the.mighty.worm

Last night at prayer chapel, a few of us gathered around, reflecting on the burdens facing the people of our church. Hearts were heavy as we shared. As we were speaking I was reminded of something I tell people all the time: when God moves, the enemy mobilizes too. As I thought about that, God was pouring into my heart, and I was fighting being distracted by that as I listened to the others speak.

As the the others began to pray, God began to remind me that He is a PRESENT God, meaning that He is not aloof, He is here with us. Sometimes, we feel so small in this world. We feel powerless and without hope – insignificant, without impact. We may as well be a little worm, living our life hapless in a dark world.

13 For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,
O little Israel,
for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 41:13-14)

No matter how “small” we are, we are made mighty because God is our strength. We are made confident because He is our joy.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.
(Isaiah 41:18)

Desolation is real – but so is God’s ability to bring abundant life in the worst desolation.

over.flow

While my mind is still reeling from the images I’ve seen, today’s post is not about clean water and the well my church wants to build. But, the questions going through my mind since we began this dream have been rocking me to my core.

These are questions like:

“Do I take the abundance of my life for granted?”
“Is the fact that I grew up in a country of abundance a gift from God?”
“If so, what am I doing with it?”
“Am I glorifying God with this gift?”
“If not, how can I use this gift to Glorify him?”

I’m definitely not on a guilt trip – I do not feel remorse or guilt for enjoying the blessings of this abundant country. But I do feel as if scales have dropped from my eyes and I am seeing things differently than ever before.

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

I feel as if I have just been to the well-spring of Grace, and it wells-up in my heart in ways difficult to express. The busyness of recent days has made this overflow much more apparent as I do not have time to process it, and I feel like a gushing well.

What flows is a mix of gratefulness and sadness – grateful for my opened eyes, saddened at the scene of need unfolding before me, and impassioned to do something about it. Suddenly I understand the passion of His heart (Matthew 9:35) and I feel as if I were blessed with a momentary but ingrained glimpse through His eyes (Matthew 9:36).

I’ve determined to be one of the few (Matthew 9:37). Who next will I lead to the Well?

plucked.from.muck

Most Sundays, as we are singing praises unto God, I am struck by the fact that God beckoned me to Him. I’ve written before about the person I used to be, and I don’t want to belabor the point, but – He rescued me. When I look back I am utterly amazed at how different I am from that young man bent on pain. I am utterly amazed at what He has done in my life.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
(Psalm 40:1-3)

My church wants to fund a clean water well in a place where people cannot access clean water (GoGiveWell.com). I have faith that we will meet our goal, and am audaciously expecting that we will exceed it – because God is amazing. I can’t help but imagine how much rejoicing people will experience when clean, refreshing, safe water begins gushing from that well. I can’t wait until scenes like the one above, muck and mire, are replaced by a fountain of water.

I hope that as they experience being literally plucked form the muck and mire, that they also see the spiritual muck and mire that they can be rescued from.

see.them

I have an admission. When a commercial comes on showing starving children, I change the channel. Before you judge me – it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I do. It hurts me to watch children hurt. At first, I watched – and gave to the cause. Then, I changed the channel – and gave later. Eventually, I changed the channel – and stopped giving to the cause. I turned my eyes from the crisis and allowed myself to marginalize the issues.

A few months ago, I was caught off guard. A friend sent a link to a video of a guy who had a similar life path as me. He lived a life that had no resemblance to the image of God in which he was created. Then, God got a hold of his heart and he became a child of God. As he learned to love God more, he began to take on God’s passions. Sounds like me.

But then, the unexpected happened. He began to tell the story of how God’s passions opened his eyes and he began to see… them.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
(Matthew 9:35)

He told how he volunteered for the Mercy Ships (floating hospitals that offer free surgical procedures to people in developing countries). He told how he watched thousands of people with tumors and malformations on their bodies receive new life through these surgeries, but tens of thousands would be turned away. I cried as I watched the newly smiling faces and the masses being turned away. He learned that the overwhelming cause of this disease and malformation was dirty drinking water.

I watched image after image of people forced to walk miles to fill a 40 pound plastic canisters with water. Every day they’d make the trek. With that 5 gallon canister of water they’d have to choose how much was used for hygiene and how much was used for drinking. To make matters worse, the water was absolutely filthy – I would not serve it to my dogs. Yet, that is all they could access, so that is what they drank.

I sat back and I cried – I admit it. I cried because I saw… them.

I am so blessed. I have so much. I take so much for granted.

Here’s how I am trying to make a difference: GoGiveWell.com. Watch the video at the bottom of that page. Do you see them? Will you join me?

dig.deep

I’ve always loved learning something new, but it wasn’t until Bible College that I realized that the occasional accidental epiphany was not good enough for someone wanting to grow closer and closer to Jesus. I’ve tried to explain why learning is important for faith, but it is a hard sell.

“God is love, I’ll love Him and my neighbor. Isn’t that enough?” is a common response. And, “Yes” is the honest reply, but then “No” is the honest revision. To have faith in Jesus Christ is all you’ll ever need to “live” as a Christian. But I don’t want to merely “live” as a Christian, I want to “thrive” as a Christian.

“But I get closer to God at worship,” is another common response. Yes, worship is a wonderful way of stoking and fueling the fires of faith. But, worship isn’t just singing and eating the bread of the Word when you go to church. Worship is an attitude by which one lives life.

I’ve often said that true worship comes when we realize just how great Almighty God is, and just how pathetically small we are – yet He loves us. This realization is not solely a product of music and preaching – it can come from a vast array of sources and practices – like reading the Bible, participating in community with people, reading a book.

The point is, why limit your fuel source to one or two things when there is a buffet before us?

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, (Philippians 1:9-10)

Paul’s prayer for these people, who he absolutely adored, is this: May your love flourish*, increasingly, by** learning and reflection. Love flourishes by learning and reflection. Those are Paul’s words. The deep things of God are only surface scratches without digging deeper. As we dig deeper, we get closer to the heart of God, and our love flourishes.

Why does he desire that love flourish? So that they may have discernment of what is good and pure (and consequently what is not), and so they will be blameless.

I’ve chosen not to be a lazy believer, content with baby’s milk to fuel my faith. I want that solid, challenging food that comes from maturing in faith. I want to dig deep.

(*Grk. “perisseuh” means “overflow/abound/flourish” & **Grk.  “en” means “in/with/by”)