Month: November 2012

Thankful Thursdays: My Kindle

Kindle

Kindle

I totally love my little Kindle.

It wasn’t until I was in the middle of reading Lord of the Rings and I was lugging around such a massive book while we were flying once, that I saw the benefit of owning an “e-reader”.

It’s been incredibly convenient to throw our Kindles in a bag and be on our way. Not to mention how much weight we’re saving toting around our Kindles verses a few books.

And we’ve found another advantage since moving to India: most of the books we’re interested in can’t be found here, but we can still purchase them online over Amazon and have them wirelessly delivered to our Kindles.

I also really like being able to highlight and type notes as I read. I know you can do that with an actual book (and sometimes I still prefer to have an actual book for that), but it’s really nice when I’m on the plane or in the car bouncing around and I can just type out some thoughts.

And I could be imagining things, but I think because of it’s accessibility and portability, I actually read more than I did before.

I know some folks like the LCD screen, but since it can be so hard on your eyes, I really prefer the Kindle’s electronic ink screen. It’s definitely designed for one thing and it does the job well.

After Michael, my Kindle is my favorite travel companion. I never go anywhere without it. (Wow, why don’t I just write up a commercial while I’m at it!)

Dazed and Confused in Delhi

I’ve said it before, Delhi is no different than any other big city – except that it’s in India.

It has all the same petty theft, traffic, pollution, and impolite attitudes that you’d find in New York City, L.A., or London – with a spicy, head-bobbling, chaotic twist.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in Delhi, then it’s safe to say you’ve seen it all: Bentley’s rolling through the capitol’s streets, naked children washing themselves in a puddle of rain water, cows grazing through piles of garbage, construction workers standing on bamboo scaffolds precariously affixed to unfinished buildings…

It’s such a bewildering place that in order for your brain to process everything it’s taking in, it can only being by making generalizations.

So the first time you get ripped off by a rickshaw walla, your brain automatically says, “All rickshaw drivers must be cheats”. Or when you get cut in line at the store, you think, “All Indians are cutters.”

Right or wrong, at the time, that was the easiest way for your brain to comprehend what in the world was happening. And it’s those first quick and over-simplified assumptions that slowly begin to feed your overall perception of the culture.

But to make a generalization in the first place means you have to be able to distinguish a commonality or obvious pattern over time.

And commonalities in Delhi are like the mythical unicorns of sociology. They’re elusive and rare.

So the moment you think you’ve finally reached the bottom of the matter and decide that, yes, all rickshaw drivers are indeed scam artists, you have a freak occasion that flips that generalization upside down on it’s head.

This is extremely rare, but it does happen: You might be haggling with a rickshaw walla who comes right out and tells you you’re offering him too much.

It could be the sum your offering him is so outrageous that even he couldn’t allow himself to take you for that amount of money.

That’s when your brain explodes.

You think: What the…? But you guys are all supposed to be sneaking, hustling, scheming, cheaters that are only after my money because I’m a “whitie”.

So then it’s like you want to suddenly hug this greasy, lice-ridden man and get his number and take him home to be your personal rickshaw driver for always.

You get in the rickshaw, riding the high that you found the one and only honest rickshaw driver in all of Delhi.

The sun is suddenly shining a little brighter. The sky is a little bluer.

Then you get to your destination, pull out your rupees to pay him, and as you’re climbing out of the rickshaw, he reaches out to grab your leg or breast inappropriately (you can never be sure).

Now this man you were ready to let sleep on your couch not 20 minutes ago, you want to thoroughly kick in the stomach.

That’s Delhi.

As the Lonely Planet Guide calls it: The “schizophrenic capitol” of India.

One minute your heart is breaking as you watch poor, filthy, naked children playing in the street. The next minute it’s appalled because those same children are swarming you, digging their hands into your pockets trying to steal whatever they can get.

For every step forward it feels like you take 10 steps back. Just when I think I have this place figured out, it bowls me another curve ball. (“Bowling”, by the way, is cricket terminology for all you Americans out there.)

So I’ve learned to laugh.

Sometimes it’s out of incredulity, sometimes it’s so I don’t cry, and sometimes it’s because I genuinely find the situation funny.

But by trying to find the humor here, I’ve slowly been able to move past the generalization phase of my culture shock and start viewing my interactions with people and situations and their own specific instances.

I’ll never fully “get” India, and it will always leave me feeling dazed and confused, but I don’t have to let the negative things overshadow the positive things.

Delhi isn’t a city that asks to be understood as much as it simply asks to be experienced – no matter how mind-boggling (or is that head-bobbiling?) things may get.

Discomfort and Growth

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller

I’m actually writing this post while sitting outside a coffee shop shop in Chiang Mai, but by the time I publish it, we’ll be back in Delhi (and probably sitting in another coffee shop!).

We loved the week we spent in Phuket, but after we got back so many of our friends kept recommending we check out Chiang Mai, so we were really excited once we picked out dates and booked our flights to come here.

There are seriously probably a million things to love about Chiang Mai: the people, the blue skies, the mountains to the west of the city, the quiet bungalow resorts along the Ping River, the food – Oh. My. Gosh. The food! The amazing coffee culture, the fruit smoothies, the cost of living, the night markets, the hand-made soaps, the silks, the celadon ceramics, etc…

And it’s safe. I haven’t once felt uncomfortable walking the streets at night or taking the rickshaws up north and out of the city towards our hotel.

I guess that’s why so many foreigners also love Chiang Mai and Thailand – it’s different enough to know you’re in another country, but it’s still comfortable enough that you don’t feel inconvenienced by the culture.

Which is the total opposite from India.

When I think about all the places in the world I could comfortably live, Thailand would be in my top five. But when I think about all the places in the world I could live and grow in maturity and character, it probably wouldn’t even make my top twenty.

That’s because there’s too much inherent in Thai culture that accommodates my insecurities or fears. I can live in a relatively familiar “bubble” most of the time here.

For instance I HATE being in situations that may make people defensive. I try not to make intentionally confrontational statements or do things that I know could potentially make someone else uncomfortable. Oddly enough, I actually read in our Lonely Planet Guide, that as a culture, Thais are the same way. They will do everything possible to avoid confrontation and seek to please, even if it slightly inconveniences them.

When I read that, I almost simultaneously had two thoughts:
1. Wow, that’s why I could live here!
(shortly followed by)
2. Wow, that’s why I could never live here!

As quickly as I realized how easy it would be to live in Thailand, I just as quickly realized how much I’ve grown because of how difficult it is living in India.

In Thailand I don’t have to be concerned about the safety of the food I eat, I don’t have to confront people on a daily basis for crossing boundaries, I don’t have to figure out whether someone is lying to me or not, I can trust the quality of the merchandise I’m purchasing, and I could even eventually learn to drive here without taking rickshaws or depending on a driver.

So I know if we hadn’t moved to India I wouldn’t have learned how to have healthy confrontation or how to set boundaries with strangers. I would still be scared to communicate my needs out of fear of inconveniencing others. I’m not saying I’ve totally corrected that behavior, but the fact India has brought that out of me shows how being in an uncomfortable environment works on your character and grows you as a person.

Character growth seems best nurtured in environments of difficulty and strain. Just like the saying goes: “necessity is the mother of invention” — it’s need that drives creative solutions and forces flexibility in my lifestyle.

It’s almost like the difficulties of living in India have uprooted a bunch of weeds in my life, tilled the soil and replaced them with new seedlings, but it’s not until we pause for a moment in places like Thailand that that work is revealed.

I’m not sure what all these new seedlings will grow up to be just yet, but they’ll bear their fruits in due time I suppose.

What a good and faithful Father we have… It’s out of love that He brings us to places where He can prune and trim us. And He shepherds our hearts so well, and knows when we need a break.

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Phil 1:6)

 

Thankful Thursdays: Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

I love all the time you get to spend with friends and family during Thanksgiving and the holidays. It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, you feel warm and cozy being around loved ones.

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in India, so it’s kind of up to you how or when you want to get into the “holiday spirit”.

I picked up some candles and I’ve been making A LOT of apple cider, so the apartment almost smells like Thanksgiving, hah. I also set up my Christmas Tree and I’ve ordered a pumpkin pie from our local bakery for today. Later this evening, I plan on making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and listening to Christmas music in the kitchen.

No it’s not the same as being at home, but without all the extra fluff of seasonal commercialization, you learn that it’s actually the little things that make a holiday special.

Tomorrow evening we’re having a late Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. It’s kind of crazy, to think that one day Michael and I will look back and say, “Hey, remember that time when we celebrated Thanksgiving in India with our Canadian friends?”

I miss my family and friends back home a lot and I wish I was getting to visit with them over turkey and pumpkin pie. But I’m thankful for all the Thanksgivings we’ve celebrated in the past and I look forward to all the Thanksgivings we’ll celebrate together in the future.

I’m also thankful for the adventure God has brought Michael and I on (no matter how much I complain sometimes) and I’m thankful we have friends here to celebrate Thanksgiving with. No matter what, the Lord provides.

Sending love and blessings to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving from India!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tiger Kingdom

Michael and I just got back from a few days in Chiang Mai. This was our second trip to Thailand and we totally loved it. We quickly settled into our own routine of eating, drinking coffee, shopping, eating some more, drinking more coffee, shopping the night bazaar, going to sleep, and repeating it all the next day.

We decided to stay at this cute little mom and pop “resort” a short ways north of town and right off the river. It got good reviews on TripAdvisor and it was cheap… like we’re talking less than $60 a night cheap. When we arrived I was so glad we picked this place. It had an awesome little upstairs balcony with a view of the Ping River. And the grounds were beautiful. It was so nice having breakfast outside every morning surrounded by so much greenery and quiet.

Our room at the Lanna Mantra.

It was pretty easy getting around town. The Old City (which is literally the “old” city of Chiang Mai and still surrounded by the original moat and walls) is shaped in a nearly perfect square, making it almost impossible to ever be truly lost. Because of that and how “normal” the traffic is, we saw foreigners everywhere buzzing around on mopeds. But for those, like us, who don’t feel so confident sporting around town on scooters, there are plenty of auto rickshaws (like what you find in Bangkok) and covered red trucks that will take you from point A to point B.

Michael grabbing an auto rickshaw.
Tha Phae Gate
Tha Phae Gate Entrance to the Old City in Chiang Mai.

Thursday we took a shuttle to a place called “Tiger Kingdom”. If you look it up on the internet, it gets pretty mixed reviews. Basically it’s a place set up by the zoo to breed and keep tigers until they find a place for them to be kept in an actual exhibit. To generate revenue, they’ve open up the facilities so you actually get to touch and take pictures with the tigers. It’s not an ideal system, but with the threat of extinction, it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to get so close to such an amazing animal.

Michael and I spent time in the smallest exhibit with the baby tigers and afterwards walked through the rest of the park. It was a neat experience, but I think overall we were a little disappointed. It might have been a little more enjoyable if we were able to spend more one-on-one time with a trained care-taker and the tigers. But hey! At least we can say we cuddled with a baby Bengal Tiger. How many people can say they’ve done that?

Tiger Kingdom
Michael and I at Tiger Kingdom petting a baby Bengal Tiger.

Chiang Mai is also a coffee-lover’s paradise. If you walk for five minutes and don’t see a coffee shop, you’re not in Chiang Mai. In fact, you might want to check to see if you’re even in Thailand. Thais love coffee and they take it seriously. They like it strong and they like it bitter. Most places roast their own beans, which are grown by various tribes along the slopes of the mountains just outside the city.

Ristra8to Latte Art
Michael’s flat white mocha at Ristr8to.

We found one coffee shop called “Ristr8to” that was actually run by a trained “Master Barista”. In 2011 he won 6th place in the World Latte Art Championship and for every order he personally grinds, presses, pours and designs the latte art for each cup. He imports beans from all over the world and each cup is served with an informational card explaining the roast, region, grade, and processing technique used for the beans you selected.

When Michael ordered an espresso the owner took the time to come over to our table to ask when Michael would like to drink it so that he could prepare it fresh. He gave Michael a warm shot of water to “rinse his pallet” and explained how to cup the expresso and what characteristics to look for. This guy was legit! When we came back later on during the week, he gave us a list of home espresso machines he recommended and offered some really good advice for pulling our own espresso at home. Why can’t places like this exist in the US?????

Almost every night we went to the night market. During the week the night market to the East of the city opens around 6pm and lasts until midnight. Both sides of the street are lined with stall after stall after stall of vendors selling high-quality knock-offs. We saw tons of Loui Viutton and Coach purses, North Face backpacks, Tiffany jewelry, Beats headphones, pirated movies, Chanel and Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses. And these weren’t the cheap, fake counterfeits where you could tell the difference. They all had the identical logos and look of an authentic brand. So real, that most stalls had signs posted that no pictures were allowed.

Standing outside Chiang Mai’s local night market.

For those of you who know Michael and I, it’s probably not a surprise we didn’t buy from any of those vendors, but it was still pretty incredible seeing so much authentic-looking counterfeit merchandise just out there in the open like that.

The Saturday and Sunday night markets are just as fun if not more so. We could only make it to the Saturday one since we weren’t in town quite a week and were leaving Sunday, but it was a really neat experience. They definitely had a lot more of the local handicrafts and wares verses what we saw at the weekday night market.

The abundance of chemical-free hand-made soaps, celedon ceramics, silks, clean air, and the world-famous Thai smile are just a few of the hundred other things I loved about Chiang Mai – but the food… Oh man, the food!

Salad Concept
Having lunch at an expat favorite: Salad Concept.

Who doesn’t sing the praises of Thai food? I think it’s their belief in “balancing” flavors that ensures every meal turns out tasting like heaven in your mouth. And salad! I could eat salad, drink smoothies, put ice in my water and not worry about paying for it later. Such a contrast to India…

Like the last time we visited Phuket, we left Chiang Mai feeling refreshed and charmed by this beautiful little Southeast Asian country. So thankful for places like Thailand. I hope we get more opportunities to go back in the future.

Michael and I outside our hotel: The Lanna Mantra.

 

The Importance of Journaling

Journal

Journal

During the course of our time in India I’ve encountered several occasions where my perceptions of reality have not necessarily been accurate.

It’s been important for me to write down what I was feeling and experiencing so that when things calmed down, I could go over what happened with a clearer head.

There are plenty of other reasons for keeping a journal, but here are a few benefits I find to be the most useful and rewarding:

1. Journal to Reveal
My grandma used to always tell me: “It all comes out in the wash.” This is so true for journaling.

Journaling is a way of revealing and “washing out” what you’re thinking and feeling. It’s the time when all the dirt you hadn’t noticed before, gets rinsed and cleaned up.

That’s why, after I journal, I usually notice an immediate change in how I feel.

It’s not because the situation changed. It’s because I can clearly see which things are true, which things I have to accept, which things I need to trust the Lord in, and which things are out-right lies about me or the situation.

There’s no dirt or mucky emotions clouding my thoughts.

Once the lies are exposed and truth is revealed, I can start sorting through the issue a little deeper and try to come up with solutions.

2. Journal for the Record
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams

Journaling is a great way of keeping the facts documented.

I’ve found some of my most insightful entries have been the ones where I was brutally honest and did nothing more than record the facts of the situation.

Sometimes all that may happen in my day are the boring, routine things. But guess what, boring and routine is boring and routine because it happens so regularly. And you just might need to be reminded of that if you ever find yourself in a place of discontent.

It also says in Jeremiah 17:9 that “the heart is deceitful above all things… who can understand it?” We have a tendency to look back and romanticize our experiences from the past or conveniently forget the negative details.

We even repeat phrases like “hindsight’s twenty-twenty,” or “coulda’, woulda’, shoulda'”; or “the grass is always greener on the other side,” out of lament for events in the past.

A friend of mine said it was for this very reason she kept a journal while she was here in India. If she ever began to regret or doubt her decision to leave India, she could combat her misgivings with the facts she wrote down.

Questions like: “Were things really that bad? Should have held on just a little longer? Did I quit too soon?” – can all be answered easily with the help of the facts recorded in a journal.

3. Journal to Reflect
This is the only benefit that can actually become detrimental if done alone.

As with most data, the more you have and the easier it is to make reasonable assessments. And so, many people recommend waiting at least a year (but in many cases longer) before you begin reflecting on the things you’ve written down.

Either way, whenever you do finally choose to reflect, it’s important that you get the Holy Spirit involved or that you’re in the presence of a trusted older brother or sister in Christ.

Practices like introspection and self-reflection are responsibilities that only a pure and holy heart can steward. Bill Johnson said this once during a sermon about introspection: “Has anyone ever gone deep inside their own soul without Jesus and come out encouraged?”

That’s a big “Nope!” for me!

Reflection should be just one more area of you life where you no longer see your past and identify with it, but you only see Jesus and His victory.

But without the honesty and wisdom of an outside counselor or mentor, it can sometimes lead to narcissism or create unhealthy attachments to brokenness from the past.

A mentor or an older spiritual brother or sister in Christ can be great people to get together with. They’ll give you honest feedback and offer you support or guidance as you share some of your journaled thoughts.

4. Journal to Remember
“Keep my commandments and live, and keep my law and teaching as the apple (the pupil) of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Prv 7:2-3)

We may not be like the Old Testament Israelites, but we’re still prone to forgetting who we are, who the Lord is and what He’s done for us.

Displays of God’s power and love from past events, however incredible they may have been at the time, can get lost in the mix. But if I’ve written them down, they can be a great reminder of the faithfulness of the Lord.

There have been numerous other times when I’ve read back over an entry about really powerful dream or a “God-encounter” that I completely forgot about. And more often than not, the entry is applicable to the new season or situation I’m in, even though I had written it down sometimes several years prior.

Journaling serves as a reminder that when we’re in the lowest, most horrible places, and we can’t see or feel God, He’s still there. He never leaves us.

Pretty awesome stuff.

You can look at your journal as your very own book of Psalms or book of Acts:  All of life’s challenges and victories are all just waiting to be written down, one entry at a time!

Thankful Thursdays: Apple Cider

One of my favorite drinks to have during the fall and winter is apple cider.

There are a couple different recipes I like to use and I like interchanging some of the ingredients.

A friend of mine here in Delhi showed me a new cider recipe that I’ve been making a lot recently. It just uses regular apple juice, a couple of tea bags, and some cinnamon. You throw it all in a pot on the stove and let it warm up. It’s quick, easy and it makes a lot for bigger gatherings.

But my favorite cider recipe wraps spices and orange peel in a cheese cloth and lets them simmer in the cider all day. I like to put it in the Crockpot so that by the time you sit down in the evening, it’s ready to drink and the whole house smells like warm cinnamon and cloves.

And that’s the best part about making cider, especially here in India, because it reminds me so much of home. It’s such an easy way of recreating the same feeling you get right around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here’s a recipe for you to try out some time!

Hot Apple Cider

6 cups apple cider
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips
1 lemon peel, cut into strips

1. Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.

2. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie is up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.

3. Place the saucepan over the moderate heat or 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.

4. Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick for stirring.

**Optional: One reviwer on the website makes this helpful suggestion:

I just added one thing which is an old trick I recently learned from a New York State apple farmer who’s family has been making hot cider for 150 or so years. Thinly slice and or chop up some McIntosh apples including the peel into small pieces and drop a small bunch of the apple pieces into each cup of hot cider just before serving. This makes a wonderful addition to this recipe, which I would say is the best hot cider I have ever tasted. Thanks so much for posting this great recipe. IT IS WONDERFUL!” – rgirl

Enjoy!

Diwali (Festivus for the Restivus)

Diwali is upon us once again here in Delhi.

The five-day “Festival of Lights”, as it’s otherwise known, is the most important holiday of the year for many Hindus, Jains and Sikhs.

There’s as much anticipation built up over over this time of year as Christmas and New Years combined in the US. All the same displays of gift giving, sweets, decorating and fireworks are practiced by Indians all over the country (if not at extravagant levels by Western standards).

Wikipedia explains the celebration of “Deepvali”:

“Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, from his 14-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas and by bursting firecrackers.”

While I disagree with the Hindu belief system as a whole, I can still honor the shared desire to see good overcome evil.

It’s as Paul describes in his letter to the Romans: “Your personal convictions [on such matters]—exercise [them] as in God’s presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do].” (Rm 14:22)

For now, Michael and I can at least use the opportunity to give even more generously to our house staff and enjoy the seasonal excitement among everyone here in Delhi.

We’ll be in Chiang Mai this year for Diwali, but here is a video we took of last year’s celebrations:

An Open Letter to the Church in America

I’ve been really disappointed by how many of my brothers and sisters of the Church in America have responded to this election and various other political issues. So many seem to have entrusted their hope in an earthly kingdom rather than their own true and eternal Kingdom.

The Church is not some harlot that should be selling her Body to men in exchange for profit. She is the Body and Bride of Christ! Yet she has bent her knee to the god of politics and let herself be used as a political tool for worldly gain.

Many have given themselves over to man-made agendas even though they’ve already been given the most glorious political Commission of our age from the King himself. They’ve cast their Kingly charge aside in exchange for lesser and more self-serving ideologies that will be eventually be forgotten.

They have settled for feeding on crumbs and scraps under the table like dogs, when they could be dining at the table of the King like royal children.

And that is what we truly are: Royal children of the King of Kings. We are Saints by His blood. It’s our new nature in Jesus that causes us to act differently and have different values than the world. But Jesus didn’t give us our new nature so that we could change our culture by imposing laws, condemning the world and lording it over everyone.

He gave us our new nature, so that in love, we would serve our enemies – political or otherwise.

You feel like you’ve been wronged by the government? So what? Is it not better to be wronged? Grow up brothers and sisters and step into your role as ambassadors in chains for the Good News of Jesus!

Learn to die to yourself and love your self-made enemies!

I’m amazed by how many Christians have expressed that they’re “heart broken” over this election.

Really? You who claim to love this country, yet are willing to abandon it on a whim because the person you disagree with was elected president? Not to even speak of the fact that you adulterously placed so much faith in one man to be the “savior” of a kingdom you’re not even of anymore. Wake up my brothers and sisters!

Your citizenship is in the Kingdom of Christ and He is the only Savior worthy of placing all your hope. You want to know what you should be heart broken about?

Every time you cursed our president instead of praying for him and his family. Every time you judged someone living under the bondage of a poverty-mindset on welfare rather than helping them see they were above that. Every time you yelled “baby killer” at the scared girl who went to get an abortion and didn’t bother to put your beliefs where your mouth is by offering to help her and her unborn baby. And for every time you tore down the gay kid in school who grew up wanting to be loved, instead of loving him and showing him that his identity wasn’t attached to his sexual preferences.

Because those were the things on the Father’s heart.

But you would have known that if you cared more about what was on the Father’s heart than you did about being right and advancing your own self-serving political agendas.

Is this not the fast He chose: “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58: 6)

And to those who take Old Testament scripture out of context to “prophesy” wrath and destruction over America (which is really no prophesy at all): We are not living under the judgement of Old Testament anymore! And prophesy is not for the tearing down, but for the building up. You are doing nothing more than agreeing with the Accuser of the Brethren (the devil) by declaring these sorts of judgements over your country. If you knew the Father, you would know He desires that none should perish but that all would be saved. Wake up and agree with the heart of the Father!

God made a New Covenant with us when Jesus was crucified on the cross. The Old Testament laws don’t apply to us anymore. The only thing the Old Testament is good for is to show that since the beginning of time, God has been pointing the whole world to His Son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus Christ lived the life you could never live and perfectly fulfilled every commandment given in the Old Covenant. So the wrath of God was satisfied on the cross and Jesus is now your righteousness. The blood of Jesus speaks louder than the blood of Abel. That’s what’s so beautiful about the Gospel of the New Covenant.

So it’s irrelevant to point back to Old Testament judgments and stories of God pouring wrath out over “backslidden nations” and apply it to American politics (not to mention incredibly geocentric and silly — as if America was all God had on his mind when he wrote the Old Testament. Please!)

And who cares whether 200 years ago our founding fathers were Christian or not? Even if they were, (which there are just as many reasons to believe they weren’t) there have been countless other things that I’m sure would have made their heads spin in the last 200 years, so I highly doubt they’re rolling over in their graves over this particular election.

The fact is that, now and today, we have a Church who has fallen asleep and instead of taking responsibility for it, we’ve decided to do what Adam did in the garden, and we’ve taken up blaming everyone else: Liberals, Gays, Atheists, Planned Parenthood, Muslims, CNN, people on welfare or whoever else… I’ve forgotten all the others because, sadly, Christians in America are well-known for hating a lot of people.

So now these Christians who have being slandering and cursing our president through emails and whatever else under the guise of religious self-righteousness and “prophesying” the downfall of America have all the sudden decided, “Ok, now we’ll really pray.” What?!

So because this election didn’t go your way, you’re all shook up and have decided that now it’s time to pray? Why pray now when you’ve dedicated so much time to agreeing with the devil and stirring up dissension? Why start now, when the whole time what you should have been doing is getting off your butts, going outside your “sacred” four-walled buildings as Lights to the lost and revealing the Father to the fatherless!

If anyone is responsible for the state of our nation, it’s the Church (that means you and I).

Jesus told us that we’re the Light and Salt of the earth. He told us “You go to them.” If a culture isn’t where we want it to be, it’s our own fault!

The Church in America is so self-absorbed in advancing her own political agendas and  arguing over petty theological differences that she’s forgotten what it means to love. We’ve forgotten our brothers and sisters in China, Laos, Sudan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even here in India who are too busy being tortured and killed for spreading the Good News of Jesus the Christ to care whether or not the government passes man-made laws in their favor.

We have forgotten how to deny ourselves, seeking the heart of the Father and spreading the domain of His kingdom over all the earth.

Anyone who seriously believes that a single representative of a political party can change the direction of a culture in four years is trusting in an irrational and false hope.

There is only one Man who can change the direction of a culture, and He’s living inside of you. And He’s not stopping at changing the culture of America, but complete world-domination. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, that the Lamb who was slain for our transgressions is the King of Kings. Amen!

America, as much as the whole earth, needs the radical, limitless, earth-shaking love of Christ. Not gay-hating, abortion-bombing, picket-sign-protesting Christians who are adulterously worshiping the idols of “Right-wing Conservative” or “Left-wing Liberal” politics.

Wake up oh Sleepers! Wake up my brothers and sisters! The time of the Lord is upon you! Cast down your crowns of self-righteousness and political ideologies. Give up this chasing of the wind! Get on your knees and wash the feet of the poor! Touch the untouchable! Love the unlovable! Then you will see a real and eternal change, and not just in your country, but for the Kingdom of God! The King of Kings is living inside of you and all of creation is groaning, waiting for the sons and daughters of Jesus to throw off their worldly garments and reveal the blood-soaked robes of The Lamb!

Selah…

Thankful Thursdays: Trees

Mussorie Forest
Mussorie Forest
A forest up in the foothills of the Himalaya’s near Mussorie.

Whenever I think about home, it’s the trees that I miss the most. I just love being in environments where there are lots of trees and vegetation.

I admire trees for their enduring nature.

I like to think of them as silent, steadfast guardians.

Whenever we would drive from Kansas City to Houston, there’s a place just past Madisonville, Texas that’s filled with old pastures and oak trees. The kind of old oaks that grow wild, with low, outstretched branches.

They’re beautiful.

There’s another place, just outside of Michael’s parent’s house, that has amazing trees.

I love thinking about the drive through the windy road that takes you to their neighborhood. The trees grow right up to the road and in the autumn and spring they’re the prettiest.

Trees provide us with so much, but it’s their beauty and enduring nature that I’m the most thankful for.

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