Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I’m thankful for . . .

 

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church, my family, my friends, vanilla lattes and mochachinos, chicken and cheese enchiladas (my mom makes the best!), ceviche, a cappella singing, jazz, swing and salsa music, yerba mate, los panas, Caribbean beaches, language acquisition, all-night flights, paying for excess baggage, dodging thieves in Caracas, the overcrowded subway, trials and temptations.

 

I am thankful for the good and the bad because all of these things are a part of the life that God has blessed me with! Either way, there won’t be any crime or overbooked flights in heaven. God’s blessings, provision and providence remind us of His goodness! The negative things in our lives remind us of our need for Him!

 

Today I am sad because I am far away from my family, 5,460 miles to be exact. But I am also thankful because I will have lunch today with Christian friends and family from four different countries in Buenos Aires where I will begin working this coming year. Jesus has been faithful to His promise in Mark 10:29-30.

 

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, lots of love from South America and happy eating!

The Joy of Working With God

“Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ’s purpose toward the world He came to redeem. Fame, pleasure and riches are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ’s undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards.”

J. Campbell White

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Here are a few Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards that I really liked.

Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30.

28. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

33. Resolved, To do always what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.

43. Resolved, Never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s; agreeably to what is to be found in Saturday, Jan. 12th. Jan. 12, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

57. Resolved, When I fear misfortunes and adversity, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it and let the event be just as Providence orders it. I will, as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.

69. Resolved, Always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723.

For the entire list of the The Resolutions, click here.

The Mosaic

A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself.

That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say: “I make God visible.” But others who see us together can say: “They make God visible.” Community is where humility and glory touch.

 

— Henri Nouwen

God’s Patience Despite Our Failings

I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc. don’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.

– C.S. Lewis

A Safe Place for Others

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them. Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another. When people realise that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning. Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it. Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.

— Henri Nouwen

True Christianity

How comes it that saints are still looked upon as a class apart instead of being normal examples of membership of the church? The answer to that question is to be found in the cost of sainthood. It cannot be too often or too clearly proclaimed that Christianity is something for which a big price has to be paid. When all around us the air is full of vague rumors of a new-found faith which is free of effort and tolerant of everything save toil and pain, it is time to speak out boldly and to say that true Christianity is the most costly possession in the world, that it still knows but one road, which leads over Calvary, and still has but one symbol, which is a cross. If a saint is one who approximates to the life of Christ, it is self-evident that he is one who suffers in the endeavor to come to God. There were many ways in which our Lord could have saved the world, but he was limited in his choice, for God can but choose “the best,” and the way he chose was the way of suffering, of hard discipline, and severe tests. The man and the woman who are not prepared to pay this price cannot attain the profession of sainthood to which they are called.

– R. Somerset Ward

Value of true humility

It is almost impossible to overestimate the value of true humility and its power in the spiritual life. For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and the consummation of humility is the perfection of all joy. Humility contains in itself the answer to all the great problems of the life of the soul. It is the only key to faith, with which the spiritual life begins: for faith and humility are inseparable. In perfect humility all selfishness disappears and your soul no longer lives for itself or in itself for God: and it is lost and submerged in Him and transformed into Him.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Changed by the World

The following blog post was written by Sam Shewmaker, former Harding professor or missions and missionary to Rwanda, Africa. I copied it from his blog on the Missional Outreach Network.

 

“Changing the world” is a slogan I heard often during the years I taught missions at a place called Harding University. We had a lot of the younger generation who wanted to ‘make a difference’ in the world and I wondered how long that idealism would last. Best I remember we figured about 18 to 20% of the mission interns we sent out each summer actually returned later to serve full-time in missions for at least two years outside the United States. Not to shabby, maybe.

So whatever happened to the other 80%? Well, I don’t know but I still pray that the seeds planted will yet bear fruit. Oh sure, some went just to see the world, to check off another continent on a tax-free air ticket, been there, done that. But others saw the world with spiritual eyes and returned home changed people… changed by the world.

The world starts at your doorstep or maybe closer. And changing it starts inside of you! Changing your value (or obsession) with safety, overcoming your dread of ‘the world.’ Being willing to live a transformed life before the world, and so earning the credibility to share the transforming message.

Some are pretty good at changing the world from afar, emailing World Bible School lessons or writing cogent missional blog posts. But most people need to see a real, live example of a transformed life lived before them. More of us need to get down and dirty ‘in the world’, living among those who need change and to be changed, entering in to the suffering of a hurting world; being incarnational, not just thinking and writing about it.

Come on World Changers… lift up your eyes… and look across the street… down the block … or around the world! And Go!

Authentic Living

Duplicity is one of the greatest threats to the moral fiber of our society. We see it everyday: sports heroes caught doing drugs, exemplary actors and actresses caught up in crime and politicians caught telling lies and stealing from the poor. While many have been caught, many others are yet to be discovered. This duplicity, or inauthentic living has become so common in our society today that many are unable to recognize it and its consequences.

 

In the middle of such deception and deceit, many people cry out, “Where is God? How can there be so much evil in this world? If God would truly the Ruler of the universe, why does He allow so many bad things to happen?”

 

In my ministry I find myself having this conversation on a regular basis. My response usually contains an explanation of man’s free will and the reality that man has pushed God to the outskirts of society, rejecting His plan for life on earth.

 

As Christians we must realize that the only way to show a better way is to live authentically, without duplicity. The simplicity of the Christian faith allows our yes to be yes, and our no to be no. We do not need to make vain promises nor do we need to dazzle people with our eloquence. Yet, what we need to live is a holistic life, in that what we say and do, go together hand and hand, in step with our Lord and Savior.

 

If we do not live like Jesus, if we refuse to be God’s hands and feet on earth, then the world will have no choice but to reject God and His perfect plan. Without contact with authentic living, the future of our world seems rather bleak. Let us, then, live as Christ, freely choosing to do the will of our Father. May we say with Jesus, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”