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He Stands at the Door and Knocks

      Throughout history we have seen great, anointed men be attacked by Satan both mythically and in reality. When I was in high school I went through this phase of being kind of obsessed with Greek mythology. I found it so attracting and appealing. There was so much creativity behind it all. I remember thinking; “man this must have taken a long time to come up with all this specific information about each god, not to mention all the demigods…” The reason I bring this up is because like in the Bible we see these anointed men, who have a destiny for their lives that’s often much bigger than they are. In Greek mythology we have the story of Achilles. He was an anointed man by the Greek god’s, his destiny was to become the greatest hero of the Trojan War. His mother knew of this prophecy, but she also knew that he would die at war so she bathed him in the river Styx to burn out his humanity. She dipped him in the river by his left heel when he was an infant. Because she was holding his left heel, it left that small spot on his body mortal. His mother acted of her own will, trying to combat the gods will for Achilles and that action had consequences. Consequences so severe that it would lead to Achilles’ death. Paris shot an arrow into his heel and it ended up killing him because of his “Achilles heel” (his weakness). So here we have a great man with a calling who was disobedient and suffered the consequences of his actions.

     In the Bible we have Samson, this great strong powerful man that was under a Nazarite vow. This vow meant that he was “set apart to God from birth”. He also had a call and a destiny for his life. But like most great men, he had an Achilles heel and for Samson, it was women. He was known to be a womanizer and a man full of sin. He is a prime example of how temptation leads to sin, and sin always has a consequence. However, God also uses Samson’s life to show us that God can still use a sinful man to fulfill his will. Samson’s weakness was women and we see that with his marriage to a Philistine woman. He deliberately walked into temptation disregarding his vow all for a woman. We can read about it in Judges and Numbers.

        God created Samson to “begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). Samson did fulfill this will for his life eventually but it came at a price. Samson understood that his strength came from the Lord, but he didn’t quite fully grasp his calling. Since the Lord was with Samson he kept sinning, not experiencing the consequences. Samson’s acts were rooted in selfishness and vengeance but they also were the things that gave him the confidence to fight the Philistines. God would turn those acts of selfishness to reveal his Glory through Samson. When Delilah removed his hair from his head that was the last straw. In doing so he broke that last part of his vow and God left him. This is when the Philistines took Samson captive and removed his eyes. A strong man, broken by disobedience.

     “Then Samson prayed to the LORD, ‘O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes’" (Judges 16:28). The Lord returned to Samson in that moment and he was able to tear down the building over them and kill more Philistines than when he was alive. These men both suffered terrible pain and affliction in their deaths as consequences for sin. They accomplished the task that was before them but the end result was losing their lives.

     The reason I talked about Achilles and Samson is to give you two representations of the lives we can choose. A life where we follow God, or a life where we follow the gods we have created. Achilles followed a false god and in the end he was abandoned by them and left to die. Samson chose to call upon the Lord, and even though he sinned and fell away, God came back to him and revealed his Glory through Samson. He was given purpose in his death and God was with him. I believe that much of us are anointed. That God did create us with purpose. For some of us it takes a long time to realize that purpose and act on it. Selfishness keeps our eyes focused on our desires and it blinds us to God’s will. For Samson it wasn’t until he lost his eyes that he could truly see, and for Achilles it was the death of his close friend Patroclus. Now, I know that Achilles was not a real man, but neither are the gods that we create and choose to put before the one true God. This god looks different for each of us but this type of idol worship all has the same end point.

     Samson knowingly acted out of his vow and put himself into situations to be tempted. We also put ourselves in situations that tempt us to sin against God. We think that in our own strength we can withstand the temptations but the truth is we can’t, we need Him. The one thing we can do when we are put in a tempting situation is to actively choose God and not our own desires. Giving God the control of our lives is easier said than done, but ultimately it is with that true surrender that his Glory is revealed through us. Just like Samson, God gives each of us the opportunity to choose him, he is a gentleman and he stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20). Two questions we need to ask ourselves are “do we want to accept that anointing and step into the call God has placed on our lives?” Or “do we want to live a life of idol worship, our own personal glory living selfishly eventually being abandoned and left for dead?”

     Satan likes to have us believe that we can keep on sinning and not experience the consequence of our sin. One of his greatest tactics is that he encourages us to sin and when we do, he holds us on the edge of consequence. He keeps us there in this sort of limbo where we don’t receive punishment, so what do we do? We keep on sinning. In Uganda the boda drives asked me if God’s grace for them would run out. I said no it won’t, but that doesn’t mean you can keep on sinning. He has endless amounts of grace but that is not for us to abuse. Samson abused that grace, God allowed him to keep seeking his selfishness but in the end he turned it all around. I guess my encouragement for you in this blog is that no matter the choices we make or the bad things we’ve done, it’s never too late to choose Christ. We are all called to righteousness and we are given a new life in Christ. He will never force himself upon us; he gives us the choice to make the decisions we choose. In the end he is always there to lavish us with his love and to invite us all back home. Let us choose life, and life abundant through Christ.

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Not What I Expected

            Hey family and friends! I just wanted to get a quick update to you so you know what’s going on in this side of the world. We have been so incredibly busy these past couple of months and there has been a lot of change! God is really moving and expanding this ministry. Growth is good and we are learning how to manage everything but some days are certainly better than others.

            We have started construction on the training center this week after we paused to gather more funds and it has been quite the adventure thus far. Building projects are expensive, there always seems to be something popping up that you have to deal with and it can be exhausting. I sit here and laugh to myself about it because I just keep thinking of the movie, “Money Pit” with Tom Hanks. We started this project with an estimate of $8,500, which that doesn’t sound too bad right, ha? Now that we have exceeded that budget I am feeling compassion towards Tom Hanks character. Let me share some complications that have come up this week.

            We had windows and doors made for this training center and when we received them, they were nothing like what we had ordered. I had requested black doors with gold accents and he gave us brown doors with silver accents, literally almost the complete opposite of what we asked. He also did a completely different design than what we had requested and when we talked to him about it he said the reason it was not what he had asked for was because he forgot the order, so instead of calling us, he just kinda did his own thing. I have no idea why he didn’t pick up the phone and call us to ask us, it seems like such a simple solution but since he didn’t do that he is now facing the consequences of his actions. He had to come to the site and repaint every door and window, and he has to come to the site and fix the metal to the design we requested. This means we have to pay for electricity out at the site since the windows and doors are already installed and cannot be moved. That’s really a huge bummer for us because we were holding off on wiring the building to save money. So his one mistake inevitably cost all of us a lot of money, since he also lost money for doing a poor job.

            To add on to this “Money Pit” we found out that the foundation for part of the building was not built correctly so half of the building is sinking into the soft soil when it rains. Right now, we are in rainy season and let me tell you, it is raining a lot!!! So to fix this problem we have to install gutters to channel the rain so it stops affecting the foundation, which gutters were another part of the project we were holding off on installing to save money…..I really feel you Tom Hanks, I feel you brother. We have hired a plumber to go out to the site and install the gutters so we are fixing the problems. We purchased iron bars to build into the walls so that basement doesn’t pull on the other part of the building since there is already a small crack. Good news is most of these are fixable, and by golly we are fixing them!

            Now, I’m not telling you all of this so I can complain to you how hard it is to build something or how incredibly frustrating it can be when there is always something that needs to be fixed. If you have ever built anything in your life, you already know that. I know that there is a deeper meaning lying beneath the surface. In life, it is incredibly important to not cut corners and to take every precaution so you can try to prevent these complications from happening. With the foundation we could have built a ground beam and installed hardcore so it would be a strong sturdy foundation. Since we were focused on other things we made a mistake and now we are paying for it. We caught it early but how many times in life do we miss it completely until we are dealing with a huge mess saying to ourselves, “how did we get here?”

            I know that I personally have found myself in situations like that where I am sitting there having a conversation with God asking him to deliver me from this situation. Unfortunately it happens to all of us at one time or another and what I have taken from these experiences is that, like a wise Rafiki once said, “Oh yes, the past can hurt, but you can either run from it, or learn from it.” The mistakes that were made with the training center can be a huge lesson for us, but it’s having the wisdom to see past the situation and learn from it is what we need to practice. I could sit here and let the frustration fester and grow into anger, or I can choose to see the problem, search for a solution, act on it and make a difference in my circumstances and learn from it.

            I’m learning a lot out here and I know that it’s because I am challenging myself to remain in Christ’s joy. I listened to a sermon a couple weeks ago and the wisdom I took away from it is that joy is a choice, and it’s our responsibility to choose it. Once this training center is complete and its been standing for 10 years, no one will remember the stress or frustrations there were during its construction. However, what they will see is a safe building that allows people to be connected, to draw closer to Christ and each other. They will come here and they will learn skills and trades that will give them a hope and a future. I could halt construction and say I’m done, this place is a “Money Pit” and it’s draining me emotionally and financially. Or I can say Abba this place is yours and today I choose to not give Satan a foothold. I declare your joy today over this place and am excited to see your glory revealed through this building. Joy is a choice people. Choose to remain in Christ joy and place your hope in him, he won’t let you down. We’ve all got a “Money Pit” in life, don’t let it be the thing that defines you or robs you of your joy.

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