Tuesday, May 26, 2009

greatest in the kingdom of heaven...

"God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important" -1 Corinthians 1:27-28.
The humblest child is the greatest--that little girl in a torn and dirty party dress singing of her joy in God on a trash heap--she's the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Those people our world tells us are nothing are great in God's reckoning. And they are the ones who can teach me.

It's not that God loves the poor any more than he loves me or anyone else in America--he's not a reverse social snob. He loves the wealthy deeply, as I can see in his interactions with the rich young man in Mark 10, the same man who prompted Jesus to say,
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" -Mark 10:25.
Despite this,
"Jesus looked at [the rich young man] and loved him" -Mark 10:21.

I know Jesus looks at me--with all my struggles--and loves me. In his compassion he sees what is lacking in my faith and wants to heal my soul. He knows I need the humility and faith of the poor that I can so easily lose in my material abundance. I need to take spiritual lessons from the poor, learning their rich, childlike faith.

Downward mobility--becoming like and loving the poor--was at the heart of Christ's ministry:
"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!" -Philippians 2:6-8.
This is the attitude God asks of me--to live not for my own advancement, but for the good of others. When I become like the poor and like a child, God calls me blessed. I will have finally poked my head out of the smog of this world's backward values and peeked into his kingdom.
[taken from "Hope Lives" by Amber Van Schooneveld]

Monday, May 18, 2009

throw off uncertainty...

[1] Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
[2] Give a portion to seven, or even to
for you know not what disaster
may happen on earth.
[3] If the clouds are full of rain,
they empty themselves on the earth,
and if a tree falls to the south or to
the north,
in the place where the tree falls,
there it will lie.
[4] He who observes the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will
not reap.

[5] As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
[6] In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
[Ecclesiastes 11:1-6]

Do not let uncertainty become an excuse. Do what needs to be done. You do not know the plan God has in store for you. Why question the outcome? Trust Him and have faith.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wrapped In Your Arms...

I was driving in my car when this song came on. Because I recognized the song, I was singing my little heart out...but once the chorus hit for the second time, I broke down and I couldn't get the words out anymore no matter how hard I tried.

To know that I am wrapped in the arms of God, and that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate me from Him...it's one of those feelings that I couldn't possibly begin to describe, but it's one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had :)

Listen to the lyrics.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rest in Peace...

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30
Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated that "When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die." I know Christ has asked me to give up my very life to serve Him. That could mean any number of things. It might mean I die in the cause of speaking out for the oppressed. It could mean I give up some comforts in order to help others. It might mean I have to make some difficult business decisions. It might mean I give my time to a widow in my neighborhood. I don't know what Christ will ask me to do. But it might not be easy.

That's why Christ's promise is so sweet: When I'm weary from serving, He will give me rest. I'm simply His servant, carrying out the good deeds He has for me. He isn't asking me to carry the burden of the whole world or fix the whole world or be in charge of making sure everything turns out just right. He carries that burden. He asked me simply to love Him and love others and act accordingly.
[taken from "Hope Lives" by Amber Van Schooneveld]

Please watch this video and really take in the lyrics of the song.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Do You Shudder?

I wonder how many of us are living numb in a state of willing ignorance. We hear so much. So many stories of death. So many statistics of despair. So many pictures of grief. Sometime I wish there were no Internet or long-distance communication so that all I'd have to worry about is my own little town. I'm overwhelmed. I don't think God created me to take in this much despair. My brain just can't keep processing these statistics: 1.2 million children are trafficked each year as slaves; 854 million people are hungry today; more than 1 billion live on less than $1 per day. 1.2 million. 854 million. 1 billion. A blur of numbers. I am numb. The words are meaningless. I've hit capacity for caring.

And so I shut down. I've heard one statistic too many, and I just can't take it anymore. I don't know what to do, I can't quite believe in the problems, so I do nothing. I feel myself developing a protective film that covers my eyes and anesthetizes my heart. If I saw the problems in person, if I looked in the children's eyes, I would shudder. But I only see numbers, not faces.

And I don't shudder anymore.

I stay half ignorant on purpose. I skim the news, not letting myself read too much. I glean enough to seem informed: "Oh, yes, it's just a shame what's going on in Africa." I don't get my heart involved. I stay aloof and in control. Separate.

Because if I let go, if I find out, I know what would happen. I would crack. I would break. I'd looking in to the ugly eyes of poverty and grasp my head in my hands and shout, "Why, God, why?" But I can't keep doing that every day. And the bad news just keeps on coming. And I don't know what to do. I can't keep caring and keep being broken.

God, I'm just not up to the task.
[taken from "Hope Lives" by Amber Van Schooneveld]

"Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." -James 4:17