HEAVY LIFTERS

…which end will you lift on?

Archive for the month “April, 2011”

LEANING, LEANING

One Sunday at church, we were singing Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. As I was gleefully belting out, leeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaning, leeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaning, a thought struck me, and I jotted this down: Never in situations where we need to lean.

Think about it.  How often do we find ourselves in a “leaning” situation?  When was the last time we did something in faith that simply couldn’t be done without God’s help?

Years ago, I was reading the autobiography of one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan.  If you aren’t familiar with their story, you can read about it here.  This resilient young man  described their flight on foot from Sudan to Ethiopia, and the lion attacks, crocodile abductions, and armed rebels that these young boys endured.

One part in this autobiography shamed me, and still sticks with me.  The author was describing how God had gotten them through so many unbelievable trials, and he pointed out how small Americans’ faith is.  Our faith is small, he believes, because we are never in situations where we truly need God.  We don’t know what He can do, because we don’t let Him show us.

Why is this?  Do we not believe that God is real?  Do we not believe that God can actually do anything?  Do we theoretically believe that God created the heavens and the earth, yet when it comes to real-life situations, we’re not so sure?

In 2 Kings 3, the king of Israel teamed up with the kings of Judah and Edom to attack Moab.  They found themselves in the desert seven days later with no water, so they sent for the prophet Elisha.  Elisha advised the kings to fill the valley with ditches, knowing they would be flowing with water in the morning.  He says in verse 18, “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.”

Easy!  If generating a desert full of water is easy for God, why don’t we trust him to the simple things in our lives?  Let God show you what He can do – He wants to!

Let’s lean!

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KINGDOM LIFESTYLE, Part 2

Our citizenship is in heaven. This reminder from the Apostle Paul is for all believers in Christ; not just those of us who are preparing to leave for the foreign missions field.  It’s easy to hold loosely to the material comforts of this world when you know you will be moving across the ocean and can only bring so much “stuff” with you.

Those who serve the Lord at home are in a much more difficult situation, in my opinion.  Face it: staying in one place leads to accumulation of “stuff.”  When I tell people that I am selling and/or giving away most of my belongings, the overwhelming response is, “How freeing!” Some have even confessed their jealousy of my possession-shedding.    I wonder, though, why we can’t all live like the Kingdom Citizens that we are, with an eye on our future home.  Why is this beyond our comprehension?

Take beds, for example.  I read somewhere that we Americans are among the very small percentage of the global population who have beds.  Many people sleep on a hand-built platform like the one shown to the left.  The bed in this picture was built by the Morukodo, which is the people group I will be getting to know and love this summer.

In preparation for my new home, I have decided to adjust the way I live.  I had read that when Hudson Taylor was getting ready for his move to China, he gave away his bed and began to sleep on a hard platform like they do in parts of Asia.  Of course, his friends and family thought he was crazy, so I figured I would be in good company.  My sister had a folding camping cot, so I traded my pillow-top mattress and frame for her cot.  You should see all the extra space I have in my bedroom now!

Have I lost any sleep over this change?  Not a bit.  The cot is a snug, warm place where I read my Bible, pray, and sleep every night.  This Kingdom Citizen doesn’t need anything fancy for that.

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.  –Psalm 4:8

KINGDOM LIFESTYLE, Part 1

In preparation for my move to Africa, I have been making a conscious effort to live less of an American lifestyle, and more of a Kingdom lifestyle.

I was recently in California visiting my sister and her family.  Within a few days, we had eaten Mexican, Chinese, African, Italian, Thai, and of course, American food.   During my visit we observed the vast number of choices we Americans have, of which food is just one example.  When I lived in Mexico, we ate … Mexican food.  Granted, there’s the occasional McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, and even a random Chinese food restaurant, but the main fare was usually something in a tortilla. And I was fine with it.  Sometimes I think we in America have too many choices, and are on decision overload.

To get ready for my life in Africa, I have been trying (not always successfully!) to scale back and simplify my eating habits.  For lunch, I’ve been bringing a peanut butter & jelly sandwich to eat at my desk.  That’s it.  No variety, no frill, no dessert.  I wash it down with a Diet Coke – which will be my last stronghold to conquer – and continue on my day.

Please don’t think I’m trying to be a food martyr or am showing off what a disciplined Christian I am.  Trust me:  I’m not.  Take me to a doughnut shop, and you can see my weakness first-hand.  My intent in simplifying and minimizing my food is to adjust my body so I won’t have a growling stomach to go along with my culture shock.  But by exerting physical control over my body, I hope to gain spiritual discipline as well.

Think about it.  Food is only the vehicle by which we put nutrients and energy into our bodies.  I agree; we should relish and enjoy our food.  Believe me, I agree!  But food also has a cultural aspect to it.  Why is food such an obsession in our culture?  We have a whole television network dedicated to it, for pity’s sake!  Must everything be super-sized?  And when did deciding what kind of food to have for dinner become such a monumental hassle?  It’s just food, after all!  It has gained a power over us that is overwhelming, and we may not even realize it.

Take a break this week.  Simplify your meals.  Just eat a bowl of cereal, and spend the extra time feeding your soul instead.

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