We all have exciting stories to tell. Most of us think that our lives are boring and no one would be intrested to hear about it. The thing is life is intresting enough. We spend hours during the week watching reality television shows, when you could get the same entertainment spening time with people from your community.
A friend of mine posted this picture on facebook today, and it stirred wthin me many fond memories. I have actually visited this location, which is in Yalta, crimea, Ukraine (russia). It I very close to the White palace of the last tsar of Russia, which is also where the allies of Wold War II devised the future plans for Europe.
Why does it stir memories in me? I spent the summer of 2000 teaching conversational American English in Odessa, Ukraine. While doing this many exciting things happened. I realized the plans I thought I made for my life were not exactly the right plans for me, and the shy shell of my personality was broken away.
While teaching English I was able to share my faith. There were people asking questions and I was put in the position where I could not defer the answers to my parents, pastor, or anyone else because they were not intrested in anyone else’s story. They wanted to know about me, my life, my faith, and why I believed what I believed.
This short summer in Ukraine set in motion the rest of my life. I saw God woring in my life, the lives of my friends, and in the lives of people I helped. During this time I saw a new direction for my life, I was no longer supposed to pursue crop science but engage in a different type of harvest. I went to Ukraine with an idea to help other learn English. I went to observe the agricultural practices in a different country. But in the process the people of Ukraine helpd me become a minister, a pastor, and a friend of Christ. I was able to see that pretty much all that mattered in life was relationships: our relationships with God, our family, our community, our society, and our earth.
Today I encourage you to consider a short time to serve God and others in an area outside of your normal lifestyle. Go serve food at a homeless shelter, head down to Mexico to help build a church, or help provide medical services in a clinic in Africa. In these times of service you may find that you find out who you really are. It will also help you realize just how important your story is, and also how important those people around you are.
Scripture: Acts 3:12-19
Why do we wonder? I guess it is part of our human nature. We have something built deep inside us that seems to ask the question, “why?”. Along with this question we add the who, what, where, when, and how as well. These are the basic building blocks in our quest for knowledge and wisdom.
In the scripture today someone just got healed and everyone is wondering what happened. I can honestly say I would be wondering too. I have never seen someone healed in front of me in a matter of seconds. At one moment laying near death then suddenly popping up asking for a bowl of soup. It is not that I do not believe that God could do that, or that I do not have faith, it is only that I have only seen healing through the gifts and knowledge of doctors.
The problem that I run into is when is it God healing and when is it man with great knowledge and skills? It is clear that this is what I going on here too. But these guys were not educated healers, they were fishermen, and the last time I checked I do not think my insurance covers treatment made by the people selling sea bass to Red Lobster. Which is why I love this sermon that is given. It is as if they are saying, “hello do you really think I could do that myself? Al I can do is rub some fish oil on him but the guy is walking. And this is why…”
Often times we get caught up in the who did it mode of thinking. Some cannot see God in anything others see God in everything. I remember talking to my son once and was excited because a check came in the mail just when I needed it. I whooped that God gave us money, my son said no he didn’t you just didn’t know when you were getting it. Which made me think, he was right but so was I. The timing was perfect.
As we pray I hope we will consider how God is working. Think about some of the dfficult times in your life, who helped and how did they help? What form did it take? Are you able to see just the works of man or can you see the hand of God using those around you? I also challenge you to listen to the still small voice, if you happen to think of a need that you can help with ask how. If you feel lead to act I encourage you to do it. The disciples acted, then they were given an oppertunity to speak the gospel, your one small act of obedience could encourage someone into a deeper relationship with God.
Scripture: Luke 24:36b-48
I wonder how surprised I would be if Jesus just showed up at my place? Have you ever thought of that? Would I Hit him with the hockey stick my wife keeps by the bed or would I recognize Him for who He is?
It is sad to say that chances are I would probably threaten Him. I wonder if that is why He said peace be with you to His disciples. I would not doubt it since Peter chopped the ear off of one of the men that came to arrest Jesus. So often we act first and then think later. We tend to be very reactionary people. We rarely plan for something to take us by surprise. Maybe that is why there is a seat set for Elijah at passover, to encourage the Jewish people to anticipate the unexpected.
But I do not think they were expecting anyone to really show up. They had the doors locked up and were in an upper room, they would have heard smeone approach. Jesus took them by surprise first off and then scared them because they thought hey saw a ghost. The giving of peace was necissary. The issue of a spirit was another matter. Jesus knew they needed some sort of proof. What evidence would you need to believe it really was Jesus in your room? I have not really thought about that. It is now nearly two thousand years after the event, so I am sure the evidence I would need would need to be great.
Jesus proved His humanity by showing the wounds, letting them squeeze His body to feel His bones, and He ate with them. I am sure these would be necissary for me as well, but I would need more. There have bee many crazy people claiming to be Jesus, I have even heard stories that some of these people went so far as having scars in their wrists, feet, and side. So even though I have full faith that Jesus is alive I would have to say I would be one of the biggest sceptics on the planet if He were just to show up unannounced. This reality scares me. Would I know my Savior if I were to see Him face to face?
Doubts are part of life, if we acknowledge where w have doubts then God can work with us in these areas. If I would in my own mind make a list of things that I would need to see then I am sure He would meet me there. He did with His disciples. What scares me though is that I would no know His charactor enough to be able to discern who He is. That is the point and purpose of Prayer. It is a conversation with the Creator that loves us. In these times of reflection on scripture and conversation we begin to see Jesus our Lord and King as He realy is. We can see His humanity as well as His divine nature and hopefully we will be so close to Him relationaly that all He would have to do is show up and say “peace be with you.”
That is what my Journey is all about. It is my reflections on scripture as I pray. I use methods that I have learned from my Quaker background as well as methods I have learned from participating with the St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises. I do this and encourage you to participate so that we can know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings by becoming like Him in His death, if somehow we my attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phillipians 3:10-11)
As you pray today consider what your doubts are about the resurrection, and take a journey to move you from doubt to belief. As you do this may the blessing of Jesus be on you in this quest. “Peace be wth you!”