It has been a very busy season around The Glades this fall. Sugar cane harvest, sweet corn and vegetables are being planted and harvested, fall sports of every kind, and of course, lots of activities at church. When things get so hectic, I know I tend to slack off on my relationship with Christ. You know the drill (or maybe you are one of those “disciplined” people, and therefore you don’t)…late getting up and around in the morning because I was up too late the night before because I was trying to finish up the things I didn’t get done during the day. Rinse and Repeat. This turns into a cycle of loneliness and isolation from the Father. I have to be very careful or I end up in “a funk.” Read more
I get an email devotional every Wednesday from Paul David Tripp, a pastor/writer/theologian that has really spoken God’s truth into my life over the last few years. He has a great book called, Dangerous Calling, that is a must read for pastors. But be careful, you will be convicted by his way of presenting the Truth of the Gospel to the reader in such a way that it will cut you to the core.
This is the devotional entry I received in my inbox today that I really needed to hear from the Lord. I needed to hear about MY sin, MY dirtiness, MY need for a Savior…and hear that God never turns away from ME! Enjoy.
Last week I wrote about my trip to India in 2006. This devotional was written after I returned.
We didn’t know we’d be doing it. We didn’t know it would be inserted into our schedule. And we surely didn’t know the powerful, life-transforming impact it would have on us.
We were in Northern India and we were invited to visit an isolated little village of dung-plastered huts. We had no idea what we would be seeing and we had no categories for describing it once we saw it. I’ll try my best to describe the scene:
When we left the paved road, we drove as far as we could on a dirt path and then walked our way into a different period of time. Going into this village was like journeying back 700 years. Going into this village was literally a journey to the end of humanity.
This was a village of Dalits, the untouchables of the Indian caste system. But these particular Dalits are the lowest of the low. They’re rat catchers. Their job in life is to catch rats and those rats become one of the main staples of their diet. These people are so neglected, so down-trodden, so uneducated that they have no culture of cleanliness or hygiene. The first thing that impresses you is how dirty these people are. Dirty clothes, dirty children, and matted hair were the order of the day.
I have to be honest; I was repulsed by these people. I didn’t want to get near them. I didn’t want to be touched by them. I was afraid of what diseases they may have that I could catch. I’d seen enough and I just wanted to get out of there.
As we were riding away from this village in a nice, modern SUV, I sat looking out of the window, torn by conflicting thoughts. I was glad to be out of that village, I was repulsed by what I saw, but I had another thought. Although these people were the lowest of the low, although they live at the end of humanity, each one of them is a creature of God, actually made in his likeness!
The moment I had that thought another profound thought came exploding into my brain. What those people looked like to me is exactly what I look like to God. Sin has made me filthy dirty. Sin has destroyed in me any sense of spiritual hygiene. Sin leaves me isolated, ignorant, and dirty.
But God didn’t run out of our village. He wasn’t relieved to be separate from us. Shockingly, he moved into our village. He came and lived with us. In his love, he took on our dirtiness and he gave his life so that we could become clean.
Isn’t it amazing to know that God sees every bit of dirtiness in us and he doesn’t turn away in revulsion. No, he moves toward us. He wraps his arms around us and changes us at the core of who we are as human beings. He doesn’t separate from us because we are unclean, he touches us so that we would be clean!
And he invites us to humbly look into his mirror, to see ourselves as we actually are, and to seek the loving cleansing that only he can give us. Isn’t it wonderful to know that you can stand before God dirty and unafraid because of the grace that’s yours in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Today may you celebrate the One who didn’t turn away, but who moved in to make you clean!
Paul David Tripp
Check out this promo video from Advent Conspiracy. It is amazing what could happen if we would simply rethink how we do Christmas! Check out the site at adventconspiracy.org to see how you might “conspire” to have Christmas be different and better this year.
There are also some great ideas on how to give affordable gifts that you have made this Christmas at rethinkingchristmas.com.
This story breaks my heart. Just days after one of the biggest “Black Fridays” in history, there are millions of Americans who are out of work and living in their cars. This is the reality of ministry here in the Glades. This piece from 60 Minutes that aired last night looks at the situation through the eyes of the children involved. It is truly amazing to see the resolve in these children–but just as amazing to see them speaking as adults…dealing with adult problems as children.
As with anything in life, you can look at it as a problem or an opportunity. I hope that God will help me and others in the Church in Belle Glade to look at these “problems” as “opportunities” for God to do something extraordinary here in the Glades. This 60 Minutes piece is a powerful story of the reality of life for many people here in central and south Florida, but also many other places all across the country. I pray that this recession will force us to look to the Lord of Heaven and of Earth with fresh eyes and look to Him alone for help. May the song of the Psalmist be our prayer.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)
I have been going to the Leadership Summit since way back in the 90s while I was in seminary. It has always been an awesome time of learning and the Lord always seems to speak to me in buckets. I am praying that this year is no different as I head to West Palm Beach to attend the simulcast with my new staff. I am really excited about hearing from the Lord as well as learn from these great leaders.
Here is the highlights from last year’s Summit. It was absolutely amazing and came during a really crucial time in my life as well as a very difficult time in my life.
One of my favorite speakers from last year was Jeff Manion. God really used him mightily to hang in there and push through a very difficult time in my life and ministry. I am grateful that I pushed through and God has brought us here to South Florida to help the Church in Belle Glade. I say “Church” in capital letters, because the revival is not going to break out in just one church, but in the entire “Church” here in the Glades. I prayed this morning with a group of pastors in this town for revival to come and it start with us individually as well as in our churches.
I wonder which person, talk, or phrase God is going to use the next two days to lead me in this next season? We will see!
I have been thinking a lot lately about “how do I find God’s will?” This is nothing new, really. However, it has been kicked into high gear over the last year or so as we have been searching and praying for our next place of ministry service.
I am reminded of the story of Moses’ call experience in Exodus 3. He was out on the backside of the desert, simply doing his job (and running from God as well!), and this bush is on fire, but isn’t being consumed. Read more
Student Weekend at FBC Oronogo–Saturday Night I preached on the Disciple’s Identity: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” out of Colossians 1:27. The students had been out all day serving at Ronald McDonald House and Watered Gardens; which is really cool to see them getting out into their community to serve. Again, the worship time was really sweet.
I am reminded when I am at these kind of worship experiences of the “soundtrack” of our lives. Read more
It is so interesting that so many people in the US believe that President Obama isn’t a Christian, but a Muslim. I wonder where those beliefs come from? In an age of so much information, there is also a ton of mis-information as well. Here is what the President said this week at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. You can see the full article By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor, in the link below. Read more
I am slowly getting around to reading some of my friends blog posts in my Google Reader. ?I came across this post from my high school friend Matt Wilkie. ?It is a powerful post on what he is thankful for . . . based on his travels “around the world with Jesus” to spread the Gospel.
Numbers 1 & 2 really hit me hard this morning as I sit inside in the warm typing on a computer with wireless internet. ?My how we take for granted what we have and how God has blessed us–why us, I will never understand!
1. I?m thankful I don?t have sores on my legs because of arsenic in my water supply.
2. I?m thankful we have enough food on our table so we don?t have to consider whether or not to sell a family member to those who might hurt them in order to pay for food for others in the family.
Check out the entire list on his blog. ?Amazing.
I know I am a little late to the party on this one, but Buffalo Bills wide receiver, Stevie Johnson, dropped a game-winning touchdown pass on Sunday.
Stuff happens, right?? I mean, things don’t always happen the way we want them to happen.? I sometimes feel that I am living out the wilderness wanderings experience of the Israelites on a daily basis.? However, I don’t think I have ever thought about tweeting to God for my problems. But, then again, Twitter has created a sort of online journal of sorts for us all to share our joys and frustrations, ups and downs.
I wonder what David would have “tweeted” on his Twitter after his cycle of sin with Bathsheba?? Well, we don’t have the twitter feed, but we do have the storyline as well as a song that he wrote to God about the whole deal in Psalm 51.? I have been reading through the Scriptures using Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System, (which is awesome, by the way.)? One of the 10 “lists” that you read through each day is the Book of Psalms.? As I read Stevie Johnson’s tweet, I thought to myself, “This isn’t really that different than the Psalms where the psalmist was asking God “why” are bad things happening in my life?”
There are many out there in the blogging world who have jumped on Johnson’s back about “you can’t blame this on God.”? Interesting enough, this post was going to be another “one of those posts”…until I read Johnson’s twitter feed.? Here is THE TWEET that started the whirlwind…
I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…
But I had a change of heart when I looked at a few more of the tweets after he had time to “cool off” and get some perspective about whole thing.? Later the following day…
I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!
And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!
And then, Kurt Warner chimes in to the feed in support of Johnson and says this to him…
@StevieJohnson13 all I can say, is I have been there many times… (while coughing) 100 yd INT ret 4 TD in SB 43 was most recent!
Wow, Kurt Warner, classy guy with a great perspective on winning, losing, and worshiping Jesus in BOTH!
Also reading through the Book of Job in my reading plan and it is interesting how similar the Psalms and Job are in how we react to difficult times in our lives.? We all have had those “friends” who want to help us out and say “just repent of your sin” and “get right with God.”? We are left asking the same questions that Job, David and the psalmists, and Stevie Johnson all ask…”why God?”? What I love (and hate at the same time) about the Bible is that we don’t hear a clear answer to those questions.? I do know this…that God invites us to ask as many questions as we want.? And He understands and cares for all His children.
So tell me, what is the last thing that left you asking God “why?”? I hope you wrote about it in your journal so you can look back on it and learn from the situation.
Here is the video of the play in case you missed it this Sunday night…