Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sufficient for All

Dear Church,

One thing that has been blowing my mind recently is that the Gospel is sufficient for every person on the planet. It is able to reach everyone wherever they are.

This has been particularly astounding to me since I began cashiering at a local store. The Lord sees it fit for me to cross paths with hundreds of people per day. And what do I do? I smile the brightest smile I can offer. I ask the Spirit in me to exude His own aroma. (Hehe.) Sometimes I look people in the eyes and pray for them as I ask them if they want their milk in a bag. And they have no idea that the mundane works of my hands provides a rich experience for my heart every time I meet another person loved by the Lord.

(Disclaimer: Of course, these prayers and thoughts do not happen with every encounter. But these encounters are the ones I want to emphasize because of what I intend to focus on in this post.)

For the husband and father exhausted from work and misunderstood by his family, the Gospel is hope for peace to calm him and joy to seize his relationships.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

For the woman who is 40, single and insecure about herself, there is a Love more pure and passionate than what she has been imagining for the past 25 years.

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

For the man consumed with his career and unwilling to give anything else his time or attention, there is a Kingdom more exciting and consuming and enduring than what earth has to offer him.

"Now if there is no resurrection...why do we endanger ourselves every hour? . . . If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'" 1 Corinthians 15:19, 30 & 32

For the pregnant teenager overtaken by fear, rejection, and uncertainty, there is hope for an abundant future, absolute acceptance, and unfailing love and faithfulness.

"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth." Isaiah 54:4

For the Indian family in an unfamiliar land, there is hope for eternal citizenship in heaven and a loving Father who will meet every one of their needs and understand their cultural background.

"For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4

For the adamant Athiest locked into his "theology," there is truth that will set him free. He no longer has to exhaust his mind with what he cannot know for sure, but can be given faith, rest and the unshakable promises found in Scripture.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 1:18 & 2:4

For the respected pastor battling with (and losing to) an addiction that, if known, would cost him his job and his reputation, there is grace to catch him where he has fallen that can bring him to a place without fear or shame.

"Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. . . [He] will again have compassion on us; [He] will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:8 & 19

For the nine-year-old Filipino caught in the web of sexual slavery, there is a jealous Lover who bought her with a price so she could be brought into the joy of sharing His inheritance. And for her predator, there is compassion, forgiveness and restoration through Christ's victory over the power of sin.

"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves." Colossians 1:13

For the marriage that has been weighted down by unfulfilled expectations, there is an example of perfect love and the ability to release the reins of a broken relationship. There is a God who wants to glorify Himself through marriage -- and He knows just how He wants that done in every situation.

"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples." John 13:35

For the precious elderly woman whose husband has died and whose family has lived out of state for decades, there is hope for a Romance that will not end with death. And Christ's promises are enough to sustain a heart until He is fully known.

"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?" Hosea 13:14

For the devout Muslim family in Libya who has never heard the truth about Jesus or even considered another way of life, there is release from the harsh requirements of their religious law and all-surpassing comfort for when following Christ brings about the suffering of rejection.

"If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. . . But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. . . for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but a righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Philippians 3:4, 7-9

For the college student no longer running after his First Love for reasons he can't even explain to himself, there is hope for Christ's passion to fill his heart. There is power available to overcome apathy and the bondage of deception.

"Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. . . . The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come so that you may have life and have it more abundantly." John 8:32 & 10:10

For His willing servant waiting for direction, there is hope for contentment and abundance for the present.

"...and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts." Romans 5:5


I could go on. Perhaps I've been too elaborate already. But the point is to remind myself and God's people that His grace always meets us where we are. His victory has been made accessible to us through Christ's resurrection and is absolutely sufficient for every situation. He defeated death...how could anything else be too hard for Him?!

For the joy,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Joy of the Nations

"We want to thank all of the sponsors of the children both for financial and prayer support. All of the children passed their exams and were all top 10 in their classes. Please pray for the children who will be starting school for the first time this July."

--Simini Prafulla, the mother of Asha House: the children's home I got to work with in India

I asked her which children would be starting in July: Jyoti, Malathi, Mary, Sunitha, Punitha, Mithulesh!

This is such a big deal because over there, education is setting the captives free. (Sound familiar?) At Asha they are taught basic English and math so that they can pass the entrance exam to get into a public school. Once there, education is continued and a more desirable future is offered. Without formal education, the future of these precious children may consist of begging in the streets or prostitution in the brothels.

But back to the good news: I am so encouraged and in awe at this! Let me share a little background on some of the kids.

Jyoti was born in the slums. Before she was even a year old, her uncle murdered her mom. Also, due to the filthy water in the area, she contracted worms that somehow made their way into her brain. Her aunt chose not to take care of her, and would only take in her twin brother. (In India, it is a big deal to not care for a family member.) However, the founder of Asha House had connections with the pastor that oversees the slums, and the Lord made a way for Jyoti to live at Asha. She recently turned three, and is one of the brightest girls I have ever met. Oh, and one more thing: "Jyoti" means "light" in Hindi. :)

Malathi is another miracle child at Asha House. I'm not sure about the details of how she arrived there, but I know it is rooted in the Lord's perfect care for and faithfulness to her. One morning in October, I arrived at Asha with my team to see this sad and shy little girl. We tried working with her to see where she was in her studies, and found that she knew some Hindi -- but wrote the letters backwards or upside down. She also knew a little bit of a tribal language spoken in the northern rural parts of India. It is assumed that she labored in the fields -- she has buff arms and a muscular stomach. We also think she was beaten. However -- after about a month of being exposed to the Light and love of Christ, she completely transformed and blossomed into a child who laughs and plays and wants her picture to be taken. :) At four years old, her handwriting is better than mine and her dedication to learning is astounding...that is, when she applies herself. :)

Mithulesh is a sweet, sweet boy who stole my heart in a beautiful way. One day he just wouldn't let me leave his side. We played hand games and sang songs together. My heart went out to him that day, and I've had a soft spot for him ever since. In his learning, he has struggled to understand. But he worked so hard! Apparently that hard work has led to understanding, because he's starting public school soon! I only wish I could praise his efforts in person. If the Lord wills...

My heart is swelling for these kids and their lives. They are the salt and light of India, and I am beyond blessed to have worked with them. Their suffering has been great, but it has been greatly surpassed by the grace that is given by Christ Jesus. He is gracious and compassionate, strong and victorious, merciful and sovereign. And He's in me!

Please pray for Asha House as they are always in need of financial support. Finances are needed to send these kids to public school in two months. If you're interested in giving, here's the link to their site and to each of their stories:



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Faith, Hope, and Love

Dear Church,

I hope you know how much you're loved and longed for.

I hope you understand that you are a dwelling place for the Almighty.

I hope you are not overcome by evil, but that you overcome evil with good. Christ already did, once and for all.

I pray that you are driven more and more to gain treasures that will last, even if you have to lose what was already destined to fade. May it be on earth as it is in heaven.

I pray that you are not afraid of evil -- if God is for you, who could be against you? The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not overcome it.

I pray that you are not unaware of the devil's schemes -- so that you may live abundantly in the freedom of the glory of the children of God, without shame or fear or any hindrances.

I trust that the Spirit's power in you will bring these things to light.

I trust that His glory is for your joy, and that His goodness will sustain your hope.

I trust that He will be faithful to you, His Bride.

For the Unshakable Kingdom,