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Posts Tagged ‘John’

Held

“Daddy, when it get’s scary, will you hold me?”
John M

My children and I enjoy watching superhero cartoons together.  Two of our favorite shows are Super Hero Squad and Justice League.  The kids like to mimic the characters and sing the song during the introduction sequences.  However, along with each superhero comes a super villain, and the battle against the super villain can often be scary.  My youngest child James wants to watch with his older sisters.  However, some parts may get scary for him.  Rather than go away and do something else, he asks “Daddy, when it gets scary, will you hold me?”

James’ question made me think of my life and my attitude to God.  Many times our life can be difficult causing fear and anxiety.  We can face trials and disappointments such as uncertainty with school or work, relationship issues, or health problems.  God does not promise a life without trials.  In fact, as Christians, He tells us to expect trials.  However, God also reminds us He has overcome the world.  When life gets tough and trials come my way, do I run away to somewhere I perceive that it is safe?  Or do I face my fears and run to God’s arms and ask Him, “Daddy, when it gets scary, will you hold me?”  God, our Father, welcomes us with open arms.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  [John 16:33]

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  [Deuteronomy 31:6]

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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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Today marks the one-year anniversary of me being officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia).  I still haven’t really made much rhyme or reason into all this.  Of course, in one sense, it was such a relief to find some sort of label, some sort of “control” over the situation.  Yet one does not simply up and “embrace” such labels, either, especially when one feels it is so “mild,” so it makes it that much more frustrating.  But good thing I just reread that entry, that sometimes finding the “why” is not that important as finding the “Who” (Psalm 42:11, 43:5).  I doubt I would be diagnosed with those disorders now, so I thank my family, friends, and Church for helping me take off those “grave clothes” (John 11:44).  Now I just need to do my part, take ownership of my own recovery….  Anyway, I started this list two weeks ago, hopefully I compiled all the entries/steps that led up to now:

from my b_luvd xanga:

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

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