Tag Archives: church

Clean, unclean, washed in His blood

“I only do massages,” Angie* told me a few months ago.

She told me that she used to work for a “clean” massage parlor.

“Do you know what I mean by that?” she asked me.

I nodded, slowly.

The massage parlor she where she works now isn’t a clean parlor.

Angie said many of the other women she works with do “bad things,” like flirt and arrange to meet with men later for more money. She told me what they do is wrong and she doesn’t like it. She likes the art of massage and isn’t in the business for the “extra stuff.”

“I only get 80 baht, but I am not going to do bad things,” she said.”Do you understand what I mean?”

Yes, I said.

As we drove to church, Angie pointed out the clean and unclean massage parlors.

She said the other girls give her a hard time and try to tell her about all the money she’ll get. I tried to encourage her and told her she is doing the right thing. I shared about how our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and doing “bad things” doesn’t please God.

Angie makes a pittance. Her two children stay with extended family in another city. She’s living in a small room that she shares with several other women that’s above the massage parlor  working to save money for them. She comes from a huge family, I think she has at least 10 siblings.

They are so poor. It breaks my heart.

At church, the speaker talked about struggling with worry and how the Lord answered his prayers and showed him that He is the provider. It was a simple message, but oh so apropos. Angie worries about money and supporting her family and she said the message really encouraged her.

I worry about such small things. I have enough to eat, enough to support myself and enough go see 3D movies. She has so much more to worry about.

During the prayer time at church, Angie asked if I could teach her how to pray. I was ecstatic.

I told her praying is just like talking to a dear friend. I told her I say God or Father usually when I start and share my worries and requests. Then, I told her I thank Him for how He’s answered my prayers and I praise Him for who He is.

She asked if she could hold our hands and pray. Precious. Her prayer was so sweet and simple. It gives me goosebumps, yes, the glorious kind, just thinking about it. She prayed for my grandparents, who I told them had been sick and she prayed for herself to understand who God is.

When she finished praying, her face was radiant. I don’t say that in the cliche way. She was literally radiating.

“That felt so good!” she said.

God heard your prayer, I told her. I told her she can pray wherever and whenever she wanted to.

Angie is one of those people you feel like you’ve known longer than you really have.

I know my friends and coworkers would agree. Three of us have gotten to know Angie and I’d daresay we’ll never be the same.

Stay tuned for more stories of God’s greatness and how He’s moved and worked in Angie’s life.

*name changed

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If we are the body

“A church is just a building if there’s no one in it.”

I think, many times, in the West we associate church with the building and not the people.

The church is the body of Christ- not the building they meet in. The church is the men, women and children sitting crossed-legged on cold tile in a living room, singing worship songs loudly and with total abandon.

Mike Yankoski’s book, “Under the Overpass,” is a wonderful reminder of who the body of Christ is.

Yankoski spent several months as a homeless man on the streets of six different cities. Why? He felt God leading him to walk into the shoes of the homeless.

I have great respect for what Yankoski did. I’ve seen the homeless in Asia and it breaks my heart every time. I loved that Yankoski took the time to do as Jesus did, walk in the people’s shoes.

It reminds me of the Casting Crowns song, “If We Are the Body.” If we are the body, why aren’t our arms moving and reaching the homeless?

The book confirmed in me the desire to help the homeless here in Asia, through buying them food or stopping to acknowledge them.

I’d encourage you to do the same.

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prayers for the persecuted

I recently read the testimony of a believer who experienced tremendous persecution.

He was beaten for being a Christian and nearly lost his life. He’s experienced what it means to suffer for Christ. I can’t even imagine.

Platt’s book, “Radical,” that I’ve referenced several times, encourages us to pray for the entire world as part of radical experiment in the next year.

I’d like to encourage you to pray for the persecuted believers around the world. Pray for the men and women in India and Bangladesh who take lashes for Jesus. Pray for Christians in Iraq, in the Middle East who die for their Savior. Pray for brothers and sisters in the most populated country on earth who meet underground.

These men and women don’t pray for the persecution to stop. They pray for strength and faith to stand strong. As you pray, pray that the Lord would be their comfort, and that He’d grant them faith and grace to withstand.

The Bible never promises being a Christian will be easy, and these believers aren’t putting their trust in Christ to be comfortable.

Stephen, the first martyr, didn’t have to give the speech he did, standing up to the authorities. He stood up for what he believed, even if it meant stoning. His last words were a prayer for his attackers, that they’d find forgiveness.

In the testimony of the believer I mentioned earlier, the believer said God has provided for all of his needs. He continues to pray in the midst of the storm.

How easily I complain about the minutest things. It’s a reality check to read testimonies of persecution, especially after I’ve just complained about something as small as someone who did something annoying to me.

I had an awesome Thanksgiving season this year. I was able to celebrate four times. And what I’ve realized, through Bible reading, personal experience and reading testimonies of believers, is that I think giving thanks, thanksgiving, is a crucial part of withstanding persecution. I don’t mean in the “Thanksgiving,” the American holiday sort of way, I mean in everything, giving thanks to the Lord. We have no right to demand anything from God. He is the Creator of all, who am I to demand an answer?

Giving thanks also takes the focus off of ourselves and puts it on God. When we’re giving thanks, we’re less likely to dwell on our pain.

Prayer also takes the focus off of ourselves. When we pray, we are, or should be, looking upward to Chris. In praying for the world, we are praying for others and not ourselves. We take a step away from self-absorption. The Bible tells us to pray for others. It also tells us to go and tell others about Him.

I have so much to learn. I look at the faith of believers throughout Asia who’ve been beaten, imprisoned or tortured, and I’m inspired and amazed. They’ve experienced so much, relied on the Lord and their faith is exuberant and unfaltering.

So now, if you would, take a moment and pray for the persecuted church.

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Transforming church

I’m not involved in a rural church in America, so my reading Shannon O’Dell’s book, “Transforming Church in Rural America” may seems a little strange.

But, many of O’Dell’s themes and messages can be applied overseas as well as to rural churches in America.

Ministry needs to have calling, vision, attitude, leadership, understanding and excellence. These same elements are needed in churches all around the world.

Many people believe that mega-churches are the only way to go. God seems to be with large churches.

O’Dell uses his experience in taking a small, rural church on the brink of extinction to a vibrant church to paint a picture of how influential rural churches can be. O’Dell shares in his book how his church transformed from a sleepy, lifeless church into one of passion and service.

This is a message America needs to hear. Money or size doesn’t make the church. Every believer is called to worship and serve, no matter the location. The churches in the Bible were small and rural. Their stories are still being told, thousands of years later.

Imagine what would happen if every church in rural America lived transformed, dreaming big and acting on it?

Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program provided me with a copy of this book. My opinions are my own

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The Voice

I’ve always enjoyed reading different versions of the Bible. It gives you a fresh perspective. I think it causes different passages of Scriptures to stand out. The Bible verses I’ve read so many times have new meaning in different translations.

I am currently reading “The Voice New Testament.” It’s a retelling/translation of the New Testament published by Thomas Nelson Publishers in conjunction with Ecclesia Bible Society.

It’s created for the church today–the church in transition. It’s tailored to speak to a post-modern audience. Before each book of the Bible, the authors set the stage for the book by giving an introduction and background. Within the books, the authors have put explanatory notes that elaborate on certain portions of Scripture. The font families chosen and layout of the Bible also lend itself to a post-modern audience.

It’s great for new believers because of the explanation and commentary given. It’s great for those who’ve been Christians for awhile because of the different translation and insight into passages.

“The Voice” follows the theme of the Liberating King and his church. I love this choice–partly because I don’t think we think of Jesus being a Liberator as much as we need to.

I have enjoyed reading “The Voice.” I would not recommend it as someone’s only and primary Bible–but a great cross-reference Bible. This isn’t just because there isn’t an Old Testament, but I think it’s important to have one of the more well-established versions as your constant.

“I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect, but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Liberator, Jesus, has in store for me–and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go.” Philippians 3:12, The Voice.

I received a copy of The Voice through Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze book review blogger program. Check it out: http://www.booksneeze.com/ It’s pretty fantastic in my opinion

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