Monday, January 31, 2011

Heaps of Grace, Relentless Kindness

Dear Church,

But God...raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-7

He keeps you. You are His. Pride has been defeated. Our enemy has been disarmed.

He put Himself under His own wrath in Jesus Christ, though you were the ones to provoke it. He preferred to experience avenging His own punishment (and therefore agony) on Himself, so that you would not be caught in its crossfires. He is the only one able to endure His own wrath. You surely would have perished.

And yet He still got what He wanted -- intimate relationship with you. The very things He formed you for are the very things He restored you to in Christ Jesus. It is exactly what He wanted.

He has made you objects of His kindness, thought for a short while He was the object of His own anger. And He tells you that your slate is clean, that the gift is free, that the joy is yours for the taking. He tells you that everything is paid for, that the punishment has been carried out, that you will never have to apologize to Him again.

He tells you that you are free from the very thing that caused His wrath to be aroused.

This is too good. This is grace. He never didn't want you.


For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and Renewing by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:3-7

Monday, January 24, 2011

Help Our Indian Brothers and Sisters

Their resilience astounded us. Their love inspired us. Their joy was evident to us.

They chose to follow Jesus despite the unavoidable sufferings that would result. They have been beaten and threatened multiple times for choosing to follow Him by shepherding His people in the slums of New Delhi.

My friends and I had the opportunity to meet this family of six. Each week for three months we would drive about two hours until the road became too narrow for the vehicle. We walked the remaining distance: A few hundred yards down a narrow, bending alley filled with colored walls that somehow made the polluted sky look bluer. At the end of the alley on the righthand side, we were welcomed each time by one of the precious family members.

They would invite us in and offer us chai and biscuits. (They're called biscuits, but they're basically little cookies.) We would leave our shoes outside of the front door and sit in white plastic chairs or along the side of a bed. We would sit for 10-15 minutes and then some of the family would lead us to the heart of the slums just minutes away. Again, we would drive until the road became too narrow. From there we would walk less than 100 yards to the home of a Christian family that would soon be overflowing with children.

The children came from all over the slums. Their parents formed a spectrum of nominal to radical Hindus and Muslims. Each time we told them stories of Jesus, sang songs, asked their names, prayed for them, and a few times we gave them candy. Sometimes we would go to different houses and pray for those who wanted it. I could write a separate blog filled with those stories alone. Toward the end of our time there, one of the girls would always grab my hand and walk with us back to the vehicle. All we could do was smile, hug, and say, "I love you. I pray for you." I didn't know much Hindi, and she didn't know much English, but a definite, inexplicable connection was made.

My purpose in writing all of this is due to a need that has gone unfulfilled for over a year. This pastor -- whom I know and have seen many times personally -- has begun constructing a building immediately outside of his home. At this time, he does not have the means to finish it. His intention is to use it as a place for people to gather together, hear about Jesus, and worship Him.

It is roughly 200 square feet -- which is about twice the size of the home the believers usually meet in. Most of the walls are in place, but it is in need of doors, windows, a roof, and electricity. Recently some people have stopped coming to the original home because it is too small, too crowded and too cold on the floor. The estimated cost to finish is about $4,300. Those of us who have been are hoping for closer to $5,000 so that they will be able to have furniture of some sort and good mats for the floor.

Two main verses come to mind when I think of India. Isaiah 51:3 and Philippians 4:19.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the glorious riches that are in Christ Jesus.

I am asking you to pray with me for our brothers and sisters in India. I do not doubt that God will meet all their needs. Let me know if you are interested in being a part of that.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The King and the Castle

Dear Church,

At just the right time, the Spirit of Jesus Christ brought this quote to my attention:

"Satan is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop."

C.S. Lewis

You have an inheritance, Church. It is He Himself. You have an inheritance and you are an inheritance...Christ's inheritance.


In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will. . . In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. . . For this reason. . . I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

Ephesians 1:11, 13, 14, 15, 18

Have you ever thought of yourself as His inheritance? You are His portion and His treasure whom He came to redeem. You are His; it is sealed and it is irrevocable! He sought you and saved you out of the depths of His great love, though you had gone after other lovers.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.

Song of Solomon 6:3

I am His and He is mine.

I am His inheritance and He is my inheritance.

For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

Deuteronomy 32:9

We have been given an inheritance. Access. (Ephesians 2:18.) In the beginning was perfect relationship existing between the Father, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit. He formed us to join with Him in that relationship, but we turned our hearts against Him. But God in His mercy and His unrelenting love pursued us so that we might be restored to enjoy what He originally formed us for. We were saved from much, and we were saved for much.

What now is our lot? Knowing Him. Being in Him. Delighting in Him. This is what causes the aroma of Christ to exude from us. Evangelism is then natural. Love is natural. Truth is sought and devoured. All fears are claimed by Love. Suffering is beautiful and glorious because of the interactions with His presence that result. There is no intimacy like this. I could write for days about the delight and the satisfaction and the glory of this intimacy. For now, I will leave it at that.

May the Spirit of God grant you understanding and revelation, so that we may know who He is and who He has made us to be. He has enabled you to know Him -- so feast!

The Old Covenant was law-ridden and our relationship with Him was filled with stipulation after stipulation. (His love, however, remained unconditional.) Now our relationship with Him is just that -- a relationship. We have direct access to Him now that He lives in us, and we have the promise that He will never leave. The things we do, the places we go, and the decisions that we make are second to knowing Him. I pray that He reveals the wonder of this to us increasingly.

This is eternal life, that they may know Me and He who sent Me.

John 17:3