Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The One With Experience Is Never At The Mercy Of The One With Theory

This morning I awoke to an absolutely flawless midsummer day in Chicago. My family and I are enjoying a few days away together, and my day began with devotions on the balcony in the midst of a beautiful sunrise. As I pondered the promises of God I had just read in scripture, the strong sense to call a missionary friend that serves a half a world away gripped me. A quick calculation of time zones convinced me that it was not too late to call, so I searched for the number and rang his phone.

God's Word reminds us that "The righteous shall live by faith." If this biblical principle is true (which I am completely convinced it is) then our missionaries are profoundly righteous. The thought of leaving family and familiar for the sole purpose of sharing the reality of Christ to a foreign culture is amazing. When one adds to the equation that the missionary makes this journey based on the faith that friends will be led by God to financially partner with them makes this proposition all the more remarkable. The reality that so many of our missionaries are in politically volatile environments with our economy presently in a tumultuous state magnifies the faith journey.

I am convinced the perpetual position of faith that our missionaries place themselves in is the fuel for the miraculous, and is the major factor in why they see God "show up" on a much more regular basis than the typical Christ follower.

My morning phone call from Chicago found a missionary who was at that moment on another phone line talking with a mutual friend. He was soliciting prayer, asking the friend to pray for God to send someone his way to help with a crisis need. My friend has experienced this scenario countless times, yet was still amazed at the profound timeliness of God.... and God's people when we are obedient.

There are some that would discount scenarios such as this as mere coincidence, as would I if they were a rare occurrence. Yet, for those who place themselves squarely in the middle of a faith journey, dependent upon God's provision through "supernatural coincidence" the reality of God's response to faith is clear. The experience of God making the impossible possible and consistently meeting the need through truly remarkable means offers up a faith building reminder that God is in the midst of our situations and always has our answer if we simply look to Him.

The life that God has called each us to is one of wonderful adventure, divine opportunity, and miracle moments if we simply choose to respond to His leading and place ourselves in a position of faith. Far too often we are content living a life where we merely theorize about faith, debating the depths of God's involvement and privately wondering if the stories are true. Be encouraged today, God is still in the miracle working business. If you need further proof, pick up the phone or send an email to one of our missionaries.... just don't be surprised when God places you right in the middle of their miracle!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Are Your Dreams Bigger Than Your Memories?!?!?

Let me ask you a profoundly personal, yet absolutely pivotal question: Are your dreams bigger than your memories? Do you find greater joy in reflecting on where you have been or in pondering the path ahead? Is the focus of your conversations the experiences of yesterday or the opportunities of tomorrow?

Allow me to make an honest confession. I have reluctantly accepted the reality that I am no longer a young man: my life have has transitioned from dunking basketballs to dunking doughnuts, I no longer notice the amount of gray in my hair. At this point in life I am just happy that I have yet to reach the age where my waistband starts to creep ever higher!!

As I fully embrace the middle years of life, it seems only natural to look back on where I've been. When it comes to the reminiscent moments I am a softy. I will make time to visit old homesteads and can talk about the days gone by with the best of them. I am convinced there is tremendous value in recognizing the foundational moments of life and am confident that one is well served by honoring the defining moments in their journey. The list of characters who have played a role in the drama that is my life are long, and a debt of gratitude is due to each. I am truly thankful for the many milestones and countless memories in my life.

That being said, I am still convinced that my greatest days lie ahead. Equipped with the wealth of knowledge that life to this point has brought, and confident of God's promises, the dream I have for the days to come is significant. God's Word tells me that I am the salt of the earth... I want my seasoning to have an impact! The Apostle Paul challenges us in Philippians 3 to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. The true value of that which lies behind will only be realized as we remain faithful to the path that God has marked out for us. This truth motivates us to run with endurance the race that is set before us.

As the movie Shawshank Redemption draws to a close, Morgan Freeman's character, "Red" reminds us of the undeniable truth that "You've gotta get busy living, or get busy dying." Jesus declared the reason he came was to provide each of us with the opportunity to live life to it's full, and Ephesians encourages us to make the most of every opportunity.

So, join me as we together enjoy those moments that provide opportunity for reflection and celebrate the loves and laughs of yesterday. Let's enjoy the smiles our memories bring... and building on the strengths of our yesterdays let's confidently, expectantly look to tommorow, trusting God for greater victories and a greater story.

"When your memories exceed your dreams the end is near."
Andy Stanley