Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's at Stake?

I'm watching an old Christmas movie, one of those adaptations of Dickens Christmas Carol, and enjoying the warmth of the heater on this chilly day and the familiar story. While watching the ghost of Jacob Marley I was struck with the line, "Don't you understand what's at stake?" It reminds me of how little I keep my mind focused on what's at stake in this life and with humanity. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is a good day to reflect on what has been so graciously provided to me by God and this year was no exception. It was a busy day but I was still overwhelmed by gratitude at what I have, the people I am privileged to know and love, and the opportunities I have each day to serve God. But one thing I don't do nearly often enough is to reflect on what is at stake. For each bad decision I make someone besides me is affected. With each wrong turn I have to struggle to get back on course. Every critical word I speak cuts someone and everytime I give in to moodiness I lose time I can't get back and sink a little from the joy God wants me to have. This list is just what is at stake when I get off track. Multiply that by all who name the name of Christ and we waste what God has given us. The stuff I am thankful for is just stuff. I appreciate it and am thankful for it but it is stuff and can be replaced. Time, energy, opportunities, these are things that disappear. I may get more of them but the results of the ones I waste cannot be realized or brought back. While talking with my Life Trek Youth they all shared how they wanted to live an extraordinary life. They were passionate about it with the passion of youth that still can see all of the possibilities. Well, I don't think God cares how old we are, how much time is passed, or how much we have already wasted. His mercies are new every morning and He stands ready to welcome our decision to commit our all to Him and live extraordinary lives. He can and will use us to rock our world, at least I am counting on Him to do that in mine. It is time for us to wake up and realize what's at stake, to see all the faces around us as God does, people who need Him, that He loves and desires to be in His Kingdom. We have an obligation and a privilege as Ambassadors of the living God to reflect on what is at stake, to know and understand that being lost is real. It is important to let go of our fear, that nameless, faceless beast that keeps us from doing what we know to do and from living the way we know we should live.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I woke up to the rain pouring down outside. It is an unwelcome sight as I must go shopping for Thanksgiving today but it reminded me of how accessible water is for us, especially those of us in Western Washington! But it is not that way for much of the world. Most of you woke up and took a hot shower, brushed your teeth, drank one of your eight glasses of water we are told we must drink, and made some coffee. During the course of a week you will perhaps run a dishwasher, use a washing machine, and in the summer you might turn on a hose or sprinkler. What if you woke up tomorrow and there was no water in your home and all the water using devices were gone? What if you had to haul all your own water, in fact, what if you had no car and had to somehow get water for your family. An average family uses between 250 and 300 gallons of water each day. That is a ton of water Immediately you would most likely lower your water consumption! But even if you had to haul thirty gallons a day and make it work how would you do it. I live close to a creek but it would still be annoying. Thirty gallons a day would be five to six trips and even though I would luckily only have to go a short distance it would still be annoying. Some of you might have to go much further and then there is the problem of what is in the water! I don't know about you but I'm not sure I would feel safe drinking the creek water even if it was boiled.

Welcome to reality for much of the world. 1.2 billion is a conservative guess. About 5 million people die of water related diseases each year. Now look at your family. It is likely that one of your children, at least, would have died before age five of a water related illness. Which one? In much of the world water is not easily accessible. There might be school for children but they cannot attend because entire families spend their days hauling water, getting food, trying to stay alive.

This is not meant to be a sad story to make you feel bad. It is just a glimpse of a reality that you can help change. When you give the gift of water you are sharing Christ. You are giving a cup of water to the thirsty. My heart has been broken lately for those in poverty. I am realizing that even in my financial struggles I am incredibly rich and I have an awesome responsibility. It is hard to share the gospel without meeting physical needs. Christ never meant to separate the two. We go and share the good news, freedom from sin, freedom from captivity, freedom from living for ourselves.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


"Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks, Among all her lovers there are none to comfort her; All her friends have betrayed her, they have become her enemies." Lamentations 1:2 All of the comforts, our lovers in this life, the things that take our time and money, at the moment of our trial will not mean anything. They will be an enemy of sorts because they robbed us of an intimate relationship with God and now we are not prepared for the struggles of this life. I serve a powerful, amazing God who can do anything. Why would I want to waste my life on fruit that is not eternal and yet I do. Way too often. And the world waits. I have way too much and I care way too little. I said that I was going to try and change that this year and I have started my quest. I am reading the book "The hole in the Gospel" by Richard Stearns who is the President of World Vision. I am encouraged by his story, that it is never too late to change direction and to enter into God's work. When darkness enters into our life temporary lovers, pleasure, shopping, hobbies, business, none of those things will comfort us or protect us. We live our lives in the shadow of the mercy of God and it is His mercy that is our comfort, it is in knowing Him that we can walk without fear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Believing in God came easily to me. I don't know why but I'm grateful. Maybe that is why it is so hard to see the kids in my Life Trek group struggle with basic belief. They are so bright and ask such deep and probing questions. Many of them have known little of what we consider a "normal" family life. They struggle to see God in the spaces they have been dealt. I feel angry with the lack of ability I have to communicate the truth of God for them. My answers to their deep and honest questions felt lame and while I inwardly cried out to God for help I felt like I failed. How do you answer a precious girl who asks if she can get a day pass to hell to visit her mom? How do you explain how God will wipe away all of our sorrows when some of those sorrowful memories are the only memories they have of family? I long for them to see Jesus and I pray for them to see them. My words just seem flat. It makes me long for the days I taught the young Daisies and Prims, where young girls believed every word I said. I love these kids and covet your prayers, that they will see God, that they can believe in Him even with their questions, and that God will transform their lives and make them into mighty warriors for Him.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Rainy Saturday

I love waking up on Saturday morning to the sound of rain and a cup of tea. It seems right. I guess western Washington is a good place for me to live. Anyway, I was continuing to read Jeremiah and was struck at how brutal life was during those days and at the stubborness of the people. I live on a fairly calm little island here; while I may not like some decisions of government here, it is fairly stable and there is no warring king trying to take over. I have never been exiled to a foreign land. I have not seen the mass slaughter of people I love. That does not mean that those things do not exist in my world. Jeremiah faithfully gave the word that God gave Him to a stubborn people who did not listen to him. He was put in prison and attempts were made on his life. I know that people knew he spoke the truth because he was approached by them to hear what God told him. People would listen and then disobey. I was thinking we are often like that. We hear God's word faithfully preached on Sunday, we enjoy hearing it, we know it is true; then we go live our own lives during the week. It is no wonder that in the 2,000 plus years since Christ there are still people waiting to hear the gospel, there are still captives awaiting their freedom, there are still poor waiting to be fed with both bread and the good news. I am not doing my job. Today I am going to leave my quiet home and go buy gifts to put in shoeboxes to send to poor children. It is a very small thing and it occurs to me that I need to find a concrete way to remember the poor and oppressed every day and not just at Christmas. I will be working on that this year. I guess I want to challenge us to hear the word of the Lord, to obey that word and mission that He has given us, to "lose" our lives in order to look at the world around us. It will take deliberte eyes to see what God wants us to see and deliberate motion to do what He wants us to do. I don't believe, however, that there is anything greater than the peace that comes with the obedient life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thoughts on Prayer

I thought I was going to move next week but now I have to wait. How long I don't know. We had found a house we loved and now I'm not sure it will still be available. I was disappointed. Very disappointed. It made me a little crazy in fact. It has taken a few hours to get back to trust. You see, I like to be in control. I never thought I was one of those control people but it turns out I am. I was analyzing my prayers and could see that I really enjoy trying to help God run the universe. I have great ideas about how I think things should go. The bad thing is that I have quit believing in prayer sometimes. I mean, I do believe God does things and that He works through prayer, it's just that I have so often used my prayer life to give God input into how He should run things I have lost the ability to pray in faith. Too often I pray my list and hardly pause to consider what God actually wants me to be praying about in faith and I expect nothing because when I pray in the flesh I don't get much. God is so faithful. He often answers my prayers but I want more. My Pastor challenged me in his sermon this past Sunday to pray in faith, believing, and to see answers to prayer. Do I really let God be in charge and come boldly to Him? I don't know. I went to the prayer room for awhile to sort it out. I told God how tired I was and how so often I feel like I am trying to carry the burdens instead of unload the burdens. I asked Him to show me the difference. I ask Him now to help me understand how to come boldly to the throne of grace and find that help He offers us, and only He can give, in time of need. It may have been a delayed move that prompted me but this need has been here a long time. I need Him. I need His power, His strength, and I need answers to my prayers. I need to quit praying the list and start praying my burdens and my heart. I want to see answers, transformation, miracles, and lots of other little things. I need to grow close to my beloved Savior and be willing to fall upon Him without reserve, without being cautious and doubting. He has given me His word so that I know His will. Do I live as though I trust Him to give me those things that are His will. It is that I am falling short in. It is that which I seek.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Long Journey

I was reading in Jeremiah this week. (I've come to Jeremiah in my Bible reading. I probably would not ever get to it if I didn't read in a somewhat organized fashion which is why I recomend reading in an organized fashion!) In chapter 20 Jeremiah laments the fact that he has ever been born. He is sent to tell God's word to a people who won't listen to him. He is persecuted and hated and weary of being negative. Right in the middle of all his complaining Jeremiah says " But if I say,"I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name," Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in And I cannot endure it." verse 9. I love this verse because I get it. Sometimes it is hard to go through life and we want to quit. It makes no sense because God is the very best part of me, He is everything and all and I know He was to Jeremiah also but it still remains that sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just quit. I say "it seems like" because it would in fact be much more difficult. If I quit I would be alone, maybe surrounded by people but still alone. If I quit I love my Savior and I so need salvation. I needed it when I accepted Christ and I still need it everyday. If I quit I lose my life for Paul was right when he said that to live is Christ and to die is gain. I can't quit. In reality I don't want to. What happens is that I lose heart and I don't think that what I do matters or makes any kind of difference. I lose faith that God is working and that His purpose for me. I am pretty sure that is what Jeremiah felt because no one was listening to him or responding. In fact life seemed to get worse for Jeremiah all the time instead of better. He forgot, as I do that we don't always see all that is going on, he forgot that what matters to God is our obedience, not the results of that obedience, and he forgot that so much of ministry requires time and patience. I often forget, I forget when my life seems more difficult instead of less difficult. I forget when it seems I mess things up more than I help. I forget because so often I feel that the strongholds of my life will never be gone. I forget because I long for an easier time. But God is faithful to help me, remind me. Like Jeremiah, I have God's word and the testimony of what God has done in years past. I am surrounded by His faithful witnesses today. I have to say that I am ashamed of how wimpy I am, how easily I get discouraged. What I go through is small compared to Jeremiah. I can't imagine ministering for years faithfully with no response at all. God's word was like a burning fire in him and I relate to that. God is always in my heart and on my mind. Even in those moments of feeling tired he is there and I cannot get away from it. After Jeremiah said those words he continued his complaint. And that is me. I can complain about the futility of serving God while still feeling Him and His words burning inside me. I can both be tired of this life and longing to serve Him better at the same time. Life is an oxymoron of feelings and faith can be hard to hold onto and even more difficult to pass on. It is wearying work and a light burden all at the same moment. I labor each day to enter into His rest and one day I will live in His rest. Life is good, because of God.