Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Greetings

Here we go getting ready for Easter weekend.  There was a few years ago a sunrise service on a hilltop outside Darhan.  People froze on that frosty morning.

This year I hear no talk of an outdoor service.  But an early morning prayer service instead is planned at our church.  Then instead of 11am, we are starting the service at 10.

It's funny that before you know it, Palm Sunday is gone and Good Friday is almost here.
Happy Early Easter.  He is Risen!

Friday, March 27, 2015

CR Seminar Weekend

It's funny how fast time goes by.  Its already a week since I last wrote on here.

Last weekend was busy with prayer retreat here in Darhan.  This week we are preparing for our Spring CR Seminar at the CAMA Center.  Like last time, the Mongolian leaders want me to set the tome with a word from the Word.  I will preach Ephesians 5 again.

But first I will start with one of their own Mongolian proverbs, which says, 'Reach Age 40, and then Just Taste' (a drink).  It sounds poetic in Mongolian, even though its a command.  The question is, has anyone ever obeyed it?  You and I were warned by our parents and teacher about what's right and wrong, healthy or not.  Have we listened?

Why should we be surprised when we reap what we've sown then?  It's a hard word I know.  But if we don't accept our own fault and wrong in where we end up life, every effort to change will be fought, mostly by our own pride and selves.  I think realizing our own faults and faulty choices is the way to overcome stubbornness.

The main reason I want to share from Ephesians 5 is because of verse 18, which tells you what not to do, and then ingeniously gives you something to do instead.  "Do not get drunk on wine, which yields to debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit"  God's Spirit gives us insight into and frees us from temptation.  But spirits we drink just give you a hangover.  On top of that sometimes it gets you into debauchery.  The hard truth is that people may start to desire things a certain age or stage.  The problem is that the debauchery you desire is not alway the only kind you get.  Disease, death, divorce or worse can come from drunkenness.  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22,23)

One of the miracle things about the Spirit of God is there is no cost.  He is free in another sense to do what He wants as well.  Our seminar has a $2.50 price tag for two days of teaching, snacks and meals.  The tuition won't cover our costs.  And it won't buy the Spirit, who was sent from Jesus and the Father to believers to do good in this world.  He only comes by obeying the Word, and by grace at that.  But He can heal your heart, and expose and end the pain that we try to numb, manage, or medicate by various means.

So hopefully some people will catch the vision to start Celebrate Recovery in their own church or community from this Seminar.  Last seminar we hosted, a pastor came with one of his disciples from their countryside church.  A couple months later, they started CR in their town.  We will be happy if that happens again after this weekend.  They are Celebrating Recovery and drawing others with steep mountains to climb.

I am looking forward to friends from our old countryside town coming this time.  May God get the glory and growth for any seeds that are sown.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Grace Unlimited

Is there a limit to how much grace God will give?  I think the people of God could debate this for a long time.  It could be a more productive argument than that of eternal salvation being guaranteed or losable.  I think these kind of dialectic conversations can help open up our hearts and keep us from running to extremes.  "It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes." (Eccl. 7:18)

Is God's grace scarce, or in short supply?  There's a good list of extrememes to avoid before the above quote in Ecclesiastes 7.  One is being over righteous.  Are you tense?  Angry?  Scared?  When I am, I rarely admit it.  Once I'm over or through it, then I'm more open to talking about it.  But what is the medicine that helps me get over what ails me?  It's not more anger or fear.  That just shuts me down or makes me run in other ways.

The medicine is grace.  Like a lot of elixirs or antidote, it has to be used in the right way and correct dosage.  Using it everyday just because it feels good would be like continuing to take morphine years after the pain from the surgery was over.  Like the wrong use of chemicals, I would argue it is possible to abuse grace.  That doesn't mean God is short on grace, or runs out of it.  But like a doctor He might change treatments,  When we stop responding to grace or abusing it, He might need to use some of the other tools in the box.

Truth and Law are also valuable tools in the hands of God to heal and set us on the right path.  Because some people might abuse grace, should I never use it?  That would make about as much sense as not taking the antidote for poisoning because too much of it could kill me.  Well not taking the right dose of the antidote of a snake bite is equally fatal.

Grace through faith in Jesus is the antidote to Sin and its wages, Death.  Jesus came "full of grace and truth", and was also the fulfillment of the Law.  He obeyed it all so we don't have to and will never be good enough.  Jesus is good so we don't have to.  But once we taste His pleasure, he gives us the desire and ability to please God, because we want to.

We'll never be perfect in this body and world, but by God's truth and grace we can be sure of perfection in eternity.  In the mean time let's make sure we use grace without losing sight of truth. The Good News Translation states the same truth slightly differently: "Avoid both extremes. If you have reverence for God, you will be successful anyway."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Post

I think this is going to be kind of an open letter to the person out there that reads this blog.  Everyone else can sort of listen in if they ever check in.  First, thanks for reading.  Second, thanks for mentioning I haven't updated since the last time you read.  That lets me know you care enough to check back for new info.

I just changed the way my home page opens when I open my internet browser. One of the icons sitting there to be opened was a big B for Blogger.  So here I am blogging.

It's pretty encouraging to have Pastor Roy and Donna visiting here from Pennsylvania.  To be able to see what we do and hear and what God is doing through fresh eyes, is a breath of fresh air.  They visited the three projects here at the center today and were impressed.  We had lunch with the whole staff.  After we talked about further education, training and leadership, but mostly about relationship.  I thought this was going to be a long blog.

But my coworker at the CR Center just came in and reminded me about our step study we lead at 4pm.  That's one minute from now.

Other events in my day included a long talk with a Mongolian pastor we work with, seeing a former employee in our CR Center who I had to fire last fall.  Taking the rice-maker back to the Bible school, running Roy and Donna back to their hotel.

Maggie and Anika came into the center a few minutes ago and I hear their guitar lesson from here with our Mongolian CR Center worker named Bathuyaga.  It's good to blog now and then.  I hope this little web log shed a little light on all of us.  I'm late for a step study by 2 minutes.  But in Mongolia, I still have time to be early.  Good day.