the power of one: stories from Liberia, West Africa

recently, i had the honor of delivering the message at my home church on Sunday morning. now, i’ve never been one to call myself a preacher, but i do know that God’s made me a storyteller.

i wish i could take all the words and the pictures and the feelings and the experiences and share them with you here, but somehow, it doesn’t do it justice.

but if you have 45 minutes or so, i’d love for you to listen to a few of the stories of people who have changed my life forever and whose lives i’ve been blessed beyond measure to be a part of. i can’t promise that it will be eloquent, but i can promise you that it’s from my heart.

you may only be one person–but even one can do something.

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remembering the gospel

i am a Christian.
and i love the Church.

but sometimes, i wonder if she’s gotten so preoccupied [with who’s right & who’s wrong, conservative versus progressive, why this style of worship is better than this one, et cetera and et cetera] that she has forgotten the simplicity of her message.

“…God was (ie: IS) reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” (2 corinthians 5.19)

let me repeat that.
God is not counting men’s sins against them.

not mine. not yours.
it doesn’t matter what you or i or he or she has done; God is not counting men’s sins against them.

“but that sounds too good to be true,” you say.
“it just doesn’t make any sense,” she scoffs.
“yeah, but you don’t know what i’ve done,” he argues.

it’s not too good to be true. and you’re right; it doesn’t make any sense. and no, i don’t know what you’ve done.

but He does.
and His Word stands. He’s not counting it against you.

because of a cross.
because righteousness was made sin
and a holy transference occurred.
because of life-blood that beautifully and mysteriously washes the hearts of men
clean.
because of a little thing called grace.
because when the Father looks at you
He sees not your faults and failures
but instead sees His perfect Son.

because of Jesus
God is not counting men’s sins against them.

and that::
well, that is the gospel.

On earth as it is in heaven.

(Disclaimer: today’s “blog” is also a little bit of a “rant”, which may make you a bit uncomfortable. And for that, I am sorry.
But I will not, on the other hand, apologize for speaking out and speaking Truth. For today’s “blog” is also somewhat of a “plea”, one that I believe comes straight from the Father’s heart.
No, I am not in the least bit sorry for that.)

I think we all can agree that there’s something wrong with the world that we’re living in.

Seriously. Take a moment to think about it. I’m going to throw out a few terms; ask yourself how you feel while reading them.
Crime. Injustice. Poverty. Disease. Prejudice. Oppression. Homelessness. Addiction. 
Did hearing those give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside? No! Of course not. Our reaction to words like that is negative because, whether we comprehend it or not, something deep within us knows that it isn’t right.

As a Christian, I can understand where it went wrong. Once upon a time, there was a garden, a utopia, and a disgusting serpent known as the Deceiver. And then Adam and Eve ate the apple and because of that, evil entered the world. I’ve heard it a million times; everywhere I turn, I hear pastors shouting at me about my “original sin.” And I’m not saying that they’re wrong; please understand that. But I am saying that the Church tends to get so hung up on sin and evil and all of our failures that sadly, they forget to tell the whole Story.

It doesn’t end in the garden, with Adam and Eve walking away in shame. It doesn’t end with God throwing in the towel; He’s not “up there in Heaven” wringing His hands, lamenting that there was nothing more He could do. Doesn’t anyone understand how silly that sounds? He is God—I AM THAT I AM. He restores; He rebuilds; He redeems! He became the Second Adam (1 Cor. 15.45), which means that “the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5.18). Jesus reversed what Adam had done. Why is THAT not being preached from the pulpit?! That is the Gospel, the Good News; that is “the Messiah has come!”

What does all this mean, then? It means that what is wrong with our world doesn’t have to be our reality any longer. Think about it; there are billions of professing Christ-followers all over the world. Billions. What would it look like if each one of us started doing something, anything? If we took a moment to smile at a stranger? Feed a homeless man? Stand up for human rights? Hug the woman going through a divorce? Intercede for the nations? Support a missionary? Pray for someone who is hurting? Sponsor a hungry child? Can you even begin to imagine what an impact that would have?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not content to simply stand silent. “On earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus flat-out told us that this is how we should pray—which must mean that it’s possible…or else He’s a liar.

Are you hungry for justice, thirsting for righteousness? Me too. So please, for the love of all things holy, please; let’s start doing something about it.

my pastor, to the church this morning: “i don’t care about your comfort; i care about your soul.”
Jesus, to my heart this morning: “me too.”

and in that instant, i recognized my sin. i’ve spent so much time chasing after the things of this world, even when it meant neglecting the only thing that really matters.
Lord….forgive me.