Saturday, December 31, 2011

Write it All Down...

"...each word dependable and accurate." Revelation 21:5 The Message

The last day of the year finds me reading Revelation and the final pages of His living Word. I admit I am always excited by the ending. Though the words are familiar, when evil is banished and victory reigns, I get chills thinking about those final chapters of the present world's history. I'm looking forward to the day when the Father HIMSELF, will wipe away every tear and take away all the pain.

I've cried my fair share the past year, but I've also seen and experienced enough real human suffering, to appreciate when ALL that will be over.

When I arrive at a place far from home and way beyond a comfortable zone, I don't need to tell any proverbial "Toto" I am not in Kansas anymore. The filth, the stench and the unparalled poverty keeps me quiet. I'm often asked "how" I can do the things I do, see the things I see, work and walk among the wounded of the world. I know it's a supernatural gift that allows me to survive and thrive, to reap and to sow in the Harvest Fields of the King I love and serve.
The last day of the year millions of eyes will look upward to a vast display of fireworks celebrating the end of the old and the beginning of the new. When I see video footage of the crowds, I am often reminded of the verse, "Look up for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28) His Word tells us the WHOLE world will be looking up and witnessing His grand Second Coming. "Look, He is coming in the clouds" (Revelation 1:7) I am sure it will be more spectacular than any New Year's Eve fireworks display! It will be brighter and definitely louder with the heavenly hosts all singing "Glory, glory, glory, Who is, Who was, and Who is to come!"

"And tell them, 'Yes, I'm on My way'..." Revelation 22:7 The Message

We have been dependable messengers of the Good News the past 365 days. We will be dependable until the final day of His return. The clock ending the tax year of 2011 is ticking, but the greater clock of opportunity to share the Gospel is ticking as well. There IS an end to our time on earth, and whether we are "caught up" or are "put to rest" the story's end remains unchanged. The King is coming and before He left He commanded us to, "GO, make disciples of ALL nations."

Take a moment to consider the lost and don't lose an opportunity to share the grace and mercy of Christ.

"It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ." Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest: December 31


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Monday, December 26, 2011

I'll Have a Blue Christmas

The week before Christmas I had an opportunity to see an advance screening of the movie "Blue Like Jazz." Based on the best-selling Donald Miller book of the same name, I was curious to see how they would translate the themes of the written word to screen.

"Blue Like Jazz," (both the book and the movie) reflects on issues of life and faith that seem unresolved. Our life, like jazz, appears as a tune played without a defined melody, music improvised by those participating in its creation.

The author had a difficult time working with the producer and screenwriter of the film. So difficult in fact that he wrote a book about THAT (his other book being made into a movie) entitled "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years." His trouble came as the screenwriters were adapting his life "story" to shorten it and make it into a better film version.

"So I guess I should have lived a more interesting life." Donald Miller in A Million Miles

The Christmas season with all the trimmings and trappings will still be visible in the malls across America for perhaps another week. As believers, I know we hope and pray, "the Christmas spirit" lives each day of the year ahead of us. The Spirit of THE gift, God's Only Son, treasured for all that His birth represents and redeems.

"For those who claim His Name, Christmas heralds this luminous truth: The God of Jesus Christ is our absolute future." Brennan Manning from Lion and Lamb

I want to live a more interesting life in the coming year. But I know the reality is most days are uneventful, and like the music form called jazz - are unresolved; no big revelations or conclusions before I close my eyes and call it a day.

My life of faith is recorded but not scripted. I know each breath and hair on my head is numbered, but assigned as co-creator, I have the freedom to improvise on a melody throughout the day and participate in salvation's song. My inspiration isn't an unresolved musical phrase but the finality of the Author and perfecter of my faith's last words from the cross,

"It is finished."

"Relax,everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together: open your hearts, love is on the way!" Jude 2 The Message

I can say with 98% certainty my life will not be made into a movie, nor will I write a book about the experience of turning my life into a film version. However, I can say with 100% certainty my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and I intend to spend each day I have left telling other's how to make sure their name is written there too!

It's the end of another year and contributors are making decisions on amounts for "year-end" giving. Every day, I receive an appeal for "critical funds" and I confess I feel like every day I'm making that same appeal in one form or another. I toss aside all the big organizations mass marketed mailings, but somehow take comfort that all non-profits are in "critical" financial condition.

Together we are writing a song that has the heavens rejoicing! As the ministry shares the gospel around the world and sinners repent, a party bigger than New Year's Eve in Times Square erupts. It IS like jazz, each of us playing our own part, together in harmony, goers, givers, and prayers.

That makes for an interesting life, and a beautiful melody.

Help us end on a high note
With a song and a smile
In His service

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Where in the World...

...IS Thessalonica?

That was the question I asked myself this morning (had to check to make sure it was in Greece) as I was reading the apostle Paul's letter to the community of believers.

"Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends? Even though it hadn't been that long ... we tried our very best to get back to see you. You can't imagine how much we missed you! 1 Thessalonians 2:17 The Message

Those words were most appropriate for the start of my day. For the past few weeks, I have been making arrangements with many of the Wounded Warriors and their families for a "special" visit. The scheduled reunion last month was postponed and I realized just how much I missed them! And when I started contacting them, it turns out they miss me too!

"So when we couldn't stand being separated from you any longer..." 1 Thessalonians 3:1 The Message

Paul had to send Timothy to visit his friends, but thanks be to God, we live in a day and age where travel doesn't involve camels or ships that can wreck on the rocks! This morning I'm heading down to San Antonio with Cheryl Hood, the founder of Victory Flows (a respite ministry for families affected by disability). We will spend the next several days sharing with Wounded Warriors who have participated in the Joni and Friends past retreats.

"What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience before Him because of you?" 1 Thessalonians 3:9 The Message

This past Thanksgiving I feasted with a glue gun, not gravy, tinsel and trimmings not turkey, and plenty of pretties instead of pumpkin pie. With the help of a few friends we made hats, hats and more hats to share with the soldiers and their families! I had the freedom to do so because thousands of faithful men and women enlist in the military to secure my country, and my choices. I am free, feast or famine, because there are people willing to die to defend us.

Hard economic times have greatly impacted the ministry. Every day, I receive appeals of all kinds, from museums to nationally known ministries. Everyone has felt the crunch. And as bad as it is for Sunshine After Rain, I still fully understand and appreciate there are men and women carrying 80lbs worth of gear in 120+ degree heat, in an desert of hatred and animosity just so I can sit in the comfort of my apartment in America and do what the Lord asks me to do. God blesses me AND America through those willing to pay the price.

"May God our Father Himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you." 1 Thessalonians 3:11 The Message

Freely smiling in His service

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