Monday, April 30, 2007

What does the world see when we are "Squeezed"?

[Well, I decided I'd put some words on my virtual "paper" while I'm waiting the remaining hour for a video file to finish being converted to Windows Media format...I finally got Adobe Premiere Elements to work for me!!! :-) I know, it's definitely operator issues, but as with most of what I do I'm learning it by the good old School of Trial and Error with myself as the teacher. Oh, the joy of it! I have proven the Word so many times that it's not even funny. You know, that part that says that "with God all things are possible"! ]

There's been so much on my heart to write about, but not enough time to write it all. The last couple weeks have been rough for all of Virginia, but, due to our close proximity to Blacksburg, it has been especially rough for our area in particular. It's just two weeks ago that the Shooting took place at Virginia Tech. Our lead staff writer, Debbie Ruiz, wrote a great account of what the Lord showed her in prayer about that situation; but what I want to focus on is the open door of opportunity, to be a witness, that we as believers have in the days and times like these; and the importance of our lives being anchored in God. It's obvious that we don't have to look far for an open door...there's one every where we turn.

Everywhere we turn people are walking around looking for answers. And even as born-again believers, many of us have been searching for answers...Trying to make some sense out of a situation that, quite frankly, makes no sense. And while we may not have the "whys" that people are looking for, we have something even greater. We have a blessed hope. We have peace that passes understanding. We have a joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is so important that we, as believers, rise to the situation and be the light to the world...the city that is set on a hill that cannot be hidden. How we respond when things seem to fall apart all around us can either point the way TOWARDS Christ, or cause people to look in other directions for the hope that they so desperately want.

I am in the medical profession in my "employment life." Because of my position, I had several hours of direct contact with one of the victims. And I have to admit that it was really hard looking at and working with that beautiful young girl whose life had been so suddenly snuffed out. Honestly, it took me a few days to be able to stop that image from surfacing in my mind whenever the incident was discussed. BUT I have a hope...I have a relationship with a Living and Loving God! He is the God of all Comfort!

I am reminded of 1 Peter 3:15. I like the way that the New Century Version states it: "But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have," [emphasis mine]. I realize that the context is not quite the same, but I think it is still appropriate for our situation. We have to be able to explain to those around us why we have hope...why we have peace.

Because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we CAN be the strength that others need to see. We can and must be Jesus to the world. We are the only Bible that some people will ever read. What will they read when they see us? My daughter called me up Saturday night as she was driving down Williamson Road in Roanoke. She had just passed a church that had a marquee out front.

Now, I have to admit, I've seen a few church marquees that were pretty goofy, but not this one. I understood why Zip called me. The sign simply stated: "We become what we worship." OUCH!!! Short, sweet, and to the point. Pastor at times uses the example of a tube of never know what color it is on the inside until you put the "squeeze" on it. Well, we've all been "squeezed" over the last couple weeks. And "what we worship" has become and will continue to become evident to those around us.

Obviously, even if we wanted to do so, we can't go go back and change how we've reacted over the last two weeks. I know there are some things I wish that I could change. But my challenge to all of us...myself to make sure that from this point forward, when "the squeeze is on," it's the hope, love, peace, and joy of the Lord that people see coming forth from inside of us. If we do truly become what we worship, and I believe that is so true, let's take the caps off of our "tubes"(lives) and lead them to our loving Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I'll leave you with the chorus of If We Are The Body, by Casting Crowns:

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way

Come on...let's let the world see what we're made of!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A long-awaited afterglow...

Well, it's hard to believe that it's been a month and a half since we got back from Uganda. It seems like time has flown by so quickly! I guess with all of the remodeling and the Easter activities that have been taking place, time just got away from me. But I'm back!

We had a missions service the Sunday after we returned. It was really a great time of sharing with the folks who had stayed home and prayed for us. We showed video clips, and each of the team members shared for a couple minutes about what the trip had meant to him or her/how it had impacted his or her life. I know we would all agree that NONE of us came back the same. We were all so touched by the people to whom we went to minister. Those people in reality ministered to us. We fell in love with the people...the country. Many of us did not want to return. Most of us are looking forward to our next trip back "home" to Uganda.

One thing that the trip did for me was to make me appreciate the things back home that so many of us take for granted. I was stuck in traffic in downtown Roanoke a couple weeks ago. In the past I would have got antsy, and maybe a bit irritated at the lack of synchronizing lights properly, but as I thought back to the traffic jams in Kampala, suddenly our traffic here looked pretty good! So I didn't get upset at all. I just relaxed and laughed about it!

And then there is the renewed appreciation of indoor plumbing! :D :D :D Once you have the opportunity to use a Ugandan outhouse, you really appreciate that hunk of porcelain in the bathroom! And of course, there are the really important things, like the fact that all of our children here in the USA have an opportunity to go to school, at least through the 12th grade. In Uganda education is not free unless someone like Pastor Solomon has a heart to believe God for the finances to provide a free education! 10% of the population are orphans, and with an 80% unemployment rate, even the ones who have a mom or dad in the home, don't have a good chance of getting an education.

And the fact that we have good health care available...with modern diagnostic equipment in all of the hospitals. We have so much to thank God for EVERY DAY! Pastor Solomon was in the States recently and was interviewed on The Harvest Show. During the interview he gave some of the updated statistics for Uganda. The one that stood out to me was that the average age of Ugandans is 14 1/2 years old! It's hard to believe. It was very exciting, though, as I listened to the interview, to know that WE had a part in the work that Pastor Solomon was talking about. He mentioned the half-a-million-dollars worth of medical equipment that we had shipped over...the cardiac monitors, blood gas machines, etc. All I can say is, "Praise God!"

Well, It's after 5:00 AM, and I'm falling asleep at the keyboard. So I'd better close for now. See you soon!