Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We Must Never Tire

The jungle is constantly changing. Growth occurs so rapidly here that the adage, “things never stay the same” finds expression even in nature. This change is different than others. In this change there is a rhythm that brings a certain peace. Change in the jungle comes by way of natural growth rather than from destructive forces that are unnatural. Having been here only a short time, my head, as well as my heart, are captured by these rhythms. Seemingly meaningless meetings with attorneys simply fade into oblivion and are swallowed up by a pure expression of God’s creativity and order. It’s difficult, and even uninteresting, to keep up with the headlines from stateside talking heads. Even here the chaos of the western world, which I believe to be reflective of a changed and changing spiritual climate, has a way of finding you.

I preached in a church this past Sunday in the states. It’s a good church filled with people who are serious about finding God. They have leaders in the midst of them who are diligent to point them in the right direction and who go about it in the right way. During the service the Lord gave a word about fear. Fear of these present days, and more particularly, what God was doing in them in the midst of it. As the word was given the pastor came and asked how many were experiencing this fear being spoken of. I was shocked to witness at least half of the congregation stand in an affirmative response to his question.

The game has changed. Something is different. And God is calling us to respond. He is fashioning a people who will reflect Him in the midst of this change. Is it proper for me to remind us that there remains a world outside of the United States in desperate need of seeing the clear reflection of a God who is pure love and unadulterated righteousness. It is easy in the midst of confusing elections and volatile stock markets to let our world view shrink to seeing no further than our front door. This tendency, while understandable and even normal, is antithetical to the selfless gospel we have embraced and now carry.

It is still true that thousands are being slaughtered in Darfur on a routine basis and that Sudan once again stands on the brink of civil war. This takes place independent of tightening credit markets. This weeks news reports heavy fighting again near our friends in east Congo. This time the fighting displaced 15,000 souls and the death counts are not yet known. Nothing has changed in the Northeast states of Orissa, India. Hundreds killed and thousands flee their homes as militant Hindus launch an unrelenting assault against any one who would dare whisper the name of Jesus.

How are we to respond to this in the midst of a crippled economy and confusion? “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:9-10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

We fare best when we function for that which we were created. In Jesus we have been created for good works, and the reminder to not grow weary in doing good is so that we don’t fall into a downward spiral, brought on by a sole focus of our circumstances. Is it not a focus on self that brings worry, fear, and discouragement? He has “prepared beforehand” good works for us. These good works will bring glory to His name, perhaps especially so, in the worlds darkest places. Interestingly, they will also bring our own hearts peace as we focus on Him and His good plan for our life.

It’s like the jungle I find myself in this morning. They (these good works) flow within a created growing rhythm, in the context of creativity and order, allowing for selflessness that brings with it a heart of peace. That’s a fancy way of saying, it just all works better when we do it His way. Never grow weary in doing good. This is a challenge I often find myself in need of these days. I pray we find blessing in it.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Unshakable Kingdom

I think any honest person would have to agree that these days feel somewhat ominous. Falling stock markets, bank foreclosures, loss of jobs and homes, unrest in the Middle East, the resurgence of Russia, a very intense election, and the peril of natural disasters, make for a tumultuous climate. It is understandable why many result to fear, and even panic, in times like these. The climate of today beckons us to honestly evaluate the foundation upon which we are building our lives.

This past spring I felt like God was speaking to me about a few things regarding this fall. I took notice; however, I didn’t give it a lot of attention. As fall arrived, and is now in full swing, I am understanding much better what He was wanting to communicate. I can only say I wish I had paid closer attention. I can also say, I am listening with much more attentiveness. Because God is slow to anger, abounding in compassion, and full of grace, I fear we take His words for granted. He is kind to speak to us and warn us of things to come. For me, this has been a wake up call of sorts. He is SERIOUS about what He says. He is INTENTIONAL in all that He speaks. He is EARNEST in exercising me to listen and obey. We must be RESOLUTE on knowing Him and His voice. We must be SOBER MINDED with a heart committed to obedience.

Jesus said that “everyone who hears His words and ACTS on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew…and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” My friend, the rock is Jesus Christ himself.

This principle is not hard to understand. We know that a house must have a strong and solid foundation lest it collapse under the mildest of storms. We know there are many trials and tribulations in this life. We were told that we would have them. We are also told that in difficult times, as well as good times, God alone is our rock and our salvation, our fortress, and our hope.

The book of Hebrews states this, “…He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain....We receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken….”

Do you hear this? His kingdom cannot be shaken! No matter what life throws our way, the King of Kings still sits on His throne and He rules; no matter what the TV reports, no matter what the world says, no matter what our great enemy screams! We are heirs to a kingdom which cannot be shaken! His Word cannot be shaken. His love for us cannot be shaken. However, there are things in our lives that do need to be removed and times of shaking are meant to do just this. Ask Him what He wants to shake off of you and out of you. Maybe He has already told you.

We must keep our eyes on the One who is seated above all governments, rulers and principalities of this earth, above political parties, above institutions, above time. He is our foundation. We must build our lives on Him and on the principles of His kingdom. Give Him permission to take His seat on the throne of your heart and live. He will not force His way there. He is wooing and He is warning. I close with the lyrics of Jason Upton.

"Where will we turn when our world falls apart
and all the treasures we've stored in our barns
can't buy the Kingdom of God?

And who will we praise
when we've praised all of our lives
men who build kingdoms
and men who build fame
but heaven does not know their name?

And what will we fear
when all that remains
is God on the throne with a child in his arms
and love in his eyes
and the sound of his heart cry?"