Wednesday, September 16, 2009

God is shouting

I have been absolutely itching to write this post. I kept waiting on fully complete thoughts and well polished execution, but....well....this is what you get instead. I can't wait any longer. I'm sure it will resemble a scrambled egg with bits and pieces everywhere (and by no means exhaustive), but this is the best I can do today. :)

I feel like, rather, I KNOW God had been speaking loudly to me. Shouting. I rarely feel like this. In fact, I usually am straining to hear Him above the other racket in my heart. This season is very different, and one of the ways I know this is because He's speaking to me from all over the place. It's a theme in my life. It's everywhere! His word, friends, blogs, books, etc.

Rather than try to articulate this myself, I'm going to let others who say it better.

First, let me say that I am LOVING this book! I had no idea it would become so popular when Amazon first recommended it to me, but it makes perfect sense. It's exciting to know that God is moving many other hearts in a similar way.

Here's part of what I last read in it. It captures a lot of this theme. He had just quoted 2 Cor 8:13-15 and then says...

"Paul was asking the Corinthian believers to give to the impoverished saints in Jerusalem, the goal being that no one would have too much or too little. This is pretty far-fetched in modern-day culture, where we are taught to look out for ourselves and are thus rewarded.

The gap is so extreme in our world that we have to take lightly passages such as Luke 12:33: 'Sell your possessions and give to the poor.' How else can I walk out of a mud shack and back into my two-thousand-square-foot house without doing anything? The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful... and nearly unheard of. We either close the gap or don't take the words of the Bible literally.

Dare to imagine what it would mean for you to take the words of Jesus seriously. Dare to think about your own children living in poverty without enough to eat. Dare to believe that those really are your brothers and sisters in need."

Later he says...

" Back when I was in Bible college, a professor asked our class, 'What are you doing right now that requires faith?' That question affected me deeply because at the time I could think of nothing in my life that required faith. I probably wouldn't be living very differently if I didn't believe in God; my life was neither ordered nor affected by my faith like I had assumed it was."

Yesterday, Kelly posted about this post by Thabiti Anyabwile. It should break your heart and wake you up. If it doesn't, pray that it will. Pray that it takes the full effect in your life it deserves. I'm praying that too. He gets very much at the heart of what I think God is shouting to me after he paints the tragic picture he saw in South Africa of an entire generation of people dying out because of poverty and AIDS:

"I'm looking at this scene in Africa--and it could be in most any place in the world--and I just can't justify the idea that my only task as a Christian and a preacher is to preach the gospel. I can't justify the idea that if I only preach the gospel--which I must preach and treasure and guard--then I've been faithful even if I've not served the needs around me. When you're standing this close to the naked, brazen effects of sin and depravity, you realize that Christ's work of redemption is our only hope and that we need to act in that same hope.

Today's visit to one town reveals to me the betrayal it is to claim to be gospel people and not be merciful people."

How do we make this so separate and for so long? It's tragic!!!

I'm overwhelmed and sad that I've overlooked Jesus right in front of me...hungry, thirsty, hurt, naked, homeless... It saddens me that I've cried for the poor and needy at my computer screen, and that's where it ended.

I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,
I need clothes and you did not clothe me,
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me...

I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of
the least of these, you did not do for me.
Mt 25: 42-43, 45

Chan asks a good question:

"We see it as a fresh perspective on poverty rather than a literal picture of impending judgement. How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came in contact with as Christ--the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my own family with whom I can't seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed?"

But here's the other thing.... I really believe that while yes, giving is for the other person, it's for us too! I've been missing out. Joy is promised, treasure in Heaven, but better than it all, we get Jesus. I think this is going deeper than where we've been.

I've always been passionately convinced that when you go overseas, you see parts of who God is and what He's doing that you just can't see from where you're sitting. I really do believe that. But I think the same is true for sacrificial giving. It opens up something that was closed before. God gave us Jesus. I think giving brings deeper fellowship with the greatest Giver.

So right now, I'm struggling with the fleshing it out part. Josh and I need to brainstorm, dream and rethink our budget.

We need to repent. And ask for His help. We need Him to change us.

Can't wait to keep you updated.