Romans 9:3 – “for the sake of my brothers”

I want to share a devotional from my daily reading. It comes from Closer Walk New Testament, a publication of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries. I was impressed that this devotional accompanied a very challenging and hard-to-understand Bible passage, Romans 9:1-29. It is a reminder of what our attitude should be as we consider important truths like God’s sovereignty, election, calling and freedom to show or not to show mercy to whomever He chooses.

No Price Too High for Salvation

“For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers” (Romans 9:3).

“If you heard that a friend was critically ill in the hospital, would you go out of your way to visit and help?

“Of course you would. Compassion often causes detours around previously arranged plans.

“Paul carried just such a burden of compassion for his ‘brothers’–but it was not unique to him. J. Hudson Taylor shares his own burden for Christless men and women.

Walk With J. Hudson Taylor

“We are not exempt from trials, and some of them are very painful and difficult to bear.

“But I shall feel amply repaid if one soul only is, by my witness, rescued from the powers of darkness and brought into the fold of Christ.

“And I trust that not one only, but many, will be turned to righteousness by the Word of God ministered by me.

“Were it at the expense of every source of earthly enjoyment; were health and peace, and comfort and happiness, and even life itself to be sacrificed that we might communicate the blessings of Christianity to others, we ought gladly to make it.

“But there is no surer way of finding happiness than by heartily engaging in the work of the Lord, no more certain way of increasing our own blessings than by endeavoring to communicate them to others.”

Walk Closer to God

“A fellow worker. A family member. A neighbor.

“What would you be willing to endure for the privilege of seeing one of these respond to the Good News of sins forgiven?

“J. Hudson Taylor gladly faced a foreign culture–and the misunderstandings of many of his fellow Britishers–to share the Good News with China.

“Paul was willing to be ‘cursed’ if by that his ‘brothers’ would accept the gospel of Christ.

“What price are you willing to pay that a lost soul might hear God’s message of life?”

June 29, 2007 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

Questions for Accountability or Character-building Groups

 

If you would like to start an accountability group or a Life Transformation Group (LTG), the questions below are a good resource for doing so. These lists of questions can also be found here, along with more information about Life Transformation Groups.

 

The following 11 lists of questions were published in Cultivating a Life for God, by Neil Cole, Church Smart Resources 1999 pp.125-131

 

A. John Wesley’s Small Group Questions:

1.           Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2.           Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3.           Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4.           Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?

5.           Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6.           Did the Bible live in me today?

7.           Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

8.           Am I enjoying prayer?

9.           When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10.        Do I pray about the money I spend?

11.        Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

12.        Do I disobey God in anything?

13.        Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14.        Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15.        Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

16.        How do I spend my spare time?

17.        Am I proud?

18.        Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19.        Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20.        Do I grumble and complain constantly?

21.        Is Christ real to me?

 

 



B. Wesley’s Band Meeting Questions:

1.           What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?

2.           What temptations have you met with?

3.           How were you delivered?

4.           What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

5.           Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?

 

Reference: John Wesley’s Class Meetings: a Model for Making Disciples, by D. Michael Henderson, Evangel Publishing House, 1997, pp. 118-9

 



C. Chuck Swindoll’s Pastoral Accountability Questions:

In his book, The Body, Chuck Colson lists seven questions used by Chuck Swindoll and a small group of pastors.

1.           Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

2.           Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?

3.           Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?

4.           Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?

5.           Have you given priority time to your family?

6.           Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?

7.           Have you just lied to me?

 

 



D. Renovare Questions:

James Bryan Smith and Richard Foster have compiled a list of questions for accountability to spiritual disciplines which is one of the Renovare resources.

 

1.           In what ways did God make his presence known to you since our last meeting? What experiences of prayer, meditation and spiritual reading has God given you? What difficulties or frustrations did you encounter? What joys or delights?

2.           What temptations did you face since our last meeting? how did you respond? Which spiritual disciplines did God use to lead you further into holiness of heart and life?

3.           Have you sensed any influence or work of the Holy Spirit since our last meeting? What spiritual gifts did the Spirit enable you to exercise? What was the outcome? What fruit of the Spirit would you like to see increase in your life? What disciplines might be useful in this effort?

4.           What opportunities did God give you to serve others since our last meeting? How did you respond? Did you encounter injustice to or oppression of others? Were you able to work for justice and shalom?

5.           In what ways did you encounter Christ in your reading of the Scripture since our last meeting? How has the Bible shaped the way you think and live? Did God provide an opportunity for you to share your faith with someone? How did you respond?

 

 



E. Phil Helfer, pastor of Los Alto Brethren Church in Long Beach, CA, has simplified the LTG questions into “Five Basic Questions”:

1.           How have you experienced God in your life this week?

2.           What is God teaching you?

3.           How are you responding to His prompting?

4.           Do you have a need to confess any sin?

5.           How did you do with your reading this week?

 

 



F. The Highway Community in Palo Alto, CA has adapted the questions in the following way:

1.           Did I invest the proper quality/quantity of time in my most important relationships?

2.           Did my life reflect verbal integrity?

3.           Did I express a forgiving attitude toward others?

4.           Did I practice undisciplined or addictive behavior?

5.           Was I honorable in my financial dealings?

6.           Was I sexually pure?

7.           Did I spend time with the Lord this week, completing the Bible reading for the week?

8.           Did I pray for my pre-Christian friends? Did I talk with someone about Christ?

 

 



G. Florent Varak, a French pastor in Lyon, has developed these questions:

1.           What have the Scriptures revealed in your life this week:

¨      In terms of specific sinful behavior?

¨      In terms of specific sinful thoughts?

¨      In terms of specific sinful words?

 

2.           What errors or lies that you once believed have now been corrected by your reading of the Scriptures?

3.           What encouragement have the Scriptures given you in your daily walk?

4.           What do you need to ask the Spirit of God to reveal to you that you have not yet understood?

 

 



H. Neil Cole developed a list of less specific questions:

1.           What is the condition of your soul?

2.           What sin do you need to confess?

3.           What have you held back from God that you need to surrender?

4.           Is there anything that has dampened your zeal for Christ?

5.           Who have you talked with about Christ this week?

 

 



I. Dave Guiles, director of Grace Brethren International Missions developed these questions:

1.           How have you sensed God’s presence in your life during this past week?

2.           Have you received a specific answer to your prayers? What was it?

3.           Have you spoken with a non-believer about your faith in Jesus Christ? With whom?

4.           To whom have you shown God’s love during this past week?

5.           What have you learned about God in your personal Bible reading this past week?

6.           As a result of your Bible reading this past week, how have you determined to better obey God?

7.           Specifically, what area of your life do you feel that God most wants to change? Have you taken specific steps to make those changes?

8.           What good habit do you feel God wants to form in your life? Have you taken specific steps to develop that habit?

 

 



J. Paul Klawitter, a church planting missionary in France has developed the following questions:

1.           What worries or other issues are you currently facing?

2.           Is there an area that God is working on in your life or any sin that you would like to pray about?

3.           For what non-Christian friends can we pray?

4.           In your reading of the Bible: Who is God? What does Jesus expect of you? What do you think he is saying to you? How do you think you should respond?

 

 



K. The most simple, basic questions Neil Cole has found:

1.           What is God telling you to do?

2.           What are you going to do about it?

 



April 30, 2007 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

Forgiveness: resource for leading a study and group discussion

Luke 6:27-36

27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

 

 

What does it mean to bless someone? To curse someone?

(Bless = to love them by doing good to them; to want the best for others.

Curse = to devalue others; to harm either physically, emotionally or spiritually; to wish the worst for them; to hate others.)

What do you think is God’s intention behind this command?

(God is a forgiving God; cursing others rejects their value as made in God’s image).

What do you think Jesus means when he says that we should love our enemies?

(Love is a verb; love requires action, not just thought)

 

James 3:9-10

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

 

What reasons does this passage give for not cursing others?

(Every person is made in God’s image; God gave us speech to praise Him and bless others—to encourage, build up.)

Why do you think people take offense to the Christian notion that we should bless our enemies rather than curse them?

(Their natural desire is to return hatred for hatred.)

 

Matthew 6:12-15

12 Forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

Why do you think Jesus insists that we forgive those who offend and hurt us?

(He has forgiven us. We can’t receive his forgiveness if we refuse to forgive others)

 

Can you think of any situation where forgiving and blessing others is impossible?
Let’s talk about how to forgive: can we do it just by sheer force of will? Does forgiveness happen overnight? If we’ve forgiven an offense, does that mean we’ll never have to forgive it again?

***

Group Questions:

  1. What would you say are the conditions for forgiving someone? What are some reasons to believe we should forgive others even when they aren’t sorry or don’t understand the severity of their offense?

  2. What condition does Jesus apparently attach to our willingness to forgive? Why do you think He does this?

  3. What is the difference between forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration? Can you think of a situation where you might forgive without being reconciled with a person? Or reconciled without being restored?

  4. Have you ever found it difficult to forgive someone of an offense? What made it so difficult? Were you ever able to resolve the issue or is it still open? If yes, how did you resolve it?

  5. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with forgiving an offense? Will your advice depend on the type of offense or the number of offenses? If yes, what are some examples?

  6. Take some time to voice situations where you’re having trouble to forgive and pray about it in your group.

***

Click here for a previous article on forgiveness.

***

 

 

April 29, 2007 at 2:11 am 5 comments

To remember and grieve the loss of someone you love

One of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard is a song called Now That You’re Gone by Fernando Ortega. Yet its theme is death—a theme most of us would normally choose to move past and not dwell on. For me, the song triggers memories and emotions associated with my grandma Maude, who died of cancer in 2001. She was the closest and most significant person I first lost in my young life.

I have many sad memories of my grandma’s last living months. Cancer was all throughout her body, and she had lost some of her mental abilities. I was visiting her one time in the nursing home, and she thought I was her brother Edward. She was not well at all and was complaining about pain in her legs. She cried, “my legs! my legs!” I felt miserable knowing I was helpless to do anything for her pain. I plead with the staff to give her pain medication immediately, but they were so very slow to respond. Thankfully, she was nearing her last days, although I had no idea. I had never watched a person die before, so I didn’t know the look of death as I do now.

I have many regrets about my relationship with my grandma. I wish I had the maturity then to take care of her as she deserved. I was selfish and unaware how short my time with her would be.

Maude was a beautiful woman. She made sacrifices very few people would dream of making today. She went mostly unappreciated by her husband of 50 some years, yet she was hardworking and faithful. I knew I could always talk to her, and she would listen and politely say “yes sir” in affirmation. Every Easter she would make her coconut bunny cake decorated with jelly beans. During the Christmas season, I knew I could sneak into her pantry and find cans and cans of fudge. I always looked for the peanut butter and chocolate fudge with the rice crispies inside. Yummy! Those were my favorite. She did so many things well and was truly kind and generous.

My grandma was always thinking about others. When me and my sisters would visit her, she often sent us down the street to spend time with an elderly widow friend of hers. I never understood why she did that, or why the lady’s house smelled funny and her phone rang as loud as a fire alarm. All I cared about was what kind of candy she had. But my grandma was always thinking of others.

Those are the memories of my grandma I want to hold on to—the happy ones that remind me what a wonderful person she was and that the rest of us are worse off without her. I want to remember the sights, smells, experiences, and interactions that assure me “I am loved,” because they remind me of her and her love.

As a Christian, I know there is hope and death is not the end. Yet I know there’s a place for expressing the feelings associated with losing someone dear to us. It’s appropriate to recognize that the loss of someone so loved and significant to us will change our lives forever. Since time is a healer of wounds, our feelings will gravitate away from despair—which is where we can find ourselves soon after a loss—and toward fond memories.

For me, this song expresses the lost hope most of us feel soon after a close loved one has died. The lyrics of the song are below.

***

Now That You’re Gone

I knew this life was full of sorrow
but still I believed
that good times would follow,
that the evil would falter
and true hearts would rise,
true hearts would rise,
that simple dream ended
on the night that you died.

And even the sound of a whistle fading
brings back the longing
and stirs up the aching.
Peaceful companion that grounded my soul,
you grounded my soul,
the world spins without meaning
now that you’re gone.

Sometimes I still think
I will see you in New York,
and we will meet on the platform of the train,
and with your great leaning stride
you’ll cross back to my side
and my old life
will be my life again.

You were quiet as a winter sky
where planets turn
and the North Star rides.
My sweet brother, so reasoned, so calm,
my brother, my own,
the world spins without meaning
now that you’re gone.

Sometimes I still think
I will see you in New York,
and I will meet you on the platform of the train,
and with your great leaning stride
you’ll cross back to my side
and the sweet life
will be my life again.

I knew this life was full of sorrow
but still I believed
that good times would follow,
that the evil would falter
and true hearts would rise,
true hearts would rise,
that simple dream ended
on the night that you died.

***

The lyrics are written by Elaine Rubenstein in memory of her brother Allan Rubenstein. The song is performed by Fernando Ortega.

***

April 25, 2007 at 4:48 am 5 comments

Forgiveness Survey: eight questions to ask yourself

The tragedy at Virginia Tech, along with discussions with students who lost friends in the shooting, has made me consider closely the issue of forgiveness. While processing my thoughts regarding questions like “Can you forgive someone who’s not sorry and never will be?” I came across a resource online that I found very helpful. It’s a website dedicated to this very issue: forgiveness. Click here to go to it. Pastor Doug Showalter is the one who developed the site. He also provides an answer to the very question asked above.

One of the resources he provides is a survey to help people process their views about forgiveness. Rev. Showalter approaches the issue from a Christian perspective. Here is the survey, along with the answers that he gives.

 


Strongly Agree….Agree….Agree & Disagree….Disagree….Strongly Disagree

Once you’ve completed [the survey, scroll down] to see my responses. You may well disagree with me. But, perhaps, my answers will stimulate your thinking.

  1. A Christian should always try to forgive and forget.
  2. A Christian should forgive even if the person who hurt them does not repent.
  3. A Christian should always be willing to be reunited with the person he/she forgives, as if the injury never happened.
  4. A Christian should try to forgive others quickly and completely.
  5. A Christian should abandon all ill will toward the person they forgive.
  6. A Christian should never hate those who wrong them.
  7. Over time, a Christian’s forgiveness of another will usually come about by itself.
  8. To forgive completely, a Christian should try to make everything go back to the way it was before the injury.

MY PERSONAL RESPONSES

1. A Christian should always try to forgive and forget.

I DISAGREE

I feel it is important, for the sake of healing, to remember a serious injury. It is important to be clear as to the exact nature of our injury and who was responsible. Trying to pretend an injury didn’t happen or that it didn’t really matter to us, when it did, is only denying our true feelings. By remembering, we face the injury, and can eventually decide we want to forgive.

If we try not to remember, then we only bury the effect of the injury on us, such that we cannot truly resolve it and forgive the one who did it. In that way, the injury is not healed. Rather, it is like an infected wound which is closed prematurely.

I also believe it is important to remember, so we can learn from our injuries, and try to protect ourselves and others from being injured in the same way again. Consider this example:

A friend has been drinking. Foolishly we get into the car with him, and he has an accident in which we are hurt. We eventually forgive our friend for his share of the responsibility in the accident. Another day comes when our friend is drinking again. He insists that we get in the car with him. Remembering our past injury, we refuse. But because we have not forgotten, our friend insists that we have not truly forgiven at all. In fact, we have forgiven. But, we have also learned from our painful past experience, and choose not to repeat it.

This whole question may be a moot one. I say that because, very likely, it’s not even humanly possible to forget a serious injury. One can try to repress a memory, but that’s not healthy. “Forgive and forget” is an Old English proverb which dates back at least to the 14thcentury. But as a general rule, I don’t think it is good advice.

After the healing of forgiveness has taken place, we can remember that our injury did occur. After all, it is a part of our personal history. But in remembering, all the painful feelings we once associated with that memory do not come rushing back at us. The injury is truly left in the past. It no longer defines or has a grip on our lives in the present.

Here’s an exception: Suppose one has forgiven an injury and experienced reconciliation with the injurer–a process of two distinct stages. In such situations, it is not helpful to repeatedly bring our remembrance of the injury into the relationship. Discretion and a willingness to let the past be the past are called for, for the sake of the relationship–call this a type of “forgetting” if you will.

 


2. A Christian should forgive even if the person who hurt them does not repent.

I STRONGLY AGREE–

In our anger or pain, we may feel that we should withhold our forgiveness, until our injurer repents. But consider this question from another angle. Making our forgiveness dependent on another’s repentance is not very helpful. It sets us up to be a victim, not just once, but twice! By making our forgiveness so dependent, we hand considerable power over our lives, to the one who injured us!

Hanging on to a grudge is like keeping a dinosaur in our living room. It’s a painful creature from the dead past which we choose to keep alive in the present. The truth is, it really is within our power to choose otherwise, and particularly with God’s help!

 


3. A Christian should always be willing to be reunited with the person he/she forgives, as if the injury had never happened.

I STRONGLY DISAGREE–

In my view, forgiving takes one person. In forgiving, the forgiver opens the way, in him/herself, for the possibility of reconciliation with the injurer to take place.

Reconciliation takes two people–the forgiver and the injurer. For true reconciliation to take place, the injurer must usually accept responsibility for the injury and desire reconciliation. Reconciliation is foremost a matter of the heart: two people accept and relate to each other again in a spirit of peace, without malice.

I see being reunited as a step beyond reconciliation, which some, but not all, reconciled persons will chose to take. In being reunited, two people are both reconciled and willing to continue the closeness of their relationship, much as it was before it was broken by the injury.

Two examples which point up the difference: I can be reconciled with my friend who injured me. However, I may also choose not to be as involved with that person again; we are cordial when we happen to meet. I can be reconciled with my ex-spouse, but choose not to re-enter marriage or a close relationship with my ex-spouse again.

 


4. A Christian should try to forgive others quickly and completely.

I STRONGLY DISAGREE–

I see true forgiveness as a process of inner healing. Thus, it cannot be rushed. We should be gentle with ourselves, and give ourselves time to deal with our injury in realistic and constructive ways–face it, analyze it, look for ways to rebuild any self-esteem which the injury took from us.

I feel it is important that we eventually come to the point where we make a conscious decision that we truly want to forgive the one who injured us–or, negatively, that we no longer want to carry our ill will.

Having made that decision, we then seek to walk with God, as long as it takes–years, if necessary–to receive fully God’s divine gift of forgiveness, which brings inner healing. Our journey with God will usually include prayer, self-reflection, sharing our journey with others, and our strong desire to be freed from reliving the nightmares of our past injury.

One day, we likely will realize that we have received God’s gift. We make the following discoveries: We no longer bear ill will against the one who injured us. Our lives are no longer defined by our injury. We are set free from the strong feelings of pain originally associated with our injury. In short, we have forgiven!

 


5. A Christian should abandon all ill will toward the person they forgive.

I STRONGLY AGREE–

To me, this is part of the definition of what forgiveness is. When we discover that our ill will is gone, then we know that we have truly forgiven. I would add, however, that there can be different levels of pain and ill will within us. We can sincerely believe that we have forgiven, because we have found an inner spirit of peace. But then, sometime later, we can discover other levels within ourselves–concerning the person who hurt us–which also need healing. This does not negate our original forgiving, but shows us that there is more to be done within us.

 


6. A Christian should never hate those who wrong them.

I DISAGREE–

Of course, Jesus taught us that we should love other people, even our enemies! That is the ideal for Christians to strive for. The reality of life is that when we are seriously injured, we may well have feelings of hatred toward the person who hurt us. Rather than try to repress those negative feelings or wallow in guilt because of them, I think it is better to admit their existence. Then we can strive to resolve them and move beyond them, in realistic and constructive ways, through forgiveness.

 


7. Over time, a Christian’s forgiveness of another will usually come about by itself.

I STRONGLY DISAGREE–

I believe that forgiveness requires an initial decision that one wants to forgive. Without our wanting to forgive–whether verbally expressed or not–I don’t believe our forgiving happens. The journey of Christian forgiving begins as a choice. It ends as a gift of God’s grace.

 


8. To forgive completely, a Christian should try to make everything go back to the way it was before the injury.

I STRONGLY DISAGREE–

Even if this were possible, which it is not, it may not always be desirable. A woman may forgive a boyfriend for physically abusing her–assuming the abuse has stopped and she is safe. However, she may also choose not to be reunited with him. [See above, my response to Question 3.]

No one, not even God, can turn back the clock. What we can do–with God’s help, of course–is seek to forgive, so that our present and our future can be redeemed from the bondage and pain of the past.

 

April 23, 2007 at 4:44 am 5 comments

Living on Mission – Stories of Student Missionaries

Jesus Christ told his first disciples, “Come, follow Me.” That invitation is given to us today. Have you decided to follow Jesus on this journey? What will it mean for you–I mean you–to respond to this invitation wholeheartedly?

The following is a story taken from the lives of college students that have decided to see where Jesus is going and to follow him. Click here for more personal stories like this one.

Beyond the Christian Bubble

by Donald King

Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, some Christians choose to live in a Christian bubble, isolated from the world by extensive involvement in the church and surrounded by Christian friends. It’s a ‘safe’ and often impenetrable lifestyle that protects Christians from the effects of a lost world – and keeps a lost world lost!

This summer, more than 330 students answered the call to pop the Christian bubble and carry the message of Christ from the comfort of their sanctuary to the real world as student missionaries through the North American Mission Board. Accepting a four to 10-week assignment of sharing Christ and starting churches, students came face to face with those who didn’t know Christ.

Thomas serves as an Innovator at the Yellowstone National Park where he works a full-time job and serves as a student missionary. He recently reflected on his experience:

“As I prepared for the work I would be doing this summer, I was a little unsure about what to expect. I’ve done summer missions in the past and I’ve been involved with many kinds of church ministries. I study theology at the Baptist College of Florida and am blessed to live with a Christian family, friends and have Christian mentors.

“As I prepared to leave all that behind, I realized that my life is very much like a Christian bubble. Doing missions in Yellowstone has popped that bubble. Here, I live in a secular environment where I encounter the popular culture of the world which includes alcohol, partying, foul language and postmodern thought.

“I am building meaningful relations with people from other religions and with people who have no religion and I am able to show them my faith. . . . I am witnessing a glimpse of the reason God so loves the world, the reason He went to such great lengths to bridge the gap sin constructed.

“I have been able to share the full Gospel on a personal level with four people and share my testimony with several others. People have even come to me for spiritual advice and with their prayer concerns.”

Laura, a Sojourner missionary serving in Houston, saw first-hand the devastation of poverty. While involved in her ministry assignment, she shares an experience that left an indelible impression:

“I was standing outside one of our centers as a woman was leaving the parking lot. She began pulling at the caution tape that surrounded the construction area next to our building.

“I thought she had a mental problem or something. She was wearing a shirt that was almost too small to cover her top and lacked the strings that had once laced up the sides of the shirt.

“When I asked if I could help her, she said that she wanted the construction tape to lace up her shirt so that she wouldn’t be exposed.

“When I first saw the woman, I thought she didn’t care that her shirt was revealing; however, her words told me differently. She was just trying to make do with what she had.

I pulled off some caution tape, laced up her shirt and prayed with her.”

As long as we seek the ‘safe’ place in our Christian bubble, we aren’t going to have experiences like Thomas and Laura. We’ll continue to have the warm, fuzzy feelings that stroke our egos and build our own little kingdoms on Earth.

I believe Jesus meant it when He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV)

For those who are obedient, there is great reward.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. {35} For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, {36} I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ {37} “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? {38} When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? {39} When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ {40} “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:34-40 NIV)

Pop the bubble! Answer His call . . . tell His story . . . change your world!

 

Exploring God’s call to missions?

Visit www.answerthecall.net to start your journey or call
1 (800) 462-8657, ext. 6458.

 

April 15, 2007 at 4:26 am Leave a comment


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