Posts Tagged ‘God’

perfecttion sign

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.” -Hebrews 11:1-2

Imagine a group of people gathered before you.  You must select from among them those most likely to play a pivotal role in God’s plans for humanity.  They are so at ease with you that they open up and share their darkest secrets.

One tells you that after a night of heavy drinking he was sexually abused by one of his own sons.  Another confesses that he gave his wife to another man to sleep with.  Another plotted with his mistress to kill her husband.  Another one murdered a man and is still on the run from the law.  One is a prostitute.  Another has a lifestyle marked by violence, killing people to impress a girlfriend and his prospective father-in-law. Yet another confesses that he cheated his brother out of his inheritance.

Could you use them?  I hope so, for they are the heroes of faith described in Hebrews chapter 11.  Noah is the man who got drunk and was sexually abused; Abraham is the man who gave his wife to sleep with another; David is the one who plotted to have his mistress’ husband killed.  Moses is the one who murdered an Egyptian and was never brought to account for it.  Rahab was the prostitute.  Samson’s life was marked by violence and who killed to impress his girlfriend.  Jacob is the person who cheated his own brother out of his inheritance.

We often have the thought that a person of faith is a person untouched by sin.  These examples show us that it is far from the case.  Faithful people are also flawed people, people who can easily bounce from great acts of faith to great acts of evil and disobedience.

Scripture shows that God uses very flawed people!  Have you experienced a time when God used your imperfections to glorify Himself?

Author Unknown, Submitted by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: The Spirit Ranch Blog: http://spiritranch.us/flawedpeople

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For many years as the Christmas holidays are approaching, I have often had the privilege and opportunity to speak with groups of young people involved in a youth outreach or in youth groups.  With the increasing commercialization of Christmas, it is a welcomed occasion to remind and discuss the “reason for the season” as we like to say.

It is a researched fact that the average attention span of teenagers is to be right about 12.5 minutes (for adults it is 15-20 minutes).  With that fact in mind, I have always known it to be important to grab attention, spark curiosity and be as relevant as possible within that short timeframe.

Young people often like to “rep” where they are from geographically in their cities so as I researched where the promised Messiah was born, I learned that Bethlehem was a small village five miles south of Jerusalem.  My friends in Chicago especially appreciate the title I created, “South side Messiah.”  Now that you have read this far, I share a few thoughts about this Messiah.

This miraculous child anointed by God to save human-kind is to establish a throne as the King and the Messiah.  The wise men who were seeking to worship the King went to Jerusalem first thinking it would be the city where the new kingdom would be established.  Think about it… if that were to be the case, the magi would have been the only ones who could have visited and worshiped the newborn King.  The shepherds and the lowly would have been forbidden to enter the gates of the palace and not allowed to see the Son of God.  

It had to be this way because the Good News was being delivered to everybodyeverywhere.  What an incredible moment it must have been!  All of the heavens celebrate to see God’s plan of love and salvation unfolding in this south side village of Bethlehem.   The new born King was not born in a palace, but in a stable; laid not in a crib for royalty, but a manger; dressed not in fine, princely clothing, but in swaddling rags.

The manger illustrates God’s affinity for the poor and the lowly.  The King of Kings was born into a condition that many of our young people and their families identify with today.  A condition of poverty and it could not have been any other way.  This poor and ordinary birth was an indication of the spiritual poverty required within the hearts of Christ followers to come.

It is those who know their own internal poverty who are the closest to God’s heart.  It is the religious, the self-important and puffed up that are most resistant to Christ… most resistant to a “South side Messiah”.  Jesus told us it is the simple, the childlike, and the weak who are closest to the kingdom of God (see Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:15; Luke 9:46-48).

The Messiah came to knock down barriers to God not raise them. The mystery of the King of Kings born in a lowly manger is simple yet profound. Out of a humble manger in the little town of Bethlehem came the greatest love man has ever known.  The Messiah born in that indistinct setting still touches and changes people 2,000 years later.

Do you feel compassion for those who are less fortunate?  Do you want to really make a difference in the lives of others?  Do you feel called to serve the poor or teach in an urban school?  Are you sensing a prodding to invest yourself in an under-served community?  Do you have a driving compulsion to reach at-risk youth and/or young adults in need?  If you feel the tug of these questions, you may be hearing your calling to serve.

Recently I was digging through some old files I used previously for training in youth outreach and educational settings.  I found an old document, titled “What Being a Youth Worker Ought to Do for You.” This one page of ought to statements have been passed around youth ministry circles for years.  When I worked for Young Life these words repeatedly helped challenge and encourage myself and others to serve.

These ought to statements are such a realistic, powerful and challenging set of truths.  I have used this piece and adapted it to fit many different scenarios; whether it has been working with privileged youth, under-served youth, schools, or whole communities.

Instructions: Read, allow time to marinate, and digest slowly.

WHAT SERVING THE POOR OUGHT TO DO FOR YOU

  • Ought to seem so unreachable and big that you can only see it through the eyes of Christ by faith.
  • Ought to be harder than you can handle on your own, to make you more dependent on God.
  • Ought to give you enough disappointments to make you humble and break your spiritual pride.
  • Ought to be difficult enough to make you weep for others, that you might become more compassionate.
  • Ought to have enough demanding, insensitive, ungrateful people in it to make you love like Jesus loves.
  • Ought to have enough impossible, insurmountable obstacles in it to teach you the goodness and power of God.
  • Ought to teach you how to love when you are tired, give when you are spent, and pray when you are weary.
  • Ought to teach you the power and truth of His word, the strength of His voice and the might of His commands.
  • Ought to teach you how to turn your mourning into dancing, your sadness into joy and your sorrow into laughter.
  • Ought to teach you to love the only One worthy of all our love – the One who became poor that you might become rich and unjust so that you might become just.

I offer these challenging reflections to any who feel called to be in service to the poor.  I offer them as a way to know the power of God, and hoping that this knowledge will lead us to move forward in renewing the city with compassion, hope, and justice.

Proverbs 29:7 NIV – The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

In close-knit societies, people are willing to help each other.  I have found this to be especially true in rural settings.  A perfect example of this happened in 1955 when my father was in his sophomore year at Texas Tech University.  He grew up on a farm and was the first of his immediate family to go to college. It was that year when my grandfather passed away from unexpected heart trouble.

It was very near to harvest time and my father knew he had no choice but to leave school and go back to the farm.  As he drove up the road leading to the farm, he saw unfamiliar images surrounding their two-story house.  As he arrived, he was greeted by 20 of their neighbor farmers and their tractors.  These neighbors understood the immediate challenge facing my dad’s family, and through their sense of community, they worked alongside my father and harvested over 150 acres in one day.  I have always remembered that inspiring experience my father shared with me.

Today, in our fast paced information age, we don’t often hear of our lives affecting others in this way.  We’ve alienated ourselves and tend to live in “little boxes” knowing little of our neighbors around us.  Inside the box called home we watch other boxes we call TV sets and computer monitors.  Seeing tragedy and bad news every day, we tend to become immune to suffering and need.  It is easy to not even be aware of our neighbors hurts or needs.

When we leave the box called home, we get into another box called an automobile and isolate ourselves once again as we speed through one neighborhood to another.  Rushing through an unfamiliar neighborhood, we check to make sure that our box is secure by locking the doors.

Arriving at work, we park our box next to all the others and walk briskly into yet another box, our office or work place.  At night we simply reverse the process.  Most days we move quickly from one box to another, feeling insecure and unsure when we are outside our normal confines.

Bringing hope to our cities and under-served communities for most of us means we have to venture outside of our “boxes” in which we feel so familiar and secure.  It is worth it… there are so many that are near & dear to the heart of God outside of our boxes.  Let’s break out of these boxes and look for places and people who need compassion, hope and justice!

Thanks to my friend Cori Leigh whom I affectionately call “sister-missionary” with the Across the Street Outreach for encouraging me to begin this blog!