Thursday, November 26, 2009

True Thankfulness...

...can only truly be felt after the absence of the desired object.

In other words, after being in Russia where showers were scarce in places, it's SO great to have a shower every morning! ;)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We're Home!

Just letting y'all know that we are back in the USA.  Already missing Russia.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's About Time...

About time for a lot of things.  The one thing that it is about time for is some good, though-provoking posts on this dolefully silent, barren place that is called Salt & Light.  Wow.  I was looking back at some of the stuff I was posting on there in times past, and it surely seems as though I have slipped into a place of either laziness, lack of drive, lack of spiritual insight, or just plain lack of making time for it.  I even composed a draft a while back that was going to ask if I should shut this place down.  I just cannot seem to find the time and desire to write at this time in my life.

So, what am I proposing?  I'm not really sure, but I am not going to shut the place down.  I'm actually going to try and put some effort into a small goal: 1 inspirational post per month.  Whether that is just a poem, song, or quote that has inspired me, or whether it's a 20 page exhibition on some lofty spiritual truth (yeah, ok, I'm joking), I'd like to make this place a little more worthwhile than it has been.  Not only that, but I'd like to relax a little, and not be so up tight about making every last person happy, and impressing them all.  I've wasted far too much time in my short life trying to make everyone happy...  Let's face it: God leads us each down different paths.  Some of my closest and dearest friends believe stuff that I consider downright heresy (well, not quite... :} ) and I KNOW that they have the Spirit of God.  What does that mean?  I'm learning what it means.  Slowly.  It means not being quite so stuck up, and giving them an ear, first of all.  They are children of God, and they have just as much a right to discern the Bible differently from me as I do from them.  I used to think that my way was the only right way, because God surely revealed it to me...  I've been wrong a few too many times holding that stance.  YES, we MUST stand for what we believe, and most of all, stand for Biblical truth!  I am not trying to diminish the truth of standing and "earnestly contending for the Faith."  Quite the opposite. What I am trying to get across is the importance of living at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The devil is quite happy to see us fighting over some worthless doctrine...  The more shells we hurl at one another are that many less damaging the enemy's kingdom.  He's more than happy to author a doctrinal debate that gets us nowhere other than thinking proud thoughts that "We are so glad that God has revealed the truth to us!"

So all those random thoughts to say that I am still alive, and feeling a good bit better after getting out of the American Rat Race ® for a few months.  It's given me time to thing, pray, seek God, and do things that, quite frankly, I just didn't have time to do in the States.  In that sense, I am really dreading coming home.  I want to stay sensitive to the Lord.  It's taken all of 3 months just to unwind and relax from work/church/financial/emotional/physical stress, and I just am not feeling up to entering back into that battlefield quite yet.  Battlefield.  Not at all saying it hasn't been one over here...  It's been more intense than I wish to ever feel...  Talk about literally seeing and feeling spiritual weaponry being trained and fired upon you.  It's so real you can taste it, and yet, in one sense, I don't really know why.  It's not like we are over here as God's gift to missions.  We didn't come with some great evangelization itinerary.  We aren't globe-trotting preachers that can at a whim sweep 10,000 guilty souls into repentant tears.  We didn't even bring Russian tracts.  We came to love the Russian people, and to help a friend.  Somehow that small endeavor excited the ranks of the evil one to send the entire 16th infantry regiment in assault against us. Yes, the battle is real; but it keeps us alert.

Being out of the US for three months has given me quite a bit of time to think about priorities.  Not just what is important and what is not, but the whole concept of what I am spending my life for.  It is SO subtle, and yet it is not.  I just took an honest, candid look at my American life, and realized a very sad truth.  I spend almost ALL my efforts in one direction: making money.  Now, I could quickly justify that I am not nearly as bad as most Americans, or I could attempt to persuade you that I really do manage my money in a godly sort of way...  Excuses.  They are ALL excuses.  The rubber meets the road in the facts.  What dictates my life?  What central monolith dominates and dictates the orbit of all my secondary activities?  Now contrast that to the life of Jesus.  Suddenly discrepancies can be found all over the shifting, bucking plates of my earthly excuses.  Jesus' life was centralized around One, and all other interests found their place around that.  His Father.  His Father's smallest whims were calls to duty in his heart.  Yes, one can argue that He was God, which is true, but he also had an earthly life.  He had a job.  He chose to live differently.  No, sorry, Bible times were not before the concept of materialism was birthed.  Just take a look at a few Bible characters like Lot, Judas, Ananias & Saphira, etc.  Nevertheless, it is something that I think the devil has really hoodwinked us into.  If we really desire to "Know Christ," it's going to take sacrifice.  It's going to be painful.  It's not children's play to love your enemies, nor is it some romanticized tale of rescuing your arch-enemy's kid out of an exploding building.  This is day-to-day stuff.  Loving that smelly old neighbor who takes advantage of your kindness, day in, and day out.  It's serving the Lord in a way that nobody will notice you, and without grudging....  It's about giving everything and seeing nothing here on Earth.

We talk so much about faith, about trusting God.  Do we even comprehend what faith is?  Our everyday lives deny the fact that we believe in God.  We're self-reliant, self-motivated, self-assured.  We think faith is some lofty pinnacle to which we must attain it's soaring peak before it is worth anything to us.  What about trusting God in the small things?  Take rewards for example.  We do something for someone, and itch for commendation.  We do it secretly, hoping beyond hope that they will somehow find out, and not only thank us, but be amazed that we were attempting to do it without getting recognition.  How carnal can we get?  Do we not esteem God's rewards, or maybe we think that perhaps it was too small for Him to notice and that He will forget?  He's promised that giving a cup of cold water for a fellow believer is enough to earn a reward!  I think it's about time we start banking on that account, and leave the few kopeks that we get out of earth's foul banks for the birds.

I honestly wasn't expecting to write all this, nor spend so much time ranting, but this is what was on my heart today; take it for what it is worth! :)