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Archive for the tag “God”

Love Cyanide

Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hurting those we love.

Humanity is filled with examples of hurting each other, especially the ones we love.

Too often we proclaim our love for a spouse, child, or friend and then turn around and poison the relationship with what I like to call “love cyanide.”

Just what is cyanide?

Historically, cyanide has been used as a chemical weapon. It is also used in pesticides, plastics, and mining. When shocking a pool to get it ready to swim in, cyanide can be produced in low levels. It is also found in smoking.

One important note about cyanide is that “lethal doses of cyanide results only from accidents or intentional acts.”

Once the body is exposed to cyanide, the chemical quickly enters the bloodstream. The body tries to convert the chemical to a less lethal chemical called thiocyanate. As the doses build up, however, the body’s ability to convert cyanide to something less lethal gets overwhelmed. Large doses of cyanide prevent cells from using oxygen, causing the cells to die. The heart, respiratory, and central nervous system are most affected by cyanide poisoning.

What are the effects of cyanide poisoning? Some of the more profound are: weakness or confusion, sick to your stomach, difficulty breathing, and cardiac arrest.

The quickest way to treat cyanide poisoning is to get away from the poison and into fresh air.

We could easily remove cyanide from those notes above and replace them with the words “disrespect” or “dishonor” or “loving poorly.” If we do that, then we see the effects that disrespect or dishonor have on relationships.

Romans 12:18-20 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

It is like a love cyanide.

Many times, we use our love as a chemical weapon. We withhold our true love from someone in order to see them act or behave the way we desire before we will show them love. We expect a person to love us first before we’ll love them completely.

That is a weapon.

But we also hurt those we love accidentally. I know with my children that I have, at times, not lived up to a promise or hurt them in some way through my words or actions. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. At that moment, my love to them is more like cyanide.

We either intentionally or accidentally poison those we love. Just like cyanide.

Humans are resilient, though. We tend to stay in those cyanide relationships for long periods of time. We think that things will get better or that it will change. What might have started as a small dose of love cyanide turns into the doses building up in our systems.

We are made for relationship. With relationship comes pain from time to time. You will never love anyone perfectly. Our bodies are made to handle small doses of love cyanide. But extended and large doses of it can destroy who we are as humans. It will bring on depression and walls around our hearts.

When we have been affected by too much love cyanide, we feel weak and confused, sick to our stomach. With depression and anxiety comes difficulty breathing. And like the chemical cyanide can cause cardiac arrest, love cyanide can cause broken hearts.

What is the quickest way to get rid of love cyanide poisoning?

Well, unlike the chemical, many times we can’t simply walk away from the people we love. It is why the divorce rate is so high, even among Christians. We see our feelings as more important as those we love.

But you can’t just leave family and friends.

Luke 6:31 – And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

So I want to look at the “fresh air” idea a different way.

Instead of getting away into fresh air like you would with the chemical, the best way to cure love cyanide poisoning is to clear the air. Discuss the issues with the person you are having those issues with.

So why do I bring all this up?

As Christians our job is to not only love God and love others. Our job is to accept sanctification. Sanctification means that we are set apart for God and for those we love. But sanctification is also defined as a process of transformation.

If we are the cause of love cyanide, then we need to seek God more. We need to strive to become more like Him.

God gives us unconditional love.

We will never be perfect at giving unconditional love, but we need to try.

And in the times we get it wrong? We need to be the first to repent of our errors. If we hurt someone, even accidentally, we need to stand up and repent.

Building love cyanide into a relationship will not only hurt the relationship, but it will destroy the people in the relationship.

We need to build love, without the cyanide. Provide living water without the poison. Be sanctified and drive to love like Christ loves us.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

 

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End of Year Summary

Mark 16:15 – He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Every year I am amazed by the statistic of this blog. Thousands of people each year visit here and it makes its way into so many different countries. This year alone my blog has been to 72 different countries, over 36% of the world! Since I started writing this about 5 years ago, it has been read in over 107 countries, 55% of the world!

I am absolutely amazed that anyone would want to read this site.

Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

When I started 5 years ago, I really thought that only a handful of people would want to read this, and for a while I was right. I had just started getting involved in social media and had a few people following across all social media sites.

Since then, I’ve learned from my beautiful wife, Mimi, how to manage my social media presence. I keep my Facebook more private at only 323 followers. Twitter has just shy of 2,000. With LinkedIn I am pushing 4,100.

Bottom line, I live in the public eye. And I like it. Just ask Mimi, she would say that I feed off of it.

I don’t bring this all up to show how great my numbers are. Am I proud of them? Of course. But I realize that they can go away just as quickly as they came.

I bring this up because it teaches me two very important things:

  • People are hungry to find the Word of God.

Next to those who subscribe to the site, the top way that people come to this blog is through online searches. Even after almost 5 years, my number one searched post is “Spiritual Farting.” Almost every day someone searches for that on Google or Yahoo and finds this site.

But regardless of how people are finding this site, it has become an important part in many peoples’ weekly reading.

Colossians 2:2-3 – My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

  • This has shows amazing opportunity for the church!

There are thousands of pastors who blog. Many of them post very rarely while others post frequently. I try to post weekly. The more a pastor posts, the more followers they will most likely have. With only 45 posts this year I have reached thousands of people.

Granted, not all pastors are good at writing. And many pastors simply don’t have the time to write one.  But I believe that if a church enlists one of their members or staff to write a blog for the church, it will help to build up that church.

As the church turns more and more away from bricks and mortar and into a clicks and engagement strategy, online posting will be very important.

Most churches use Facebook. Some utilize Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. In the grand scheme of things, very few blog or post snippets of their sermons on any sites where people could read them.

I believe that if we started to incorporate more of a teaching mentality to our social media as the church, then we would start to see people get more involved in understanding the Christian faith.

Many churches use social media to put memes of platitudes, announcements of weddings or funerals, and the occasional prayer request.

But there is very little teaching going on.

If we could take this opportunity to teach rather than tickle the ears of people, we might see a lot more growth and discipleship going on.

So, tell me, what are YOU going to post about?

If you would like to guest post on this site, leave a comment with your email address and I will reach out to you and see if our beliefs would be compatible for doing a guest post.

I look forward to hearing from you all!

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Mission Generation

Ever since I graduated seminary in 2013 I have been seeking pastor position in a church. I graduated with a degree in church planting and evangelism. I had dreams of being the next Steven Furtick or Louie Giglio. I dreamt of setting up a church in my home or a local community center and watching it grow and grow.

Four years later, I am still waiting.

Oh, I went through many different channels. I started with my home church. But we aren’t as much as planting church as we are a watering church.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 – I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

So, then I decided that I needed to go through the channels of church planting networks. I took assessment after assessment. I went on interview after interview. I was rejected almost every time. The only ones who didn’t reject me were the ones that required me to move away for a couple years and do an internship.

It wasn’t as if I wasn’t trying.

I was.

I just believe God had other plans. But I can’t say that I always believed that.

During this time, I was asked to lead our young adults. I was excited. As an elder at church, I knew that reaching people earlier and discipling them could help to make better life decisions. What I learned is that by the time people are young adults, they have already experienced significant life choices that have solidified their views of God, their desires to be discipled, and their futures.

I’m not saying that people can’t change, they can. I am a testimony to that. But I also realize that reaching people earlier and earlier in their experiences will be more beneficial to their Christian walk.

Reaching children is of the utmost importance to spreading the gospel, evangelizing the world, and seeing righteousness as a way of life. This meant that I needed to reach children.

But that isn’t my strength.

I am not a children or youth leader. I have trained hundreds and even thousands of people over my professional career, but none have ever been under the age of 18. It is not a strength of mine. It would take too much time for me to ramp up my teaching experience to include children.

How can I reach children through using my current gifts and strengths?

Enter Mission Generation.

Mission Generation is a non-profit, Bible-based character development program used in public and private schools (Pre-K through 12th) to bring students, parents, and teachers to salvation and train them in the practical application of the Word of God.

I did a search that would allow me to use my skills for a ministry that reaches children, even though I am not good at teaching mass amounts of children. So I reached out to Rocky Malloy, one of the founders of the organization.

In 1995 Rocky and his wife, Joske, traveled to Bolivia and started a church. Within 6 months they were over 1,000 people. While the church was a great way to reach people, it was a slow way to reach entire countries.

Acts 19:9-10 – But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

In the book of Acts, Paul teaches the gospel message to all of Asia through a school.

By 1999, the pilot program rolled out in Bolivia. Today, programs are running all throughout Latin America. The future is bringing the program to other countries around the world, including the United States.

After speaking with Rocky for a while, I realized that I have skills for which they are looking.

I spoke to my wife, prayed about it, and decided to become a part of their team.

I still have a full-time job, so I am not a missionary per se. I am a Ministry Representative. I won’t be raising funds for me to live as the gospel is spread. I will be raising funds directly for Mission Generation. I do make a small portion of those funds raised so that I can pay for the materials, events, and other pieces needed for the ministry.

A little about the program is that is revolves around Genesis 1 & 2, before the fall of man. There are 7 principles: love, creation, purpose, work, fruitfulness, government and marriage. Once the student understands the principles, they learn how to incorporate it into what is seen as the five pillars of society: identity, health, community, environment, and economy.

So the big question that most of my non-Christian friends would ask is, “Why would a non-Christian government pay for a Christian program?” When looking at this from a worldly view, economics is the key driver. Immorality is expensive. If you look at, for example, teen drug use throughout a student’s lifetime, that cost adds up. Teaching a moral program helps reduce the cost on governments. The program is made to comply with secular laws but when you look at the overall picture, Jesus is definitely at the forefront of it.

And cost is always a key. We can support a child’s learning for $1.34/child! So imagine what $1 million in donations will accomplish!!!

So God has placed me here, at Mission Generation. My task will be to raise funding to get this program set up in countries across the world, including my own. I have prayed over and over for God to give me the ability to see a million people discipled before I leave this earth.

A large task?

Yep.

But I have a big God.

Though this program I have no doubt in my mind that over a million children will be discipled. I pray many will be here in the United States of America.

So I would love if you joined me on this journey. If you would like to donate to Mission Generation, please send me an email to fnoble@missiongeneration.org. I will get you set up in our system and you can make a donation.

And if you have a school and are interested in more information in our program, send me an email. I would be more than happy to come and tell you all about it and how we can support your school.

Thanks for reading this post. I look forward to this ministry and seeing children around the world get discipled in the teachings of Christ.

Love Me Today

1 John 4:7-8 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

For tomorrow just might be too late.

This year has brought about a lot of loss. Some of it was due to sickness and death. Some other was due to people being fired or quitting. Still others were in my life only briefly this year like those I see when I go to Peru each year.

This life is a series of hellos and goodbyes.

We don’t have a lot of time with the people in our lives. Some more than others and some less.

If you haven’t noticed, I have not posted a blog in the past almost month. It started as a bout of writer’s block but it ended as an experiment. I wanted to see what I would fill the time with. Granted, writing my blog is a small part of my week, but when the space is there, what would I fill it with?

What would God want us to fill it with?

That is an easy answer, people.

How much more time am I giving my family? How about my friends? How about the stranger or the sojourner or the widow or fatherless?

Am I spending my extra time with them?

Am I discipling others or seeking discipleship myself?

Or am I wasting the time?

Romans 12:10 – Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

What I found is that very little of my extra time was spend on the family, friends, or others.

You see, I filled a little bit of that time with extra Bible study, some extra time at with work, and then I downloaded a game and spent too much time playing that. Even on our date night, both Mimi and I spent quite a bit of our time on our phones.

When God returns, do you really think he will say, “I am really glad you spent more time reading my Word and less time putting it into practice,” or “I am so thankful that you posted that Bible verse to Facebook instead of learning how to live it out!” or “Great job on getting to level 20 on your game! I am so happy you got that down time to play that game a couple hours a day. Now excuse me, there are a bunch of people who never knew Me that I need to go deal with because you never had time.”

This is especially worrisome for me as a dad with a wife and 6 kids/step-kids. Am I truly being a husband and dad to them or, when Christ returns will He point out the wisdom that I should have been pointing out all along?

Honestly, this has been an issue for both my wife and I. We spend way too much time on other things and not enough on us. We talked a little bit this past weekend about how we are starting to feel a little disconnected from each other. I believe this has a big impact on that.

Micah 6:8 – “This is what the Lord requires of you: Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”

Now, admittedly, it would be very difficult to completely do a media fast as my job is based completely online and my primary ministry is this blog and my wife works in social media as a job and is a pretty big blogger out there in the blogosphere. And, believe me, I do not miss the irony of the fact that I am posting this online.

But that means we need to figure out creative ways to unplug and spend more time with each other and those whom God has placed in our lives.

And maybe you do as well.

During the time that the Bible was written, I would say it was actually easier to spend time in community, but I don’t believe it was. You didn’t travel far from home and you spent your entire day from dawn to dusk working to make a living and then would go home and fall asleep. The only real time was at dinner, which would be spent as a family unit. This happened up until the technological age.

So, what can we do?

We live in an age where technology is intertwined with our lives. It is difficult for us to remove it completely. I do believe that we are called to make time for those we love, much more time than we spend on those who have little to no effect on our lives.

We should love people today, not tomorrow.

My mom died this year. While we had a great relationship, the one thing I wish I had was more time with her. My neighbor is fighting cancer. I wish I had taken more time to pray with him and spend time with him one on one. That is definitely something I will be doing in the coming days. And spending time with my wife, something I have not done nearly as much as I should have done the past couple years, is something I will start making more a priority as we continue to learn to love each other more and more.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 – “My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.”

Oh, and Mimi Noble, I love you and look forward to showing you that over the next however many years of our lives together. Not just on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our blogs, but together in the private moments we have alone.

I want to love you today, for tomorrow might be too late.

If it were the last day of your life

This week has reminded me about how fragile this life is. On Easter morning my passed into eternity. Each holiday, my mom would make would make an amazing spread of food.

This year the job fell to me.

In the past years, my kids, wife and my wife’s kids would travel to PA the weekend before Thanksgiving to have an amazing meal prepared by her. She would make ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, cherry cheesecake, and many other things.

So this year I started planning the dinner the week before and I baked everything off Saturday and cooked everything after church on Sunday.

But it wasn’t the same.

We were missing someone.

Afterward I thought about what it would be like if I knew it were the last day of my life.

My mom taught me one thing, live life to the fullest!

She enjoyed life and she enjoyed the people that came her way. She wasn’t one that would be seen out in the mission field but she would be seen out in the community. She cared about people and everyone knew that.

I got to thinking, though. What would my life look like if it were the last day of my life?

Would people look back on it the same way I look back on my mom’s?

God has called us to live this life. We aren’t to live a past life, our past has been redeemed. We aren’t to live a future life because we are never promised anything beyond today.

My life changed drastically about 6-7 years ago and since then I have done everything possible to live in the present.

But what about you?

One thing Americans do well is hide away from life.

We wake up early to get in our cars and drive an average of 30 minutes to work (if you live the DC area where I do, that time is increased to 52 minutes average). At work, we hide ourselves away in our cubicles or offices as we focus on a computer screen that only has work stuff and Facebook on the screen. When work is done, we get back in our cars and drive home only to have dinner in a disjointed way. The kids have to get to work or sports, so they ate early. Your spouse may or may not be home because, if you are in the 69% of American families, you are a dual-income household. After eating, you turn on your laptop to get on Facebook or turn on the TV and watch the Big Bang Theory until it is bedtime and then you start the whole thing all over.

If you are one of the people who enjoy exercise, you go to the gym and spend time in your zone exercising and not really in community with others.

But we have been designed for so much more!

We have been made in God’s image!

Just what does that mean?

It means we should not…we cannot…go on living our lives for ourselves!

There is a God who sustains us. He owns us. He defines us. He rules us. One day He will judge us.

To that end, God has given us some guidelines to living a life that is given over to Him, enabling us to live a satisfied and content life without the drama of the world system.

I wish I could say that I came up with these five ideas, but I have to give David Platt a lot of props here. He came up with 5 principles for living a life that will be lived to fullest for our purpose, to worship an eternal God.

  • Work diligently

In the beginning of Genesis, God created man to work the garden. God gave man the duty to work even before sin entered the camp. That means work is a gift of God’s grace! But we don’t see it that way. We see it as something we haaaave to do, not something we are ordained to do.

Genesis 2:15 – The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

We, including myself (especially myself), do everything we can to lessen our amount of work so that we can do other things. Do you believe that going to Bible study at church is more important than the job God has ordained you to do? If you see it that way, then you might be legalistic and pharisaical in your thinking.

I’m not saying Bible study isn’t important. It is. But so is the work we have been called to do.

  • Live Simply

Money is not evil. Money in the hands of a sinful people (which is everyone last time I checked) is.  Most people, including most Christians, believe that money is a blessing from God. The Bible tells us that money can be both a blessing from and a barrier to God.

Money is like the water in the ocean. If you get thirsty while in the ocean, you might think that the water around you will sustain you. Since it is high in salt, it won’t. The more you drink, the more thirsty you become. Eventually you dehydrate, which leads to severe headaches, dry mouth, and low blood pressure. Your heart rate begins to rise. You become delirious, go unconscious and die. In drinking what you thought would bring life, you find death.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Where do we draw the line in our lives that says, “I have too much ‘stuff.’ I need to stop saying ‘I need’ when in actuality it is really that ‘I want.’”

Stop letting your “wants” drive your purchases. Look only to what you need.

  • Give sacrificially

2 Corinthians 8:15 – as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

The Corinthian church would give sacrificially of themselves to see everyone had what they needed. Imagine what it would look like if all Christians around the world, all the Christian communities, would do the same! We shouldn’t give from our comfort, we should give from our discomfort. Unfortunately, most Christians do not know what it means to give sacrificially. They, and I include myself in this, give after they have already paid the bills or after they have factored in how many triple shot skinny half-caf mochas with no whip they can purchase. Around the world there are many without clean water or food. Even here in our own communities there are people who are losing their homes, children who are going to school hungry, and elderly who are finding they cannot afford their medications. We should give sacrificially to others, like the Corinthian church. If the most corrupt church in the New Testament can be graciously giving sacrificially, then today’s church, and Christians, certainly can!

  • Help Constructively

We cannot neglect those in need, but we also cannot subsidize them to stay in need. We cannot simply help people get through their day without teaching them how to get through the rest of their lives. Paul explains that we need to take care of the widows, for example, but goes on to say that not every widow in truly in need. We are not called to simply give a hand out. Commitment to helping get someone out of need is to share life, not just a meal. We also need to look at diversity as we understand why people are in need. Poverty and need cross all racial, ethnic, religious, and other boundaries. Yes, people can say that one group is more prone than another to being in need, but the truth of the matter is that there are people all around us in need and those are the people we are called to help, regardless of color, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc…

  • Invest Eternally

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus gives us a choice. We can spend our money on this earth’s pleasures that will not last or we sacrifice our resources for a long term treasure that we store up in heaven. Think of the story in Mark 10 of the rich young ruler. Many people think Jesus is calling him to simply sacrifice everything he owns. Truth is that Jesus is calling the man to satisfaction. Jesus isn’t calling this man away from treasure, He is calling him to eternal treasure.

Think of it this way: If you have $10,000 and put it in the bank, in about 20 years you will have about $100,000. But now, if you took that same $10,000 and gave it to a church planter or missionary in Peru (hint hint, Paige and Stalin Solis: https://www.modernday.org/field-workers/solis-paige-solis/) you could see hundreds or even thousands of lives changed! That is truly the investment we need to be making!

So if it were the last day of your life, would your treasures simply fade away or would you leave a lasting legacy of Jesus that would continue to receive compound interest long after you are gone?

I am Guilty

The past few months has seen a lot of men and women have been publicly outed about ways that they have harassed others sexually or verbally. Lives have been turned upside down from these allegations, some of which have happened decades ago.

Let me make this very clear, if someone has verbally or sexually (or any other way) harassed another human being, then that person has committed a sin. I do not condone that behavior. It is clearly not a behavior that would be condoned by the church or Christians.

But I want to tell you something. When it comes to sinful behavior, I am guilty.

The Bible clearly tells us:

Matthew 5:28 – But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Adultery, fornication, and pornography are rampant throughout the church.

Humbly I tell you that it has been a few years since having an issue with anything, but that isn’t to say that I have conquered anything. It is only through the grace of God that I’ve overcome.

I’ve spent far too much time talking to men, both in the church and outside of it, who continue to struggle with the issue.

So, I say all that because I know, firsthand, the struggle men have with this.

Again, let me make this very clear, I will NEVER condone men’s actions in this. It is sinful. It separates the men from God’s intended testimony for their lives.

My friends who are more progressive would tell me it is up to the men to control their behaviors, and they wouldn’t be wrong.

But they also wouldn’t be right.

The men need to be held accountable for their actions. If they do something wrong, then they need to repent.

But women also have a responsibility to not intentionally cause men to stumble. (I realize this statement will not go over well, especially with my progressive friends).

You see, it works like this: God called us into relationship with Himself and each other. This happened in the Genesis story. When the Fall happened, the relationship was broken. Jesus came to reconcile that relationship. We are called again into relationship with God and each other.

With regard to “each other,” this means we need to support each other. Men should not be mentally, or physically, harassing anyone. Each woman is made in God’s image and deserves to be treated as such. And women should not be intentionally enticing men. The men are made in God’s image and deserve to be treated as such.

When the relationships continue to be broken, it is because the Gospel message is being ignored.

And it was never so clear as it is in the sexual realm.

Today over 27 million people around the world live in slavery. We tend to give it a cleaner name, “sex trafficking.”

Psalm 24:1 – The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein

While I am not an expert on the topic of ending slavery, the gospel is pretty clear about this. The world is the Lord’s, and everything in it. Many cultures do not believe that God created all people with dignity. Many other cultures, including Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, do not hold women with value. Women are devalued.

Sex trafficking is also devaluing women. Once a woman is seen as less dignified or less worthy than a man, it is very easy to see the woman as an object and not a human being.

Unfortunately, many women take the wrong approach with creating value. They believe that that no matter how they dress or act, they are building value for themselves. But they aren’t. They are helping men to see them as objects to be used (even if just mentally) and then discarded.

If men and women do not take each other into account when interacting with each other, then objectifying becomes easy.

If women want to stop being objectified, then stop dressing like you want to be. Does that open women up for the possibility of being hurt by men’s actions? Of course, but so does being an object in men’s fantasies.

I have heard countless men tell me that pornography is a victimless crime. If the word “crime” is in phrase, then it is important to rethink your actions.

First, pornography adds to the objectifying of women. IT is very easy to turn on a website and look at a woman without her even knowing you are watching her. When she takes her clothing off and the guy gets his fantasies fulfilled, he has turned that woman into something less than human. He turned her into an object.

Next, imagine what it does to the relationships that man has. The women on the screen has several camera angles and can do multiple takes to get the scene perfect. Having sex with your wife is not perfect. Things don’t always go as planned. You don’t have several takes to get it right. The only angle you have to view her from is where your eyes are.

Now let’s take this a step further.

Over a third of the women who are trafficked are used in pornography. In another study of 900 prostitutes, it found that over half have been trafficked. Men and women who indulge in pornography are creating the demand for more prostitutes and, in turn, more sex trafficking.

Philippians 2:7-8- but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

When one goes to a college campus, the activist groups that have the largest attendance are those that fight slavery. But on those same college campuses over 90% of men and 30% of women are viewing porn. On Christian campuses and seminaries 80% have viewed it with over 60% viewing it weekly!!! It doesn’t matter how many red “X” we put on our hands if those same hands are getting off to pornography!

Fighting slavery begins with believing and applying the gospel. We are made in God’s image and to be esteemed and never enslaved. In the gospel , God takes slavery, a clear product of sin in the world, and turns it around to show a powerful image of His salvation for the world. The root word here, doulos, is a word used to talk about slaves that had masters. Quite literally those passages mean that Jesus became a slave of humanity to save humanity. When you read these words, it makes more sense to read in John 13 when Jesus tied a towel around his waist, knelt, and washed the disciples feet.

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The Christian gospel does not depict God as Master doling out a list of demands for men and women to do as slaves in order to appease him. Rather the gospel depicts God as a Master who says, “I will meet you where you are, in the depth of your sin and suffering, and I will save you. I will restore you. I will redeem you – I will purchase you by the sacrifice of my life – so that one day you will be free from all this pain, sin, and suffering.”

For Christians, it is the portrait of Christ in the gospel that compels us to fight for the detonation and destruction of slavery in the world. He is the pursuing Savior and, as men and women who identify with Him, we must pursue the enslaved. We cannot be silent and we must not be still. We don’t have that choice. We are compelled to pray, to give, and to work to see all slaves freed. To fight in all these ways with the truth of the gospel on our minds, the power of the gospel in our hearts, and the love of the gospel in our hands.

Black and White in a Gray World

People are interesting.

I remember going to Ocean City with my parents every October and staying at the same hotel, the Santa Maria that used to be on 15th street. Since it was October, it would be chilly, but that never stopped my parents from sitting on the large boardwalk-facing patio and watching people. As people would walk up and down the boardwalk, my parents would sit there and stare at them, sometimes commenting about them.

This would go on for hours.

One thing that never ceased to amaze me was just how long my parents could watch people. I started to think they were in the CIA and watching their next target.

As I have gotten older, I find myself on some days just sitting and watching people.

I’ve learned that people are so very different!

Some are tall, some are short. Some are darker skinned, some more fair-skinned. Some have hair, others do not.

And not only do people look differently, but they act differently as well. Some are loud and others are more reserved. Some people like to laugh a lot while others are more solemn. Some people like to be the center of attention while others like to, well, watch people.

And it is precisely our differences that cause us a lot of problems!

Lately we have had race issues causing division in our country again.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.”

The gospel doesn’t stop us from dealing with social issues such as racial division. Just the opposite, it compels us to act.

Unfortunately, as a typical white male, it is very difficult for me to act without finding my every action or comment judged more strictly than if someone of color said or did it. And I understand this, but it doesn’t it make it any more right than a white person judging the statements or actions of a person of color more harshly.

We live in a society where race and racism is constantly in the forefront.

But God put the nail in the coffin of racism when he created man and woman. God created man and woman “in His image.” No person, or people group, is more or less human than another.

This means that if God, in the first few pages of His holy book, said that ALL people are formed in God’s image, then the people who are committing atrocities due to race have a distrust of God’s Word. All of the large scale, and small scale, genocides and ethnic cleansings that have happened in history is nothing short of a satanic plan to lead people away from God’s Word and led to people who believed they were more “human” than those they were cleansing, enslaving, or murdering.

Acts 17:26 – And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place

Paul is very clear in Acts 17:26 that all of humanity was formed through a single man. We all trace our ancestry back to a single couple, Adam and Eve. The Bible is basically the story of our unity through worldly diversity.

From one mom and one dad, we get all the diverse people groups around the world. Genesis 10 explains this perfectly! After the fall and the flood, the people were divided into their different clans, languages, and nations.

But if we are to be honest, how many times when a racial discussion comes up do we think about the gospel first? What is the first thought in your mind when you hear that a white police officer shot and killed an African American suspect.

I reckon that you are not thinking to yourself that we are all made in God’s image and that we are all from the same family. No, most likely if you are Caucasian you are quick to come to the defense of the police officer and if you are African American you are thinking about how this is probably a racial incident, or at least hoping that it is not.

That means that our inclination goes directly to the racial issue, not the gospel solution.

I want to challenge us to look beyond color. We need to look to heritage. Let’s not place our focus simply on the color of the person. Let’s look at their rich heritage in their cultural ethnicity. When we look at color alone, we are looking at biology. Ethnicity looks at social, cultural, linguistic, historical, and religious characteristics. Currently there are over 16,000 ethnolinguistic groups (people groups) in the world throughout 200 or so countries.

In America it makes no sense to call people black, white, or brown. We are Anglo-American, African-American, Latin American, Asian American and others.

One thing that I have heard a lot as I have tried to teach this to people is that I, as the white person in the room, am trying to let everyone off the hook and sweep all of the years of racial problems away.

But that is not the case at all!

I want us to move forward from it. Instead of keeping the focus on biology, which led to years of oppression and hatred, I would like us to move into an ethnolinguistic look at race. Racism is kept alive in only the biological realm, but when we move beyond that and look at a person for all of their ethnolinguistic characteristics, then we realize that focusing only on biology is a sin. The gospel message is unique in how it is able to bring unity in the midst of diversity.

The Bible has plenty of stories about evil pride and ethnic prejudice.

Genesis 6:5 – The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

The evil turns to clan wars. The earth fills with more and more people and those people hurt each other more and more. Even though many of the Bible’s pages show problems between different ethnic groups, the Bible also shows a very different story, a God who loves every single person on the face of the planet, regardless of which clan, which tribe, or which people group you come from. In Genesis 11 all the nations rebel against God and in Genesis 12, God chooses Israel to be His people. But in Genesis 12:3 God promises that all of humanity will know the blessings that were given to Israel.

Genesis 12:3 – I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God then gave Israel laws on how to deal with diverse groups of people.

Exodus 22:21 – You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

And then God shows his anger when Israel doesn’t live up to those laws.

Ezekiel 22:29 – The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice.

But humanity seems to get in the way and when the Christian church started, there was a deep chasm between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians.

But Jesus was introduced as an immigrant fleeing persecution. Jesus’ family lived in Egypt as immigrants. When they returned to Israel, they were expecting a mighty king that would overthrow the government, but that thinking was too small for Jesus. Instead, He showed love to those from Canaan, Samaria, Greece and Rome.

For so long, those who were different were seen as inferior, even in the Christian camps (sounds like today, eh?).

Ephesians 2:12-14 – remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

Ephesians 2:18-19 – For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

Those verses show how the gospel reunites people from different ethnicities.

It all makes sense now!

When the Fall happened and sin entered the scene, it not only separated man and woman from God but from each other. Christ conquered sin on the cross, giving us the way to unification with Him and with each other.

But we are not called to give up that which makes us different.

The gospel calls us to celebrate our differences, value our cultures, and acknowledge history. Regardless of our political leanings, the gospel does not show us that race is an issue to be solved. The gospel shows us that all are people to be loved. Men and women were made in God’s image, not our own.

Christians are not to associate themselves with a culture that views itself above other cultures. We must live a life that looks forward to the second coming of Christ, and all of the ethnicities represented.

Revelation 7:9 – After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands

So I finish by pleading with you to strive to erase the hatred and negative stereotypes associated with biological views of race and adopt an ethnolinguistic view of race instead, understanding people beyond their color and seeing them for the image of God inside them.

Peru 2017 – Key Learnings and a Call to Action

I’ve been thinking over the past week in Peru as I have been sharing the journey with you that I haven’t been posting a lot of Scripture. It can easily make one think that I wanted to show off what we were doing and not draw it back to God.

That isn’t the case at all.

I’ve wanted to share Scripture with you but, honestly, I simply haven’t had the time to research it a lot and when I share the Word I want to make sure it is done in the proper context.

Now that I am on a flight home, I have a lot more time to think about the past week and how God moved throughout it.

And that is the first thing I realized, time is rare. In the States, we don’t have enough time because we tend to fill it all with stuff that isn’t Jesus focused. Not that any of it is necessarily bad, but as a missionary, you are at the whim of the country’s or city’s needs. You could get a call at any moment that a flood has destroyed a large section of the city or a fire is raging through the downtown of the city and won’t be put out in over a week.

Most of our days were 14-15 hours. When we got home, we had very little left to give to anything else but sleep.

I understand why full-time missionaries have a tough time communicating with their sponsors or family back home.

The next thing I noticed this year is how much God has grown me as a leader and as a Christian. I remember my first year going to Peru and we were building a house for someone and I looked down and saw an area and told our host, pastor Nick from Camino de Vida, that someone should plant a church there. He said that sounds like a great idea, simply trying to placate the mission tourist. But I wouldn’t let it go. I continued. I was saying it over and over, trying to get anyone to listen to me and finally Nick told me to calm down. I felt a little dejected. But after seeing the church in action that week and in others, I now realize that he was simply trying to help me to look honestly at the situation and focus on bringing God to the moment we were in, not to the potential future. The time I wasted trying to be heard could have been spent doing actual evangelizing that would have more of a lasting kingdom effect.

Since then, I have started looking through the eyes of our hosts, Camino de Vida. I still have my “gringo eyes” and until I immerse myself into the culture those won’t go away, but I can honestly say that God is showing me much of what the team at Camino de Vida is seeing and giving me a burden for the people of Peru.

I know I am not called to Peru, as much as I would love to be. But I have a serious burden for the people of Peru. I now know more about more people in Peru than I do people in America. My job is to bring people to Peru and let them get a taste (of the food) of the people of Peru and the highly developed third world country that really has a large part of my heart.

There are so many people that when I think of them, I start to smile.

People like Stalin and Paige Solis. She is from Arkansas and he is from Peru. She met him on mission and they fell in love and started serving at Camino de Vida. Now Paige leads the groups at the church and he teaches Spanish lessons to the church interns.

I met Paige and Stalin a couple years ago when I was in Peru and they have become good international friends, people I trust implicitly who I can talk to from time to time. They don’t take a salary from the church in Peru at all other than the money Stalin makes from teaching the interns Spanish (which he makes $10/hour to do it).

They are without healthcare insurance and are missing some things to help them do ministry better. I hope to help them get funded for at least their healthcare insurance. They need $300/month for insurance, $3,600/year.

I am going to ask my followers to support Paige and Stalin. When I think of the people in Peru whom I truly love, Paige and Stalin are at the top of the list. They have been amazing with the groups I have brought down there and have taught us all a lot about missions in Peru.

They go through an organization called Modern Day for their funding. Modern Day is an organization that connects missionaries to those who are supporting them.

From their website:

Our Vision is to help thousands of people, young and old, pursue their dreams of reaching the world for Jesus; one person, one city and one nation at a time. Our desire is to form partnerships that pave the way for people to serve in another country for both short and long term periods. We are currently working with over 250 missionaries. Since the summer of 2008, Modern Day has facilitated endeavors in 50 countries and new ones are being added on a regular basis.

I am looking for 36 people to offer up a ONE-TIME commitment of $100 to Paige and Stalin. With that money, they can afford healthcare insurance, something I think is very important in this world. If you would like to support them more than that, please do.

Please, people, prayerfully consider supporting them. Because of the work they are doing in Peru, hundreds are coming to know Christ! For a Christian, you can’t ask for a better return on your investment.

Here is the link to support Stalin and Paige:

http://stalinandpaigesolis.squarespace.com/

If you do decide to send them a gift, please drop me a line at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com. I would love to send them a note about the people who supported them.

Thanks everyone.

Peru 2017 Day 6 – The Final Ministry

We woke up REALLLY early today, 4:30 AM. Our job was to go downstairs at the Dream Center and make 2,000 sandwiches so that we could make 1,000 bags of food (2 sandwiches per bag) for the people of the hospital we went to last night. We were also making them cups of oatmeal to have with their sandwiches.

The bread came around 5:15 and we started in by breaking into 4 groups of people. The first group would cut the bread. Group two would butter the bread. Group three put on the jelly. And group 4, my group, would package the sandwiches and place them in the containers for shipping.

It took us until about 8:30 to get all the sandwiches made and packaged.

After that we loaded everything into the bus and truck and headed to the hospital.

We set up in 3 different areas. The hospital was definitely much more busy than it was last night! In my area, we gave away about 425 sandwiches and cups of oatmeal.

After we were done, we had an opportunity to pray with people.

Now this next story I simply need to share. Last night, one of our group went off on his own and ended up in a hospital room that had about 50 beds in it. In one of the beds was a 17 year old girl and her dad was sitting next to her. The man, trying to get his daughter to smile, was telling her about the “white angel” who came from America to see her and pray with her.

The girl was brought in and hadn’t eaten in almost 2 weeks. She had severe stomach issues and was simply sick. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She has been bedridden for much of that two weeks!

Fast forward to this morning. I went with our group member who prayed with her last night. We were going to try and give her some of the breakfast we made with hopes she would eat it. When we got there, she was sitting in her chair. She was smiling and joking around and told us that she was better and was going home soon!

Yesterday she was unable to eat and was confined to bed and today she is scheduled to go home!

I know that my agnostic and atheist friends will look at this differently, but that was all God!

Our God heals!

We prayed with her and started to leave.

But then Mimi happened.

I had forgotten that my wife had brought a suitcase filled with toys and games for the kids in the pediatric unit. I followed her over there and watched my beautiful wife in action. She was so happy making children happy!

I love watching her with that big smile across her face and seeing children flock to her, hugging her, and loving her.

After this was done we went back to the Dream Center to relax, eat lunch, and get ready to leave tomorrow. Tonight we head to church one more time before heading out and then we leave for America at 3 in the morning.

In my next post I want to share a little of my heart about the people I have met over the past 5 trips here and what I would like to see happen for my friends. I’ll also share a little about how I’ve grown and how I hope to grow in the future.

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Peru 2017 Day 5 – Wheelchairs and hospitals

This morning we were able to spend the morning doing the wheelchair ministry. This was the first ministry I did when I came to Peru in 2012 and I fell in love with Peru at that moment. Last year  we didn’t get a chance to do a large wheelchair ministry, but we did house to house.

When we learned our schedule for this week, we were told we would be doing house to house wheelchair ministry. When we arrived, we were told we would be doing a mini distribution at a central site. That’s the best of both worlds! We get to hand out a lot of wheelchairs but not so many that we lose sight of the personal touch.

We transported the boxes of wheelchairs from the Dream Center to the build/distribution site and we started building.

As the morning progressed, we met the people and started handing out chairs. It started with a man named Clever, he is part of the wheelchair ministry in Peru and was leading this outreach today. Clever spent about 15 minutes explaining the chair they would receive.

After that, I had an opportunity to get up and, through an amazing translator, was able to present the gospel message to them. I saw quite a few people raise their hand for accepting the gospel, but as I went around the room later, almost everyone told me that they knew Christ already.

Then we handed out their chairs and modified them for their specific needs.

Once that was done, everyone wanted pictures. The people who received their chair would get their phone out and ask someone to take our picture. We spent the next 30-45 minutes just getting our pictures taken by everyone (and, of course, taking their picture with us as well).

Afterward, we helped people get into their tuk-tuk or taxi, loaded the bus and headed back to the Dream Center for lunch.

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One of the amazing things I heard Clever explain to the people is that the wheelchair is a gift from God. As I was talking to people later, I heard one person explain that the wheelchair is a physical explanation of God. God gave His gift to us in the form of His Son. Unfortunately, we can’t see the physical form of God right now, but we can provide a glimpse of Him through the work that we do.

To many people, God is seen in the form of a wheelchair when we go to them.

Of course God is not a wheelchair, but that is a physical example, something they can touch and feel, that will remind them of the gift that is God.

Once the wheelchair distribution was complete, we headed back to the Dream Center to prepare for tonight’s ministry. Our plan was to prepare over 300 dinners to take to the hospital here. The first thing we needed to do was sift through the quinoa and make sure there were no stones or stalks in it.

After that, we had time before the food was cooked to do some work around the Dream Center. In order to keep us busy, we went through all the toys for the children’s ministry and separated them by gender and age.

Once the food was cooked, we placed it into take-out containers and then into large transporting bins. We got into the bus about 7pm and headed to the pediatric hospital.

Let me explain this. Hospitals here are nothing like hospitals in the states. The sanitary conditions are significantly worse and there is no desire to make the person, or their family, comfortable as they wait. Some people come and wait outside in the courtyards waiting for their family member to be healed or to die. Many have come from far away and have no source of income. Since Peru is a “pay to heal” environment, those family members either need to go home and continue to work or they need to find work in Lima during the time they are there.

It is all very heartbreaking.

We provided meals and took time to spend with the people there.

As it is almost 10 pm here in Peru right now, I am heading to bed as we are going back to children’s hospital tomorrow to serve over 1,000 breakfasts and have to be up at 4 AM.

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