Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

I have been reading Max Lucado since I was a little girl, so the decision to review one of his newest books was a no-brainer. And just like his children's book, "Just In Case You Ever Wonder" used to hold my attention as a 7-year-old, "Outlive Your Life" held my attention now. A quick and breezy read-- even while being stacked out with convicting and powerful truths-- Max delighted me with how he breathed new life into familiar bible stories and bible characters, expounding on their principles to apply to our modern-day lives as followers of Christ. 

I was especially moved by a chapter he wrote on prayer-- as one of the most powerful ways we are called to outlive our lives. I happened to read it on an evening in which I was fasting and praying over the ministry situation I'm very quickly entering into (www.rachamministries.org) and the Lord convicted me afresh of a truth He's made clear to me again and again and again-- ALL of the work done for His Kingdom, in His way, begins in prayer. Jesus was the master example, of course. As Lucado points out:
And Jesus. Our prayerful Jesus.
Awakening early to pray (Mark 1:35)
Dismissing people to pray (Matt 14:23)
Ascending a mountain to pray (Luke 9:28)

Crafting a model prayer to teach us to pray (Matt 6:9-13)
Cleansing the temple so others could pray (Matt 21:12-13)
Stepping into a garden to pray (Luke 22:39-46)
Jesus immersed His words and work in prayer. Powerful things happen when we do the same.
(pg 160)
He goes on to tell stories of amazing things God accomplished through ordinary people like you and me who made an earnest effort to take the set aside time to call on an extraordinary God about the things going on around us.

The final chapter in the book was the best-- Lucado's grand finale. It was expounding on Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats, how He would recount for us all the loving things we did in our lives to improve the lot of another, and tell us that it was Him we were touching then. And so all the times we didn't do what we could to reach out to the people around us, we didn't reach out to Him... This challenge envelopes my entire life. We are called, most importantly, to love. But for a very specific reason-- because of love of Him. The two go hand-in-hand. Jesus says we cannot love Him without loving 'the least of these' (which, less face it, we all are at one time or another, in one way or another), and when we love others, we're loving Him.

So, I finished this book one evening fasting and praying for the next ministry stint He has me in, helping to start up a children's home in Uganda with Racham Ministries (arriving January 5th). It's all completely beyond me and I still don't know how He's going to get it all together, but I know I can trust Him. And I know that whatever way He shows me to serve any of His little ones (and that's all of us, not just the children) is an opportunity to pour out my love on Him through pouring it out on them. So, may the little bit of Himself in me outlive the me in me as He teaches me to love on, love on, love on.

And may you outlive your life through Him too.
There's just no other thing that matters when all is said and done...

*I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Ah-maz-ing Blog Post...

I would love for everyone to read
this fantastic blog post
called Adjective: Recklessly Wasteful

Mmmmm. So beautifully challenging!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Chance Encounters

Have I mentioned how deeply I love my little international church group here called The Well? Building relationships there, sharing with one another, the teaching from various people and the Word, the worship, He just uses all of it, every week, to refresh my heart somehow. And heal bits of it which have been battered and bruised in other church situations.

Last Sunday a lovely middle-aged Iranian lady pastor came to share her testimony with us. And I listened awestruck. She grew up in a Muslim home in Iran, and started having visions of Jesus before she was even 5 years old. He came to her when she was deathly ill and His presence calmed her. Then He came to her in dreams all throughout her childhood. She spent her life seeking to discover who this man was in her dreams, and the amount of times "Christians" turned her away and sent her home empty is shocking. But He continued to woo her, and she continued to seek after Him, actually aching with a curiosity that wouldn't go away, until she FINALLY, in her 30's, met someone who could tell her who this man was. And she gave her life to Him on the spot, soon became the leader of an underground house church, and then was evacuated from Iran to Sweden in the revolution when her fellow Christians leaders were being martyred.

Afterwards, various people spoke up and shared the different ways God had revealed Himself to them. The experiences were as varied as the people in The Well-- from every continent, so many countries, ages, life experiences.

The kind Iranian lady pastor and I took the same bus home in the crystal clear Swedish night. I thanked her for sharing, told her how encouraged I was. She wrapped her arms around me with a warm smile, then brushed her fingers across my face like a mother and told me in somewhat broken English how happy she was to meet me. And I was struck by the feeling of being mothered, at a bus stop in the cold of a dark Scandinavian city, by a woman whose years have seen a life so very different from the one my fewer ones have seen. I thought about all the people those hands have reached out and touched across the world, in a life so foreign from my own. And marveled at His ways, which miraculously drew this woman from the time she was a little girl in a part of the world hostile to Him, and how He's drawn me, born into a family where His Name is praised, and which set us before one another on this cold winter's night, so many stories of His faithfulness to us living behind each of our pairs of eyes. United by Him, two strangers who could hardly have had more different lives.

When I got home that night I spoke to my sister on Skype and missed my family. When I recalled her tender touch, reaching out to brush her fingers across my face like a loving mother, I was just reminded of His excellent plan to adopt ALL of us as His children, to give us ALL a role in His kingdom, a part in His body. I cannot possibly express how much it comforts me to be a part of this worldwide family, united with burning hearts so full of His love and His purposes and so alive in this cosmic battle.

And I think remembering all of that is exactly what's got her through all the devastating things her life has passed through, and keeps her going, serving Him, lit up with the love of Christ and aching to pour Him out into the emptiness all around her. She works in outreach to Muslims here. She gave me her card and asked if I would come along and help her some time.

...And all this reassurance just from a kind-hearted reaching out and brushing one's motherly fingers across one's chilly face.
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