Friday, December 30, 2005

Just Weights

“Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have.”
Leviticus 19:36a

It has come to my attention tonight through a conversation I shared with friends today how that my balances may be a little uneven. I may have too much of something good in one of my cups of measurement, so that it eclipses the other good I have measured in the other cup. A little confused? Well, I think I am, too, but let me try to explain.

See, I have some rose-colored glasses on when it comes to the ministry work of my past. I have some recollections of fond memories from the church I belonged to in America. I see those experiences through the romance of my time of love with my Savior—you know, those beginning fires baby Christians get when they first give their lives to Jesus. Those fires many of us, including myself, struggle to stoke again.

In Romania, I see the church I am a member of here through another set of glasses. A set filled with cracks and scratches that have developed from falling on the ground too many times and from simple wear and tear. I see my Romanian church experiences through a pair of these glasses, where even reality is distorted just a little bit toward the negative.

So where does this idea of an unjust weight come in? Well, I think I may have one experience on a pedestal where it does not belong, bringing this time of my church experiences in Romania down lower than it deserves to be. There are other things put on this pedestal, as well, but suffice it to say, I am left with a very unbalanced perspective. And my sin in this? Well, perhaps this imbalance has given my heart over to worshipping an idol of sorts. The idol of “an ideal church” filled with “ideal people.” And this idol has been preventing me from falling in love with the people in this church as I ought. But most importantly, it has limited my fellowship with and love for my Savior Who needs to be the just measure from which all things are weighed anyway.

All I’m saying is, I was humbled tonight that perhaps I am a little off balance. That my vision needs to be healed. That my weights need to be remeasured.

Father, as the new year approaches, clear my vision, and help me get my balances right, so I may learn everything You have for me as this year ends and the new one begins.

Vietnam (Spring 2000)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Near Unto Him

"A people near unto him."
Psalm 148:14

"A people near unto him," that is, near unto our blessed Savior. In these five words, there is so much dew from heaven. Is there not salve in this portion of God's word for those who think they're alone? For those needing someone to talk to? For those needing to know what it feels like to have someone love them perfectly?

He loves His people, and because I am saved, I know that I am one of His and, therefore, can also lay hold to the truth that I am included as one of those near unto Him.

However, I know that if I willingly sin against Him, my spirit will not be near unto Him. I know His nearness to me will always be the same, but my own fellowship, my own closeness to Him, will suffer if there is sin between me and my Lord.

So, Lord Jesus, You know my sins, and You know those things that need confession. I ask You, then, to help me in humbling my flesh to receive any correction and exposure to sin I need so that I may lay those sins down at Your feet and receive all the benefits of being a person near unto You.

(Originally written September 15, 2004)

Tescan, Romania (May 2005)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tears unto God

“Mine eye poureth out tears unto God.”
Job 16:20b

O Lord, thank You for letting us do this to You. Thank You for the joy You bring as You carry us through. Thank You for the times of sadness, where we press, as it were, our faces toward You, letting our sorrows fill Your throne room. O Lord, let Your throne be a repository of all our tears and all our joys. Let Your throne be a place where we can lay bare our most secret thoughts, our inner most desires, and our sins. Only there Lord is a place of the most profound peace. Take my face, Lord. Cup it into Your hands, and let me, I pray thee, cherish every moment, every tear, and every smile that is placed within Your palm. Let me rest a while. Let me love a while. Let my sinful flesh be put aside for the briefest moment in which I can cast away all my pretenses, all my fears, and let You wipe away every single tear. O, my God of Heaven. O lover of my soul. How deep is Your love, my water brook.

Tescan, Romania (May 2005)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Walk Worthy

“… walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Ephesians 4:1-3

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Ephesians 4:29

Yesterday and today have been darkened by many discouraging thoughts. As those thoughts came up, I would pray, “Lord, give me grace for help in this time of need” and “I ask for your peace Lord.” I, then, would quote, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto to you: not as the world giveth, give I unto to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

And so, even this morning, as I cry out to my Lord because of a particular burden to my soul about my church and my failings in my walk with Him, I can sense His grace, His love for me, settling my heart, and, I believe, communicating with me and telling me a few things about how to approach this particular hurt in my heart about the way this church of mine in Romania proceeds.

First, I believe He said to me in a still small voice that this is my church, and whatever the problem I may be having with it may be, it is mine. With that in mind, He revealed to me that I am a part of this church and that I am to try and make it work like a marriage.

So, this is where the above verses to this devotion fit in. I forgive and forbear, all in love. Whatever issue with this or that person grates on my nerves or raises my cackles, I am to forbear, to be longsuffering, to love, and to lead by example.

And then, the last thing I want to mention is how I am supposed to use my words, letting no corrupt thing escape my lips, but only words that are good, to be used for edification, so they may minister grace unto the hearers.

I am supposed to have a beautiful mouth.

All this, again, reinstates this idea that I am to lead by example. To grow in my own walk, not to point out what I see are the faults of others. In that growth process, as much as my example follows the Lord Jesus Christ, I will, then, lead by example.

Jesus, help me to have a good example in front of others “with all lowliness and meekness” (emphasis mine). You can use it to strengthen the unity of Your Spirit in our church, in Your bond of peace. Oh, my, Lord, Jesus Christ, I am weak and beggardly in the face of this task, and I ask that You be the strength in my weakness that the task at hand will be used for Your glory.

(Originally written on November 21, 2005, in response to my discouragement in the church I joined in Romania. To give an honest background, this church was in large part a ministry to the Romanian Gypsies, who are a culture so different than my own. I was simply struggling to love them as I should. I have great respect to the Morgan Family, who have been missionaries to this largely unreached population. A lot of mission-fields are challenging, and I got to experience first-hand the challenges of working with the poor and Gypsy population in the town I lived while I was in the Peace Corps.)

Rupea, Romania (August 2005)
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