Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Simeon and Anna

Luke 2:21:38

Sometimes when my kids are waiting for company to arrive they keep going to the door looking for the person expectantly.  They say a watched pot never boils and I have to admit that sometimes having to wait can be hard.  We live in a culture that values NOW.  In fact, we don’t like to wait for anything.  So imagine waiting for someone for your entire life…

Simeon had been told by God that he would not die before seeing God’s Messiah.  He had waited expectantly his whole life for the moment when Messiah would come.  I imagine he was probably expecting someone a bit older.  Yet suddenly there Jesus was, and in his Spirit Simeon knew this baby was Messiah.

Anna had been a widow most of her life. Her husband had died after only seven years of marriage and yet even at eighty four years old, the bible says she never left the temple court but was dedicated to prayer and fasting.  She also knew immediately who this child was because as Simeon was talking to Mary and Joseph Anna began to tell those gathered about Jesus, even though she had never met him.

It must have been amazing for Mary and Joseph to get these two distinct confirmations that their son was indeed the Messiah, but God used the moment both to fulfill his promise to Simeon and also to reward Anna for her diligence in worship.  Their long wait was finally over and God had remained true to His word.  What a amazing moment it must have been for both Simeon and Anna to finally see Jesus after so many years of waiting and watching.

It’s clear that both Simeon and Anna were not simply passively waiting, but were actively, deliberately looking and praying for Jesus to come.  I hope you are also expectantly waiting for Jesus to come.  The question is, what does your wait look like?  

My Apologies to the Faithful Few...

Quick note of apology to the few people who actually read this blog, or don't read it as the case is since I never post to it.  While I haven't posted in quite some time, I haven't stopped writing.  I intend to post some of the things I've written here in the interim so that everything is in one place.

Apologies if your inboxes get jammed with my posts!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


In my last post I talked about my kids; how it bothers me when they aren’t grateful.  Truth be told, I, like Bill Cosby believe all kids are brain damaged.  It’s true!  How else can you explain a child who is caught red handed in the act of committing some offense and then when the punishment is handed down, they act shocked…dismayed…dumbfounded?  Me?  What did I do?  My daughter will even sometimes get angry and blame ME for being mean!  I particularly like that strategy because it shows creativity.  She’s brain damaged but creative.  So I can kind of understand how God must feel in Malachi 1 when he begins to excoriate his children.  He begins with some questions of His own:

Mal 1:6  "A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "

Many of us like to call God our father, and He certainly is.  But God would like to know, if he IS your father when are you going to start loving and honoring Him in a way befitting a father?  For a smaller number of us it is easier to think of God as Master.  But if God is your Master, when are you going to start obeying Him?  In reality God is both our Father and our Master and we cannot have a right view of Him until we see Him from both perspectives simultaneously.

I think sometimes I like to toy with the idea of obedience.  Obedience is like recycling.  It seems like a good idea until I have to walk all the way to the garage to throw away the soda can, and then it just seems like a lot of work!   Obedience is a nice concept but when the rubber hits the road, sometimes I’m just not interested.  When I read Malachi, I’m caught red handed, and my bluff is called because God is calling me out.  The folks in Malachi, just like my kids, just like me, are incredulous.  How have we shown contempt for your name?  How have we defiled you?

God says that He is defiled because the people are promising to give the best of their flocks for sacrifice, but when the time for the sacrifice comes, they bring the diseased and sick from the flock to sacrifice instead.  They persist in this as if God wouldn't be aware of what they are up to.

I see a direct correlation here between the Israelites and us.  Like them we promise to give God our best, we promise to obey Him, we promise to give him the first part of our day, the first part of our income, the first part of us.  But often as I mentioned before, obedience is just a nice sentiment, it’s something we sing about in worship songs and talk about in small group.  Obedience is a slogan we mindlessly repeat without comprehending the meaning.  Reading the bible and spending time with God in prayer is important, I’m sure we all agree, but often God gets our leftovers or maybe nothing at all.  It’s almost like we thought he wasn’t really standing there seeing all of it right?

Apparently brain damaged kids grow up to be brain damaged adults.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I Have Loved You

The book of Malachi begins with these words from God speaking to you.  Four thousand years of biblical history have occurred at this point.  So many events: the creation of the world, the fall of man the flood, the exile the Exodus, the Kings, the prophets, countless wars, thousands of years of history.  We have reached the culmination of the time before the coming of the Messiah and Israel is about to be plunged into hundreds of years of silence from God.  God’s message is … “I have loved you.”

Why would God make this statement at this point in history?  It’s almost as if he is saying after all we’ve been through together, you and I; after all of it, I just need you to know that I have loved you.
I love that the statement is in the past tense.  I have loved you.  It’s not because he has stopped loving us.  It’s because we as children question our father, and not in a good way.  When things happen, life, circumstances, we tend to say, why God?  Why are you doing this to me?  Why are you allowing this to happen?

When we do that, we have forgotten the first thing, the biggest thing, and we need to be reminded.  God has loved us.  I talk about election a lot, and it’s because election is all through the bible.  Election is here as well.  Before the beginning of the world God loved you, and chose you. 
Think about adoption.  I know a lot of people who have adopted children.  When was the last time someone walked into an orphanage and the child said, you look like a fine person, I chose you to be my father or mother.  Silly right?  No, it’s the other way around.  The father walks into this world and out of all the chaos says, I chose this one to display my glory through.  Not because he’s in any way special, or deserving of this blessing but simply because.

Now this situation ought to make me the most grateful person in the world, knowing I deserved nothing but hell and yet was given everything.  But throughout history the response has not usually been one of thanksgiving and devotion.  It’s been one of cluelessness and complaint.  God, why did you do this to me?

As a parent there’s nothing that annoys me more than when my kids are ungrateful and / or bratty.  The reason is because I know how lucky they are to live the way they do.  To have the luxury of their biggest worry being how long they get to play the video game every day.  So when they are ungrateful it really bothers me.  I feel like I need to make them see differently.  I find that hard to do.

Imagine what it must be like to be God and to have to listen to his chosen ones complain…about everything…all the time. Imagine the frustration to be God and to have provided EVERYTHING, and to listen to the object of your grace berate you for their circumstances.  I don’t want to belittle people’s troubles.  Some people have real problems and the bible says we can come to God with these but how we come is important don’t you think?

One person in my small group challenged us all to abstain from complaining for a period of time.  I’m unexcited about this as complaint is like breathing for me.  It’s cathartic.  It’s part of me.  It’s wrong.  So this is me not complaining on day 1.  I’m skeptical.

I wonder how this verse, Malachi 1:2 might apply to you?

God I can’t hear you?     “I have loved you”

God why did this happen?           “I have loved you”

Why are things so hard?               “I have loved you”

God has loved you.  God loves you.  God will love you.  Today I will try to love Him back just enough to not complain.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kony 2012, What They Don't Want You to Know

Have you ever noticed there’s always someone who doesn’t want you to know something.  Seems like everyones trying to hide something from me.  Anyway, I watched the Kony 2012 video yesterday and to be honest I thought it was pretty good.  I like to see Americans thinking outside the box to try and solve one of the world’s problems without throwing billions of dollars down the UN rat hole.  But, as I did some research on the Invisible Children charity, I read several disturbing bits of info.  They go like this:
  • ·         Invisible Children only gives 32% of its donations to the direct services to help those it claims to serve.
  • ·         Charity Navigator rates them 2 or of 4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited.
  • ·         People are upset because the Kony video advocates military intervention to bring Kony to justice risking that many of the children they are trying to help could be injured or killed in the process.
  • ·         They spent 1.7 million on salaries and 1 million dollars on travel in 1 year.  (FYI from what I can see they have over 100 people on their staff.)
  • ·         What about all the people who need help here in America?

I’m not here to bash Invisible Children.  I don’t know anything about their organization and before this week I had never heard of them.  It’s disturbing to me that so many would immediately begin attacking this organization considering most of those who are criticizing probably never get off their butt and do anything to help anyone let alone these kids in Africa. 

I’d like to briefly address the last bullet point because it is particularly distasteful to me.  I’ve heard this sad expression used by many over the years for various reasons and I’ll tell you it really bothers me at this point.  I hear a lot of guff in the media and from others about the 1% these days.  They refer to corporate fat cats who live in luxury while the rest of the 99% struggle to survive.  Let me share some truth with you.  If you live in America and your family makes 50,000/yr, you are in the top 1% of wage earners worldwide.  Not only in this time but in all of history!  If you make 50,000 you are one of the richest people in the history of the world.  That said, here’s my next fact.  There are no poor in America.  That’s right I said it.  The poorest people in this country live better than many billions of people around the world.  Two billion people on this planet RIGHT NOW live on less than two dollars per day. If you are poor in America, you get free food, free clothes, free housing, free education, free healthcare, and just about anything else a person could need.  Please don’t misunderstand me, these people are in need, and deserve our help but let’s just keep things in context.  So when hear someone complaining that we should be helping the poor here first quite frankly it makes me a bit sick.

Now back to Kony.  In light of what I’ve already said you can understand why I’m happy so see normally uninvolved Americans getting behind a movement like this.  But there is a problem.  Kony exists for a reason.  The governments in this region are incapable of stopping these warlords and the people are so destitute and powerless that they can’t stop them themselves.  But even if we intervene, there will be someone to fill the void when Kony is gone. Does that mean we should just look the other way?  Of course not.

Then there’s the matter of peace and negotiations.  I just laugh when I hear people talking about negotiating to bring peaceful resolution to matters such as these.  It really highlights the foolishness of a culture like ours that has lived in luxury and safety for so long that we aren’t even capable of understanding that men like Kony don’t negotiate.  Their power exists through terror and force. It’s all they know and they will never go peacefully.

All of these factors are important, but there is one critical factor I haven’t discussed.  It’s really the reason that I can’t get behind Invisible Children.  Invisible Children is supporting the use of force to bring Kony to justice and see these children restored to their childhood.  Noble cause to be sure.  But then what?  They are still poor beyond belief, they don’t have a stable govt., they don’t have basic services and no amount of money will fix that.  There are a lot of social justice programs out these days.  It has really become quite en vogue to get involved.  After the limelight fades and the cameras have gone away, these people are without help and without hope.  Hope that only Jesus can bring them. 

I’m praying for Uganda today.  Praying that Kony will be caught and brought to justice.  Praying that people will be drawn to the needs in that part of the world.  But I’m also praying that Christians will get involved and help the MANY ministries that are already operating on the ground bringing the hope of Jesus along with the physical help this tattered part of the world desperately needs.  It’s the only real hope they have.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

All that gold...

This is the Buddhist temple Wat Phrathat. It sits 3500 feet above the city of Chiang Mai on the Mt Doi Suthep. It was built some time in the 1300s and all that gold you see here...yep its real...over 100 tons of the stuff. What a waste.

View from the top of Doi Suthep.

18 With whom, then, will you compare God?
To what image will you liken him?
19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A person too poor to present such an offering
selects wood that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
to set up an idol that will not topple. (Isaiah 40)

I kept thinking about what a selfish religion Buddhism is. Many of these people are so poor, particularly in Cambodia, yet throughout these countries are these massive pagodas plastered with solid gold. The Buddhist monks go out every morning taking food from people who barely have enough to survive. Yet they are placated with the promise that if they give what little they have, they will earn brownie points for the afterlife. I'm thinking that if the monks spent more time growing food and less time meditating in front in front of a statue of a dead man there wouldn't be much of a hunger problem in the region. But I'm just being insensitive. Or is it sensitive...I'm not sure.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Shout of the King

Writing my blog is so easy here because every day I'm having these amazing experiences. I had been thinking about how I hear God speaking so clearly to me here, every day, all the time. I had thought to myself that God was shouting at me in Cambodia. I thought, God speaks in America, but he shouts in SE Asia. Then today while I was reading I came across this verse:

The Lord their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them. Numbers
Now this verse is speaking of God being like the king of the Israelites as He leads them into battle. His shout is intended to rally them to accomplish His purposes. But this verse struck me because if God was there shouting to the Israelites, how much more so now among His people bought by Jesus.

Guys, I've often heard people say that they can't hear God's voice.; I have said this myself. Here's what I know now. God isn't speaking to you. HE'S SHOUTING AT YOU!!!

The shout of the king is among us! I hear it so clearly here. Pastor Rad was talking about how its easy to hear His voice here because we're living on faith. We've stepped out and are doing things that are outside our comfort zone. Most importantly we're serving those who are close to God's heart and when you do that God ALWAYS shows up.

So my question to you today is, do you hear the shout of the King? If you don't, something is very wrong. If you want to hear it, I have an easy solution. Step out in faith and do
something crazy for God. It doesn't have to involve traveling around the world. Find someone in need and meet that need on God's behalf. As you set aside the things that distract you from Him and focus on the things close to His heart, the shout of the King will grow louder and louder.

Spent the day at the GROW home today. Games, food, painted a mural, moved a couple tons of sand to the play area one bucket at a time! Then all the kids came to the hotel for a swimming party. Tonight we took the kids to the equivelant of a super Walmart in Chiang Mai. We had money to spend on each one of them. The kids had never been to the mall. Ever. Of course we immediately took the kids to the toy aisle thinking that was where all the money would be spent. But the kids were uninterested. They wanted clothes. So they were taken to the clothing section. All the kids bought clothes. They were very concered that they were going to overspend, they wanted to make sure that there was money left to save. needless to say I was a bit dumbfounded.

Can I just say...the food here ROCKS! Oh my gosh, its so stinkin' good! Ate at Fa's house last two meals. If I eat another I might not come home, I'm just sayin'.

Night market in Chiang Mai

Ahhhh, yeah...
Balloon races at the state run orphan home. The home is in the background.