Also Just a Story

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Like anybody else, I enjoy a good story. I enjoy it any way it is presented, form a painting to a motion picture, from a book to friends telling me something exciting that happened to them. Stories have the ability of taking us away from wherever we are to the point of view of the characters in any place set by the story. Though this is probably the main reason we love to participate in hearing stories it is probably not the most impactful thing that happens to us when we take part in a story. Even if we do not realize it, stories have the incredible ability of allowing the participant to empathize with the author. This empathy allows all of us to see the world though the author’s eyes and understand the author’s life from his or her point of view. Every emotion felt throughout a story is one the author wanted to share and thus makes every situation in a story a metaphor for the author’s life.

Now with that said, I believe that God has written the Bible by divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is God’s story to us and though the events may be factual, they are told from His point of view. Every emotion from the Bible tells us how God feels in each situation. These emotions however, can be easily missed when we focus on the details. There is so much literal meaning in the Bible but if we forget that God is trying to show us how he feels, every rule or principal we take from it would be missing the point. He wants to show us how much He loves us and this becomes very clear when the Bible is seen as a metaphor for who he is, how He views us, and how our focus should never leave him.

So as a challenge, I think we all would benefit more from our Bible reading if we read the Bible as any other story. Most church sermons are on just a few verses and in our daily Bible reading we usually don’t get past a few chapters. If we all read the Bible as a complete book we will see so much more of God’s emotion and know his heart when reading. I’m not saying the details are unimportant, they are actually very important but keep in mind that they are still just the fine brush strokes which make up the only masterpiece where we can see the true face and heart of God. Yes, the Bible is a literal book but you can still receive the full benefit by reading it as also just a story.

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So, You Wanna Be A Missionary?

so you wanna be a missionary

By now if you’ve been following along with our mission on Grafted this year, you should be pretty pumped up about ministry. I know I am! But that’s no surprise, I’m always pumped about missions and ministry and getting out there and talking to people about Jesus. If you’re like me though, sometimes it just feels like you’re doing nothing. I talk a lot about missions but when I compare myself with other people and the things they are doing, I feel a bit like a hypocrite. You might be excited and ready, starting every day saying “God, please raise up workers for the unreached so all may know Your name… and hey, just so you know, I’m available, like 100%! I really have nothing going on. See this life? I could drop everything, no biggie. PLEASE SEND ME!!”

Yeah, been there. Done that. Might be doing that right now.

I think that’s one of the weirdest feelings of all time – being completely ready (in your mind anyway) to give up everything and live in some jungle with head hunting natives who haven’t heard the name of Christ, and you’re willing to go and it seems like God just won’t send you.

Here’s a thought though: long before the first cross-cultural New Testament missionary was sent out (Paul), he worked with the people he knew in his home country and area. Before the church blessed him and sent him out to the non-Jew, he discipled. There’s the big difference. Jesus didn’t just say “Hey, go all over the world and have a great time, and toss some chick tracts at people while you’re at it.”

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It was a little bit bigger than that. He said to make disciples and that’s a long term goal. Paul couldn’t go cross-culturally until he knew how to disciple the believers around him to encourage them unto righteousness. It wasn’t until he was an old man, satisfied with his work with the growing churches nearest to him that he went further. We young people have a LOT of passion, and that’s a good thing. God uses young people all the time to bring entire people groups to their knees at the foot of the cross, so I’m not saying young people shouldn’t be cross cultural missionaries. Not one bit. Only that while we’re waiting for our chance to go and hoping to join our friends on missions trips around the world, we shouldn’t forget that there’s lots to do at home too.

I mean the physical home, too. If your little siblings know who Jesus is but don’t know Him personally, take the time and effort to invest in their relationship with Him. If your parents are struggling with their work or marriage, ask if you can pray with them. It’s small things that count. Be the initiator of a bible study with one of your siblings, start doing local outreach together. That’s what discipleship is, sticking with someone so they know Jesus as well, or more than you do.

When you see all your friends posting on social media about their summer missions trips coming up, don’t be too jealous. Keep working steadily with what God has put before you, whether that’s the kid you sit next to in English or your 12 year old brother who won’t leave you alone. God wants to use a person who is working, someone who is able. When you’re looking at jobs, the person who is looking to hire you wants someone with experience, or the willingness to learn it. We can learn a lot from our homes, our families, churches and communities. You wanna be a missionary? Come on, let’s get to work no matter where we are. We don’t have to wait until we “go”.

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Family Mission

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Empty (Disciples)

All my devotion and misguided loyalty
Swinging my sword in the garden while you pray for your enemies
All my allegiance, I loved You and You alone
But who’d believe that I could mean it now that the rooster crowed?

Now we’re huddled up here, trying to swallow our fear
We still smell the bread and wine, hear your words running through our minds
Holding our breath now, for what comes next now
Holding out for some kind of sign

But there’s empty cross, there’s an empty tomb
Fire and wind now sweeping in this tiny upper room
There’s a hungry world, there’s a risen King
Unlock the doors, what reason more could we ever need?
So sing with me, I dare you to
Because there’s an empty cross; there’s an empty tomb

We wept from a distance, watched pieces of our dreams
Buried with you, every last wound, sealed with stone, beyond our reach
Sweet, sweet Jesus, every question, every fear
Vanishing, like vapour dreams now that you’re standing here

Now the tears come easy, when you say you’re leaving
We touched the place the nails went through, wanting one more day with you
But it’s goodbye now, for a little while now
Believing everything you said is true

But there’s empty cross, there’s an empty tomb
Fire and wind now sweeping in this tiny upper room
There’s a hungry world, there’s a risen King
Unlock the doors, what reason more could we ever need?
So sing with me, I dare you to
Because there’s an empty cross; there’s an empty tomb

We will sing this song to make Your name live on
Until every heart hears of the way You rescued us

Move in me (Paul) -Jeramy Camp

The man I buried had a heart of stone
Left him in there in the bright light out on a dirt road
The day You saved me, from shadow and shame
Old things gone, got a new song, got a new name
Burnin’ like a wildfire, kickin ‘up flames
A brand new man in a wasteland singing about grace
Gonna jump the fences, until the world is free
But I won’t make a move until You move in me.

I’m knocking on doors, You’re keeping the keys
Maybe they’ll open, maybe they’re not for me
I’m setting the sails, You ready the seas
But I won’t make a move until You move in me.

Gonna sing a little louder, gonna rattle these chains
Locked up tight round midnight won’t stay that way
Gonna bless this dirt floor, gonna kiss these walls
Singing Your praise until the earth shakes and watching them fall

I’m knocking on doors, You’re keeping the keys
Maybe they’ll open, maybe they’re not for me
I’m setting the sails, You ready the seas
But I won’t make a move until You move in me.

 

We can’t do anything till God moves in us, but when he does move us we can’t sit still waiting for someone else to do it! Why wait for someone else to reach our families, when we are right there!

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Issue 5 – Family Outreach

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Welcome to March and our month of focusing on family outreach! This is a topic very close to our hearts and we hope to inspire you, dear reader, to pursue the ones closest to our hearts with the word of God “until all the world knows.”

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When God Lifts You Up

When God Lifts You Up Faithfulness is a hard topic for me. I haven’t thought about it very much, and when I do, it’s often been tough. I have a chronic illness, so while God has been faithful to me in the little things, I have often wondered where God is when it comes to the big things. What are the big things? Illness. Pain. Struggles. Grief.

I’ve experienced grief quite a bit in the past six months. In July of 2014 I lost my grandmother, who was extremely important to me. Mid-February of this year, I lost another extended family member who was very grandmotherly to me and those around me. While both of them are in heaven, the world has lost out big time. And suffering losses so close to each other is obviously more than a bit painful.

In the face of this, it’s hard to understand how God could be faithful to me. While I don’t understand why painful things happen, and I don’t know that I ever will, I do know one thing. I believe in a Jesus who builds people up, not One Who shatters them. While the world has broken them, Jesus came to heal them, to rebuild what they have lost.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
— Isaiah 61:1-3

Although this is not the intent, sometimes religion can make my burden heavier, not easier. All the do’s and don’t’s aren’t helpful to anyone. Sometimes, I get fed up with the heavy burden that Christianity has become. But then I consider the real heart of the matter. And I remember a man called Jesus who walked the earth offering love to anyone who needed it. Even more than that, His love was not fickle, it was faithful. He stuck by the side of the people who needed Him most. Jesus may not walk the earth anymore, but the principle of His faithfulness still stands. How could it be any different today? He will not abandon you. He will not abandon any of us. To me, that’s pretty powerful–not only that, but extremely necessary due to the sometimes-difficult nature of life on this spinning planet.

I don’t believe that Jesus came to make life harder, but to make it easier. Things happen in life that we can’t control, that wound us. But God is there to bandage up our wounds, to hold us, to take us in when everyone else has kicked us out. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39). Remember the story of the lost sheep? Jesus left the 99 to go find the one. That’s faithfulness.

Life in this world is not easy. As it is said in The Princess Bride, one of my favorite movies, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” It is hard, it is painful. People will leave, things will happen, life will be absolute crap sometimes. That’s a fact. Living is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But please remember, whatever life throws your way, that you are never too broken to count as His. He will never stop loving you, and He will be with you, always. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:20.

I haven’t often thought about what faithfulness is, but I think I know: it’s a God that lifts your head when you are unable to lift it yourself. And when that happens, somehow, this life thing doesn’t seem so hard anymore.

(Note: The verses I referenced in this post have brought great comfort to me. I hope they do the same for you.)
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Grafted Readers! Unfortunately, this will be my last post indefinitely, as I need to focus on schoolwork and obligations in my personal life. Writing for you has been a pleasure and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity. Thank you so much for reading! May peace be with you.

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