Monday, November 22, 2010

Are you ready to give an answer??

So last week I had a very unique opportunity.

I was at work going about my day when I was interrupted by my co-worker. I was told there was someone up front wanting to ask questions while video taping responses to some questions about Christmas. I finished the dental cleaning I was in the middle of and headed up front. I discovered it was the pastor and youth leader from a local Assembly of God church. I had literally 5 minutes between when the questions were handed to me and when they started the interview process. I wasn't questioned as to how I might answer prior to being taped. When I skimmed though the questions though I was really excited about what I had to share. So here they are......

Question #1
Do you believe Christmas is an event worth celebrating? If so, how do you go about celebrating this holiday?

Question #2
According to the original account in Luke chapter 1 of the Bible, the Christ child was born of a virgin. What are your thoughts about this teaching?

Question #3
In Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" Ebenezer Scrooge began living out his belief in Christmas though charity. What things might you do to keep Christmas alive throughout the year?

I enjoyed the fact that I knew what my answers were going to be the moment I read the questions. But the pastor had no clue as he began filming.

Here are my answers as I remember them...

#1- Yes, it is a event worth celebrating. I was told it wasn't worth celebrating for 21 years of my life. But after becoming a Christian I realize that even though it may not be the exact day or time of year Jesus was born, who cares. There is worldwide unity in the body of Christ to take time to acknowledge that God humbled Himself to come to this earth. Christmas isn't the easiest time of year for me because my parents still don't celebrate Christmas. As far as they are concerned it is a 'heathen' holiday. So I have to admit it hurts a bit as I see familys that come together for Christmas, whether they are the rest of the year or not. So enjoy and cherish your time with your family as you celebrate. If you don't have actually family to celebrate with, seek out your family in Christ so you do have someone to celebrate with.

#2- I have no doubt in my mind about this account of the virgin birth. I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God. If it says it, it happened. But what an amazing thing. God came to this earth, fully God and yet fully man. To live His life and then die for our sins. That's still something I can't wrap my mind around.

#3- (at this point I smiled)- In about 3 weeks I'm going to Guatemala for a mission trip. I will be there for a full month taking my time and money to serve others. I was there for 23 days last year. I think it's very important for us to be active in charity. Not because we have to. Because it is by grace through faith that we are saved. NOT by works so that no one may boast. BUT with the gift that we have received through Christ's death and resurrection, why wouldn't we want to give to others? So I do encourage you to do what you can. You don't have to go to a foreign country to serve. Focus on your own community. As someone told me, help those where your shadow falls and don't get overwhelmed by the need. So help at the local food pantry. Be active in local clothing drives. There are many ways we can be involved in charity right where we are.


So the pastor ended by thanking me. Then when the camera was off he asked if he could give me a hug. He said he was excited to have met a like minded follower of Christ. I then had a chance to share a little more about myself with him. It was a great time. Just think what Heaven will be like!! And we won't have to run off to the next thing or get back to work. We will be in fellowship for ever and ever and ever and ever......

So later in the day I was contemplating this whole thing. WOW. So I didn't get to sit there and rehearse things. It was BOOM, give an account. I know this is on a much smaller scale than situations some of our brothers and sisters in Christ are faced with. BUT are you ready to lay it all on the table to be a witness for Christ?? When the pastor and I were talking at the end that is something we actually got in to. People are afraid to talk about where they have been or what they have/do struggle(d) with. They are afraid that next time a person sees them on the street that is all they will think about. Their 'issue', not who they are as a person. I thank God for the strong community of believers I have the privileged of being involved with that sees each other as Christ does. We aren't our struggle or issue, rather a child of the King!! Redeemed through the cleansing Blood of the Lamb!!!

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."
~1 Peter 3:15b-16~

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Remember John

*repost from Our Daily Bread*

Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. —2 Kings 5:15

John is a humble, uneducated man. Yet God used him to start the peace process in Mozambique. His name is not mentioned in any official documents; all he did was arrange a meeting between two of his acquaintances— Kenyan Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat and a Mozambican. But that introduction set in motion the events that led to a peace treaty after a 10-year civil war.

From that experience, Ambassador Kiplagat learned the importance of respecting everyone. “You never dismiss people because they are not educated, because they are white, because they are black, because they are women, because they are old or young. Every encounter is sacred, and we need to value that encounter,” the ambassador said. “You never know what word might be there for you.”

The Bible confirms that this is true. Naaman was a great man in Syria when he got the dreaded disease of leprosy. A servant girl whom he had captured from Israel told Naaman’s wife that the prophet Elisha could heal him. Because Naaman was willing to listen to this lowly servant girl, his life was spared and he came to know the one true God (2 Kings 5:15).

God often speaks through those to whom few are willing to listen. To hear God, be sure to listen to the humble. —Julie Ackerman Link

God often uses lowly things
His purpose to fulfill,
Because it takes a humble heart
To carry out His will. —D. De Haan

God uses ordinary people to carry out His extraordinary plan.


Wow... God just keeps making His point, doesn't He??

And also I want to share a great message. Wow. It also goes along the same train of thought.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Courage to Stand Alone

*read previous posts for context*

So Sunday night at youth group the topic of conversation was rather fitting. All that God had already ministered to me was capped off with the video we watched. It's interesting because our head youth leader made a comment earlier in the evening that what he originally had planned "didn't work out because he ran out of time". So it seemed he 'settled' for this video:

The questions that were asked were things like:

Are you trying to please everybody?

Are you being true to yourself and God?

Are you listening to the world or God?

What impact do others have on you?

Francis shared that God's commands are given for our own good. We aren't called to walk this path by ourselves. God is very clear about the importance of the community of believers.

So I was sitting there listening to all of this while still digesting the weekend.

That is what Exodus does. It's willing to step out with the message that isn't popular by the standards of our current culture. But it sticks to the Truth of the Bible. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet many fellow Christians that are journeying this same path of Truth. One of them has written an excellent in depth look at what the Bible really says about homosexuality. Many people today like to take part of the Truth and make it say something else.

An Honest Look at what the Bible REALLY Says about Homosexuality
So at the end of the video and the few words our leader shared. I had a huge burden on my heart to share briefly my thoughts and the courageous community I just had a chance to experience. I pray that they take it to heart. Who knows, maybe it's the first time they have heard the Biblical side of the issue that the media is constantly lying to us about.
So do you have the courage to stand alone???
Though fortunately we don't have to stand alone!! We do have the community of believers to stand with, in Christ. I thank God that we still have the freedom in this country to worship Jesus Christ openly. Other believers around the world are more bold about their faith than alot of Americans, yet they do it with the risk of death.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweetly Broken

Wow. What a weekend. And just heading home from the 'main event' didn't mean that God was done talking to me. Not that He really ever stops....but whatever.

So I arrive home for about 30minutes before it was time to head to church for youth group. What a night. I'm still processing this whole weekend where God has really been ministering to me. Well the song choices by the youth band were so totally God. First we sang "Be unto Your Name". Some of the lines are "We are a moment, You are forever.... We are a vapor, You are eternal....We are the broken, You are the healer. Jesus, Redeemer, mighty to save. You are the love song we'll sing forever bowing before You, blessing Your name." Whoa.... doesn't that sum it all up? What else do we need? Why does the human side of us keep getting it's ugly little face in there trying to talk us out of trusting God COMPLETELY. Doubt, guilt, becoming overwhelmed etc etc etc.... who hasn't dealt with all of that. But God is so much bigger than that.

So the second song is the one that just keeps surfacing at interesting times. It's like it's God's nudge to tell me He is here, I'm on the right path and He loves me.

"Sweetly Broken"

It's the last song the youth group played before I headed off to Guatemala last year. Then it was the first song the YWAM worship team sang in Guatemala. That was the less than 24 hours after we had prayerfully decided to throw all of our plans out the window and follow where God was leading. Pretty much the song had the same effect on me that night as it did on me this night. WOW.

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of it's suffering I do drink
Of it's work I do sing

For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled


In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness

Wow. I don't think that will ever fully sink in to my brain this side of Heaven. He loved me so much that He died on the cross while I was still a filthy wretched sinner. Then the song talks about His tenderness. You 'beckon me', 'gently', 'sweetly broken' yet 'wholly surrendered'. I don't know, maybe it just me that it impacts like this. But that's just fine if that's the case. We are each individual and unique in His sight.

"How wondrous Your redeeming love and how great is Your faithfulness". The love of a Father. That was the theme of the Exodus Conference that I went to this weekend. The Pursuit of the Father. Exodus is Christian organization that ministers to those who have dealt with or deal with same sex attractions. They also minister to parents, spouses and friends of those who deal with same sex attractions. Listening to everyone's story is one of the most encouraging parts of these weekends. Hearing other's struggles and then their healing journey they are on in the loving arms of their Heavenly Father. That's what it comes down to. Seeking love, affirmation, acceptance, compassion, comfort, etc. So why shouldn't the one that created those needs fulfill them?

The other interesting part of the weekend was my finger. I had traumatized it earlier in the week but Sunday morning the tendon pulled of the bone. What makes this interesting in this context is what follows. Saturday night the speaker was talking about if you wall off your heart in one area of life you basically affect the whole thing. And I began to ponder that. He was so completely right. I have not had a healthy set of emotions lately. Life has made me hard, my job makes me even harder. So my prayer was that the Lord would do something about that. So in the instant the tendon popped off the bone the roller-coaster of emotions began. I didn't want to cry in front of people though. So I kept it stuffed in all day. Oops. Don't try to stop something you asked God for. When the youth group sang those afore mentioned songs the flood gates opened and I felt my heart softening. It was the culmination of the entire weekend.

Why Sweetly Broken spoke to me so powerfully again was because of a video we watch Saturday afternoon at our breakout session. It was a message that had been delivered by Ken Hutcherson. His talk was "A Precious Stone out of the Darkness". He shared the story of the Alma King. It's a really huge awesome crystal. Ken drew a great mental image of how the crystal formed over time with heat and pressure but was unknown to the world until the miner reached down into the hole he opened up and brought it out. Now it is proudly displayed for the world to see.

"Lees extracted, cleaned, and restored a specimen now known as the “Alma King.” It’s a two-foot-high plate of rock covered with thousands of glittering prisms of clear quartz and decorated with crystals of dark sphalerite and blue fluorite. Near the center, as if placed by an artist and contrasting vividly against a white, needle-quartz matrix, is a perfect 4.25-inch “rhombi of translucent, deep red, gem-quality rhodochrosite. Many experts acclaim the Alma King as the finest and most valuable mineral specimen ever mined in North America. Some rank it with the best ever mined in the world."

Ken equated that to our lives. Our lives have made us who we are. God knows what He is doing and values each of us as precious stones. The pressures and trials in our lives have made us who we are today. They aren't a mistake. He said the miner doesn't look at his treasure then go bury it back in the earth to hide it from the view of others. Also he had us ponder the thought that if the miner had found the crystal before it had spent as much time in the pressures of the earth it wouldn't have been as beautiful as it is today. I know this explanation is terrible compared to his 40 minute sermon. But it really spoke to me. Sometimes I question God as to why I have dealt with what I have in my life. But He is revealing His purposes to me. I am usable in the His Kingdom. In fact He WANTS to use me.

Sweetly Broken.