Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tired to the Bone...

I grew up hearing the phrase (mostly from the older folks of our family), "Tired to the bone..." It expresses an exhaustion so deep that it goes all the way down to your bones. Pretty deep.

This week, I am tired to the bone. I just returned from a trip to the west coast where we hosted an international disaster relief training and a medical/health care opportunities workshop. I arrived back in Nashville late Sunday night and started back in the office early Monday morning. I confess that I am dragging and a bit and feeling "tired to the bone."

However, just when I think no one else could be as tired as me, I begin looking through the new BGR projects sitting on my desk needing funding....

* One is for families in sub-Saharan Africa who, because of years of building drought, can't find any way to feed their children except that a miracle of help arrive from the outside.

* Another is for medicines, hygiene kits and food items for people who are fleeing an armed conflict in their home country and have crossed a border into another with nothing but what they could carry.

* Still another is for water systems in an area of South Asia where people have to walk an average of 1.5 miles daily in order just to get to a tap.

* And yet another is for 1,800 homes to be rebuilt in an area where, because of religious persecution, almost 50,000 people had their homes burnt to the ground.

Tired to the bone? I probably don't really know the meaning. Especially when I look at my life compared to others.

Lord, may I find my rest and my strength in You so that I can serve others who are really tired to the bone...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Redemption revisited...

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are the amazing beneficiaries of God's redemption. We have literally been "bought back" or "redeemed" with a price - which is the blood of Christ. According to the Bible, we all deserve death. It is a just payment for the sin that separates us from God. However, God in His great glory and grace has paid for us the debt of sin. Not only for us but for all who will believe and trust in Jesus' provisions made through the cross. It is because of Jesus we sing and proclaimed, "I have been redeemed!"

But even though there is a "once and for all" redemption of what Jesus did on the cross, I constantly find myself in need of redemption. I need redemption from my bad choices. I need redemption from the difficulties I face. I even need redemption from my persistent worldly nature.

It is strangely comforting to read and know the whole stories of the great men of faith in the Bible. Those we think of - Abraham, Moses, David, etc. - when we think of faith and obedience to God - also are great examples of what it means to be human. In a peculiar way, it gives me hope for my life.

Moses - the humblest man that ever lived, follower of God, leader of Israel - was disqualified from entering the promised land because of a simple act of disobedience. David - a singer of praises, a beloved king, a man after God's own heart - even continued to make sinful choices into his old age and yet God, His Redeemer, watched over him.

I thank God for the redemption provided by Jesus and the cross. I am a walking dead man without it (and in some respects, even with it). But I also thank God for the continuous redemption He provides when I make poor choices, bad decisions, and choose selfish directions in life. I am glad that God is still in the business of redemption - He has saved me. But I am also glad that He is in the business of on-going redemption - He is patient in helping to mold me into the image of His Son, Jesus.

I believe with all my heart that God desires to see eternal redemption through Christ for every living soul. And I believe that when we allow that first and ultimate act of redemption to occur - the covering of our sin and self by Jesus' blood - we can truly begin a process that He continually "redeems" us from our selves to be conformed to His glorious image.

I guess I'm saying that I am thankful for His "once and for all" redemption as well as His continual redemption process.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When's the Last Time You Ministered to Jesus?

A friend (KC) shared from her heart yesterday a story that literally moved me to tears. She told about being in a situation where she could have helped a person in need but chose rather to "lecture" them about their need and what they should do about it instead. Shortly thereafter, she was convicted about what she did and tried to find that person to help them but couldn't. The opportunity was gone.

First of all, I thank her for being willing and vulnerable enough to share her story. If we were honest with ourselves, we have all had situations like this in our lives one time or another. Secondly, I hope I haven't shared too much of her story because I know that she plans to write about it as well. :)

When confronted with people in need, I tend to fall back on my cultural and family upbringing understanding of poverty/need. I tend to think, "if you get your hair cut and get a job, you won't be in need." It has always worked for me. Why won't it work for everyone else? However, I would challenge us to think about those in need and those who ask help from us in a different perspective...

1. We really cannot fully understand another person's situation in life and all the things that went into them getting there. We can speculate, we can judge (from our perspective), and we can theorize about what caused their need, but since we're not them, we can not really grasp the full story.

2. God did not call us to judge the needs of others but rather to help those in need. Some will argue that we are to be "wise stewards" of our resources. I agree wholeheartedly and would argue that a part of being a wise steward would be to follow God's command and be open-handed to the poor.

3. The greatest thing we can give to those in need is not really our money but ourselves. I find this to be extremely uncomfortable because it is easy to give something and walk away. I can then feel good about myself but not be obligated too much to a long term commitment. I find it more difficult to stop, take time, listen and try to help find a more sustainable solution to the need of the person in question.

4. We cannot solve all the world's problems but we can decide to help with the ones that are close to us.

5. Remember that at anytime, you might be entertaining an angel. :)

6. Finally, from a Biblical standpoint, when we help those in need, we really are ministering to Christ. (Matthew 25:35-40)

So, when is the last time that you ministered to (or had a chance to minister to) Jesus Christ? "Wait a minute," you ask, "when did we have a chance to minister to Jesus?"

Jesus says...

"For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me."

"I assure you: Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me."