Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 14 May 2015

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. Mark 7, verse 31.

We need to go with our faith.   What would Jesus do?   Stop stalling by asking that trendy question and pay attention to what He did.   He went.

Now, I’m a big proponent of overseas mission work.   I’ve been on overseas mission trips to Asia and Africa. I’ve done mission work in Minnesota, California, Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, and here in Texas.   This blog is my mission work every day and it’s my privilege to share it with you, to send it to where you live in the hope that it helps you, and that you’ll send it on to parts unknown.   Between us, over 4000 people a day see these words.

Big freaking deal. It’s what I can do but it doesn’t mean much. I’m capable of more and I haven’t done more. If this is the best I can do then I have let down my Lord.

Yes, I mean that.   There are still so many places in the world where people haven’t heard about Jesus, and there are even more where people don’t want to hear about Him. They’re right under our noses.   My last foreign mission trip was to Uganda four years ago.   My life was in turmoil then, heading out of the most tumultuous year of my life.   My head and heart were upside down; I had turned my life inside out and was destroying people I loved. Ten days in Uganda changed me, exposed me to the heights of faith in the depths of poverty.   I met some of the finest men and women there, and they are my brothers and sisters to this day.   To say the trip moved me was an understatement because I felt I was doing what Jesus wanted me to do:   go on the road and love like He would.

Yet almost immediately after my last foreign trip, a friend of mine upbraided me, saying I shouldn’t have gone overseas. That there are real people really suffering in real ways here in the United States. At first, what she said ticked me off.   The more I thought about it, however, the more I saw her point. Anybody up for doing some outreach this week along 8 Mile, or maybe on Charles Street in Baltimore?   Been to West Philadelphia to hand out tracts, or have you worked in a soup kitchen in Oak Cliff lately?   Me neither.   Indian reservations, prisons that hold 2 million Americans, depressed towns all throughout Appalachia and the deep south, those war-zone urban areas challenged by Crips and Bloods, and the oh so complacent suburbs where consumption is the American Idol of choice:   my friends, right here in the US of A is a foreign-like mission field in itself.   After all, have you read the survey (published by Pew this week) saying how, since 2009 the percentage of people in the USA professing themselves to be “Christian” has shrunk by 8%?   Seventy percent of us still call ourselves “Christian” but 30% not so much.   Do the math and that’s almost 100 million under the red, white and blue who don’t want Jesus.   That’s a ripe field for us to go be Jesus.

Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus led by example?   He didn’t sit on His brains to ruminate, cogitate and contemplate.   Jesus went.   Go we and do the same.

Lord, empower me to go where You lead me.

Read Mark 7, verses 31-37.

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Practical Proverbial, from Ruth, 24 March 2014.

So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”  Ruth 3, verse 14.

Yesterday at church, our worship leader, Anthony, led a confession time based on the Fourth Commandment.  “Honor your father and mother.”   One point he made was that honoring our parents is a way of honoring God, which is part of the reason why the commandment says what it says. What of honor?

I’ve read a lot of books about the Confederacy and why the South started, fought, and lost the Civil War.  One of the canards easily dispensed across most books I’ve read was that Southern fighters fought for and with honor.   They fought for anything but honor.  Honor isn’t Crips and Bloods shooting each other because of perceived slights (or murders).   Honor isn’t murdering your daughter because she kisses a non-Muslim boy.   Honor isn’t something the Don enforces through his consigliere, and honor definitely isn’t between thieves. 

If that’s what it isn’t, then what is honor?

Webster’s defines honor (in the context we’re discussing) as “high regard or respect; good reputation; something done or given as a token of respect.”  If you read the story of Ruth and Boaz on the threshing floor, you learn a lot about honor with which Webster might agree.   Boaz says and does things to protect Ruth’s honor (and chastity as a young widow).  Boaz also allows the ruse of protecting Ruth’s identity and presence on the floor so that he might honor her.

So that he might honor her.   So that Boaz might give her respect by ensuring nobody would insinuate Ruth had gone to meet him with impure intentions.   So that Ruth’s integrity would be preserved in all cases.   So that she would know he respected her and might fall in love with him.  So that love might increase.

So that God might be praised.

When we truly honor someone, whether it be the person we want to marry or the man and woman who raised us, we are giving honor and praise to the God who is Lord of all.   That’s why the commandment says what it says.  It’s why Boaz acted the way he did. It’s how we should honor as well.

Lord, help me to honor You in everything I do   Remind and teach me to honor You in how I honor others.

 

Read Ruth 3.