Thursday, October 27, 2005

All Things To All Men

This post is based off of a meditation of 1 Corinthians 9:19-22:

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. to the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some."

Paul's goal was to win people to the gospel. He knows he was free from the burdens of this world and the Law of Moses--all the pressures once placed on him. He was free from the judgments of men and from their control over his life. Yet he wrote here that he made himself a slave to all. This is following the example given to us by Christ Himself (see Phil. 2: 5-8). Knowing the power of Christ and the foundation He laid, Paul followed suit. So that he might "win more" Paul became like those with whom he was sharing the message of the gospel. Each situation had its different challenges and circumstances, therefore Paul had to adjust.

I am sure that his ministry afforded him comfortable times of living--good homes, good food, good fellowship, etc. But there were many other times when that was not the case--times he was beaten and left for dead, imprisoned and held in chains. Yet he wrote himself that he had "learned to be content in whatever circumstances" he was placed (Phil. 4:11). He continued to write that he knew "how to get along with humble means," but to also know how to live in prosperity. He had learned the "secret of being filled and going hungry, both having abundance and suffering need" (4:12). The secret for him was knowing that in every one of these circumstances he was planced in, he was drawing all of his strength from Christ (4:13). It is so vital to remember that our lives are lived for the gospel, that Christ chose us (John 15:16) and we are all set apart for the purpose of God. By the grace of Christ we experience His abundant and everlasting life, leading us to this strength Paul penned in his letter to the Phillippians.

So to the Jew, Paul became as the Jews
to win the Jews.
So those under the Law, Paul became as one under the Law
to win those under the Law
So to those without the law, Paul became as one without the law
to win those without the law
And to the weak, Paul became weak
to win the weak.

"All things to all men, so that we may by all means save some."

Here is the justification for serving the lost under any capacity, whether it be a mudhut in the jungles of Africa or in the comfort of a familiar university campus . to those in the mudhuts who live by means we consider primitive, we become like them for the sake of the gospel. This means not wearing Nikes and watching the latest episode of Desparate Housewives or going to McDonald's for a Big Mac--we must adjust to their lifestyle and see their culture for the joys and comforts they find in it. It is a large adjustment for those of us coming from the United States, but a native of that village brought to the saving grace of Christ would have no difficulty adjusting to that culture. And for the college students who many think it is pointless to spend time with and have a ministry for, we must go and share the gospel, becoming like the college students and reaching them where they are. For us this means a fairly comfortable lifestyle, but again, turn the table and imagine if that same native came to America as a missionary--oh how he would have an adjustment to make to the college lifestyle!

"All things to all men, so that we may by all means save some."

This is the mission. And for this mission we must have missionaries.

Monday, October 24, 2005

At peace...


I am at peace. Prayer and the encouragement of others has brought me to a peace I haven't really experienced this month. That is somewhat difficult to write because the verse I always bring myself back to is John 16:33 which Christ says "...in me you may have peace." The peace was replaced with pressures and burdens I chose to carry on my own.

But God has brought me to a place where I need to be at--patiently waiting. I am enjoying this time of questioning and discovery; challenges and trials. I have had some conversations that have been amazing and many that have been hard. Regardless, they all left me looking to the Lord.

I was just traversing through Scripture to find a verse that came to mind, but instead I was reading one that sums it all up even better.

"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand..." (Psalm 31:14-15). Everything in my life--raising support, family, ministry, friends, personal struggles, etc.--is in the hand of the Lord. He is in control.

Oh how I must be reminded of that!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Saddened...

This is my camera. All of the pictures throughout this blog have been taken with that camera. I got it while I was in Italy knowing I would be taking a lot of pictures. I would always try and be artistic with disposible camera, but they just never came out the way I wanted and for good reason--that isn't their job. It was so exciting to receive this camera and see all the different settings on it to where I could be a little more creative with the pictures I would take. I am sure I took nearly 1500 pictures while in Europe (more would be counted for repeated shots of the same thing) and have continued to take pictures here in America. I have encountered a problem though that has saddened me deeply.

While in Ft. Lauderdale in June I was taking pictures of a CAFTA (Free Trade) protest in the street. I set it on a dresser and then I accidentally knocked it over. Consequently the monitor cracked, causing only half the picture to be seen. Pictures can and were still be taken, but it is very difficult to know exactly what you are taking. I sent it in to Casio to get it fixed while under warranty. Of course one of many things not covered is a the screen breaking. Therefore I am being charged. And this is how much I am being charged to get the screen fixed:

$210.00!!!

When I purchased the camera it was only $250.00 and I am sure if I were to get the same one again it would actually be cheaper than fixing the screen. I just can't believe it costs that much to fix the screen. So now I am debating. The mega-pixels were too low on that camera; the night shots didn't take too well; there is no shutter speed function on there; and the videos are in AVI format (MPEG format would allow me to put video on my website).

Now I am seriously considering getting a new one, but do not want to be hasty. Instead I am going to trust in the Lord for His provision and seek to figure out how I can get the camera I would like (Canon SD400) which is a little more expensive, but suits my taste with the next step I would like to take in this newfound hobby of mine.

I didn't have this camera long (only a year) and am thoroughly upset with the way things have turned out. I love taking pictures and hope to have some new ones up for you all to see.

In the meantime, enjoy some of my favorites taken over the past year:


By His Grace...

There is something about the word grace that brings me into complete awe of God. We know this word to mean "unmerited favor" and that is exactly how we should view it. The self-sufficiency of God brings me to the realization that God does not need me because He is fully satisfied in Himself. The God of all the universe and all creation did not need to do any of it, but instead did so out of joy and pleasure; He "saw that it was good." And as I learn I see that it is only by His Word that He created. "The God said, 'let there be light;' and there was light" (Gen. 1:3); "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made...for He spoke, and it was done" (Psalms 33:6, 9). This is how simple it is for Our God to have created and we know how easy it would be for Him to destroy, all we would have to do is read Genesis 6-8. Instead we see that all things are held together by, in and through Him (Rom. 12:36, Col 1:16-17). Therefore our existence alone depends solely on the grace of God.

This is where I begin to be blown away in so many ways that one day I hope to write a book about it. The grace of God, because we exist, extends to every single aspect of our lives. From the moment we are first conceived to the day we breathe our last everything is under the grace of God. I wake up by His grace; I move by His grace; I talk by His grace; I think by His grace; I even type this journal by His grace. Then as I think of all the good things, because I exist and in my existence I am fallible, God's grace allows me the opportunity to continue to live and breathe. Jesus, in His divine wisdom, said "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:45). God's grace provides every human being the opportunity to experience His blessings, whether they are good or evil, righteous or unrighteous. It is amazing to me that by His grace (and an amazing display of His patience and mercy) God does not condemn me to death because of my unrighteous anger or jealousy or greed or idolatry.

The ultimate display of His grace is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Why did Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, die for us? We already know that God has no need for us, so if there is no need, why would He send His Son to die for His creation--a creation that has done nothing but rebel against Him since the days of Adam? "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast" (Eph 2:8-9). This popular salvation passage reveals new truths to me everytime it comes to mind. Christ--the Word made flesh--came not to fulfill some need to be in relationship with us, but because of this unmerited favor, this grace. This is the most selfless giving we can ever attempt to know or try to comprehend.

One day I wish truly to share everything that I think about Our Lord's grace. As He reveals more of Himself to me daily I trust that volumes can be (and already have been) written about His grace, for without it, we would cease to be.