Pray for Our DTS!

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These crazy cats are headed on outreach this Friday! They’ll be in Thailand for two months, sharing the Gospel, distributing eye glasses (if they can part from the ones they’re wearing in this picture!), and loving the lost and the least.

Please pray for opportunities to serve, open hearts to the Truth, unity for them as a team, and protection as they travel!

Ruth: God’s Care for the Outcast

While I’ve been doing more cooking than teaching lately (I’m running the kitchen at YWAM TV until Michael and I leave for Kyiv), one of the opportunities I’ve had to exercise my teaching muscles has been through helping to write a Bible study correspondence course. The course is intended to provide a way for people who do not have access to Bible teaching/training, to study through the Bible. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to consider that the people who will be working through this course face persecution for their faith, a shortage of Biblical teaching, and/or limitations on their travel, making it virtually impossible for them to attend something like an SBS (School of Biblical Studies). This course is very much a work in progress. It is a collaborative effort, with people writing, editing, and translating, from all over the world.

As I worked on the curriculum for the book of Ruth this month, the major theme that stood out from the book was God’s care for the outcast. Ruth was born in Moab. She married a man – Mahlon – who had sojourned to Moab from Bethlehem in Judah. Within ten years of living in Moab, Mahlon and his brother die, leaving Ruth (and her sister-in-law) widowed. Mahlon’s father had died previously, so Mahlon’s mother, Naomi, was not only a widow by this point, but childless. As Naomi prepares to head back to Bethlehem after the death of her sons, she encourages her daughters-in-law to stay put in their homeland. Ruth digs in her heels (figuratively!) and tells her mother-in-law,

“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Ruth and Naomi’s story takes place “in the days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1). “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The days of the judges were dark days of rebellion against God, followed by crying out to Him when He allowed enemy nations to rise up against them, God’s merciful rescue, and then inevitable repeated rebellion against Him. You would expect a story set in this bleak time to be, itself, bleak. But Ruth is just the opposite – it is a hope-filled story of God providing for and redeeming a childless old widow, and the inclusion of a Moabite woman in the people of God.

The book of Ruth is not the first place we see God’s heart for the outcast. The Law is full of instructions to provide for the widow, the orphan, and the sojourner. In Deuteronomy 10:18-19, for example, we read that God

“executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:9-10 mandates that

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”

During the time of the judges the Law was not followed. Pursuing God gave way to pursuit of idols, and prospects were grim for Ruth and Naomi, as they journeyed back to Bethlehem. In God’s great providence, however, He led them to Boaz, a generous, kind man who not only obeyed the Law by allowing Ruth – sojourner and widow – to glean from his field, but by following the heart of the Law, and going above and beyond what was written to extend kindness to her.

In the dark days of the judges, it would have been easy for Boaz to say “no.” After all, how many of his neighbors would have allowed Ruth to glean from their fields? Bethlehem had faced years of famine before the year of plenty that drew Ruth and Naomi to Judah after the death of Mahlon; what was to stop Boaz from holding on to every ephah of barley he grew? It would surely be understandable to be a bit tight-fisted after years of poverty. To top it all off, Ruth was a Moabite. She was a stranger to Bethlehem, and though she had been married to a Hebrew man, for the majority of her life she had worshiped a foreign god; why follow instructions from the Lord regarding a woman who wasn’t even born into His people?

Through Boaz we see God’s heart for the outcast. We see God provide food, family, and a place in the lineage of Christ (see Matthew 1), for a widow from Moab. The book of Ruth demands the question, “As followers of God, what is our response to the outcast?” It asks, “Who is the sojourner in our world today, and how is God calling us to give food and clothing and to execute justice for the least and the lost?” Ruth committed to following Naomi’s God before she left Moab, but perhaps it was in Boaz’s fields where she really came to know the character of God, as demonstrated through a man who acted generously and kindly towards her, despite her origin and status. It was hardly convenient for Boaz to care for Ruth as he did, and there was an element of risk involved, but when is loving care convenient or risk-free? How is God calling us to take risks to love our neighbors? How is He asking us to open our hearts and our “fields” so we can be His hands and feet, and demonstrate His love for the outcast?

Ruth is incredibly relevant for our time, as you may sense I’m not so subtly alluding to, but it is relevant for all times. It is relevant for this age of tension in which we find ourselves, an age when there will always be an outcast to care for. How will we care for the outcasts of today?

A Night of Music & Missions

Titus_KarlaPoster-fixedWe’d love for you to join us for our night of Music & Missions! Kick off your Thanksgiving weekend with us and Karla Adolphe. Karla has been described as “an extraordinary, engaging performer;” we look forward to her performance and to sharing about the next steps in our Titus Project journey.

If you’re not located in Southern Alberta, or if you can’t make it that evening, would you SHARE this invitation with someone you think would enjoy Karla’s music and/or would like to support missions? Proceeds will go towards our upcoming Titus trip to Ukraine & Central Asia.

Hope to see you there!

Recipe of the Week: Greek Lemon Chicken & Potatoes

It might be a little early to call this the “recipe of the week,” but because I’ve served Chef John’s Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes a few other times to great reviews, I know this recipe is a winner. As Chef John says in the beginning of the video, chicken and potatoes are pretty cheap (especially chicken thighs on the bone), making this an ideal meal to serve a crowd.

When I made this on Monday, I used (gasp!) bottled lemon juice, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what Chef John is afraid of when he emphasizes using fresh lemon juice in the above video. But when you’re serving this to 40…that’s a lot of lemons! Chef John, I promise if I ever make this recipe for just four people, I will use a real lemon, but for 40…let’s be realistic. I am one person. So if you’re making this for a crowd, I’ll tell you that nothing goes horrifically wrong if you use bottled lemon juice. In a blind taste test you could probably tell the difference, but why would you want to make dinner for people who are doing blind taste test comparisons of your food? Whether your lemon juice comes from a real lemon, or from a green bottle, just make this Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes!

New Music: “Pen Pals – Gold” by Heath McNease & Jetty Rae

Michael and I are big fans of Heath McNease’s music (Michael has blogged about his album, The Weight of Glory, which was based on the writings of C.S. Lewis), so we were both super excited to find out he was releasing a new album with singer/songwriter Jetty Rae. The album, Gold, came out on NoiseTrade this past week, and it is a treasure! Love those harmonies. Fun fact: Jetty Rae is a former YWAMer! She was with YWAM Kona (where I did my DTS, and where Michael and I first met), for a few years!

NoiseTrade’s description states:

“‘Gold’ is a simple story about the rise and fall of summer love. From its bright, airy opening number, “Camp” to its final moment of acceptance in “July”…the project chronicles the slow acceptance that some beautiful things weren’t meant to last. Its not always in the written word. Sometimes just the atmosphere of the song itself creates the backdrop for those feelings to make themselves real.”

“Camp” is such a fun, sweet song; here’s the music video:

You can download Gold for free at noisetrade.com. We guarantee it will make your weekend 1000% better!*

*We can’t actually guarantee that.

Book Review: Death of a Guru, by Rabi R. Maharaj

When Michael and I were in Nepal two years ago, a friend who is a missionary there recommended Death of a Guru to me, as an excellent way to get insight into Hindu thinking. Perhaps because of my great love for Nepal, the title of Rabi R. Maharaj’s autobiography stuck with me over the last couple of years, which is unusual. I have noble intentions to read what is recommended to me, but I have a terrible memory for book titles! While I looked into buying Death of a Guru more than once, it was just something I didn’t get around to…and then I discovered it on the shelf of our library at YWAM Turner Valley (signed by the author, no less)! After reading it for myself, I can certainly corroborate my friend’s description of the book as a wonderful starting point for understanding the Hindu worldview.

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Rabi R. Maharaj was born in Trinidad, a Brahmin Hindu. From a young age he was expected to become a great leader in the Hindu community, as he was the descendant of a long line of Brahmin priests and gurus. As Rabi grew older and more and more devoted to Hinduism, worshiping the Hindu gods for hours each day, he was worshiped as a god by other Hindus. Rabi despised Christians and worshiped himself, believing that he was “part of god,” just as he believed that everything was “of the same Essence.” In high school, however, his belief in Hinduism and all he had been taught began to falter:

“During my third year in high school I experience an increasingly deep inner conflict. My awareness of God as the Creator, separate and distinct from the universe he had made, an awareness that had been a part of me even as a small boy, contradicted the concept given to me by Hinduism that God was everything, that the Creator and the creation were one and the same. I felt torn between theses two irreconcilable views. What I experienced in meditation agreed with the Vedic teaching about Brahman, but my experience of life at other times disagreed. In Yogic trance I felt a oneness with the whole universe; I was no different from a bug or cow or distant star. We all partook of the same Essence. Everything was Brahman, and Brahman was everything. ‘And that though art!’ said the Veda, telling me that Brahman was my true Self, the god within that I worshiped sitting in front of a mirror” (p. 97).

As his trust in his worldview began to crumble, Rabi also began to encounter the power that is in the name of Jesus. On one occasion, he called on the name of Jesus as he was cornered by a poisonous snake, ready to strike. When he called out to Jesus, the snake immediately abandoned him. Experiences like this, coupled with encounters with believers who shared the Gospel with Rabi, caused Rabi to give his life to Christ at the age of fifteen.

Death of a Guru is a fascinating read, because it provides honest insight from a former Hindu-devotee. Rabi was fanatical about his Hindu practices, and he describes his life and how he gave himself to meditation, yogic trances, and worshiping his idols and the cow owned by his family, in detail. He also writes of the inner-turmoil he faced as he could no longer deny that Jesus is God, but how he held on to his Hindu practices, afraid of all he would lose as a worshiped member of the Brahmin caste. As he writes of the small Christian gathering in which he became a Christ-follower, Rabi explains:

“I wept tears of repentance for the way I had lived: for the anger and hatred and selfishness and pride, for the idols I had served, for accepting the worship that belonged to God alone, and for imagining that he was like a cow or a star or a man. I prayed for several minutes – and before I finished I knew that Jesus wasn’t just another one of several million gods. He was in fact the God for whom I had hungered. I had met Jesus by faith and discovered that he himself was the Creator. Yet he loved me enough to become a man for my sake and to die for my sins. With that realization, tons of darkness seemed to lift and a brilliant light flooded my soul. The ‘sunlight of his love’ had come to shine in my heart too!

Astral travel to other planets, unearthly music and psychedelic colors, Yogic visions and higher states of consciousness in deep meditation – all these things, once so thrilling and self-exalting, had become dust and ashes. What I was experiencing now was not just another psychic trip…[Jesus] had come to live in me. I knew he had taken my sins away. I knew he had made me a new person on the inside. Never had I been so genuinely happy. Tears of repentance turned to tears of joy. For the first time in my life I knew what real peace was. That wretched, unhappy, miserable feeling left me. I was in communion with God and I knew it. I was one of God’s children now. I had been born again” (p. 129-130).

Death of a Guru goes on to share how Rabi was called into ministry to drug addicts in Europe, and to raising awareness of the dangers of the growing popularity of Eastern mysticism, religion, and philosophy in the West.

Though this book was written in 1977, its message is relevant for today. I would highly recommend Death of a Guru to anyone with a heart for ministering in parts of the world/with people groups influenced by the Hindu worldview, but I would especially recommend it to any who believe that all paths (all religious systems) lead to the same place. Rabi R. Maharaj is living proof that Hinduism and Christianity are not simply different paths to the same destination, but that Jesus truly is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

You are a Missionary

If you love Jesus and seek to live out His Kingdom in your life and in your circle of influence, you are a missionary.

You don’t have to have to live in a foreign land, learn a new language, or support-raise; if your heart’s desire is to see your family and community reached with the love of Jesus, you are a missionary.

Those you reach out to may be the fellow moms in your moms’ group. The other language you hear might be the coarse-language of your co-workers. Your words may cover more miles via encouraging emails and Skype conversations than the miles recorded in your passport. If you do it in Jesus’ name and for His glory, you are a missionary.

Jesus said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20),

and surely, the world needs believers to “go” to the ends of the earth. But if you “go” to your neighbour with a casserole after she has just had a baby, if you “go” to work with a determination to shine the light of the Kingdom in the dark places, if you “go” to your child’s preschool and speak with other parents with an attentive ear to what the Lord wants to say through you, you are a missionary.

Over the last little while I’ve been reminded that missions isn’t just something for a small percentage of Christians living overseas on a modest income. I’ve been heartened and challenged by friends who truly are missionaries as they reach out in their circles and beyond. These friends are stay-at-home moms, social workers, police officers, linemen, teachers, engaged in their community, reaching out to friends, determined to shine Christ’s light where He has them. Those “wheres” may not be the jungles of the Amazon, but those “wheres” are filled with people who need Jesus, who need believers on mission to be the hands and feet of God’s love in action.

If you know and love Jesus, you are called to missions. Go therefore: you are a missionary.