It is official

We have been approved to go.

We will be leaving for New York on June 25 and leaving the United States on June 27.  We should arrive in Nairobi on June 29.

Bwana asifiwe.

It is supposed to be hard

Life is a filter to separate the sheep and the goats.  To which I would also like to add that Jesus clearly lays this out in Matthew 7:13-14

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

And there is also a strong reference to this same idea in Revelation 21:27

But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

So, not only is there a process of separation, but it is also where those sheep are changed into spotless servants of God.  We would all defile the Heavenly Kingdom in our current state, so we need to be changed.  That is a difficult process, but it is supposed to be.  We are supposed to have trouble.  We are supposed to change. We do not like change, but it is necessary.

Hard work isn’t easy but then, it’s not supposed to be.

Life is a filter

I wrote about what God did for us. Now I want to write about why He did it, or more specifically why He did it the way He did.

Paradise as described by John:

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5

It sounds like a great place. I look forward to being there, forever and ever. But, what is going to keep rebellion out of Heaven? As my dad puts it, “How come this (sinful rebellious man) is not going to happen again?”

For us to demonstrate our love for God, our willingness to live in His kingdom, there has to be a choice. If the choice was easy, and everyone made the same choice, it would not really be a choice, much like I wrote about the spectrum in “What is Evil.”

Life is about choosing. It is about God choosing us, and it is about us choosing Him. So when we really do live in His presence we already know what we want, and we have it. All the rebellious desire will be filtered out of man, both entire people and from each individual saint.

I think there is a nice short summation of this whole thing in Luke 23:39-43. Jesus, on the cross, has an exchange with two criminals. One curses God. The other, facing his death, and the presence of God incarnate chooses to acknowledge God, and is admitted to God’s grace.

You know that feeling you get when the protagonist in a story comes to the climax of a story and wins, against all odds. I am talking about a real protagonist too, not one of these morally ambiguous stories that seem so prevalent today. At least, it is a feeling I get. It is a wonderful feeling, things are being set right, justice is being done, grace is being shown. I want to stand up and yell. I think this is just a taste of the fulfillment we get when we fulfill the will of God. That is our true purpose, and how much more fulfilling it will be when we do so in His actual presence. I will take and eternity of that.

He Got It

My previous post got me thinking some more about my experiences with serving.  A few years back, I took some people on some one day missions trips to Tecate, Mexico.  We were going down there to do some construction for a church.  They were painting, replastering the outside and building some showers on top of a small bathroom building they had.  A lot of different groups went there to help out, many bringing High School kids.

I do not know how familiar with construction work you are, but it is hard to find people who do good work (not for me, I have my brother).  But I do not suppose it is hard for you to understand that bringing in random groups of High School kids is not the best way to get a job done.  Because of that, a lot of the work was a bit shoddy.

I remember working with the pastor’s son.  He was a guy in his early twenties, educated and spoke English pretty well.  He really wanted to get things right.  He kept going around the job correcting this, adjusting that.  I could tell he was getting very frustrated with much of the work and not a few of the workers.  I sat back and watched the whole thing unfold.  Then I took a look at his father.  He just let everyone work seemingly uncaring about the outcome.  He got it.

You see, he understood that the whole point of people going down to “help” this “poor Mexican” church really had nothing to do with construction.  In fact, it really had nothing to do with helping.  It had to do with the lives of the people who were there to “help”.  God was working on them, and that was the real work.  That pastor was the one that was ministering to people, not being ministered to, and he understood it.

Here is some bad news, and I hate to be the one to bring it.  God does not need you. If God chose teams the way we do, we would never get picked.  The fact that He chooses to use us is amazing to me.  Here we are, the flawed part of His creation living in rebellion against His will, and He chooses us.  Not because we have something to add that He needs, but because He wants to work in and through us.  It is through that working that we are changed.

The Good News

I wanted to write a little bit more about some things I have been discussion with my father, and it relates to the an earlier post I wrote.  However, before I can write that, I wanted to put this down so we could all be working from the same page.

Before you can discuss why someone does something, it is a good idea to know what they have done.

The Gospel is pretty straight forward in my mind.

God created man, in His image.  Man was given rational thought, and is morally aware.  In other words, man was given a free will, and his own mind to make up.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

Man used that free will to rebel against God.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

The result of that rebellion is death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

But we see that God, in His love for us does not want it to end that way.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Man, that is, you and I, walked outside of God’s will, but rather than leaving us there to die, He sent Jesus to “go and get us” and bring us back to Him.  That is what God did.  It is not complicated.