Category Archives: Thought of the Day

Lent

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It’s really exciting to be going on this trip during Lent, although I am disappointed that I’ll be missing a Sunday of my pastor’s series on the twenty four hours before the death of Christ.

While preparing to have our youth meeting, I found a great resource from the Upper Room which explains clearly about the traditions of Lent. It explains why we use ashes, what Mardi Gras symbolizes in Christian tradition, and ways to observe it. My church has always done pancake suppers on Fat Tuesday, but until reading more about it, I never really knew why. It originated with people wanting to use up all the items they couldn’t eat during lent, so they would use them all up in a great feast. This feast usually included sweet breads, hence pancakes.

Our pastor has always presented us with a challenge. For several  years, it was to do some sort of service in the community totaling 90 minutes in the 40 days of Lent. This year, we’ve been challenged to grow closer in our relationship to God.

To me, it feels like Lent has become just another chance to try out your New Year’s Resolution. You fail in January? No worries. You can start again during Lent. Why do we only attempt these goals for 40 days. Why don’t we make them a permanent lifestyle change? Why don’t we try every single day to grow closer to God?

Real Talk about Contemporary Issues

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I spent most of my afternoon yesterday thinking about what I wanted to post today that would go along with our planning and our trip. I found some interesting articles about photography and had a few ideas; however, I believe that God has lead this post in a different direction.

Yousef Nadarkhani, a thirty-four year old from Iran, has been sentenced to die. He’s not being put to death because he stole something, murdered someone, or committed an act against the Iranian government. He may have just received a final execution order because of a crime called apostasy, something I’d never heard of until today. According to dictionary.com, it’s a word with roots in the Middle Ages which means: “a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.”

Nadarkhani is a Christian pastor in a country which, according to CIA’s World Factbook, is 98 percent Muslim. In 2010, he was found guilty of his crime and refused to recant his Christian beliefs.

United States elected officials have criticized these actions and have called for Iran to “live up to their international obligations as a member of the United Nations and a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” according to an article published by My Fox Memphis.

How lucky are we that we can worship our loving and merciful God without fear of government persecution, that we can praise him from the mountains and share his love through our own lives? How brave is Nadarkhani that he is willing to give up his life for God?

Nadarkhani is our age; he could be one of us going on this trip. Instead he’s sitting in a cell awaiting death for sharing the word. He is unwilling to deny God.

Acts 5:28-32 tells us the story of the Apostles being persecuted for sharing the word of God.

28“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” [Sanhedrin] said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

I hope that never in our lives are we persecuted for following Jesus Christ, that we can continue to share his word without that fear. But I hope that if one day that we are faced with a struggle like Nadarkhani’s, that we not be like Peter and deny God but that will have the strength to remain strong in our faith.

I pray for Nadarkhani’s safety and that the leaders of Iran will be sensible. But if that is not God’s will, I pray that he holds his Faith until the very end and that he is delivered to swiftly to Jesus’ waiting arms.

18 Days!

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In honor of the fact that our trip is 18 days away and we have 18 participants, check out our “Who We Are” tab to get quick bios on our participants.

While we’re still in the planning stages and there’s not a lot of trip details to report, there’s a book that I want to share. It’s a book that I was given by a friend right before I left for a mission trip last summer. She’d just finished reading it and she said that I should give it a try.

Written by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision in the United States, “The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God Expect of Us” is a book that every Christian should consider. The premise is blindingly simple and comes from James 2: 14-18 which say:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

Stearns recounts his own struggle with faith and his decision to eventually leave Lenox and and join World Vision at a significant pay cut.  The book is honest and doesn’t push any agenda other than doing God’s work.

I hope that as we travel to Haiti, that we can show our faith through our deeds.