A little over a month ago I lost my father, and every day since hasn’t been as vibrant as before. Things have gotten somewhat dull and bland. I have found myself avoiding the silence. The silence that the philosopher Kierkegaard talks about as being, “the right way to pray” which puts the kingdom of God first and foremost.
You see this kind of prayer is difficult when we want to avoid what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us. We often think we can not handle it, or that it won’t make a difference in how we feel. But when we allow ourselves this silence with the Lord we are placing the Kingdom of God, before our own wants and needs. I often always bring my own kingdom to God, asking for him to help me, fill me, and bless my plans. Though requests aren’t bad, in fact we should ask for him to be center in all things we do, we often forget to put the Kingdom of God first. The simple silence is often something we need the most.
Somedays I don’t feel like dealing with the pain of losing my Dad. And other days I am just so happy I knew him, and that he was proud of who I am. I know that while my dad is no longer here on earth, my spiritual father will never leave me. He will, even in this dark place, be the light I need.
Please let me encourage any of you reading this to find HIM in all things. The big and the small. God is always there, he awaits for us to be silent and seek Him.
"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."
Its been a while since I have posted anything on tumblr, but what better place to lay out some thoughts then a virtual piece of parchment. Its so green! Coming across a friends thoughts VIA Facebook “surfing” I was led to some of my own. Which is awesome because she wrote about how we as people, “seek fulfillment from relationships/friendships.”. This is so beyond true though isn’t it?
Today was a day most would call average and dismiss as anything slightly eventful. But it was, eventful that is. I woke up went to church and heard the word of God preached by a man who you could tell wanted nothing more than to glorify God even in his humanistic attempt to describe heaven. Which he himself would say, “there is many things about heaven I don’t know, nor do I claim to know, but what I do know is that it is where God rules and reigns!”, Solid Right? I walked away thinking we have so much to look forward to. And how come as a Christian I never really care to think about the reward of living a life for Jesus. Saying, “yes lord this is your kingdom”.
I enjoyed the company of someone I truly love, care for, and want to spend ”quality” time with everyday. Walking through a park, strolling the sidewalk of a small town, that sort of thing. Anyways, it was great. An intentional encounter with another person that meant a lot even in doing something so simple like walking the green grass of a local park. That probably could use a bit more government funding. But nonetheless beautiful. Ha.
I met up with a friend, a friend who has been there when I’ve been all sorts of different ME. Which is great because there is so much trust within a simple conversation. You can speak freely whats on your heart revealing a bit more of the real you no one else really sees. The kind of friend/brother you care for even when they or you disagree, argue, and try to push you away. I count these kind of friends as a blessing.
Then lastly what I was doing before I wrote this, I ate some left over pizza and had a jones soda. Strawberry Lime if you were dying to know. And read my friends blog.
We all can have amazing dayshere on earth. In the right now of life. And we should enjoy the moments we have with people, you know how the world is, things happen. Bad things happen. People get sick, in accidents, or just become people of the past. Things are broken, sin is present, and we do tend to be self centered as humans. So open a door, buy your friend a coffee for crying out loud, and laugh a little more.
Also keep this in mind, your first day spent in heaven will be better than 1,000 of your best days on earth. Wow, can you even imagine? You are probably thinking well, obviously. Well then live life full while you have it now! This life fades quickly you are not always young and invincible, though you and I may think that at times. So embrace today. Really try to seek all that is good, and empty your heart of all that aches your being. Tell God whats on your mind, I forget to do that when I’m lost, and know that one day you will to will say, “Better is one day in your courts then a thousand elsewhere”.
The past few years I’ve been learning about human trafficking and its terror. The first time grasped the reality of human trafficking was in a small one bedroom house during a prayer meeting when I was in high school. Huddled in the room that poured into the connecting kitchen we spoke to God. The genuine and open search for God in prayer is unlike anything, if you’ve tasted it you know what I mean. We lifted up our requests, worship, and concerns that Sunday afternoon. My friend Max who I remember was on the other side of the living room. Began speaking. Though his tone wasn’t the same… of those who were praying before him. He didn’t intend for attention of the people in the room but for Gods eyes to be fixed on the small group of people. Max called out to God in desperation, “Father free the women who are in chains” speaking on behalf of the women in bondage. I remember putting my head to the floor and weeping as the rest of the people in the room affirmed what Max was praying. This was the first time I had ever really understood the heart of God for his persecuted people. That emotion was almost foreign to me. I didn’t desire for anyone to notice me in that moment, I felt alone. As if I where able to feel the heartache of those women enslaved by both physical and psychological chains. At that time I did not know that over 27 million people on earth are enslaved today. What I did know is that a fire started in my heart that has given me a righteous anger for their oppression and stolen freedom.
We (those not physically enslaved) have the option to choose freedom. We can stand in the light of the sun and breathe in the deep wholesome air on a summer afternoon. Other’s don’t have that luxury, or ever think it will be a reality in their lives. They breathe the air of the bondage, which has been placed tightly around their necks. Leaving little room at all for air to get to their lungs. Not knowing if they will be able to provide enough oxygen for their bodies to continue on. The devil at this point seeks to whisper lies of them being worthless and expendable commodities. Yet even the devil knows this is a lie about Gods people. A well-known Christian writer named Clive Staples Lewis used his book, The Screwtape Letters to articulate a demons perspective on God’s freedom. Here is what Lewis had to say through the eyes of the Wormwood, a ruinous demon:
“The Humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present– either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the present…(Pg. 75-76)”
If you are thinking what I am thinking the underlying question is why does God allow this injustice? If God is in our corner as our defender and savior why are so many people still waiting to be rescued? You cannot tell me that those 27 million people aren’t thinking the same thing. Whether or not they have heard the good news of Jesus Christ. Because if they have, they know they will be free. That the chains will vanish and the breath they long to take will be one of eternal satisfaction, filling every open space in their lungs. Will they cease to remember the pain? This I don’t know. How could they forget working all day in conditions only comparable to the very place God wishes his children to never experience. He bore our suffering and the weight of our transgressions so we would not have to experience hell.
Why are these beautiful people being subjected to hell on Earth? The question which often lingers behind any injustice, “where is God?” is not the question we should be asking. The right question is “Where is the Church?” because if we trust in the power of God, then we should trust in the authority that he has given to those in the church (Matthew 20:18). That statement isn’t meant to undermine the work and effort people have been putting in. It is meant to encourage the people who feel the passion to help the people suffering under slave owners and pimps. Or encourage those thinking about taking that step of action. Francis Chan a very popular speaker and writer spoke at the Passion Conference in 2012 on the issue of human trafficking. He trembled through his thoughts on stage and said, “I don’t even like calling it human trafficking, it should be called little kids are being rapped repeatedly!” trying to fix people in on the reality of what really goes on in the realm of this injustice. Francis said, “We can do this if we refuse to be reserved” and take a step at making that freedom happen, even if it makes us look weird, awkward, or uncool.
A couple of summers ago I was living in Hawaii where I was serving Youth With A Mission’s, Kona campus. The founder of YWAM, Loren Cunningham challenged us sitting in the audience to “put legs to our prayers!” to not stand by and allow things to happen if we know God’s heart is against it. I think that really is the challenge not just for Christians but also for everyone. Telling a person, writing a paper, speaking to a crowd, serving in a human trafficking ministry, or giving money can increase the resources for the people trapped in spiritually dark places around the world. Not only do people speak about going and doing but does the Bible. The bible clearly says in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We are called to help one another, to bear one another’s burdens. This is different for each one of us as God leads us to do different things for the kingdom.
Enough with the call to action, there is a lot of people who are putting legs to their prayers. For example the Do Something Now organization is striving to get people to provide help financially, in their time, and in prayer. They have made videos expressing the pain and suffering of those trafficked in the spheres of sex slavery and labor. They have put to vision the chaos that goes on behind the scenes. They are also the organization that has provided the number 27 million, so that we know just how many people are in bondage. One fact they have right on their dot.com website is, “There are more slaves today then any other time in human history.” When I read this I was astonished. How can we have more injustice today than in the past? Shouldn’t we be growing in a positive direction rather than a negative one? Don’t we have a better understanding of right and wrong?
Do you desire more information on how you affect human trafficking? One website, Www.Slaveryfootprint.org even tells you how many slaves work for you. You can take a survey and input the brands you know and love, and boom they will tell you. Another Organization, Not For Sale works hard to let people know what is going on and then empower them. They report news and spark activism. Here is a quote from their website that outlines their goal, “With your help, we are working to raise awareness and collective understanding about human trafficking. But we live in a time and place where people are restless “to do something”. In recognition of this desire to act we will be completing and distributing handbooks for action. What can your athletics team do? What can your university do? What can your community of faith do? What can your business do? What can you do as a musician?” People want to help; and there are tons of resources on the Internet alone that can provide a way for them to do so.
Another side of helping comes after the people are rescued from slavery. Now there are companies like Free Set Global who help provide Jobs. Here is what Free Set had to say on their “about us” page, “Free Set is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. We make quality jute bags and organic cotton t-shirts, but our business is freedom!” I attended a Freedom Awareness Walk really by accident where these bags were being given away as prizes during a presentation afterward the walk. The event took place downtown Grand Rapids at Grand Rapids Community College. A woman by the name of Jane P. White, executive director of Michigan human trafficking task force spoke on what we can do to help. Jane’s main point was we need to be telling people about human trafficking both globally and locally. Jane challenged us to fill in the blank “If I stay silent…” what would happen to those being trafficked. Jane also said that 1-3 teens on the street would be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. Statistically it means 150,000 are lured into prostitution each year in the U.S. At this event I ended up winning one of the Free Set bags and it really hit me how close trafficking is to all of us. In our own cities this is happening. It could start with these girls running away or being taken. This is a just one-way that woman and children are being exploited into sex trafficking! Why is it that it seems to keep happening even though we know these horrific things?
When I think of the actual people who suffer from the injustice of slavery Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind. In her book, The Hiding Place she tells of her experience during the Holocaust. The book has many different dynamics to it but the two come to mind right away are hope and forgiveness. Corrie was a godly woman who experienced major injustices. She was ripped from her home and placed in a concentration camp. People were given numbers and either killed or pushed to the verge of dying. Though these terrible events were happening she still had the faith to say things like, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Or “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” She knew the only way to survive was to fully trust in her God. I pray that people in bondage of slavery today would have a way to trust God like she did in those dire times. Or that men and women around them would stand up and be Corrie Ten Bloom’s in those dark places.
The last thing and this is by far the last thing to remember from anything I’ve said, forgiveness needs to occur. We can build organizations that do wonderful things, raise money to pay off debts of slaves but we, we as people, cannot heal hearts. Only God can do that. Not only for those who have been enslaved but also those who brought the terrible injustices into the world. Corrie Ten Bloom illustrates this well in her book when she relives her interaction with a former S.S Officer years after the war. These are her words:
“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself. (Pg. 247)”
I don’t know why 27 million people are enslaved in our world today. I do know that God desires the church to be their voices. To educate people on what is really going on. I know that a lot of people have a passion to fight this injustice with ever ounce in their body. But again with all of these things I do not really understand why it doesn’t stop. There are evil people in the world that need to love of Christ. No person will be able to love in a pure way unless they learn to forgive those who have persecuted them like Corrie Ten Bloom forgave the officer and like Jesus forgave us. Human Trafficking is just one of the many issues in our world today. We must hold on to the hope we have in Jesus and the eternal air he offers everyone. I challenge you to be a person who asks WHY? In what ever you are passionate about.
Invest: the very act of doing something can be a lesson
As I sit in the local Barnes and Nobles I glance to the right. Shifting my sight across the green rectangle signs. White letters neatly placed on the signs to spell out the sections or to reveal a sort of genre. As I notice one sign that says, “investing”. To me its funny that some one would buy a book about “Investing” because in order to learn about “investing” they must “invest”. The very act of doing something can be a lesson.