Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thoughts on the Cross

As of late, I have come to understand in a much deeper way, the true power and work of the cross of Jesus Christ. To simply say that Jesus died to take away our guilt of sin is to rob Him and the cross of it’s ultimate and final triumph against the devil. The Bible says that Jesus came to “destroy the works of the evil one” and He did that at the cross. He didn’t only become a sacrifice for our sins, but He also enabled us to overcome the very power of sin in our lives. That power is what keeps us bound in fear when finances, security, family and other things begin to spiral downward and out of control. The cross enabled us as Christians to stare death itself in the eye and say with Paul, “O Death, where is your victory, where is your sting?” We should have an ultimate assurance that the purposes of God CANNOT be thwarted in our lives whether or not we have all the money we need or all of the steps ready to move forward. Jesus taught us well in the garden before His injust, undeserved death as He resolutely declared, “Father, not my will, but Yours be done.” Things are difficult right now for me and my family, but one thing I know; the devil cannot stop me from accomplishing the purposes of God in my life. I know this because of the cross. Because though He died, my Saviour lives. Below is an excerpt of a book I am reading by Art Katz called Apostolic Foundations on the power of the cross:
The worst that could be brought against Jesus revealed the best that was in Him. Utter malignancy met utter magnanimity. Satan was made an open and public display. He was ridiculed and despoiled by the very submitting of Jesus to the worst fury and vengeance, animosity and violence that the powers know. Yet the Lord did not react in kind, He did not shriek out, He did not plead for his life—but prayed for them. Hell in all of its fury met Heaven in all of its humility, meekness and long-suffering—and Heaven triumphed. That triumph is complete, but the world does not know it because the church has not demonstrated it. Jesus bruised the head of the Serpent, but it is left to the church to ‘finish him off’ by making an eternal demonstration of the manifold wisdom of God, not just in this age, but in the ages to come.

It says here that the Church has not demonstrated it. What he is speaking of is the resilience to say “though God may slay me, yet will I follow.” Is that your statement? Lately I’ve realized that the things which keep me so upset are those idols which I have yet to lay before my King. Do I really need a laptop? Do I NEED a large sum in my savings for emergencies? Do I NEED the comforts I grew up with? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to do/have these things. I’m saying if you’ve done everything in your ability to be wise and a good steward, yet you only have the means to survive…do you worry? Or do you stare the devil in the eye and joyfully proclaim “I am free!” God will have His way in the end! The resurrection of Christ forever secured that we win. I’m not saying we won’t die in the process or that we won’t suffer. I am saying that we win. God’s purpose will go forward in full glory and triumph. The triumph of the cross is our greatest glory, but to embrace that triumph, to live that victory, to feel that freedom, costs us EVERYTHING.

God’s purpose in every life is that we bring Jesus glory and honor by representing Him as He is on this earth. Not to ensure that we all get a nice house and car. Not to ensure the safety of our families. Not to ensure us that we have an easy life after 65. It’s not that God wants you and your family to suffer, but He is willing to let you for His name sake. Have you dealt with that reality. God might not have an easy life for you. But is He worthy of you suffering to make His name great? Besides, THIS LIFE IS NOT OUR POSSESSION OR OUR END. I will gladly give my life as an offering because I know He Who promised is faithful and true. I have an eternal and abiding life awaiting me after this one where there will be no more tears and no more darkness. Until then, I will labor with all of the heart and passion I can muster for my King.

I tell you that I am willing to lose everything, if only I may have that same freedom that Paul had when he was able to dance with joy after being undeservedly beaten for His faith in Jesus Christ. I am so short of being that man. But as Paul also said, “forgetting what lies behind, I strain forward to what lies ahead.” I don’t want this year to be the same as every other one. God, I want to know the power of the cross. To share in your suffering that I may also attain the resurrection from the dead.

Have you wrestled to know the depths of the cross? Are situations in your life imprisoning you to think only of the difficulties and circumstances presently surrounding you? Fall before the cross. Allow the victory of the cross over the power of sin to permeate your life, and JOYFULLY stare at the devil, the world and your flesh and declare that God’s purposes will be fulfilled in your life.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

I love you all with the love of Christ!


Nanny 911

A new adventure is quickly approaching for the Zambia Schwertfegers. We are moving (or shifting in Zamglish) to our new home on the Overland Missions base on April 21st, which is just a week from now! Our “Advanced Missions Training” will begin on May 3rd (a great birthday present!) So, we decided to make the move a bit early in order to get ourselves and Sunda settled and take care of a few details before we enter missionary boot camp for the next 3 months. We had the opportunity to visit the Overland base last week and chat with our director for awhile, as well as hang out with a few of the staff members. We left even more excited about future ministry with Overland, and anxious to get started with the Missions Training. I got a chance to speak with our director’s wife, Sharon, about quite a few practical issues (which always sets my heart at ease.) I had been prepared to hire a Zambian woman to care for Sunda during some of the day so that I could attend class for the first 3 months that we’re on the base. But Sharon quickly reminded me that it will be a bit more than “some of the day.” We won’t have a lot of freedom during those first three months, and classes are packed pretty tight. In other words, I need to find someone to care for Sunda from 8-5, Monday-Friday. Just like a normal workweek. We will be participating in the training earlier and later than that each day, but we really need to be focused and on target during the meat of the training, which will happen between 8am and 5pm. I didn’t expect this news to be as difficult as it is to swallow. I mean, many kids are in daycare while their parents work. We will still see her for every meal, get to say hi often throughout the day, and have our evenings and weekends with her. But it’s such a change from both Jacob and I being with her all day, every day. And, it won’t be daycare. She will be cared for by her own personal nanny . Just her. Not 15 other kids vying for attention. So...why did I burst into tears when I realized that getting a nanny was my only option?

Well, not it’s really my only option. I could opt out of the training. I could spend the whole day playing with Sunda and wandering around the Overland base, trying to catch what snippets of information I could from what the rest of the class was learning. But I really feel like it’s important for me to get this training. I feel as if I’ll regret it later if I just put it aside. There’s so much good teaching that I’m going to have the opportunity to absorb in the next 3 months, and I know that I’m doing myself a disservice to opt out. And, I keep telling myself…it’s only 3 months. A child isn’t emotionally scarred from not spending enough time with their parents for 3 months, are they? But, you know, she’s two. And she acts a little crazy sometimes. Is she gonna know that she can get away with stuff with her nanny and then be totally off every time we get back around? Or, is she going to grow socially from a situation where she isn’t around the same two people all the time? I realize this whole dilemma might sound very funny to all of you who haven’t even known Jacob and I as parents yet…because we’ve been here. But this little girl has been the biggest part of our life for the 7 months that we’ve been back in Africa. And I personally have not spent more than 4 hours away from her since she came to stay with us in late November. So. It’s a little emotional. But, this is probably a good thing. It’s forcing me to admit to fact that I absolutely cannot do it all. If I want to attend this school in order to be a better trained missionary, I am going to have to give up some of my ideals as a mom. At least for a few months. That doesn’t make it any easier. On the other hand, Jacob and I have put many, many days of fulltime work in, amidst caring for Sunda all day. It’s quite a challenge to keep her out of the village fire, water supply, and away from the dogs while teaching Bible study and leading worship. We spend a lot of time juggling, trying to keep her entertained and complete our to do lists. So, maybe this opportunity will be good because when we are with her, we won’t be working. We’ll just be with her. And when we’re not with her, we’ll be able to focus completely on the task at hand instead of trying to do both at once, which is probably not good for either party. It’s quality time that matters…not quantity…right? Anyway, at the end of day, we’ll be back to our normal lives after 3 months. (I’m not exactly sure what constitutes a normal life for us…but, you know what I mean.)

This week, we’re busy wrapping up business at Sons of Thunder. Organizing, packing, storing. I’m hoping we can forgo goodbyes since we’re not really going, just moving. If we had acquired the tourist VISA for Sunda, we would be eating Drover’s wings on the 21st of April, and I would be depending on grandparents instead of a nanny. Just saying.