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"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . ."(Matt 28:19)

28 September, 2012

All this noise !!!!!!


So OK, Lord, I didn’t ask to live in the city.  Actually, I asked to live on the plains, where it can get so quiet I might hear a lion roaring.  And it can get so dark I can fall asleep with my eyes open.  I didn’t really want to ever live in a city.

But I love You, Lord, so I am living in the city.  You asked Jeff and I to join you here so here we are.  But the noise, Lord….I can’t get past the noise!!

Metal gates clanking, dogs barking, weed-whackers droning, engines revving, horns honking, babies crying, birds calling, airplanes flying, motorcycles roaring, generators humming, chipping cement, music blaring, brooms sweeping, voices yelling, construction pounding, fans whirring…city noises.

I don’t like the noise.  Noise is stressful.  I want it quiet!  I read on Facebook last night of a 4-year old trying to fall asleep in another city not so far away, distressed by loud music in his neighborhood, telling his dad, “Dad, I wish we could teach the whole world to be quiet!”  I add my hearty AMEN!

And yet, in the midst of the cacophony, when I quiet myself I sense You at work.  I am reminded in Colossians that Your plan includes reconciliation, it includes redemption.  I am distressed at all the noise.  My spirit is unsettled.  Maybe the point You are teaching me is reconciliation…. “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Col. 1:20)

If I can’t trust You, can’t believe You to redeem all this noise in the city, how will I ever convey to someone else that I believe you can redeem a life, believe you can redeem a person?  If I let the noise make me grumpy, causing me to complain and to be distracted from the quiet of my time alone in You, then how can I have any testimony of Your reconciliation and redemption?  Your plan, Your way, is reconciliation of all things.  Hmmmm, OK then……

God, I choose to let you redeem all this noise in my life.  I choose to let you renew my mind and transform my thinking so I can turn this cacophony of sound into a symphony of praise back to you.  I choose to believe You when Your word tells me through Christ You reconcile all things.  You really are actively redeeming all of creation, all of the time.  I choose praise…I choose joy!

Thank You for the man chipping our cement wall so it can be repaired and painted.  Thank You for the lovely yard across the fence that is being mowed with a weed-whacker.  I praise You with the birds and the dogs offering their voices of praise.  I pray Your blessing on the baby crying and on the person yelling instructions.  I thank You for placing me in a location with many people, offering limitless opportunities to build relationships.  I thank You for fans to cool the air.  I thank You for security and people at work caring for the environment, sweeping and clipping and mowing.  Thank You for allowing me the privilege of joining You in this city. Thank You for redemption, for Christ my Redeemer. 

We do have an enemy and he does prowl like a lion.  I don’t need to be on the plains to hear his roar.  It might just be happening right outside my gate….I choose to proclaim My Redeemer and help others get connected to Him.  I choose….

Christine

23 September, 2012

Unity, can it happen?


 This weekend we had the privilege of gathering for the first time with our “new team”, the Uganda team of World Gospel Mission missionaries (see picture at right) .   In addition to team members serving in and around Kampala, there are several who base their ministries in other cities around the country.   

The backgrounds from which our team members come are diverse, the locations in which each of us serve are diverse and the ministries in which we serve are unique.   Such diversity!

In scripture we can find diversity among many of the stories we are familiar with.    The disciples came from different backgrounds and different vocations.  They had different ideas as to how to accomplish the work Christ laid out for them.   Even in the midst of this diversity the disciples demonstrated their unity as they followed Christ and as they followed His call to go and make disciples.  

It seems today’s world is more diverse than ever.  Can true unity really happen amidst the differences? Can unity happen in the midst of this diversity?   Yes, it can!   We are seeing firsthand development in unity among our missionary team here in Uganda.  God is building unity among us.  This unity will strengthen the ministries God has called us to.  Ministries in which lives lives are being transformed.  

Christine and I are excited to see God at work building unity within our team.   Unity.  Can it happen on the team(s) on which you find yourself?   Your family, at work, at church?    Unity, it can happen! 

Jeff

16 September, 2012

In His Presence . . . .


Over the last month or so God has been bringing to my mind a recurring theme.    With so many transitions in our lives right now, this theme has been a tremendous blessing and challenge to me.  In the midst of these transitions, when everything has changed, God is reminding me that He doesn’t change, and all I need is to daily live in His presence.
What does it mean for me to live in His presencei?   What does it look like to live in His presence?       

This morning while listening to a podcast,  the pastor speaking closed his sermon by quoting from a hand written note found in the office of a young pastor in Zimbabwe, Africa, following his  martyrdom for his faith in Jesus Christ.  I had heard this before, but today in the context of what it means to live in God’s presence,  I sensed God using this in a new way to help me better understand what it means to live in God’s presence.   What does it look like to be in God's presence? 

"I have the Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. 
The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, 
let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes 
sense, and my future is secure.  I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, 
small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,mundane talking, 
chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.


I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. 
I don't have to be right, 
first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live 

by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, 
lift by prayer and labor by power.



My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, 
my companions few, 
my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, 

compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, 
diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the 

face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the 
table of the enemy, 

ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed up, paid up, 
stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must 
go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until  all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me.  
My colors will be clear."


This pastor knew what it took to live in God’s presence and he lived it out!   For me the answer to what it means to live in God's presence is a bit clearer today.   My desire, as was this young pastor’s desire , is to live and serve in God’s presence.  ---  Jeff   

12 September, 2012

A story worth repeating . . . .


Grace.  A “simple” single-syllable word.  Easily spoken.  Freely offered.  Difficult to grasp while easy to overlook.  Too often missed.  The difference between life and death.  Grace.

We heard a teenager’s testimony today.  It told a story Jesus allowed to be written into one’s life.  A story of lies, shame, self-defeat and a slow death of spirit. A story of the Redeemer freely extending grace and redeeming one’s story so one can forevermore live in freedom of forgiveness.  A story which, when shared, extended grace in Truth so clearly that others began (maybe for the first time) to believe they are not beyond forgiveness; maybe they too can know the redemptive work of the One that gives grace and forgives.  They can know Truth and live in Him, abiding in His redemptive clothing (grace and forgiveness).  It is a message worth sharing.  The message we are here to live and share.

We heard a testimony today.  We worshipped our Redeemer.  We cried.  We hugged.  We rejoiced.  Our Redeemer lives, and because He lives I can face tomorrow without condemnation.  Grace.  A story worth repeating.