My heart is a little bit on the torn side. I'm not really sure how to even describe what's being done to it.
It's not painful in a bad way, but good. The kind of hurt that you know is helping, though it doesn't feel good at all.
I've been going to physical therapy for my shoulder. When she gets deep into the muscle and tendon tissue to work out part of the problem, it hurts. I breathe deep and exhale slowly and imagine the pain pushing out what hurts.
Last Tuesday night I watched a video on persecution. I've read stories. At Gospel for Asia we talk about it because the missionaries we live and work to support deal with it. We get reports directly from the field on a regular basis.
I even shared about some of the persecution last year when we went on a support trip back to PA.
But, last week, the video messed me up. (I tried to link to the video, but it's not working; sorry.)
It features Pastor Francis Chan. I had heard of him. He wrote a book called Crazy Love that my friend Kristin read. She said it was good. I downloaded an audio version and got through the first few chapters.
The ladies in my LIFE group recently decided to read the book and discuss it each month when we meet.
So I knew who this guy was and knew what he was going to say...sort of.
Do I really want to be like those Christians?
Then, Pastor Francis came to GFA this week. He shared with our staff. And, again, I'm a little broken.
Pastor Francis shared quite a few things that were challenging, encouraging, and convicting to me. I'll just tell you a few. I'm not sure they'll make sense, but this is where I process sometimes.
First, he talked about obedience. Simple obedience. God asks us to obey...to do what He says.
He used an illustration to talk about how little we obey. It really hit home. (this is my version of what he said, not from a transcript, but just my notes) He said "say I tell my daughter to go clean her room. It would not be okay if she came back and said 'I memorized what you told me to do.'" It wouldn't be cool if she said "Hey Dad, I learned to say those instructions in Greek." And, it really wouldn't be obedience if she said she was going to invite some friends over so they could discuss what it would look like for her to clean her room. Obedience would be cleaning the room. Anything else is disobedience.
I disobey God a lot.
Second, he talked about emergencies. He told us that he signed over the royalties from his book Crazy Love. He and his wife decided they would probably waste the money on things they didn't need and would regret it. So, they donated it to a charity that helps orphans and the poor and dealing with issues like sex trafficking. Someone told him he wasn't being a good steward with the money. What would he do if there was an emergency? Pastor Francis' question for them was "What about what is happening in India, Haiti, Uganda...is that not an emergency? People dying of starvation, going to hell without the Gospel, being sold as sex slaves?" He asked "is it only an emergency if it involves you and your children?
We are not concerned about whether or not we will live. We are concerned about our standard of living. We are worried that someday we won't have the nice things we want to get.
I live as though there is no emergency.
Finally (in the 3 things that stood out most to me right now...maybe I'll share more later, but this is enough to rip me up for now), he talked about the church in Sardis that is written about in Revelation 3. It says in verse 1 "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." Pastor Francis explained that the church of Sardis was doing many good things. They looked like they loved God. They had a good reputation. But, Psalm 139 tells us God searches us and knows our heart. God told the church of Sardis that He knew their heart.
Pastor Francis pointed out that he is a good communicator. So, he can communicate truth or a lie. We can make people believe whatever we want them to believe. We can spend oru days building up our reputation. It's easy to fake it. To our staff directly, he said people will assume things because you're staff of GFA. He is right. I've heard people tell me their assumptions. Just the other day someone told me they knew we (Joel and I) were in a completely different place than them (because we serve on staff and have prayer every Tuesday and spend our days working for a ministry).
I've made it a point on this blog to try and dispel that myth. In fact, one of my labels for blog posts is "being real". But, even in my attempts to "be real", I tell you what I want to tell you. I share what I want, post what I want, make it sound how I want. I don't tell you about all my screw ups and failures and nastiness.
There's plenty. I want a good reputation. Sometimes I want a good name more than I want to know God. Sometimes I want you to think more highly of me than I care what God thinks.
I'm not really sure what God's doing in my life, in my heart.
But, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be the same.
At least, I hope not.