Monthly Archives: October 2011

Faithful when the opportunity comes

Read Acts 1:8

The night was clear: the sky filled with stars. During my prayer walk God drew me close, and I enjoyed a wonderful sense of His presence.

Heading home I remembered that the little liquor shop sold bread and I needed some.

The owner said: “Isn’t it a beautiful evening?” Forgetting he was an unbeliever I replied: “Oh yes, I was just walking along the river, talked to God and…” I stopped, realizing he wouldn’t understand.

He said: “I know. Come look.” Pointing up the road he said, “See that little path? My God is up in there.” I responded saying all the right things. I said I was not talking about a man-made idol, but the God who created the heavens. But I thought: “He doesn’t have a clue.”

I was totally frustrated thinking: “What am I doing here? Why learn Japanese? It’s all in vain!”

Later one of our counselors at camped asked if I lived at camp. I replied: “No, but I live close by – in Mitake. She said: “My uncle lives in Mitake. He owns a liquor shop.”

Wham! It hit me. It doesn’t at all depend on me. God has a thousand ways to bring the gospel to that man. My brief statement may be combined with other words of witness. I’m just to be faithful when the opportunity comes.

I’m glad that as we witness for Christ God will also be using others.

Bob McKemey

Challenge: Do you take advantage of the opportunities to witness to others?

Prayer Focus: Pray that God would provide you with opportunities to witness. Pray that your words would be led by the Holy Spirit and for recognition of those opportunities. And pray that God would change the hearts of those who are resistant to his Word.

Fore more on Send International please visit

http://www.send.org/

http://www.facebook.com/SENDInternational

Use of internet and social media for Christ

Reading Isaiah 52:7

This is for you young people. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much of God’s work in this world is being done by the young. It’s absolutely amazing to behold!

Here’s just one example: On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit with a massive earthquake and tsunami followed by an ongoing nuclear disaster. Within days the local teens, mostly missionary kids, produced videos and facilitated other social network campaigns that rivaled the work of professionals. They spread the message of the needs in Japan all over the internet via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Within two weeks the relief organization here called CRASH had over 1.6 million hits on their homepage via Facebook alone. They raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and launched a massive tsunami of prayer for Japan. As one 16 year old put it: “I let the older guys do their older guy stuff, while I played on the Internet. I wanted to go to Sendai,” he said, “I’m not going up there, but I’m helping other people get up there by building awareness.”

I’m not implying that you should started preaching on-line, but I want to encourage you to think creatively about how you can use your wired lifestyle for the cause of Christ. I’ll keep on with my older guy stuff. You younger guys put your heads together and have some fun on the internet.

How beautiful in cyberspace are the hands of those who bring good news.

Bob McKemey

Challenge: How can you use the internet and social media outlets for the cause of Christ?

Prayer Focus: Teach me to use modern technology as a means of glorifying you Lord, and blessing others by sharing the good news with my social circles.

Fore more on Send International please visit

http://www.send.org/

http://www.facebook.com/SENDInternational

Why Cross A Road? What road do I need to cross?

Read Isaiah 49:6

Roads are definitely passageways, but they can also be barriers and borders that govern our decisions, direct our movements, and control our lives. In New Jersey, where I live, roads often isolate certain communities from others. Highways don’t simply get you from point A to point B. These six-lane rivers of concrete are the new “railroad tracks” that divide who is on the “right side” from who is on the “wrong side.” Some borders are geographical, others are social, many are psychological. If we are completely honest, all of us have places, situations, and people that we do our best to avoid. Given the choice between taking a left turn toward that which makes us uncomfortable or a right turn toward the familiar, we take the right turn every time…Needless to say, crossing roads and borders is tough work; it takes energy, intention, and a whole lot of courage. p. xiii, xiv

Bruce Main

Challenge: Why do so many people see borders as impenetrable barriers – rather than places of encounter and exchange? What boundaries do you feel God tugging you to cross?

Prayer Focus: Lord, there was no border, boundary, or road you were not willing to cross to share your message with those who were willing to listen. Father, open my ears and teach me to be willing to listen to and follow your will. Give me the courage to cross any road or border to reach others who are willing to listen to the message of your grace, mercy, and salvation.

For more on Urban Promise please visit

http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/

Crossing the Road to Our Enemies: First Steps towards Enemy Love

Reading Luke 6:32

But true courage is not to hate our enemy,
Any more than to fight and kill him.
To love him, to love in the teeth of this hate – that is real bravery.
That ought to earn people m-m-medals.
~Dom Joseph Warrilow *

One of the toughest roads we will ever cross is the road leading straight toward our enemy – it’s against our very natures. Not only does crossing require courage and humility, but the reality is that our efforts may not be reciprocated or appreciated. But it is a road that Jesus not only beckons us to, but actually commands us to cross. “Love your enemies,” exhorts Jesus with stunning insight. “Do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). The words provide no backdoor getaways or escape hatches. Many of us would prefer the command to be optional, like, “Once in a while, if you feel like it, you should do something nice for your enemy.” Most of us would like to stay on our side of the road on this one. p. 82

Tony Hendra, Father Joe (New York: Random House, 2004), 118.

Bruce Main

Challenge: Thomas Merton once reminded a friend who advocates for the poor, that our job as Christians is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. What first steps can you take to remove someone’s “worthiness” from our job to love?

Prayer Focus: Father, you loved everyone. Your last words were ones that asked forgiveness for those who crucified you. May I learn from your example and open my heart to those whom I consider my enemies and those whom I find a hard time loving. Teach me to love my enemies and always be willing to forgive like you did.

For more on Urban Promise please visit

http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/

Crossing Roads of Judgment and Exclusivity: Where Do I Start?

Reading Romans 10:12–15

Have you ever talked with people who are reluctant to enter a church or have been turned off to God because they feel they do not measure up? “Once I get myself together, then I will start attending,” said one individual to me recently. “I’m just too bad to hang out with those Christian folk, claimed another. What a sad commentary on how Christ’s message is perceived by those outside the community of faith. … So how do God’s people send a different message? It begins by our willingness to cross roads and allow ourselves to enter into the lives of those who feel alienated, rejected, and unloved. Only when we enter that place can we begin the process of encouraging those living in the valley of dry bones and leading them across the road toward loving communities that hold forth new life.

-Bruce Main

Challenge: How would you answer the person that feels they have to get themselves together before they can accept your hospitality? Or before they could start attending church? Identify and cross the road to someone who feels judged and excluded from Christian fellowship. Listen to their story, learn, care, and share your story with them.

Prayer Focus: Lord, thank you for accepting me the way that I am; a sinner undeserving of your grace and mercy. Help me to share with others that we do not have to be perfect to begin a relationship with you; we simply have to open ourselves up to you and be willing to accept you as our Lord and Savior. Guide me to those who need to learn that no one is excluded from fellowship with you.

For more on Urban Promise please visit

http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/

Cross the Road of Race and Ethnicity: Where Do I Start?

Read Acts 10:34-35

I am so glad Jesus did not simply pray about race relations. I am glad Jesus lived with his feet on the ground and allowed his feet to take him place where others would not go. … So how do we, as followers of Jesus, deal with fear? How do we find the courage to confront road-crossing situations where we are called to stretch every fiber of our faith? [The] interaction in Gethsemane provides a model. … First, Jesus prayed honestly. He did not try to hide his fear, deny it, or repress it. Jesus put it all on the table, believing that God could handle his prayer. … Second, Jesus did not stop with prayer. Jesus confessed his anguish and fear to his closest friends. By inviting his community of friends to experience what he felt, Jesus rejected the idea that truly spiritual people have to be superhuman. It’s okay to be vulnerable and show weakness. … True people of faith confront their fears, cross their roads, and grow. p. 59, 119

Bruce Main

Challenge: Do you believe fear is part of our biological makeup? How do you think we can best overcome the fear of the other? What does the biblical command “fear not” mean to you? How could it be applied in your own life?

Prayer Focus: Jesus, you touched the lives of so many people of so many different nationalities and ethnicities. May I learn from your example, that I too need to let go of my fears, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses that prevent me from reaching out to people of all races and creeds.

For more on Urban Promise please visit

http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/

Crossing the Road to the Poor: Where Do I Start?

Read Proverbs 19:17

Miroslav Volf, a Croatian-born theologian … provides a model important for those interested in reaching across borders and connecting in a way that truly brings about transformation. … [He] describes four natural stages when two people encounter one another, and each one is critical if understanding is to occur between two different parties.
 
The first stage is to simply open our arms. This doesn’t necessarily mean to stand with our arms spread out like a bird in full flight. Rather, it means opening and preparing our hearts and minds to receive the other person.

The second stage is to wait. This is hard for most of us who want to rush in and help. Shouldn’t we just slather the love of Jesus on another human, whether the person is ready for us or not? No, says Volf. Be patient. The embrace needs to be mutual and reciprocated.

Third, give the other person a hug. Not a smothering or crushing bearlike kind of hug that overpowers the other person. You need to feel their hug too.

Finally, says Volf, let go, and allow the person to retain his or her individuality and uniqueness.1

Miroslav Volf’s model of embracing provides an important structure for people wanting to increase the probability of truly life-changing road-crossing experiences. He provides no magic formula guaranteeing that every road-crossing encounter is going to catapult participants to new spiritual heights. … [It] simply offers a language and theology that can lead God’s people to … those places where true reconciliation and broader vision for justice, compassion, and understanding can be discovered. p. 146, 147, 153
 
Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 141-145

Bruce Main
 
Challenge: Think about crossing the road to the poor. What would opening your arms look like? What would waiting look like? What would your embrace look like? How can you de-center yourself this week to make space for that person on the other side of the road?

Prayer Focus: Father, thank you for the many ways you have blessed my life. Help me to always remember that the blessings I enjoy come from you; therefore, I need to be willing to share those blessings with those in need. May I always be willing to open my arms to the poor and needy, the way you open your arms to me every time I ask.

For more on Urban Promise please visit

http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/

Crossing the Road to the Poor: Expanding our relational circles.

Read Romans 1:5

Critical to the process of crossing roads is leaving our circles of privilege and adjusting our perceptions of the world. For example, when many people look at youth in the inner city from the outside they think that they are violent, dangerous, lazy underachievers. Our perceptions have been shaped by what we have seen on television, read in the newspapers, heard on the news. But building relationships with young people from the city can reveal a completely different scenario – determination, vision, thrift, perseverance, and an understanding of how life works…Traversing a different social landscape helps us become more sensitive to issues of injustice – issues that keep the poor, poor. … When we dare to cross the borders, we change our social landscape, our view of life, and our understanding of others. … Without embracing this kind of discipline it will be difficult for the church to make the needed adjustment to understand and hear the voices of those beyond their church walls. It takes both a personal commitment and a commitment from the body of Christ to accomplish it.
p. 39,40

Bruce Main

Challenge: As you reflect upon the social landscape of your life, what injustices do you become sensitive toward? Do you need to expand your social landscape to learn to see the injustices? It takes work to expand our relational circles, what type of discipline could you embrace to understand and hear the voices beyond your social circle (or church walls)?

Prayer Focus: Help me to accept that I must be willing to change my perceptions of the people in the world around me. Teach me how to build relationships with others instead of allowing my prejudices to stop me from sharing your love with the lost.

For more on Urban Promise please visit

http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/

Why Cross A Road? Why Do We Need To Grow And Change?

Read 2 Corinthians 4:15

Sometimes we have to cross the road to discover the thing that will change us…I’m always intrigued with how people change – how our attitudes change, how our perceptions change, how our hearts and minds change. Scripture describes significant changes with such phrases as “he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and “you have taken off your old self” (Colossians 3:9). We even sing songs about putting on the mind of Christ or exemplifying the heart of Christ in our daily actions, but at the end of the day we hold on to the same fears, prejudices, and stereotypes that we have always held….. In Jim’s situation, change came because he went to a place he didn’t want to and encountered people he would have rather avoided….Jim’s willingness to venture into a place he had excluded from his life dramatically changed his perception and attitude toward a place and people. And his changed perception was now changing the perception of others. p. xiii

Bruce Main

Challenge: What is the last significant road (boundary, barrier, border) you crossed? In what ways did the experience impact your life and your faith? When is the last time you really changed a perspective, a habit, or an attitude? What instigated that change?

Prayer Focus: Teach me to be willing to cross the road to the people and places that are outside of my comfort zone.  Help me accept that I must grow as a Christian to more effectively share your gift of salvation with those who need you most.

For more on Urban Promise please visit

http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/

Christ is in me

Reading Galatians 2:20c

For the last devotional in this series, the preposition by in this verse is our light switch. Used in conjunction with “faith” here, this word brings to light a fourth aspect of our relationship with God – Christ by or through me. This is the corollary of Christ in me. What Paul is saying here is that now that Christ is in him, this new life in him is becoming visibly evident “by faith in the Son of God.” In other words, Christ is actually being manifest through him. Ultimately, our relationship with God must evidence this outward manifestation of Christ.
We saw in yesterday’s devotional how when Durga, the Nepali drug addict, got Christ in him, he was completely transformed. The fact is Durga’s transformation did not stop with him. It rippled outward to his family, his community and the people he works with at our mission’s rehabilitation center. Looking at this man today, you can tell there is something special about him as he counsels other people who come for help from addictions. His face just beams as he tells them there is a power stronger than their addiction. It is the face of Christ by and through him. Many who Durga has helped now believe because they have seen Christ by and through him.

John Taylor

Challenge: Christ for me, with me and in me, must also become Christ by and through me. Evaluate this aspect of your relationship with God. Do you seek the fruit of salvation in others? It can come about only as Christ lives through you, once you have died to your old self and “live by faith in the Son of God.”

Prayer Focus: Pray that God would help you to die to self and live by faith, so that Christ who is in you might work by and through you to produce the fruit of salvation in others as well.

Visit International Nepal Fellowship at www.inf.org