February 11 2013
Two Lives Shared and Multiplied (part 1)
(part 2 posted February 14, 2013 ~ related post December 10, 2012)
Two ladies, Endla and Tamara, are members of a small historical church in a town in the most secular country in Europe. Though this little church of about 50 members functioned during the soviet years, people in this area often have a distrust of the ‘church’ and religion in general. There is however freedom to register and operate as a church and you can receive a license for public preaching events without difficulty.
Tamara, who had been a long time member of the church, quit attending services several years ago when things got boring. “The church was stale,” she openly acknowledged, “and wasn’t going anywhere.”
Sunday worship and loyalty to the Christian community took on a whole new life when both Endla and Tamara visited a women’s small group. This weekly fellowship had something that drew them back week after week. They weren’t bored, didn’t become distracted, but instead found that their interest and desire to study God more and deeper affected the whole rest of their week.
Piret, a full-time insurance broker and ECC worker led their weekly study. They began to see that God wanted them to serve him rather than just soak up all the blessings for themselves. As Piret quietly and steadily fed into their lives, they saw that God had work for them to do and the Christian life could be one of dynamic service. They were amazed to observe that they had progressed from people who fulfilled what they believed to be their religious duty by going to church each week, to realizing that God had a call on them as believers to look beyond themselves and their own spiritual journey to looking for the needs of others.
You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:10 The Message)
January 21 2013
Transformed From the Deathly Grip of the Grave
In a dark cemetery in Asia lies the grave of an unnamed man. He was there because the man who murdered him was riddled with demons. Maybe the demons were evil associates of the Gedarene demoniac who made his home in the deathly tombs of another graveyard a long time ago. No matter the time difference, once again the devil had stolen the control of a man’s life. Satan had sabotaged his mind, rendering him confused as to what is and isn’t appropriate behavior in treatment of another human being.
The “prince of this world” had martyred any opportunity for this dead man to respond to God’s love before his life was taken. The “destroyer” had murdered any chance of this convicted criminal father caring for, providing for and protecting Khiru, his young son.
This story doesn’t end with just a buried murder victim, a deranged man in prison and a fatherless son. Jesus once again stepped out of His boat and, confronting the enemy head on, spoke truth, which sent evil scurrying. With His authority, Jesus banished the devil and his works and once more healed a destroyed shell of a man.
Through ECC workers, Jesus once again entered the remote and disturbed village in Asia. The imprisoned murderer was brought to his knees and, with a broken heart, overcome with confession for his diabolical crime, sought forgiveness and restoration. Not only did the murderer acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord but so did his son, Khiru, along with all his family!
God always goes beyond what we can comprehend. He brought two fractured and estranged families together. Just as the Gedarene demoniac was delivered and restored to his family, so Jesus exchanged sadness for joy. The family of the murderer was forgiven by the family of the murdered, and now, together, both families of 10 adults and 5 children worship the same God in the same house church near the graveyard. Khiru, rejoicing in the forgiveness he has given his father, leads the house church. No one can testify more to God’s forgiveness than the demon-riddled father who became a murderer. Now the power to steal, kill and destroy has been exchanged for a life-giving, converted heart, full of the love of God.
by Shirley Carlson
Who will help to fulfill the Great Commission? Is God calling you to give financially, go in faith, or pray fervently?