Wednesday, March 23, 2011

car sales supporting bvsa

as 2010 came to a close, we were praying (and sweating!) about how we were going to support the boy's academy on a monthly basis. we had the leiva family starting full time starting jan 1, with more bills soon to follow. in addition to 2 one-time gifts that came in, what happened within a 2 week span was really cool.

inside a 2 week span i met 2 different guys that God led to support the boy's academy. one owns a used car lot and the other runs a large dealership. they do not know one another, and live in different states. the way that each of them came to the decision to support the ministry is awesome... and only God...

one of the guys, after a visit to Guatemala, decided to give $25 to guatemala from car his company sells. he decided that at the end of each month he would send the total from that month's sales to the boy's academy!

the other guy, being stretched in the area of finances, had recently made the decision together with his wife to initiate a salary cap for their family. they determined a reasonable amount to live on, and committed to give everything away that they earn above their established cap. through talking it over with their pastor, they decided to help support the boy's academy with a large chunk of the money they earn above their salary cap!

both of these guys now know, but at the time they didn't... that as God was touching their hearts to give to the boy's academy, the leiva family was struggling with stepping out in faith to work as full-time missionaries. it was during the same week that the leiva's decided to trust God and leave their careers that i heard from both of these guys regarding their decisions!!!

these stories are so worthy of our praise!! we were praying, as were the leiva's, for this support to come... but we could have never imagined how God was going to make it happen. what a beautiful example of his faithfulness, and of his church stepping up when called!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

love wins - new book by rob bell

b/c of technology, living in a third world country doesn't remove you fully from the hubbub. while i haven't read rob bell's new book "love wins: a book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived", in the last 3 days i have read several reviews and also watched a few of his interviews. having not read it yet, i can only say so much. but based on the excerpts and the interviews, i can comment a little...

i like rob bell's stuff. i have been encouraged by his teaching over the years. he is passionate for the poor, and devoted to rethinking church in (i think) a necessary way. velvet elvis impacted me, as did jesus wants to save christians. i love the nooma videos, and have listened to and appreciated many rob bell messages. in fact the name "deepstream" came from a rob bell message, where he described God's love as a "deep stream"... moving slowly, impacting and touching everything it comes into contact with as it flows, breaking off frequently and starting new streams, etc, etc...

so i have no anti-bell agenda like so many who have already written reviews of this book. tough to be objective in a book review when you already have an issue with the author.

that being said, i fear that rob bell has taken what so many love about him - his healthy approach of asking questions and exploring God's mystery - and taken it too far. questions, searching, and exploring are lacking in the christian faith - there is no doubt about that. but it can also be true that questions can go so far as to imply that we aren't satisfied with what God's word literally says. when passionately searching with open minds becomes too much of the focus, it can cause us to ignore what is there.

while bell is right to say that no one knows everything there is to know about heaven and hell, does the book avoid the seriousness of how Jesus taught on eternal damnation? again, i haven't read it yet, but in the excerpts and interviews, he eludes to the fact that in the end (even in the postmortem) we all get rescued and make it to heaven. this, he says, is the true nature of a loving God.

interestingly, (for me anyway) our church community here in guatemala recently started a study on the fear of God. for me personally, as i seek what God is teaching me through this, i am looking at the recent writings of rob bell and wondering where the fear of God is. this makes me anxious to read the book and see if he touches on it, or if it is avoided altogether. surely we are to have a healthy fear of God, as it is referred to over and over again in scripture through teachings, stories and clear warnings. but if God "loves us so much" that we all get forgiven and make it to heaven... why would we need to fear him?

i see "love" as a God who knows how horrible hell is, and longs to save us from it. i see him as just, punishing the wicked... and as grace, allowing the wicked to repent and go unpunished. i see love in the form of his son on a cross, dying in our place so that we may have life, and avoid the punishment we deserve.

i do agree wholeheartedly with the title of the book - love wins. i think we should be careful to not be overly critical of rob bell - he has been a catalyst in bringing many doubters, searches, and deep thinkers to a place of loving and serving Jesus. i also think we should not be influenced as much by the teachings of men, whether "celebrity pastors" or otherwise, as much as we should our own bibles, our own wrestlings with God, and our own faith communities. i encourage all of us to not care so much about the "debate" - but to truly open our bibles and allow the holy spirit through his living word do the teaching.