Friday, October 30, 2009

Persecution is "normal"

I'll be boarding a plane for southeast Asia in two days. Less than two days, actually. More than any other place I've been, I'm finding that people have a WIDE range of reactions to this trip. Top three reactions:

1) "I was over there during the war." This statement is either followed by "...and I never want to go back", or "...and I'd love to go back sometime". There's rarely any gray area between those two reactions. Regardless of history, I hope you'll be praying that God will work.

2) "Ewww....they're communists, aren't they?" It's true- the new visa in my passport says "Socialist Republic of ...". There are technically constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, but they're meaningless. The communists there (and the rest of the world) have never been very comfortable with Christianity. In some places, they have a "live and let live" attitude. In other places, Christianity has been outlawed and Christian leaders have become the target of violence and imprisonment. But communists need Jesus, too.

3) The logical followup to #2- "Is that safe?" I'm not quite sure how to answer that question. In a sense, we're not safe when we drive the roads of the United States. But I realize that I'll be in a nation that has the 6th highest persecution index in the world. The real danger isn't to us- they generally just kick Americans out if they don't like what we're doing. The greater risk is for the pastors/leaders we're training. They are consistently placing themselves in harm's way, as they faithfully serve. That's why you won't find the name of the country "- so this blog won't show up in random web searches. As I get ready to board my flight at O'Hare, I'm keenly aware that I'm dependent on God's protection and provision.

Monday, October 19, 2009

If your faith isn't global, you're missing out

The world is big.

OK, so that's not really news. If you've ever played w/ Google Earth, you've had some of those "big world" moments. If you've ever travelled internationally, you've probably wished the world was a little smaller (unless you can afford to fly first class- those seats look soo good when I walk by them).

God is bigger.

Again- not really news. But I think we often forget that. We tend to downsize God. Think about the God of the Bible- spoke the universe into existence, knows us in our mother's womb, works all things for good, etc. In Him we live and move and have our being. That's big.

Now compare that to the God we often experience day-to-day. It just seems that God might be a LITTLE BIT bigger than we've let him be.

If you'd like to expand your view of God, here's a thought: "The size of a person's perception of God is often directly related to the size of their faith-world" If your view of God is limited to small things, you'll experience him small. If your view of God is, you'll experience Him BIG. And yet, He'll still be in the small things as well.

That's one of the reasons to engage with what God is doing around the world. If you worship a God who is primarily active in your neighborhood, you'll have a neighborhood-sized God. But the God of the Bible is bigger than Peotone or Altoona or (insert the name of your town). Working with Leadership Resources, I've been privileged to see first-hand a GLOBAL God. He's working all over the world.

But he's not only working on a global scale. He's also working in Peotone...and Altoona ...and (insert the name of your town here). If you limit God to the small things of life, you miss His bigness. If you begin to discover His bigness, you DON'T lose the small things.

I challenge you to open your eyes to the world. Discover how God is working all over the place. The wider you open your eyes, the bigger your vision of God will become. And I don't know about you, but I want glimpses of that BIG God.