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Archive for September, 2009

…prayers from a DISTANCE…

So, I’m taking a spiritual warfare class this semester as an elective. The following story is an excerpt from Chip Ingram’s book “The Invisible War.” What a reminder it is that prayer — even from a distance — is POWERFUL. From the jungles of Africa to the pews of a Michigan church… have a listen:

“The missionary was serving as a medic in Africa. Periodically, he had to travel by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. It was a two-day trip, so he would camp in the jungle overnight. He had always made the trip without incident, but one day when he arrived in the city he saw two men fighting. One was seriously hurt, so he treated the man, shared Christ with him, and went on his way.

The next time the missionary traveled to the city, the man he had treated approached him. ‘I know you carry money and medicine,’ the man said to the missionary. ‘Some friends and I followed you into the jungle that night after you treated me, knowing you’d have to sleep in the junlge alone. We waited for you to go to sleep, planning to kill you and take your money and drugs. As we started to move into the campsite, we saw 26 armed guards surrounding you. There were only six of us, so we knew we couldn’t possibly get near, and we left.’

That’s impossible. I assure you, I was alone in the campsite.

When he heard this, the missionary laughed. ‘That’s impossible. I assure you, I was alone in the campsite.’ But the young man pressed the point. ‘No, sir. I wasn’t the only one who saw the guards. My friends saw them too, and we all counted them.’

Several months later, the missionary attended his home church in Michigan and told of his experience. A man in the congregation interrupted his presentation by jumping to his feet and saying something that left everyone in the church stunned. With a firm voice, he said, ‘We were with you in spirit!’  The missionary looked perplexed. The man continued. ‘On that night in Africa it was morning here. I stopped by the church to get some materials for a ministry trip. But as I was putting my bags in my trunk, I felt the Lord leading me to pray for you. It was an extremely strong urge, so I got on the phone and gathered some other men to come to church and pray for you.’ Then the man turned to the rest of the congregation. ‘Will all of those men who prayed with me that day stand up right now?’ And one by one they stood up — all 26 of them.” (p.155-56)

 

 …God is amazing, isn’t He?

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…BUCKETS of dreams…

I’m a dreamer… I love to dream about what I want life to be like, what I want to be “when I grow up”, and the kinds of things I want to do someday.

Perhaps you too have made such a BUCKET LIST — a list of things you want to do before you die, or “kick the bucket”. Perhaps you’ve seen the recent Hollywood movie that’s literally called “The Bucket List”, or maybe you’ve been the recipient of copious surveys about such things via email or Facebook.

Well… I made one. It’s kind of fun. : ) Here’s a ‘lil sample of it: 

-live on each of the major continents

-learn Italian

-ride in a hot air balloon

-stomp grapes

-go to the Olympics

-sail the Galapagos

-design & build a house

-retrace the Klondike gold rush trail

-roadtrip across the US

-rent a mountain chalet in the winter

-backpack Europe… hostels and trains 

-see the Holy Land

 

Anyone can make a list like this… but I’ve been thinking lately, why is it that we more often dream about things to “do” (places to go, experiences to be had) rather than about attributes we’d like to have as people? I’m not talking about plastic surgery… Why don’t we, as a society, dream of WHO we want to be, instead of focusing soley on WHAT we want to be?   

 

I think it starts early. We encourage kids to dream big. Perhaps Johnny wants to be a doctor. Maybe Susie wants to explore the rainforests in Brazil. …but what kind of doctor will Johnny be? He could be the best surgeon in New York, but neglect his own health to make it through med school. He could cheat on his boards and abuse his girlfriend… but he’d still be a doctor. 

 

…Is THAT what dreams are made of? 

 

Doctors may be fantastic, smart, and giving. Or they may be arrogant, selfish, and lacking compassion. I think that’s true of any profession because, I would suggest, that it is not what we do that defines who we are. If that were so, then every doctor would be the same — simply a doctor. But that’s not the case… is it?

 

..Perhaps it’s time to dream about a new kind of bucket list. One that aspires to qualities of character — one that is internally, not externally, focused. 

 

Here’s the beginning of my second BUCKET LIST… I want to be a person who is:

 

-patient

-forgiving

-compassionate

-humble

-optimistic

-thankful

-consistent (integrity)

-encouraging

-content

-joyful

-peaceful

-adventuresome

-wise

-honest

 

..Hey, it’s a start! : )  

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…sensationalized EVIL…

Today I spent a chunk of my evening in a rather odd place… underground. It’s true… The city of Portland extends beyond what meets the common eye in the streets of the old town. Unbeknownst to many, tunnels weave through the city’s depths… a whole underground world that holds pieces of history… tales of despicable greed and outright evil.

Who knew?

A historical society in the area conducts tours, and in respect of their wishes I will relay nothing here of the historical narrative shared during the hour I spent underground this evening. It wasn’t the stories that flowed constantly from the lips of our knowledgable tour guide that left the greatest impression tonight, however… it was the response of our fellow tour-goers.

You could almost taste the anticipation of the zeal for the “paranormal” through the dusty air. People expressed wanting to hear about, and possibly even see, ghosts. Couples posed mockingly by places in which people were abhorrently mistreated and abused like they were in some kind of sick, twisted amusement park. I felt nauseus and a pressure set in my chest, one that hadn’t been there before I ventured into the tunnels…

I don’t know the people I just spent the past hour and half of my life with. I don’t even know their names. I don’t know what they’ve been through, where they live, or what they believe. But I felt like tonight, underground, it was less about learning about the history of a city and more about seeking “paranormal” information — stories or experiences. I felt like the lives that were stolen and shattered beneath the streets of Portland many, many years ago lay in the dust… trodden on.

Why are people drawn to ghosts, to the “paranormal”? I think it’s because God wired us with eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11); he made us in a way that we are incomplete without Him. I think we all, at some time and in some way, are searching for the same thing… we are searching for God. Ghosts, I would argue quite strongly, are a cheap counterfeit. Perhaps some are drawn to seek them because they can be seen with human eyes; they do not require faith. There are differing opinions surrounding ghosts and I will not dive into them here, but I will say that they have nothing to offer us. They cannot love us, they cannot heal us, they cannot carry our burdens for us, we cannot pray to them. God loves us, He’s real, and we don’t have to wander through dank tunnels looking for Him. He is always here, and His Word says that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

May we learn from the past, but may we not sensationalize the evil that has taken place in it. May we be aware of the present world around us, both that which is overtly seen and that which exists in the corners of society where people rather not venture. And above all, may we seek the most real and loving extra-ordinary experience ever: relationship with the God of the universe. No “paranormal” story will ever compare!

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