Why blog?

It's therapeutic... specially for dorks like me who communicate better when they have the chance to process their thoughts, select their words, and write precisely what they want to say. As much as I'm a "talker", I stumble, stutter, and don't always say things right. English as a second language might have something to do with that (unfortunately, I don't think I could blog in Spanish... I lost my grammar in that language). I like to pour out my thoughts and leave it out there in the cosmos (or the world wide web) for other people to mull over...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Message to Church-Goers

I would love nothing more than to call every person that likes to attend church regularly a Christian.  But the truth of the matter, there’s no way I could qualify ANYONE at church to be a Christian… It’s a big pill to swallow!  We can only pray.

I read today John 6-7.  Jesus said that we were to “eat of his flesh and drink his blood”… That turned many of his would-be disciples away.  Many liked him.  Many believed in him.  But this standard was hard to accept, and after he qualified his followers with that statement – only 12 remained… one of which would still betray Him.  And I think that’s a good point to take to heart.  The term “Christian” means more than those who “believe Jesus” as opposed to Allah, or being Hindu, or Buddhist.  Unfortunately in America it’s kind of a label slapped loosely on people; Republican, anti-abortionist, white, southern, conservative, Christian, anti-gay, anti-rap music, etc…  It can describe a person who only attends church on Easter and Christmas, who swears like a sailor and is a bigot, but would consider himself a Christian with the same level of respect as if the Star-Spangled banner was being played during a baseball game:  To take a few minutes out of the year and stand with their hats off and the right hand on your chest.

First I saw a tremendous determination on Jesus’ part to let the people know exactly who He was and what He wanted.  He is preaching to the people, and they get hungry – so He feeds them (all 5000 men + wives and kids).  Then they want to make Him king by force and put Him up against the Roman empire – so He blatantly lets them know they missed the point.  It’s like He was saying, “Hello!  I am the God who loves you and wants to take care of you!  And I care more about you than the things of this world, I need you to understand you need me to LIVE.  Like you need bread and water, you need Me.  My words.  Even the greatest miracle recorded in Hebrew history – how they were fed with bread from heaven across the desert for 40 years – doesn’t mean a blessed thing.  You need to LIVE, and that through ME.”

So He went from doing a miracle to placing an abrupt hand on their forehead when they were just seeking Him for what they can get out of it for themselves.  And I think that’s one level of “church-going” we are all too familiar with:  Going to church and serving Christ to see what He can do for you.  How He can give me all I want.  How the music at church can make ME happy.  How the ministries at church can feed ME.  It’s a very shallow and self centered kind of church attendance that is the most popular – but completely misses the point of what Christianity IS.

Christianity, after all, was the term given to those who years after Jesus’ death and resurrection looked so much like Him they brought Him glory.  They lived like He did, talked like He did, but most importantly: Loved like He did.  Makes you ask yourself, “Am I a Christian?  Not ‘do I go to church’ or ‘do I believe in God’ – but am I Christ-like to where others would see a Risen Savior LIVING in me?”

And when Church is really a group of Christians united – not a social club, not an “insider’s things”, not a “mega” structure of feel-good Sunday morning experiences, but a network of Christ followers uniting to powerfully reflect the hands and feet of God to the world…. That’s when the Name of Christ will be respected in our communities, and we’ll see many people touched.

I am praying through “Seek God for Your City 2010”.  And the points from yesterday and today have been hitting me square in the head.  If we prayed with an outward focus on everything we do inside the church, then maybe church could be more than just an optional Sunday morning activity that some prefer, while others sleep in.

I prayed:
- That Christian ministries would be prayed out, empowered, funded, and designed to increase the impact of local churches in the community.  That the ministries would be focused on loving those who are hurting and lost, so that it would benefit those who really need it.
- That believers could see gathering on Sunday morning as more than just a “to do” list or at best, a pleasant experience – but rather what it really is:  a taste of what it’s like to finally go home.  That it’s how God let’s us get a glimpse of what our destiny is when we come as loved sons and daughters and celebrate together before Christ’s throne.
- That we may be fused as one according to God’s purpose, to bear His beauty.

His Word says of CHRISTIANS that “by the rivers [of living water, His Spirit as defined by Jesus in John 7] will grow all kinds of trees for food [the REAL Christians].  Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail… and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:9,12 paraphrased).  Jesus is the life-giving river to the world.  We are to be trees that feed and heal the nations.  We are to be sources of healing to those who are broken, hopeless, and hurt.  That’s who Jesus was on earth.  That’s who Jesus is in His resurrected glory.  Is that who YOU are?  If you so freely declare, “I am a Christian”, would those who don’t know God and don’t live for Him see YOU as a nourishing, healing source?

Don’t we see that NATIONS are supposed to be restored and healed through the work of the CHURCH as CHRISTIANS follow the teachings of JESUS?  Don’t you see that WE hold the hope to Haiti, and Iraq, and Ethiopia, and every other poverty-stricken country of hurting, broken people?  But how can we ever even fathom NATIONS if we can’t even positively impact our homes and our workplace?  If our church isn’t even impacting the families of houses that live down the block and down the street?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Praying and Waiting…

I guess I can officially say that I am terrified.  But like every season, there’s a time to be happy and there’s a time to be on your toes.  I guess God has this season for me to be on my toes in prayer.  I don’t really know.

While I can’t and won’t discuss details online, I will say that everything I’ve ever believed and thought I knew is being put to the test.  It’s like I’m being sifted, to see if I really do have absolute faith and reliance on my Lord and Savior or will that crumble under this test…. ?  And I’m sure many others have felt at this point under much more strenuous circumstances.  Under harder circumstances.

I just keep thinking of the song “Held” by Natalie Grant:

This is what it means, to be held
how it feels when the sacred is torn from life
and you survive…
this is what it is, to be loved
and to know that the promise was
when everything failed… we’d be held.
The real question is:  Will I still be holding on to God when this trial is through?  I hope I will be.  I pray I will be…
So in the meantime I went out with my family this Saturday, bargain shopping and picking up a few details we had done without for so long.  We had an enjoyable time and we drove by the Cook Inlet to get a glimpse of the waterfront:

I know God is at work in this scene; even though everything seems dead and uninhabitable, the scenery is still so amazingly beautiful and inviting.  I love Alaska.  And I know that like this picture, God is at work in the “winter” moments of my life.  It’s not in vain!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Relay for Life

I signed up to do Relay for Life this year. I had to. I felt compelled to DO something about the things I'm passionate about.

I guess what I'm getting from reading the book of Luke is that Jesus put his money, time, and energy where His mouth was. I think He wants us to do likewise. Good intentions and good wishes are fine, but if Jesus performed his ministry with nothing more tangible than good wishes, nobody would care about His sermons. When it comes to activism, social work, and cultural reform - He is truly the MASTER!

So I saw that Anchorage was having Relay for Life in May. And I thought of my grandma, and my aunt, and my mom's aunts... and Sis. Rance, and me.... By God's grace mine was no biggie and it was benign... But still... Cancer is just something that has hit close to home, and I would like to do my part to help fund the medical field in this area.

So I have agreed to walk around a park for 24 hours straight - alternating with Paul... I need a team! I need a few more people so that there's always one person on the track while others get a break. I'm praying for the resources for the day.

I'm thankful that I've got financial sponsorship already. I'm almost 25% of the way there in 1 day! I thank God for the people who sponsored me.

After that, I picked my next 2 top topics.
1) SPCA! That stands for Sociaty for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals. And today I donated $10 to their Operation Baghdad Pup. That is an initiative to help the soldiers in Iraq who befriend stray animals during their tour, to bring the animals stateside. It is against the law for enlisted men to take car of or won animals in a war zone, and they cannot use their transportation to send the animal home. So the SPCA flies in, takes the animal, immunizes it so it meets international flight standards, and then they fly the animal home to their new owners. It helps the soldiers in the heat of the war to bear with their deployment much better.

2) Pro-Life. I am 100% pro-life. I was thinking about it as I was mentioning it to a coworker, but I can't forget how the doctors wanted to push Paul to allow an abortion in October of 2006, with my very first pregnancy, because the baby had "no hope": He was oxygen deprived too long, his heart rate was low... He was probably going to pass away during the night anyways, and even if he did survive he would have such mental/physical complications that he "wouldn't be worth it". That I should just start over and try again. Had we caved in, I would've forfeited on Anakin. Which if you know anything about my family, you know Anakin is far from handicapped. He's one of the biggest blessings in my life, my buddy and my helper, and the man of the house (at the age of 3.5) when Paul isn't home. I just firmly believe that Doctors should be more pro-life themselves, so that more babies who have a chance can make it. There are already babies that don't make it - miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, birth defects, complications with the pregnancy... If it isn't meant to be, then it won't - but that shouldn't be the Doctor's first option when things get tough. With so many personal losses to babies that we want, why on earth would we pull the trigger on "maybes"? And don't even get me started on abortion as a form of birth control.

Well that's that. Just my new 2 cents, for all that it's worth.