A Night for Orphans in ATL

Ok, it’s been ruminating long enough, there’s something pretty spectacular that’s about to happen in Atlanta, and I want you to be a part of it:

A Sponsorship and Fundraising event that’s gonna knock your socks off, but you have to attend, it won’t be enough to like us on Facebook, although that would be really nice and you can do that here.  It won’t be enough for you for read about it and say, “That’s cool.  I hope it goes well.”  It won’t be enough unless you’re there, so I’ll tell you a little bit more about it and hope that’s all the fuel you’ll need to get yourselves here April 5th at 7 p.m.

It’s been a little while since I’ve talked about Adacar, shared about Martin, but there’s more to my story, more to Martin’s story and I am going to share all about it that evening.  I also want to say two more things:

1) Ok, I may have stretched the truth just a teensy bit to get you to come to the event by saying the only way you can make a difference is to be there, but there is a way you can contribute even if you are miles away: sponsor a child in Adacar by going here.

2) Almost four years ago, my friend, Melanie, “caught the vision” that Children’s HopeChest was establishing for Adacar, and has recently given us an update on it’s progress here.  It is simply amazing and nothing but God when you see how far it’s come.  She also recently shared on where they are heading, and that is what this fundraiser is all about, raising money for a ditto machine and a scholarship fund.  As she mentioned in her post, primary education in Adacar is free right now, but secondary education is about $600/year, a fee these kids or their caretakers simply cannot afford.

So, come, bring a listening ear for some beautiful music brought to you by the Sacred Harp Singers of Atlanta and spending money to purchase some beautiful fair trade goods as well those made in our very own peach state.

I’ll leave you with the details:

Friday, April 5, 2013
7-9 pm
All Souls Fellowship
647 E College Ave
Decatur, GA 30033

And on This Rock

It’s hard for me to put into words the emotion I felt when I read of what happen to Peter after–after the denial, after the break down–Joy at his redemption? Grief at my own heart being just like his?

Most likely gratitude for a Savior who sees who I am but also sees my potential.

I would have done the same thing Peter did, or worse, I probably would have been one of the 11 who scattered, or worse yet, I very well could have been Judas.  Who knows.  But this week’s study in Mark 14 was dense, heavy, took a while to process and still while recapping, I feel like I’ve mentally blocked certain parts out because the chapter moves so quickly: from the nagging reminder of the chief priests wanting somehow to find a way to arrest Jesus, to a broken alabaster jar, to the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane for this cup of death to be removed from him, to his arrest, “trial” before the Sanhedrin and finally the details of Peter’s denial.  It’s a lot to take in, and Jesus lived it.

There are so many rich lessons in this chapter, but I want to concentrate on Peter, the Rock.  Our study guide put it in this way, “His failure is always emphasized within this context but, from another perspective, his failure is known only because he demonstrated courage.”  While all the other disciples fled, Peter stayed behind to at least see how Jesus was doing–I can’t imagine the fear that presided over his heart to see his best friend, his teacher, his mentor arrested for no good reason, while realizing that one of the “trusted 12” was the one responsible for this–and every conversation that Jesus had had with his disciples about the end flashing through his brain.  What was it that compelled Peter to stay?

We don’t know, we only know that Jesus saw it coming…

Jesus had said to him in Luke 22:32, “When you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Here, our study guide refers us to Acts 4:1-22, and this is where the tears flow in gratitude as Jesus’ personal commission to Peter is fulfilled (emphasis mine):

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people.  They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.  They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.  But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.  Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family.  They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: Is is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.  He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

[Here is where, if I were in the courtroom, you’d hear me whoop and holler and get led out by the 1st Century equivalent of the bailiff]

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.”

They had them taken away, conferred among themselves, saying that even though they have healed someone that the whole town knows was lame, that they must stop them from spreading the name of Jesus, so they call them back in and continue to bully them into being silent.

But Peter and John were not deterred.

Keep reading, my friends, the rest of this 4th chapter of Acts is POWERFUL.

So, not only does Peter defend himself, he delivers the gospel message, confounds the Sanhedrin who tries to silence him and he and John are let go after further threats.

Like a bull in a china shop, Peter bullies his way through this court and he is victorious.  Our God is victorious.  If this isn’t boldness, I don’t know what is.

And so, I here I stand, afraid to speak to the girl in the checkout line when He prompts me to–what do I do?  Where do I start?  “Jesus loves you, he really does, he died for you.  He has a plan for you and joy unspeakable.”  But why do I hesitate and feel paralyzed?  Why do I back down and leave?  It’s fear.  Fear that she will judge me like all the other “religious” people she has ever encountered.  Those who look at her rough exterior and immediately look away.

Am I any better when I can’t even find the words to say?

Living as Children of the Light

Before we can behave as children of the light, we must be children of the light.  Our ability to act in the right ways stems from who we are, not the other way around.*

I read these words as I was preparing this blog post on Mark 13.  This is one of those chapters of the Bible that you kinda want to read with your covers over your head.  This is serious stuff: wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine.  Sound familiar?  These are the last days, I know Christians have been thinking this since the 1st Century,  but the time of Christ’s return is imminent and always has been and Jesus compels his listeners to be prepared in the final verses of this chapter–he admonishes, that no one, not even he, Jesus, knows the day or the hour of the second return (32).  And for that reason, he likens it to the owner of a house leaving his servants in charge.  He could return at the break of day, dinnertime, just as everyone is settling in to bed…it’s the feeling of having your house on the market.  Everything must be ready at all times and you find yourself getting irritated at your kid for taking out a puzzle because your agent could call at 8:30 am with a 20 minute warning that “very motivated” buyers are coming with them.

So how can we be ready, at any moment to “move,” to have our lives transformed, in a moment, a twinkling of an eye?

Explicit instructions are contained in I Thessalonians 5:1-11:

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.  You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.  For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He DIED for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Why does scripture associate the unknown with darkness?  There are movements in the wee hours that are inexplicable, things that go bump in the night, but as children of the LIGHT, we illuminate the world around us, we compel people to see things as they really are, we expose the darkness and we have an abiding peace that a restless world is seeking.  We share that peace, we share that hope in the way that we approach a given trial.  Goodness knows, I don’t have this peace down yet.

But even more than that, it’s how we live.  We live in such a way to make every moment, every conversation, count.  We can’t beat ourselves up if we miss the opportunity to invite the new neighbors to church, but we do need to live in such a way that they see why we do something different on Sunday morning.

So, it’s not about what we do, it is who we are, we should be self-controlled, sober, alert, always abounding in the work of the Lord, joyful in hope, patient in affliction.  Here’s the reassuring part, we are given the equipment to do this.  We CAN do this: helmets, shields, breastplates, these protect our vitals–where we are the most vulnerable to attack: our head and our heart.  My sister-in-law (otherwise known as my scripture with legs) reminded recently me that Satan is relentless, we too must relentless in remaining in the Light.

*”Heart Language: Reclaiming Christian Vocabulary.”  InTouch Feb. 2013: pp. 50-51.