Category: Go

The Hebrew God I Choose

I’m an American.

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I am white.

I am a woman.

I am a Christian.

 

 

I am a product of Greek philosophy, but have chosen Hebrew theology.

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I no longer follow the way of my own desires. I have given up my American dreams.

This Hebrew God I have chosen to follow has a Way about Him that bumps and bullies my Greek philosophical ancestry in my way of doing life. My instinct is to run after things that make me happy, or make sense, or show I am successful and that I have made my way in the world. It crushes my need for individualism with a call that is inclusive and calls itself The Church.

Individual privileges are no longer the priority. There are others.

We call each other brothers and sisters.

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My ancient Greek influences make me want to know the why of everything and wants to know the next step, the next goal, what the next season will hold. My Hebrew God smiles and reminds me that I won’t know every reason, but I will know His Name. He tells me that the next step is just illuminated by His Word and that in faith I take a step. He teaches me that there is a season for everything, and it’s not what I get out of it exactly, but how much glory He receives in my worship, honor and faith in Him.

Makes Him sound selfish, doesn’t it?

Rubs against our “God loves me for me” mantra.

There is no higher god or person above this Ancient One who gets any glory or honor, there is only He. From the Beginning to the End, His greatest passion is His own Glory. His own Name.

His fame.

His Happiness, if you will.

sunI, in my Greek, individualistic, self-absorbed knowledge of how humans should feel find this unnerving, but… I have chosen to follow this God.

I don’t get to say who gets the glory.

I chose to say, “I follow this God and His Word and His Son and His Holy Spirit.”

I don’t then get to say my dreams and happiness come first.

I am a Greek philosopher who has chosen to adhere to a Hebrew theology.

Which one will bow to which?

jerusalem-475110_640Is logic all bad? Of course not. My Hebrew God says in His son are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and that I can have depth of insight in Him. But He also says that He is a mystery, a consuming fire, one that has higher ways than me. Logic cannot touch.

Can’t I be myself? Indeed. Beautiful personality made in the image of my Creator…placed in the family, the faces, the sea of other humans who have turned their face and their posture to this Hebrew God.

We are One.

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And we have purpose.

My Greek instinct is to find my own purpose. My Hebrew God says, “I AM and there is no other.” I must know His purpose.

It is His glory. 

There is no other purpose.

How? How do I fulfill that purpose?

That glory freed the Hebrew slaves of Egypt with plague and promise.

That glory fell in the wilderness on the tabernacle with Moses and the Israelites. It consumed the sacrifices and they fell to their faces.

That same glory fell on the temple of Solomon. Consuming sacrifice and they were undone, falling to the pavement with their faces to the floor, worshipping.

How do I bring glory to Glory?

I don’t.

I can’t.

He brings it to Himself…through me, in me, because of me, in spite of me.

That same Glory falls on me. In me. Consuming me.

He is Holy Spirit.

This Hebrew God needs not me to serve Him, though I want to. He needs nothing from me, other than my faith, my devotion, my worship. My yielding to His Indwelling.

Then He calls us. He calls us to take this Glory to the Nations. There is no other thing. There is no other purpose. This Glory brings salvation and full redemption. It brings with it hope and wholeness. Worship and honor of this great and mighty Hebrew God brings satisfaction and rest.

matchstick-20237_640So, I do what I can to see that happen. I pray for people I love. I pray for darkness to be pushed out of the lives and nations of the enemy. I pray that others go and then are protected, and unified, and rested, and more.

It is not just them to take the Glory to the nations. It is those of Us who work in the marketplace. Those of Us who sit at desks and look across our offices to those we know do not know the Glory.

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It is Us who hold babies and raise small humans. It is also Us who work late nights and early mornings. It is Us who work in the schools and hospitals. We hold the hands of the aged. We bring new humans into the world. We cry with the world. We gasp at the horror. We can be extremely lovely. We drink our coffee and sigh as we ponder our lives. We smile at strangers. We hold the unlovable. We give water. We give food. We visit the sick. We talk to those in prison. We drive our cars and pass you on the street.

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We are of The Way

Carriers of The Light

Revealers of The Glory.

We are frail. We are bold. We are united.

We are the nations going to the nations to reveal the great and holy Glory of this great and mighty Hebrew God. It is no small task. It cannot be all individualistic without a global unity. It cannot be a faceless mass of people either. We are called a Body for a reason. Individual parts working together to bring maximum health to ourselves and beauty to our Head, Jesus Christ.

To Him be the Glory through the ones who have said Yes.

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I Wanted Us to Suffer a Little, Then I Saw a Tree and Changed My Mind.

IMG_7399Just above me is a giant tree in our backyard. Growing up in Oklahoma the giant trees were few and far between, and were put on display at Christmas and people drove from miles around to take a look. Here, in Tennessee the trees are quite different. The rise so tall that you hurt your neck looking up for too long. They cover the landscape like a blanket and provide shelter and shade for everything below them.

Trunks so large it takes arms and arms to reach around.

treehugThey sway in the breeze and climb the hills together to display their gold and orange change every fall.

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They are wonderous.

There is a verse in Revelation that has been tucked in my heart for over a decade

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

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I sit under that tree in my backyard many times a week. I look up at it and that verse runs through my mind as I stare at the thousands of leaves whispering over my head. “How are the leaves the healing of the nations?” I don’t know, but I do know scripture says it. I also know that is Psalm 1 a righteous man is compared to a tree by living water. And although Jesus said he is the root of the vine, why not be the root of the trees? Would that not be a stretch to think that the leaves are….us? 

Are we the leaves that are to be the healing of the nations?

He is healer, no doubt, but we are the messengers, the ambassadors, the one reliant on the root of the vine, where we are admonished to be “root and established in love.” Rooted. Roots that go down into someone who provides all we need for life. Roots so deep that when they are threatened, they cannot be uprooted, even when storms shake and whip the tops.

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What if when we are rooted and established in love, even though he slay us, we never stop trusting him? What if our roots were the only thing that kept us from dying in the worst of times? What if our roots in Christ, though we are pruned and changed, we grew stronger and more powerful as a whole collective?

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I wanted, for awhile, to be really upset with the Church, not a particular church (notice the capital “C”) but at the church of America. I was even thinking “Bring on persecution! It will only cause us to grow! We deserve a little tough times. We don’t know what persecution is! Let the storms come and cut us down a bit. Let the lightning strike and strip us of our pride!”

Angry

Bitter

Arrogant

Then I realized that the church of Acts, when persecuted was scattered. Scattered like ants when their little ant piles are messed with. Scattered like roaches when the lights come on. They, our first brothers and sisters, were forced out of homes and displaced by persecution. Much like what is happening even now to our brothers and sisters.

Then I looked at the tree and wondered, “So, what happened between the times of persecution?” What happened as they rebuilt their lives and started again? What did they do?”

 

They grew.

treepathShe discipled. She spread the gospel. She took care of her own. She fed the poor and took care of the sick. She supplied food and money to missionaries and housed them when they returned. She prayed for each other and encouraged them in Christ. She met for communion and eating, and I’m sure, laughter and tears.

She healed nations.

Now, we sit in a nation, one that is sick and dying, and I’ve wanted the Church of America to feel the pain our brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing, but have realized what an awful thing that is. I only meant it like how we talk to our kids “When I was your age!” as though our experiences might make them different. I wanted the experiences of others who were persecuted to guilt the American church into feeling bad about herself, and maybe even wanted us to “suffer” a little more and grow up.

There might be some truth in that. We have a tendency to be spoiled. Our freedom has made us comfortable and we can easily miss the suffering around the world, but that’s not true for all of us.

Obviously

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We have more than a great opportunity here. We have a great gift, obligation, responsibilty as the Church to be the turning tide of our Nation, and to be the ones who fund other other nations to take care of the displaced, the refugee, the poor, the homeless, the persecuted. We, as millions of believers in Jesus, have the time, resources, technology, and freedom to be those healing leaves, not only to the world, but to ourselves, to our neighbors, to our politicians, to our enemies.

No more do I say, “Bring on the persecution and watch us scatter!” No, I say,

Bring on the Holy Spirit and watch us explode!

I pray the prayer of the founding Church,

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.”

And I pray, that through our unity, the same thing will happen among us:

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

We still live in a free country. We still have the freedom to pray and gather and stand up in boldness. Not in anger, not out of guilt, but in a great unity of believers, full of love and hope and faith, so that we will be filled with the Spirit to expand the kingdom. While we are in this freedom, let us not squander it. I pray we take advantage of it.

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And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22

 

The Snake Guy was Murdered

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Don and Marianne Baughman

The Snake Guy drove me to my junior high on a very stormy day. I can remember being in car and watching the torrential rain slam into the windshield. My seventh grade memory fails me as to why, exactly, he would have taken me that morning. I try and reconstruct what must have happened. I assume he had come over for breakfast, realized that mom was going to have to get out in that weather, and offered to take me since it was on the way to our church. That had to be it. The Snake Guy was back in town visiting our church, telling us stories of what happened on the other side of the world (Africa) and brought with him a slide show and, yes, snakes. He was captivating. And he stayed with my grandparents when he came.

 A few years later I was back a church, this time in high school. I was there making copies for some up and coming very important youth group shindig when my pastor came in to tell me that the Snake Guy had been murdered on his front lawn. Bandits. No reason. Shot dead. He was in that country for Jesus.

Martyred. Don, the Snake Guy. 

I walked down the hall to the sanctuary. The stain glass window faced the West and the sun was just low enough to pierce the colors. The whole room was warm and thick with silence. It was just me, the green carpet and pews, and a glow in the room from the sun. It’s like the light was hugging me. I didn’t ever really know how to comprehend all of it, but I sat on the front pew and cried. Wept. Stunned.

Murdered? Unbelievable.

But, his story is one of thousands. Millions. Those over the years who have died for the name of Jesus. Those who have given their lives so that the name of Jesus would be made famous around the world are by no means a small amount of humanity.

It happens everyday. All the time. When I am shopping for shoes on Amazon or am weeping over the nations, they are dying. Who will go in their place? Maybe some will. Many will rise from the places they fell and take up the cause right there. Over and over the name of Jesus is taken round the world, fulfilling God’s desire that all men would know his name and the redemption he offers.

So, what does the Church do?

What about those of us who live in the States?

What do we do?

We pray. We pray for the power of the Spirit to consume us and show us how to pray and what to pray for. We pray that our strength and vitality to complete the task is armed and made steady. We pray.

We pray…and we pray again.

We study. Most of the Church doesn’t know exactly what God’s desire is for the nations. Start reading. Find out. Take a Perspectives course. Go through “Xplore” with Center for Missions Mobilization. Study the Bible. Read Andrew Murray and John Piper. Learn. Don’t just say, “I don’t know.”! Find out! What IS God’s plan and heart for the nations? If you can’t answer that…find out the answer. (or ask me)

We join. Find out what your local church does to send missionaries around the world. Find out what trips you can go on and do it.

We give. Global impact can only be successful (outside of prayer and commitment) if the Church is not only sharing her time, and prayer, but her money as well. Send. Give money to those who are going into the nations who have yet to hear Christ! Get them there and then support them ferociously.

We go. If you have a burning to see the name of Jesus go into all nations, then by all means, GO! Find a team and join them. Talk to your pastor. Get trained, get support and get out of here!

We wake up. Our society feeds us with the mantra that more is better and your dream is exactly what God wants to do in your life. Man, that sounds amazing. I want him to make me happy and give me a dream to fulfill, but, oh (and I know I am swimming upstream) I struggle with our constant state of “Make my dreams come true, God!” when how many of us are asking, “God, will you make your dreams and passions come to pass and use me to do it?” Church. Wake up. It is HIS dream and HIS passion we should be studying, searching, praying for and living for. Not ours.

Will your 2015 be more about you and your dreams and plans, or will you take the time to find our exactly what God wants from his Church, from you? Will you pray, study, join, give, go and wake up? I pray you do. I pray I do.

Psalm 46:10 I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.