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Posts Tagged ‘Corinthians’

My praise

Was feeling defeated.  Then this song:

[Chorus:]
If this life has anything to gain at all
I’ll count it loss if I can’t hear you, feel you, ’cause I need you.
Can’t walk this earth alone.
I recognize I’m not my own, so before I fall
I need to hear you, feel you, as I live to make my boast in you alone.

[Verse 1:]
With every breath I take, with every heart beat,
Sunrise and the moon lights in the dark street.
Every glance, every dance, every note of a song.
It’s all a gift undeserved that I shouldn’t have known.
Every day that I lie, every moment I covet
I’m deserving to die, I’m just earning your judgment.
I, without the cross there’s only condemnation.
If Jesus wasn’t executed there’s no celebration.
So in times that are good, in times that are bad
For any times that I’ve had it all I will be glad.
And I will boast in the cross. I’ll boast in my pains.
I will boast in the sunshine, boast in his reign.
What’s my life if it’s not praising you?
Another dollar in my bank account of vain pursuit.
I do not count my life as any value or precious at all.
Let me finish my race, let me answer my call.

[Chorus]

[Verse 2:]
Tomorrow’s never promised, but it is we swear.
Think we holding our own, just a fist full of air.
God has never been obligated to give us life.
If we fought for our rights, we’d be in hell tonight.
Mere sinners owed nothing but a fierce hand.
We never loved him, we pushed away his pierced hands.
I rejected his love, grace, kindness, and mercy.
Dying of thirst, yet, willing to die thirsty.
Eternally worthy, how could I live for less?
Patiently you turned my heart away from selfishness.
I volunteer for your sanctifying surgery.
I know the Spirit’s purging me of everything that’s hurting me.
Remove the veil from my darkened eyes.
So now every morning I open your word and see the Son rise.
I hope in nothin, boast in nothin, only in your suffering.
I live to show your glory, dying to tell your story.

[Chorus]

[Bridge:]
Glory was solely meant for you.
Doing what no one else could do.
With All I have to give, (With all I have to Give)
I’ll use my life, I’ll use my lips. (My Lips Yeaaah)
I’ll only glory in your Word. What gift to me I don’t deserve.
I’ll live in such a way that it reflects to you, my Praise.

“Boasting” by Lacrae

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Your Love Never Fails

I felt entitlement and resentment yesterday and God ministered to me all day today with this song: while I was driving to work, driving to the Melee on the Bayou, and when I was finally driving home like Cinderella:

by Newsboys

nothing can separate
even if i run away
Your love never fails
i know i still make mistakes
You have new mercy for me everyday
’cause Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
there may be pain in the night
but joy comes in the morning
and when the oceans rage
i don’t have to be afraid
because i know that You love me
Your love never fails

the wind is strong and the water’s deep
but i’m not alone here in these open seas
’cause Your love never fails
the chasm is far too wide
i never thought i’d reach the other side
but Your love never fails

You make all things work together for my good
You make all things work together for my good

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[He]’s out of his surgery…but the doctor had less than stellar news to tell us.  ….it doesn’t seem like it can be controlled at this point from any human standpoint or intervention. 

I’m in a great deal of emotional pain right now.  Thankfully, somehow my thoughts are being protected from spiraling too deep into the what ifs and what coulds.  I still cry a lot though. I am comforted by God at this time and I’m trying to live minute to minute, day by day.  I know He’s crying with me and I know He’s guarding and protecting me as well as [him].  Whatever happens next is all part of the masterpiece of our lives. 

I’m tempted to shout out that it’s not fair, that we don’t deserve this, that we’re so young, and that we’re good people who deserve to be happy… but all of those phrases get cut off before I even finish thinking them.  They are replaced by phrases like: he is not mine to keep, this is all part of His plan, we’ve been happy, these 6 years have been the best gift I’ve ever received, and the Lord feels and He knows the pain of loss.  I really don’t think that all of these phrases come out of human rationalization, they are of God and are the fruit of your prayers for us.  Thank you. 

I am still comforted by the story of Gideon and the story of Job.  I’m not sure if our ending will be parallel to their story, but there is still hope.  It’s not over yet.

I will never be able to speak about all of this as much, as deeply, or as eloquently as I can write it.  Think of these emails as windows into my heart. 

I’m so tired.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

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I read a few “replies” online to some letters some other young people have written to a John Thomas (like Dear Abby–see below).  I’ve mentioned this before, about not really feeling bad about my whole 2006 spring fling.  People have tried to comfort me in ways I know is not fully in line with what God desires such as, oh your boyfriend might now be more open to God since you dated him or, what you did physically with him wasn’t wrong.  I keep reading 2 Corinthians 7:10 (Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death) and Psalm 51:4a (Against you [God], you only, have I sinned).  God has made my heart different in the way it feels and understands.  I used to think I had such a cold heart because other more emotional people would be bawling and I would be dry-eyed.  Also, while other girls seem to have their hearts ripped open by guys, I guess I haven’t opened my heart much to anybody (including myself and thus God) for it to be hurt terribly (story of my life: guys I like going after other girls).  Anyway, it’s very humbling to go the distance to “breaking the heart of my First Love” (Revelation 2:4)–I’m still not there yet.  Food for thought:

My girlfriend and I are both virgins, but in past relationships both of us have been physically intimate in ways which were seriously sinful. We have talked about it and have agreed to hold ourselves to a higher standard of physical purity than we had in the past. So far we have succeeded.  It would seem that things are on the right track. But, sometimes I still feel angry towards her for what she has done with other guys in the past. At the same time, I am unable to let go of the guilt of my own sins in past relationships.  I know that we have both repented and that God has forgiven us, and that we should be able to move past it, but sometimes I really feel unable to forgive her and forgive myself. I know it is wrong of me to feel that way — I should be able to take joy in God’s grace and forgiveness — but I can’t seem to help it.  Perhaps you could write an article about moving beyond sexual (or otherwise physically intimate) sins, for those of us who have repented but find it difficult to move on without thinking about the past. As Paul wrote, love “keeps no record of wrongs,” and I want very much to apply that toward my situation.

Since you say that you know that God has forgiven you both, what you’re really asking is, “When will, or how can, I emotionally feel like I’ve forgiven her and that God has forgiven me?” That’s a very honest and appropriate question about forgiveness. Let me give you a few thoughts to help you navigate these waters.

My hunch is that you’re still viewing the whole picture of your past behavior and your girlfriend’s past behavior from your side of the ledger, rather than from God’s. If I’m right, then your views of your past behavior could be better described as “sadness” or “disappointment,” but not “sinful” or “heartbreaking to God.” As a result, rather than truly repent, you’ve really just “felt bad” or “felt guilty” about it, as in, “I really wish I hadn’t done that,” rather than, “Oh, God, my choices must have broken Your heart! Please forgive me!”

Am I getting warm?

Here’s why I think you might have stopped short of true repentance. True repentance bears fruit, and looks like this: it offers nothing to God but spiritual poverty and a desperate heart desiring to change. It results in humility, gratitude, and a deep compassion for others who have or who are experiencing the same sin and blindness. Given that you conducted yourself in exactly the same way as your girlfriend did previous to meeting one another, your anger toward her isn’t anger, it’s really judgment of her, and is pride at its worst. “You, therefore, have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges,” Paul said in Romans 2:1, “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

Your anger would more appropriately be directed at Satan, who deceived both of you into believing that your behavior would have no negative repercussions. Rather than anger towards your girlfriend, your heart should be broken for her because — just like you — she was blind to the hurt she was exposing herself to. Be thankful that God has graciously opened her eyes (and yours) to the truth that you now are walking in.

Forgiveness is two things (probably more, but we’ll focus on two): It is a decision to act, and it is a miracle. It involves your will; and it asks God for a miracle in your heart. We need a miracle to be able to forgive, because we are not naturally inclined to do it. Our “flesh,” or our old nature (that which is self-led rather than Christ-led), is incapable of forgiving. To forgive requires surrendering yourself entirely to God and His economy. And since forgiveness is something God wants us to experience and walk in, we can confidently ask for His help in truly forgiving.

The prayer, “Lord, help me truly forgive X,” is the kind of prayer God longs to answer. So start praying that (or some variation). Part of His answer might be that God gives you a revelation of your own spiritual poverty, reminding you how miraculous it is that He has forgiven you, resulting in deep gratitude and humility in your heart, rather than judgment of someone else’s behavior.

I suggest you take some of these thoughts back to your prayer closet, and see what happens.

One more thing. The consequences of past sin can sometimes continue even after true repentance and forgiveness, but that doesn’t nullify the forgiveness. You can simultaneously regret your past sins, be thankful for what you learned by them, pray that the lesson would be used to make you more like Christ, and rejoice that God has forgiven you and that He works all things for good for those who love him.

I have an odd situation on my hands and would like some advice on how to proceed from here. My boyfriend and I have taken our physical relationship further than I would have preferred and not having set definite boundaries prior to our time together makes it difficult to draw the line once in the moment. We are both still virgins in a literal sense but have ventured into other areas of physical intimacy that I still believe crosses the line of what is appropriate outside of marriage.  I want to back up and create a new line now that we have gone too far but I don’t know where to start the conversation. I love this man with all of my heart and will be marrying him within the next two years but am afraid that this kind of conversation will create a chasm in our relationship that will be painful and difficult to cross. I want to do what I know will honor God but am still afraid that I will get some resistance from my boyfriend.  How do I start a conversation about limiting our physical actions together? And how do I stand firm on what I believe to be the right choices without making him feel like I am steering our relationship in a direction he might not agree with? I know that in order to make this work he has to be willing to abide by the new boundaries as well. I am just scared of what he will say and would appreciate some guidance on the best course of action from this point forward.

Thanks for writing and being so candid about your situation. Let me share a couple of thoughts that I think will help you.

First, let’s use the proper vocabulary for what’s going on. What I mean by that is, your statements like “further than I would have preferred” and “what is appropriate” soften the seriousness of your behavior. If God has convicted you about what you’re doing, then it’s much more than a personal preference or question of appropriateness. It’s sin. Call it what it is and then you’ll know better how to deal with it and move on. Preferences are merely personal choices that tend to have little moral or ethical weight to them. I prefer a cheeseburger more than I do Brussels sprouts, but I’ll live with whichever one is available when I’m hungry.

Do you see how vocabulary makes a difference? You place yourself, by your own choice, in a sexually revved-up situation, and at some point you prefer not to be there, but you’re there, so you live with it. Now, call it sin and you have a whole different paradigm to consider. If it is sin for me to eat Brussels sprouts (my wife would say I act like it is) then it’s no longer a matter of preference. The sprouts are now absolutely off limits. If someone offers me either a cheeseburger or some Brussels sprouts, the action is clear; the choice was made before the two were ever set before me. One is sin and the other is not.

So here is what I need to ask you: Is it merely your preference to change or have you been convicted by God’s Spirit, knowing that Scripture lays out clear guidelines about sexual intimacy outside marriage? Your answer to that question will make all the difference in your ability to “go back” and draw a new line of behavior. If it is merely personal preference, it will be very difficult to draw new boundaries, because they’re arbitrary. But if what you’re sensing is godly conviction, then there is hope for change, and your reaction should be repentance, not a change of preference.

So let’s call it sin. If that’s the case, then your reaction is clear cut: repentance. Repentance means confessing your sin to God, asking for and receiving His forgiveness, and, empowered by His Spirit, changing your mind and behavior to that which honors God and brings Him glory. Viewing your situation this way gives you the most hope for change that sticks. Calling it what it is also impacts how you address it with your boyfriend. He might try to talk you out of a “preference,” but if he’s a serious Christian he’ll be more likely to understand the weight of your decision if it is borne out of godly conviction.

As for how to address this with your boyfriend, you need to approach him with the same grace God approached you with it, but with a strong resolve about your conviction. More than likely, he’s had some of the same convictions, but just hasn’t acted on them. But remember, you are responsible for your sin, your actions, not his. And that’s just what you need to say — that God has convicted you about your behavior and that it has changed (not in the process of changing, but changed — that’s repentance). He needs to understand that this is not a judgment of how you feel about him, and that, in fact, the intimacy you’ve shared has been enjoyable — you’re human and God made it for enjoyment — but that you are going to wait for the biblical context — marriage.

Here’s the crucial part for you. Your concern and desire to respond to God’s heart on this issue must be your highest goal — higher than your concern about your boyfriend’s reaction and higher than your concern about the future of this relationship. If you’re waiting to see what his reaction is in order to decide whether you stick with this, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Yes, it might be painful and yes, it might be difficult, but that’s OK. It’s right, and that is what matters.

On a practical level, now that you know what your new standards are, don’t do anything that moves you in the direction of lowering those standards. If you don’t want to burn down the house, don’t build a campfire in the living room. If you don’t want to cross the line of physical intimacy, then don’t be alone with each other without any accountability from anyone. That’s just common sense. You can have a private conversation or pray together in view of others, so why do you need to be alone? You need to “go public” with your relationship, literally, so that you have accountability for your time together — no more hanging out in the shadows, OK?

No matter how your boyfriend responds, this is the best thing you can do for your relationship. If he doesn’t honor or respect your heartfelt conviction, that’s a red flag about how he would respond to you similarly in marriage. If he steps up and does the right thing, your relationship will be strengthened, you’ll love him all the more and God will get the glory.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  [Romans 12:1-3]

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Dear Abby: Now that election time is nearing, I would like to address a question that invariably comes up this time of year — that is, people asking me who I voted for. I think this is a personal subject. I am registered with a party and support it at election time. Who I vote for is my business.  My answer is, “I voted for the person I want to win.” Sometimes this is not good enough for some people, and they insist I tell who I voted for. I just repeat my answer and go on. Any advice on this?  — Registered Voter in North Carolina

Dear Registered Voter: I agree that it’s nobody’s business for whom you voted. I find it interesting that if I answer the question and my candidate isn’t the one my questioner prefers, I then hear a recitation of their candidate’s campaign slogans. You are handling the situation correctly.

Dear Abby: I am writing in regard to the letter from “Registered Voter in North Carolina” (Sept. 23). I never tell anyone whom I voted for, not even my husband (even though I usually tell him everything). It’s not that I don’t want him to know, but we respect each other’s rights to voting privacy. We have lots of discussions about the candidates and issues, and both research them together. We have similar political views, and through our discussions we pretty much “know” whom the other voted for.  I hate when people ask me whom I am voting for, and I always decline to state. My husband went to war to protect our rights — including the right to privacy — and more people should respect them. — Gloversville, N.Y., voter

Dear Voter: Thank you for writing. I was pleased to hear from a large number of readers also stressing the importance of exercising our freedom to vote. I am sure I don’t have to remind everyone how important it is to vote in the Nov. 4 national election. This is a crucial time in our nation’s history. Your vote will affect generations to come. Read on:

Dear Abby: I say you should be proud of your candidate of choice and say it! If someone refuses to say whom they voted for, to me it seems like that person is ashamed to admit he or she supported this candidate instead of that one. If someone asks me whom I voted for, I gladly let them know. — Proud Supporter in Columbus

Dear Abby: When asked, I say, “I voted for the person I want to win.” If the questioner persists, I say, “I don’t discuss politics. My doctor says my blood pressure is too high as it is.” — Middle of the Road in S.C.

Dear Abby: I tell people I voted for “the president,” because whoever wins, I will support and pray that he/she makes the best decisions for me. I believe no matter who wins we must work together to overcome the problems we face. — Jane in Jacksons Gap, Ala.

Dear Abby: The quickest way to get people to drop the subject is to reply, “Isn’t it great that we live in a country with private ballots, so we cannot be persecuted or nagged for whom we vote for?” The nosy person generally changes the subject after that. — U.S. Citizen, Oxnard, Calif.

Dear Abby: I grew up in a household in which my parents sat on opposite sides of the political fence. My mother had a very tactful way of shutting down conversations about personal politics by responding calmly, “We have a secret ballot in this country for a reason.” — Erin in Independence, Mo.

Dear Abby: I have a simple answer when pollsters or friends ask whom I voted for (or will vote for). I say: “I don’t even tell my husband that. That’s why there are curtains on the voting booth.” That usually shuts ’em up. — Anna in Alton, N.H.

Dear Abby: When I’m asked the same personal question, I lean in close and ask in a whisper, “Can you keep a secret?” Of course, they always say “yes.” Then I back away and reply, “So can I!” — Voting In Hastings, Neb.

Dear Abby: I tell people I don’t care how anyone votes, as long as EVERYONE votes. Sadly, not everyone is fortunate enough to have that privilege. — Alexxia in Frankfort, Ill.

I voted in the last election, in El Paso, and I’ve already voted for this coming election, at Lost Creek Park, but I don’t usually reveal who I voted for.  I see nothing wrong with keeping it to yourself or talking extensively about it.  But I prefer to keep it to myself.  I’m hesitant in revealing my choice because I am extremely uninformed.  I don’t even know how McCain or Obama sound like, let alone their stances politically.  And I’m beginning to realize that, even if I feel I have a lot of facts going on, I still seem to make a choice that isn’t any better than someone who makes a choice pretty quickly (this is in general, not only specifically regarding elections).  But Hannah said something on Saturday that made me ponder: “Well, as long as you voted.”  I asked her if she indeed believed that it’s better to vote uninformed than to not vote at all.  She confirmed.  I’m beginning to agree with her (well, I guess my actions would show that confirmation since I’ve voted twice already, uninformed).  As the last Dear Abby reader implied, voting at least acknowledges our appreciation for the privilege to somewhat select who we elect.  If we make a poor choice, we need to admit that at a minimum and work through the consequences humbly.  Lastly, I agree with “Jane” that we need to support whoever ends up taking office.  It is an awesome responsibility. 

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. [Romans 13:1-2; see also 1 Peter 2:13-14]

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.  [2 Corinthians 13:10; see also 10:8]

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. [Hebrews 13:17]

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They will be going to Vancouver tomorrow (Saturday) to train for five months before heading off to slums and shantytowns.  They will spend a year learning the language and forming relationships with their neighbors before asking where they can help with medical needs, what has been done before that has and hasn’t worked, etc.  Laura was born in Mexico to missionaries to Mexico and lived in Latin America until the age of thirteen.  Jesslyn met Laura when they were both at Baylor (Laura met Jason at Baylor, too).  The married couple shared with HCC’s BASIC their individual journeys and then how they came together in “Following Jesus in a World of Poverty.”

They began having this longing to live with the poor, to join them. “We wanted to be more than believers, more than admirers.  We wanted to be followers.”  Jason mentioned the phrase “all for love’s sake became poor” from the song (see below) we sang, a different translation of 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (NIV).  He referenced Matthew 10:28, saying that he feared the suburbs more than the slums because he knows that his soul would find it hard to truly live in the suburbs.

Laura said a sixth of the world’s population lives in shantytowns.  She shared how, during a mission trip she went on, she came out of a church service.  The church building was located atop a pile of garbage, or right next to a hole where trash was disposed of.  The people who lived there would scour through to find food and objects to sell. Her eyes landed on a small toddler, barely able to walk.  He came across an ear of corn next to a diaper and surrounded by flies.  There were a few kernals left on it, and his eyes lit up and began chewing on it.  She found herself disgusted by the whole scene.  Then I John 3:17 hit her (“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”).  She know there were so many times when she was confronted with a need, and she did nothing. 

She referenced Isaiah 48:6-11.  I went to the restroom, so I’m not quite sure where she went from there.  When I came back, Jason was elaborating.  He highlighted verse 10: “if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”  He says this is the only verse in the Bible he knows where it says a light shining in the darkness is so bright that it becomes like the noonday.  He went on to mention Jeremiah 22:15-16, where he began seeing God telling him to know Him through the needy: “‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the LORD.”  Jason says true love beckons towards need; it does not flee toward comfort.

He told us that he attended a university in Pennsylvania where they had to go to the cathedral on a regular basis.  One time they had a speaker who testified that he was called from his Amish community to serve the students at this university.  He challenged the students.  He prayed a prayer, “and that was the fastest God has answered one of my prayers.”  He says as he was pushing through the crowd with the rest of them to leave for class, his friend Stephanie came up beside him and told him that she had signed him up to lead a mission trip to Camden, NJ, the “worst city in the States” in three weeks.  “See you in math class,” she said before leaving.  Jason exclaimed to God, “I didn’t mean it!”  He thought, at least send him to somewhere a little easier, to transition, why straight into the worst city, and in three weeks!  But he said that indeed, at the place known as the “worst intersection in the worst city,” there were those who stepped up and proclaimed the gospel, and it did seem like noonday.

They both shared with us what they titled as the “Passage of Great Compassion”: Matthew 25:34-40.  Jason said that anyone could understand this excerpt.  The easiest to understand is often the hardest ones to live out and obey.  He pointed out that there were no “miracles” mentioned.  Instead, he quoted Mother Teresa: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”  For example, we were not called to heal the sick but to look after them and to visit them.  The word “compassion” derives from the Latin roots pati (to suffer) and com (with), thus together compassion means “to suffer with.”  In the book CompassionHenri Nouwen says: 

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. …But it is not said of Jesus that he reached down from on high to pull us up from slavery, but that he became a slave with us….  It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.

They recounted past tsunamis that killed millions in the country they are entering, but that daily there are spiritual tsunamis that are killing souls.  Jason informed us of some past Christians, such as Tobias Leupold, Leonhard Dober, and David Nitschmann, who wanted to bring Christ to the slaves.  They were blocked by the slaves’ owners, so these two close friends thought surely God would want them to go, “even if they had to become slaves themselves in order to witness to the Negroes.” Dober and Nitschmann became the first two Moravian missionaries sent to St. Thomas in the West Indies in 1732 to preach to the slaves.

So Laura brought up The Message‘s translation of John 1:14:  “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”  She says that 2 Corinthians 8:9 doesn’t say that God reached down and did His thing from up above.  He actually came down from His exclusive bungalow and moved into our neighborhood; He came and lived in a our same limited physical body among a poor family in a poor city.  Laura said she felt so alone, however, in her convictions to actually become poor beyond serving the poor.  People would tell her that she was being too idealistic, too naive.  But then one day instead of being met with “Well….” she was met with enthusiasm.  Apparently there was a speaker at Urbana who actually did this, who actually went to Cambodia and lived alongside the poor:  Janet Cornwell.  And that was how Laura got connected to Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor.

Jason said he felt moved to experience homelessness himself with his director in Vancouver with only some thin blankets to keep out the cold.  For one week he lived on the streets.  Soup was their manna.  “Soup again?”  Every time they’d try to hunker down for the night, they would be kicked off by the police.  They thought, finally, that surely sleeping on some church steps would work.  Yet they were told to leave.  “You don’t understand, the people here are Jesus followers.  Jesus was homeless.  Where could we go? (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:18)”  “A house, duh.”  “….”  He came out with a better understanding of the plight of those living on the streets.  Homelessness is actually illegal in Vancouver, especially with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics coming up.  He found out that in reality, the people can get food (though it might not be very good or have much variety) thirteen times a day.  The people really were starving for a connection, companionship, intimacy, someone to be there with us, relationships, friendships–fellowship.  He started having people over for meals, and it would be so transformative to a man who has been on the streets for such a long time, to have a child jump into his lap and read a book.

As someone described Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor, “Their unique thumbprint is that all of those who are called to serve in this group actually live in the same slums and conditions as those that they are serving.”  Thus he challenged us:  “Mother Theresa often received letters asking, ‘Can I come out to Calcutta?’  Sometimes she would say, ‘Yes.’ But most of the time she would respond with these two simple sentences: ‘Calcuttas are everywhere, if you only have eyes to see. Find your own Calcutta.’  Find your own Calcutta.”

Questions and Responses

  1. Jesslyn: It’s overwhelming.  Where do you start?  During her early missionary days in the south of India, Amy Carmichael first met Thomas Walker of Tinnevelly, the man who was to be her mentor. Miss Carmichael tried to explain to him her desire to live in a mud hut among the people rather than in the more comfortable bungalow. His answer was: “You could not stand it for long.”  “I would rather burn out than rust out,” replied Miss Carmichael.  “That should be as God wills,” Walker retorted.   Jason said that, still, that we probably don’t want to burn out, either.  God doesn’t will us to be burnt out.  He mentioned five things: beauty, rest, celebration, [I forgot], and [I forgot].  He says that when he is on the mission field, there are places at the site to go to rejuvenate, to have a Sabbath.  Laura also shared that she realized she couldn’t reach all the poor around her, and that we need to simply truly encounter each person who comes across our path.  Indeed, Jason said that there was one time where he joined a group to not only hand out physical necessities but actually listen to the life stories of those living on the streets.  One time he was met with, “Excuse me, excuse me, are you the ones who come and listen to us?”
  2. Jireh: How did your parents take this?  Jason says that it is every parent’s desire to protect their child, and rightly so.  It was definitely quite a journey to see his parents come to grips with what he was doing.  It was definitely hard to admit that he had lived on the streets for one week, for example.  However, he says that it was such a joy to see his parents grow in patience, graciousness, and trust in God.  Laura admits that it was probably harder for her parents to allow her to go than for her to come to terms to go.  But in the end, he quoted Matthew 10:34-39: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’  Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
  3. James: What would it look like if Christians around the world interpreted and obeyed the Word like you?  Laura responded, “The kingdom of God?”  Jason said that the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 is a great text.  However, it has gained prominence only in the recent [was it 60 or 600] years. Previously, the verse used for evangelism was Matthew 5:13-16.  As John Stott says in his book The Message of the Sermon On The Mount (p. 65), “The Christian must not become assimilated to non-Christians and contaminated by the impurities of the world, for the influence of Christians in and on society depends on their being distinct, not identical.  God intends us to penetrate the world. Christian salt has no business to remain snugly in elegant little ecclesiastical salt cellars; our place is to be rubbed into the secular community, as salt is rubbed into meat, to stop it going bad. And when society does go bad, we Christian tend to throw up our hands in pious horror and reproach the non-Christian world; but should we not reproach ourselves? One can hardly blame unsalted meat from going bad. It cannot do anything else. The real question to ask is: where is the salt?”
  4. Robert: Is everyone called to live with the poor?  In other words, are ALL Christians called or is this some people’s particular “body part” (1 Corinthains 12)?  Not only did Jason quote Matthew 25 again, but he also quoted Galatians 2:10.  Though Peter was called to take the good news to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles, as were their respective”body parts”, they were both called to go to the poor.  Laura elabored on Matthew 25 saying that the criteria that God judged the “sheep from the goats” was whether “the least of these” were treated well.  She gave the example that if someone insulted Jason, she would hurt more than if she herself was the one insulted.  In the same way, for us to not treat “the least of these” well, it is like an insult to God and His provisions and grace towards us.

“Here I Am To Worship “
Chris Tomlin

Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of my life spent with You

And here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly You came to the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor

I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

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