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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

All I Want For Christmas

I don’t know anyone who gets more excited about Christmas than my husband. He is like Chevy Chase in the movie Christmas Vacation. He loves to build anticipation for me and the kids. He loves making Christmas breakfast casserole. He loves cooking Christmas dinner. He loves building the fire and then throwing all the wrappings into it. And he LOVES to play Santa, taking his time to hand out all the gifts, one at a time while everyone watches. One year he even number coded the gifts so that the kids would not know which gift belonged to them. He assured me this would prevent them from being able to figure out what they were getting, for this is the cardinal sin of Christmas in our house.

One of the things he enjoys most is telling the kids that he won’t be able to get them what they want for Christmas “this year.” Of course, the kids have finally figured out after all “these years” of getting what they wanted, that this is a game for him.

Why would he play such a game? Because he loves to surprise them on Christmas morning. He gets really upset with me if I take them to look at something they want, or have them email me the link to something they want. I had to have a serious conversation with Santa this past week about life changing and the children getting older. I had taken our daughter shopping so that she could try on some clothes she wanted for Christmas. I bought the clothes, brought them home with me, and will wrap them and place them under the tree for Christmas morning. One would have thought I had committed a felony. I had to remind him that she was 21 and that she would still be excited on Christmas morning. This he could not understand. You should have seen his little sad-sacked face.

It brings my husband great joy to give his children what they want for Christmas. I confess that I find it difficult to even type that sentence. I find myself wanting to explain and defend it with statements such as, “We don’t always give them what they want…I know we shouldn’t spoil our kids…giving kids what they want can make them indulgent and selfish...etc.” But I will let it stand. I will even type it again, It brings my husband great joy to give his children what they want for Christmas.

I think we sometimes have a view of God in this same way. We are sure that God won’t give us what we desire because this would be presumptuous and selfish on our part, and after all God is all about keeping us in our place. This mind-set of God reflects an absence of intimate relationship with Him. In John 15 Jesus lets us in on a secret about intimate relationship with the Father. He says, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My father is glorified in this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

This asking and receiving is in the context of intimate abiding fellowship with Him. How does one abide in Him? It’s much like any other intimate relationship one has: you talk, you listen, you cry, you laugh, you share your deepest secrets, fears, and dreams with one another. I realize this doesn’t capture it fully; however, it is basically relating on an honest and authentic level with Jesus. As we do this our love for Him grows and we begin to see what He sees and want what He wants. We then begin to ask for things we want but, this wanting has come from our abiding in Him. He then gives us what we ask for. And this giving to us brings Him great joy!! It is an amazing journey.

We may give gifts to our children hoping to buy their love and affection. Or, we may sometimes throw money their way to get them off of our back. Or perhaps we indulge them in all of their demands in order to relieve our own guilty conscience. God does not operate this way with us. He won’t attempt to buy our love and affection; He doesn’t try and get us off His back. He gives out of His pure unadulterated love for us.

What do you want for Christmas? Do you want your marriage restored? Do you want a wayward child to come home? Do you want to love God more? Do you want your household saved? Do you want friends? Do you want healing? Talk to Him, abide in Him.

Do you know what He wants? He wants YOU!!!

Have a Most blessed Christmas.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Walking In Wisdom

I have a buddy in Florida. We have been to Africa several times together and have shared moments and thoughts that go beneath the surface and veneer of most relationships. My buddy sends me a scripture verse daily via email. I have come to look for it because many times it seems to confirm what the Lord is speaking.

Over the last two or three months we have been praying for God’s direction. It’s not like this is a new thing for ATC but, there is a new intensity to the process. I believe that more times than not, what we see in the physical is merely a reflection of what is really being fought over, or struggled against, in the spiritual. In other words, the chaos we see in financial markets and political spectrums are merely reflections of spiritual conflicts in the heavenlies. So, in essence, we can at least know and understand that the spiritual climate we operate in is changing. Along with any climate change come storms. In fact, now we find ourselves in the middle of a storm.

When a hurricane descends on a particular area the first and most natural response is evacuation. Evacuation is a response to a natural storm rooted in the God given impulse of self-protection. However, while this may be a correct response to the forces of nature, it should not the immediate response to battles in the spiritual.

For all of us, both personally and for Answering The Call as an organization, I believe we are being called beyond a response rooted in the flesh motivated by self protection. Recognition that the physical is a reflection of deeper spiritual realities calls for a spiritual response. At a spiritual level the call is not to retreat but rather to “stand firm” as Paul says in Ephesians. This kind of response to changing spiritual climates that bring on storms is rooted in death to self. It is indeed in direct opposition to the flesh which often finds itself spurred on by self preservation.
So in light of all this my buddy sends a verse which confirms the general direction of Answering The Call in times such as this. To the church in Ephesus God writes this, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Right now to move in any direction other than the will of the Lord would be foolish. In evil days of changing spiritual climates we are particularly prone to the enemy’s schemes. In evil days it requires more discernment to identify actions and thought patterns that lead us to discouragement, despondency, and even destruction.

The positive injunction here is completely logical and very clear. Be wise by making the best use of the time we have been given. God has given you, me, and Answering The Call certain resources that enable us to move forward in bringing about the Kingdom. Wisdom suggests that rather than getting lost in the quagmire of current events, we make the best use of them in the time He has given us.

I suppose I am pleading with you, and even with myself. Be encouraged by what you see around you as understanding of unseen realities increases. Be encouraged by all He has given you, understanding that the enemy can not rob what the Lord has given. Be encouraged that being wise and making the best use of our time and resources will lift us out of the doldrums of routine and into all that He has for us. Be encouraged!