June 24, 2009
Today is Julie’s due date and as of yet, no labor. We can barely wait to meet our new child – the waiting is driving us mad. You could say that we are desperate! Fortunately, I have work to do that distracts me to some extent. The waiting is a bit harder for Julie. My journalling this morning is going to be a bit random – lots of thoughts are running through my mind.
Speaking of desperation, I started reading a book last night that chronicles a fascinating journey. Back in 2007 my brother-in-law gave me a CD of the Desperation Band’s project, Everyone Overcome. Listening to this project was an experience like none other – totally unexpected. I knew by the way they captured this worship concert that God was alive in this church and that they were alive in him. My heart not only connected with the Lord in worship, I found myself thirsty to experience him corporately like this with my own church family. I also wanted to lead worship like the guys from Desperation Band. I could feel the passion they had for the Lord, rallying around Christ, his cross, and his mission. With a little research, I found out that they were from New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the church that was shaken with the moral failure of their very prominent pastor in 2006, and then a shooting during their Sunday worship service that took two teen girls lives just a year later in 2007. Their “Everyone Overcome” project happened in between. Recently released was a book by one of their worship leaders, Glenn Packiam, Secondhand Jesus: Trading rumors of God for a first hand faith. In it, he chronicles how this series of events changed him and his church for the better. I just started reading it, and find myself deeply resonating with what Glenn has to say.
Yesterday in our staff meeting I found myself at once in tears for joy at God’s work, and shortly afterwards deeply disturbed. I’ll briefly recount both instances:
Joyful: one of our church family members came in to introduce his uncle and his family to us. They were refugees from Liberia who had received an immigration grant to the U.S. but only the father could afford to come. Trinity Church was able to provide the funds to bring the rest of his family over and they arrived one day before their papers expired. It was awesome to think that God used us to enable this family to reunite on American soil and have the promise of a life of freedom and opportunity. After warmly greeting each one of us, they shared their story with much thanksgiving and then we prayed for them and continued with our meeting. I was excited that our helps fund could be used for this kingdom work and happy to contribute to it in a small way. We’re going to share this story with our congregation on Sunday and that excites me as well. It is declaring the works of the Lord! May it inspire all the more – to God be the glory.
Disturbed: our mission pastor, having just returned from a trip to visit our missionaries in Europe, recounted how everywhere he went there were missionaries from Brazil. That’s great news, dear to my heart being a Brazilian myself. I was born there to missionary parents. The disturbing news was how much agencies favored the Brazilian missionaries because they operated on about $300 a month as opposed to Americans who averaged over $2000 per month. “What’s the difference,” I asked? It’s our required standard of living. Required? Required by whom? This hurt tremendously! It stung, because I felt the conviction that I am one of those American Christians who feels entitled to the comfort, security and pleasures that our dollars can buy. We can’t lay down our standard of living in order to better use our dollars to benefit the folks we go to serve? Kudos to the Brazilians and to organizations that are figuring out how to better use our dollars for Kingdom work. God please give me the right perspective here – I want to get it right!
On a related note, I was emotionally moved last week as I read an article in Compassion Magazine about a man who felt similarly convicted and decided to do something about it. Mike Foster began an organization called, The Junky Car Club. Way to go, Mike! Let’s be countercultural for our Savior, Jesus. It’s going to look different for each of us, one step at a time, one conviction at a time. Let’s let his gospel and his Word shape us and may our lives and choices flow out of a love for him. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” (from the hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Charles Wesley) I close with these words from Hebrews, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV)