Back to School…

Well, it’s that time again. Summer is sadly coming to an end and it’s time for another school year. Too bad there’s no summer vacation for those of us who work, but now that I’m in grad school again it’s like I’m re-living a part of my childhood.

Thinking back on my high school days, I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. But of course, when I was in it, I remember how excruciatingly slow time seemed to pass. It seemed like the road ahead was so long and I’ll never get to where I am now.

I think it can be really easy if you are still in school to feel antsy and just be anxious to finish your education so you can get out into the “real” world. And especially if you feel called by God to a particular vocation, the training part can be so frustrating because you want to be out there actually doing God’s work.

As you look forward to doing God’s work in the future, don’t forget the kind of witness you can have to the Gospel by the way you go through your schooling now. Remember that many of the commands of the Bible have to do with everyday living, to display the fruit of the Spirit whatever context you are in.

You can do the kingdom work of making the Gospel attractive when you have an attitude of joy and peace in the face of exams, when you refuse to cheat, when you reconcile instead of gossip. You are preparing to serve others in the name of Christ when you decide to serve your fellow students now. You are cultivating the sacrificial love of Christ when you decide to love those that are unpopular now.

So, whether you are sharing the Gospel as a missionary, healing the sick as a medical doctor, or sitting in your zero period class half-awake, God’s glory is at stake in the way we act and interact with those around us. Let’s be faithful with what we have been entrusted now so that God will entrust us with greater when the time comes.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

How can you make the Gospel attractive in your current context now?

 

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Book Update!

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Sorry that I missed last Thursday’s post. I’m not sure I have fully recovered from the week-long retreat 2 weeks ago. Some exciting news (to me at least)! The book is now in the physical proofing stage so, Lord willing, it should be ready to order in the next two or three weeks. A big thanks again for all who have helped with feedback, proof-reading, prayer, and just encouragement throughout the project.

Seminary is starting again in a couple of weeks so I probably will be able to post just once a week. It has been such a crazy summer, praise God for all that He has done. My prayers go out to all who are starting school soon, especially the new college freshmen!

Here’s a great view from the retreat, enjoy!

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Fear

 

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I just got back from a retreat up at this place called JH Ranch near the Oregon border. It’s a little different than your average weekend church retreat of listening to speakers, playing some group games, making a fool of yourself in skits, and eating smores by the campfire.

This is an action packed, week-long adventure that includes rope courses, river rafting, jumping off waterfalls, and various other high adrenaline delights. This year they came up with a new activity: BMX bike ramp into the lake.

One of the purposes of all these physical (and terrifying) events is to illicit  fear in our hearts (i.e., the fear of a particularly painful injury and/or death; in the case of the bike ramp, the thought of a ruptured testicle did cross my mind), and then for us to interact with those fears with God on our side. The hope, then, is to use what helped us overcome those fears in our everyday lives when scary situations come our way.

Of course our capacity to fear is a God-given emotion to protect us, so not all fear is bad. But for many, fear has been a paralyzing force that prevents them from obtaing all that they are capable of, and this is particularly true of Christians who are called to embrace life that really is life. And those fears come in all shapes and sizes, from fears of failure to fears of physical pain.

It is interesting how often fear is juxtaposed against faith in the Bible. In Mark 4 there is an account of a huge storm that hits Jesus’ boat as Jesus and His posse were making their way across the lake of Galilee. This storm was so big that seasoned fishermen were scared out of their minds. And all the while, Jesus is comfortably asleep on a cushion.

When the disciples couldn’t take it anymore, they woke Jesus up, accusing Him for not caring if they die. In response, Jesus calms the waves, and He says to his disciples in v40, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  You would think the disciples would be quite relieved, perhaps ecstatic that Jesus just saved them.

But v41 suggests otherwise: They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” In seeing Jesus’ power over the natural order, the disciples saw a glimpse of Jesus’ true identity: He is the Son of God and the promised Messiah. And if God is among them, then they have much more to fear than losing their physical lives.

It is quite ironic that those who have a fear of God potentially have nothing to fear because of what Jesus has done for us. And while Jesus does not always calm the storms of our lives, our faith grounded in the very person of Jesus and His sure promises allows us to persevere.

At this point of my life I am walking with a great deal of uncertainty ever since I decided to work part-time to commit more to ministry and to attend seminary. I’m used to having my life planned out  for the next decade so living without knowing even what might happen next year is quite terrifying for me.

But, if I am doing God’s will of advancing His kingdom, I have the promise that He will be with me to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And if I have God on my side, then really, what is there to fear?

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Is there something God is calling you to do, but fear is holding you back?

Obamacare Overview

In case you didn’t know, some big changes are coming soon as a result of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) that was passed in 2010 and subsequently upheld. Some things have been implemented, but much of it will be rolled out through 2020. This is one massive bill, and unfortunately pretty hard to understand, even by people in the medical field. I came across this video recently that gave a helpful overview so I’d thought I would share. Enjoy!

As one who sees mostly patients without insurance or are underinsured (and see firsthand the consequenes of a lack of preventative care), I’m happy about the expanded coverage. But, according to the video, dropping the number of uninsured people from 50 million people to 30 million, while significant, still leaves a huge chunk of people without access to care. I guess only time will tell how things will turn out and whether or not this will actually cut healthcare costs and promote better health.

The core issue I think is whether or not healthcare is a right or a privilege. Should healthcare only be available to those who can afford it, or is it a basic human right that everyone should have access to. It’s interesting that although as Christians we have a future hope as eternal beings, the God of the Bible cares very much about people’s physical well-being on this earth.

Passages like Isaiah 58 make pretty clear that God cares for those who are hungry, naked, and without shelter, and expects His people Israel to care as well. One of the things backing up Jesus’ claim of being the Messiah was that He went around healing the sick. Somehow, physical health is one aspect of the perfect peace that exists in God’s eternal kingdom.

Just as God was displeased by the lack of care Israel had for those in need, I can’t imagine God being okay with people suffering from preventable diseases because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Anyway, just some food for thought. No posts for the next week, will be gone for a church retreat!