Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Lord, have mercy!"

Mercy is compassion for the miserable. Its object is misery.
-Easton's Dictionary

“...Mercy is especially associated with man in their misery. In other words, while grace looks down upon sin as a whole, ...Mercy looks especially upon the miserable consequences of sin. So mercy really means a sense of pity plus a desire to relieve the suffering… pity plus action. ...The Christian has a feeling of concern about the misery of men and women that leads to an anxiety to relieve it.” - Lloyd-Jones.

If you look at the passages in the scripture where a person asks Jesus for mercy, the circumstances are different. Blind, lame, lepers, paralyzed, demon possessed, beat up and left for dead or just plain trapped in their life of sin. But there are a couple things that all who cried out for mercy had in common. Their condition was miserable and they couldn't do anything to relieve it.

It seems to be a place that we must find ourselves in order to be free. 'Sick and tired of being sick and tired' and completely exhausted of all our tricks and games and coping mechanisms and human efforts to help ourselves. When Jesus met Saul on the road he asked him a question that set him free, I'll paraphrase it: "Saul, why do you keep kickin'? I'm Jesus..."Saul quit kickin that day and the Lord showed him mercy and changed his life and even his name. Will you quit kicking? He's just as ready to show you mercy, even now.

I'm attaching a video link for you. Watch how God showed this precious friend mercy. You'll notice the other mercy in the video also. It is the mercy we give to one another when we see each other in need. Jesus said it best, be merciful, even as your Father in heaven showed you mercy. Click on the following link to the Crosswind "Personal Stories" page and then on Trenia's story.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Even mono is missional!

You know how it is when you've been at something for a long time, everything, I mean everything relates... even mono.

I got mono on or about Easter and boy howdy, what a bug! Just wiped out all the time and the least little bit of activity is just too much. Bad bug. But as I was laying there one day it hit me... mono is missional too. As a matter of fact mono is a great metaphor for how to live spiritual life.

Before you roll you eyes too far check it out:

As soon as I got mono all my buds in the medical field gave me advice and all my new friends (let's call them the 'mono fellowship', those who've had it before) weighed in too. Here's the gist of the advice: Your only hope for recovery is complete rest. If you fight it, it wins. Rest and you will get well, don't rest and you will stay sick. Here is the Bible verse that came to my mind as I was 'getting it':

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest (Jesus) has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest. Heb 4:9-11

The work is done. 'It is finished' really means that it is finished.. Jesus is at rest at the right hand of the Father. And he invites us to "be diligent to enter that rest". So many times as missionaries we strive and strive to make improvements in our own lives and in the lives of others. We suffer if we are not improving at a pace which suits us or if those we are serving aren't. I don't know how many days when a friend suffers a setback, or falls on even harder times that we second guess and say "if only we'd have tried harder or done more". Hear all the striving in that thinking? No, there is a rest, a finished work that we can enter into, a trust and a hope that God is at work in and through us without our striving at all.

Listen how Paul said it: To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Col 1:29 Yep, Paul was working (I labor, struggling...), but it was with HIS energy. Seems to be if God is gonna provide the energy for His work in and through us, then burnout and stress and exhaustion and anxiety may be a work of the flesh (me trying to do God's work instead of letting God do His work in me) instead of a work of the Spirit.

There is a rest for the people of God... be diligent to enter into it.

PS Works for mono too.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Outreach or Family Reunion? Hard to tell

I was reminded again of how easy it is to take on the missionary lifestyle even though it seems to be a dramatic shift at first.

Last week, in honor of Risen Jesus, we and many others churches and organizations around the city made a special outreach emphasis. Some had passion plays or Easter cantatas. We, like others, had Easter Egg hunts, face painted, told the Easter story, had cookouts etc. in particular neighborhoods. We all had a blast, were thrilled with the outcome and look forward to doing it again next year.

But this year for us was different. This year, even tho it had all the markings of the aforementioned outreach, for us it was more of a family reunion than an outreach. I mean, we knew most everybody that was there. Knew their story, their struggles, their victories etc. One friend was getting a job, one had finally broken through after the loss of a child, one who suffers with depression was out on a sunny day, one was getting bills caught up after a long struggle, another driving a new(ish) van so he could finally have stable child care, another wasn't there still struggling with an addiction, and on and on, story after story life after life. All people that we are a part of their everyday lives and they a part of ours.

Then it hit me...this was really easy. All we'd done was made new friends, hung around, invited them into our lives and they invited us into theirs. And after a season, we just discovered that we are "our brother's keeper" and we "bear each others burdens" and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I was taking about Crosswind at Rotary last year and was asked a question, "Bobby, how can we help." My answer (prompted from another great Corinth missionary, Gary Caveness) was simple, "Make a friend this year, a true friend, of a person who makes less than a thousand a month. The rest will come natural." Truth is, it comes supernatural, because it is the love of God that calls us to our brothers in need. For us this year, it was a family gathering. What started as a project to get us out in the neighborhood has become 'just another day in the park.'