Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday People Living in a World of Fridays

"Without Easter, Calvary was just another political execution of a failed Messiah. Without Easter, the world is trapped between the shoulder shrug of the cynic, the fantasy of the escapist, and the tanks of the the tyrant. Without Easter, there is no reason to suppose that good will triumph over evil, that love will win over hatred, that life will win over death. But with Easter we have hope; because hope depends on love; and love has become human and has died, and is no alive for evermore, and holds the keys of Death and Hades. It is because of him that we know--we don't just hope, we know--that God will wipe away all tears from all eyes. And in that knowledge we find ourselves to be Sunday people, called to live in a world of Fridays. In that knowledge we know ourselves to be Easter people, called to minister to a world full of Calvary's. In that knowledge we find that the hand that dries our tears passes the cloth on to us, and bids us to follow him, to go to dry one another's tears. The Lamb calls us to follow him wherever he goes; into the dark places of the world, the dark places of our hearts, the places where tears blot out the sunlight....and he bids us shine his morning light into the darkness, and share his ministry of wiping away the tears. And as we worship, and adore, and follow the lamb, we join, already, in the song of Revelation 5.11-14, the song that one day the trees and the mountains and the whales and the waterfalls--the whold world, reborn on Easter morning--will sing with us:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain...
to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and blessing!

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and power
forever and ever, Amen."

~ N. T. Wright, Following Jesus.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

TableTalk: Grief

Ligonier Ministries has put out a very helpful little monthly magazine called TableTalk. In light of the insane tragedy at VT, they are making their April 2007 issue on (providentially) "Grief." Click here to read and to share with others. Good stuff.

Is everything sad going to come untrue?

At one point in the Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee asks Gandalf, "Is everything sad going to come untrue?" There seems to be so much sadness in the world lately, especially with friends who are hurting and grieving. I have found myself asking along with the Psalmist, "How long, O Lord...." Perhaps as never before, I have prayed along with the Apostle John, "Lord Jesus, come quickly."

I was reading this afternoon in the Gospels and was struck anew at not only WHO Jesus was, but also WHAT He did. Over and over, the Gospel writers tell us that Jesus went around healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. And people were amazed and glorified God and said things like, "We never saw anything like this!"

One of the things that struck me afresh was that in the life and ministry of Jesus, He was directly assaulting the kingdom of darkness, which is just another way of saying that He was assaulting everything that is wrong with this world. Think of Jesus' miracles in two ways: Each was both (1) an act of restoration, and (2) an act of anticipation. Jesus was both reversing the curse and ushering in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was at once assaulting the way things are in their current state of being not they way they are supposed to be, AND making them the way they are supposed to be. Jesus gave those He ministered to a foretaste of Heaven.

All this to say that Jesus brings us back into Paradise which now flows from His throne. Jesus has already caused His blessings to come (in His incarnation and ministry) and will cause them to come in all their fullness when He delivers the Kingdom to His Father, and Heaven descends and Earth and Heaven become One.

So, will everything sad become untrue? If we understand the ministry of Jesus, we can say "Yes!" Not that it becomes untrue as in it never existed, but it becomes untrue in that evil does not have the final word. How do we know this?

Simple. The Resurrection of the Son of God proves this. "We never saw anything like this."

This will be said At the Restoration of All Things, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21)

Be of good hope my friends. One day, Jesus will answer our prayers of "How long, O Lord..." with the answer, "No longer!"

Keep praying for Knox Anderson

As some of you know, our 18 month old little friend, Knox Anderson, covenant child of John and Rachel Anderson and our WPC family (John is the Asst. Pastor of our home church and one of my best friends), continues to need our prayers after suffering a near drowning. My wife has posted this link to keep our contacts up to date.

Is It Really Worth It?

From one of my heros, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758):

"Let every thing have the value now which it will have upon a sick bed: and frequently, in my pursuits of whatever kind, let this question come into my mind, "How much shall I value this upon my death-bed" (Works, Vol. 1, xxxiv).

Ponder this in light of James 4:14, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Let me introduce you to my friend, Geraldo Castro. Geraldo is one of our seminary students who is also serving our mission and the church as a campus minister. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Isabel. They have one child and one on the way. As you can see from the picture, Geraldo is also an Aggie! Well, actually he is not sure what an Aggie is, but I did get him to introduce the Aggies who were here over Spring Break as being from the greatest university in the world! Whooop!

Please pray for Geraldo and for the university ministry here. God is doing some great things. Two weeks ago, we had over 60 students out for our Friday night Bible study, and last night, we had 25 students out for a Bible study in Genesis. Pray for me as I come along side him, learn about the universities here, meet with students, and seek to speak the Gospel in meaningful ways to this culture.

Seminar on Vocation

My good Peruvian friend, Pablo (university student, spanish partner, maybe on day future campus minister, and definite future president of Peru!), recently organized a conference for university students in general and evangelical students in particular on the topic of vocation. He asked me to present a seminar on "Serving God in our Vocation." Providentially, I had recently studied Gene E. Veith's book, God at Work, with our SALI interns and heard the associate pastor of Providence Reformed PCA, Chris Smith, teach on the topic to our congregation while he was here on a short term mission trip and who generously lent me his notes.

At any rate, Pablo said we had between 100-130 students in attendence throughout the day long conference, so we were excited to see his leadership skills and influence at work in organizing and putting on this conference. If you are interested, here are my notes. (Plus, I made a nifty visual presentation on Apple's superior-to-powerpoint software, Keynote, which, if I must say, was quite impressive. I'm trying not to become a Mac snob, but it sure is hard!).

Thanks for your prayers

We Need Your Prayers...

* Pray for more contacts among university students. Summer Break is over here and the university students are heading back to school tomorrow, so I am heading out with campus minister, Geraldo, and some of our student leaders to the local campuses to pass out flyers and invite folks to our Friday night Bible study.

* Pray for the Bible study at the orphanage. One of our RUF leaders, Elizabeth, works at the local orphanage and she invited Heather to come out and lead a study for the house mothers who work there. Pray for Heather and for Allen Bradford who will help from time to time and for the house mothers who will gather for study every Thursday AM. This will be an all-Spanish study on the Fruit of the Spirit, so Heather needs your prayers.

* Pray for our one-to-one meetings. Heather and I are having increased opportunities to meet with university students, folks in our churches, and students from SALI. This is good because it is stretching us, and also frustrating because of our limited Spanish. We are definitely feeling greater dependency upon God to work through us, which is another way of saying we are seeing and feeling our weaknesses more than ever, which is a good thing.

* Pray for our Spanish acquisition. We are simultaneously encouraged and discouraged with this. Language is a primary tool, and our tool is very dull and rusty. At the same time, we are understanding more and many of our Peruvian friends tell us we are progressing. Nevertheless, beg God to grant us quick aquisition as we seek to be more useful instruments in His hands. I've been praying that we would make such advancements as would be evident to all around us. Please join us in this.