Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All Things to All People

"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them...I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)

After teaching the pastors last week I became convicted of something.  I taught them two hours every day, but when it was lunch time I retreated to the compound where I ate tasty westernized food with my missionary friends.  In the meantime the pastors remained in the corner eating something else with the rest of the Dinka compound workers.  It seemed to counterfeit my love for them by not sharing their same meal.  So this week I have done differently.  I have instead been sharing my lunch with the pastors and eating their food.  They eat a bean/rice/lentil mush and a homemade bread.  It's pretty good!  They have no utensils, so there's lots of finger-licking (imagine eating refried beans with your hands).  But torn-off pieces of bread serve as edible scoopers.

On Monday they were very surprised.  Monica, who prepares the food, resisted me at first but I insisted, and she was very happy.  It's unusual for the Dinka to be sharing their lunch with a white person, but it has been a tremendous blessing to both them and me.

I am half-way finished in a survey of Luke.  Today I taught on parables from Luke 10-14.  The study has really changed my idea of ministry, service, and love.  It's been very good.

Two more days...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

One Gospel Down! One to Go...

Yesterday I finished teaching a survey of the Gospel of Mark to the 12 pastors here.  What a joy it was!  I learned very much.  They are all quite interested in understanding the scriptures and are (usually) pretty alert.  I teach after lunch for two hours, and every day they heartily greet me "my Teacher!"  I am glad that the scriptures have blessed them as much as they have considering some of them are twice my age.  At one point when Jesus teaches on divorce they were quite surprised when I revealed I'm single.  Laughter filled the room.  The culture here makes for so much comedy.  They (thankfully) had no questions on the passage, and with a smile I told them that if they did to talk to Sebit.  More smiles.

Today is a day of rest.  It is very good just to sit and savor the moment.  Oochi (the dog) chewing a bottle.  The kids jump-roping.  Donato fixing a bike.  An outbreak of centipedes from a nest under my feet.  Watching the clouds.  Seeing the lightning.  Anticipating the thunder.  Wow, loud thunder.  It is very good taking time to stop, eyes open.

Six days left, and then leaving on a jet plane!

Monday, August 2, 2010

First Day of Bible School

Wow.  I taught the pastors this afternoon for two hours from the Gospel of Mark.  I covered Mark 1-3.  I have been studying pretty intensely the past few days and have been richly blessed.  I am a teacher by day and a student by night; what a joy it is to be a conduit of God's Word and teaching others to know Him.

I suspect that I will be well exhausted by the end (as I should).  Please pray for energy and an increase of God's blessing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What We (the Church) Really Need

I just finished preaching at the compound an hour ago.  As I was preparing the past 24 hours, I really couldn't figure out what to teach.  I didn't worry about it, and I didn't want to just teach something for the heck of it.  In faith I spent less time in forceful (fruitless) studying and spent more time praying and worshiping.  After dinner and a good conversation with Stephanie, I basically went to bed.  But that's not a fair depiction; I meditated and prayed in bed for a good while until I fell asleep.  I knew I needed to speak my heart, or rather God's heart in me.  Before falling asleep I thought I was to preach about transformation as a Christian.  And soon after I realized that even more than transformation, people need an encounter with Jesus.  An encounter with Jesus is transformation.  Whether it's a blind Bartimaeus, the demon-possessed man in the tombs, or Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus brings transformation when people encounter Him.

In the morning I prepared a little for the message, brainstorming a few passages or ideas.  But 90 minutes before church started I stopped preparing.  I didn't even have a much written down.  But I knew my need to be with Him in that moment, and not just study Him.

That's what I need even more than study: actually abiding in Him and valuing His Presence.  He is where transformation is.