Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Men like accomplishment. We like to look at we've done and say, "I am successful." We like it even more when others see that success and give us respect because of it. Of course this has nothing to do with right and wrong, it is simply the way that God programmed men to lead. The problem lies in the fact that we take the popular opinion of what success is over true success, as God defines it. Then we go a step further and take credit for our measly work rather than thanking God for the ability and the heart to do anything for His glory.
People who want to be like Jesus are not immune to these sins. I must confess, for example, that it is often a temptation of mine to want to get a higher degree, not because that is what God is necessarily calling me to do, but because that is what the world says brings respect and success. I am tempted to prefer upfront, big-event, mass-ministry over personal, life-on-life ministry.
Today is Easter. Let's therefore remember the leadership method God incarnate chose for himself and his followers. First off, he did not choose the accomplished, successful religious figures of the day for his closest disciples. He chose weak, uneducated fisherman and tax-collectors. He didn't choose the life of moving up the corporate ladder, He chose the life of a servant, the life of downward mobility. He loved his own dearly till the end and then gave His life for them. This is the type of leader that I want to be - a person who spends his life for others as he gains life from God.
I have another confession. I am still learning to submit to this definition of leadership. It is so backward to the world's way of thinking; even to most Christian thinking. Not many people say what I have learned from Henry Nouwen, in his book, In the Name of Jesus.
Nouwen writes, "I kept praying, 'Lord show me where you want me to go and I will follow you, but please be clear unambiguous about it.' Well God was." God led Nouwen out of a professorship at Harvard and into a life of personally serving mentally handicapped people by these words, pressed deeply into his heart: "Go and live among the poor in spirit and they will heal you."
He writes, "So I moved from Harvard to L'Arche, from the best and brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and women who had few or no words and were considered, at best, marginal to the needs of society."
I could go on and on quoting important words from his book, but I will end with these and hope you will buy the book yourself.
"We are not healers, we are not reconcilers, we are not givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God."
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
I may be way behind the times, but I just discovered this wonderful little movie. Many have heard of "Facing the Giants", but fewer have seen the first film produced by the church from Georgia named, "Flywheel".
Now keep in mind that I am a HUGE football fan, especially of college and high school football, which Facing the Giants was all about. I also must add that I am not especially interested in the business world, which this movie is mostly about. All that to say that I thought Flywheel was a far better movie in several ways. I could see that this movie was based on real life stories and real experiences of faith in the lives of the people involved. Though there were no professional actors, each actor and actress brought a genuine touch of realness by their faith and true sensitivity to God. In many ways this is a "young David" type of movie: one can can see the child-like faith (and humor) that went into this first step of faith. Truly this is a movie like no other that I have ever seen. If you haven't yet seen it, please do!
Learn more here.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Watch this very encouraging message by Mark Driscoll. Especially if you are involved in gospel proclamation, (which should be all Christians) you need to hear this.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Recently I have been reading through Numbers. Without fail every time I read through the O.T. I am blown away by the holiness of God. I never get used to this holy God. He pummels my heart and my nonchalant attitude towards sin, purity and as well as my lack of God-centeredness.
Tonight I was reading through Numbers 15 and came upon some great stuff that hit me between the eyes! (By the way, I don't like to get hit between the eyes normally, but this stuff knocks me down to the floor and on my face! From there God allows me to see the glory of God like I otherwise could not.) The previous section had just referred to the death penalty for those who defiantly sin against God. A defiant Sabbath law breaker is then found and is stoned to death. Then comes this amazing statement: "...remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after." (v. 39b)
How many of us does this condemn? In America, and increasingly in Japan, we often hear the phrase, "Follow your heart," in a manner that is encouraging and comforting. But this is not what God's Word says. God says in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"
We are not to follow our hearts, but rather the Holy Spirit. We as Christians (including me!) need to begin to develop a closer connection with the Spirit of God by His Word and prayer so that we can be sensitive to His leading over the leading of our sinful hearts. He wants to guide us.
One final tidbit (I won't say it is two cents, because it is worth much more than I can understand!) A few weeks ago when I was reading through Leviticus I came across a blog about a Japanese man who had been at a YWAM camp. There they literally saw what it would be like to have your sin atoned for in the O.T. Reading about animal sacrifice, sometimes it is so detached from our daily life that it doesn't quite hit us as it ought. Not only were these innocent animals, they were precious resources to the people. Having to put your hand on your own innocent goat that followed you everyday in the fields would be so hard! You know that in passing your sin onto the scape-goat that your own sins must be paid for by death. That is the just punishment for your sin. Seeing this innocent goat slaughtered by human hands woke me up to the reality of what our sin cost the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, our Savior and God. (If you cannot handle seeing blood, I would suggest not looking at the pictures on this blog. If you can, and you want to see "first hand", here is the webpage. You need to scroll down some to see the pictures.)
Father, forgive us for killing your Son!
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Global Prayer Digest, March 4, 2008
Ainu People of Japan and Russia
"From this, we know that they must have traveled far and wide at one
"I can almost understand these people!" thought the Eskimo visitor to
Russia's far eastern Sakhalin Island. He was visiting an Ainu
village. Linguists have recently discovered that the Ainu language
resembles the Eskimo language and also Basque, a language in far-away
Western Europe. Most of the Ainu people live in Japan, on the
northern island of Hokkaido. We know that they must have traveled far
and wide at one time.
Most Ainus worship the sacred bear, but this people group also has a
concept of a high God who is above the sacred bear. The Ainu people
call this high God "Kami," which has roughly the same meaning as the
Eskimo word "Kammi," meaning "the ancient one," or "he who existed at
the time of creation." Such a concept is one step in the right
direction, but it doesn't provide them with a saving faith. Only one
percent of the Ainu people consider themselves Christians, and many
of these so-called Christians don't truly know Jesus as Lord and
The oldest written history of Japan is called the Kojiki. In this book the acts of the high kami (God) are recorded in great similarity to the account in the book of Genesis in the Bible. Please pray that God would use this link to help Japanese seek the God of their ancestors, whom they pay homage to. Please pray for salvation to come to our Japanese friends.
Monday, March 03, 2008
The title of this post is not inflammatory rhetoric. Read the article and then tell me what a better title would be. If you are a Christian (or not), please think hard about this one before you vote for Obama this year:
Let's be clear about what Obama did, once in 2003 and twice before that. He effectively voted for infanticide. He voted to allow doctors to deny medically appropriate treatment or, worse yet, actively kill a completely delivered living baby. Infanticide - I wonder if he'll add this to the list of changes in his next victory speech and if the crowd will roar: "Yes, we can".Read the whole article.