2007년 7월 22일 일요일

Small fear, but fear conquored. For now.

The girls that have been the core of our praise and worship team are heading back to Canada soon. They'd been asking for somebody to step forward.

We got a keyboard player, a Korean fellow called Poet. But no native English speakers, nobody who knows the music or who could do the co-ordination and lead the congregation came forward. So, with my widow's mite I stepped up.

I've been really struggling with this. The whole music thing is very sensitive to me. And the girls just have no appreciation of how difficult it is for me. There they are, three beautiful, talented young women fresh out of studying music at university, and who do we have following them? A frumpy middle-aged woman who was in chorus in high school, a quarter of a century ago. Yikes!

I've found the prospect very scary. I'd been praying for somebody else to show up, somebody else to volunteer. But nobody's coming forward.

And the thought that kept going through my head is, "I'm nobody's first choice." Well, evidently I am Somebody's first choice, since nobody else is stepping to the plate, and I can assume that God can muster somebody when He wants somebody. Not that that keeps me from feeling like I'll come across like The Fat Lady in the painting in the Harry Potter movies. So I was praying about it, and finally went to the Bible and prayed some more and said, "Show me what I'm supposed to be doing here. This scares me. Am I really supposed to be doing this?"

I opened up the Bible at random and got Psalm 68: 24-27a:

Your procession has come into view, O God, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians, with them are the maidens playing tambourines.
Praise God in the great congegation; praise the Lord in the assemly of Israel.
There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them....

I'm taking that to be a "go ahead and make music." I can be "the little tribe of Benjamin", something small, something not particularly impressive, and still lead the procession, so to speak.

Then I glanced to the next page and saw Psalm 69: 19a and 20b:

You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; .... I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.

'Nuf said. I understand that and don't need to elaborate.

Then further on, Psalm 69:30-31:

I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.

Personally, I can't see my music being much of an offering. God wanted an unblemished firstborn, not the leftovers. But the fear certainly can be offered up.

Well, I got through yesterday. I joined in the rehearsal, and got through the praise and worship, and Trish told me I did great. Even though I had to fudge through a couple of sections where I coudn't come close to managing the chords that fast.

Victory is victory. I'm gonna rejoice in it. Nobody but God knows how scary that was for me and how much it took for me to do it.

2007년 7월 21일 토요일

In Everything Give Thanks

From "A Devotion"

18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 THESSALONIANS 5:18 NKJ)

Just because things are not going the way you would like is no excuse. The Bible clearly says that God's will for you is to be
thankful -- always.

The Bible does NOT teach that we're to thank God for evil, because God is not responsible for evil. .... What the Bible does teach, is that we should always be thankful -- even when evil happens. Being thankful is part of an attitude of faith, and faith will overcome evil.


God doesn't do bad things to people. He's not the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That's the devil, and people
motivated by selfishness and demonic influence. So you have the devil "to thank" for the bad things in life.

Yet, during the bad things in life, we are to continue thanking God, no matter how we feel. This helps us keep our eyes on God and keep things in perspective.

No matter how dark and hopeless the situation may look -- give thanks. This is God's will for you.

Thank God for the opportunity to see His deliverance. Thank Him for His mercy and grace. Thank Him for His faithfulness. Thank Him for defeating the devil and setting you free in Christ. Thank Him that Jesus is Lord. Thank Him that your name is
written in Heaven. Thank Him for loving you and taking good care of you. Thank Him!

SAY THIS: In everything I will give thanks to God for what He is doing. All God does is for my good.

A tough one

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
Luke 6:27-28

I was fighting with my friends at CH Refugees. And it was getting nasty. They were nasty, I was nasty. And I was interpreting their nastiness not as sarcasm or just trying to win an argument, but as a fierce personal attack.

At some level I recognized that we were all under attack, that there was something outside of us, working with us to generate hostility and bitterness and resentment and (in my case), even hatred. I really was starting to only see people who were condeming me for wanting to protect the dying, and wanting to just attack them.

And when you clear away the crap, I don't hate the other members of EMHAC. They're my friends. But what I was feeling was pretty nasty. And it followed me and turned inward. I got lost on the subway trying to get to Itaeowon. A place I've been to scores of time! I was so frustrated and discouraged and demoralized. And I realized I was under some sort of attack. But all I could do was hate Korea, hate the subways, hate my life.

Jesus' admonition isn't just niceness. It's a key way to get out of that downward spiral. It's a spiritual strategy for resisting attack, for armoring oneself against Satan's attempts to derail us.

It's a lesson I need to internalize. I need to learn to recognize spiritual attacks the way I recognize flashbacks.

2007년 7월 8일 일요일

The Wedding at Cana

I love this story, John 2:1-11, for what you can see about Jesus, the years before his ministry, and his relationship with Mary.

1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

Mary simply takes it as a given that this is something Jesus can fix. What has he been doing at home for the past 30 years?

4"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."

"Mom! Not now!"

5His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Notice that she doesn't get into any sort of debate with Jesus. She assumes that he'll be a dutiful son and attend to the problem his mother brought to him.

Then she tells the servants, in essence, "Whatever weird, inexplicable instuctions you get, follow them." This speaks to prior experience with Jesus taking care of situations in a miraculous way.

Though the rest of the story is the part people focus on, to me the main thing it does is illustrate what went before -- that Jesus had been doing miracles behind closed doors for his family long enough that his mother took it as a given that he could -- and would -- fix things.

And I guess, given how trivial those matters must have been -- running out of wine at a wedding feast is a social gaffe, hardly on a par with demon possession, or being deaf or lame or blind or dead. But it's as if nothing is too small to capture Jesus' attention if we bring it to him.

6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[a]

7Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.

8Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

2007년 7월 6일 금요일

"We Shall Be Like Jesus"

From A Devotion

1 JOHN 3:2 NKJ
2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is
revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

God's plan is to change you. He will not quit until you are like Jesus Christ.

What I hang onto is "It has not yet been revealed what we shall be." Often I look at myself and think, "I wish God would take a little more pride in His workmanship." But nobody's finished 'til they're dead. Looking at myself with such a critical eye makes no more sense than walking into the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, looking at the pale raw turkey, and saying, "Yuck! Who would eat THAT?!"

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

God has already made the decision. You WILL be like Jesus! (It may take awhile -- but God has plenty of time.)

Surely this doesn't mean an identical physical appearance, but perfection. Perfection morally, spiritually -- and yes, even
physically and mentally.

So don't be discouraged with where you are now. God is still at work and He is no quitter.

6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus

How is God doing this? Primarily through His Word. So, stay in the Word. The more you expose yourself to the accurate Word of God, the more you will be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Though it's hard to keep that perspective in daily life!

2007년 7월 4일 수요일

What God has been saying

I borrowed a book from Pastor Dave, Rebuilding Your Broken World by Gordon MacDonald.

There's a lot of meat in this, but I'm gonna take a time-out to look at this:

"When there has been a broken-world experience and the rebuilding process is under way, one should taken an inventory of what God has been saying."

I was feeling hopeless, abandoned, unwanted by God and other people. Useless. Broken.

I think of Myron, who I met in the institution where I used to work. Myron rocked my world.

Superficially, Myron is a short, deformed, retarded guy. He can't talk. He can't dress himself. He can't bathe unassisted. His legs are askew, so he walks and runs with an awkward, shambling gait. He's missing quite a few teeth.

He's breathtakingly beautiful to me.

There was a moment when I realized that there is not a thing wrong with Myron. That he's a masterpiece of God's handiwork, exactly as he is, missing teeth, bent legs, linguistic limitations and all. And when I started letting Myron be Myron, and started just enjoying his presence, I learned something wonderful: When Myron loved you, you stayed loved.

Staff that knew him but worked in other parts of the institution would come to the home were Myron lived, when they were stressed out. Some staffer would come in the door and call out, "Where's my lovin'?"

Myron would give his little hoot and take off in a shambling run around the patio. The staffer would chase him for a while, catch him, give him a little hug. And sometimes in return, Myron would do a little sign of affection that's impossible to describe. A simple thing. And the staffer would walk out and his feet wouldn't touch the ground.

In retrospect, I think that sometimes being with Myron was like what being with Jesus was like during the Incarnation. It's not that He did anything spectacular necessarily. It might have been the smallest gesture. But there was a love in it that you carried away. Or rather, that carried you away.

I woke up one morning, in the midst of my misery, and saw for the first time that in some ways I'm like Myron. That the stuff that's broken in the world's eyes can be the very things that allow Jesus to shine through. I saw Myron in me. And through Myron, Jesus. Working in me, in somebody who is as emotionally twisted as Myron's legs, who is as socially inarticulate as Myron is verbally.

That is no small thing.

2007년 7월 3일 화요일

John 1: 1-16

Today I got up and actually went first to God instead of online. Part of what did that was that my mission trip to China, that I'd really been looking forward to, seems to be going south. The only flight out of Incheon to Kunming is on Thursdays. My vacation doesn't start until after work on Friday. So I'd either have to find a substitute at SLP (which seems very unreasonable to even ask), or Matthew will have to find an alternative flight for me. So I'm praying that if I am meant to go on the trip, God makes a way clear to us. And that if I'm not meant to go, I accept it with grace and have clear other things that I'm supposed to be doing, that I don't get stuck brooding in my apartment feeling forgotten.

Now! Waking with prayer got me praying, and putting my prayers in my spiritual journal, as Jaime has been encouraging all of us to go. And I listed an already answered prayer. I'd been having trouble getting on the Trinity Seminary web site. I think I'm supposed to go to seminary, Trinity specifically, but I couldn't get the site to load so I could get a phone number and call to schedule an appointment with admissions. So! I have the phone number, and Angela charged up my phone with minutes for me, and I'm ready to go on that phone call. I've also been praying that if Trinity is God's plan I'll find a way to support myself. The obvious choice seems to be doing voice work, and I"ve started looking for that. I found the site Rod told me about and there are some promising leads, and I'm putting together a voice resume and I"ll start sending it out. I also need to talk to Catherine about getting persmission from SLP to do part time work on the side, so that this is all legal. I'm sure Catherine will back me because she is a Christian and understands these things.

Now, on to today's Bible reading.

I picked up at the beginning of the book of John. I'm pondering John 1:5, where it says that the darkness has not either overcome or understood the light. The best translation seems to be "understood" or "percieved". Which brings me to Jon 1:10: "the world did not recognize him." How often have I failed to recognize Jesus in myself or others?

John 1:14: "the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." Physically during the Incarnation, but spiritually now.

John 1:16: "From the fulness of his grace we have all recieved one blessing after another." Something I need to remember. Starting with the blessing of at least some of the darkness being overcome in myself. Then the fruits of that blessing.