Thursday, June 12, 2008

34-Hours from home to baggage claim?

photo by ~MVI~
Asia's Hope News Home Page

I just got off the phone with Joyce who is on her journey to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Joyce is another short-term missions partner going into the world to reach the world with the love of God. She is a fully devoted follower of Christ who has developed a passion to help children in Southeast Asia. Her husband, Dave, is the director of Asia's Hope.

Please pray for her and think of her as she starts a 22-hour flight time excursion from Ohio to Thailand. That's right, twenty-two hours flight time. She will log 34-hours from home to baggage claim. Yet she has a passion for helping out--she is yet another one of my heroes.

Alone no more

My Year Listening to God--

When you feel alone, is God truly with you?

In my journey as a Christ-follower, I find there are times when God feels so far away. Not all the time, but on different occasions, i sense God is not so close. Yes, I understand the theological truth that God resides within His believers (John 14:16-17) at the time you decide to follow God. But there are times when I feel alone.
My readings today come to the place where God reassures Isaac that God is with him. Genesis 26:24 says, "I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you..." Just like Isaac I need the reassurance that God is with me. I do fear. But I believe God's truth that He is always with me but sometimes I feel like He is not near.

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I am so glad that God shares the reassurance--do not fear. I can feel fearful, but God addresses my shortcomings on an emotional level. He will build me up with the fact that He is my God and He will be with me therefore I do not have to allow fear to paralyze me or to make me flee. I can embrace my fear and choose to move towards God or choose to remain stedfast in God. No matter where my emotions emerge, I can choose to embrace God and His reassurance.

I hope that makes sense. From my perspective, I am so glad that God takes care of me, even when I fear or feel that I am alone. I have the God of the Universe in my life but when I feel alone, He can reassure me with the words--do not fear, I am with you. I challenge you to stop what you are doing and inhale deeply and listen for those reassuring words, "Do not fear, I am with you." God can be with you like He is with me. I wonder if you heard those reassuring words in your mind or heart. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Message to Coldplay--there is something more

On Coldplay's latest album--Viva la vida, the song "42" has the lyrics, "Time is so short and I’m sure There must be something more."

There is something more I've found. It's a relationship with Jesus. He is such a close and dear friend to me. In fact, I can enjoy my relationship with Him right now and each moment of my life.

I just turned 43 so the spectre of death may seem closer, but there are no guarantees that anyone lives another day. But the hope that I live in, is that I can enjoy life to its fullest dimensions in Christ. I can experience as Jesus said in John 10:10, "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

I am experiencing so much more each day. I am so amazed at what i discover in my journey with Christ. I am so glad that I am a Christ-follower.

Purposely helping someone out

Living on purpose to help others out. THat's what I think about missional living. I came across the Missional Living sermon from Here is a streaming audio podcast link for how to live missionally.

I wonder what you think about living to serve others.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Better than eHarmony

photo from movie website

My Year Listening to God: God answers prayer and He is a matchmaker.

I can still hear the song, "Matchmaker," from Fiddler on the Roof.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match

In the dialogue throughout the song, I feel the fear and the apprehension of matchmaking. Read it for yourself.

photo from movie website

Here in Genesis, Abraham asks his trusted servant to find a bride for his son. The faithful steward prays for success and God grants His petition. He finds a bride for his master's son. Whoa!

I love the fact that here is a prayer from someone in Abraham's household. It is not the patriarch, but the patriarch's servant who receives the blessing of answered prayer. Wow! The blessing of Abraham extends to even Abraham's household. God's work in humankind's lives makes a positive difference.

God brought two people together. They did not create a profile on eHarmony and discover compatibility levels as well as "values, character, intellect, sense of humor, spiritual beliefs, passion, and up to 24 other dimensions (eHarmony)." God directed them to each other in the most unimagineable circumstances. Some may claim, chance. Others may deride, luck. Even others may chide, archaic, old-fashioned, neanderthal. But I believe that God always oversees everything and is involved with everyone, even computer compatibility algorithms. Though some may declare online success, I trust God and His principles for working in my life and within the spectrum of my relationships. I am not opposed to compatibility results, but in addition to tests I believe that God's principles and precepts can be followed to maximize great relationships and to offer comparable success for those who abide by the Bible's teachings. God brings people together--whether by culturally arranged means or scientifically calculated algorithms, I believe God still presides over all relationships.

I wonder what you think. I wonder if you believe that God uses even computer sciences to do His will for arranging couples into marriages. Let me know what you think.


Europe at Night photo courtesy of NASA


As I engage my role as pastor of cross-cultural missions, I am inspired to pray for the dawning of a new day in the next generation of missionaries to Europe and to the 10/40 Window.

The footage of the dawning of a new day over Europe directs me to ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest. The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few. May God raise up laborers to harvest in the fields ripe.

Take a moment to say this prayer, "God, bring light into the darkness of the world with the Good News of being with God forever by accepting Christ as your Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Finding out your purpose in life

My Year Listening to God: Finding your purpose in life.

Today I stood in 90 degree sunshine on triple-H afternoon, waiting for a church bus to leave our parking lot. Standing with students and parents to authorize the junior high missions team, I praised God for His wisdom as I prayed for them for the week in South Bend.

In another part of the church parking lot, the high school missions team left for Philadephia. Three 15-passenger vans paraded and honked as they past us, the team was waving, gesturing, and wishing us well.

On mission for God. That's what I love about Wooster Grace. God's heart is our heart. We value reaching out to people. Therefore we mobilize students and adults to go out into the world and to get some skills in learning how to help others. We encourage each participant to discover his or her purpose on these missions trips--we cultivate introspective searching, stretching projects and relationships, and inspiring insights into who God made you to be. Your purpose is to be on-mission for God.

Each destination is facilitating outreach in a place where a new church is emerging. Each student is on-mission for God. Each leader is on-mission for God. Both teams are on-mission for God.

I am going to pray for them each day--today's prayer: "Lord, may each person seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, and may all their everyday human concerns be met (Matthew 6:33)."

I also read from Abraham's life. He talked with God. His conversation with God was to ask for mercy. He cared about his family (Lot, his nephew). He dialogued with God, in fact, ABraham queried God throughout his prayer (Genesis 18:23-33). God spoke to Abraham. Abraham spoke with God. Prayer is a dialogue. Prayer is not a "gimme" session. Prayer is communion with God.

I fail in making prayer a communion with God. I focus so much on my petitions that I disregard my relationship with God. I need to cultivate that aspect of prayer--more of dialogue, which means asking, sharing, and quiet listening. May God help you hear His voice. I want to hear God speak. "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening (I Samuel 2:11)."

Thus, I choose to listen more to discover how to live on purpose for God. He will take care of my human concerns. I can trust Him. I can live a purposeful life with God's help.
Pray for my house to sell

Friday, June 6, 2008

Jesus is the ultimate fighting champion

My Year Listening to God continues with my thought that Jesus is the ultimate fighting champion.
This mornings readings convict me. i feel a sense of guilt for my sinfulness. In the New Testament portion, Jesus continues his discourse at the sermon on the mount. The second half of Matthew 5 Jesus pulls no punches.

photo from Leopard Box Club

Like a heavyweight pugilist, he strikes one blow after another into the heavy bag of my heart. He strikes me with jabs directly in the jaw. Then Jesus catches me off guard with a punch in mid-stride with his right fist. He has stunned me, but continues to bob and weave, circling around me, then unloads his best and powerful punch to the face of my heart, where I am down for the count.

I want to thank Keith Pascal for his insight into hitting a heavy bag. but as I observe a fighters' workout. I find it insightful how Jesus addresses his audience in the sermon on the mount.

Jesus is the Ultimate Fighting Champion. His teaching creates a standing eight count in my life. Then as I reflect on its impact in my life. I continue the bout and next thing you know, I 'm on the canvas, mouthguard dislodged, and portruding from my lips like a damaged straw.

I take liberties with this analogy to make the point that God's Word brings to my attention my sinfulness. I used to view this process of convcition as merely a guilt trip. But now as I mature in the Lord, I discover it as a catalyst for deeper commitment to God. Rather than immobilze me, guilt can motivate me to adjust my life to God's standards. With His help, I can improve. Conviction of sin can lead to full devotion. I want to be fully devoted to God.

The knockout punches in this passage are lust, integrity (when I say yes, then follow through, or when i say no, then stand firm), generosity (even when it feels like you are being taken advantaged of--give to the one who asks you), and friendliness (greet everyone, not only the ones who you know).
So I will protect myself from lust. I will keep my guard up against a lack of integrity. I will counter-punch to be more generous. I will bob and weave by greeting everyone I meet. May God speak to you as He speaks to me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Year Listening to God

Global warming.

I believe the Bible speaks to it. In my readings this morning, I read these words from God,
"While the earth remains,
seedtime and harvest,
And cold and HEAT,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.
(Genesis 8:22)
As long as the Earth lasts, it will experience cold and heat. Global warming is a key issue in many minds. So as a Christian I can address it from a biblical worldview.
Here in the beginnings of the created order, God reaffirms what He initiated. He is in charge of the heating and cooling of the earth.
As his creation, humankind can observe the environment more meticulously and more accurately. Yet in the big picture of things, God is in charge. He rules over His creation. As long as the earth remains God will oversee the warming and the cooling of the earth. I take solace in that fact.

by geezer741uk

Now does that mean I don't care about the wise stewardship of God's creation? No. Neither does it mean that I obsess about my carbon footprint. I must maintain balance. I am God's creation, He created this earth for me and for all who presently reside and all who will eventually emerge onto this earth. I sense extremes and radicals who would push the pendulum or stack the balance in their favor according to their political biases. But right now, I seek a moderate approach to global warming.

Global warming is a fact recorded by scientists. In my worldview, I believe God oversees His creation--so I trust Him to take care of it all. Likewise, I believe God holds me responsible for how I steward what He has entrusted to each person who emerges onto this planet. Still, I am not solely responsible or ultimately responsible for what occurs. We have only been tracking global temperatures as long as the techonology to do so has developed. So we may not know the patterns of how the earth heats and cools over the centuries prior to scientific observation. Nevetheless, the earth is warming up.

I need to know more. I wonder if you have resources for me to read and investigate. Sure, I can start with a wiki. But what other resources are available to gather more data so that I can more wisely steward God's creation for His glory and under His sovereign oversight. Please comment and send me information on the various viewpoints you come across or propound.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Year Listening to God

"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me (Psalm 3:5)"

As I end my day, I neglected to read my portion of Scripture. I am determined to make this a new habit in my life for this coming year. I read the above words and giggle, because I am tired, yet I made the effort to get to the computer and read the passages and journal my thoughts on my blog.

I am a Christian. I know that the Lord sustains me. Even when I feel tired, unmotivated to read the Bible; God still sustains me.

I praise God for my family. My parents, two sisters, a nephew and a niece all came from New Mexico for a visit. It has been a great 24-hours. I do miss them greatly when we are apart. I need to tell them that. Nevertheless, God fuels my life. God energizes my life. God is a real battery charger for my life. Once I gave my life to Him, I can sleep or stay awake and He sustains me.

I trust you can find that kind of confidence too. I am so grateful to God for sustaining me. In Psalm 3 the context of the chapter is David fleeing from his own son who wanted to kill him. I do not have the same life circumstance, but the truth rings true. No matter how crazy or insane my life may feel--God can sustain you. I wonder what kind of insanity has made you crazy this week. I am open to hearing from you. Later, I need to go to sleep.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Year Listening to God

I awoke to the sounds of a cardinal chirpin' in the trees outside my window. His piercing calls poked at me, to get out of bed. I arose and went to read the portion set out for my in my plan.

In my readings today, I reviewed the curse on Adam after his disobedience. Painful toil--that was his lot until his death. That is my lot until my death. That is your lot until your death. Pretty challenging, but realistic (from a biblical worldview).

I find it challenging to engage work everyday. I know people complain about work. As I go from place to place, I've asked tellers, cashiers, and laborers how work is going. I've heard great laments to a resignation that work gets me a paycheck that I get to blow.

I was at the checkout at Walmart today and the cashier greeted me (I checked that she did on the survey as I scanned my credit card). She is looking forward to working third shift. I worked third shift at a driveshaft plant for Dana Corp. I worked hard, but I did not want third shift. My goal and everyone else's was to land on first shift. Yet here is a woman wanting, begging, looking forward to third shift. I guess the painful toil of labor has even deluded the Walmart worker. She warmly exit greeted me and Melissa, my wife. Then we went home.

I am struck by the strenuous nature of work. I have on my shelf a book to read by Larry Winget, It's called work for a reason! I hope to get more insight into what he means and possibly learn how people deal with the toilsome labors of everyday life and strive to be successful. The working man or woman needs only to blame ol' Adam for falling from a painless workfree existence, all because of his sinful actions.

Since then, work has always been hard. Work has shaped me, chiseled me, wrung me out, flogged me, burnt me, scewerd me, deflated me, beat me, and left me for dead. When I've put my back into work, I've truly labored hard. I have Adam to blame for work being hard. So as I take a few days off this week. I don't look forward to getting back to work. I know that it's going to be hard. Why did you do this to me, Adam?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Year Listening to God

On my forty-third year of life I intend to read through the Bible this year. I believe the Bible is the words of God. According to II Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed," i.e. spoken or breathed out and recorded for me and anyone to read the very words of God--His revelation to humankind. Thus I intend to read the whole Bible, "listening" to the words of God throughout my forty-third year of life on this earth.

In my readings I will share what thoughts are prompted. Today I marvel at how God works in people's lives. I consider Joseph who made a decision to quietly divorce his betrothed bride-to-be to avoid a public spectacle. But God spoke into his life and redirected that decision to marry a pregnant maiden in spite of the public scandal.

Joseph chose to follow God's direction in spite of his logical conclusion or the proper and accustomed mores in his culture. He obeyed God even in the midst of an apparent scandalous circumstance--a betrothed fiancee was now pregnant; pregnant not by him, but by the Holy Spirit. He obeyed God's way.

Joseph was a fully devoted follower of God. My! how I fall short. I wonder if I'd be willing to do what God wanted even when following God meant it went against the grain of my own thinking and conclusions, and even when the culture would affirm my actions as proper.

When God reveals his truth to me, then I enter the arena like Joseph. I become a gladiator to do battle with what God prompts or to slay the promptings within my own heart for the alliance with the new truth of God, prompted from the Bible. Or do I draw the sword against the culture in which I live to defiantly and passionately align myself to God's truth. I wonder whom I engage in battle. The choice of engagement is mine. I wonder who you'd engage. Let me know what you think--I hope to add to this post as I pause to muse over this conflict throughout my day, the first day of my forty-third year.

Engaged in battle, Daron