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The Testament

Cover of "The Testament (John Grisham)"

Cover of The Testament (John Grisham)

Greg and I have been reading “The Testament” by John Grisham together – out loud, a few chapters a night before turning in.  This is my favorite book by Grisham – and one that I have recommended to other people over the years because of the strong redemption and salvation message in it.

It is a story of a very wealthy man who takes his own life – but before he does he signs a  handwritten will leaving his entire estate to an illegitimate daughter – a missionary deep in the jungle of Brazil.  But as much as the wealth and power of this one man gets much attention in the early chapters of the book – it is really a story about the journey of the troubled and complicated lawyer, Nate – who is the one appointed to find and share the news of the inheritance and who takes a journey to Brazil to find her.  It is about his life and what happens to him after encountering her, a simple missionary who has no regard for money.  In fact she refuses to have anything to do with what she has inherited, which would make her the richest woman in the world.  Her attitude about money so changes him – that his life is never quite the same.  He see his life in a different way after being with her – and he finally finds God in a simple but powerful way.

We have been reading it – and pondering after each chapter.  What if someone left us 11 billion dollars?  Would it change us?  How?  In her case wouldn’t she be able to buy more medical supplies – or even build a clinic – a hospital or something greater to help the Indian people?  How about a school – or several?  How about churches or universities?  A boat for traveling around on the many rivers in that remote area?  It is staggering to think how much you could buy with unlimited resources like that.

But then, we were forced to ponder her ‘take’ on the situation.  How she heard what was left to her – considered it – and then refused it.  She had no relationship with her wealthy father – never knew him in fact.  I believe she thought that money corrupts – in much the way it had her half brothers and sisters she had read about – and how it brought no peace and happiness in the end for her father.

I believe that it is refreshing to hear that not everyone finds the same value in wealth or position in this world.  That living simply – finding real lasting peace and joy from fulfilling a calling that burns deep inside is really the only way to live.  This woman had nothing but the clothes on her back – a tiny shack to live in and limited medical supplies – but she had something that very few people have.  She had peace, a purpose and a deep and sincere love for people in Brazil.  And that was all she wanted or needed.  Her faith in God sustained her and it was enough.

It is inspiring to read a story like this – and to recognize and honor those who have left behind a life of many comforts – and many stresses to follow a calling that burns within – with no regard to personal financial freedom and normal comforts.  And we know MANY people who have followed where God has led them around the world and even here at home to do the same.  These chosen people have found real joy and peace in following what is so real to them – it is the driving force of their life – and those that encounter them and their life of sacrifice are never the same.

As we all strive to find out our ultimate calling and purpose that God has for us – may be do it with humility of spirit – never being lured by the thought of financial gain or personal comfort.  Our prayer needs to be:  “Lord, I pray that those that come across my path will forever be changed – because when they see me – I want them to see you, because when they really see you – they will never be the same” Amen

God Bless

 

God Bless

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Who’s In – And Who’s Not

We live in a culture where it is important to ‘belong’.  We have all been either ‘in’ or ‘out’ when it comes to the ‘clubs’ of our society – like church groups – country clubs – gyms or sports arenas.  Even as children we gravitate to those most likely to accept us and either start our own ‘club’ – or long to be with the ‘other kids’ who seem to have a better ‘club’ than we have.  We all want to belong.  We all want acceptance – even as children.  We want to be noticed and to ‘fit it’.  Sometimes sacrificing ourselves in the process – because being with the popular kids – or the ones who are ‘in’ is far superior to us than being on the outside looking in.

Unfortunately we have also done this as adults.  We’ve done it in our churches.  We’ve done it as Christians.

It looks something like this:  New person comes and joins my ‘club’ and now I feel threatened.  Maybe they will take something away from me.  Maybe my friends will like them better.  Maybe they will be funnier than I am – maybe they will be better than I am.

We had a situation years ago in our church – where we had a thriving music ministry – choir, orchestra and worship team.  This ‘club’ involved about 100 people on any given Sunday.  It was hard work to keep the thing going, new people were encouraged to be a part – but looked at somewhat suspiciously.  Eventually those involved took on the identity of the ‘club’.  When changes were made and even drastically cut down – those that thought they were ‘in’ were threatened and challenged.  Suddenly church did not become about the ‘big picture’ – or about new people finding Christ – as it became about the ‘club’.  It was their identity.

For years we have defined who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ as far as our Christian faith is concerned.  Some feel it necessary to have a firm grasp on just who is accepted as part of the ‘club’ and those who are never welcomed in.  Those divorced, from a bad family, those involved in moral failure or substance abuse would not be a part of the club.  It was not said in so many words – but everyone just knew. I mean – ‘they really aren’t very spiritual, are they’?

Is is ever possible to really hate the sin – but love the sinner?  Do we put feet to this by allowing them into our ‘club’ – into our ‘world’ to break bread with us?

We live next door to a lesbian couple.  They are the nicest human beings you will ever meet – and though we ourselves think homosexuality is wrong and contradicts everything we know to be true as far as the Bible is concerned – we really like these ladies. We love them.   We know these women would be shunned by others of our faith and it makes us sad.  They would only see the shame and sin – they would never be able to see them.

We also know of others who are shunned, ignored and made to feel ‘out’ instead of ‘in’ – because of those judging them have much emotion – bad feelings or personal prejudices – nothing more.  They are judged on a feeling or on the physical appearance. Or because they don’t believe like we do. I think we have to be very careful – when we have a ‘club’ that is exclusive – and restricts because of small mindedness and agenda.  In doing so we give the silent message to all – “I’m better – I have the only truth – there is no other way to see it than my way”  This is dangerous indeed and it is how cults are formed – and why Hitler had so much power and influence over people.  It is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

We need to embrace people – especially those that are different from us.  There is much we can learn from other cultures and even other denominations.  I believe we may have a surprise when we get to heaven and find our Catholic brothers and sisters – even the Baptist and Lutheran standing beside us!  How small our little ‘club’ will seem then.  God sees the ‘big picture’ – he is not about denominational walls – he is about the heart.

Let’s not make the mistake of judging others – especially the heart and motive that only God can truly see.  He is the only judge – and in the end the truth will revealed.  Someday it may be revealed to us – that very person we don’t like – and that we’re not allowing ‘in’ to our ‘club’ – God is whispering, ‘they are my favorite‘.

Our job is to love, encourage and be an example to others of the love and acceptance that we received from Christ – when we stood before Him and said, “I’m in”.  Let’s bring a whole lot of others with us – as we change this dying world – with our love.

Who’s In?  You are. Remember – you are God’s favorite.

God Bless

Love until it Hurts…And Sometimes it Will… (via Cindy Holman’s Blog)

Written a year ago and posted on my blog – it is still appropriate ‘food for thought’ today – and I hope it will inspire each of you look beyond circumstances – makes allowances for others – to ‘dig deep’ and love until it hurts.

God Bless

“I have found the paradox – If I love until it hurts – then there is no hurt – but only more love.” Mother Teresa This is my favorite quote.  Mother Teresa – modern day hero – living in an in-hospital situation – in Calcutta, India – working with the orphans and the homeless and unlovely – amidst adversity and poverty.  She considered it an honor to serve her Lord and to love people. I have never been called to foreign missions – but have served … Read More

via Cindy Holman’s Blog

We Are Called To Be A Light

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Had brunch today with a young couple, Brian and Debbie Fulthorp –  from the Grand Canyon Park of Arizona – spending time with family here in Renton, Washington before beginning the hard task of raising their own support to become home missions status missionaries –  back home.  As I heard them share their great love of the people who live there – most are Indian and other mixed race – they have fallen in love with the multicultural way of living and communicating with the people who inhabit that great area around the Grand Canyon.  I was impressed by the way they told stories of the lives that they have touched – and have influenced by their love and absolute acceptance.  In many cases they have had opportunity of teaching and reaching one on one – with someone from another part of the world – temporarily living there – and in turn that person was so impacted that they have gone back to ‘their world’ in a totally different culture and have been able to be ‘a light’ to their people in a way that outsiders never could.

I got to thinking about this thought today as I sat and listened to them sharing stories of their ministry there for the last 3 1/2 years.  We are all ‘called’ to be a ‘light’ to our world – wherever we are.  We don’t have to wait to get called overseas or to a local body of believers – our mission field might be the people we come into contact with everyday.  We have a way with them – and more important – and understanding through time and relationship that others do not have.  We are all missionaries.  Those of us who have a personal relationship with Christ – are a light.  And what does light do?  It drives out the darkness.  That’s what we are called to do – be light givers – driving back the darkness.

Just a thought for all of us today – as I am challenged and renewed – are you being a ‘light’ in your world?  Do others far from God feel a ‘light’ from your presence?  Do you add joy and grace by just being around them?  Can they feel something ‘peaceful’ and ‘loving’ about you?  Do they want to be around you because they feel the ‘light’?  Are you ‘contagious to them?  This is what we need to be to our world around us – pointing everyone we come in contact with – to the ultimate ‘light’ – Jesus.

I am praying for you today – that you would be a ‘light’ to your corner of the world.  That others would be better because they know you and have you as a part of their journey.  And that you would shine your good deeds before men in a way – that no one else in their world – can.

God Bless

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