Monthly Archives

May 2018

Abide

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This incident took place over 15 years ago, and yet, I remember it clearly.  In the buzz of daily life, it is easy to get caught up in the carelessness of the checklists, and forget the intentionality of abiding in Him.

I remember how frantic I was once at or late deadline and how frustrated I was at all the problems we were having in getting the program together.  We’d all kinds of equipment failure throughout the day and I was going to have to drive the program across town to get it uploaded to the satellite.  It was already 7 pm and the babysitter was calling me every 10 minutes.

Then, I got a call from a lady with a gentle Creole accent. She told me, “I felt led to call you and pray with you.”  I SO didn’t want to talk to this lady, wasn’t interested in being prayed over, and really just wanted to leave to get this program fed and pick my 2-year old up.  I was impatient when I responded to her.  Rather than take insult from what was probably a curt rebuff,  she just said , “Wow. You REALLY need the peace of our heavenly Father on your heart right now.”

And…she burst out in song.   Now I’m wondering why I’m on the phone with this crazy lady, and then she prayed through the worship song and then rolled right into praying for me, for my distress, for the things I thought I needed to do…and prayed that I would be still and listen, that my heart would be quiet long enough to remember the awe of God, and that the joy would come back to my heart as we produced MNN…

The more she prayed, the more convicted I grew and I realized I was caught up in the ‘do’ and not the ‘be’…and THEN she pulled out the big guns: the story of Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42 New International Version (NIV)

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

She ended our conversation with, “Sometimes, it’s ok to be Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus.  Stuff will still be there to do. It will eventually get done.  But the lasting investment is remembering to sit and BE at the feet of Jesus.”

It was a much needed gentle rebuke along with a little encouragement from an unknown sister in Christ that I still remember to this day…thousands of productions later.   What we do is important…but not at the risk of forgetting to abide in Christ.

Koinonia

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Koinonia (Koy-no-nee’-ah) is a Greek word, occurring 20 times in the Bible, which means “fellowship” or “brotherly love.”
It carries with it the meaning of a committed, trustworthy, and dependable relationship. Such a relationship can be experienced through participation, sharing, giving, and contributing.
The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
But the rest of the passage reads:  “ 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
 Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement.
The essence of koinonia: “one another”.
 Scripture commands us to be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10), honor one another (Romans 12:10), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8), accept one another (Romans 15:7), serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32), admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13), spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), offer hospitality (1 Peter 4:9), and love one another (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 3:23; 4:7; 4:11-12).
Koinonia is translated many different ways in English Bibles:
-fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
-contribution (koinonia) for them and for all others.” Paul writes to the believers in Philippi: “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share (koinonia) his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10).
– Christian living– the dynamic whole of it. It describes an interactive relationship between God and believers who are sharing new life through Christ.  It captures the entirety of this relationship. It involves active participation in Christian community: sharing in spiritual blessings and giving material blessings.
How does this idea fit into the theology of ‘And’?
Acts 1:8—it empowers us with the chisomo—the grace to DO—the all-inclusive–
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
And they will know you by your love.  (John 13:35)   “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Covenant

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Isaiah 54:10  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
There is something of music in the very sound of these words.

The thought that lies below them, sweeping as it does through the whole creation, and parting all things into the transient and eternal, the mortal and immortal, is still greater than the music of the words.

‘These’ are removed; ‘this’ abides.

The thing in God which abides is all-gentle tenderness, that strange love mightier than all the powers of Deity beside, permanent with the permanence of His changeless heart.
‘My loving kindness and the covenant of My peace,’ outlast everything else. The antithesis of what passes and what abides is mind-boggling.
 ‘all things are in a state of flux’—it’s a basic tenant of physical science…and yet it seems as unchanging as anything we know…it’s the shape of the box…and yet,  if we had nothing abiding beyond this universe, what would be the point?
There’s an unspoken  ‘But’  here–  in that vacuum, the Great Spirit moves all the material universe, Himself unmoved, undiminished by creation, or by said vacuum.  The Unknowable whose name means ‘breath’ is YHWH—who comes to us in man-form to help the created move toward and abide in this presence.
I’m sort of blown away by how big this passage paints God…and blown away that we are His children…and that we able to abide because of Christ…that our part in glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever comes in walking alongside a global family and telling their stories.  Insignificant, by itself, but being used as a tool to help others abide and recognize the mercy and grace of this big Abba.
We can touch the face of God…because He calls us to Himself.

Innocent As Doves

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The Scriptures
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Matthew 10:16-20
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Today, it’s just been on my mind to bring our attention back to the armor of God and the fact we need to be wise like serpents, innocent as doves.
I want to speak to the first part, being wise like serpents. Going to Malta helped bring to my attention how much I don’t know about my own country’s politics, the refugee crisis, trusting God, and even God’s word. I feel like I’m doing “better than the average U.S. citizen.” But, in reality, I don’t know very much. And I’ve realized when it comes to engaging in conversation with others, it’s important to have a handle on topics like these.
I.e., talking with my dad about refugees. Having facts and knowing the what the constitution says helps me to better articulate and defend my stance culturally and based by our country’s laws. Knowing about the situation with refugees abroad also helps and is a tool in dispelling the fear which the current administration seems to use to get support to make the calls it’s trying to make both about refugees and immigrants in general.
The second part, being innocent like doves…that’s a hard one for me because I’ve thought in the past it means to be naive. I don’t want to be naïve. But being innocent doesn’t mean you’re naïve. I think it means we guard our hearts and take our thoughts captive. What we put into our minds affects the lens through which we see the world and view the Bible—and it has the power to jade us.
I.e., rape. I know rape is in the world. I know it is destructive. I’ve seen it damage lives. And I’ve seen God redeem. But, what I don’t need to do is read the part of a book or watch a TV series which details a situation of rape. I don’t need to invite that in my mind to “know” about rape. I’m thinking of a book one of my youth group girls was reading. I haven’t read it, but I see how she struggles with her sexuality, her relationship with God, and for a period even suicide. I also see how her parents are okay with exposing her to things that are a bit mature for her age.
Compared to another one of our girls who is aware of what happens in the world, but her parents are careful to protect her from exposure to things which are dark, damaging, fracture her relationship with God. She’s being taught to be innocent, not naïve (or judgmental), and to take her thoughts captive.
Both of these girls come from solid Christian homes. I can’t say for sure that what each of these girls has or hasn’t been exposed to has been the big factor in who they are today, but I think it’s clear it has played a role. No barely 12-year-old girl should be reading intimate details about sex or rape. And while I may think not allowing your 12-year-old to watch Harry Potter could be a little excessive, I see how this other young girl is being shaped to cast her thoughts on what is good and to pursue God in all things.
Which leads me to the Armor of God. If we are sheep among wolves, if we are God’s people aware of the spiritual battle around us, we need the armor of God. We need our faith, especially when we don’t have answers to why God is still good in hard situations, but know that he is. We need the encouragement of salvation when doubt comes into our minds if we are truly loved by God. We need to know the scriptures, not just where to find them in the Bible, but to really be so in-tuned we can recite them when necessary. We need the breastplate of righteousness because frankly, the world is watching.
And with the armor of God and I think it’s important to ask, do we believe in spiritual warfare? Do we believe the world we live in isn’t just made up of cold, hard facts or only what we can see?
When I was talking about spiritual warfare with my friend who’s in Ecuador, she mentioned how we leave ourselves open to it. Every morning we can either be aware that it’s there and pray, or we can disregard it and leave ourselves open. Praying against spiritual warfare isn’t just for the days when we can sense it, but even when we don’t suspect it.
With all of this said, I want to encourage each of us to really grab hold of the scriptures, of God, and for what it means to put on God’s armor as well as to be wise like serpents, but innocent as doves.

Abraham & Lot

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Genesis 13
So Abram left Egypt and traveled north into the Negev, along with his wife and Lot and all that they owned. 2 (Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.) 3 From the Negev, they continued traveling by stages toward Bethel, and they pitched their tents between Bethel and Ai, where they had camped before. 4 This was the same place where Abram had built the altar, and there he worshiped the Lord again.
5 Lot, who was traveling with Abram, had also become very wealthy with flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and many tents. 6 But the land could not support both Abram and Lot with all their flocks and herds living so close together. 7 So disputes broke out between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. (At that time Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land.)
8 Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! 9 The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.”
10 Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. 12 So Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. 13 But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord.
14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants[a] as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”
18 So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the Lord.
At this point in the story, God’s promise to Abraham of the promised land hasn’t come true yet, but good land is part of the promise
We’ve seen Abraham have faithful triumphs and failures, but this is a time when Abraham showed great faith once again
because there are SEVERAL reasons why Abraham could have taken the better land
1. movement towards God’s promise of good land anyway
2. and this is probably a more striking one to me, but culturally speaking, the older would NEVER defer to the younger. Lot, as the younger, should have deferred to Abraham the older – both in going to him to resolve the disagreement between their herdsmen and in giving him the better pick of land
But Abraham wasn’t fixated on culture and on manipulating God’s promises
Abraham’s dealings are not in seniority, but in brotherly love
and that’s what faith does. Faith resolves tension with generous self-sacrifice
Christians often say in tense situations, “Well, I’m not a doormat! I deserve not to be walked all over!”
But my pastor said something very striking to me. “Aren’t we glad Christ never said that?”
A faithful and generous person doesn’t need to manipulate or control the situation because they are resting in the promises and sovereignty of God
Faith leads to trust leads to generosity and self-sacrifice with others.