Archive for May, 2013

Where Are You going?

Where are you going?

The Herald News
May 22, 2013

“Go into the world and make disciples.”
Jesus, Matthew 28

I have had the privilege to travel in the world a little. Born in Washington D.C. (I don’t remember it but have a picture of me outside the hospital from last summer), I grew up mostly in the south, have lived in seven states, and been to five countries. We keep our bags packed at my house. Just kidding—our primary world now is Rhea County, and Cheryl and I want to finish earth-life here if God wills it.

The trophy stamps in my passport are Brazil and Cuba. I could write an article every day about the ministry of Ami Training Center in Brazil that brings Indians out of their villages, trains them, and sends them back to their tribes to proclaim the message of life. And, my heart wells up when I recall pastors and churches living dangerously and sacrificially to reach Cubans for Christ. I was in one church that had forty-two small groups throughout their town, knowing they could be shut down at any time.

What are the trophy stamps in your passport of life? You may have stayed at a job or in a neighborhood to intentionally be salt and light. Perhaps, you may have decided to stay in the midst of a difficult family situation to show them Christ. Maybe, God has given you a younger or thirsty someone to take out to lunch or have coffee with and to lift up. Or, you may have gone somewhere outside of our country on a mission adventure. They all matter in advancing the Kingdom of God. For sure, it doesn’t take perfect people to do any of these. Obstacles and failures are the discouraging tools of Satan; the call of Jesus is to keep going.

This weekend my nephew Ryan and his special new bride, Leah, were in town. He just stopped being a stock broker and she finished an outreach mission through an adoption agency. They are passionate about giving their lives to reach immigrants from around the world who come to New York City. They are giving up everything to do this, knowing what they will do there will reach beyond our borders—and ultimately increase God’s Kingdom for His glory. I am so impressed—and ready to pack my bags again.

In Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper tells of a couple that retired to Florida. Their life centered around their new hobby—collecting sea shells. Piper ponders what they might say to God when they stand before him and are evaluated for “deeds done in the body whether good or worthless” (2 Corinthians 5).

Ryan and Leah are going into the world of unreached peoples…in NYC. No seashells for them!

What is your “world”? Where are you “going” as you follow Jesus Christ?

Beginning Lessons of the Dogwood

The Herald-News
May 8, 2013

“And he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.’” Luke 21:29

What are your spring rituals?

One of mine is to tour Dad’s yard. Dad is an amazing gardener, with new things on his palatial acre every year: garden stuff, bird feeders, planters, flowering everything. I have had my tour, and it’s another delightful seasonal invasion of sight, smell, and touch.

And then, there are the dogwood trees in my yard and the one across the street I see through our front window. When spring peeks out from behind winter’s grey I start watching the dogwoods. Leaves and berries first; then the heaven-sent blossoms.

The short season of blossoms is one of my favorite 2-3 weeks every year. When green leaves start to take over I mourn the loss. It seems I turn my head one day and, poof, the white and pink flowers are gone. The dogwoods teach me many things:

1. God gives wonderful gifts in small things. We mainly glory in big things: mountains, the gospel, etc., but the little things and moments show His glory, too.
2. We can easily be distracted by the flowers and think they should always be here. Dogwood flowers are a divine attraction each spring. I pull close low-hanging branches of them from the tree that is next to my mailbox and just drink deeply of their beauty and design. But the point is the tree—without which there are no flowers. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Creator-Savior Jesus is the point of everything and I miss that far too often because of lesser things.
3. Our senses to see and smell—and the mind to process them have been minimized. Our physical life is not inherently evil but a gift from God. How sweet the first smell of coffee in the morning, a freshly powered baby, or the sight of spring’s offering of dogwoods. We don’t worship creations pleasures, but we can savor such gifts and offer worship to God because of them.
4. Decay. We don’t like to acknowledge it, but things decay, fall apart, and even die. Temporary beauties like dogwood flowers remind us of a greater resurrection life soon, where and when there will be no death. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
5. When the lesser things—designed to be gifts to point the way, and to move us to worship God—replace the greater One, the Bible calls them idols. This is dangerous and easily forgotten.

What do the trees teach you?

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