Jacob’s Dream

7049 In Genesis 28, Jacob had a dream in which he saw a stairway that began on earth and whose top reached up into heaven.  He saw angels ascending and descending on the stairs.

"There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.  All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."   Genesis 28:13-15

Jacob concluded that he had been given the site where he had had the dream because it was the gateway to heaven.  It was Jesus in John 1:51 gave us the proper interpretation of the dream.

"He then added, I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Jesus was Jacob’s ladder!  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  He became the gate of heaven. This doctrine is absolutely revolutionary.  See, the ladder is not something we ascend toward heaven.  Rather it is Jesus himself descending from the glory of heaven to become the God-man, the suffering servant, the righteous branch, the Son of God and Son of man.  It is not a metaphor of our ascent, but of Christ’s descent; not of our coming to Christ, but of Christ coming to us.  Hence, Christ is the bridge from the infinite to the finite.  Jesus was and is God saying, "Here I am–right in front of you! This is what I am like."

Someone once said that Christianity is not a religion because religion consists in humans trying to reach God, while Christianity is a matter of God reaching humans. ((Michael Horton, Putting Amazing back into Grace, Baker Books, p.92-97))

Kidnapped Priest Released in Turkey

I read this report from Mission Network News this morning and thought of the Apostle Paul’s feet that walked miles and miles through Turkey sharing the gospel. He penetrated the inner regions spreading the message of peace and reconciliation in the ancient cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Troas, and Ephesus.

Today, Christians are constantly under attack.  As recently as April of this year, 3 workers in a Christian publishing office had their throats slit in a gruesome attack motivated by religious hatred.

May God protect what He planted and is planting in this country–in the Book of Acts we see that the Word of God cannot be imprisoned, murdered or snuffed out–it is a Living Word.

7 December, 2007

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Turkey (MNN) ― Compass Direct reports good news in a kidnapping in southeastern Turkey.  According to their sources, unidentified assailants kidnapped Father Edip Daniel Savci, 42, last Wednesday. 

Two days later, he was freed by his captors 43 miles north of Midyat where he was kidnapped.   Church officials can’t confirm the identity of his kidnappers or whether a ransom was paid, but kidnappers had made a ransom demand of 300,000 euros. 

Deputy Governor Aziz Mercan said, “Given the information obtained from the priest, we now know who the perpetrators are, and security forces are tracking them down now.” He declined, however, to give the suspects’ names.

Most of Turkey’s 75 million people are Muslim, and it has barely 100,000 Christians–mostly of Greek and Armenian origin.

Although the incident appears to have been motivated by money, there are scattered reports that mission groups think Turkey’s anti-Christian atmosphere may have influenced the kidnappers.

Pray for opportunities for Christians in Turkey to share the truth of Christ. Despite the government reforms to facilitate joining the European Union, there is no indication of increasing religious freedom.

While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in “buildings created for this purpose,” and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions. In other cases, those who dare to profess Christ face harassment, threats and prison. Evangelism is difficult.

However, Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “The church is continuing to move forward, and Christians are continuing to witness. But, of course, it does cause some anxiety. There have been a number of attacks on evangelicals in the last two years, and they’re wanting to know, ‘Will our government stand up for us? Will they defend us? Or will they allow us to be shot, killed and attacked with impunity?'”

Pray for those in Christian work in Turkey.

Core Issue

Hebrews 3Today, I started a personal study of the Book of Hebrews.

It seems a perfect follow up to the study of Acts from the Fall. It is fun to speculate with the scholars about whether the eloquent Apollos or the encouraging Barnabas wrote this book.  For now I do not think it was Paul.

Richard D. Phillips suggests that this book was most likely written to Jewish Christians living in Rome in the A.D. 60’s.  These were the ones that God had Paul heading to Rome to encourage in faith.

With the audience in mind it is easy to see why it opens with “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophes, but in the last days he has spoken to us by his Son,…”

Having come through the persecution of Christianity under Claudius in A.D. 49, these Christians were facing another wave of dangerous hostility and evidently were now tempted to escape the suffering by reverting to Judaism and renouncing their loyalty to Jesus. 

I am anxious to see Christ unfolded in all His Supremacy and to believe again that He has dealt with the core issue that separates us from God in a way that no other religion offers.  This study will be another journey of seeing with the eyes of faith what is real (Hebrew 2:8). 

When I do not “see” reality–that everything is subject to Prophet, Priest and King Jesus; I live in unbelief and there the ground is fertile for growing hefty branches of ugly, sinful heart attitudes!

“Lord I believe, help my unbelief”  (Mark 9:24)

Back in the Saddle Again

August 7, 2004

Dear Friend Jane,

Well my friend, I have spent two birthdays in Africa now. On our return trip we had an eventful time in London.  Our flight to Entebbe was delayed 5 hours so DSC 074 (Small) we spent the day walking around London streets.  DSC 072 (Small) We took the train into the city and managed to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

I slept on the plane ride to London but Mike and Casey were unable to and were pretty beat when we got back to Heathrow.  As we were boarding the plane for Entebbe they discovered that they had double booked our seats so we were upgraded to Business Class –oh, what a great grace that was!  The recliner seats allowed us to sleep on this 8 hour leg of the journey and get prepared for the work that awaited in Uganda.

Would you believe that I left my pocket book on the American flight that we took from Richmond to Boston?

Picture 067 (Small)Shirlene, the Rafiki Girls Center Director, met with me the day we returned and asked me to begin the next day observing the classes that I would teach: Music, Cooking & Nutrition and Sewing.  Procuring the groceries needed to prepare the noon time meals, making menus and gathering recipes, teaching the recorder, teaching the girls to make a dress on treadle machines and supervising in the Weaving Room on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be some of the pieces of my new assignment.  Picture 075 (Small)Uganda 018 (Small)

Shirlene seems most anxious for me to take over the sewing class even though I don’t know a bias from a facing!  I am ready and observing to beat the band to get up to speed.

The Mamas and Aunties are expressing much confusion about my status in the village since my return.  The truth is it is as difficult for me as for them right now. Auntie Edith invited me to come to her home for a visit on her off day yesterday so I went after work.  She had cooked 5 traditional foods over charcoal each was wrapped in banana leaves and she wanted to share them with me.  Jane the extravagance of this gift will astound me forever–she cooked the equivalent of a holiday meal for me and her children were sitting and watching me eat…I can only hope that they tasted some of this when I was gone.

I said, “Edith you don’t eat this early.”  She smiled that sweet smile and said, “Jja Jja, I wanted to share food with you and to pray for what has happened.  I want this meeting and our words to be Christian and honoring.”  That was her way of saying she was not asking me to gossip and she knew that being Christian meant our language needed to be different from that of the unbelieving world.

DSC02777 (Small)With tears she thanked me for making her feel valued as a person and for speaking to the women of Rafiki as though they were as important as anyone  else.  She said, “Jja Jja, my heart felt like it had been put in a cold box when Mommy told us you had asked to go to the RGC.  I thought, ‘What has happened? I know Jja Jja loves us.’  Then I thought you would come back and sit us down and explain to us all the reasons that there were so many changes because you always tell us everything.  What I find is that you walk by with only a wave now.”

I did spend some time explaining things to Edith and assuring her that my help to her family would continue no matter how things were different within the gate.  I asked her to trust God that the changes would help the running of things in the village and we would wait and watch how things went.  We clasped hands and spent a long time in imploring prayer–I will never forget what happened in that hut.

You of all people know how that meeting affected my heart.

I do want you to know I am seeing God and am sustained by Him in all this.  In fact, I am so grateful to be with the girls at the center in morning devotions each day. God broke out in all our hearts while we were praying today.  For devotion time we were looking at the attribute of God’s Impartiality.  Later, during the time of confession one girl asked God to forgive her because she often suspected that He favored others more than He did her–she went on to say that she wanted to believe what the Word said rather than her feelings.  Picture 034 (Small)

The girls sing beautifully and I am most blessed to stand among them during hymn time.  Later, the first term girls completed their first blouse project and were thrilled to think they were allowed to take them home to show family–they kept saying to Shirlene, “God Bless you Miss Shirlene–for assisting us.”

It has been a great morning. I haven’t read our Psalm for the day but am even now rehearsing the truths that are there in Psalm 91 (that is the one right?) through my head. DSC 079 (Small)
We will have mini missionaries for dinner tonight and hope that they are made to feel welcome–Jane, I am glad that God saw fit to knit our hearts together–I miss you daily and am helped and remember to say, “God thank you for e-mail, phones and yearly chances to sit and sip coffee with Jane.”  What would I do without a friend with whom I can talk about any and every thing!”

love-lissa

Christians in Crisis

HeadDayOfPrayer1 This coming Sunday November 11 is a day set aside for believers to enter into prayer on behalf of the persecuted church across the world. 

Through my study of Acts I have lingered over the moments of persecution that Paul endured for the sake of the faith.  As I consider what happened to him, I remember it is still happening for many believers around the globe.

The following link contains a devotional based on 2 Kings 19 that provides a thoughtful way to think and pray for our brothers and sisters.

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it.

We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray.

We also encourage continuing prayer and educated involvement on behalf of persecuted Christians. Visit our partner Web sites to discover further ways to get involved.   (IDOP)

The devotional ends with this prayer:

We also pray for the terrorists, militants and dictators themselves, and ask you O Lord to display your ‘arm’ for the benefit of the Church. We pray for judgment and for mercy, for you are a just and merciful God. May the Church be able to say of them as was said of the Apostle Paul, ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ (Galatians 1:23)

For the sake of your kingdom and glory, AMEN

‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ (Luke 1:37)

Promise Driven Life

“Christ lived the purpose-driven life so that we would inherit his righteousness through faith and be promise-driven people in a purpose-driven world.”

2005-6-smallI confess my cynicism.  Christian books that have mega sales always make me suspicious.  Anything that is widely popular within and without the church, is more likely scratching a “natural” itch or poking a “flesh” button rather than pressing us on in the pursuit of holiness.

I ran across this quote from Michael Horton and thought, “Of course… we would love to be purpose driven people rather than promise trusting people.”   

The first way gives us the flesh satisfying illusion of being in charge–we can continue to be self – driven with a deflecting Jesus spin added to the mix!

Click here to read the Horton article in its entirety

New Kind of Co-Dependence

ac-emera "Imagine flying in an airplane, look out one side of the plane and see the left wing–it reads "dependence".  On the right side is the wing of "discipline."  We need both to "fly" in the Christian life.  Discipline refers to those activities designed to train a person in a particular skill.  Dependence refers to the trust we have in God to work through us.  We mistakenly assert that the believer’s job is to trust, while God does the work."

 "God’s work does not make our efforts unnecessary but rather makes them effective." 

Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace.

While I agree with Jerry Bridge’s above conclusion, I wonder if he does not express more confidence in our "efforts" than we rightly deserve?  As I understand Scripture, both our "dependence" and our "discipline" are gifts from God ( Philippians 4:13. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)  I find believers need no more encouragement to strive or exert more effort.  In fact, we need all the help the Spirit is willing to give to trust in the God who boldly affirms, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." 

I am strengthened by the truth that I can worry less about "my part" in the mystery of union with Christ and rest more in His work accomplished and being accomplished in me!