Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You are really lucky - you get to go to boarding school.

I was ten when my Mom and Dad decided the best course of action for my education was to place me in boarding school. Our family had been in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) for six months starting a new mission work in the south eastern part of the country while living some 200 miles from that site with New Zealand missionaries. I had been able to attend school with their children locally but now we were moving. I don't remember being concerned that I was not included in the discussion. I assumed my parents had my best interest at heart and went along with all the change entailed. Until:
I remember the day and half trip from Mashoko Mission to Bulawayo interrupted by a shopping spree for my uniform which included a blazer and tie I was expected to wear every day. On the day my Dad took me to Hillside Boarding School I remember being nervous and it must have shown. As we pulled up to the school Dad looked at me and said, "You are really lucky - you get to go to boarding school. Do you know how many of your friends would have liked to be away from their parents as well?" Then we laughed and I my nervousness changed to eagerness. 
Those are still three of the best years of my life. I reveled in the sense of adventure that came almost everyday. How different it would have been had Dad not properly prepared me. How different it would have been if I had not daily felt the love of my parents to that point. How different it would have been had he said, "Thanks for sacrificing yourself for the good of the work."
When Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." we can say, "I am really lucky - I get to sacrifice for Jesus."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How to get from here to there

I am one of those men who asks for directions. There I said it. I am not particularly proud of it but I have always preferred to ask than to wander - well, most of the time. There was that time in Athens while walking to the Parthenon I took Judi on a walking tour of the city saying every 30 minutes or so, "It can't be that far - I can see it from here." Other than that...
I have, however, found that asking for directions can be almost as frustrating as just striking out in hopes of landing on the right spot. There is an old farmer's story of a salesman who was trying to find a particular farm in the hills of Kentucky. Seeing a farmer standing beside his tractor next to the road he stopped to ask for directions. 
"Well, turn around and head back about 1 mile to the Topper Store and turn left. Then watch for a barn with checkered roofing cause in a little bit you'll come on to dirt road on your left - take the next left..." After five minutes of directions the salesman headed out only to end up back at the same tractor with the same farmer 30 minutes later. Frustrated he called out, "I followed your directions exactly and still ended up back here."
That's good cause I wasn't gonna go to the trouble of telling you where to go till I was sure you could follow directions."
There is something exhilarating about just starting out to see where we end up, but, if we have a particular destination in mind it is good directions we will need.
You and I want to see more people who do not follow Jesus choose to follow him. For that to happen we are going to have to follow some basic directions. 
We must agree the church is God's tool for directing them:
"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord" Ephesians 3:10-11.
"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" Ephesians 4:11-13.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" Ephesians 3:20-21.
There is a lot more in Ephesians directing the church in its primary mission I recommend it as of first importance.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I was one of the lucky ones

.I knew who I wanted to marry the moment I met her, however, I was pretty sure (OK positive) she would not have anything to do with me. Talk about above my pay grade! She was beautiful, had a great voice, was a knock out, could hold her own in an argument about Paul's misogamist leanings, what a looker, and she had made a decision to serve overseas (the Peace Corps). Did I mention her eyes?
We met during a week my family lead the missions section of the VBS at her church so when she showed up at my school that Fall as one of the College group from the church she was attending while studying at Ohio University I felt blessed. Really! Then she asked me to show her around - me! After a half hour of non-stop from me on the school, town, family she suddenly stopped me and said, "If you don't kiss me I am going to go crazy!" 
For a minute I thought I had said what I was thinking out loud. Then I realized it was her - talking to me. Well, the rest is in the history books, but, I will never forget how incredibly honored and awed I felt when she selected me to be stand next to her. Still do. It is what picks me up when I am down, shores me up when I am low, and warms my heart when it turns cold.
I tell this story to remind myself how I felt the first time I really heard Jesus say, "I love you; the real you; the you you try to hide from everyone else. I love you and have loved you before you even cared if I loved you."
There is no feeling that comes close to revealing our debt of gratitude to Him for saying that to each and everyone one of us. When life trips us, buries us in minutia, batters us with conflict the only force to pick us up and move us forward is this promise from Paul, "The love of Christ constrains us..." (2 Corinthians 5:14).