Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Plentiful Harvest & The Laborers

We returned from London little more than 24 hours ago. It was my first time out of Heathrow in that city so I was super glad to be there. We went out into the city last Saturday - just on our own, navigating the public transportation and typical tourists attractions. Mainly we went to the British Museum. I've wanted to go there since 2001. It was great - and free! After the morning and part of the afternoon there we went to the area of the city where we hope to invest our lives over the next many years. As I am typing this and my iTunes is playing on my Mac, the song "Give Me Your Eyes" came up. That was and is my prayer as we did and will walk those streets in the future.  It will take us seeing with His eyes, being sensitive to His leading, for us to do anything.

During the first day of training in London we looked at Luke 10:1-16. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs to the places where He would go. He said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." I am aware with a new, keen sense of awareness of the plentifulness of the harvest. The need for planting and sowing and reaping and gathering. I am beseeching, on the behalf of my city here and of our UUPG there, for laborers. In a way that I cannot at all explain, I feel a weird sense of confidence that there will be laborers. I cannot wait to see what God is up to - what He will do in us and through us, the laborers.

While we were on our way home from the UK, a group of ladies from our church community were leaving to go to prison. They headed down to Central Texas to go in to tell women inmates about the great love of Jesus. Really, I am so thankful for my church people and their willingness to be a part of Kingdom activity. Perhaps that's my confidence - except that part that comes from The Holy One - these people that God has put in our lives are simply willing.

What lies ahead will be challenging and fulfilling and a bit scary. We don't go alone. We know that. It will require sacrifice. We anticipate that. It won't be easy. Oh yeah, we're fully aware. Oh the joy of going. Oh the privilege to give and give up. Oh how strong we will grow when we are stretched.

Beseeching the Lord of the harvest,


Saturday, April 14, 2012

How Does One Define Peace?

I've had the awesome privilege to study Philippians 2:6-11, "The Christ Hymn," in preparation to teach with my man this Sunday. Just teaching with him and studying the Bible with him is amazing but I thought it so great to have this particular passage on the Sunday following Easter. Really, I'm in awe of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. I've had my theology book, my word study & lexical aids, and my Dictionary of Paul and His Letters out on my desk all week. Top that off with some of my favorite worship songs playing on my Mac during study and it's near perfection.

I've been studying theological truth this week but there are some concepts that are just hard to define. Faith, for example. How do you truly define faith that saves? We can explain theological and doctrinal truth but each person has to come to faith in Christ on an individual basis. Peace. We all want it and can give a dictionary definition but sometimes it's hard to really experience. Especially when life seems a mess, or complicated, or hard. I think this week I came in contact with someone who experienced real peace.

There's a man at our church who faced some potentially serious news this week. He was having some medical tests for something that could be even life-threatening. On the day of the medical tests dozens of men at our church gathered with him to pray. He sent me a facebook message the next day to ask me a question about a particular ministry at our church. Following our exchange about the ministry, I ended my message by simply asking him how he was doing. I think I expected almost any answer except the one he gave. Just one word. Blessed. 

I don't know about you, but I don't know if someone asked me how I was doing following a full day of medical tests that could end with some bad news if I would answer "blessed." That is an example of peace. It's calm in the storm. It's confidence that the Creator/Healer is greater than human circumstances.  It's faith. Maybe not easily definable but experienced, none the less.

By the way, he got a decent report back. Apparently, even the doctor thought it was near miraculous.

All to the praise of His great name.  The Name that is above every other name.

"So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow... and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:10-11, in part)

Serving the King,


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Checking out Maundy Thursday

I'm not sure I ever knew this but the word maundy is from the Latin word mandatum which means "commandment." Maundy Thursday is commemorating the day of Passion Week (Thursday) when Jesus met with His disciples and celebrated the Passover meal with them; what we call "the Last Supper." The reason for maundy is, therefore, in recognition of the instructions, or commands, Jesus gave His disciples during the time they spent together in the Upper Room. The synoptic gospels record the event in the chapters that follow: Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22. John's gospel account covers 5 chapters, 13-17. It starts with Jesus washing the feet of His disciples and ends with the High Priestly Prayer. In both, Jesus modeled how to have the heart of a servant. He said, "I washed your feet. Now you follow my example." (my wording, John 13:13-14) Later in John's recorded account, Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35, NASB) Again, He didn't just teach what to do, He lived it: even as I have loved you...

In John 14, Jesus said that if we (spoken directly to His disciples then and meant also for His followers of all time) really love Him then we will keep His commandments. But, we don't have to do it in our own strength or ability (hallelujah!) but we have the Holy Spirit as our Helper. In chapter 15, Jesus talked about abiding in Him and bearing fruit. One reflects the other. If we are staying close to Jesus, then we ought to be living in such a way as to bring glory to Him. The focus is on Him and not on ourselves. Not on temporal but eternal. Not on the world but on the spiritual.

Jesus began the High Priestly Prayer, as recorded in John 17, by saying, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You." (verse 1, NASB) The dark part of the Passion story follows. The arrest, the trials, the beatings, the crucifixion. But, today is Maundy Thursday. We celebrate what Jesus did on that Thursday every time we participate in the Lord's Supper. He instituted it on that day.

So, if it's appropriate, happy Maundy Thursday to you! Tomorrow's Friday but Sunday's coming!

Serving the King,