Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Born for a Miracle Mission Part 4

So far, I've outlined the Master and People Keys in the quest to be a delivery agent for God.  The third key is the Spirit Key.  Bruce Wilkinson in his book You Were Born For This says we can partner with God's Spirit.  He says we precommit to cooperate with the Spirit at every opportunity to accomplish God's work.

Jesus says in John that it's better for Him to go away so the Spirit can come to us and live within us.  And with God in us, He can work through us.

Wilkinson outlines how this partnering with the Spirit works so we can deliver God's miracles.
  • The Spirit knows the other person.
  • The Spirit know us.
  • The Spirit speaks of the Father and Son.
  • The Spirit empowers us.
  • The Spirit does the miracle.
  • We do the work.

 Here's what we can know about the Spirit:
  • The Holy Spirit is real and we can understand who He is and how He works.
  • The primary purpose of the Spirit is to help us accomplish God's agenda on earth.
  • We can accomplish all God wants us to accomplish only by partnering with the Spirit.
  • The Spirit is available to all who believe in Christ and God.

The final key is the Risk Key and Wilkinson says, we can't respond to the Risk Key if we aren't walking with the Spirit.  As long as we're walking in the Spirit, we'll be prepared to do God's work because God doesn't set us up to fail. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Born for a Miracle Mission Part 3

If you're a Christian, you believe humans are born to worship God and to show God's love to other people.  In his book, You Were Born for This, Bruce Wilkinson is describing how we can become miracle agents for God.  In my two previous postings, I've talked about one of the keys to becoming a miracle delivery agent, the Master Key.  In a nutshell, this key is really about asking God to be His agent.

The second key is the People Key.  According to Wilkinson, we're here to serve people because Jesus was sent from Heaven to serve.  When we share God's heart for people and accept the delivery agent assignment, we agree to the following:
  • Our personal agenda must surrender to His.
  • Our heart in any miracle must be His heart.
  • Our role in any miracle must be to serve people - anyone, anytime, anywhere He directs.
Wilkinson cautions that our opportunity will most likely come at a time or in a manner we least prefer.  In other words, it isn't going to be convenient necessarily, or even be for people we may deem worthy of a miracle.

He illustrates with the story of Jonah and how Jonah tried to follow his own agenda instead of God's agenda.  What it got Jonah was an unexpected close encounter in the belly of a whale.  Ick!  Jonah thought the people of Nineveh should be destroyed, but God saw potential.  In the end, Jonah did what God asked, but he wasn't happy about it.  Acting as God's conduit, Jonah brought the message and Nineveh was spared destruction because they listened and repented, but because he didn't have the heart for the people he missed it was a miracle.

Wilkinson says we have to yield to Heaven's Right of Way.
  1. We can miss miracle assignments because we are doing other good things; therefore, we need to stay alert for God's direction.
  2. We can miss miracle assignments because we judge people as being undeserving of a miracle.  Or we determine they are ungrateful and unworthy.  This is irrelevant because we're showing God's heart for people by doing what He asks us to do.  This particular point strikes a cord with me.  If you're reading this blog, you probably know I've been going to Pine Ridge Reservation for many years to bring Christmas presents and coats to a group of children who attend Lakota Baptist Church.  A few years ago, the pastor left the church and his replacement missed this point totally.  He saw ingratitude in the adults for what we were doing, and he decided we couldn't do it anymore.  Forget that we felt God had called us to do these things for the kids.  It was his will that mattered, not God's.  Thankfully, he left within the year, and the previous pastor returned, and he has a heart for what God wants done. 
  3. We can only last as a miracle delivery agent, if we put God's plan ahead of our own.  We have to be doing what we're doing for God and not for people because sometimes the people designated for the miracle aren't going to see it at the time and they aren't going to respond the way we think they should.
In the end, Wilkinson says we have to decide in advance to surrender our rights to choose the miracle, the way it's delivered, and the people who will receive it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Born for Miracle Missions Part 2

"BAAAWK!!!!"  That's the closest I can come to spelling the sound a chicken makes.  Can you hear me squawking as you read this.  Yes, it's true.  I'm a chicken.  I'm still not ready to ask God to make me a delivery agent.

If you read last night's post, you know I'm reading Bruce Wilkinson's book You Were Born for This.  It'a all about how we can become miracle delivery agents for God.  All we have to do is ask to be sent.

Wilkinson outlines the way to ask:
  1. Consciously enter the throne room of Heaven.  He says picture God on His throne and Jesus sitting to His right, and there you are front-and-center.
  2. Next, volunteer with words like Isaiah used.  "Here am I.  Send me."  Or if you want to get more contemporary in your speech: "Here I am.  Please send me on a miracle mission."  Of course you need to picture it happening.
  3. Then, you pre-commit to act when you are nudged.  Pledge - "As You lead, I will respond."
  4. Next, you need to actively put your faith in God to deliver His miracle through you.  "I trust You to deliver the miracle through me.  Thank you that I can fully depend upon You."
So, those are the steps to follow and each day, you just get up and say, "Today, I'm a delivery person for God.  Please Lord, send me!"

It's not really complicated.  And, you're not asking for some big parting of the Red Sea miracle. All you're saying is:  If someone needs something and You're going to answer, You can use me to do whatever needs to be done."

That's what I could say, but instead  I'm sounding a lot like this

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Born for Miracle Missions Part 1

I'm not sure where this is going to go.  I've labeled it Part 1, which may be all there is, but I'm not sure, so I'm giving myself wiggle room. 

I've just started reading a book called You Were Born for This.  It's by Bruce Wilkinson.  Perhaps you've heard of this book, but you're probably very familiar with Wilkinson's book The Prayer of Jabez.  I liked The Prayer of Jabez and had a copy, but loaned it to a friend, who moved to another church and sadly didn't return my book.  But, I'm digressing.  I'm only on page 59, but it's already started to make me uncomfortable.

When I say uncomfortable, I don't mean it in a bad way.  This book appears to be based on sound Biblical principles.  I'm uncomfortable because I'm aware I may not be ready to surrender to what this book is saying.

You Were Born for This is about people, God's people, being willing to be His delivery agents.  God has much work to do and He needs His people to do His work - His miracle work.

Wilkinson says:
  • God is constantly at work in supernatural ways in our world, and He has much he wants to get done.
  • God is actively looking for loyal partners - people who consistently care about what He cares about.
  • God is regularly nudging people to respond, but most people miss His intentions or simply say no.
Wilkinson isn't saying these miracles are big in nature.  Although, I suppose they could be.  It's more like being directed to people who are in need of help.  To the willing delivery agent, it may not seem like a miracle at all - just one person helping another - but to the person needing the help, it's a miracle.

As I make my way through the book, I will be discovering the four keys to a life of miracles.  They are:
  1. The Master Key - The urgent prayer to God to be sent on a mission.
  2. The People Key - You put yourself and Heaven on notice you have decided to make God's heart for people your own.  You're prepared to deliver miracles to whomever He asks whenever He asks.
  3. The Spirit Key - You're prepared to cooperate with God's Spirit, especially in regard to His supernatural power.
  4. The Risk Key - You intentionally live in such a way that you take risks of faith, relying on God to accomplish what He wants done.
I must admit the Master Key scares me.  I want to tell God, " I'm reporting for duty.  Send me to do your work, today. "  I want to tell Him, but there's this part of me that doesn't want to tell Him too.  What if He wants me to do something I don't want to do?  What if He tells me to go somewhere I don't want to go? 

So, the point of this post is to say, I'm thinking I need to report to duty. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

Last night I saw the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast.  This was my second time to see it.  I love the story because it is such a beautify love story.  The main characters are Belle and the Beast. 

The Beast's outward appearance reflects what was once his inner self - a selfish man full of pride and arrogance, who lacked compassion for those less fortunate than himself.  One careless decision trapped him in his tortured beastly state.  There is only one thing that can save him from complete condemnation -- true love.

Belle is the lovely heroine, who sees beyond the outward appearance of the Beast.  Belle breaks through the hard outer shell the Beast has constructed and opens his heart.  She is his savior, and her love breaks the curse restoring the Beast to the prince he once was.

It's a fairy tale of course.  But, if you think about it long enough, you can see maybe it isn't.  For all of us are in some way the Beast.  Within us is vanity and pride, careless thoughts and actions, and at times a lack of love and compassion for our fellow man.  Our hearts are as hard and empty as the Beast.  We are condemned by our sin, and eternal torture awaits except we have a true love who has come to save us.  Jesus, our Belle, sees beyond the ugliness of sin and loves us anyway.  All we have to do is open our hearts to Him so He can transform us into something new and forgiven.  This story of Beauty and the Beast is no fairy tale.  It's the love story of my life. 

My beautiful Jesus, thank you for loving me.

Enjoy my favorite song from Beauty and The Beast.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blinded by Brilliance And Unafraid of the Dark

Last week physicist Stephen Hawking said heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.  This isn't the first time Hawking has created controversy.  In 2010, he indicated he could explain the creation of the universe and there was no need for a divine force.  Hawking believes it is quantum fluctuations in the early universe that sowed the seeds of human life.  My question, of course, is who caused the quantum fluctuations? 

Hawking is brilliant.  No one can argue this based upon his work in quantum physics.  But his brilliance has blinded him to the ability to consider the possibility science can't explain everything.

Many people have said they believe Hawking is simply bitter because he has suffered so greatly in this life.  Diagnosed at 21 with a degenerative motor neuron disease, Hawking, who is now 69, has been confined to a wheelchair for years and is almost completely paralyzed.  His brilliant mind trapped in a useless body.  Surely this could cause someone to feel bitterness, and perhaps question the existence of God. Still, the fact he has survived 49 years with a disease that usually kills within a few years, points to a higher power in my thoughts. 

Hawking says he isn't afraid of death.  He doesn't believe in heaven, so one must assume he doesn't believe in hell either.  He believes we die and there is darkness, nothing after this life.

For me the saddest thing is not that this brilliant man has experienced a tortured physical existence, though it does cause me saddness.  No, the saddest thing is the thought he will die without knowing the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and instead of the darkness he believes awaits, he will face an eternity of excruciating pain and misery.

Instead of no more pain, pain is what he will endure forever.  Instead of running free, he will be bound by the forces of Satan.  There will be no rest.  There will not be peace.  There may be darkness because God's light will not shine in hell.

My prayer would be for Hawking to free his mind to consider God does exist and by believing in Him and His Son, he will live forever healthy and whole in the light.

I'm not as smart as Hawking, but if I'm wrong then it won't matter.  I'm not going to know it.  If I'm right, Hawking will miss the most amazing discovery ever - waking up in glory with a new body.

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Nation Without Sense

Over the last few days, I've been reading the warnings God gave to the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land.  The warnings clearly outlined the destruction to come if they didn't obey Him (Derutronomy 28 -29).

Today's Bible reading was Deuteronomy 31-34.  I was struck by Chapter 32 verses 28 and 29:  "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.  If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!"  Does this sound like a nation you're familiar with? 

In the last chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses describes what is going to happen to the Jewish nation if they turn from God.  It isn't pretty.  If God's chosen people weren't immune from His wrath, why should America think she is?

On the radio today, one of the announcers mentioned how the destruction from weather related events is more extensive than ever before and has already cost billions of dollars.  And the damage is not over yet.  Parts of Louisiana are about to be flooded if water is released into the spillways in order to minimize the damage to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  This may be crazy thinking on my part, but it seems to me it has only been a few years since New Orleans was devastated by a hurricane.  Now, flood waters threaten to do more damage to it.  Is it just possible God might be trying to send a message to people that this city is evil in His eyes?

And, what about the casinos in Mississippi.  I must admit I haven't kept up with all the news, but I do know that many of the casinos are flooded.  Do you think this might be a sign God isn't happy about the casinos?

What else might be a sign God isn't really happy with America?  Could the high unemployment be a sign?  Could an economy that is tanking be a sign? Could higher gasoline prices be a sign?  Could higher food prices be a sign?  Could the disdain of other nations for America be a sign?  Could the hate of terrorist be a sign?

Could floods, unbelievable snow storms, devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, along with famine, wars, disease, and violence be signs God has turned His back on all nations?

God cannot and will not look upon evil.  He will turn His back from it.  And when He turns away, who is left to protect a nation?  Without God, we will suffer - the good and evil alike.  And really we're all responsible for what is happening.  For too long Christians have remained silent to the minority who have said God has no place in our lives.  And maybe, God has decided the same thing.

"I will heap calamities upon them and spend my arrows against them.  I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust.  In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign.  Young men and young women will perish, infants and gray-haired men." (Deuteronomy 32: 23 - 25)

There is good news despite all that is happening around us.  We can still choose life.  If we return to God, He will still hear us.  He will still save us.  "Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  For the Lord is your life..." (Deuteronomy 30: 19b-20a)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Strong Enough

I've heard the phrase, "The Lord works in mysterious ways" all my life.   I don't think it's in the Bible, but there may be something similar from wence it came.  Today's posting is just the lyrics of a song I heard driving home.  It's called Strong Enough and it's by Matthew West.  You can catch a portion of it if you YouTube it, but no one has yet to make a video using it.

I hope Matthew won't mind me using the words in the blog.  But, the song spoke to me.

Strong Enough from Story of My Life, Copyright 2010

You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through.
Well, forgive me,
Forgive me if I'm wrong,
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own.

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be.
I give up.
I'm not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won't you cover me.
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us.

Well, maybe
Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up.
Cause when I'm finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out.

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be.
I give up.
I'm not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won't you cover me.
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough.

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing.
But I'm still holding on to the one thing.
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak.

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength.
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough.

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength.
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough.

Oh, yeah
I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be.
I give up.
I'm not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won't you cover me.
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
Strong enough.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Running On Empty

Today I couldn't get past myself to praise the glory of the Lord all around me.  Today, I put the children of Israel, who grumbled and complained to God after He delivered them from Egypt, to shame.  Pity party would be inadequate to express my "woe is me" attitude.

Most days I can supress my inner sadness, but not today.   Life is overwhelming right now and today was the tipping point.  I left work and literally cried all the way home.

In the last week I've experienced multiple disappointments.  And the final straw today was yet another rejection regarding the book.   I'm frustrated because all the rejections are just form letters, which tell me nothing about what's really wrong with my submission.  I'm disappointed because it's so important to me.  I'm disillusioned because I can't look back on my life and say any dream I've had has ever come true.  And so today, I question why I should give a rip about anything. 

I'm a person who strives to excel, and here I am living this life of mediocrity.  I detest insignificance and yet I have never felt any less significant than I do this day.  This turmoil inside me rages and while I want to let God in, I can't open up to let Him in.  I know His Word says He cares.  But, today I'm not so sure.  Today, I have no idea why I'm here since it seems I have no purpose or meaning.  And, so I find I can only cry: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher.  "Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless."  (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

I'm broken.  I'm sad.  And, I'm empty.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

God Doesn't Need Spectacular

God doesn't have big expectations of us.  As humans we sometimes think in order to do God's will we need to do something spectacular.  But, in reality the smallest things we do to further His Kingdom make Him happy. 

Charles Stanley in his online devotional on Monday said, "The Lord isn't waiting for us to do some big, impressive task for Him; He's simply calling us to obey Him one small step at a time."

It took me a long time to be at peace with this realization.  When I began working with the Lakota Baptist Church to provide Christmas presents for the kids, who attend church at LBC, I had great visions of expansion.  In a few years, when people heard what we were doing, we'd have presents for all the kids on the reservation who wouldn't get a present if it were not for this mission.  Almost seven years later, we're only able to provide Christmas presents for about 100 kids each year.  Just what we started with in 2005. 

I had the greatest of expectations from my fellow man.  In my mind, even the hardest of the hard hearted wouldn't deny a kid a Christmas present, but in reality most people just don't care about the little kids located a thousand miles away.  And so, I've felt frustration and disappointment because I can't do more.  And, I feel frustration and disappointment as I see our little ministry struggle just to raise the funds we need to provide for the 100.  Now, we have been able to add to the ministry to provide new winter coats and a VBS and carnival for the kids, but we struggle to make it happen.

The team for this year met the other night to discuss a fundraiser we have planned.  We need at least $10,000 this year and we have roughly $6,000.  I've done all the math and it would take just 100 people to donate $100 over the course of a year to have the funds we need.  It seems small really if you think about how quickly someone can spend $100 today.  And yet $100 from 100 people might as well be $1 million from 100 people.

My friend and fellow blogger, Audra, loaned me a book entitled The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller.  It's a short read, and has some interesting thoughts in it.  One thing that stuck out was a comment by a woman who recently had been saved.  Keller in his book says the woman commented about how scary it was to be saved by grace.  She said it was a good scary, but scary.  Keller was intrigued by her statement and asked her what she meant.  She said if we're saved by works then God can only ask us to do so much.  There's a limit to what He can expect from us.  However, if we're saved by grace, then there's nothing He can't ask us to do.  We've been bought with a price - Jesus - and God can ask anything of us.

God doesn't expect the spectacular, but He does expect us to do something for His Kingdom.  Maybe you can't go to Pine Ridge, but can you give $50 or $100.  Maybe you can't give $50, but can you make a pie or cake to auction at our fundraiser.  Maybe you can't bake, but can you buy a big bag of candy to use at the carnival or a nice toy to be given as a prize. 

Pine Ridge is a hard place.  Nothing spectacular happens when we're there.  We just love on a bunch of poor kids who have a hard life ahead of them, and pray that for one or two the love we bring to town once a year can make a difference. 

Maybe you think God is telling you to go to Pine Ridge, or Ecuador, or Africa, but you don't have any special abilities.  God gives you what He needs from you.  You can help make a difference too if you're just willing to do something.  God doesn't need you to do the spectacular.  He just needs you to show up and to do.