Archive for April, 2012

TLH Steps and Walkway

They sure look pretty!

I hope many of you have had a chance to see the new steps put in by Bill H. and Stevenson Building and Supply.  We are so very grateful for them.  Of course I have had more than just an opportunity to look at them.  I have walked up and down on them.  I have sat on them.  I have even dropped things on them and I can tell you that they are solid.

However the pretty white color that makes them look so new and beautiful is deceiving.  While it is great to spray the new concrete with this beautiful sealer, it is not the sealer that gives the stairs their strength and makes them sturdy and safe.  If the concrete under the white sealer is bad, the stairs are going to crumble.  It is the quality of the concrete that determines whether the steps and walkways will endure the tests of time, weather and abuse that is sure to come.

Our Christian lives are like those steps.  We can apply all of the sealer that we want but if it is not being applied over the solid rock of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior then eventually our lives will crumble because the sealer will not be enough to hold us together.  We can attend every church service there is, serve our community and behave in every way like the ideal christian man or woman but without the rock of Jesus and power of the Holy Spirit underpinning all of those “do’s” it is like a foolish man building his house on a pile of sand (Matthew 7:24-29).  Matthew ends Jesus’  illustration with this statement:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29)

It is Jesus that gives our Christian lives authority.  This is the authority that gives substance to all the things that we do.  Without it all the doings collapse under the weight of eternity just as our steps and walkways would collapse if the concrete was faulty, or if say we tried to build the steps from sand or clay.

However there is a reason that Bill sprayed a 5 gallon bucket of concrete sealer on his work.  I don’t want you to think that all the things that we are called to do as followers of Christ are meaningless.  If we do not take care to seal our relationship with Christ, over time we will be worn down.  This is perhaps more insidious and destructive than the collapse of poorly constructed steps. It begins with the best intentions and then is slowly worn away because we accepted Christ into our lives and made him the base of our steps but then we don’t follow his guidance.  We do not apply the sealing works of His Word, of prayer, of fellowship with other believers, of love, of discipline.  Without these we will soon succumb to the lies of the enemy and he will destroy our effectiveness as children of God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.  (Galatians 6:10-13)

If we lay steps of the Solid Rock and then apply the seals of the Word, prayer and obedience then I am confident “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

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It is hard to believe that it has been a year since we moved into The Lewis House and began our lives as full-time urban missionaries. This span of 365+ days has been at once nothing like I had imagined it to be and more than I had ever thought it would be.

As I sit here at my computer and type this out I know without a doubt that the man who left the restaurant business three years ago could not have stood through the last year.  God has brought through an amazing process to bring me here to The Lewis House.  It would be redundant to take you on that journey with me again.  You would be better served reading my lovely wife’s article “The Journey to the Mission”.  I re-blogged it last month.

Even one year ago my financial expectations were that God would provide sufficient funds to cover all of our needs and provide for a nice little salary and we would live the “American Dream” as missionaries to Toledo.  I understand the naiveté of that now (someone much wiser than myself made the gentle effort to cushion what could have been grand disappointment), but even though the mechanism of God’s provision has not  been what I expected it to be the efficacy of that provision has been so far above what I could have dreamed of. Though by the world’s standards we live below the poverty line (a fact which

More important than the earthly provision is the spiritual transformation that I have experienced.

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we , who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s gory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:17

This transformation is not dependent on our earthly circumstances but I can see how our earthly circumstances impact our ability to recognize that transformation.  Paul said:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:12-13)

Without the times of want Paul might not have recognized the transformation that he had undergone.  Without the times of plenty he could not have appreciated the Spiritual transformation that engaged his contentment in the times of wanting.

We should not assume that this transformation was completed miraculously on the road to Damascus.  It was a process that passed Paul through the Arabian wilderness, the narrow streets and prickly political paths of Jerusalem, the urbane halls of Asia Minor and the intellectual collections of Greece.  It was a transformation that continued until he was called home on a fateful day in Rome.  It is a process that we all undergo and one that includes times of plenty and times of want.  It includes times of great joy and times of crushing grief.

Each of us has a path to follow and every path is a little different but it is all about one Spirit and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is into his wonderful likeness that we are being changed.  Like Paul I am so thankful to all of you who have come along side of us and answered God’s call to support us in our ministry. (Philippians 4:10) We have been so blessed by the generosity of God’s people.  Even as you develop in your lives “ever increasing glory” you enable us to do the things that God has called us to do and to continue our transformation spreading the light of His Glory to our neighbors.

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