Danger! Danger! Danger!

Chemical Accident. Floods. Earthquakes. Epidemics. Volcano eruption! And that’s just today.

The Havaria Information Service’s Alertmap shows you were all today’s disasters are, a full description, and a Google Earth Map so you can zoom in close for details.

Daily Manna – 2 Corinthians 9:6-9

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have scattered abroad their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’ 2 Corinthians 9:6-9

Jesus reminds us not to store up treasures on earth, but to store up treasures in heaven. I am convinced that our mortal life reveals our true character, and that our true character endures forever, impacted by our mortal choices.

What are you doing with the blessings God has given to you? God has given you something – intelligence, strong muscles, a witty sense of humor, patience or compassion, material possessions. What are you doing with it? If you attempt to keep it all, you are sowing sparingly – and what you reap in Heaven will also be sparse. If you share and serve, you are planting seeds abundantly, and your eternal reward is also abundant.

We sometimes think that if we spread the wealth around, it’ll leave little for ourselves. We get stingy, greedy, selfish, and want to hold on to it. Not only does that leave little trust in Jesus – who will provide for your needs abundantly when you are serving Him – but it also reveals a love of materialism instead of a love for Christ. You know you can’t take it with you, don’t you?

Forced Conversion

I’ve been troubled by the recent story of the two journalists who were forced by their Palestinian kidnappers to accept Islam as a condition of their release. I’m not linking their story or names because I don’t know certain details about their experience, but it does make me question.

In Revelations 13:16-18, it says:

He [The Beast out of the Earth] also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.

There are a lot of theories on what this means, including RFID tags and national ID’s and so forth, none of which yet ring true to me. But let me ask these questions –

  1. When the beast “forces everyone” to receive a mark, what type of force could this be?
  2. Could being forced at gunpoint to accept a religion fulfill this prophecy?
  3. If you were forced at gunpoint to accept Islam, how would you respond?

I’m not sure any of us could be 100% sure of what our answer would be, though I believe my answer would be to go ahead and shoot me, I’m not renouncing my love for the Lord. Scriptures that I’d lean on include –

Luke 16:1-8, the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. I’ve often stumbled over this parable, but it appears to commend dishonesty if used shrewdly to further the kingdom of God. I’m sure I badly misinterpret the meaning of this, but could it not imply that if you have loved ones to protect that you can be dishonest? This doesn’t ring true to me, so I’m certain I’m wrong here.

Luke 14:26-27 seems to offset the above. The love of Jesus is second to none and cannot be trumped by love for others. If you’re not willing to die for Jesus, you’re not His disciple.

What do you think you would do in their situation, and why?

Kenya Mission, Day 1

December 27, 2005

I’ve been remiss in my blogging duties; oddly, I actually crossed “blog about Kenya” off my todo list accidentally, and it wasn’t until a friend email yesterday that I realized I had not written about this trip.

Let me preface this whole adventure by saying that I thank God for the opportunity to serve in this way. Working through friends, families and strangers, the necessary prayers and money came together in a miraculous way. It was a wonderful replacement for our honeymoon; we were truly blessed by this experience.

The night before we left I stumbled across something that I wish I had found earlier; my son gave me Civilization IV for my birthday last year. Marvelous game, and the opening song is intriguing.

Turns out the opening song was The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili. Later, Kenya Christians would sing the same words to a different tune.

Baba Yetu

Baba yetu, Yesu uliye
Mbinguni yetu, Yesu, amina!
Baba yetu, Yesu, uliye
Jina lako litukuzwe.

Utupe leo chakula chetu
Tunachohitaji utusamehe
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Waliotukosea usitutie
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, milelea milele!

Ufalme wako ufike utakalo
Lifanyike duniani kama mbinguni. (Amina)

————-

Our Father, Jesus, who art
in Heaven. Amen!
Our Father, Jesus
Hallowed be thy name.

Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive us of
our trespasses
As we forgive others
Who tresspass against us
Lead us not into temptation, but
deiver us from Evil, and you are forever and ever!

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven. (Amen)

I had about 2 hours of this knowledge before we had to leave for the airport, so I didn’t do anything useful with it. Mom and my stepfather picked us up and drove us to the airport to save on parking fees since we’d be gone so long, and we met up with the rest of the team.

We were flying British Air out of Houston; they made a terrific deal to upgrade us to Business Class for something like $50 a person, but that was like $400 for the group. Considering where we were going, it was really hard to justify spending all that money just to be a wee bit more comfortable for 9 hours. I’m glad we skipped the opportunity.

Packing was heavy since we would be gone for 2 weeks. We packed jeans and slacks for the guys, long dresses for the women mostly (and since I’m a guy, I’m not going to be able to give a better description than that). We also have some suitcases with bibles and “Purpose Driven Life” that were really, really heavy. All in all 16 bags for check in plus a bag each for carry on. We were loaded down.

That’s it for the advance preparation, I think. Oh, shots for hepatitus and typhoid and yellow fever, pills for malaria, of course. I’m going to copy this to the Kenya mission team, so if I’ve forgotten something about the preparation, perhaps they can add it to the comments. We all watched a movie on the plane and crashed; we would be in London in the morning.

Trusting in God’s Promise

I taught my first bible lesson to adults today. It was sort of scary; I’m used to teaching 3rd graders for bible study where the most complex scriptural question is, “Mr. Mike, can I go to the restroom?” The opportunity arose to teach this week came up and (gulp) I took the bait. It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do, but there’s something intimidating about teaching bible study to 140 Christians for a half hour. I don’t know why.

The lesson was on how fear can keep up from God’s promises. Soon I marveled at the irony of God’s plan – here I am, answering the call to teach, and I’m a little fearful of the experience, and the lesson I’m going to teach is why fear is a bad thing when it comes to faith. God certainly has a sense of humor.

Once upon a time, I used to skydive. Made around 500 jumps, in fact. I remember that first day, heading out to the drop zone to get my training. The instructors spent 8 hours with me and a few others that day, teaching about how the equipment works, how to operate it, when to operate it, how to recover from a parachute malfunction, and so on. It was an intense course that taught a lot in a short period of time. Then we met our jumpmasters, received a last minute briefing, then climbed in the airplane for the ride to altitude, about 2-1/2 miles up.

As the plane lifts off, there’s a short period where a fear of heights sets in, just above the treetop level. As the ride continues, though, you can no longer make out the individual trees, and that fear fades. It doesn’t look high to you, it just looks… distant.

But when that airplane door opens and the instructor tells you it’s time to jump, there’s a new fear. Many people do not jump at this point. They freeze, paralyzed. What are they afraid of? I’ll tell you what they’re afraid of – they’re afraid the promises made to them earlier that day aren’t true. The equipment won’t work, the training was faulty, and this is generally a very stupid idea. A lack of faith.
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