Friday, April 29, 2016

Celebrate Recovery Basketball

We wanted to do something memorable for the prisoners as we wrapped up our Celebrate Recovery services there.  So instead of a party with the 40 people who came to the classes, we decided to hold a basketball tournament inviting the whole population of almost 300 inmates. 

 One man told me he had been inside 12 years and was excited to be getting out in June.

We hope that next year some of the folks who enjoyed basketball will find true victory and inner healing through the twelve steps of Celebrate Recovery and faith in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Making a Contribution Makes a Difference

The NBA playoffs are underway.  That may not be exciting to teams who don’t get to participate in the post-season. Even those on the championship team may be left out of the action with the caption: “Did not play…Coach’s decision”

Even if you’re on the championship team, you might not play.  You could be amazingly gifted, work hard, 7 feet tall, have team-unity and trust, skills and strategy, and still not win the championship, or even get to contend for it. 

But you could still make a contribution.  You can still choose to support, cheer and root for your team.  You still get the ring if your teammates do all the work and hoist the trophy in June.

It’s the same with the kingdom of God.  We may be off the field, riding the bench, or standing outside the stadium where God is advancing his kingdom.  But you can still make a big difference in the outcome of the battle in your circles.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Shining light into dark places can happen any time in prayer.  It happens in a cheerful look, a merciful thought, or an offense overlooked.  It happens when we refuse to be the victim or become grieved at a small insignificant role.  We can still show fruit from the Holy Spirit, sharing the truth of God's love.  Shining light means showering praise and prayers over those engaged in the big fight.

We can “fight the good fight” of light over dark every day with prayer. With every courageous act and word of faith, sharing the truth in love, we “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” 1 Tim 6:12

Small or great, making a faithful contribution makes a big difference to getting the final victory and a share in the final reward and glory of winning.  Just as the whole team gets rings for winning the NBA Finals, those on Jesus' team get golden crowns in eternity.

Let’s renew our resolve to make a lasting difference, however small it may be, each day until he comes in glory.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Meeting and Eating

Meetings are unavoidable.   Many people do not like them, see them as a waste of time, and actually sometimes they are.  But there's a dirty little secret that some of us actually like meetings.  Others avoid them at all costs.  But those are the ones who need to be reminded we are stronger when we are together, and of the scriptural command to Christians "Do not give up meeting, as some are in the habit of doing" Hebrews 10:25.  

Mongolians have a saying "two are better than one", which is convenient because this truth is also scripture(Ecclesiastes 4:9), as John Steinbeck points out in Grapes of Wrath. 

We need to meet.  Even if we argue a bit, we can emerge stronger after the storm rather than hiding behind a false sense of unity.  Communication through our screens and blogs like this has its place, but does not replace meeting face to face.  

Meetings are unavoidable and sometime tiresome.  But they are made more enjoyable by eating together.  We should not be above using bait to draw people together.  The truth is that everybody takes time to eat, why not do it together.  Below is a meeting of elected leaders of a group of churches. 

But the biggest benefit of meeting together is not eating together.   It's the strength of knowing "If one of them falls down, the other can help him up"

Also on the subject of eating, below is a picture of Cama Services CR's feeding the homeless ministry.  Our workers and volunteers have faithfully served the poor of Darhan this way through the whole winter.  God bless them all as they finish later this month.

While they wait for their food, our teachers and leaders give life lessons about health, relationships, and hope and love to those who need it so much.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Holy Spirit Fill Up

Teaching recently on Acts 2, I mentioned the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as "new wine".  That may be hard to prove Biblically, but when the first church folks were accused of being drunk, they were really controlled and by Holy Spirit, not alcohol.  

The Bible doesn't forbid alcohol.  Ephesians 5:18 implores God's people "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit". There is proof of similar effects since substitution is suggested by the Apostle Paul.  

I can't deny the effects of the Holy Spirit may be similar to alcohol, except for the hangover, and unhealthy effects on the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.

I used to hear that as a kid.  But it just came back to me explaining Acts 2 to my kids.  Surprised to find they are also the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19:

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own" 

This is a good reminder that taking care of our bodies is important because of Who lives in it, kind of like taking care of the church building.  How it looks, smells, works and is maintained, says a lot about who it belongs to.  

What are you putting into your body?  Are you poisoning it?  Are you feeding, grooming, exercising it? The best thing to fill it with is the One it was meant for.  

The Apostle Peter: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  (Acts 2:38)  Our church family forefathers were "Filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4)

Are we?

Monday, April 04, 2016

Open Door? Not Me!

Many Mongolians are not as open to us as they used to be.  So when a man approached me in a military uniform on the playground last week saying 'hello', I was surprised.

After some chit-chat, some in English, and mostly in Mongolian, he asked what I did.  I gave him my card, which explains what I said: "I offer people a way out of addiction."

He immediately gave me the card back and said, "I sometimes drink", indicating a general tendency and a possibly that he had been drinking recently.  I offered for him to keep the card for later.  It explains when, where and why we meet at Celebrate Recovery.

But he gave it back, indicating he didn't need help.  It was amazing because we all struggle with admitting we need help, or that anything is wrong with us.

Human nature is the same on both sides of the world, and this chance conversation.