A Late Night Encounter

April 24, 2008

I boarded the plane in the Portland airport weary after a long day. “11pm. That’s 2am at home. No wonder I’m beat!” I put my pack in the overhead compartment, my computer bag under the seat in front of me, pulled out my earplugs and eyemask, and prepared for some much-needed sleep on the cross-country flight.

I glanced at the thirtyish man sharing the row of three seats with me. “Hi, my name is Coty.” He smiled. “I’m Jacob.” As he looked me in the eye, I quickly saw that God had other plans than sleep for this flight. After going through the normal pleasantries – Are you going home or leaving home? What’s the purpose of your trip? – Jacob began to share about his spiritual growth in the last few years. Through yoga and meditation, he had grown in his self-discipline, in his ability to deal with disappointment. He had simplified his life, eating well, cutting out TV and other distractions; in work, he now focused on flexible jobs that he greatly enjoyed. This enabled him to save enough money to travel to Sri Lanka recently and spend several months at a meditation center. He rises every morning and spends an hour doing yoga and meditating – and that time then flavors his entire day. He was happy, well-adjusted, and excited about his spiritual life – so excited he wanted to share that with others. Read more

Ripping Away the Old Man

April 18, 2008

Do you want God’s refining? Or would you rather just clean yourself up?

On Sunday we considered Malachi 3, in which God says concerning the “messenger of the covenant”, the coming Messiah:

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. (Malachi 3:2-3)

Fire burns. It hurts. It may seem to be destroying. But the fire wielded by God for His purposes in His people cleanses and transforms, so that they might become what He intends them to be: those who offer themselves back to Him, those who delight in Him, those who display His glory to all of creation.

C.S. Lewis gives a marvelous picture of this refining process in the third book of the Narnian Chronicles, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Read more

Genocide and Forgiveness

April 11, 2008

Fourteen years ago, the genocide in Rwanda was at its height. See this link for a fascinating account – in the New York Times of all places – of the impact of the Gospel on reconciliation and forgiveness between perpetrators and relatives of victims. Here’s an excerpt: Words spoken by Jean Baptiste Ntakirutimana to the man who murdered his mother:

By the time he started explaining how he killed her I partly lost consciousness. I prayed to God to give me His spirit to revive me and give me more strength to continue, as I felt it was His mission I was on. Miraculously I felt warmth from my head to my feet, I felt like a big rock melting from my chest and my head. I felt very refreshed, cleaned up my tears and carried on the conversation tremendously relieved from my whole being. I then told him that I have personally been forgiven all my wrong from God and that it is in the same spirit that I was coming to him offering him pardon myself. Then it was like a huge veil off his face he started smiling with a lot of words of gratitude. He started holding my hands and telling me many other things I couldn’t expect about himself and the reality around the genocide. He agreed to go and see other people for whose family members he killed.”

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!

Inner Change or White-Washed Tombs?

April 11, 2008

During Sunday’s sermon, I briefly discussed the implications of being in Christ on three different aspects of a person’s life:

  • First, the inner life: How do you think? What occupies your mind? What do you value and treasure? What do you long for?
  • Second, the personal life: How you work, how you allocate your time, how you spend money. These are decisions you make on your own that primarily affect you.
  • Third, your Life in Community with others: Your relationships in marriage, in your family, among your neighbors, among your colleagues.

Most Christians would agree that becoming a believer should change all three aspects of our lives. But how do these changes take place? Is there a correct, biblical order to the changes? Read more