Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Now Hiring"

"I need, I need a hand to hold,
To hold me from the edge, the edge I'm sliding past,
Hold on to me..."

- "Hold," by Superchick

It's interesting, but as my departure date comes closer, I think more and more about what I am leaving behind... particularly people I've been investing in over the past few months and years. I wanted to see them all this week, during my "time off," and I've barely been able to see any of them. I know it sounds really self-centered, but I wonder how they will be this summer without me. And I shouldn't feel that way, because God can work in their lives and draw them close to himself without me. And I know he will.

People tell me that I have a big ministry here, and praise to the Lord, I do. But does it need to end or get put on hold while I am gone? Do these people I love have to wait until I return before they get the encouragement and help they need? Can't the ministry continue without me? After all, God is the CEO of every project and he isn't going anywhere. But he needs workers... he's needed them ever since Jesus' ministry started on earth (see the end of John 4). I'm just a worker - one of Jesus' little helpers. Anyone who loves Him can do this job. Good grief, YOU could do this job. In fact, why don't you jump in while I'm away?

I don't know who all reads this thing, but those of you involved at TCF... why don't you start to spend time with the youth who are there at the church. Not just a "hello" on Sunday morning, but ask one or two of them if you can pick them up and take them out for ice cream and just talk and pray together. Be in their lives, find out who they really are, and challenge them to be who God's called them to be. They need you. They need you to just be present and care. Josh McDowell says that just being present in a young person's life can have a profound impact.

Also TCFers, reach out to those people who are on the margins. You know, the ones who come in late and leave early. Hang around the coffee pot after the music starts and talk with the people who try to sneak in unnoticed. Again, set up a time during the week to get coffee or a salad and ask them about their lives and the role God plays in them, and pray with them. Be intentional and persue authentic relationship. They need you. They need someone to listen and care.

There are other people I love... people who are walking with the Lord and just need loving encouragement and accountability, and people who are walking away from the Lord who need all the grace and love of an occasional 2X4 to the side of the head, to remind them of the freedom and joy and peace that Christ came to give them. Some of you out there know who I am talking about, and if you do, please take some time to spend with them as Salt and Light. If you don't know exactly who is on my mind, you know of people around you who have these needs, so reach out to them. Make an effort to be involved in their lives. They need you. They need the presence of someone who really cares about them enough to tell them that God cares about them.

There are a lot of vacant positions that need to be filled and God is eager to put his people to work. So get started! Oh, and write to me and tell me how the work is coming... I love hearing those kind of stories. :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Habakkuk 1:5 - A Prophecy for Today

"Look at the nations... watch... be utterly amazed..."

I've been reading this book this week, called Kingdom Without Borders, about the Christian church as it thrives in different parts of the world. It's been so interesting to learn about different places and people groups, and it thrills me how missionaries are being sent out from all sorts of places, the common goal and desire being to spread the gospel to every nation. Latin Americans are going to North Africa, Africans and East Indians are going deeper into the interior of their own countries, Chinese Christians are going to the Middle East. Have you heard of the Back to Jerusalem project? When I read about their beautiful vision and the even more beautiful way they are accomplishing it, I was utterly amazed.

The first verse of the book of James says that his target audience is "the twelve tribes scattered among the nations." After the Assyrian invasion and exile of the Israelites in the Old Testament, only two of the original twelve tribes continued - Judah and Benjamin - and the histories and fates of the other ten tribes were lost. This is certainly in line with the blessings Israel bestowed on his sons, but it made me wonder... what happened to those people? And if James wrote for the twelve tribes, had God revealed to him that there were still descendents of all the sons of Israel scattered across the globe? I researched a little and there are speculations that there are people groups in places like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Iran, and India who belong to these tribes by blood. Perhaps they are people who have, like the Samaritans in the New Testament, been absorbed by the cultures they find themselves in - who bow to gods of wood, bind themselves to heathen rituals, kill themselves and others in the name of Allah, not realizing the heritage they have or that they are part of God's Chosen. These are people that we must watch... and be utterly amazed.

The other night I was blessed by meeting a new friend and getting to talk to him over a cup of oolong tea. He told about his homeland of Cuba, the family that he had to leave behind there, his faith and trust in Jesus (not in religion), and his escape to America. He said that if Cubans can reach the shore of Puerto Rico without being caught, the Puerto Rican government will provide them with immigration papers. Imagine the relief and the joy when he and his raft-mates stumbled along the beach and met the Puerto Rican officials who gave them their own dinners and said, "You are not in Cuba anymore - you are free. Welcome." Imagine what it will be like to get to heaven - to the wedding feast of the Lamb - and hear Jesus say, "You are not bound to the world and its sin anymore - you are free!" Those Cuban Christians have a taste of what that will be like. Look at that nation - and the hundreds of others like it around the world - and be utterly amazed.

"...for I [God] am going to do something in your day that you would not believe, even if you were told!"