Monday, March 1, 2010

Fearing God or Fearing Man

“That lesson was really delicious and full!” said Adam*. He is a son of one of the believers and though he hasn’t given his life to Jesus yet, he came with us to the meeting we have with some of the believers in the area. A colleague actually has the responsibility to meet with these guys and teach them the Scriptures, but when he is away, he lets me fill in for him. It allows me to do two things that I enjoy immensely – interacting with the Wolof and interacting with the word of God – when I can combine the two, I’m like a pig in slop!

We were studying John 18:25-27 where Peter denied the Lord. I pointed out that one can deny Him in our speech and our actions. I asked the searching question, “Have you ever denied the Lord?” You see that question is a little different for us than it is for the Wolof. Unlike our experience, the Wolof believers suffer a significant amount of persecution. Many of them know firsthand what it means to be afraid that if you say you are a follower of Jesus you might be killed or worse – ostracized. I did share one occasion when as a new believer I denied the Lord. Like Peter, I wept bitterly.

I contrasted Peter’s denial with Luke 12:8-10. Often Wolof has a larger word choice than English so it is clearer in the Wolof NT what the Luke passage is talking about. It was good for Adam to hear this part as he knows the truth and understands the Gospel so clearly, but has yet to believe. In talking with him more, he openly admits to fear of man and persecution.

We then went to John 21 and saw where the Lord restored Peter. How He gave him a ministry in spite of Peter’s imperfections, in spite of his unwillingness to commit to a higher level of love and in spite of him denying his Lord. Jesus took Peter right where he was and made him the Apostle who led the first church in Jerusalem, who saw the first Gentiles come to repentance, who was a pastor to many in the early church, who wrote part of the New Testament, and who eventually fulfilled this prophecy of Jesus that Peter would be crucified almost like his Lord whom he grew to love so much as to give Him his life.

As I shared this message of God’s great grace towards losers like us, I could see the hope come alive in these dear men. These are men who struggle in their walk from time to time, like me, but who have given the Lord so much, even their very lives.
*Adam is a pseudonym

Monday, February 8, 2010

Oneness and a Windy Ride

Well, so much for the hopes of trying to post each week. Sorry. Life will eventually get to a routine, I hope! So here are some experiences that I’ve had recently and wanted to post here.

“So I hope you were not too scared on the road today,” I commented to a Wolof brother as we pulled off our helmets. He had ridden on the back of my motorcycle out to the village where he and another Wolof brother meet for mutual encouragement in the word and prayer. “Well,” he said pausing, “there were times when I was definitely scared. I thought the wind might blow the bike off the road!” I chuckled and said that probably wouldn’t happen here in Senegal, though it truly was a windy day. I had to lean into the wind a bit to keep the bike straight.

I told him the story of the night in the US when I rode home in a storm, scared to death at times when tree limbs went blowing by me in the wind. I found out when I got home that night that there were tornados that touched down all around me. In spite of it being flatter than western Kansas, Senegal doesn’t see many tornados.

What a joy it was to share the word together. We were in John 17:20-26. True to form though, I was teaching and we only got through the first three verses. We just got too excited about Jesus praying for us! Not only that He prayed for us, but also that He prayed that we would be one. “What does that mean?” I asked. They both looked at each other for a few moments as they contemplated the question. Then one of the men said, “If I cut my finger or my toe, my whole body feels it.” Inside I was doing summersaults! “Exactly!” I said and then directed them to 1 Cor. 12:12-31.
“Do we experience this day-to-day?” A very important question! For as we live out the truth that we are members one of another, this is how the world will understand that Jesus was sent by God.

We then went to Eph. 5:31. I taught them the principle that God gave us marriage as an example of this “oneness” or unity. Thus, in our marriages we must emulate this “oneness”. The realization of Jesus’ prayer that we would be "one" must start with our wives. We all compared notes of failure and success on this issue.

As we asked ourselves gathered together in a simple mud hut, so I ask you, “When was the last time that your brother finger was cut or your brother toe was stubbed and you felt it?” We are one. We are the Body of Christ. No one should suffer alone.
Pray for us as settling in is taking MUCH longer than we had anticipated. Thanks!