Monday, March 15, 2010

Coffee and Christianity

For most of my life I've been a morning person. I like to sleep in from time to time but by and large I enjoy getting an early start on the day. Sometimes I hear people say things like, "I've never seen the sun come up, I can't imagine getting up that early!", while I simply can't imagine not seeing a sunrise. Things are still quiet, you have a chance to think about the day, to consider what needs to be accomplished, and hopefully spend some time in the presence of the Lord. Nothing like early mornings. And one of the things that makes early mornings so enjoyable is a good cup of coffee. I don't think there's another time of day that coffee smells better than first thing in the morning. Nothing like brewing up a good cup and watching the sunrise. Which brings me to one of the most frustrating things about mornings; my inability to brew coffee consistently. I know, it isn't rocket science; you put the coffee in, add the water, and push the button. A monkey could figure it out. Unfortunately, I'm apparently not as smart as a monkey. Because some days I'm able to brew as fine a cup of coffee as you could drink. No kidding around, I'll brew some stuff that is just fantastic. But after a couple days of fine java, I brew up some tar water. Just bitter, nasty tasting brown water that would gag a maggot (you're welcome for that visual image, btw). It's just frustrating being unable to consistently brew a good cup of coffee.
I've discovered the same frustrations as I try to walk with Christ. Some days I do pretty well. I turn from immorality and embrace righteousness. I walk close to the Lord, surrendering to His leadership in my life. I'm willing to go out of my way to try and minister to someone, eager to obey my King. But there are other days where I fail miserably. And it's so frustrating because I can't seem to figure out what's causing the incongruity. I think I'm doing things the same way each time, but sometimes I get good results, sometimes not. But here's the good thing; I'm not accepted by God based on how well I perform. I'm accepted by God based on how well Jesus performed. See, sometimes we get this idea that God will only accept us if we're good enough. But the Bible says we can't be good enough. Isaiah 64:6 says, "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags..." That means the best I have to offer God is no better than filthy rags. In fact, the word used here refers to menstrual cloths. What a shocking choice of words for the prophet! He says that the best we can offer God is unclean, unacceptable in His sight. And that's why Jesus came to live in our place. The best I could offer God would never be good enough. God's standard is absolute perfection, and I could never be perfect. So Jesus came to be perfect in my place. And when I bowed my knee to Him as Lord and Master, when I repented of my sins and asked for His mercy, the righteousness/perfection of Jesus was credited to my account. 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." The righteousness of Jesus was applied to my life. It's just as though I lived the perfect life that Jesus lived. And so even when I fail, even when I sin and fall short of God's standard for my life, I'm still acceptable to God. Because the basis of my acceptance isn't what I do; it's what Jesus did for me. That's good news. That will make you have a great day; even when you brew lousy coffee.

Father, thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for saving me even though I didn't deserve it then and don't deserve it now. Thank You for Your patience when I fail You. And most of all, thank You for robing me with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Help me to walk worthy of Your calling for me, and help me to always bring You honor and glory. Amen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kenya Dig It?

So I probably should have updated the blog before now. I know that when you tell people you've gone to Africa, they immediately want to hear all the stories. And I've got stories, believe you me. But at the same time, spending a few days in Kenya, preaching the gospel and ministering in churches is a unique experience. You come home very conflicted. On the one hand you're incredibly grateful for the things you have, and the lifestyle you can enjoy. On the other, your mind drifts to new friends who have so little, and you wonder about the apparent disparity of it. And of course there are all the amazing times we spent in worship services together. And truth be told, coming home can be a bit of a let down. In the churches we ministered to, the minimum amount of time spent in praise and worship was at least an hour. Then the sermon needed to be at least that long. In fact, the services began at 6 on Sunday morning, and didn't conclude until about 1:30. And the amazing thing is how it flew by; being in God's presence with passionate worshippers made the time pass so quickly. And then you come home and church is most often the opposite of that. And sadly, you immediately find yourself falling into that rut again. You let yourself be ruled by the clock, or by what others may think. And that's terribly unfortunate. I ought not come back and return to who I was; I ought to come back reflecting the things God taught me, the things He did to me and through me.
I'll have more to post in the future; stories that will break your heart, and stories that will make you smile. But for now, know that God was glorified this week. God did what He loves to do; He took an unworthy vessel and used it for His honor and His glory. His church was strengthened; people professed their hope in Christ as their savior. We were protected and blessed and filled and strengthened and challenged and encouraged and broken and lifted up and exhausted and sustained and troubled and happy and a million other feelings/emotions. Thanks to those who checked in on us, and those who prayed for us. Your prayers sustained us, and your partnership with us was such an encouragement. Sola Deo Gloria.