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Nathan - kindergarten here we come

Nathan - kindergarten here we come

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family picture
Malia - the big first grader

Malia - the big first grader

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This is an e-mail from a great friend, Carl Medearis.  Carl lived in Beirut, Lebanon for 12 years and is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs.  Enjoy!

 

The question I’m most often asked by friends or those who hear me speak are about the politics of the Middle East. They go like

this: 

 

“Carl, I know you just talked for an hour about Jesus and how his Kingdom is growing – and that’s very nice – but what we want to know is what do you think about our troops being in Iraq?  Should we withdraw them or leave them?  And while we’re at it (they say in a soft voice, looking around to be sure no one is listening), who will you vote for – McCain or Obama?” 

 

Second most asked question I get these days is about Iran’s leader – Ahmadinejad.  “So….what do you think about HIM? Pretty crazy huh? I think he has nuclear weapons already.  Probably going to bomb us, or at least Israel.  What do you think we should do?” 

(As if I know).    🙂

 

Questions then range from Sudan (Darfur and the so-called “Muslim-Christian” war there), to the Hezballah, Hamas and the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

 

In some ways, I totally understand. I’m the “Middle East expert”

dude. I know some of these people. I’ve been in and out of the Arab world since 1983.  Lived in Beirut for 12 years.  I’ve immersed myself in the lives of these people for a long time. I do understand them.

 

What I don’t understand is our fascination with the politics of earth.  I get several emails a week from friends who know me well, asking what I think about this or that article or email from some other friend that they received. Usually (almost always actually) these emails which they are forwarding to me, are alarmist in nature. “The Muslims are taking over.”  “Beware of the REAL agenda behind such and such group.”  They are full of fear and suspicion. 

 

And these are the ones I get from believers. Lovers of Jesus. 

People of another Kingdom. I think the emails are generally innocent, sometimes even well-meaning. They’re not mean or nasty.

They’re just not the point.

 

This may surprise you!

 

1. Iran probably has the largest and fastest growing church in the Muslim world? Shi’ite Iranians are turning to Christ in huge numbers. 

 

2. Likewise, there is a significant move of God in northern Iraq among the Kurds.

 

3. Sudan has an incredibly strong and growing church among Muslims – even in Darfur.

 

4. The Hezballah of south Lebanon and the Shi’ites they represent have always been the most open to the gospel of all the peoples of Lebanon. Remember back in the early 90’s it was they who gave me permission to speak in Mosques about Jesus.

 

5. The Hamas continuously invite Brother Andrew to speak to them about Jesus – hundreds at a time.

 

Let’s not lose focus. Ahmadinejad is a puppet in God’s hands. God will raise him up and lower him as he wills. Sadam was nothing to God. The Hezballah have been and are currently being used by God to fulfill his purposes in South Lebanon.  And as much as I and many of you think the Iraq war was a bad idea, God has used it to open up a nation to hear his Word! 

 

Jesus is the answer! Not Obama or McCain. Not troops in or troops out. And even the worst of the terrorists can never stops the plans of the King of Heaven! 

 

Let’s stay on track – don’t get sidetracked into idle and silly arguments this election season that don’t really matter.  Do vote for the ones who you know and trust – do be involved. But know that politics is only a temporary salve to the great issues of our day. The only solution is living within you and I. The powerful Spirit of the living God.

 

carl

 

 

 

I

If you would describe your relationship with God as anything less than adventurous, then maybe you think you’re following the Spirit, but you have settled for something less–something I call inverted Faith. Instead of following the Spirit, we invite the Spirit to follow us. Instead of serving God’s purposes, we want Him to serve ours. And while this may seem like a subtle distinction, it makes an ocean of difference. The result of this inverted relationship with God is not just a self-absorbed spirituality that leaves us feeling empty; it’s also the difference between spiritual boredom and spiritual adventure.

The Big Texan

The Big Texan

One of the memorable moments from our recent road trip was from Amarillo, TX.  We wanted to give our kids a dose of Texas culture so we took them to The Texan, a restaurant that serves a 6lb steak.  If you eat the steak, plus baked potato, salad, shrimp, dessert, and 60 oz of iced tea in one hour, you eat free; if not you pay them $100.  To my delight there was 2 huge guys that were up for the competition, but 30 minutes in, they gave up after only eating half of the steaj.  I couldn’t break it to them that a 120# woman had successfully eaten the whole thing earlier that day in 28 minutes!  Surprisingly my kids were not that impressed with the steak or the contest.  They were mezmorized by the “stuffed” animals hanging on the wall.  Bummer, I had to explain to them how some people shoot, skin, and stuff animals for “trophies.”  It was a tough moment for them to realize that the hamburgers they love to eat were once a real animal!

I am convinced that God is more interested in faith than obedience.  The story of scripture is primary based on a people of faith, not a people of obedience.  That is our lead element in our walk with God:  faith.  Obedience is a “who’s in who’s out” boundary line; faith is a process of growing, stretching, learning, failure, and big dreams.  Obedience, and by direct impact disobedience, drives people away from God because of a sense of being driven by a system.  Faith is in invitation from God Himslef to trust.  Trust and faith are inseparable most of the time.  I want my children to trust me, trust my character, and believe that I am always looking out for their best.  The basis of our relationship with God is the same.  He invites us into a relationship based on Him being a good, loving Father and us being His children.

I hope this isn't God!

I hope this isn't God