Saturday, January 31, 2009

Toto's Visit to Elah

"Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew their battle line". 1 Sam 17:2

In a few short hours, once again I'll board a plane bound for a place exactly halfway around the world. Far from Kansas and nowhere near the Land of OZ. It takes a long long long long long time to get there, I tell the children of the village. The number of times I say "long" always makes them laugh. But the reality is this- is no laughing matter.

I still have much to do, last minute things to pack, trash to take out, mail to drop off, etc.. etc... BUT, I had to just breath this morning and keep the MAIN thing the MAIN thing; my daily reading of the Word, Oswald Chamber devotion, and finish the last page of my January devotion book "Lessons from John". It is written by my dear friend Dr. Betsy Botts on things she has learned from her son with autism. For the past 31 days it has blessed me and given me an awareness of the many people and ways God pours restoration into my life. The last chapter is "the Valley of Elah" (where David defeats Goliath).

As I read the story and reflected on how the battle lines had been drawn, the enemy facing the Israelites and taunting them. I thought about what has happened in my personal, spiritual and family life's battlefields over the last several days. I can usually count on some form of attack by the enemy BUT, this week was a doozy!

I think our cultural Christian tendency is to be comfortable "holding our ground" camped out, looking at the enemy and listening to his taunting. After all, as long as we don't go down to the "valley" and face the giant we are pretty much safe - but sorry (and shamed).

It took a shepherd boy to visit the camp to question "why are you listening to this?". Everyday we hear the name of God profaned from all forms of individuals, media, politicians, irritated drivers, you name we hear it - and we stay encamped.

We are called to BATTLE, not campgrounds. When Goliath ridiculed the size of the boy who "manned up" David responded by saying "it's not me - it's my God who will hand you over". God has given us victory over the powers of darkness. He has given us authority to cast out demonic influence - not just in foreign lands filled with pagan gods, but the demonic influences in our own families, neighborhoods and country. He HAS given us WEAPONS to bring down strongholds. If one stone can take down a nine foot giant - just think what your faithful prayers are "nuking" in the realms of the heavenlies!

Vicki Mullins (director of orphan ministries at East West) and I are headed down to the Valley of Elah today. For the next two weeks we will be taking back Kingdom ground held by the enemy. This IS an area of extremist activity but we are armed with far more than stones and a sling shot.
We have YOU!

And HIM! The Lord our God goes before us in the battle, our eyes are fixed on Him and He promises the victory.
Pray up
March on

And don't be afraid to walk down into your own Valley of Elah even if you think "what, I've just been tending sheep". Our God is always faithful to those who call upon His name!

Smiling and picking up river rocksI invite you to share in this adventure.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Previously NOT on 24

“The following events take place in real time”

I confess.

I am a “24” junkie. I thought I had kicked the habit of watching Jack Bauer save the world in a single day, but when I finally sat down to view the 4 hours of episodes I taped earlier in the week I had to admit, I still have a habit! After the first hour ended at 11:47 pm, I thought to myself, “I can go ahead and watch the next episode”. It was like the “one more small bite of ice cream”, the “just a little” piece of fudge, the “last slice of pizza that will not be good tomorrow” syndrome.

Perhaps the popularity comes through the cleverly innovative way the broadcast is filmed. “Events occur in real time.” There is no break in the day of one who has to “save the world” from terrorist attacks, assassination attempts, and a variety of other cataclysmic events threatening to effect our country in the next 24 hours. Call in Jack Bauer. The establishment doesn’t care for his tactics (torture, rage, and even law-breaking), but they know Jack can get the job done.

Here’s entertainment:

Housewives are still Desperate
Superman can be found in Smallville
Americans are looking for their next Idol
Ugly found beauty in Betty

We desperately want to believe there is someone out there who will “get the job done”; someone who can preserve our lifestyle, our consumption habits and do what is necessary, without us ever having to know what is going on behind the scenes.

Tomorrow, the President elect will be sworn in to office. Things will change, history is in the making. “His-story” is always in the making. Each 24 hours allotted to every individual on the face of the earth has the potential to be the last hours of their life. If we knew… how would we spend our day, at what sacrifice for others, what would the “real time” look like?

On the 31st of January, my “real time” events will begin and end on the other side of the world in India. It is a land filled with diversity, rich history, and over a billion people longing to understand and embrace “hope”. They have no reference point or speech (“I Have a Dream”) to elevate their status in life. Thousands of years of the caste system, makes it virtually impossible to rise above the circumstances of poverty or disease, injustice or racial bigotry and hope one day things will be different. Our country is built on freedom, but also on the ideology of “hope.” Anyone who works hard can overcome overwhelming obstacles and achieve greatness.

After hearing “Slumdog Millionaire” won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, I determined to see it before I returned to India. If you want to understand the India I see, the children I work with, see the movie. However, be warned – there are very graphic depictions of life for the children of the slums. There are scenes of horror for the orphans, several people walked out of the theatre during the showing. Even before the release of the film in India, it has sparked a wave of national pride, a movie filmed in India about India. And in the end, the “slumdog’s” life is changed by “destiny”. As believer’s our destiny is not part of a game show dependant on the right answer to the question. We don’t have three lifelines of choice: we have one. His name is Jesus. He keeps us from a feeling of desperation, He is more than a Super-man, He is God. He is not an Idol who sings, He is a Savior who serves. And while the scripture tells us, He had no physical beauty, He is beauty incarnate, the expressed image of God. He is saving lives each second, of every minute in our 24 hour day!

I confess.

I am nothing more than a slave to His wishes. His desire is that all be saved. His command is “Go and make disciples of all nations”.

I invite you to share in this adventure.

Consider going in the future!

INDIA - Calendar of Events

January 31
Depart USA

February 1
Arrive in Germany
Depart for Kolkata India
February 2
Arrive in Kolkata 1:00 am
Flight to Dibrugarh 7:00 am
Drive to Lakla

February 3
School Children
Village Outreach

February 4
Village Outreach
Village Outreach

February 5
Village Outreach
Village Outreach

February 6
Travel from Lakla to Dibrugarh
Overnight in Dibrugarh

February 7
Flight to Kolkata
Flight from Kolkata to Chennai
Travel 2 hours by car to Nellore

February 8
Church Program AM
Orphanage PM

February 9
Village Outreach
Village Outreach

February 10
Village Outreach
Village Outreach

February 11
Village Outreach
Village Outreach

February 12
Travel to Chennai

February 13
Depart for USA 1:50am
Arrive DFW 2:30 pm