Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Do They Know It's Christmas?"

In 1984 a group of popular singers and musicians assembled to record the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" The entire proceeds from the song were donated to help with the massive Ethiopian famine that was taking place at the time.

This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and enjoy family and food and fun there will be millions of people in our world that will not know it's Christmas because they have never heard the story of the Savior of the world.

This Christmas will pass with over 1.65 billion people having no access to the Gospel at all. As our family will sit by the Christmas tree and read the story of the birth of Jesus, people representing over 4,000 different languages will sit in spiritual darkness having no portion of the Bible available to them in their language. It seems that most people in our world do not know that it's Christmas.

I anticipate having a great time with my family on Christmas day. But behind all the fun and smiles and laughs and special times will be the thought that we are celebrating a truth that others have never heard. And I pray that fact will break my heart. What can we do together so that soon more will know that it's Christmas?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Without Words Wednesday

Okay, this picture needs some words. This is Gayle in 2004 in a rice field with some ladies who were out harvesting rice. They began dancing and encouraged Gayle to join in. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Absolute Commitment

Some time ago I ran across a little children's book about Jesus that caught my eye. You know the kind of book: vibrant pictures with a few sentences on each page using short, easy to understand words. A typical children's book. On the cover of the book was a picture of Jesus with a wide smile, perfect teeth, groomed hair, and an appearance that said, "I just want to be your friend."

Make no mistake, I think that it is great for kids to be taught from an early age the love that Jesus has for them and His desire to be warm and welcoming and friendly. The problem is that we grow up and still have this view of Jesus exclusively. In other words, we cannot imagine Jesus saying or demanding anything over and above just wanting to be our pal.

While I believe that Jesus was indeed the most joyous man who ever lived, since He had no sin and enjoyed perfect communion with God, He is also the man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) who came to speak out against sin and to deal decisively with it once and for all (Hebrews 9:11-12). And the smiling, easy-going, happy-go-lucky Jesus is also the Jesus who calls His followers to absolute and unconditional commitment to Him.

In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." To deny one's self is to live as if we no longer exist. And to take up one's cross is not just to deny self; it is to die to self.

In Luke 14:33 Jesus said, "Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple." Jesus is emphatic that all has to be given up to follow Him. This does not mean that a person has to take a vow of poverty in order to be a Christian or that they have to sell all of their possessions and give the proceeds to Christian causes. But it does mean that nothing is to get in the way of our radical following of Him. It means that we dare not allow our hands to be full of things that must be given up for Christ.

I am eternally grateful for the smiling Jesus who's arms are open wide to receive sinners and who calls them friends (John 15:15). I am constantly amazed at the grace of God shown to me in Jesus as He receives me not based upon my works or my goodness, but based upon His death (1 Peter 3:18). Yet I am continually confronted and challenged with Jesus' call to absolute commitment to Him, the One who has always been absolutely committed to me.