Monday, July 20, 2009

"From Eternity to Here" Blog Tour

This is completely new to me, but I volunteered to participate in a blog tour for a new book by Frank Viola called "From Eternity to Here." Those who follow this blog know that I was touched and challenged by "Crazy Love" (Francis Chan) earlier this year. I guess it was someone from the publisher that sent an email out about the blog tour, and I decided to sign up. We had our choice of presenting two questions to the author OR writing a review of the book. I decided to go the two-question route. Below is a list of the bloggers who participated and my questions with the author's answers...

Bloggers who participated:

Jay Becker -

Mark D -

Igniting Hearts - Kimber Britner -

Karyn -

Barefoot Preacher -

Every Day Angels -

FaithEngineer -

Kristen Schiffman -

CrossPointe: The Church at Bevo -

Crazy Love for God -

Amazima Ministries -

Down to Write Honest -

A Beautiful Mess -

The Blakes on a Mission -

Words by Jud Kossum -

Eric Jaffe -

Reconnect with God –

2nd Cup of Coffee -

Nolan Bobbitt Website -

Klappyanne -

Daveingland -

Randi Jo Rooks -

Ephesians Five –

Michael Bayne -

Encounter Church Helena Blog -

Thoughts B4 Conviction N2 Action -

Edevotion -

Seeking After -

Eric Powell -

Borrowed Light -

Question One:
>>In the book you describe the Bride of Christ as being flawless (p. 49). There are Scriptures (i.e. 1 Peter 4:17) that speak of God judging/purging the church. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." I have always heard it preached that the "without spot or wrinkle" description is something we should strive for, therefore implying that we are not there yet. Would you say that the "status" of the church is similar to our status as believers....that she ALREADY IS blameless (just as we are already righteous as a result of being saved) yet there are still human natures that cause her to corporately need God's correction (just as we as believers still struggle with sin)? That would seem to make sense to me...just wondered if you could expand.>>

As I point out in the book, there's no such thing as "positional truth" and I give illustrations demonstrating this. In the eyes of God, the church IS without blame, pure, and holy because she's IN Christ. That's a reality; not a "positional" thing. At the same time, God is transforming individual believers in space/time to be conformed to the image of Jesus. He's transforming clay to precious stone to make up His habitation, His resting place. The latter, however, doesn't happen very well if we do not stand on the ground of the former ... which means to take God's view rather than our own. To put it another way, the Christian life is becoming what you already are.

Question Two:
>>The concept of acting "in Him, through Him, and with Him" has been presented much more often as something for us as individuals rather than the corporate Church / Bride of Christ. Do those "in Him, through Him, and with Him" Scriptures pertain to the Bride, to us as individuals, or both? >>

Certainly both, however, the strong emphasis is on the body of Christ first. For instance: Every letter that Paul wrote with the exception of 4, were written to local communities whose members had a shared life and who Paul called "the body of Christ." Thus all the "you's" in those letters were plural. (If you are from the south, they should be translated "you'all." This corporate, collective dimension of our faith has been largely lost, since most Westerners read their Bibles with individualistic glasses. But God's intention is for a corporate expression of His Son.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ethiopia 2009 - Pt. 8

Well obviously this post was a long time coming. Part of the delay was due to having much on my plate (helping a friend in need, attending to work-related issues, and helping my mom who was recently hospitalized), but I also think a big part of it was that I wanted to HAVE to revisit my experience. I guess the fear was that if I "finish" writing about my Ethiopia trip, it will drift farther and farther from my mind. Maybe the trip in general will, but finding a way to minister to people in need will not, regardless of where or who those people are.

Friday morning, as usual, I awoke at 5am and got up to spend time alone with God. The first thing I noticed was that my neck was much better and I was so happy and thankful. However, there was a sadness in my heart because I knew that it was the last time, at least for this trip, that I would sit at the dining room table with a cup of coffee and my Bible, feasting on God's Word as the daylight began to pour into the room. Often I would look outside the sliding glass door as the grass and flowers vibrantly glowed in the early morning light, and just dwell on God's goodness, faithfulness, love and grace. I just listen. We live such busy lifestyles in the U.S. that often just "being" in God's presence, crawling up onto His lap and laying our heads on His shoulder, is something that rarely happens. Too often we race through the One-Year-Bible assigned reading, offer up a few petition prayers, then rush off to the day's tasks. I want more. I need more. Early mornings are the first fruits of the day, and for me at least, it is a very special time.

One by one, people stirred, music played, dogs barked, more coffee brewed, and the room filled with the awesome individuals that together made our team. I missed them already. We all finished breakfast, loaded up the vans, and took off for the first location, Kechene School. It is a school supported by outside sponsors so that the students can attend free (it is in one of the poorest areas). As with previous sponsored places, the difference was very clear. The children had uniforms, well-stocked and nicely-decorated classrooms, and they proudly sang songs for us with a robust enthusiasm that is rarely seen in the U.S. We hugged them all, said goodbye, and headed to the next orphanage, Kebetabshay. They had a larger campus than previous places, but for good reason as there are 150 children who live there. We went around and visited with the children and, once again, there was one child in particular that stood out. He didn't know any English, but he understood my smile and recognized love, and that speaks volumes. Our last stop was Moses School, but no kids were present. This is a true orphanage in that the children live there, but "School" in their name is not quite accurate because they attend school elsewhere (which is why the kids were gone). We just took a short tour of the facility and then that was it. It was hard to believe we were finished. It was rather anticlimactic due to the kids being gone, and it just left me with that "This is it?" kind of emptiness. After lunch we went to a couple market areas and everyone did souvenir shopping. I really didn't have much to buy so I used the opportunity to read more. We went back home to the Cherokee House, had dinner, showered, packed, then had a "debriefing" meeting. After that, we headed to the airport. Our flight left at 1:30am. After a total of 54 sleepless hours, I was back in my own bed.

I have heard it said that you can leave Africa, but Africa will never leave you. Having now been there, I understand this statement, and I completely agree.

To those of you who supported me financially and/or in prayer, THANK YOU! You helped inject these kids and orphanage directors with hope, and you kindled within me a desire to do more. We serve a faithful God, and I know He will richly bless you for caring enough to help others. Again, on behalf of myself and all those who were touched, THANK YOU!

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