Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Looking back up at Elvis, he smiled at me. A smile that shattered my heart which I am so quick to harden and he said this to me: "Joel, The Kingdom of Heaven is for such as these." and he picked up one of his young students who was playing. Then he opened a Bible and we wept with joy and laughter as he read me two powerful scriptures.
The first was, Rom. 8:37-39: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced, that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus."
The second was 2 Cor. 6:4-10 "As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings , imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in our right hand and in our left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything!"
And with eyes dimmed by tears he looked at me and cried, “We are captured and in love with a God who cares."
Wow. I have spent the day since our meeting thinking of all that was said between Elvis and I. As I went about the rest of my day I looked around at the smiling faces and at the mirth of a people who had so little and I found him, the answer to the question that had haunted me earlier this morning. Where was God? God was in this camp, in these huts, with these people, He was in their hearts! Having nothing, they truly possessed everything!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
This is Part one of a two Part Journal Entry I wrote in Feb. 2009 while hiding inside a Thai refugee camp full of Christians who have fled from persecution in Burma.
Illegally I am hidden away deep within the Mae La refugee camp on the eastern side of the mountains that border Burma. Daily my heart is torn for the Korin, all of them having fled Burma to seek refuge and safety within these barbed wire fences. None can leave. The parents speak of the days they once had freedom and their eyes light up like fireworks, while the children look longingly through the fences at a world outside they have never known.
An English teacher, whose English name is Elvis, sat and talked to me for at least an hour today. He is the first Korin person I’ve successfully persuaded to talk to me about life before the camp. Reluctantly he began, first with the history of the Korin. They are a Christian people. A white missionary had set out to bring Burma the gospel. Amazingly, the Korin tribe in the north had for many years remembered a prophecy given by one of their ancestors. The prophecy was that a white man would come and teach them. He would teach them about a man who would save their lives and give them eternal life! Needless to say, they embraced Christianity immediately. From that time onward the Korin have been heavily persecuted.
Elvis told me of how the Government of Burma was a military government bent on making the entire nation Buddhist. Forcefully they would enter the villages of Christian people and tear down their churches, their crosses and burn their houses. He went on to say they mercilessly raped the women and burned abandoned villages so that no one could return to their homes. Many fought and are still fighting for their homeland. God had blessed the Korin with some of the best territory in Burma and not long ago the government discovered oil beneath their land. This only encouraged the mass killings of Christians and motivated the military to seize control of their valuable land.
And so, Elvis explained, his people fled here, to Thailand, where they found safety within Mae La Camp. Here they will stay until God or time changes things, a day when the tides change and the relentless great waves of misfortune beat themselves against another people.
Finishing his story Elvis looked at me with tears on his face. His heart was for the children he taught. They were malnourished. Lack of a proper diet would have its effect. They would never reach a normal IQ level or be able to finish school. I cast my head between my hands. “Why?” I couldn’t help but cry out ‘why’. They had trusted and followed God for years and I find them here freezing at night in, only half built, bamboo huts because they have not been given the supply’s to finish their building projects. There schools are falling apart and they have no supplies to educate with. I was haunted by the question, Where was God?
Part 2 will be posted Friday.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
This is just a game we like to play at Koz...that I happened to WIN, so i'm posting it for you...also because Julie Coss has videos on her blog now and I can't let her be better than me at this! I'll actually try to put more Koz videos on here because so many things that happen at Koz deserve to be shared with the world :) Enjoy
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I believe, people who think works are more important than the teaching of God’s word are wrong. Not just that but today’s younger generation slips comfortably into this wrong idea like a warm pair of slippers. It fits nicely into this culture. How much easier is it to tell your friends that all you really know about your religion is that it says you’re supposed to love one another.
Our young men and women love avoiding animosity and have forgotten Jude’s command to “contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3) How does one contend for that which he knows nothing about? Understanding they know little about what they believe they seek to avoid conversations about their faith by just calling it a good way of life rather than actually learning about it.
What about Jesus being our sole saviour and mediator who usher’s us clean into the presence of our Father? What about providing a lost and fallen world with real in-your-face truth? We cannot stop discipling simply because it would attract more youth. A Church who forsakes the teaching of truth (the Word of God) and faith for obedience and works is wrong and completely contradicts the teachings of Jesus.
Can we and should we forsake Biblical teaching in the pursuit of avoiding hostility and resentment? What if people don’t need another religion catered to their preferences? What if they need truth even if it makes them uneasy and challenges all they’ve ever known?
Thursday, November 12, 2009
For some time now I’ve noticed, within the church, in North America, an emerging emphasis on the importance of doing good works. Too long now have the old fogies of the church sat in the pews trying to learn more about Jesus so they can fill there already overloaded heads with more scripture they plan to do nothing with. Think about all those Christians who are at church every Sunday, but not living out what they believe. They know enough truth; pastors don’t need to feed them anymore. It’s time they started changing the world with the biblical knowledge they already have. This purpose driven mentality is the heart behind Rick Warren’s ministry. The Irresistible Revolution, by Shain Claiborne is every young Christian’s favourite book. The list of popular Christian literature founded in this ideology goes on.
Churches are packed with young people standing in protest to the intolerant Christians who just want to love their God and are forgetting their neighbours. After all Jesus said, serve my sheep. Right? Or was it “feed my sheep”? (John 21:16) It was feed, but this minor error would be overlooked by a church that is focused on doing good works instead of teaching God’s word. I’m aware Jesus commanded us to love God and our neighbours, but doesn’t loving people naturally flow from knowledge of God? For this reason I think God and his truth are of highest importance. But that also means what is being taught in our churches and embraced by our youth is...wrong.
Clearly love of God and people are intimately connected (1 John 4:20) Good works are important but do we have our priorities scrambled? Your thoughts?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Greek thinkers throughout history have pondered hope. Pascal wrote:
“We are never satisfied with the present... We scarcely ever think of the present; if we do it is only to obtain light the wherewith to organize future. The present is never our goal; the past and present are our means; the future alone is our objective. Thus we never live, but only hope to live; and as we are forever preparing to be happy, we shall assuredly never be so.”
“Hope springs eternally in the human breast; man never is, but always will be blest”
I wonder if it is time we give up on hope? Maybe hope is just a mockery of those deep desires that will never amount to reality. Why not be pessimistic about the future?
Because we can’t afford to lose such a valuable virtue,
Today is Remembrance Day; a day where we remember young men and women who had hope, who gave their lives for our freedom, for our safety, and for our futures. Clines wrote that:
“One of the distinguishing features of hope, indeed what is claimed to be its most important characteristic, psychologically speaking, is that it is realistic: it seeks, directs itself to, strives for, imagines, and finds real. This is what distinguishes it from mere desire, wishing and fantasy.”
Hope is powerful because it looks into the unwritten future and anticipates what could be. It beckons humanity forward. Those who live toward the fulfillment of promise are not seized by a ‘passion for the possible’ as Kierkegaard said, but by a passion for the impossible. Our ancestors were seized by this ‘passion for the impossible.’ Their hope was not irrational, like looking forward to winning the lottery, but rather was rooted in the promise long written down by our founding fathers in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
“Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law and the promise that everyone has the fundamental freedom of (a) conscience and religion, (b) the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other means of communication, (c) the freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) the freedom of association.”
For this they fought and died.
Should you and I be reserved and content with the assurance our lives are set in fate and cast aside our dreams? Absolutely not! We must not; for every blessing and opportunity we have received is due to the sacrifice of our fathers who had hope, a hope which transcended wishful thinking and was revealed in their assurance of what was unseen as they laid down their lives for our freedom.
Our ancestors had faith in God and declared what kind of nation Canada would be and today is. Thank God for heroes past who hoped in this declaration, even to the grave.
(Moment of Silence)
Final Thought: If through faith in the promise of our forefathers (who trusted God) our nation remains free; How much greater can our influence be on the earth through faith in the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ?