Our country has been pounded—fires to the left of us, hurricanes to the right. This is nothing new, although having so many disasters happen at the same time sure makes it seem that way. As a Christian, my initial response is, how can I help?
The first thing we can do is pray. For one, prayer is something we can do right away, and keep on doing as long as the situation demands. And two, prayer releases God’s power and resources—so much more than ours! Ask God how He would like you to pray for these things. Our first inclination is usually to pray the problems away, but God may have something different in mind. (That’s a topic for another post someday.)
Are you a prophet? Does God work miracles of healing through you? Perhaps the Spirit inspires your teaching or preaching. According to 1 Corinthians 12, these are just some of the gifts the Spirit bestows upon us, “for the common good.”
I know that some faiths believe that the Spirit no longer gives gifts. I disagree, but it’s a familiar controversy. But I was recently surprised by someone insisting that spiritual gifts are also given to unbelievers, those who don’t have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. I had never even considered this possibility. Could it be true?
India. Complex. Overwhelming. Fascinating. It’s a land of flamboyant colors, intensely flavorful food, memorable odors. The city traffic is relentless—trucks, taxies, auto-rickshaws, buses, mixed with bullock-drawn carts and bicycles, motors rumbling, horns blaring. It’s a land of contrasts—city-blanketing smog comprised mainly of smoke from cooking fires, engine fumes and factory-produced dust, and blue skied villages; churches and idols; fabulous, bejeweled wealth dressed in business suits and silk saris, and too-thin families living under bridges or in back alleys. I can’t wait to get there, and I am relieved to go home again.
Should Christians be patriotic? I’ve read dozens of articles on this controversial topic over the past few years, with devoted believers with sound reasoning weighing in on both sides. I admit to getting frustrated when I go to church around July 4 and it’s all about the USA instead of all about Jesus. On the other hand, this is the country in which God has placed us. Shouldn’t we care about it?
Christianity Today magazine recently posted what I consider to be an excellent explanation of why it’s fine to be patriotic, as long as your nation doesn’t become an idol. Do you agree? You can read their editorial and decide for yourself.
For years, the church in Europe has been in decline. We speak of rising secularism, and the evidence is everywhere. Soaring cathedrals stand empty, with the buildings for sale. The German Spiegel Online reports:
Dwindling church attendance and dire financial straits are forcing the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany to sell off church buildings en masse. Some are demolished, while others are turned into restaurants or indoor rock climbing centers.
A cathedral in the Netherlands has been turned into a skateboard park. Others are becoming mosques.
What if you had never heard of Christmas?
Here in the U.S. almost every house in our neighborhood has some sort of decorations up. Santa is at the mall, and the stores have been pushing gifts for months. At least one radio station has been playing Christmas music nonstop since Thanksgiving. Our tree is up, the stockings are hung, and the calendar is full of invitations.
This true story about my husband is appropriate for today, Veteran’s Day, a day we honor the heroes who defend our nation. Pete isn’t a veteran, but in this age of glorified sports figures, media stars, and fictional super heroes, it’s good to stop and ask ourselves, “What is truly heroic? Who is my greatest hero?” This is a story about Pete’s.
A number of years ago, Pete traveled to India to participate in some strategy and training meetings on unreached people groups and church planting. His role was technical, dealing with computers and data. As a Silicon Valley consultant, this was his comfort zone, and he excelled in it.
God must take special pleasure in evicting us from our comfort zones. (Maybe He prefers that we depend on Him rather than our own expertise?)