Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stateside Visit

I am sitting at my friend's house writing this.  I am enjoying my time in the United States.  It is always good to get back to "civilization."  It is good to eat meat that I can chew, to over indulge in ice cream and brownies, and to watch the NBA playoffs.  It has been great to sit with friends and family and share what is going on in my life and to catch up with all that God is doing in their lives, and to share at Churches and home groups about what has happened in Cambodia during the past several years. 

These times in the states are good for our family.  Every member of my family is enjoying our visit.  It is good to touch base with everyone, to hear English spoken the way it should be (I am not talking about English as a second language, but to hear Southern English again, all of our native English speaking friends in Cambodia are west coast families), and to get refreshed in our souls.  God is faithful to meet us when we need Him.  The last three years in Cambodia has taken a toll on us physically and spiritually.  There is a cost to seeing the Kingdom of God advance.  

In our two months here, we are getting out bodies back to normal and, more importantly, getting our spirits refreshed.  It is refreshing to worship with others in our native tongue, to get hear messages that encourage and challenge us, and to meet with people that we love and fellowship around Christ.

I wish that we could see everyone while we are in.  There is never enough time to fit everyone in, just ask my parents and in-laws.  I am thankful for the time that we are getting to see people though.  If you are in the Birmingham, Alabama area, my family will be at Faith Community Church on Sunday, May 27th at both of their services.  If you are in the Fishersville, VA area, my family will be at Church on the Hill for their missions weekend June 3. 

For times and directions,

I feel like getting outside of our day to day routine in Cambodia has given me an opportunity to hear the Lord.  I think some exciting things are around the corner for my family and for Lighthouse Ministries.  I look forward to what the next few months hold.

The sign leading to my great grandfather's old farm.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Washing Feet

In Cambodia, there is a custom during a wedding ceremony where the bride is supposed to wash the husband's feet and then the couple is supposed to wash the parents feet.  It symbolizes that the bride is to serve the groom and that the couple is to serve their families.  The Church in Cambodia, has expanded this ceremony to include the groom washing the bride's feet as well.  It represents that he will be serving his bride and loving her in the same manner that Christ loves him.  I love these customs.

Recently, Coy, one of the young men who used to live at Heritage House, was married.  He asked Kristen and I to be his parents during the ceremony.  Many times during the day I was reminded of Christ's love for His bride.  The imagery was there throughout the ceremony of how much Jesus loves His Church and how He longs to express His love to us.  This was nowhere more apparent than during the foot washing time of the ceremony.

During this part of the ceremony, I was reminded of when Jesus washed the disciples feet (John 13:3-5).  I know that there is much symbolism to this story, but on the most basic level, it shows how the God-man, Jesus Christ, would do something that was desperately needed.  Living in a part of the world where my feet are constantly dirty, I understand how important it is to wash my feet.  When I read this story, I am overwhelmed by how Jesus served in a way that was practical.  He made Himself uncomfortable so that the disciples could be taken care of.  Then, after setting the example, He tells me to do the same for my wife.  To love, cherish, and take care of  her the same way that He does these things for me (Eph.5:25).  That means, many times, to make myself uncomfortable so that she can be taken care of.  

I am glad that the Church in Cambodia is setting the standard for men loving and serving their wives.  I pray that Coy will be a great husband and follow the example set by Jesus.  I pray that for myself as well.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sick and Thankful for It!

 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Luke 5:27-32

For our family devotions, we are listening to a chapter of Luke each night, then reading Michael Card's (yes, the singer, he is an accomplished author as well) commentary on the gospel of Luke, then listening to the chapter again with a new perspective.  It was an awesome way to get fresh revelations on the Christmas story.  It has been a great journey so far and it has really been a boost for our family prayer times as well.  

A few nights back, we went through chapter five.  I have read this countless times before, I have even preached a few sermons on it through the years, but as the Bible so often does, with this new reading, I was overwhelmed when I re-read the story about the conversion of Matthew.  How in the world could Jesus put together this band of disciples.  How could you have Simon Peter, Simon the Zealot, and Matthew working together (Luke 6:12-16)?  That would be like putting Neut Gingrich, Barack Obama, and Ron Paul on your leadership team.  How in the world would these guys work together?  

Matthew, a tax collector, working with Simon Peter, a hard working fisherman who had to pay taxes to this guy, and Simon the Zealot, a guy who wanted to forcefully remove all Romans and those who worked with them from the land.  Talk about a strange group to bring together to try to build a kingdom with.

What struck me was not the group, or the fact that Jesus called Matthew into the group, but what jumped out at me was Matthew's response to the call.  He immediately followed Jesus, he got up and left behind his old life, then he threw a party to celebrate.  I think we need to celebrate more whenever someone enters the Kingdom and begins to follow Jesus.  Unfortunately, a group of religious guys crashed the party and got upset with Jesus for spending time with "sinners."

I love Jesus' response, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteousness, but sinners, to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)"  Note that Jesus did not say that Matthew was not a sinner.  He did not try to defend Matthew at all.  I am sure Matthew would have admitted as much as well.  After all, when you have been forgiven and throw a party like he was, it's not hard to admit your faults.  He was celebrating his new life, I am sure he had no problem with recalling where he had come from.  Jesus wanted the "righteous" to remember what it was like to be set free from their former lives.  

I am amazed at how we so often forget what we are being rescued from. Jesus  is not just saving us from hell, he is saving us from the sickness of sin.  The sin that puts a great divide between us and the Father.  Not only that, we can easily forget that there are others who are still in the stink that, by the grace of God, has been washed off of us.  Jesus gave it all away to spend time with a sick man like me.  I want to give my life away to let the sick know that there is a Physician who can heal whatever illness' they have.

I want to spend time with the "sinners" just like Jesus did.  I love the gathering of the saints, but is it possible that we can take that gathering beyond the four walls of an organized meeting and party a little like Matthew, Peter, Simon the Zealot, and our Lord?  Let's get out among the sick and proclaim the love of the Physician.  That is the example that Christ set for us.  Let's be bold and follow Him into those places that make us uncomfortable and trust that He will use us to bring healing to those who are sick and need redemption.     

Thanks to my good friend, Ross Jones, for recommending the Michael Card book.  I pass along this recommendation to anyone who reads this -  Michael Card Luke, the Gospel of Amazement.