Sunday, May 25, 2008

For I Was Naked And You . . . Smiled?

What a tragedy -- aftershocks continue to roll in China as just this weekend 70,000 more houses collapsed as the ground underneath them moved.

What a horror -- maybe as many as 100,000 people are dead.

What a nightmare -- parents waiting at schools to pick up their children, only instead they are handed a lifeless corpse to carry home, children waiting to be picked up and instead wondering the streets looking for the parents they will never find.

What a joy? What a joy? Are you kidding me? How about what a sickness. Kelly was telling me this morning as we were overcome with such sadness at seeing the above picture and thinking of all that is behind it, that several people smiled this week when she shared her sadness for the victims of the earthquake. Smiled! How, you ask? Why you ask? "Because this means the end times are closer." Translation, in my warped view of how God looks at the world, I should be happy that hundreds of thousands of people are mutilated and killed around the world, because it could meant that I get to go to heaven sooner.

Somehow I don't seem to see that kind of thought process anywhere in the bible; I don't see that anywhere in the heart of Jesus, in his compassion for even those who didn't want anything to do with him, in his tears, in his weeping.

What a sicknesss -- it is a sickness, a corrupted gospel that could result in people who claim to be Christians smiling at the death of children because in their reductionistic, individualistic perversion of the gospel, they might benefit. (Oh, and besides, there are lots of Chinese, and they all look the same anyway -- Kelly read this and asked me to point out that they didn't say this part; this is just my editorial assumption). These people are sick.

Kelly says I can't say what I want to, that they're all going to hell, so I won't. Instead, I'll say, "look close, maybe one of those people who all look the same to you is Jesus."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Tragedy of the “what if” life

How many Christians in the west live fear motivated lives? I call them “what if” lives. “God can’t be calling me to this, because “what if . . .” There are so many what ifs, hearing them, paying attention to them is good, but being controlled by them is tragic – and unbiblical. When Jesus asks us to partner with him in his Kingdom agenda he does not require recklessness, but it invites us into lives without fear. How tragic it is that so many who claim to follow Him seem value security and certainty and worship the “what if” more than they do him.

Thumb through the bible, thumb through human history, both are filled with people who did amazing things, things that if it turned out that there was no God, would have been crazy, but they stepped out into uncertainty with a certainty of who God is. And you know what? They never would have done it if they had been controlled by our obsession with security and certainty, if they lived lives of fear, lies of what if.

Nobody knows how life is going to play out. Life is filled with surprise and mystery and uncertainty. So, what do you do with that if you live a what if life? Do you huddle in fear and decide not to follow God unless you have all of the answers? God has always called people into moments, invited inviting them to join him by not to settle for the myth of security (which ironically ignores the fact that all plans can be shattered by a thousand unknowns even if we never step out to join God in what he is doing). God has always been in the business of calling people to step out into the reality that he promises us a life without fear – if we choose to take him up on it. God never promises that all the “what ifs” will be answered. In fact, I don’t think he wants them answered, I don’t think God wants us to have certainty as to how everything will work out when he calls us to step out in faith. Instead, he promises that if we shelve the myth of security and follow him when he calls that we will live amazing lives that will not be wasted, that is the certainty God gives us.

And so, my question: are you going to live your life trapped in fear and uncertainty or are you going to walk with confidence in the certainty that you have? And then laugh in the face of uncertainty. Because in the end we do not need to know the answers to all the “what if;” we don’t need to know, we just need to go, to follow, to trust, to surrender, and then to listen for his voice calling us to join him in what he is doing, and then do so. Faith means being willing to step out in the midst of uncertainty with the certainty that our lives will not be wasted when we step out to partner with God in what He is doing.

So many people spend their lives hoping that God will pick them for great things, "oh, pick me, pick me." And they wait and they wait for the time when there is no risk, they wonder why God never picked them, and die having lives wasted lives.

A fear based life of “what ifs” is sad in the present, but a tragedy in the end.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

It's been a hard week.

I originally posted this a couple of weeks ago, at that time I was reporting upon a shocking surprise from which I believed we would recover and move on to China in August. We just found out last Wednesday that though we are convinced that we are called to go at this time and for this purpose -- coaching and mentoring leaders working with the poorest of the poor in China -- we have officially been stopped. And yet, we also know that this does not surprise God who is the God of who seeks justice, who loves the widows and the orphans. Don't you love the paradoxes that exist all around us -- God's love for justice and people being treated unjustly, most of them much more unjustly than we ever have -- I'm glad that God is so much bigger than our understanding of him (props to C.S. Lewis) It is an amazing time to lean into God and say "teach me," or simply "what is up with this?" Anyway, here is the previous post, once a hurdle, now a barrier.

If you have been following here, or more likely if you are someone who knows me and my family, you know the journey that we have been on towards China. I have always had a heart for China and for Chinese people -- going all the way back to my college days in the early 80's when I took over a year of Chinese history, culture and politics.

Ok, the post is starting to get boring, let me jump to the point.

We have been stepping towards an amazing opportunity -- to move to China and train leaders so that the Church in China can meet the need -- and be the incarnation and signpost of the Kingdom -- through stepping into the breach of the flood of AID's orphans that will hit Southern China within the next 5 years. We have seen miraculous confirmation of this move. And then in a period of 4 days the door seems to have been slammed shut, by an unexpected source with very little recourse. Why? I don't know.

My life verse is my life verse because I will never get there in this life -- but I want to get closer and closer.

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

We are praying, we are listening and we are trying to break through what we think is not a blockage from God, but above all, it's time for me to put my money where my mouth is and whatever may be find contentment in the One who makes me who I am.

It's been a hard week.

P.S. After being unable to break through this and seeing things behind the scenes that are scary and break our hearts a bit, it has been another hard week.