Just a very quick note to mention that I’m on my way to Central Europe, and hope to update from there soon. I’ll be teaching in Hungary, Romania, Macedonia, Hawaii, and Colorado in the next six weeks, and would appreciate prayers for effective communication, the freshness of the Kingdom message, and of course for all the issues of travel.
Hopefully this trip will be a respite for my spirit, which has been so heavy these past weeks. There’s an unnamed fear that ambushes me daily in regard to America, and it’s been a constant battle to maintain hope in the midst of the “fundamental changes” in our freedoms, alliances, and national security.
Still… my confidence is in the promise of God’s Kingdom, and the Truth of His Word. When everything else unravels at the seams, His promise and His Word remain.
Scarcely a day goes by that I don’t say something I wish I could take back. I had to remind myself of that this week when, in the midst of the horrible tragedy of the Haitian earthquake, Pat Robertson told his listening audience that Haiti had – at one time – made a pact with Satan. As a follower of Jesus I want to distance myself from that kind of posturing. Whether there’s any truth in that story or not, it’s like telling your children that the neighbors house has just burned down, but “don’t forget, the old man has always been an alcoholic.”
I haven’t the right to either excuse or judge Pat Robertson. He’s an imperfect man just like me. And the Bible explains that “If we could control our tongues we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2) But the fact that Pat is in the frightful position of having a microphone plugged into a worldwide television network presents a problem.
And it makes me want to clarify that Reverend Robertson doesn’t represent the hearts of most Christians I know. This is not a time for sermonizing and theorizing about judgment. It’s a time for grieving, giving, and prayer. On the morning after the quake I found myself in a roomful of young people crying out to God on behalf of the Haitians and looking for ways to help. That’s the kingdom response.
This past week in Denver was amazing. It was one of the most responsive groups of students ever, and I fully expect them to change the world. Next time I write I’ll do my best to follow through on that study of the “missing pieces.” In the meantime lets keep our hearts, hands, and wallets open towards the Haitian people and our prayers covering their suffering and loss.
This week’s Discipleship Training School students in Denver.
PS: Just a note to mention that CBN has issued a statement reminding us that Pat Robertson did not attribute the quake to God’s judgment, (as some critics have evidently charged), and that the humanitarian arm of CBN has been on the scene since the day after the quake with volunteers and millions of dollars worth of aid and medicine.
I tried something different this year for Christmas. Since I have everything a person could possibly need, I asked for my family to give donations to charity instead. And I was even more encouraged when they decided I could do the same for them. So at the end of the day, instead of having to figure out how to squeeze more clothes into my closet, or what to do with gifts I didn’t need, I had the joy of knowing that we had provided twelve chickens, a goat, ten mosquito nets, deworming medication for 2,000 children, and a contribution towards digging a well for the poor in Africa. Though it sounds like a lot, it really wasn’t. American money still goes a long way in Africa. It was the best Christmas since I was a kid.
I wrestled about posting this because of the idea of “losing my reward.” But at the end of the day, it’s not about a reward. It’s about caring for our starving brothers and sisters. I’m certain many, if not most of you reading this are involved in caring for the poor, but if this suggestion might inspire just one more person to take action, then that can make an eternal difference.
Here are a few stats:
- One Billion people worldwide have no access to clean drinking water.
- 25,000 – 35,000 people, (including 14,000 children), die every day of hunger-related causes. (That’s about one child every seven seconds).
- 2.6 billion people have no access to basic sanitation facilities.
- There are about 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa.
I’ve written about hospitality before, and how it’s the doorway into the Kingdom. The first thing you notice about Jesus is way he honored people and welcomed them into his presence.
Last week in DaMour, Lebanon I experienced a level of hospitality deeper than anything I’ve ever seen. In a classroom of Syrian, Lebanese, Armenian, Brazilian, and American Believers, I was made to feel like a visiting dignitary. They didn’t even want me to fill my own water glass from the tap. The honor and respect these students extended to each other, along with their shiny smiles, was a compelling reflection of the Kingdom. It was my first time teaching in the Middle East, and I sure hope it won’t be the last.
Now I’m in Budapest with a happy group of American and Canadian students. I had the worst travel experience of my life on the flight from Beirut when we got diverted and then stranded in Izmir, Turkey, for ten excruciating hours. But that story will have to wait until another time. It was a maddening example of a worldview that values control over relationship, almost the exact opposite of my experience in Lebanon. And to make matters worse, the airline lost my luggage. So here I am with only the clothes on my back.
Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my Mom. She’s at home “taking it easy.”
Lets be praying for victims of the tsunami in Samoa, the earthquake in Indonesia, and now the typhoon in the Philippines. If you’re like me, it’s easy to become passive to the growing litany of tragedies in the news and to just skip over to the next article of the day. But these are priceless human beings with dreams and families and who bear the image of God. Remember, too, that organizations like World Vision, Food for the Hungry and others are already on site and asking for help.
Thanks to all my friends who took the time to leave their thoughts regarding teachers and heroes. Your insights nourished to my spirit and underscored again my need for good companions along the trails of the Kingdom.
In many ways this month in Sarajevo has been a real slugfest for me, having substantial encounters with hopelessness, depression, loneliness, and a host of other beasts. It’s never been easy to live in this city, and without the structure of a team and the focus of specific projects I obviously walked into a vulnerable situation. So you can imagine the sweetness of having this bit of interaction while Father teaches me to find deeper grace for such circumstances.
On a more positive note I’ve also had some wonderfully creative times with the Holy Spirit developing new materials on Grace and The Kingdom of God Through History. Abba seems to have used the struggles to deepen my understanding of both. On Saturday I’ll leave for two weeks in Romania where I’ll have the opportunity to put it all to use.
I’ve just returned from the most amazing four days in the fog-shrouded mountains of Bosnia with ten home-schooled missionary kids. I wasn’t sure how fourteen to seventeen year-olds would connect with worldview and the kingdom, but these guys blew me out of the water with their hunger and insight. What to say about high-school kids who ask for “more, if you’ve got it” rather than taking time for a break?
It’s as if the younger generation is perfectly attuned to their “kingdom DNA” and just waiting for something to connect the dots. God “… has set eternity in their hearts” and they’re ready to live it in ways my generation never dared to imagine.
With headlines like today’s, I’m needing a good dose of hope.