It’s just for a few years…

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“It’s only for two weeks.”

We were having a team dinner, preparing for a mission trip to India. Each of the seven of us had been able to serve overseas on short-term mission trips before. Every one of us was expectantly looking forward to what God had ahead. One team member said someone told him they would pray for him. As he thanked them, they went on to say, “that you will come to your senses and not go.”

We had a hard time understanding that thought process. Yes, some people are afraid to fly. While some embrace the thought of new, to others, the thought of anything unfamiliar is frightening. And that’s okay. People are afraid. God helps us overcome.

But to pray that someone won’t go support brothers and sisters in their work for Jesus – we couldn’t wrap our heads around that thought process. I still can’t.

And honestly, we really couldn’t quite understand anyone not wanting to go on at least one short-term mission trip.

Our partner addressed the unfamiliar. The uncomfortable.

“So what if you don’t have hot water or your electricity isn’t good. It’s just for two weeks.”

That really resonated with me.

I was reminded of 1 Peter 2:11 where we are called “sojourners and pilgrims.”

And of Hebrews 13:12-16 “So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
(NLT)

And I thought of Paul in prison. Singing.

He knew – it’s just for a few years.

Near the end of his life he told Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
1 Timothy 4:6-7

He endured. He ran well. He fought hard. He poured himself out for the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was beaten, imprisoned and stoned.

It’s just for a few years – “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”

    Poured out.

Can I say that?

A short-term mission trip to stay in a comfortable bed, eat good food and serve with people I already know and dearly love isn’t sacrifice. They are the ones living sacrificial lives. It isn’t always a kind place to people who are sold out to Jesus. And my friends there are totally sold out to Jesus. They pour out their lives in service of the Master. Some of them literally.

But they get it. They know it is only for a few years.

Do you feel that passion? That call to live like we’re only here temporarily so discomforts don’t matter? If so, kneel with me, imploring God to utilize that intensity to add to His Kingdom.

If there is no yearing within, be bold enough to ask Him to give you a vision of now in the scope of eternity.

How can I pour myself out for the glory of the kingdom of God? What is my sacrifice of praise. Where can God use me today that will send me to bed tired tonight?

It’s just for a few years.

green-swirls

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Celebrating Jesus…

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“Celebrate Jesus!” It’s been dancing in my brain and moving in my heart.

Just in time to become the topic of the new series for our Sunday night Bible class. With five days left to finish my first lesson, I’m still not sure exactly what the series looks like.

But I know it is supposed to be.

For our last series, “Ephesians: A Letter to Me,” I had my rear end kicked weekly as I felt the responsibility of feeding a room of mature Christians. I attended church in the womb, grew up in a Christian school and attended a Christian college and found things in the book of Ephesians I had never seen before.

And I loved it.

It’s a growth process, this becoming a teacher thing.

When there are discouraging nights or attendance is low, there are a couple of things I cling to: 1) The message is God’s, not mine. 2)Jesus did not play the numbers game. A dedicated few is better than a half-hearted many and sometimes empty seats mean that those who are no longer there are being used elsewhere.

That’s the meat of this new series.

Church is not (gasp!) the be-all and end-all of our existence. Like I said, I grew up in church. I’ve been there when the floor was picked out, spent the night there when a hurricane was coming, rang in many a New Year within its walls and timed the wait for Sunday dinner by the fourth verse of “Just as I Am.”

I sometimes have to remind myself that the Church does not exist within the church. The church is where we revive and party-plan.

Party plan. (Celebrate Jesus & party plan – see that clever connection I made?)sparkle-md

    I’m really liking this.

Part of my studies led me to the celebrations of the nation of Israel. Did you know that the Jews celebrated seven major festivals, an additional feast every lunar month and the weekly Sabbath? After exile, they added three more holiday observances.

This doesn’t include the times that kings decided to throw a major party for no other reason than to honor God. Read how Solomon gave God glory in 1 Kings 8.

“At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven more days — fourteen days. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that the Lord had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people.” (verses 65-66)

It is easy to skip through the book of Leviticus, thinking it is all about rules, when there is quite a bit telling the Israelites how to celebrate. (Leviticus 23-25)

    God loves us to celebrate Him.

“The young women will dance for joy, and the men — old and young — will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.” (Jeremiah 31:13)

This isn’t empty celebration though – treating life as one big party. We celebrate because we know Him and He is worthy of all honor and glory and praise. He died for us. We love Him because He first loved us. He is so amazing that when we get a grasp of that we just can’t keep it in.

    sparkle-mdWe celebrate to show off His glory. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
    sparkle-md

    And, three verses down, we see that we celebrate to bring others to Him. “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)

    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

    What does this celebration look like? What form does it take? I’m excited about finding that out!

    green-swirls

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