Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some Things Never Change

Today I was looking through an old journal of mine from about a year ago and found some thoughts on Hebrews 13:8 and change. My journal isn't dated, but I am pretty sure that I wrote this as we were making our transition from Idaho and the pastorate to Florida and preparing for the mission field. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Here are a few thoughts from my journal entry:

  • Because Jesus never changes change can be okay. Jesus always loves His church and will always care for His church; that will never change. In the midst of change we must think biblically and hope biblically.
  • This verse and the unchanging nature of Jesus stand in stark contrast to life because life seems to always be in a state of change.
  • In the midst of change God's agenda is for you to trust.
  • Verses like Hebrews 13:8 are in the Bible so that you can have something to anchor your life to. These types of verses are meant to build and strengthen faith.
  • Faith means trusting God so much that you obey. The evidence of faith is radical obedience.
  • What do you do in the midst of change and uncertainty? You get serious!
    • Serious about seeking God
    • Serious about focus
    • Serious about Jesus
    • Serious about serving
      • Jesus and others
    • Serious about building relationships
    • Serious about faith
      • Hope that is anchored in the unchanging Christ
    • Serious about love
      • If it is not motivated by love do not do it
      • Is this an expression of my love for Jesus and my love for others?
        • If it truly is, then do it with all of your heart
        • If it is not, then repent and love

Over the last year since I wrote those words our family has seen more change than any of us have ever experienced or imagined. But Jesus has remained the same through it all. Some things never change!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Notre Presentation en Francais

Last Sunday our church here in Sherbrooke, L'Eau Vive, dedicated the entire morning service to missions and allowed us to be a small part. We are constantly amazed by the grace of God in our lives. Who would have imagined that we would ever be in Canada speaking in a church in French about our ministry in Senegal, West Africa! God is always good and always amazing. 

Below are five really short video clips from our presentation. Thank you for your role in getting us here so that we could study French in order to share the Good News to those in great need in Senegal!

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre...Yea, Baby!"

This is a short video clip from a month or so ago at our apartment. It is an exciting Friday night and we are playing "Go Fish" with our great friend Claudine and she is making the kids speak French. Of course, Hosanna adds some spice to the game!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

It is Finished!

We all too often have a tendency to leave things unfinished. We have unfinished books on our shelves. There are unfinished projects around the house. We have unfinished goals for our lives. And most of these things were started with great drive and passion only to later fall by the wayside and simply be left undone. Thankfully Jesus is not like us. He does not leave things unfinished, but completes every task that He sets out to accomplish.

The night before Jesus’ death on the cross He prayed to the Father and said, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). As Jesus looked back at all He had accomplished and as He looked forward to all He would do the next day, He was able to confidently proclaim that He had finished the work that God had given Him to do. No last minute regrets. No loose ends that needed to be tied up. No details left undone. The work was complete; it was finished.

Soon after Jesus prayed those words He was taken captive by the hypocritical religious rulers of His day, given several unjust trials through the night, condemned to die for claiming to be the Messiah and the Son of God (Luke 22:66-71), and turned over to the Romans for His execution by crucifixion. After a severe beating the innocent Jesus was nailed to a cross to die.

The Bible preserves seven things that Jesus said during the painful and torturous hours He was upon the cross. He spoke words of forgiveness to God on behalf of those that abused Him (Luke 23:34). He spoke to a dying thief and assured him that his eternity was secure with Him (Luke 23:39-43). He made provisions for His mother to be cared for after His death (John 19:25-27). He cried out in anguish as God the Father punished Him in the place of condemned sinners (Matthew 27:45-46). He fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament by asking for a drink (John 19:28-29; Psalm 22:15; 69:21). And He entrusted His life to the care of the Father as He died (Luke 23:46).

But there is one word that Jesus spoke on the cross that victoriously proclaimed the completion of His work. Jesus said, “It is finished!” and bowing His head he died (John 19:30). “It is finished” is the translation of one Greek word: tetelestai. This word was used by servants when they came to their master to declare that their assignment had been completed. It was also a word that was used by merchants and meant “the debt is paid in full.” The word simply meant that everything that needed to be done or everything that needed to be paid had been fully taken care of.

But what exactly was finished? What did Jesus mean when He cried out those words? What was completed at that crucial moment in history when the Son of God died?

Maybe He was referring to His life. After exclaiming, “It is finished!” He gave up His spirit and died. Jesus lived about thirty-three-and-a-half years on this earth. He was born in a miraculous and supernatural way and now His life had come to an end.

Possibly He was referring to the pain, suffering, and agony of the cross. Crucifixion was the cruelest and most hideous form of execution known to man. Jesus endured this torture, but as He exclaimed “It is finished” His suffering and pain came to an end.

But while both of those things are true, that is not what Jesus meant when He exclaimed it is finished. His was not a cry of agony, or defeat, or even relief. His was a triumphant shout of victory! Through Jesus’ death He had finished, completed, and accomplished the work of redemption where He died for the sins of the world. When Jesus said, “It is finished” He meant that the payment for mankind’s sins had been made and that it was paid in full with nothing remaining. He meant that sins had been atoned for and that the wrath of God for our sins had been borne. When he said, “It is finished” He meant that now weak and wounded and lost sinners like us can be reconciled to God because of what He did.

And if it is finished then there is nothing that you can add to it. Anything that you would seek to add to the finished work of Jesus actually minimizes His accomplishment. What could possibly be added to something that was carried out with such precision and perfection?

Jesus left nothing undone, nothing unaccomplished, and nothing unfinished when it comes to salvation. Now God simply calls us to trust in the work of His Son because it is finished!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Christ Who Is Our Life

One of the challenges of life is living it with a total Christ-centered perspective. Colossians 3:3-4 gives us some instruction concerning this when it reads, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.”

Verse 3 points to the Christian’s union with Jesus and our death with Him. When Jesus died on the cross He died as my representative, taking my place, and my death. Now, through my union with Him by faith, I have already died. I am now dead to the penalty of sin, I am dead to the power of sin, and I am dead to the things of this world. I am a new creation in Christ. This is past tense showing that this is what has already happened; this is what Jesus accomplished for me on the cross.

In verse 4 Paul looks to the future and speaks about Jesus’ return. Though Jesus is now hidden, out of sight from the eyes of the world, and though our lives are now hidden in Him, there is coming a day when those things will be revealed. There is coming a day when Jesus will return and we will be made like Him and we will glorify Him. That is the future.

But we are living out our lives in the present: somewhere between Jesus dying for us and Jesus coming again. We are stuck between the past and the future in this world of the here and now. But we are to live with both perspectives in mind. Our desires and our focus and our thoughts and our minds are to reflect both the past truths and the future truths. We are to live remembering that Jesus died for us and all that we are in Christ. And we are also to live remembering that Jesus is coming again for us to glorify us and to bring us to be with Him forever. We are to live with both the past and the future in mind. And as we do that it should transform our living and cause us to have a true Christ-centered perspective.

But the key to it all is to live all of our lives remembering that it is Christ who is our life. Jesus does not merely give life; for the Christian Jesus is life. Jesus cannot just be a part of my life that gets pulled out and lived out on Sunday mornings. For the believer Jesus is their life! And that truth must change everything.