Monday, March 28, 2011

Spiritual Theme: Be An Example

This month's spiritual theme at Faith Alive is "Be An Example." I decided to print Pastor Ben's mini-sermon in its entirety because it struck a chord for me. I've been so busy focusing on someone else's faults that I've neglected to embrace how I might improve myself and my reactions. Read on to see if Pastor Ben's words of wisdom might also add harmony to your life.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

"In the world today there is so much competition as everyone is working harder and exploring every avenue to rise on the ladder of success to the seat of stars and icons. People on daily bases are exploring new ways and initiatives in technology and arts and winning their ways into the Guinness Book of World Records. It is as if for each day that breaks, the world has a new ideal, product or initiative to present to us, making us not to be tired to patronize the world market. But as we turn to the spiritual market, things seem to be in a stagnant position, as little or no efforts are being made to pull up God’s products and virtues to positions of emulation. We could see dullness and unenthusiasm in the Christian community. No one is making efforts to stand out, to raise a standard that will set pace for others. There are lots of complacencies, as if the standard has been reached, the mark has been set, and nothing else could be added.

"So Paul came over here with admonition to this young Mister Timothy, letting him know that what was on ground was not yet enough. He is to work to stand out and set out reference stones for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity—these are the products you can find in the spiritual market, and believers are the ones to patronize this market (since spiritual things are foolish to unbelievers). So Paul told Timothy to work on his products to exemplary level to receive higher patronages and set up better ground for competition by making other believers see room for improvement on their products. The overall goal here is to bring about the rebranding in the spiritual market (Christian community) for better and greater attraction and patronage of 'Kingdom business.'

"Hope you believe that spiritual journey is a competition? That is why it is compared to “the race.” That was why the disciples asked to know who would be the greatest among them in the kingdom. That was why Paul said he forgot what laid in the past and is straining for what is ahead. We are not competing with the world, but with ourselves in the faith—hence the admonition to be example to the believers and not to the unbelievers. This admonition is on the basis of deep understanding of the fact that every human being has the ability to influence another—as the Bible put it, “iron sharpens iron.”

"This admonition has posed great questions and challenges to us today in the Christendom in our level of growth in Christ. It is telling us that all virtues in Christ are in various degrees which can be attained through perseverance. Christ is the overall example, but has made us to reflect him to others; we are to be carriers and motivators of people to meet his standard. That means when people look at us or come to us, they should become better and more like him.

"The big questions are:

"Can your love in Christ motivate others to love more? The world is sick, full of hatred, wickedness, fake and selfish loves waiting to see and to receive healing and comfort from the genuine sacrificial love of Christ in us. Can you take that love to the market place, work place, street, etc. for someone to patronize? The love of God is for the world and not for self. Be an example in love!

"Today we hear things that take us far away from God, make us to hate others, do evil and become evil as is said, “You are what you hear and eat.” Is your speech coated with salt that people would love to hear more of Christ through you and become better and holier? Be an example in speech (word)!

"Does your life reflect the image and likeness of God? As we walk on the street each day, we see the world posting its beauties around us while the glory of God in man is disappearing from the scene. Can your life add beauty to the world today that they will see the differences in Christ? Be an example in life!

"Faith is disappearing fast among the Christians today in the name of civilization and modernization, so that Jesus lamented, “when the Son of Man comes can He find faith on earth?” Can your faith pull someone’s up in the ladder of faith? Be example in faith!

"Almost everything in character we display today is fake and impure. Are the motives behind everything we do pure? When we say we love, is it out of pure heart? The movies we watch, the words we speak--are they pure? There is so much mixed up today in the church that the clear lines of distinction between Christ and Devil, light and darkness, Spirit and flesh, the world and the church are becoming thinner, leaving the younger generation in more confusion. We borrow and copy the system and standard of the world into the church that on one side it is Christ-like and the other side it is worldly. Christ said no! Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. Paul said no! There is no fellowship between the light and darkness……. Let’s stand for purity that the world may see through us. No room for double faces. Be an example in purity.

"I conclude with this; let us go extra miles. It is possible to attain an exemplary life in Christ, for with God all is possible."

Who is an example for you? To whom can YOU be a good example?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mark in Bangalore

Turns out it really is a small world after all, Walt Disney. (Wait--cliches were so last-week.) Speaking of last week, that's when my husband Mark's business took him to Bangalore, India, an up-and-coming high-tech capital. While there, he arranged to visit the Fortis Hospital where little Chris underwent successful heart surgery last September.

Mark is pictured here with Dr. Xavier (the surgeon) and his assistant who gave Mark a tour of this fairly new, state-of-the-art hospital. The doctor introduced Mark to the nurses as a "sponsor" of little Chris, Mark's "ward." Mark, in turn, shared updated photos of and information about little Chris as well as a box of speciality chocolates as a small token of our appreciation.

Mark's report: ***** (5 stars) for the generous surgeon, compassionate nurses, and fully-equipped hospital.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Little Chris Cliches

Yep, that's our little Chris. Doesn't he look happy as a clam? His parents say that he's growing by leaps and bounds. You can see that he's looking for a hand up, not a handout, and has a leg up on his life.

Whew--all those idioms are weighing me down. Little Chris's dad Daniel sent me these pictures about the same time that I went to a writing workshop about cliches. The instructor's advice--don't use them unless they make sense literally. Okay, but first I want to thank God for little Chris's heart of gold.

(My husband Mark hopes to share these current snaps with little Chris's surgeon and nurses this week while on a business trip in Bangalore.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Super Sally

A little over a week ago, Faith Alive's U.S. Coordinator Sally Barlow (from Albuquerque) visited Fort Collins. Russ McCahan invited her here for a board meeting of a Faith Alive U.S. Foundation that he's putting together for fundraising. I'll pass along more information as the board develops, but for now it was great to spend time with Sally.

In addition to talking about all-things Nigeria, she and I discussed the details about Faith Alive's U.S. Coordinator role. She's asked me to take that position from her and I want to make sure I fully understand what it involves before saying yes. In the meantime, she sent me oodles of emails with details. This week I plan to drink a lot of tea while reading everything, figuring out how this new role fits with all-things Faith Alive, and praying to be open to how God wants to best use me to continue to support Faith Alive.

I think I speak for Dr. Chris and Faith Alive in giving a major shout out to God for Sally's many years of hard work and support.