Thursday, March 26, 2009

It is Thursday now and I am still in Florida. Mom is doing better, still working on getting off the breathing machine. Things are moving each day - slowly but surely. As I sit in her room, watching her breathe through tubes, be fed through tubes, monitors all over, machines, wires, tubes, alarms, lights, alarms....... my mind tells me "this is not my mom". In a sense this is true. My mom was active. She was vibrant. So in a sense, this is not her.

However, and that is a big however, there are things that define my mom that can never be taken away. Memories of who she is, her impact on my life, her impact on the family, her testimony to the world around her - these are things that also define her. I am going to make a jump, so hang on (my mind was whirring, so not sure if this jump will make a lot of sense). My mom is an eternal being - there are things about her that will last forever: her faith, her relationships, her life.

It really helps me to view the things in this life in the light of eternity instead of from a temporal or earthly perspective. From an earthly perspective; this is bad. From an eternal perspective, it is an event that God wants to use in His on-going development of my mom, my family, those in her circle and me. (That sounds really cold and unemotional - not meant to be.) As the writer of Hebrews records about Abraham (11:10) - he viewed this planet as a temporary stopping place because he was looking for a city whose foundation was God. I have to keep that perspective or this whole thing does not make sense.

It is times like this that I am reminded of what Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthian church:

2CO 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. [17] For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. [18] So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

This is true of my mom; this is true of me; this is true of all of us who look at things from an eternal perspective.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I am sitting in a hospital room in Orlando Florida. I like Florida, but I do not like it now. My mom is in the hospital. I just learned that she, unless there is a miracle, will not walk again and may never move her arms and may even need a ventilator to help her breathe. Four weeks ago, she was healthy. Four weeks ago she was golfing. One surgery and an infection later, we find her in a desperate state.

It is times like this when I don't really understand life and God. My mom is a saint and I have rarely, if ever, heard her speak a disparaging word about anyone. It just doesn't feel fair that this happened to her - that sin in the world would take its toll on her body like this.

Life is hard, sin really stinks, God is good. I am not sure right now how God is good, but I know that He is. My soul is aching now - seeing the effects of sin on my mom.

I really cannot fathom how God deals with all the pain caused by sin in the world. He experiences it all the time; simultaneously all the effects of sin are seen and felt by Him. I guess that is why He is God - He can handle it. I can barely handle one event - that is another reason why I am not God.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I was thinking as I was driving this morning about the future of the church; a whole lot of thoughts converged at once. It was probably spurred on by my stopping at a church that I would consider "aging" or "old school" (choir, everyone in suits, etc.), studying Daniel and finishing the book "unChristian". (Note: this is not meant to be a comment of arrogance; it reflects my style preference. This church is doing a good work.)

The encounter with the church made me think about the future of my church. Sure we are culturally relevant now, but in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years will it be? Will people who are now 10, 12, 14 years old consider my church "old school" and not relevant in 30 years?

These thoughts were spurred by the perspective that the world has on Christians as reflected the book "unChristian". How are we to meet our commission of being Jesus ambassadors in a lost world, when we can't get over the "Christian" hurdle, let alone get them to come to a place where a bunch of us "Christians" meet?

I think the key to this problem is taking the church to them. Relevance will be essential because we will have to bring the gospel to their context, not expect them to come to ours. (It will not matter how "old school" we look as a church because we are not designing the church programs for them.) We will REALLY have to understand how to bring the good news of God into brokenness like Jesus and Paul and Daniel and Moses did.

This will be messy for sure. It will take a long time. It will be done in the strength of the Spirit. It will require us to show up (see my last post). Novel concept isn't it?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

So I was wondering why the Spirit lead me to study Daniel after reading the book unChristian..... I think, at least in part, I am beginning to understand. As I was reading the first 5 chapters of this letter, my camera angle moved from Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar. I am beginning to believe one of the main purposes of Daniel and his friends was to be a light to Nebuchadnezzar; the leader of the most powerful nation at his time.

How did they do it? What where their methods? What can I learn on how to evangelize people around me that are not in particular seeking God?

A little background..... When Daniel was deported from Israel he was put in a 3 year development program (see chapter 1). It was in this setting that he "resolved" not to eat the king's meat or drink his wine because, as a God follower, it would defile him in some way. That commitment was privately made between Daniel, his friends (Rack, Shach and Bennie - thanks Veggie Tales) and the head of program.

One year into this development program, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that no one could tell him what the dream or the interpretation was. The lack of response moved the King to order that all the sorcerers and astrologers be killed; including those in training (i.e. Daniel and his friends). Long story short, Daniel was able to tell the king his dream and was elevated to ruler over the province of Babylon. Daniel's testimony to the King was: "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries." (Dan 2:27, 28) Nebuchadnezzar's response to God revealing this dream through Daniel? "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery." (Dan 2:47).

Not too much later, Rack, Shach and Bennie found themselves in a position where they were required to bow down to an idol Nebuchadnezzar set up. They didn't and found themselves in in a fiery furnace. Before they went in, they told the king: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Dan 3:16-18) The king watched as Rack, Shach and Bennie were saved by God and responded: "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." (Dan 3:28-29)

What methods did Daniel and his friends use in their processing with Nebuchadnezzar? What tactics? I think that I can summarize their methods in this way - they showed up when called on. They didn't strategize how to "get into see the king", they didn't have a special sermon prepared, they really didn't even talk about the love or grace of God, they just lived out their faith, they really were not even trying to be his friend. They showed up when called and pointed to God as their God, their provider and their protector. They followed after God and obeyed Him. HE put them in situations where they were to testify of Him. HE put them in circumstances that required them to act out their faith. They had to obey and testify about God. God took care of the rest..........

What is my responsibility in the process of evangelism? First, I have to have and live, moment by moment, the kind of faith that Daniel and his friends had then I put myself in a position that God can use me. Then I have to show up when and where God calls or places me. I mean REALLY show up. Not just be there, but be ready to, in whatever circumstances I find myself, testify of power, the goodness and the glory of God. That is my responsibility; that is my charge.