Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fixing Our Eyes on The Unseen

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Sunday service at our apartment has always been interesting, but last Sunday had an extra dynamic. Chad and I were babysitting a 6 week old baby and his older brother for our “charter members” and friends who were in need of a date night. It’s been a while since I have cared for a newborn baby overnight. I forgot how much they like to keep people company in wee hours of the morning. It was a joy to spend time with Micah, but I knew Sunday morning would be an adventure.

A few weeks ago we started having two services on Sunday. From 9:30 to 10:30 we have children’s church and from 10:30 to 11:30 we have adult services. I actually woke up feeling pretty rested, and Chad was merciful enough to buy donuts for breakfast. I had used the late night hours to study for my lesson, so I was confident to teach.

The children arrived and Micah decided to help out by taking an extra long nap. About mid way through my lesson Chad got a call from the security guard at our apartments. About a week earlier Chad had trouble getting through the gate and asked this guard what the code was. After they talked for a while Chad gave him his card.

Much to our surprise he was calling to find out what time our services start. We have a few other adults who have started coming on Sunday morning regularly. One lady is a widow and prayer warrior. She serves her neighbors in the apartment complex where she lives and has a heart for missions.

After Chad prayed and as he began to preach our neighbor walked through the door. He described how he had moved here from New York to get away from a life of crime and has lived here for only a few months. As Chad preached he listened and followed along in his borrowed Bible.

Sunday afternoon Chad and I were reflecting on our day. Even though it was kind of crazy we were grateful to have had so many children come and to see God moving in the lives of those around us. About that time “Jerry”, the security guard, called. He was under conviction during the sermon about the way he had been living. He said he came to church in search of answers for his life. Chad asked him if he had ever asked Jesus into his heart. He had not. I bowed my head and prayed at our table as Chad led this man to Jesus over the phone.

I don’t know how to explain how we got here – to this place. It is a place of perfect peace in the center of God’s will. Everyday God proves His love for us and His love for those around us. It is in the precious notes and gifts from perfect strangers and longtime friends who are a part of our extended family of God. We are strengthened daily by the prayers of so many of you. Our church family at Quail Springs have served faithfully with us all summer, young and old alike, making lunches, walking door to door, and serving popsicles poolside while children listen to a Bible story.

We have benefitted from wisdom and guidance from Pastors Hance Dilbeck, Ray Griffin and Greg Penna. We’ve been blessed by support from Chad’s family and my mother. We have also grown through a healing of our hearts and renewed sense of calling that can only come from our Heavenly Father.

If we’re looking at our lives in the physical we don’t really amount to much, but when we consider the work God is doing, the souls saved and lives changed we feel unstoppable. We have a glimpse of the walk Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4: 6-18

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sold Out

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added. . .” Matthew 6:33

Last week in the midst feeding kids we received a call that the compressor at our home in Amarillo had gone out. I’m not sure what connection Air conditioner compressors have to the universe, but if there is ever a bad time for them to go out – they pick the worst. We were pouring every dime and bit of energy into the work here, and truly did not have the money to drive to Amarillo, much less make the repairs. After we prayed and considered all our options (none of them very good) we decided to go to Amarillo and sell the items we had stored in an attempt to make the money we needed.

It was a quiet drive. The kids were sleeping, and Chad and I both were thinking about how we’d get through the next 24 hours. It’s in moments like these that Satan really doesn’t even have to bring out the big guns to discourage. He can just make a few subtle observations to bring us down. Like, “. . .weren’t you just telling people how great God is all week. Now, you’re resorting to having a garage sale to save a house you aren’t living in?”

We arrived late and woke up early, left the kids in Nana’s care and drove to the old house. I love our old house. It’s in a nice neighborhood and has a pretty yard. In the front is an herb garden my dad helped us build for mother’s day; then Chad built a fenced in garden off the front yard with a view of the park.

I tried not to even look that direction as we opened the gate leading to the storage building containing the last of our worldly possessions. “Trust me, there’s some good stuff in here.”, Chad reassured me. I knew there would be it was all the things, that at one time, we thought we couldn’t live without. While it was good we hadn’t driven this far to sell a perfume bottle collection, I wasn’t thrilled to be setting “our life” out on the lawn.

Piece by piece we did just that. Piece by piece it was carried away until by the end of the day we had made enough (with a little left over) to buy a new A/C compressor all without even setting out a sign. We went ahead and called the guy over to make the repairs, and drove away feeling victorious.

We arrived back in Oklahoma in time to get a good nights rest. The next morning we had the opportunity to speak to several Sunday School classes at Quail Springs Baptist Church. We let people know about the ministry God has made possible so far this summer. Many of them are already involved and wanted to know about our future plans.

It’s hard to think about our own future much less the future of Truth Baptist when we are buried in what appear to be desperate circumstances. Even so, in all of what God has brought our family through He is teaching us there is nothing in this world as trust worthy as His word. Nothing is more powerful than a life lived for Him and we should seek after His Kingdom with our whole hearts. We won’t be disappointed with the result.

In I Kings 18: 20 – 39 we find Elijah challenging the false god of weather, Baal. He told the 450 prophets of Baal to choose a bull, quarter it and put it on their altar. Then he told them to pray for their god to light the fire. After a full day of yelling, cutting themselves and “raving” the prayers to Baal fell on deaf ears. There was no fire and the sacrifice was not consumed.

In verse 30 in says, “Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near me.” So all the people approached him. Then he repaired the Lord’s altar that had been torn down.”Elijah set twelve stones representing the tribes of Israel in the name of Yahweh. He dug a trench around the altar and instructed the Israelites to drench the altar with water, not once, not twice but three times.

I can’t get away from the impossible scenario Elijah is creating here. If he’s trying to earn his fire starter merit badge he lost it at digging a trench around the altar and filling it with water.

In show business there is a term used called, “planned spontaneity”. It may look like David Letterman just hops up from his desk and walks down to the sandwich shop and ends up back at his desk to great laughs from the audience. What the unsuspecting public doesn’t realize is that these stunts are all perfectly timed, well rehearsed, scripted actions built in to generate interest.

That is what Elijah was doing here. He wasn’t pacing back and forth, hoping God would come through. He knew no matter how much he drenched that wood the Creator of the universe was in control and could send fire without difficulty. In doing the elaborate show, he got the attention of those who had seen the Baal fall to shame.

In verse 36 it says, “Elijah the prophet approached the altar and said, ‘LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel, and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things.”

In order for what we’ve been through personally to make sense and in order to have hope for the future, we must settle some issues in our hearts. Is our faith in God or are we praying at the altar of a false idol? Are we truly serving Him and obeying His word? If so, we should pray with confidence! It is just a matter of time until His word comes to fruition in our lives.

Finally, Elijah prayed, “Answer me, LORD! Answer me so that this people will know that you Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.”

Then God sent the fire. His word says Yahweh’s fire fell consuming the offering the stones and the dust. It even burnt up the water in the trench. “When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!”