Wednesday, November 14, 2018

God's Peace Plan

"Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation..." 2 Corinthians 5:18.

Do Something, lyrics by Matthew West


I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how'd we ever get so far down
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't You do something?"


In an increasingly violent Middle East men, women and children are in complete despair and devastation. Thousands are fleeing their ancient homelands. Even Muslims are rejecting the Al Qaeda version of Islam where human rights are trampled on, past agreements are disregarded and historical sites are obliterated. How will the people of Iraq, Syria and Somalia ever recover?

We know that God humbled himself and lived among us. Jesus demonstrated God's holiness, power, justice, and love for 33 years. And he said "Do likewise..." In answer to his question to God "Why don't you do something?" Matthew West continues, "I did, I made you..." We are his hands and feet. Amazing that God gives us such an important role!


We know that Its man's sin--selfishness, pride and rebellion that has put him on a collision course with one another and with God. His peace plan has you and I in it so that we can proclaim that through Jesus' death and resurrection one can be made right with God and others. We are the 'boots on the ground' to declare and demonstrate this message.

"Nobody wants us" bemoaned a Palestinian family who found refuge in Canada. "Everyone hates us." Another Palestinian woman was overwhelmed when a Christian family met them at the airport and said "Welcome! I felt like I finally belonged." This is what brought her and her family to faith in Jesus.

A creative group of students from my alma matter(Moody Bible Institute) offered 'free prayer' on the streets of Chicago! Praying with Muslims is certainly something we can do. Our words are comforting. Prayer is key since the battle is ultimately in the "heavenly realms", "against evil rulers...mighty powers of darkness..." as Ephesians 6:12 tells us. One thing for sure, what the world needs is peace and we are instructed to pray for peace.


War Memorial, Ottawa
November of this year marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War with Belgium, France, Britain and Germany standing together in a spirit of reconciliation. Millions of people died in the brutal war fought from 1914-18. Rather than seeking for revenge, they laid down their arms a long time ago and now live together in peace and harmony. This kind of attitude certainly pleases God.

I have a few believer friends from Muslim background who are often deeply troubled and when we pray in Jesus name, you can feel peace literally settling down into the room. Its like a picture of a contented and soothed baby in the arms of its mother.

Some may ask, "Isn't this dangerous to be involved on such a personal level with Muslims"? Perhaps in some places. Much is at stake if we as a church of Jesus Christ remain unengaged. Now is not the time to retreat and remain idle. I want to be where God is at work.


Dear Lord, please show me what part I have in your peace plan. Amen.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Teamwork

“…the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work I have for them...” Acts 13:2&3

Canada geese fly in a 'V formation' when migrating. The lead bird takes the brunt of the headwind. The trailing bird benefits from up to 65% less air resistance because of the wake(air turbulence) of the bird ahead of him. This preserves energy and greatly increases the range of the birds. Each bird takes his turn as leader. Honking encourages each other on. When one of their own is wounded and has to drop out of the flight formation, another will accompany him and stay by his side until the wounded bird recovers or dies. Then the healthy one will fly to rejoin his flock and on to the destination.

Isn’t this a great picture of teamwork? Can we apply this to ‘Missions’? Paul was sent out. Wherever he went, Paul surrounded himself with a team—his ‘V formation’. Tychicus is mentioned several times as the one who takes reports back to churches. At the end of Colossians, Paul lists many such individuals on his team. Of particular interest to me is the story of Acquilla and Priscilla, a husband and wife team. They fled Rome and settled in Corinth where they met Paul. They were an effective team and Paul’s esteemed co-workers. They were ordinary people who loved the Lord deeply and cared for Paul’s well-being.

In recent years, Joy and I have been a ‘husband and wife’ team in ministry. Its wonderful to share this part of our journey together. Our day starts out with an extended prayer time which includes praying for our Muslim contacts and for new believers. When I meet Muslim women at places where I volunteer, I link them up with Joy if they are interested.  Our focus is increasingly on family units and the best way to reach them is for both of us to be involved. When we extend hospitality, we often sit together for the first while and then Joy takes the woman and children to our family room in the basement. I stay upstairs with the guy and can focus on his needs. In the meantime, this gives Joy an opportunity to talk to the woman about their particular interests and to seek for openings to share spiritually.

I’ve written about All Nations Sports Club earlier. My then co-leader and volunteers served as a team from the start to the finish. We started our evening off with prayer and then at half-time, one of us shares a ‘God-talk’. If another team member was sharing, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of the boys while he presented.

My wife and I are privileged to have a great team of prayer and financial partners. Instead of a 'Tychicus', we use e-mail to connect us almost instantly with our prayer partners. We send out SOS prayers or mini-reports of what God is doing in our ministry. These special brothers and sisters are part of our ‘V formation’. We could say, they do the 'honking'--keep going, keep going!

An African proverb says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Lord God, we are awed that you have chosen us to be part of your ministry team on earth. Amen.


     

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Born to Fight?

"...we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies...but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world...mighty powers in this dark world...evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6.

Jamal from North Africa told us his story. You could tell he is a fighter. Just for fun his friends would wrestle on the beaches back home. He smiled with satisfaction as he described the fights he had won. No wonder Jamal is bored here! I have another friend like him from Palestine. He too is a survivor and drives taxi now. He defends his turf here in Canada. Several times when his fare didn't pay up, he took matters into his own hands. One time a brawl broke out with a drunken passenger. He pushed him into a snowbank, took the money from the guy's wallet, and called the police! These young men grew up in rough and tough situations. They're young and looking for excitement and an adrenalin rush.

In Pakistan we lived next to some of the fiercest fighters in the world--the Pashtun people. Guns are shot into the air when a son is born. They need the strength of men to survive. They've had to defend their turf numerous times. Alexander the Great, when confronted with Pashtun fighters observed that "My mother gave birth to only one Alexander but all the Pashtuns are Alexanders"!! They fought off super powers of the day including Britain and Russia. From Pakistan I remember buses passing through our village overloaded with 'Mujahedeen' fighters shouting slogans from on top of the bus "Down with the Kafirs(Russians), Allah Akhbar". Yet, beautifully woven into their culture is a deep sense of loyalty to their own but also a commitment to protect non-Pashtun friends like us in their midst. Great qualities.

My roots are the 'Mennonite' community. They prefer to be viewed as activists for 'peace' rather than simply 'pacifists'. They're often present where there is poverty or physical need. In a more quiet way, they encourage negotiation and seeking peaceful solutions. They would have been comfortable with Jesus in the garden after Peter pulled out his sword and slashed off a soldier's ear. Jesus said, "Put your sword away". See also "Should We Fight?"(Joy Loewen)

There are many causes worth fighting for. Our kids and grand-kids are living in a culture where Christian values and faith are assaulted. Joy and I are committed to fighting in prayer for them. Our grand-kids come face to face with issues we never dreamed of. The 'world' is trying to squeeze them into a mold and embrace values that ultimately are destructive for their spiritual well-being and for society.

We are also 'standing in the gap' for Muslims. They are the victims of a great deception and intense community pressure. Mohamed fought hard for monotheism and brought in a new world order by force. In the West the vast majority of the Muslims are peaceful but they need a Savior from sin. In their worldview God's judgement is based on scales. They hope that their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds. Sadly, most will die without peace from knowing that they are made right with God through Jesus. This is worth fighting for on their behalf.

Heavenly Father, thank-you for the privilege of partnering with you--battling for and spreading your Good News. Amen.