Tuesday, October 25, 2011

V.S. a religious obligation or an attitude of the heart?

Voluntary service workers; to some this label takes you back to the days of the draft, when all our young conservative men fulfilled their obligation to our government by choosing non combat service to assist our military. But today this term has put on a new set of clothes. V.S. worker; is an all encompassing phrase to describe single young people who commit to a set amount of humanitarian or missionary service.
This practice has been well established within our churches since the times of war. Making it almost natural for our youth; they grow up listing to the older youth tell stories of when they were in Guatemala or Nicaragua and there is an unspoken expectation for all at one point or another to serve a “term” somewhere.
Living in the third world and seeing this practice carried out, there comes a time when my heart bleeds. A “term” has a beginning and an end, it’s the first question I get asked. So when is your term up? But may I ask; does service to our almighty creator have an end?
A young person (or family) comes to a new place to start learning things as an infant again, to earn a voice, respect, position. When these things begin to unfold and a person starts to flourish there term comes to an end. I have seen it over; someone you see that seems to be effective yet they say “I am going home” you ask “why?” “My time is up” they say. No they are not deathly ill nor did God call them to a new and greater field, just their time is up. They have fulfilled their religious obligation only to leave and live their quaint Christian life in the land of their birth. Just another conservative to say “When I was in????”.
Let us realize that this starts with expectations. If all those who have “volunteered” when we arrived home were greeted by “Oh why back so soon?” “Did you have problems” or “When are you going back”. How do you think that would affect their thinking?
Whatever happened to those that left and never went back? The Jim Elliott’s and Hudson Taylors those that were so committed to the call of Christ that time and place had no hold. Some may think, well we need to get longer commitments out of our staff. But no it’s about a committed heart living each day to bring worship to the throne of our lord Jesus Christ. Oh father would you lay open our hearts so that we might see the selfishness of man and turn in disgust to plunge headlong into a life of service to you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hunger of the Children

Many of us hear people talk of the starving children of Africa or the hungry children of the slums of an inner city but we must understand there is a difference. To starve is to die or to become weak through the lack of nourishment. Hunger however is a strong desire for something well known to an individual. If it is not known to you; you in turn can not hunger for it.
Living in a impoverished country it is not uncommon for children to be in starvation, malnourished or however you want to explain it. Bloated stomachs, discolored hair and skin, weak and stunted children knowing no other life; their lethargic bodies taking whatever the elements bring upon them. One in this state is not one to be hungry. If one meal a day is all you know than your body is adapted to that state. It is unaware of it need for nourishment. Often malnourished children have little or no appetite the desire is just not there. You can not desire the unknown, your body has gone so long without food that it has ceased to desire it.
Hunger on the other hand is a desire for what is known. Most north Americans can not go more than 4-6 hours without the urge to eat. It is a feeling that your body has put in place to keep you healthy. The more regular your eating habits the easier you will feel hungry.
This is what our lord was saying in Mathew 5:6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled" One that hungers after the things of God knows the things of God. When you long to read your bible is not when you have gone days without reading but when you read it several times a day and you neglect it one morning. You hunger after God's spirit when you know his daily presence and you grieve Him. You hunger for Him when you know Him so intimately that the moment you step away from Him you know that very instant.
Seeing such instant concern for the starving of this world I have to ask myself how many of God's children are starving? How many of us live outside His presence and neglect His word to the point were we no longer desire it, that we no longer feel the pain of our lack of nourishment?
How many of us are allowing our spiritual bodies to be carried by the ebb and flow of life? We are simply existing not thriving. And yet we are God's children, those called to live out His love to the nations. So how can we fulfill that calling if we ourselves have starved ourselves of His word of His presence of His love?