Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonehoeffer


Excerpt from The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When he was challenged by Jesus to accept a life of voluntary poverty, the rich young man knew he was faced with the simple alternative of obedience or disobedience. When Levi was called from the receipt of custom and Peter from his nets, there was no doubt that Jesus meant business. Both of them were to leave everything and follow. Again, when Peter was called to walk on the rolling sea, he had to get up and risk his life. Only one thing was required in each case-to rely on Christ’s word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in the world. The forces which tried to interpose themselves between the word of Jesus and the response of obedience, were as formidable then as they are to-day. Reason and conscience, responsibility and piety all stood in the way, and even the law and “scriptural authority” itself were obstacles, which pretended to defend them from going to the extremes of antinomianism and “enthusiasms.” But the call of Jesus made short work of all these barriers, and created obedience. That call was the Word of God himself, and all that it required was single-minded obedience.

If, as we read our Bibles, we heard Jesus speaking to us in this way to-day we should probably try to argue ourselves out of it like this: “it is true that the demand of Jesus is definite enough, but I have to remember that he never expects us to take his commands legalistically. What he really wants me to have is faith. But my faith is not necessarily tied up with riches or poverty or anything of the kind. We may be both poor and rich in the spirit. It is not important that I should have no possessions, but if I do I must keep them as though I had them not, in other words I must cultivate a spirit of inward detachment, so that my heart is not in my possessions.” Jesus may have said: “sell thy goods,” but he meant: “do not let it be a matter of consequence to you that you have outward prosperity; rather keep your goods quietly, having them as if you had them not. Let not your heart be in your goods.”-We are excusing ourselves from single-minded obedience to the word of Jesus on the pretext of legalism and a supposed preference for an obedience “in faith.” The difference between ourselves and the rich young man is that he was not allowed to solace his regrets by saying: “never mind what Jesus says, I can still hold on to my riches, but in a spirit of inner detachment. Despite my inadequacy I can take comfort in the thought that God has forgiven me my sins and can have fellowship with Christ in faith.” But no, he went away sorrowful. Because he would not obey, he could not believe. In this the young man was quite honest. He went away from Jesus and indeed this honesty had more promise than any apparent communion with Jesus based on disobedience. As Jesus realized, the trouble with the young man was that he was not capable of such an inward detachment from riches. As an earnest seeker for perfection he had probably tried it a thousand times before and failed, as he showed by refusing to obey the word of Jesus when the moment of decision came. It is just here that the yong man was entirely honest. But we in our sophistry differ altogether from the hearers of Jesus’ word of whom the bible speaks. If Jesus said to someone: “Leave all else behind and follow me; resign your profession, quit your family, your people an the home of your fathers,” then he knew that to this call there was only one answer—the answer of single-minded obedience, and that it is only to this obedience that the promise of fellowship with Jesus is given. But we should probably argue thus: “Of course we are meant to take the call of Jesus with ‘absolute seriousness,’ but after all the true way of obedience would be to continue all the more in our present occupations, to stay with our families, and serve him there in a spirit of true inward detachment.” If Jesus challenge us with the command: “Get out of it,” we should take him to mean: “stay where you are but cultivate that inward detachment.” Again, if he were to say to us: “be not anxious,” we should take him to mean: “of course it is not wrong for us to be anxious: we must work and provide for ourselves and our dependents. If we did not we should be shirking our responsibilities. But all the time we ought to be inwardly free from all anxiety.” Perhaps Jesus would say to us: “whosoever smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” We should then suppose him to mean: “the way to love your enemy is to fight him hard and hit him back.” Jesus might say, “seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” and we should interpret it thus: “of course we should have to seek all sorts of other things first; how could we otherwise exist? What he really means is the final preparedness to stake all on the kingdom of God.” All along the line we are trying to evade the obligation of single-minded, literal obedience.

How is such absurdity possible? What has happened that the word of Jesus can be thus degraded by this trifling, and thus left open to the mockery of the world? When orders are issued in other spheres of life there is no doubt whatever of their meaning. If a father sends his child to bed, the boy knows at once what he has to do. But suppose he has picked up a smattering of pseudo-theology. In that case he would argue more or less like this: “father tells me to go to bed, but he really means that I am tired, and he does not want me to be tired. I can overcome my tiredness just as well if I go out and play. Therefore though father tells me to go to bed, he really means: ‘go out and play.’ If a child tried such arguments on his father or a citizen on his government, they would both meet with a kind of language they could not fail to understand—in short they would be punished. Are we to treat the commandment of Jesus differently from other orders and exchange single-minded obedience for downright disobedience? How could that be possible?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dear my sweet precious children at Rays of Hope, (Bridget)

Nagawa Bridget
Nagawa Bridget passed away this morning after being rushed to the clinic for being sick. She had no symptoms of Malaria but the malaria took a turn for the worse and she went to be with Jesus. Pray for the children at Rays of Hope because they are having a hard time understanding what happened.


Dear my sweet precious children at Rays of Hope,

Teacher Joel told me about your friend Bridget. I wanted to tell you how sorry I am that each of you has to experience the loss of such a close friend. I also wanted to share with you why you can see this death as something more then just death.

Bridget was a very nice and good girl. I am sure she tried as hard as she could in school and she tried to make teacher Joel happy. When you found out Bridget went to be with Jesus I am sure you were sad and confused. But I want to share some good news with you.

When this happens we want to cry because we miss our friend. It's okay to cry when you miss someone and you don't understand.

Some people think when a person dies that is the end of the world. But they are wrong, aren't they? That is not how God works at all.

God has a plan:
He has a plan for life
He has a plan for death
and He has a plan for life AFTER death.

He created each one of you in your mother's womb, and He knows exactly how many hairs are on your head. He also knows the exact day when He will bring each one of you to Heaven to be with Him.

He knew when Bridget would come to be with Him and yesterday He wanted her to come home. We will have a hard time understanding why our Father wants some people before others, but you should know one thing. Bridget is in a beautiful place now. She is in a place that we cannot even picture with our own minds. Remember this summer when I told you all about Heaven and about how Jesus said He was going ahead of us to prepare a place for us when we get to Heaven? That is where Bridget is now. She is now with Jesus and He is showing her just where her place is in Heaven. And now Bridget will never be sick. She will never cry and she will always be happy because she is with Jesus.

Now that you know Bridget is in a much better place, it is up to you to share with each other what you loved about Bridget and how sweet she was to each of you. That way, when you say all of the nice things about Bridget it will help you to remember how nice it is for Jesus to take Bridget to be with Him because she was so nice.

And because you know that Bridget is in Heaven because she trusted Jesus and knew that He was her savior, now you have to tell every body that is crying that it is okay because Bridget is with Jesus.

And for you my precious children, do not be sad, but remember that Jesus loves you and that He wants to teach each of you how to be a good little girl and little boy, just like Bridget was.

(let the kids repeat after you say each sentence :)
Dear Jesus,

Thank you for offering your life for us. Thank you for teaching us to be good children. Thank you for showing yourself to us and telling us everything will be okay. We loved Bridget a lot and now we know she is with you. Please take care of her and take care of us while we are still here at Rays of Hope. Please give us the strength to tell our friends and family how much you love us all. We love you too Jesus.

Amen

My sweet children at Rays of Hope, I miss you so much, and know that I pray for you very often. I think about your hearts and how badly I want Jesus to enter into each of your hearts. I will never forget about you even though I am hundreds of miles away. I love you so much and I pray the Lord may give me the opportunity to see all of you again soon.

Love you sooo sooo soooo much,
Momma Lauren




Saturday, January 14, 2012

Glory to God the rhythm of my Soul


You know those moments when you are standing perfectly in the will of God? You know when you are standing there and nobody else around you knows that you are in that place except for the fact the Light of the GLORY of GOD is on your face, and people don’t want anything except to be near that Light?

Your heart beats faster.
Your breaths seem longer.
You get smaller.
God gets bigger.
And the resounding drum of your heart beats to the rhythm of the anthem of Heaven.

GLORY to GOD. Glory to GOD. GlorYYYYYY TOOOOO GOOOODDDDDD.

Louder.
Louder.
Louder.
And you can’t stop.
You can’t stop wanting to be more and more in His presence and more and more in the perfect center of His sovereign will.

The Peace of the Lord transforms your heart into a perfect revelation of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and you are living as He lived in His few moments on earth. You pray for the sick, you pray for the well, you pray for the rich, you pray for the poor, you minister to all of those around you, His Word is constantly on your lips because there is nothing else you would rather speak.

As the word of the Living God flows from you lips, the breath of God is breathed on those around you, and the best part of it all is that you know it is not you. In fact you seem to be taken above yourself. You seem to be taken to a place just above where you are and you are watching the Lord’s hand move your heart and your feet just as He pleases. And He pumps your heart. The very heart beat of your heart is given life by the breath of the Holy Majestic Father in Heaven. Your eyes see the things He sees, and for ONCE, for one single moment you catch a glimpse of the joy of Heaven. You catch a glimpse of the eternal presence of God.

You can stop.
You can rest.
You can stand in the perfect place of the Lord’s presence.

And it’s there for a moment. He is there for a moment.


Then in another moment.

Then He is gone, or so it seems.

You beg the Lord to turn around to see you and to come back. You praise Him for your experience but you want Him to come back. You want Him to be constantly there always near, that you may feel as you did the moment before. You feel the presence of the Lord fading. You run fast after Him longing to find Him again.

But you have let something else enter your mind.

The glory of God has passed.

“Moses, said, ‘please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name, ‘the Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.’ And the Lord said, ‘behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand,

AND YOU SHALL SEE MY BACK, BUT MY FACE SHALL NOT BE SEEN.” (Ex. 33:18-23)

Our flesh could not contain the glory of God not even for more then the moment He gave us with Him.

The glory of God would actually KILL us if we saw it.

What does this do to you?

It makes me fell smaller and smaller, and it makes Him grow and grow, deservingly grow.

I know I am not a perfect human being, but if I am not yearning for the perfection of Jesus Christ, to be in the presence of God for eternity, what am I yearning for? And out of this yearning to be one with Jesus Christ, if I am desiring anything but the glory of God to be represented through my love and desire to be like Christ, then in pride, I am standing in the selfishness of my own conceit.

To be seen as a righteous Christ-follower for the glory of myself is not to be seen as a Christ-follower at all.

Jesus Christ lived for the glory of His Father. He lived for the glory of the ONLY LIVING HOLY WORTHY GOD.
"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in YOUR own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed." John 17:3-4

His glory cannot be contained in our bodies, we simply praise and worship the glory of God with everything within us. That means everything. NOTHING LEFT BEHIND. You cannot hold on to anything. NOTHING. So stop trying. Let go.

NO, you are still holding on to something. Stop holding on to it. When you let go of the sinful item which consumes your fleshly mind, you will be shown the glory of God. He will pass by you and you will see His back, and you will never EVER EVER TURN AWAY.

This is what I long for. I long to be as I was last night in the presence of the Holy Living God serving His children for however long He would have me in this world. I want to pray for the sick, be with the sick, the dying, the hurting, the abused. I want to hold the orphans and disciple my children. I want to join hands with somebody and never stop sharing the Gospel through my relationship to Him. I long to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the beautiful people of Haiti, Uganda, and the Middle East. But most of all I pray the Lord has used me to share the Gospel with those I am surrounded by now. If I have not taken every opportunity to show the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then I am saying all of these things in vain.

We cannot successfully cross and ocean and share the Gospel unless we can share the Gospel among "our own people."




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jim Elliot on his seperation from Elisabeth

"Your sense of loss at our not being able tos ahre things these past few months is not new to me. I know it, and often tell Him about it. And such thoughts as Íf Thy dear home be fuller, Lord' are a consolation. And then the realistic facing of non-accomplishment comes to me and crushes to silence all telling. FOr if, really, we have denied ourselves to and from each other for His sake, then should we not expect to see about us the profit of such denial? And this I look vainly for. It comes to this: I am a single man for the Kingdom's sake, its more rapid advance, its more potent realization in my own life. But where is that advance and that realization? I am willing that 'my house be emptier,' but not unless 'His house be fuller.'And I think it right that we hold God to his own bargain. I err, of course, in making the visible results of our separation the final test, and I trust, rejoice in seeing beyond results which are obvious. But i reason thus that I should be more importunate in prayer, more 'doogged in devotion, and should not get, as you say to a 'weary acceptance of things as they are...

We may imagine what it would be like to share a given event and feel loss at having to experience it alone. But let us not forget-that loss is im...agined, not real. I imagine peaks-enjoyment when I think of doing things together, but let not the hoping for it dull the doing of it alone. What is, is actual-what might be simply is not, and I must not therefore query God as though he robbed me-of things that are not. Further, the things that are belong to us, and they are good, God-given, and enriched.