Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Church Basketball Tournament

Disciple Making Authority

As a believer, you have the authority of Jesus to make disciples.  And so do I.  But both of us are highly prone to forget this, instead receding into ‘niceness’, hoping people will guess we’re Christians and ask us if they can be one too.

But this past weekend, I got asked by the local pastor’s association to serve as a referee for the annual inter-church basketball tournament.  The referee’s whistle was a new experience of authority to me.  I’ve always loved playing basketball, but never ‘judged’ many games before.  That’s the word they use for referee in Mongolian.

From 12 churches, 13 teams competed for about 13 hours!  The seats were full of excited spectators, mores that most of the tournaments I’ve seen here before.  The players were also pretty excited and got a little over-zealous a few times.  I had to separate a couple guys who looked like they forgot they were believers for a minute.  One of them still looked angry, so I called him over to me.  He didn’t hear me.  

But his pastor was right beside me playing on his team and wanting to inbound the ball.  I didn’t need to blow the whistle again because his own pastor’s voice got to him through the roar and distance of the gym.  He came trotting over to us.  His pastor said, “you need to ask forgiveness”.  Silence.  I took the whistle out of my mouth and said, “just say the word OK” and we’ll play ball.  “Za” he said, which means okay.  I blew the whistle, handed the ball to his pastor, and away we went.  No more problems or fist to cuffs.  

This was a discipleship moment may not have happened had the whistle reminded us both of our authority to make disciples.  

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Freedom for Captives

Celebrate Recovery a Way to Freedom for Captives

CAMA Services Center in Darhan, Mongolia offers Celebrate Recovery services.  Our center and services have a long history of visiting area prisons.

This month already our teams have visited two of the closes to Darhan.  A teaching on the 12 steps of recovery helps prisoners to face the choices and hurts in their life ended them up in jail.  Accepting their own wrongs can open them up to the idea of forgiveness and healing.  This is the same for all of us, whether we’ve been in prison or not.  Jesus said "everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34)  Jesus came to set the captives free.  (Luke 4:18)

Many people in prisons are still too hardened to believe in Jesus immediately.  But we share our stories of finding healing and salvation from life’s problems.  Today we taught from the 12 steps which helps entitled "healthy mind".  After then lesson, in a small group surrounded by incarcerated men with shaven heads, we sat on the floor and opened up for sharing.  This is a place where even believers can benefit from sharing their own failures as scripture commands: “Confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed”.  If we’re asking non-believers to open up in this way, should we believers being doing so too?  

If not, be careful that sin doesn’t creep up to take you captive again.  Some prisons are spiritual and though they may not have bars and guards, they are just as real.  Scripture in teaches that those resistant to the gospel should be "gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.(2 Tim 2:26)

Friday, April 03, 2015

Good Friday

It's a grey day, and looks like it could rain, but I doubt it will.
Like a long ago day when the sky turned dark at mid-day.
These spring days after snow melts away
Leave dust, dirt and mud in every way

Soon the green of spring will come up and cover the tan
Of bones, bottles, baggies and road-scarred land
Like natural new growth of grass its Author rose in spring
And served new life eternal with nail-pierced hands.

Thank God the new and beautiful grows from what is old and ugly
Like being grateful something good will replace and grow where its muddy
God went through hell and dark days, even suffered murder bloody
So that new life and strength of weakness would replenish the wore-out earth.