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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Numbered Days

I am a blog stalker. I enjoy following people's lives by reading what they write about their experiences. I guess it's like being able to get in to a whole bunch of reality TV shows without being glued to the TV. So, right now, I am following the blogs of several godly people who are dealing with cancer. One a close friend of mine (and her husband) who has just been declared in remission from lymphoma and two, that I don't know but feel like I do, that have various types of brain cancer, one a sweet 6 year old girl and the other a prominent pastor. Here are links if you would like to follow them as well (Milton & Karen Carroll, Kate McRae, and Matt Chandler)

The thing that is striking to me in all of these situations is how much these people cling to God during this trial in their lives. It seems to being a new closeness that is not there (or not as up front) when life is "normal." They cling to Him. They find that He is truly the only thing in life that is sure.

So this morning as I was reading the blogs, Matt said something that struck me. He talked about how some of the people he knows who have dealt with cancer and been healed sometimes wish they could regain that closeness and dependency on God they felt in the height of their need. He said as people regain their health and their self-sufficiency they tend to lose a little (or maybe a lot) of that.

Psalm 90:12 says "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."

In reality, we are no different from any of the people who have touched the lives of so many by sharing their trials. Our days are numbered by the Lord, just the same as theirs are. They just have a diagnosis that brings it to the forefront. So why don't we live like they do, in total reliance and dependence on the Lord, drawing close to Him as our only strength to make it through each day?

I so need to remember each and every day that I am not promised tomorrow. My days are numbered. I need to be fully living my life for Him and not wasting one moment. So today I am asking what plans He has for me and tomorrow I want to do the same. I pray that God will use me up for His plans and purposes today. I want to make today "count"!

So today, ask Him to show you what He needs you to do today. Your days are numbered too. Don't waste a single moment.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Priests, Alters and Blood - Oh My!

Oh My is kind of an understatement! In my daily bible reading plan I am reading chronologically through the Bible and am in Leviticus right now. Talk about a book that is hard to grasp. It is full of rules and regulations that God gave to the children of Israel while they were in the desert headed to the promise land.

Right now I am in the middle of the book, and it struck me this morning how incredibly hard the job of a priest was during that time. I think for some reason we have this view in our minds (at least I do in mine) of a guy in a robe walking around a church, facilitating services and hearing confessions (among other things.) But back then, it was much more than my small view. I won't go into all 19 chapters worth of rules with you, feel free to read them on your own, but sufficed to say there were lots of them. Things he had to do to keep himself "clean" before the Lord, to atone for his sins, and things he had to do to help the people atone for theirs.

I think what struck me most as I read this morning is the sheer magnitude of the blood that he had to deal with. There were approx. 6 MILLION Israelites and sacrifices that had to be made for each one of them. These sacrifices usually involved some sort of animal being killed, dismembered and various parts of it being handled in various ways (buried, burned, eaten, etc.) But it was the blood of these animals that struck me most. In a lot of the cases the blood of the animals was thrown up against the side of the alter. Shocking enough to picture it being done for one animal - one sacrifice, but imagine millions! Imagine the priest was was responsible for doing all that day in and day out for the people God put under his care. What a difficult, messy job he was given.

In Lev. 17:14 it says "For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life". Symbolism there is amazing. We all know that we can't live without our blood. God had them sacrifice these animals and use there blood as an atonement for their sin so that they could live in the presence of a holy God.

Now, we are no longer required to bring the family ram to the tent of meeting to being slaughtered to cover our sins so that we can be in the presence of the Lord. Jesus made that sacrifice for us once and for all by shedding His blood on the cross to cover our sins before God. The final, ultimate blood offering. And all I can do is thank Him for that sacrifice because His blood not only saved my life, but it saved me from a lot of unpleasantry regarding animal sacrifice. YUCK!

But going back to the priests for a minute, I believe that in some ways the "modern day priests" have just as difficult a job. Now before you get all hung up on the fact that we are all "priests" according to the new covenant - I know that! My point is those that have been called into vocational ministry still have a very difficult job. They still have to deal with peoples YUCK every day and are held to a standard of rules and regulations (whether real or perceived) that is higher than most - living under a microscope, if you will.

So today, stop and pray for the ministers in your local church. Pray that God would hold them up and give them strength to do the job He has given them, no matter how difficult, no matter how much YUCK. Pray that they would fully rely on Him and that His peace and blessing would fill their lives as they go about their work.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who you callin' a missionary?


-noun Also, missioner
1. a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work.
2. a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc. who attempts to persuade to convert others.
3. a person who is sent on a mission.

Does what comes to your mind when you hear the word 'missionary' match the definition given?

For a long time when I thought of the word missionary, i thought of only people who would go to a foreign country to spread the word about Jesus to those they met there. Brave saints of Christendom who devoted their lives to people groups who had never heard about the transforming love of Christ. People who uproot their lives and dive in to new cultures and learn new languages and strange customs to further the kingdom. People that are NOT ME!

I do not feel, like most of you, that I have been called to spend my life in another country for Christ on a permanent basis. However, spending the last 5 days with people who HAVE been called to that changed my perspective just a bit.

I spent time talking and getting to know the ones who are so faithfully serving here in China, a closed, communist country where you can not worship freely or speak the name of Jesus without running the risk of being asked to leave the country by the government.

They do uproot their lives and have been called to immerse themselves in culture that is very different than ours. The spend years learning to speak, read and write the language. They eat things that we spoiled Americans would discard easily as trash. But they form relationships with the people that God places in their paths and pray that God will open a door for them to talk about their faith in hopes that the ones they have given their lives to will spend eternity with Christ.

I heard someone on our trip saying that they "feel like they don't have the right to sit at the same table as these people." He honored their devotion and (it seemed to me) viewed what they are doing as a "higher calling" than his. Now, he may not have been meaning that at all, but I think that many of us think that way.

We live in our posh society in our comfortable houses with things that we have come to take for granted as normal but other would consider an unobtainable luxury (things like heaters and carpet and whole wheat bread.) Sacrifice in "missionary terms" is not in our frame of reference. And yet, I feel that we somehow have missed what God is asking of us.

I am more convinced than ever that we are not that much different than the missionaries I was so blessed to get to know. We have all been called to immerse ourselves in the culture around us. To build relationships in hopes that we will have the chance to share the love of Christ with those that are lost. The main difference that I see is that we have not heard the call, or if we have - we have chosen to ignore it.

If you are a believer, you have been given the best gift ever - the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. If you believe that - how could you keep it to yourself? We don't have to learn a new language or eat strange food, or leave our families or our posh lifestyles. We just have to get past ourselves and our fear (let's call it what it is) and be the missionaries God has called us to be.

Are you up for the challenge? Go and be a missionary in your world today!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Funny Thing about Agendas

So, picture this very well planned out schedule...

conference 2008
conference day 1 - 3 hours of worship and prayer
conference day 2 - session 1 and video

went really well, so they decided to do it again with a couple changes...

conference 2010
conference day 1 - session 1 and video
conference day 2 - 3 hours of prayer and worship

so, here's how that turned out...

video that was supposed to be shown on day 1 delayed by UPS and could not be shown till day 2, so 3 hours of prayer and worship got moved to day 1 instead. Caused a bit of scurrying on our part and a really late night, but all was well and He was glorified.


our agenda had better start with Him or you better be prepared to shift because He will make sure we get on to His agenda, even if it causes some inconvenience in the process.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

To Post or Not To Post

Interesting thing going on. Yet another first for me. I am having a difficult time posting anything like I would normally write in my blog posts. So, for the time being if you want to follow what is going on here, follow me on face book or twitter. My twitter posts will come up on the side of my blog. I will posts several entries when I get back into the states. Stay tuned...

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Sea of Different Faces

This post was done in Hong Kong but would not post while I was there)

Have you ever had the feeling that you just stand out from everyone else - you are just different?

You just can't fit in no matter how hard you try? I have had this experience two times in my life, both on trips to lead music. When you go to another country it becomes almost painfully apparent that you are not like others around you. You look different, you talk different, it is difficult to communicate and the culture is something that is hard to understand. People look at you funny and make you wonder what they are really thinking about you. Not a very comfortable feeling.

It makes me wonder if jsus had that same feeling when he came to earth. He was so "not like" the people that surrounded him. He was perfection and he stepped in to a wholly un-perfect world. And while he looked like us and talked like us, the whole experience had to be foreign to him, uncomfortable even. Yet he was obedient to his calling to come. To be in the world and not of the world.

As uncomfortable and hard as it may be, we are called to do the same thing in our world. To be in it and not of it. To "look" different than the ones who surround us. To stand out. To speak a different language. To know the culture but not be so familiar with it that it consumes us. To be like him.

So today, ponder this... How different do you look to those you come in contact with? Do they even see a difference the way you are from the way they are? Do you "blend" to much? My hope for you is that you are uncomfortably different from those around you and that you learn to embrace that and live it well.