Life of purpose

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted.  It’s the end of the school year and I’m a little  burned out.  Please pray for me!

I hope some of my students, current and former, will consider the example of Paul Lim:

Read this excerpt by Susan Olasky here.  (The full article requires subscription to World—a worthy investment btw).  But let me fill in the rest for you.  Of course Paul Lim’s decision to pass up millions as an American plastic surgeon to go to Ethiopia was not easy…

Some members of their extended family argued against the decision and reminded them that if they stayed in the United States they could make millions and donate heavily to missions. The Lims also thought carefully about their parents’ cultural concerns: Both Paul and Susan’s parents emigrated from Korea to the United States to give their children greater opportunity, and those dreams were fulfilled when both became doctors. Yes, missions are good, but why give up so much of what everyone had been working toward? And what about grandchildren so far away from grandparents?

Ultimately the Lims went to Africa because God called them to it. On their website they quote John Piper, their pastor in Minnesota, to explain their mission philosophy: “Christ does not call us to a prudent life, but to a God-centered, Christ-exalting, justice-advancing, counter-cultural, risk-taking life of love and courage.

Marvin Olasky, in his column, continues the story.

God’s mercy is evident in both the Lord’s Supper and the fact that most of us are born with faces with the right number of holes. At six to eight weeks of gestation our faces usually fuse. For some reason, in some children, the parts don’t fuse. They have extra holes between their noses and their lips. They need additional grace.

“We’ll make his nose better,” Lim (through a translator) told one mother holding her baby. “We’ll make his lip better. Jesus brought us, brought me, here for him.” The mom left wordlessly.

To all his patients, Lim says, “Jesus brought us here for you.”  Jesus exhorted us to store up treasures in heaven, rather than on earth.  No doubt Lim’s heavenly treasures will be running over.  For someone in the medical field, it’s hard to imagine a better-lived life.  Along these same lines is the missionary biography of Ida Scudder.

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13 Tony Nominations?

I just discovered that “In the Heights” is also the name of a play. Well, if they ever sue me, I suppose they must have had the name first. But, for the record, there is no connection between my blog and the play. =)

An Autobiography in Five Short Paragraphs

I love this!  Though impossible without the Lord.  And I wish I could practice this more.  So often I get stuck at #2.

An Autobiography in Five Short Paragraphs
By Portia Nelson

1.
I walk down the street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I fall in.  I am lost.  I am helpless.  It isn’t my fault.  It takes forever to find a way out.

2.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I pretend I don’t see it.  I fall in.  I can’t believe I’m in the same place, but it isn’t my fault.  It still takes a long time to get out.

3.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I see it is there.  I still fall in.  It’s a habit.  My eyes are open.  I know where I am.  It is my fault.  I get out immediately.

4.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I walk around it.

5.
I walk down a different street.

Man after God’s own heart

My pastor preached on Psalm 23 this weekend, and I was reminded how David is referred to as a “man after God’s own heart.” Yes, David, the murderer and adulterer, the rich man who stole the lamb of the poor man.

How does such a sinner get such an exalted title? Because the title is one of intimacy, not one of perfection. Certainly Acts 13:22 says that David will “do everything I want him to do”—so obviously obedience is a result. But to be after God’s own heart is to cultivate a deep and personal relationship with him, as seen though many of the Psalms, especially Psalm 51, in which David is repenting of his great sin.

As parents, we expect our kids to screw up. When they do, we don’t desire for them to sit in condemnation and guilt, but to rather repent, come to us, and be restored. This is what God wants—real intimacy, not performance. He wants you to share your heart, even your imperfect, sinful heart, with him, and He gives the grace and strength to endure, to resist temptation, to walk in the Spirit, etc. One of my great challenges is to run to God in the midst of my neediness, fear, and temptation, rather than run from him in shame over my failure. I am convinced that this is characteristic of someone after God’s own heart.

This is how it starts…

College Suspends Administrator for Op-Ed on Homosexuals

An admin in the Human Resources Department at the University of Toledo has been suspended because she, on her own time acting as a private citizen, wrote an op-ed piece regarding homosexuality. As an African-American woman, she was taking exception to treating those who embrace the homosexual lifestyle as civil rights victims. The president of the university cited the piece as the reason for her suspension.

I have to believe this is going to become a lawsuit. She will probably fight the suspension on the basis of religious discrimination. I would be shocked if she didn’t win. I would hope that right now the university counsel is advising the university president to rescind the suspension.

If she were to lose, then it seems to me we are not far from “the Bible is illegal hate speech” position. Father, may we respond with love when persecuted!

My brother-in-law on TV!

My brother-in-law’s kidney donation to his pastor (and the pastor’s wife’s lung cancer) made the news. Watch here. Word on the street is that they are being contacted by national talk shows. Stay tuned!

Conservatives: Happier than liberals?

Read this.

It’s obvious that there is a background assumption at work here: conservatives may be happier, but it’s only because they live in denial-induced ignorant bliss, selfishly ignoring the plight of those less fortunate.

When I was a young man, I was a liberal. Why? I thought that the liberals were the compassionate ones-those who were looking out for others and not simply living for themselves. I bought into this background assumption. But several things have led me to change my views over the years:

• Happiness is largely a choice-a choice to partner with God to address the things you can, and a choice to trust God in the things you can’t control. Can I be happy despite the fact that I teach all day in a classroom filled with wounded, hurting kids who are unaware of the pitfalls they are falling into? Absolutely, because I am trying to partner with God to address it, but at the same time trying not to take responsibility for things that are beyond my reach. But I know they are not beyond His reach. Happiness cannot be found in our circumstances, but I believe only in relationship with the Lord

• Governments are effective in using the coercive power, the power of the sword (Romans 13:3-4). Scripture does not suggest that governments act as agencies of compassion. Government bureaucrats do not love, they administer. The redistribution of wealth that we call compassion is hardly compassionate. It fails to recognize the causes of poverty, creates dependency, and punishes economic success. A loving response to poverty is to treat each individual as a unique case and to address their specific issues, e.g. addiction, job training, counseling, etc. Governments cannot make the loving distinctions necessary to practice true compassion (also an argument for why governments should probably not be in the business of education either). Churches, charities, families-these are the instruments of compassion. Recent research has shown that conservatives give far more money to charities, no doubt partly due to this perspective. And, of course, being involved in giving also makes us happier.

• In my opinion, liberals have become overly focused on economics, as was Marx. Marx’s father converted from Judaism to the Lutheran Church in order to benefit his law practice. What did young Karl Marx learn? It’s all about the money. Faith, moral values, character-these are red herrings, the opiates of the people so the upper class can control and manipulate them. Jesus understood things differently. He said that the poor will always be with us. What makes life meaningful is living in the Kingdom of God, not whether or not we are rich or poor.

• Government welfare programs treat poverty like we treat a cold—we can’t address the root causes, so we mask the symptoms. Research also shows that the best antipoverty measure ever invented is a loving father in the home. Fatherlessness through out of wedlock births and divorce are the main causes of poverty among Americans. A government check is not going to address that. Jesus, through a born again heart, can.

There is more to say about how free markets are the best anti-poverty measures governments can pursue, about how much of the reason we have large numbers below the poverty line is due to the very high level of immigration since 1965 (most immigrant families who are poor don’t remain so in the second generation, but their number in the ranks of the poor are replenished by new immigrants), and how the “poor” in our country are rich compared to the poor in others. Developing these argument may be for another post in the future, but I want to get back to my advice series, so probably not. =)

Matt’s surgery

Things look good! For updates, check here.

Advice to the new (or old) believer, pt. 3

Part 3 in a series… (Here is part 1 and part 2)

Hearing God’s Voice

The first time I heard God’s voice distinctly was during my prayer regarding the rocking chair as detailed in my testimony. Note: when I (or most others who talk or write about this) talk about hearing God’s voice, we don’t mean audibly. I have never heard God’s voice with my ears. You hear God’s voice with your spirit. When I heard the specific name of the woman in the rocking chair, it was not audible.

Once I began to hear God’s voice more regularly, I realized that I had been hearing it all along, but had failed to recognize it. God communicates to us through things like impressions, dreams, pictures, and visions as well. How do we know it’s God? First, if it contradicts scripture, then it’s not God. Unfortunately, many false and dangerous teachings and practices occur when people first start hearing God’s voice, and they chuck their Bible. Real relationship with the living God is exciting, but it must be sought through scripture and remain grounded in scripture.

After experiencing God’s voice, one begins to recognize Him based upon His wisdom and His texture or tone. Sometimes thoughts come to us that are so profound that it catches us off-guard. I would suggest that this is likely the Lord. After a while, you begin to know his voice (in John 10, Jesus says four times that “my sheep know my voice”). God is a gentlemen, his voice is not demanding or threatening. It is authoritative, but not angry or insistent. It embodies wisdom. And sometimes, God is funny. He has made me laugh out loud more than once.

I hear God’s voice best when I am journaling. I ask God a question, and then I write down what I believe him to be saying. Sometimes, I go back and reread it, asking God to correct anything I may have missed or gotten wrong. Then I often copy and paste the entire conversation and send it to my mentors, asking them to pray and get confirmation.

Any new Christian must know that our walk with God truly is a relationship with him, not a religion of bible reading and then making speeches to God. We were made to know him and experience his love first hand, not to just try to follow the rules until he comes back.

On John Eldredge’s website, there is a brief video of his talk on Walking with God. My wife and I saw it live and we were freed. It’s like we were now allowed to say out loud the things we were experiencing. I highly recommend you sit down and watch!

Another resource: Dallas Willard’s Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. Blessings!

On to part 4!

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