Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Faith like potatoes- a movie review of your faith

My sister gave me a DVD for my birthday at the end of March.  I had a whole month in which I could have watched it.  But with packed preparations for going to live in Russia I never seemed to fit it in.  Melody and I eventually watched it on our third night in Russia, on our own out in a small Russian village.

I had already begun to feel the spiritual oppression here again, and of course I know why we are here, but still it was a little overwhelming and discouraging.  If we had watched this movie while in Australia it still would have been encouraging but watching it here it received 10 times the value via the spiritual exchange rate.

The story of Faith Like Potatoes is tremendously inspirational.  It left me praying that God would give me the gift of faith in my own life.  I know that learning another language and communicating the gospel stories are necessary and important parts of the work.  But I also know that people come to faith the most when God does miracles in their lives and cultures.  Miracles are not an end in themselves.  In fact Jesus was actually more concerned that people would be forgiven of their sins than that they would be healed. This comes out clearly in the story where the crippled man is lowered through the roof.  Jesus says, "so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive your sins, take up your mat and walk!"  But miracles have a massive impact that challenge people's world views to the point where they are prepared to repent of their sins.  This is why I want to see God work miracles in people's lives, even through my ministry.  This has become my prayer.

Does God always heal?  Actually that's none of my business and none of my choice.  But we have not, because we ask not.  When we were in China I prayed for beggars on the streets on a couple of occasions.  The first time God told me to pray for the woman.  I did so in obedience and I know that he worked.  The second time he actually moved on me to pray for a cripple to be healed.  But I was too afraid.  I was too afraid of what would have happened if the cripple was healed.  It was in a subway train station.  If the cripple was healed, pandemonium would have broken out and I would have had to disappear for fear of being arrested.  Surely God is big enough to take care of those little details.  So I repented of not praying for the cripple to be healed.  That was before watching this true story movie.

Next time Lord, please give me the faith to not be afraid of the consequences but to trust you no matter what.

I've barely told you a thing about the plot of the movie, apart from hinting that there are miracles in it.  That should be enough.  It's well worth watching and should seriously challenge your faith.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Making Jesus famous

Maybe I'm a slow reader, or maybe I just digest things slowly. I am meandering slowly through the prophecies of Isaiah- the gospel of the old testament. That's why my blog is called "in one ear". Things go in and get stuck inside for a long time before coming out again. The final chapter had already struck me with the climax of God's glory been made known in all the earth. In the build up to this climax a few pieces of the puzzle have been falling in to place for me.
This morning Melody and I were reading chapter 26. As I read through Melody said "didn't you read this chapter yesterday?" It sounded familiar. :) But as I read I wanted to keep reading, it sounded different to yesterday. Things were jumping out at me all over the place. After such a rapid succession of ideas and understanding, we decided to pray through the chapter, point by point that had struck us.
So often scripture has been something for personal application. But then how should verses like- 'Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith', be interpreted? This is not something that I can act on as an individual. This requires action from a nation, that a nation itself may become righteous. Sometimes we can become so consumed in our western individualistic lifestyles that we do not believe it possible or even right for a group of people or a nation to act together. But I believe it to be God's desire. Still, how can I act on this scripture? I can pray for it to come true, for my own nation and for the nations that God has called me to.
The salvation that the LORD has won for us is powerful. It is to be our strength. In fact Isaiah describes it this way- 'We have a strong city, God makes salvation its walls and ramparts.' Salvation is to be our defence against all forms of spiritual attack. Such attacks can come in the form of discouragement, struggles, sickness and even depression. But we have a strong city to live in. It's God's desire that all nations would live within his holy city.
There are lots of things in this chapter that can be prayers in our lives. "The path of the righteous is level, O Upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth." This is a promise and a great prayer to pray. Lord, make us righteous like you and make our ways smooth. God can open doors for us in life, according to his will. We have seen this so many times recently, that I am beginning to think that God wants this to be a pattern in our lives. This idea is echoed in verse 12, "LORD, you establish peace for us, all that we have accomplished, you have done for us." This can also be our prayer. It reminds me of all the things the Lord has done in recent times to get us here. The Lord has accomplished this, he has established peace in our lives.
Verse 8 struck me the deepest. "Your name and renown our the desire of our hearts." This is a simple thing to say, but a far deeper thing when true. This has become my prayer. My prayer that my desire would truly be that Jesus would be famous in all the world. My prayer that it would not only be my desire, but that it would come true. My prayer that this would happen in the land in which i live, to the indigenous peoples to which I am called, that Jesus would indeed be famous amongst them. I have a feeling that when this is true, that they will believe also. It's not my job to make anyone believe. The Holy Spirit draws people, but it is my job to make Jesus famous. That's my desire, that's my vocation.
There are many more thoughts developing in me in response to this song of praise in Isaiah. But I guess they will have to churn around inside a little while longer before they rise to the surface coherently.