Thursday, May 31, 2012

A few thoughts...Or many

While I always have the hopes of Blogging every epiphanic thought that crosses my mind while overseas, I often do not because it requires me to gather all that is going on in my brain and record it on paper.  This is not an easy task for me – hence why I decided to major in Math.  However, I feel the need to share with you these live changing ideas – at least to ponder.  They have challenged me greatly and have brought me to the point that I am at now, which is to give my earthly life to Christ completely, even if that means living apart from everything that I love.  While this is not always the easiest decision, it is the thought that God might work through me to decrease the number of people who will never hear about the hope, joy, peace and love our Savior offers.
With all that to say, here are a couple notes I jotted down after reading just the introduction to John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Missions: Let the Nations Be Glad!  The ironic part is that I bought this for a friend doing mission work in India, than wasn’t sure how closed the country was. So, instead of possibly putting him in danger, I decided to keep it for myself J. It’s turned out to be a blessing so far!
1. “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy” (Psalm 67:4) captures the heart of missions.  Until we can say this is true for every nation to its entirety, our mission is not complete.  Everyone deserves to have the chance to hear the Gospel and respond to it. While many may choose not to “take up the cross and follow [Christ]” (Mark 8:34), they at least deserve the right to make that decision.  As a powerful video once stated, how does one who has never heard of the name Jesus think to look for the Truth and a Savior? So, my question to you is why does God ask some to give up their lives for the sake of the Gospel, literally lay their life down for him, yet others ignore the leading of the spirit to even help financially (or in some other way)? This is not to condemn you, I am just sharing my own personal convictions in hopes that you might ponder the same question!

2. While many “prosperity gospel” preachers are having success in numbers, is this a true conversion? John Piper states (25):
The great tragedy of prosperity preaching is that a person does not have to be spiritually awakened in order to embrace it; one needs only to be greedy. Getting rich in the name of Jesus is not the salt of the earth or the light of the world…they have not been truly converted but only put a new name on an old life
So, how does a true conversion happen, even in the midst of hardship? One of my teammates on this trip is reading a book about Heaven and has challenged me to really look into what Heaven is like. Why? Because if we can get a glimpse of the splendor of Heaven, wouldn’t we be more willing to suffer a little bit here on earth. When we realize how short this life is, would we not be more willing to give our time, money, desires/wants, earthy possessions, and every aspect of our life to God? While I can’t think of an exact reference right now, how many times does scripture mention something along the lines of ‘our life on earth is like the BLINK OF AN EYE in comparison to eternity’? 
So when Matthew states in Ch 5:
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.
With respect to eternity, it makes it much more bearable. Why not suffer some on earth in trying to give others the opportunity to hear the Gospel, leading to riches for eternity. 
Ever since I stepped foot into the orientation for this trip at Central Bible College in Springfield, I felt the joy of the Spirit.  It is impossible to explain, but it only occurs when I am obedient to God and am doing exactly what He intends for me to do. While I continue to sin just as every human, I am no longer living a life for my own selfish desires, but for the Lord and for the lost people of the world.

3. How different do Christ followers look when we clothe the eternal gospel of Christ in the garments of worldliness (Piper 21)? In other words, if we are living a life of luxury, with mansions, extremely nice cars and clothes – how can we preach from the same Book that states, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!...It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”.  Let’s be honest, a camel will never go through the eye of a needle; and while we cannot make ourselves stop treasuring money above Christ, the good news is God can!
But we all – poor and rich – are constantly in danger of setting our affections and our hope on riches rather than Christ. This “desire to be rich” is so strong and so suicidal that Paul uses the strongest language to warn us (Piper 22)
So consider this life-changing mindset! :
Since stealing is obviously wrong, the alternative is hard work with our own hands. But the main purpose IS NOT TO HOARD OR EVEN TO HAVEbut the purpose was ‘to have in order to give.’ (Eph 4:28). This is a call to make more, keep less, so that you can give more. When earnings increase, consider capping your expenditures and giving the rest away, rather than  increasing the lavishness of his lifestyle indefinitely!

Heb 13 states, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Because of this we can confidently trust God also with our needs.

The prosperity gospel promotes flourishing (in the world’s eyes). But we must be careful, because if we are desiring to be rich, we are leading ourselves and most likely others to pursue the very thing that Jesus warns can ‘choke the riches of life, and lead to a life lacking fruit’ (Luke 8:14).

Shocking as it may sound, I will 110% agree when Matthew states in 7:14, “But even though self-denial is a hard road that leads to life”, it is the most joyful of all roads. Going back to my original thought, my life is unexplainably full of joy and peace when I am doing kingdom work – even if that means living all the way across the world and sacrificing some of the most precious things. It is worth it! And unless you give it a try, you will never know.

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