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Follow Jesus to the Ends of the Earth

Month: March 2017

Aaron was a lousy leader…and a golden calf is a lousy god

A statue of Brahmin in India where Hindus worship today

I’m reading in the Old Testament right now as part of my “read through the Bible in a year” discipline. I just read about Moses going to the mountain to meet with God and get the 10 commandments. While he was gone, he left Aaron, his brother and spokesman in charge.

You know the story. The Israelites freaked out when Moses was gone too long and revolted. Aaron responded by gathering gold and crafting an image of a calf, thus creating a new god to worship. Bull worship was common back in the day (and it still practiced in some parts of the world as the picture above demonstrates).  Aaron crafts a common god to give the people what they want – something safe and familiar to worship.

There’s no indication that Aaron opposed this idea or stood against this move to idolatry. He folds under the pressure of the people. All this while Aaron and the Israelites stand at the base of a mountain engulfed with smoke and fire, literally looking at the miraculous presence of God.

Moses was a great leader. His brother, Aaron, a failure. Leaders are made, not born, and these brothers bear out that point.

 

Paul – A Man of Grace and Grit

A man who stared down kings, survived stonings and shipwrecks, healed the sick and shook off the venom of poisonous vipers – what’s not to love about Paul? I just read this book for a course I’m taking on Acts and the Pauline Epistles. I thoroughly enjoyed Charles Swindoll’s thoughts on the life and ministry of Paul. It’s been I long time since I’ve read a book by Swindoll and I was quickly reminded of his humor, insights and his practicality of application, especially for those in ministry.

In the first chapter I was struck by Swindoll’s description of Saul as a “religious terrorist.” Swindoll goes on to say “That’s why there’s nothing more frightening, more vicious than a religious terrorist. What they do, they justify in the name of God.” Since this book was published, we’ve seen ever-increasing evidence of that reality. Which make me wonder, is there another Paul out there, currently committed to Islamic terrorism, who will become the great missionary of tomorrow? I hope and pray so. Perhaps even on the road to Damascus a similar miracle could occur?

Two thoughts kept circling around in my mind as I read this book and as I jotted down notable passages on the way through. First, this life of adventure lived by Paul. His was no boring, cloistered life of ministry. He was fully engaged and ever pushing on to new arenas. Fearless comes to mind. A second thought emerged as I found my way to the final few chapters; a theme that I’ve been weighing personally for the last year or so, and the life of Paul demonstrates it so well. That is, our need for longevity in ministry, or finishing well with the Lord, or keeping the faith until the end of life. My life, in particular.

I loved the book. So much so I ordered another book in the series. I’m challenged to push forward in my work in missions despite the daily obstacles. I encouraged to continue to pursue depth in life and in the Lord. Finally, I’m inspired to end strong and finish the race in a manner of which Paul would approve.

Making St Patrick’s Day a Celebration of Missions!

Marker outside of St Patrick’s cathedral in Dublin where Patrick baptized some of the first Irish converts to the Christian faith.

St Patrick’s Day has become a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all things Irish and a good excuse to drink green beer, not something one can do everyday. But did you know that Patrick of Ireland is one of history’s great missionaries? Patrick was the first known missionary to carry the gospel outside the bounds of the Roman Empire. He returned to the people who had enslaved him as a young man, those pagan Irish, because God appeared to him in a vision and sent him back.

Patrick evangelized the entire island, stopping only when he reached the west coast of Ireland. He would have kept going if he could have walked on water and there were Irish in the sea!

This Friday, March 17, join me in celebrating St Patrick’s day. Celebrate all things Irish, but let’s also celebrate the cause of missions around the world and the many young people who are following in Patrick’s footsteps today.

Lion

David, Matt and myself alongside Howrah Bridge in Calcutta in 2013

I just watched the movie, Lion. It’s the true story of a young boy who gets lost in Calcutta, India, and separated from his family. He lands in an orphanage where he is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. The movie is both tragic and uplifting as the young man searches for his family and his past. I won’t share any more so I won’t spoil the story, but this movie is worth your time.

Market below Howrah Bridge

The story is especially fascinating because I’ve been to Calcutta with my sons and walked across the bridge featured in the film. That area of Calcutta is every bit as crazy as the film portrays. I enjoyed my visit, although I was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of people and activity. I cannot imagine being a young boy, around 6 years old, lost, separated from family, unable to understand the language and trying to survive the streets. Like I said, I recommend this movie!

One note about Howrah Bridge, which is featured in the film. It is reputedly the busiest bridge in the world, carrying 500,000 pedestrians and half a million vehicles a day. It seemed that way to me as it was packed when I walked across. However, the bridge is under siege as thousands of people spit guthka – a chewable mixture of tobacco and slaked lime which often causes oral cancer – on the steel hangers. This spit is literally eating away at the support structure of the span. Several plans are in the works to save the bridge from spit, but so far nothing has quite solved the problem.

Sign on Howrah Bridge – which is not working

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