Pastor Ivanildo shared his reflections as he returns from the Central African Republic regarding John 14:1-3. In the New American Standard Translation, verse two reads, "In my Father's house are many dwelling places..." He is right that as middle-class Americans we have projected our perception that every person wants a home of their own. Yet as I re-read the verses Jesus is telling His Disciples to not be troubled in your heart but believe in Jesus. In fact, Jesus says, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also (verse 3)." It's about relationship, NOT real estate. I praise God that I am learning more about God everyday. I look forward to being in heaven with Jesus, regardless of what dwelling place awaits me. It's about being there with Jesus, not staying in my own home, in my space.
Check out his comments and other tidbits for reflection by visiting the Wooster Grace CAR blog. There are great photos there.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I got the opportunity to preach this past Sunday. Pastor Nick Cleveland teamed up with me. Together we took Hebrews 12:1-3 as the text for challenging people to keep on running in the race of faith. There are obstacles, hinderances that need to be thrown off to run well.
Five things need to be left behind to keep running the race of faith: worries, wounds, my way, ungodly wants, and wrongs. The remedy for each are: leave behind worries by praying; leave behind wounds by forgiving; leave my way by humbling myself to go God's way; leave behind ungodly wants by training; and leave behind wrongs by confessing.
It is going to be difficult. I have found it challenging to run the race of faith everyday. I struggle with worries. I confessed that getting my house ready for sale is my weighty hinderance that I need to cast off. When I feel in my heart that I can't control the situation, I know in my head that God is in control. Still, I must cognitively act upon what the Bible says in I Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." The verb there is a participle (it talks of an ongoing action, not a one-time decision). Every time anxiety grows within me, I can cast it upon God as anxiety emerges. There is no time when I will be worry-free. Not for an extended time. In reality, worry pops up a lot. However, God is truly there for me. I praise Him that He cares for me. Yes, following God as His disciple is challenging, but its benefits truly make it more than worthwhile.
Keep on running,
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Rob Plaster has a great imbedded cartoon about how some young people in France view love. Even though I don't know French, the clip speaks volumes.
Without God, love is masked as manipulation. I wonder if people understand that. As I ponder biblical anthropolgy, human beings are sinful. Without God, true love evades us. The Bible says, "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (I John 4:8)." We can only love when God fills us with His love so that we can truly love others. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (I John 4:10-11)." Moreover, "we love, because He first loved us (I John 4:19)."
I praise God that I get the capacity to love from Him. His love is infinite. His love is inexhaustible. His love is fearless. I can fear less because of God's great love (I John 4:15-18). That's an incredible truth! I can experience love in its deepest emotional senses. May God enable us to love one another so much that others want to know God better.
Your love is amazing God. Thanks for first loving me. Empower me to draw from your eternal tank of love so that I can love others. May I use your love to love others into your kingdom.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
We commissioned in prayer from our office lobby our team to the Central African Republic. Five men, two women carrying loads of luggage to minister to the orphans, widows, and those with AIDS in the capital city of Bangui.
I am so proud of this team. It is my privilege to facilitate trips like these so that our church can develop fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
Please pray with me that all 17 luggage pieces for the team will be handled properly and arrive safely and in one group in Bangui. Ask God to provide health to the team as they travel to Africa--giving them sleep on the flights from Cleveland to Detroit, Paris, and Bangui.