “Oh how he loves us” while in our own Gethsemanes.

Mark makes it clear that Jesus was facing not only physical death but the wrath of God for all sin. Jonathon Edwards said that Jesus was having terrible and amazing views and apprehensions.

Mark gives us a picture of Jesus “losing it” in response to these views of the wrath of God. We are given a picture of Jesus in more agony in the garden than on the cross. The emotional stress alone was about to kill him (14vs34). Jesus falls down (14vs35). Jesus asks for a way out (14vs36). He references “the cup.” The cup was the Old Testament image for God’s judgment against sin.

What do you think when you see Jesus stressed out? How do you feel when you see Jesus rolling in the dirt? What do you think when you hear Jesus asking for a way out of the very purpose that he stated was his reason for coming? How do you feel when Jesus says that he doesn’t want to drink the cup of the wrath of God?

I don’t think enough on the wrath of God for sin that Jesus faced. Can you imagine what it would be like to stand before God and to answer for every sin, crime, evil act, and injury in the history of the world that has been done against the millions of people that he created in his image and loves?

He tasted this in the garden and stayed to drink it all. He tasted the wrath of God that was going to come down on him at the cross. This makes going to the cross even worse. We know this. Think about a difficult or painful experience where you have said, “Wow, that was harder than I thought. I don’t ever want to go through that again.”

In response to all of this, Jesus said to his Father, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Oh, how he loves us!

Holy Spirit, give us power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Assure us that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus. In our suffering, comfort us with this love. Strengthen our resolve to do what Jesus wants no matter how difficult, no matter what the cost, and no matter what kind of response we receive from others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Daily Challenge of Trust

This is an email I received from Salli, a member of Northwest Bible. I have talked to several people who have said they sense Jesus calling them to trust Him more so I asked her if I could share it with you.

Enclosed is a devotional from Jesus Calling that particularly touched me this morning and is one in which the Lord has been continually showing me as it goes against my nature of wanting to control, direct, figure things out, plan and be in charge. I continue to get the same message of "Be still and know"; "Rest in me" and "Trust me". As I am learning to surrender myself to Jesus, may I be able to trust Him for and tomorrow...knowing he has a perfect plan and he will show me the way. I pray that He would help all of us trust Him more and know Him more as we wait to see what He is going to do. Have a great week, Salli "

Follow me one step at a time. That is all I require of you. In fact that is the only way to move through this space/time world. You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you’re going to scale those heights. Meanwhile because you are not looking where you are going, you stumble on an easy path where I am leading you now. As I help you get back on your feet, you tell me how worried you are about the cliffs up ahead. But you don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow. One path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains. There may be an easier way up the mountains than is visible from this distance. If I do lead you up the cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for that strenuous climb. I will even give my angels charge over you to preserve you in all ways. Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open the way before you.

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence is a daily devotional written by Susan Young.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Our thoughts of the future matter today

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…1 Peter 1:3–4

In recent years I have heard a focus on living for Christ today that downplays our future hope of heaven. I think this is one of our many evangelical pendulum swings. Peter reminds us that we bless God and rejoice greatly in the worst of days here on earth because of a future prize God has guaranteed for us in Jesus. This morning I was convicted as I read this passage because I don’t spend much time meditating on the awesome, wonderful, crazy, amazing future God has in store for me.

I know how to meditate on future things. Every time I plan a future trip to Colorado, it happens. I buy a topographical map of my destination area. I plan and re-plan daily hikes. I talk to friends who know more about the area than I do. I read trip reports on the internet. I gather all my information in a manila folder to take carry with me. When I am doing all this, I lose track of time. I forget about other things. My mind and heart get caught up in daydreaming. Sounds obsessive.

Peter writes to believers who have lost friends, homes, and families. He tells them they can be so captured by the future that they can sing, “Blessed be Your name.”

Lord, help me live today as one extremely thankful for every moment, every breath, every meal, every relationship, all the present challenges, every new adventure, the work I am privileged to engage in, the meetings I will attend, the fun I have living. Lord, help me to live with an eye to heaven, a mind that is filled with grand thoughts of greater things to come and a heart aware of my longing for home. Blessed be Your name.

Take a few moments to meditate on what you know about your future in heaven as revealed in God’s word.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Worship Jesus Wants

She has done a beautiful thing to me. Mark 14:6

This Sunday we examined the story of the woman who anointed Jesus in Mark 14vs1-11. After talking about the historical context I asked the congregation for the words they would use to describe the woman’s worship of Jesus. Here are the words we came up with this Sunday and from Facebook this past week:

sacrificial, unconditional, inappropriate, lavish, costly, abandoned, frivolous, crazy, adoration, courageous, fearless, reverent, extravagant, intimate, public, fully invested, trusting, illogical, humble, personal, aromatic, scandalous, worthy, extravagant, vulnerable, unrestrained, abandoned, whole-hearted, purely focused, Spirit-led, genuine, selfless, naked, unsafe, undignified, irresponsible, insightful, free, not practical, spontaneous, complete, her best, her all.

However we describe this, we should take note. Jesus called it beautiful and said the story will be told wherever His story is told!

Two questions:
Which of these words would you use to describe your worship of Jesus?
Which of these words would others use to describe your worship of Jesus?

After 29 years of walking with Jesus, it has never been more clear to me that I cannot just force or discipline myself into this kind of worship. So why did she have it? Jesus not only said that her worship was beautiful but he also told why she did it. “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” Mark 14:8. This woman, who John tells us was Mary, to some degree understood that Jesus was going to die. Mary had gained this insight from doing what any of us can do today, she regularly sat and listened to the words of Jesus. I believe she worshipped in this way because she was undone by the love and death and Jesus.

Let’s Pray Together.
Jesus, help us to sit at your feet daily through the reading of your word and listening to your Spirit. We confess that there are many good things that keep us from the best thing of spending time with you. Give us power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is your love for us. Give us greater insight into all that you went through on our behalf in your death. Make us worshippers that cause you to say, “This is a beautiful thing you have done for me.” Amen.