Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Smashing and demolishing Jericho

"It's kinda cool how different parts of the Bible work together, isn't it?"

Hailey's comment surprised me a bit, especially since my thoughts had automatically gone to "superheroes" and not "Old Testament heroes"...

"The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity." - 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, The Message

Hailey read the verses in her hyper-pink vinyl-covered Bible, and words like "smashing" and "demolishing" brought images of The Incredible Hulk and Superman to my mind. But for Hailey, these words conjured up memories and connections with Joshua and the battle of Jericho, in which the people trusted and obeyed God, and the walls came tumbling down. "Our tools are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture..." That's what the Hebrews' horns and voices and aching feet were used for! And that is what our abilities and gifts from God are meant for as well... destroying the things that are barriers and obstacles that keep people - including ourselves - from knowing the Truth of God. The city of Jericho was a roadblock to the Hebrews, and God didn't want them to just go around it and avoid it; he wanted them to completely smash it so that nothing would be left... so that it would never be a roadblock for anyone ever again.

We were reading these verses together as we talked about overcoming sin - that it is possible, not in our own power, but in the power of God. We have to admit we need his help, and then ask for his help - tap into that power source and do what he tells us to do in order to use that power. And that is a conscious decision we have to make, that includes being responsible and self-controlled (which, more accurately, is being God-controlled). The verse is more familiar to me in the NIV:

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

I'll never look at Jericho the same way again. It's kinda cool how different parts of the Bible work together, isn't it? Indeed, it is.

Monday, May 24, 2010

thoughts on war and peace and worship

This morning I spent some time researching refugees from the Middle East. Refugees don't just go to another country to get a better job or higher-quality possessions. They go because they want to get away from nightmarish circumstances, to be safe and free. They have seen war in real time, not just in movies. They've experienced the atrocities that make me squirm just to read about them. They are not enemies - they are victims who show tremendous courage.

I was reading about Yemen, and how it is a member of the Arab League, predominantly Muslim, a place for growing al-Qaeda groups, and a place that has no diplomatic relationship with Israel. Conflicts in the north have forced civilians to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. It is also one of the poorest countries in the world, and it shoulders a great burden of being a refuge for Somali and Ethiopian refugees, a burden that is draining their already weak economy.

In ancient times it was a trading place for spices such as frankincense and myrrh. Immediately my mind went to the wise men who came from the East to worship the baby Jesus, who brought these spices as an offering of worship. A quick look at my map confirmed that this part of the world is indeed east of Israel. Could the wise men have come from such places as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, or Afghanistan? It struck me as a very interesting idea, that these men from the east were looking for Messiah and acknowledged Jesus as the Saviour and King, bowing down in honor to him. The fact that he was Jewish didn't seem to matter that much to these men. What a beautiful heritage... and talk about an international peace meeting! "Peace on earth, goodwill to men..."

Where Jesus is, there is peace. Maybe not the kind of peace we would like, where people are all treated with love and respect, or where arguments are settled through reasonable discussion and compromise... but there is inner peace which is not limited or dependent on the condition of this fallen world. There is peace in knowing who he is and why he came and what his desire is for us... there is peace in knowing him personally, following him faithfully, trusting him implicitly. Perhaps Jesus was thinking especially of refugees when he said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart - I have overcome the world!"

Pray that the Yemeni people will come to Jesus as the wise men did, acknowledging him as the King and Saviour that they have waited for. Pray that they will become open to hearing the good news of Jesus, and that they will take heart as they find hope in him.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prayer Update

My short-term mission trip to serve refugee families in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, is coming up fast! I want to thank everyone who has so generously and lovingly supported me through financial gifts and commitments to prayer. Praise the Lord - my support-raising goal has been met and I have the personal assistance I need to be able to stay for the whole summer. You are all such a blessing and encouragement to me.

This week I learned a little more about what is happening in Ft. Wayne and how I get to be involved. I will be teaching several ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and Bible studies throughout the week to small groups of adults and teenagers. The students are mostly beginner-level English language learners from places such as Burma, Mexico, Yemen, Haiti, and various African countries. One of the groups I get to teach is a women's club that meets in our house on Tuesday afternoons for Bible study and fellowship. Just recently, the Yemeni men have consented to let the Yemeni women come to the women's club - which is a huge breakthrough. If you would like to learn more about the international refugee ministry there, you can visit their website:

As I prepare to leave on June 5th, please pray:
- for a safe journey. My friend, Leigh Ann, and I are driving up together, and it is about 10 hours away, so it will be a nice long day trip.
- that my first week will be smooth and filled with blessings and provision. I will meet a lot of new people who I will be working alongside, who I will be teaching, and who will be helping me with my daily needs.
- that I will be flexible, gracious, and full of love. Trying to figure out new living arrangements and training new personal attendants is exciting, but also difficult for me and it can be stressful. I want to be able to respond to everyone's help and any unexpected challenges with all the grace and optimism God can give me.

Most of all, right now please pray that God will prepare my heart for ministry, that I can be faithful to do his will, and that I will be humble and willing to be stretched and challenged as well.

I plan to post a prayer update at least once a week so you can know how to pray and also how your prayers are being answered. Thank you once again for your support!