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Posts Tagged ‘America’

Are we making a difference?

February 5, 2011 5 comments

“Relevance is a consequence of kingdom living, not a cause.” Rick McKinley

 

Salt and Light

I’m not much in the joking mood today.  Sorry.  I’m not in a bad mood, just…well…you’ll see.  I’ve been watching the news for the last few weeks, and to tell you the truth, there are some things happening that will mark this period of history.  The thing I’ve been struggling with the last few years, as I’ve written about in the past, is what does Christianity look like day to day…in normal life?  We in America have set up our own little version of Christianity that looks like this:  A church building, 2-3 consistent meetings per week, 1 main service on Sunday morning, occasional fellowship times together, Sunday School, and meetings.  Now, before you write me nasty emails, haha, there’s nothing wrong with those things.  Are those things the main focus of God’s Kingdom?  I’m afraid they’re not.

Outside our buildings.  Here’s just a short list of things happening outside of our facilities.  Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Israel, China, North/South Korea, Healthcare, the economy, homelessness in our state, around 115,000 children waiting to be adopted in the US, joblessness in each of our towns, AIDS children in Africa, Haiti refugee camps…the list could go on.  And each of us have our own lives and circles of influence as well.  Each of us could list things like hurting families we personally know, people who are ill, kids who are neglected, young moms needing support and direction, hunger, illiteracy, divorcing couples, … and you could add so much more to this list.

Salt and Light.  Jesus discusses these two simple things and applies them to His followers’ lives.  Jesus wants His followers to be like usable salt.  In that day and age, people would have used salt for food flavoring and preservation.  We don’t want to head into a discussion about salt here, but Jesus wants us to be used like good, usable salt is.  There is corruption in the world…we can prevent corruption.  Sometimes people don’t see the fullness of life possible in Christ.  They’re stuck in the ‘day to day.’  Salt flavors.  Can we bring flavor…maybe a smile or a sense of happiness…maybe even peace to someone’s life?  Light is mentioned next.  Jesus states it plainly by saying that you don’t light up a candle and then hide it.  Light is used to see, to find, and to guide.  Are we helping people see through the darkness of their lives?  Are we helping them find the new life that Jesus has planned for them?  Are we guiding?  The light is in us…are we hiding it?

To tell you the truth, being salt and light to the world where we live…our school, workplace, church family…takes huge commitment and sacrifice.  Jesus said that people will know Him through our love.  Our love is salt and light to a world that seems to be caving in.  Being salt and light will take huge sacrifice.  It will take changing how you look at the world.  It will take changing how you see yourself in God’s Kingdom…right now…today.  It will take action and trust and forgiveness and a large dose of grace.

A picture that has spoken to me…and caused me to struggle…is of Christians in Egypt guarding Muslims during their time of prayer.  Here are direct links to the pictures.  http://yfrog.com/h02gvclj & http://yfrog.com/h24n34j Rioters were present and Christians devoted themselves to the Muslim’s safety as they knelt to the East to pray.  I know…we have huge differences.  I know that we worship the one true God.  I know that they, Muslims, need forgiveness through Jesus as anyone else does.  Is this grace in a photo?  These Christian men are risking lives to guard someone…I’m not sure that it really matters who.  Obviously it doesn’t because Christians and Muslims are usually debating and arguing and fighting.  But here we see Light and Salt.  My wonder is how many Muslims looked at these men and ask, “Why would they do such a thing?”  Answer?  Jesus said to be salt and light in a dying world.  “…Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).  Their good deed?  Protect their neighbor…even if they don’t worship Jesus as Lord.

Who are the people you are guarding this week?  Who are the people you are sacrificing for?  Who are the ones you are praying for?  Who are the ones you are spending extra time with?  Who are the ones that you feel God is asking you to serve?  Will you be open to God bringing to your awareness the people He is wanting you to love, serve and extend grace to?  Will you be ready to give?  Who will know more about God because of your love?

This is not easy.  I’m not saying I have all the answers.  But I believe God is beginning to move the American church into places we haven’t been before…places we haven’t chosen to go.  I believe there are a bunch of us out there wanting those moments where we stand in love, like those Egyptian Christians.  I picture a Kingdom that is moving without hesitation.  I want to be part of something like that…and I believe each of you do as well.  Jesus said that there is nothing that will stop His church, His family.  We have absolutely no reason to be afraid. The battle has been won.  Victory is already ours.  Our eternal life started the minute we confessed our belief in Jesus.  We have nothing to lose.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Where is your history leading you?

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

*****

True Story of a Tourist

Mary Pembarthy, a guide at Windsor Castle, told Will and Guy this allegedly true story about what she heard last month when ‘on duty’.

Mary was struggling to make herself heard over the roar of low flying aircraft coming into land at nearby London Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest in the world.

She was interrupted by an elderly American tourist who demanded what was wrong with the town planners, and why had they built the Royal Castle so close to the airport.

*****

Knowing history is an important thing. If not, you may end up saying something like this aloof tourist. Need I say more? Have you ever felt…when watching the news…that you just wish you knew more about what was going on and why? We hear of, and I believe we feel it in our gut, that our world is falling down around us. I worry for the kids in our world…our kids. The best I think we can do is to continue to walk with the values we proclaim. Those are Christ’s values. Those are God’s values.

There is something else that I wish we could get better at. Teaching history. I’m beginning to become a huge history fan. Not only because there are some great reads on huge battles…better than most action/adventure flicks of today, but because I can look back and say to myself, “Wow, if we act like they did then, the consequence will probably be similar.” History teaches us not only about where we came from, but it shows us a pattern of behavior and consequence.

It’s like me with my kids now. When they’re in the process of getting “in trouble,” Peach or I often end up saying, “Remember what happened the last time you did that?” We’re teaching them history.

God is heartbroken. God is speaking to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah. What a tough spot to be in. Israel has really walked far away from God. I mean, God’s word is not only not followed; it is not liked by many…even those in leadership. Jeremiah gets the joy of reminding Israel’s leaders and people that they have been in the wrong and God wants them back.

You know what it’s like to have someone tell you you’ve been in the wrong. Defenses rise. Humility is thrown out the window. Sometimes you want to fight back with your own words. Well, some in Israel listened. God says that most don’t even listen to His words spoken through His prophet. They don’t even WANT to hear what God has to say…and God is saying, “You’re headed for a cliff, and if you fall, you won’t live!” That would seem like a pretty important message to hear. Well, God had another word. He told them how to correct their position. He said to look back into history.

Israel had some great times with God. God was truly their leader. They truly relied on Him. He fed them and supplied them with everything they needed. He answered their prayers. They were known around the world as being the nation with a Mighty God. What a position to be in! God simply says, “Look back to the ancient roads and see what you’re missing now!”

These ancient roads can take us to where we should be. Andy Stanley has an incredible book that I’ve given away to some recent grads. It’s titled The Principle of the Path. Basically, he writes that every one of us is on a path…and we will go directly where that path leads. If life isn’t working for you, the principle of the path would say that you need to change paths. Some of us, me included, need to change paths in areas of our life. Maybe our whole life! I77 will take you to Florida. If you want to get to Mansfield, don’t take I77. If you want to get closer to God and His blessings, there’s a road for that. There’s also a road to take you away from Him as well. Where are you? Are you listening to history? Are you currently on the right path? History will show us where paths can lead.


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Happy Birthday America!



Some July 4th quotes to center our minds on what is important this weekend!
You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~Erma Bombeck

Where liberty dwells, there is my country.  ~Benjamin Franklin

My God!  How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!  ~Thomas Jefferson

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” ~Alexis de Tocqueville
“It is easy to take liberty for granted when you have never had it taken from you.” ~M. Grundler



“Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” ~Abraham Lincoln
*********

For some time there, July 4th became simply a holiday when workers expected a day off, families packed up for weekend camping trips, and grocery stores supplied many a person with paper products and hot dogs for picnics. Do you remember July 4, 2002? I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many American flags in the windows of houses, cars, on previously empty flagpoles, on t-shirts or even just stuck in the ground beside front porch stoops. It was nearly 10 months after we lost 3,000 plus in a day on our own soil. It seemed like our right to security had been stripped away. And in many ways, that was the terrorist’s intent. We all came face to face with ‘a’ possible outcome of being a land with freedom given from a loving God. We came face to face with the possibility that others would make the attempt to take away the peace of having freedom and replace it with fear. We fought back with more than just a war. We fought back by continuing to live freely.

God has given us freedom. He is The Authority. He has given us ways to live which are best for us and our fellow man. He has allowed or placed others in leadership around and over us. We follow Him and count Him as the giver of all of life, it’s freedoms, it’s obligations, and grace and forgiveness for a life eternal with Him in the end. When others make it seem that He has been taken out of His place, or put themselves in the role of the God of the Heavens, the giver of rights and freedoms, then we have problems. We are out of line with the way things should be. We are throwing away the “Best Practices” manual and putting ‘self’ in it’s place.

Paul states in Romans 6 that we should not sin more so we get more grace. Grace gives us freedom from sin. Likewise, freedom gives us a way of life where we can live with God as the supreme authority rather than a person or government acting on their own behalf. Freedom does not mean that we can act any way we want. Freedom has duties as does having grace. Freedom means following guidelines. I know that sounds ironic, but freedom with no obligations or boundaries would be tyranny.

We are created equal. God sees us all the same. We may be born in different worlds. We may live on different continents under different authorities. Sin has created a way of life for all of us that is very shy of Heaven. However, we can still, all the same, live while loving a God and His creation with a sense of duty towards Him and our brothers and sisters on this planet. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself is kinda how Jesus stated it. Someone in communist China can do those things. It’s just that in our America, we can do those things out in the open…for all to see. We should be thankful everyday for what our founders created for us as Americans. This is a reason to celebrate our country’s birthday and a reason to celebrate our Creator for giving us this special gift.

Here’s the kicker question. Do we live out those freedoms or just hold them in our lap for political debates with our neighbor over the fence line? Doesn’t it makes sense that America should be growing in Christ faster and with more momentum than any other place on earth? I mean, we have the freedom to carry our Bible in school, talk about Jesus in McDonalds, and bow our heads in the town square on National Day of Prayer. Remember, with freedom comes obligations to carry freedom and keep it and use it. Funny thing. More people are becoming followers of Jesus in communist or anti-Christian nations, like India and China, than in any other nation on earth. Are we using our freedoms like we could? We could all probably do better.

Let’s remember our nation’s birthday not only with fireworks and grilled hamburgers, which is by all means appropriate, but also with thoughts and prayers of thanks to the God who grants us our freedoms and rights as a people under Him.

Hope all this makes sense,

Ed


 

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