Posts Tagged With: Mission

Washing Dishes

Pots and pans seem to understand

that the best way to wash your hands

is not to hold a royal trial of the King,

but to humbly serve in love and sing

while feeding those who work and hurt

and scrubbing away the world’s dirt.

Love is willing to serve in simple ways

while deflecting to Jesus all the praise.

Quiet at home, proclaiming abroad

listening to the angel’s laud

of the Lord. They serve all night

yet enduring not an ounce of fright,

for at the break of day, the dishes

will return along with prayers and wishes

over eggs and croissants made at home

before we go out again to our local Rome.

 

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Happy Valentine’s day to the woman who’s dishes I have washed dishes for nearly fourteen years.

Categories: Marriage, Poem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No God But One: Book Review

(Disclaimer: I was given an advance copy of this book for review.)

One thing that struck me as I read this book was the compassion and profound insight simply stated. The whole discussion of the book is framed as one would expect to occur between friends who care deeply about each other. Since much of the book reflects the conclusion of faith that Nabeel Qureshi came to as a result of an ongoing dialogue with his debate partner, it should not surprise the reader that the format is somewhat similar to a debate where a question and counter question is posed in each of the dialogues on various topics related to Islam, such as the difference between Islamic law (Sharia) and the grace of God found in the Gospel of Christ.

While this may sound old hat to someone who grew up in the church, when a person discovers that the reality that God is love and all of the diverse implications of this, whether in the arena of theology proper (including the meaning of the trinity and how the doctrine of the trinity is the way of describing God that most honors the Creator) or in the area of an understanding of violence in the history of Islam and the Christian Church (When did Christians start fighting wars? years after they were first called Christians and the empire was converted en masse.)

It becomes very clear through the reading of this book that not only does Nabeel have a clear knowledge of the basic issues related to Islam and Christianity, their similarities and differences, but he also loves both Muslims and Christians. Even though some Muslims may misunderstand the motives for why a truth seeker would embrace Jesus and the church and even though some who grew up with Christian traditions may question whether this is truly possible, Nabeel manifests an irenic spirit throughout, and confesses that he has not always behaved as the best example of Christianity after having chosen to identify with the Lord Jesus.

People need to hear these sorts of questions: questions that are centered not so much on the historic truths of the Gospel, and the verifiable & life transforming factual truths of the crucifixion, the resurrection and Jesus’ claim to deity; rather Questions that are centered on the sincerity and depth of our understanding & obedience to those truths.

Are we willing to seek to truly understand the truth?
Are we willing to suffer for what is true?
How much are we willing to suffer?

The good news is a life and death issue. The Gospel cost Jesus’ His life and frees us from our deadness. When we see the extreme love of God, we will be awakened to delight in our Creator, as a maiden delights in her groom when she realizes that not only is He a noble person, but that he truly does delight in her.

May you be awakened to the First, the Ultimate, the Supreme Love of the Author of Life.

#NoGodButOne

Categories: Book Review, Good News, Islam, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why do the poor experience more of the Kingdom than the rich?

A. The poor need God very evidently. The rich think they have all that they need.

B. The poor are oppressed by the world but blessed by God. The rich exploit to get rich, but hoard their wealth, taking their blessings for granted.

C. The poor cry out to God, and he listens. The rich boast of being self-made people.

D. The poor are generous because they know what it is to need, so they are eager to share with others.

E. The poor are always looking up for help. The rich are helping themselves.

F. The poor must be patient. The rich can afford instant service.

G. The poor see God provide for them and give thanks freely. The rich think their wealth is a shelter.

=> To give to the poor is to lend to the Lord. To give to the rich is foolish.

Give down and look up.

Invest in the Lord’s work among the poor, share your whole life with Him & His people wherever you go this week.
If you don’t find His people, make friends and help them become part of the Lord’s people.

Categories: Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort, Comfort, My People Jerusalem

Right now the Middle East remains in an uproar: Egyptians are in an uproar, and Palestinians are raging against the state of Israel. Jordan is facing a flood of refugees. Bethlehem may soon have a few tourists. But I find that the “Jerusalem Syndrom” or “Stendhal Syndrome” to be most interesting of all this: people go to the “holy” city only to find that there are a bunch of sinners there. Sinners needing to be evangelized, so they evangelize them, or at least attempt to, in their own religious versions.

I’ve been there and done that! In 1994, I was a short term worker in Washington, DC. Enjoyed my time, but got a little too isolated from the group and my mind started to wander away from the mission. I started to peregrinate and preach. I dare say, it was fun. I thought the world was going to end in 3.5 days. (Times, time, and half a time, you know.)

Well, it didn’t, and the Lord forgave me for my false prophecy. So I am no prophet. Big deal.

But that does not mean I am not an evangelist. I may not be called upon to bring a final serious message of judgment, but I can bring a message of joy to the world. That joy is found in Jesus. Moral reform is good. Preaching is good. But all cities need this preaching. All souls need the good news. I am not much of a church planter, though my efforts to disciple others have resulted in a small disciplemaking movement.

The reality is though, that my life is marked (or some would say marred) by something else: suffering and disappointment with the worldly and the temporal hopes dreams. I work part time for a government agency that works among the least and among of those in the worst circumstances as a certified peer support specialist. In other words, I’m not just certifiable, I’m certified. I have a plaque to prove it.

That sits at my desk like the the Plaque I once received as a Distinguido Guesped used to at my dorm in college. I was a Distinguished Guest of the governor of Sinaloa State or Mayor Mazatlan there in Mexico, or something like that. Yippee!! Distinguished guest. All I had to do was do a little dramatic interpretation and travel with a bunch of choral members to a podunk, persecuting part of our Southern Neighbor and have a good, clean, moral life as I honored Jesus. The Bible says, those who honor God, God will honor.

What if the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre in Israel, were to not issue a certificate of insanity, but of honor to these guests, who like Saul (i.e. Shaul) had a few chips shy of a full bag, with a certificate for their intense interest and compassion for this city of conflict. Imagine how you would feel going on vacation to Hawaii only to find all the natives working in gray suits and ties and all the land given over to the chaos that happens on Wall Street … Doesn’t sound like a vacation.

Just because you went to such an advertized “tropical paradise” that had been corrupted and spoke out for a little common sense, would you want to be called a fool? No.

But Hosea said that the prophet will be called a fool (Meshuggah). When a nice person meets a wicked world which has been worshipped with wonderful words, that nice person might get a little upset when they find out the reality. You would … Right? I hope you would.

So, back to the issue at hand. As these prophets / religiously fanatical tourists recover, why not give them a certificate for wanting the city of Jerusalem to be morally pure and peaceful?? Honor them for their ability to cope again with a sinful world. Commission them in Jesus name to preach peace to all nations.

Use those with Jerusalem or Stendhal syndrome to become Fools for Christ … people who don’t fit in with the world because they love God. Let us be a little loony for the Lord! Let us give him our minds and let us give the world a piece of it too.

Maybe those that the world calls misfits are simply called to fit into another world, a world yet to come. A world that is perfect.

In this world, we will have trouble. BUT, TAKE HEART! Jesus conquered the world!!! He is alive! He’s not dead. He’s not crazy. He’s not lazy. HE really is LORD and HE really dead get up and folded the grave clothes at the tomb. Now, he is busy building a new Jerusalem.

The old Jerusalem is like Sodom and Gomorrah: it distresses the righteous lot who try to live their so much that they can’t stand staying there forever, they run for their lives. Distressed and dispirited. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He takes care of souls who go to great cities like Mecca, Rome, and Washington, DC and New York City, only to lose their grasp on “normalcy.” He comforts us with the hope of His return. He is the Messiah. We are not.

Now, what about those who think this world is all there is? I feel sorry for them. They may be in animistic tribes wearing animal parts or they may be in the ‘hood wearing hoodies or they may be businessmen wearing ties and going to fine restaurants or they may be on a campus wearing a backpack or they may be taking care of a posse of kids whom they hope will grow up to be “normal.”

Let’s get real. It is OK if dreams are shattered and illusions are exposed. It is OK to be different. It is OK to preach outside or in the streets. Let the prisoners free! Let the slaves go free! Let the fools go free! Maybe if Jerusalem had tolerated the most Divine Fool she would be a cultivated city today, instead of a city where the past is nearly all that there is to celebrate about it at the present.

Blessings on all who go to Jerusalem to comfort my people: the mentally ill and non-conformists. May God’s people surround the saints restrained with comfort and friendship.

Categories: Evangelism, Peer support, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You are a Flake (And That is Good)

I remember distinctly the day I was called a flake.  My niece smiled kindly and happily as she said, “Mert, you’re a flake.”

I didn’t know whether to feel blessed by a child or to feel insulted, yet she seemed so sweet.  I asked her, “What do you mean by flake? That means different things. What kind of flake?” 

She paused and thought long and hard for a four year old. Then she said, ever so sweetly, “A snowflake.”

“Why a snowflake?” I asked.

“Because you’re clean!” she exclaimed.

I was blessed indeed and felt so unworthy of her pronouncement.

As I reflect on the unique mission & calling God has given me and what my niece said, I believe that her pronouncement also reveals something about our common faith. My mind drifts to Psalm 133:

See how good and delightful

For brothers to dwell together as one.

Like the precious oil upon the head

   Descending on the beard;

      The beard of Aaron,–

         Which descended unto his robe:

Like the dew of Hermon which descended

   upon the mountains of Zion,–

For there YHWH commanded the blessing:

   Life for all time.

 Mount Hermon is a place where it snows, and where there is also dew that settles on other hills due to the coolness of the heights and the condensation. Each individually unique bit of precipitation on Mount Hermon joins others to prepare the way for the whole land to be blessed with dew.

Likewise, the Lord gets his due throughout the earth when we as God’s people join together in the heights and compact together to settle in the place God appointed at the time he has set. Our common faith works together as each part plays a unique part of intercession and waiting before the Lord.

Wikipedia has a fine photo of Hermon with snow on it. As you can see, the sight is imposing and impacts a large area around.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hermon

Ultimately though, we must realize that our source is not the mountain. We must look beyond the mountain to the Lord God Almighty who put the mountain in place, sends the snow, and sends the dew upon the land. Look to Him, and your needs will be supplied and the land will be watered.

In the Gospels, it may have been Mount Hermon where Jesus went up to be transfigured. It would have shown his sovereignty over the place where false gods were regarded as reigning by the pagans. Pagans would have built shrines in the area to honor non-gods. Jesus claimed sovereignty by being transfigured there and being whiter than the snow and giving the disciples an idea of the changes that would take place in their lives as He would accomplish His reign in & through them. Mount Hermon was at the Northern border of the Land of Promise.

http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/mthermon.htm

In Christianity, Mount Hermon speaks of the edge of our life where transformation & transfiguration takes place. We reach the edges of the promises. We seek the Lord. We follow Him to the ends of the earth on a mission for the Kingdom. To be with Him wherever we are going. And suddenly we find He is more and greater than we would ever expect. Our faith in the Messiah which we share in common with Moses and the Prophets is brilliant, yet not the work of human genius. Humans cannot make a soul as radiant as Jesus.

We would love to memorialize the presence of the Lord. But God does not want to merely form a memory, He wants to send us on a mission to new places with new graces, rooted in a common faith, each bearing a unique, meltable mission.

You see, when you melt the snow of Mount Hermon, it melts into one pool of water. We enter in one way, and leave transformed. Our unique mission converges on the edges of the land.  At the edge of the presence of God’s people in the world, we find that there is often the most unity among the saints. We work together when we see not our distinctiveness, but how our little drop of love can be joined in the clouds of glory to exalt the Lord of Glory!

You see, love is the greatest, most enduring thing.  The mountains will be leveled. One day, people will no longer ski down Hermon’s slopes.  But the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

Categories: Good News, Humility | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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