Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mission House Update

Well we have made it through week one with our first class of interns. It has been a fun 8 days. Yesterday the boys got their first taste of "contact" work spending time in the home of a Bhutanese family in our neighborhood. A family that they will be serving while they volunteer at Mission Adelante. The guys got to experience the overflowing love and hospitality of the Bhutanese people and as a product of that experienced their first cup of Nepali Chai. It is a tea that is full of ginger and sugar. I wish you could have seen the MH guys' faces, they were so joyful. Sitting in the home of people from another culture where only one person in the family knows English can be very overwhelming and very awkward, but the guys were feeding on it, you could sense that God is on the brink of something huge in that community and our interns Mike and Drew get to see everything first hand. God is good.

PS Does anyone want to sponsor a month of curriculum books for mission house? Each month runs about $100. Thanks. we appreciate your support.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Punisher, psych! -- John 9

John 9:3
3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

This verse is pulled from a conversation with Jesus as to why a man is blind. Verse 3 is the response that Jesus has when asked if the man is blind do to the sin of a human (either the mans sin or the sinful nature of his parents).

This verse is straight forward.

This verse shows that God is not punishing us for the actions of our fathers but rather the situations that we are in, all of them unique, are orchestrated so that God can work in and through us. What if we quit sulking through our troubles and embraced the reality that God is good and that God is in control. Think life would be easier then? The answer to that question is, "Heck, Yes!".

Oh yea, also once the blind man found out that it was Jesus, the Christ, that healed him he stood proud by his healer, he didn't write it off as coincidence or hide this fact, that God had spared the well being of his life, from his friends and leaders.

How often do we catch ourselves trying to place punishment from God as the reason for junk in our lives and forget to glorify him for the recovery?

When things stink maybe it is just "God saving us" from what could have been?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

John 8 -- Staying Power

Today I am going to break down two verses instead of my usual one. Even though they are consecutive verses I am not going to break them down together because they really worked in two completely different regions of my heart this morning. Also, because the first verse we look at are the words of Jesus and the next verse is an observation of John.

the First:
John 8:29
29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."

Jesus, here is in what seems to be like an endless dialogue with the Jews over fatherhood and salvation, everyone seems to be adamant on being drug so thick through details in an attempt to not have to deal with reality. We see this many times through Jesus' ministry and for the most part Jesus has the same response with different wording. He usually says something to the effect of, "Read what is written in your law, I am the one that God is sending," no one ever wants to believe that they aren't the one God is sending so they get mad and yell at Jesus and then eventually kill him.

Jesus' response here has the same motivation but we see him add an element of personality. Jesus tells us why God has never left him. Here Jesus is teaching his own people, the Jews -- He is talking to friends, peers, equals in the eyes of the law and telling them that they are screwing up. His statement in this verse implies because he is obedient and does what is commanded of him by God that he will never be left by God. Being abandoned by God is a touchy subject in Jewish history so this statement would have struck multiple nerves. See this time Jesus isn't just telling him that He is the chosen one that he is the one sent as the Son of God, he is also teaching them by stating plainly that obedience aligned with this faith in the goodness of Gods decision to send his son is the key to escaping God's abandonment.

The not-so funny thing is that 2000 years later his followers and "not" followers alike are still wrestling through the truth that God sent his son and that he was perfectly obedient. Sometimes I wonder which is the harder pill to swallow; the pill that looks like God sending His son, or the pill that is shaped like someone living a sinless life.
Sin is so hard to escape and Jesus is Sinless, I want to be like him.

the Second
John 8:30
30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

I think that I love this verse because it destroys the falsity that I hear so much (especially when I worked in collegiate ministry), "if I see a miracle, I will believe," or "the people in Jesus' day saw him so they did not have to have faith," etc. Here John is observing the practice that would consume history, hearing Jesus. Listening to Him in the heart, reading his word, or being taught byway of listening to stories of Jesus from others.

Romans 10:17 --
Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. <--> 2 Corinthians 5:7 -- For we live by faith, not by sight.

Friday, January 21, 2011

John 7 - Safety first

John 7:1
1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.

I love this verse. I cannot say that I have ever payed attention to it before but today it was like gold in my heart. I have two thoughts as to why I love this:

1. Jesus didn't do things just to say that he could. He didn't go to Judea not because he didn't think that he could escape death, he didn't go to Judea because God had not instructed him to be there yet. He is obedient. Judea was full of action, that is where the huge gathering was but Jesus didn't desire the attention enough to be disobedient. he waited because he knew his time in Judea would come at the right time. How often do I want to jump into new things because they will get me ahead, or they will be full of publicity, or they will make money? Jesus trusts God enough to trust His timing. That is a huge lesson in itself. Wait to be told to move before you sprint off in the wrong direction.

2. How often do we find ourselves, even in our intentional living and ministry, purposefully hurting ourselves? I'm not talking death blows but flesh wounds. In the words of Johnny cash, "I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel." I am serious. Is it not natural to expect the worse? When things are smooth, when things are working there is always a spot reserved in the free will portion of our brains to trigger a destructive emotion that is ticking like a time-bomb. In order to feed the emotion there becomes a subconscious search for distress. Jesus doesn't want things to go wrong. He is stoked about perfection, he desires good. He didn't go to Judea because it would disturb his ministry, his death was not necessary at that time yet he still had feeling, he wasn't searching for pain he simply trusts that good is good.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

John 6 -- The Choice

John 6:6
6 He (Jesus) asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

I think this cometary is very interesting. Here the writer, John, places a bit of personal observation into his depiction of what was shaping up to be the largest scale miracle Jesus had performed thus far in his ministry. The observation being that John could tell that Jesus was asking a chase-the-rabbit type of question to his disciple Philip. The author knew that Jesus had a plan, that Jesus was in control, that from by the looks of Jesus he was in no way nervous about the reality of feeding 5,000 grown men with no food. So obviously John knew something was about to happen, he had an understanding for the present that Philip was still unable to grasp. That is cool, it sheds light unto the understanding that we are not all going to have an equal understanding of Jesus, we are not all going to have the same level of faith at all times, we all have a different role for the the kingdom, we are unique.

The real reason I think this passage is interesting though is the fact that Jesus intentionally questioned the disciple he knew would chase the question the hardest. Jesus had complete control of the situation, Philips suggestion as to handle the food dilemma held no weight but the reality is that if Jesus would not have asked Philip to weigh in on the circumstances with his own thoughts first, Philip may have completely missed the teaching point because he had no vested interest in the 'how'.

The thing that we don't see is Philip getting upset and stomping off because Jesus asked him a question. He doesn't throw his hands up in disgust because he is being challenged by authority, he doesn't make a scene, and Philip certainly doesn't try to feed the 5,000 on his own out of spite because he is being pressured. No, he answers. He answers honestly. He answers wrong. Then he sits back and watches (probably in amazement) as Jesus works a miracle, then he reaps the benefits with 12 baskets of leftovers.
Philip was respectful and stayed around for the party, he didn't get mad when Jesus challenged him, questioned him, and put him on the spot.

Philip made the right choice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MH Update 1-19-11 21:36

So the snow has added a unique twist to the first full week of Mission House. We had a nice evening scheduled tonight followed by a full day tomorrow of good time in the neighborhood with some high school aged kids but that has all been put on hold. We are expecting to get 10 inches of snow tonight. that is a ton of snow when we live in an area of town where they cannot bring snow plows down the streets. With that said our street is one of the heaviest foot-trafficed areas in our neighborhood so the boys and I will have a long morning of shoveling the sidewalks, that seems to be the best way to serve our neighbors in this climate.
Today was good up until the snow. We spent some time at Wyandotte High School where I am currently tutoring on a weekly basis. That was fun, Drew and Michael got to meet my friends from Kenya who I play soccer with after tutoring. I am thankful for the time I get at the high school, I usually am completely spent at the end of each tutoring session but it is so worth it.
Well off to watch the snow fall some more. If you have any suggestions of what three 20-somthings should do with our snow day tomorrow feel free to drop a note.

John 5 -- My Complicated Life

John 5:39-40
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Why do I try to over complicate God? Why do I assume that God isn't quite big enough to deal with my junk; my past? When I am hanging and meeting with guys that I disciple I never doubt that God can work in their lives. On the other hand though, God completely forgiving me?... No way!
So as a natural response, I bury myself in the word, read a million books, go to church 12 times a week, and do kneeling meditative prayer (on one knee only, of course). Doing all of this in some wild attempt to create some spiritual high I can ride to the next crash that resembles a self-loathing, doubt-stricken drought that leads to an attempt to recreate the same story all over again.
What good does this depressing cyclical story do? None!

In a way (maybe not spot on with context but fairly close if not :)) I feel Jesus was implying this to the Jews in Jerusalem, "You keep trying to read your way to freedom and somehow you miss what that book is saying will set you free." -- God makes it easy for us... faith in Jesus. Faith that Jesus is Lord, that He is bigger than our problems, that He is greater than religion, that he is the answer to our disastrously cynical routine.

We fill ourselves, and our time with what we think will bring us closer to God and forget what God tells us will bring us closer to Him: Obedience that leads to faith in Jesus as our Lord.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mission House Update

So its mid afternoon and I have a couple minutes. We just returned from a full morning at 2 locations of Hillcrest Transitional Housing, they are doing some cool things to eradicate homelessness over there. Wow! This evening it is back to Mission Adelante for another evening of training tonight will specifically aid towards Bhutanese refugees. Then tomorrow we are in the school tutoring and hanging with the folks at the Urban Scholastic Center in the evening. The chaos continues like this for the rest of the week. Pray for strength. I love what is going on here it is so fun.



John 4:11

11 "Sir," the woman said (she is speaking to Jesus), "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?"

This statement is in response to an encounter that Jesus is having with a Samaritan woman and Jesus is asking her to draw water for him from a very deep well. A conversation ensues and Jesus explains that he is the "living water" and so this is where we enter with verse 11...

I feel like my natural response to Jesus on many occasions, especially the tough ones, looks much like the response that the Samaritan woman replies, "How can you do that, Jesus?" When I am uncomfortable, lazy, or inadequately believing I instinctively begin to fabricate faults in the Messiah to bandage the insecurities of my life.

I think if I was the Samaritan woman in this conversation the response would have read more like this, "Dude," the simple boy replied, "You are just a man with nothing. No tools to build something with, no magic wand to make 'living water' appear, no army to steal 'living water' resources, no factory to produce water with. How could you possibly be able to provide living water?"

My auto response is to always doubt Jesus and elevate myself and the reality is that the arrogance in that statement kills my convictions and deters from my perception of the enormity of the grace of God.

The irony of this passage is that the lady had a bucket to reach the bottom of the deep well with in her hand the whole time she was questioning Jesus' ability to draw the water.

Mission House Day 3

So Mission House has officially begun. It is really pretty cool. This week is tough because there is a lot of introduction and training that goes on outside of the walls of Mission House that the interns have to be a part of, so the structure is a little less than I desire. Next week though we are in the saddle and fully serving in the community and then in February starting the teaching training so that will be awesome. Thank you all for your prayer and support it is so incredible.