Monday, January 25, 2010

Deconstruction --> Reconstruction

Dear Church,

Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. Ephesians 3:13

I was scared to be broken and wrecked for the Kingdom.

My fears were illegitimate. I used to think those lies were clever.

Surrender. It is so worth it because it is about His glory filling the people of His kingdom that will never be shaken. His way is perfect.

The more I have chased His glory, the more I have found His humility because of the glory He left to take on servanthood.

Jesus. He left an eternity of perfect, unhindered communion with the Father and the Spirit. Why? He wants us.

Can I not also walk away from imperfect dreams and selfish hopes and prideful intentions for the sake of bringing His kingdom to earth? When I stand before Him at the end of my life, how could I ever regret surrender and obedience? That is the preferred option!

And how could I regret suffering? I am reminded of Paul.

"...And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God."
(Acts 20:22-24)

Could I presume that he regretted going to Jerusalem because he was beaten there? Absolutely not! He had marks on his body for the rest of his life to remind him of how the Spirit moved in that city.

Suffering was a reason to rejoice. God was using his obedience to bring salvation to many.

And as for us -- we have been crucified with Christ. Anything that we could sacrifice has been trumped by what He sacrificed on our behalf, gracing us with all the reward that He deserved in His perfection. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcome to the Planet (Written in India)

(I know that all two of you who follow this blog have read this already, but I wanted it to be posted here.)


Welcome to the fallout

While driving to the leper colony last week, I listened to Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move." In my mind I was merely selecting an album I hadn't listened to in a while, but it turned into much more than that.

Welcome to resistance

We came to a stop in traffic. A beggar -- no, a precious and beloved woman came to the window. She was obviously begging. Her red sari and crooked teeth didn't take me by surprise. Her leathered skin and foggy eyes weren't unusual sights. Her persistence in knocking at our window wasn't out of the ordinary.

The tension is here

But the words that hit my ears were ripping me to shreds.

The tension is here

I tried unsuccessfully to avoid making eye contact with windows of pain. This is her life.

Between who you are and who you could be

So unnerving...and I think she and I are different? One begs, another gives. But both die. Neither of us chose to be born. Who breathes without need of Christ?

Between how it is and how it should be

This isn't fair. This isn't fair. This isn't fair.

I have never felt so responsible for poverty: I looked at myself with my headphones through the window to a woman with empty hands and an emptier stomach. Dichotomy, anyone? And what about her soul -- is that empty too?

I dare you to move

Traffic continued as usual.

I dare you to move

I didn't. I couldn't.

I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor

What just happened? It had to be about more than food.

I dare you to move

But what will become of her if I ignore her need? And even if I can give to her now, she will be hungry again in a few hours, if that. She needs hope beyond all of this. She needs a Savior. So do I. Constantly.

I dare you to move - like today never happened


My heart won't cease to be raw towards every beggar I see. But as painful and uncomfortable as that is, it is given by the Lord, and I am thankful for it.

"What would Jesus do?" What did He do? He healed the sick and raised the dead. He drove out demons and played with children. But in His human form, He only interacted personally with a very small percentage of humanity. As far as we know, He passed by people that He didn't look at, He didn't get to touch everyone, and there was a lot more that He "could have" done. Or so it would seem...

But His Kingdom is not of this world.

He only did what His Father told Him to do.

And so I say, I can do nothing for these beautiful people. I cannot even do anything for myself. I can only receive and be transformed by His power into an instrument of His grace.

And His grace towards me glorifies Himself because it leaves no room for me to boast.

This is not to say that I am lowly, wretched, and worthless.

Apart from Him I can do nothing. But that is my joy! Did you hear that? The pressure is off for me to be strong enough, wise enough, brave enough, or loving enough. When I am weak, I am strong because His grace is sufficient.

He wired us to depend on Him, to live abundantly only when drinking from the Source of Life -- and that dependence is our rest, Church!

We have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. The life we live in the Body we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. (Galatians 2:20)

Praying for you all with love and brokenness and joy,

Trust in Him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge... Psalm 62:8

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Disclaimers and Cliff-hangers

Dear Church,

I do not tell you what I tell you for any purpose other than making God look good. I will write of great suffering and affliction, not to focus on the effects of sin in this world but to tell you how much farther His grace reaches. I do not tell of these struggles to make yours seem small in comparison, but to remind you that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the same Spirit that resides in His people. In other words, if He can raise the dead to life and speak things into existence, what can't He do? How could I say, "God, I believe that You raised Jesus Christ from the dead, but I don't believe that You can provide food for my family tonight"?

Paul -- who penned over half of the New Testament -- knew pain. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-31 he boasts of everything he has endured: beatings, shipwrecks, threats, constant danger. Suffering was coupled with his obedience to the Lord. He wrote that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us. He called these earthly afflictions "light and momentary."


Light. Momentary. All of it.

I guess I don't understand, but I am compelled to write, so here I am.

Why did Paul endure so much? He was fixed on a King whose Kingdom would never be shaken.

In the days and months to come, I will be posting stories and pictures of people whose lives have been altered by suffering. But again, my purpose for gazing into the well of sin and suffering is to see and portray that the grace given us in Jesus Christ far surpasses anything else in all creation.