The Undoing of The Tower of Babel

I love how intricately precise our God is in His redemptive plan. I cannot doubt the love He has for me knowing all the things and people He aligned in order for me to know Him. God is the redeemer of all the things that have gone awry through the fall. Here’s a few things I’ve been learning through the book of Acts and how it coincides with  Genesis 11.

And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with  the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:4-8

From my New Testament Survey class, I remembered to be looking for Acts 1:8 as a theme for the rest of the book.  One of the ways you can divide up Acts is geographically- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world. We can see the expansion of the Church by where it began to spread, through whom, and how.

I continued reading and got to the Day of Pentecost. This was what the apostles were waiting for. Jesus, essentially, said, “Go back to Jerusalem, wait for this promised Holy Spirit that the Father is sending…” Now, I know this story. They were all together, hanging out, probably praying. Then this storm from Heaven came in through the room and everyone had the Holy Spirit fall on them and then they could speak in tongues. Cool. End of story.

Nope. Not even close.

As I was re-reading this, I saw a couple really cool things stick out that I wanted to share because it literally blew my mind.

1. God will plan an outreach without your foreknowledge and do it better than you would have.

The apostles + others just received the Holy Spirit and were uttering in these different languages. They created quite the stir and people from other countries that were in Jerusalem were drawn in. They heard the apostles and other Christians speaking in their native languages.  Now, before you’re like, “Maybe some of them were bilingual…”, from what I counted there were 11 nationalities represented. Eleven. I don’t even know what that would be.. Octolingual+1?

Not only are the apostles and other Christians speaking it, they are declaring the glory of God to them. They are preaching the Gospel to people of other languages  for the first time. Obviously Romans was written after this, but we see that faith comes through hearing. God’s heart is huge for the nations and for the people in your town, next door and the nations.

Y’all. This was the first international ministry outreach and it wasn’t even done on purpose. Well, God knew and planned it, but it wasn’t planned by the apostles. Peter stands up, preaches the gospel, and 3,000+ are saved.

2. The fact that “speaking in tongues” was the first thing the Holy Spirit did when He came to live in Christians is of great importance in showing the missional heart of our God.

Let’s remember, Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel. Synopsis: man wanted to make a name for themselves, so they all rallied together to build a city and tower that took them up to Heaven. They essentially, wanted to be gods and make a path to Heaven for themselves. So, God did the only loving thing a Heavenly Father would do and caused them to all speak different languages.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”  And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come,let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Genesis 11:1-9

Here’s the cool thing: God cares about all the nations. He cares about the people that you and I can’t communicate with because of this barrier. As He gave the first church this gift of speaking in tongues as the first gift, we see here that He is undoing the Tower of Babel. The people who built the tower of Babel were trying to make a way to Heaven. It was an unsuccessful one. God has given us a way through Jesus.

The apostles had this message of Hope, but they only had it in like Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew [I think.]. God gave them the gift of tongues to be able to share the way to Heaven and share the hope offered in Jesus. That’s really cool right? I mean, it could have been anything that God did, but what better way to advance the kingdom than the ability to proclaim it in all the world’s languages?

I love finding more and more glimpses of God’s heart for the nations, but also I love seeing how He loves to invite us into partnership with Him. It wasn’t the apostles that could have advanced the Gospel. It’s His Spirit that causes us to love Him. It’s His Spirit that moves in us and through us. God can redeem the whole world without us, but He chooses to involve us in His work. I am just so amazed at how awesome that is.

It’s late, so I probably could have done a better job explaining that. Thanks for sticking with me to the end if you’ve gotten this far. 🙂 Please comment below with your thoughts and if this post encouraged you, please share the link on Facebook! 🙂

DISCLAIMER: I’m not taking a stand for or against modern day use of speaking in tongues, by the way. I am just sharing thoughts on what’s in the Bible. So. Yep.

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The One With Nail Scarred Hands

Sometimes in my time with the Lord (whether that’s in the Word, prayer or worship) I imagine myself sitting next to Jesus. Before anyone gets all, “idolatry!” on me, I don’t see His face. I know I’m sitting next to Jesus, the God-man, and always envision a human formed body with no face. I picture what everyone pictures I suppose: a white robe.

During this time with Jesus, I talk to him. I sit at His feet. And sometimes I lay on the floor like a terrible two and beg the Lord to just let me have my way (Sidenote: have you not caught on yet to how “mature” I am?). In those early morning moments of curling up on the couch with Jesus, reading His word and drinking my coffee I miss one thing: His hands.

I heard a sermon this weekend that showed a few clips from the Passion. I think I almost forgot what that was for Him, for us. I forgot that although death did not win, He did suffer the crushing weight of sin on our behalf so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price of sin.

I kept thinking yesterday, “God, why do I feel like you don’t understand the trials of this life?” And then I thought of all those times hanging out with Jesus. What did I picture his hands to look like? Were they pristine as though no life had actually ever lived in them? Hands that never went to the cross? Or were they the hands of God himself who took on flesh, worked years as a carpenter, had those calloused and strong hands nailed to a cross for the redemption of the world? Am I picturing the hands of the only One who will ever be my hope and my portion?

I realized that I plead my case before Christ as if He has no idea as to what’s going on in my world. I forget the hands that were pierced for my transgressions. I forget that my life isn’t about me. It’s not for me. It’s for Him and always will be about Him. Letting go of that is scary, but so very freeing. I make a crummy god.

When Jesus calls us to take pick up our cross and follow Him, He knows it’s going to be hard. But Jesus, being worthy of trust and obedience, reaches out His nail-scarred hands and bids me to come. So I come.

Obedience And The Love Of God

Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, is a beast when it comes to handling the Word. I have never listened to a sermon by him and thought, “Yeah, God didn’t use that for my sanctification.” This sermon was no different.

This morning I needed to breakaway and spend some good, long quality time with Jesus. I have been struggling with surrendering something to the Lord (maybe I’ll blog specifically about that in about a month). I felt the Lord pushing and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll be open to that God in about two years.” My prayers looked like this, “I see that you’re trying to show me something here. I am going to look at it and acknowledge it before you. I’m not going to fully give it to you, but I’m not going to take it either.” Talk about an elephant in the room…

I was convicted (a few times this week) while talking to friends who said, “Yeah, what you’re doing is not actually praying.” Or another friend who straight out said, “You’re like Jonah running from God.” Ouch. I needed it, but whew!

I went through my podcasts this morning to just break away with the Lord alone and was skimming through my Église Nouvelle Vie, Desiring God and The Village Church messages. I went to the bottom and saw, “Motivations for Obedience.” Perfect.

I think this sermon is so worth listening to especially for those of us who on our default have a hard time trusting that the Lord’s will and leading is always meant for His glory and our joy. This past week I’ve been convicted that when I’m not 100% surrendering everything to Christ I’m essentially saying He can’t be trusted. I look at the unknown with dread rather than excitement that my heavenly father wants to go on an adventure. And He is so good!

This message helped my perspective in regards to the struggle for my will be done, my view of the Lord, and was a fresh reminder that the word of God is refreshing to our souls and leads us to the abundant life.

My Unspoken Spoken Word

Well, I started writing this a few months ago, and quite honestly forgot about it until today. I finished it, maybe? Is art ever truly finished? It doesn’t rhyme, so sorry about that.  Theology goobs, you’ll like this. 🙂

Please, Stott. I just Kant, Immanuel.

Theology so cracked out it makes me want to Barth, Karl.

Coming from every direction, false hopes being spread like butter on bread to people searching for affection. Searching for truth. But deceit and lies flowing from the lips of Lex, Luther.

Shaking inside, knowing Christ’s love for all, makes me want to look in the face of deceit and scream, “Berkhoff Satan.”

We need restoration and redemption I Begg, a Resurgence if you will, from top to bottom, Spurgeon all these false hopes, dreams and uncertainties of  who we are meant to live for. And just…. Just give them Jesus.

Let’s pull a Studd and run from the Bell to run a rescue mission as close to hell as we’ll ever get, Christian.

Gather the saints, elevate the truth that God is Here and Now and Jesus is Lord. He is the way, the truth and the life. He made us, formed us to be like him and to know him. When he looks at us, I imagine him to say, “I Grudem.”

And Calvary, a joy so full in such a sorrowful day. When Jesus died for me (and you) so that we can know Him.

This ain’t no Calvin and Hodge comic strip. The urgency is real. If eternal life is found in Christ, and there are one billion people having yet to hear the name of Jesus let alone the hope He offers, what are we doing?

Get in the Carson, take the Ottobahn, put the pedal to the metal and spread the gospel to all the nations so that one day people from every tribe, tongue and nation can…

Gather the Piper and sing praises to His holy name and be Soren on wings like eagles. Sproul‘d out, arms high in abandonment to the one true King, the Lord of Lords who forever reigns, Jesus Christ.

David Platt is My HeartSong.

David_Platt

Okay, okay. I’m a little late jumping on the “Let’s celebrate David Platt becoming the new President of the IMB” train, but I’d like to say that as always, I’m fashionably late. This was the best move the IMB could have done. He’s great for the job. So, now you know where I stand… *SIDENOTE: The whole “my heartsong” is an inside joke with some Cru girls. I’m not in love with David Platt. I’m in love with someone else named Jesus of Nazareth, have you heard of him?

David Platt isn’t afraid to cast a big vision and boldly challenge the church in areas of missional involvement. He’s most known for his book “Radical,” and that he is. But you know what? I love it. While there is this “avant garde” feel to the Radical movement, truly, he’s just pulling us back to the foundations of our faith and what God has called us to.

We can see, and I can’t remember who said it (Al Mohler?), that in America there’s a market for Prosperity Gospel Theology because we create that market. It’s simple supply and demand. In general, our US churches have gotten so caught up in “American-ifying” Jesus that He doesn’t resemble the God of the Bible nor is he even remotely applicable to people in other countries. The real Jesus is for everyone.

A friend, called Cobylicious, was talking about how they were doing outreach in a third world country and dozens of kids gave their lives to the Lord only to come back disappointed the next day because their houses still had holes in the roofs and they were still poor. That’s what they had grown up hearing about Jesus. Believe in Him and you’ll be rich. You will, just not in the earthly sense of things.

One thing I think David Platt does a good job at is communicating the urgency of the gospel going forth-the life changing, eternity directing HOPE of the gospel. He sees the need for laborers to go out to reach people who have not heard. People who are praying to gods that cannot see, cannot hear and most of all cannot save. And instead of being in the despair of that, David Platt sees our (the church’s) specific need to be a part of missions and challenges us to let go of the “here and the now” so that nations can be “there in the end”.

David Platt, congratulations on the IMB position. I am hopeful God will stir hearts through your leadership and while the harvest is plentiful, many more laborers will answer the call to go to the nations.

 

Dreaming, Hoping and Aspiring

The fact that I’ve been “in transition” for the past month and will be for a while, has driven me nuts. I blame it on my ESTJ personality. I’m a planner and overly logical to the point where it is annoying to myself.  [Seriously, talk to me about my dating life; I dare you. Dee-sasters.]  I should have a plan for where I’m going to live or even what I want to do, but I don’t. I should have direction on what I even like, but I don’t. And today, I finally got to the point where I was okay with that.

I was talking to my friend Jackie last night on Skype about all the different ideas I have floating intensely bouncing around my head on what I could do next. She said, “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you write down things you are interested in pursuing or feel passionate about, pray about them and see the Lord weed out the ones that don’t stick?”

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?  So, here’s what I did tonight.

Image

I started to flood this blank page with ideas and things I feel like I’m passionate about.

  • Love the Lord and walk intimately with Him daily
  • Work with refugees and immigrants in America teaching them English, how to adjust to American culture and find jobs.
  • Women’s Ministry
  • Take some classes in Life Coaching or pursue Biblical Counseling?
  • Write Women’s Devotionals
  • Be a covenant member of a gospel-centered, missional church [probably the hardest one on this, which is sad].
  • Live overseas again
  • Become certified to teach English as a Second language to maybe open a center overseas or stateside?
  • Go see Celine Dion in concert.

So that’s my list! 🙂

John-Mark, a good friend from STINT, told me once, “You kind of get really passionate about things and then a month later you’re over it.” That’s so true. I’m learning how to balance that out, but I feel like this is a great way for me to allow those passions to be Spirit-led so that He weeds through them and they don’t become distractions for me.

I’m seeing the Lord closing doors, and I’m trusting that in His time He will open the right door! I’m excited for the adventure with Him!

Thank you everyone who is walking alongside of me and encouraging me in my walk with Christ. I’m thankful for you holding out hope for me in the moments where I can’t. I’m thankful for those of you who pursue em and display the gospel to me in this transition! You’ll never know how much I appreciate your pursuit of my heart and wanting to see me grow in Christ!

Here’s to dreaming, hoping and aspiring to be apart of God’s great, big plan!

Walking in Heaven

Sometime within the past two years I have become a crier. For those of you who may not know me and are reading this blog, this is a massive transformation. I used to have trouble trying to produce tears, but nope not anymore. I tend to blame a lot of things on Whitney Marie Low, but this one REALLY is all her fault. If you want to the evidence that it’s Whit’s doing, ask her about Christmas day 2011. It’s not really my story to tell. 😉

So today, I’m working on some cards for my best friend here Epiphanie. She’s a Cameroonian student here and will be returning to Cameroon before 2014. I’ve known her since my first STINT year, and I have so enjoyed walking along side of her in her walk with Jesus. The first time we met I asked her, “What kind of music do you like?” She said, “Do you know Jer-eh-mee Comp?” I was a little confused at the accent, but together we figured out that she was talking about Jeremy Camp. I looked at her and said, “Yes, he sings about Jesus. Do you know much about Jesus?” She said, “Yes, I asked to receive Jesus a year ago.”

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From that point on, I began to meet with her for discipleship, Bible study, CPC meetings, and just hangout time. If there was ever a source of life here beyond the Lord, it would be Epiphanie. She is so much fun and so easy to love. Her growth in the Lord this past year has been amazing. Seeing her pursue the Lord spurs me on to love Christ more. She told the man who led me to Christ, “Mary is my spiritual mother.” Although I didn’t lead her to Christ, it’s been sweet to walk through this life together for this small amount of time. Truly, she’s taught me, encouraged me and fanned the flames of my heart for Christ more than I think I ever did for her! She’s my best friend in all of Africa.

I’ve been working on some cards for her. With each one, I tear up more and more. The first card is a goodbye card saying, “My friend, I’ll miss you. Know I love you. These letters will be a reminder of that through the years.” You all know African mail systems and just how easy it is to lose track of someone for long amounts of time, so I have written a few letters for major events that I am thinking more than likely will happen just in case we lose contact.

I wrote her a card for the day she gets engaged to her future husband, a card for the day she gets married (which I have promised to be at her wedding but just in case!), a card for the day she finds out she’ll be a mommy, and a card for the day she becomes a mommy.

Today, I wrote the card for the day she realizes that there’s a baby growing in her belly. Ugh, I’ve never fought back so many tears in my life! Imagining what she’ll look like, how happy she’ll be, some of the hopes and dreams she’ll have for her baby… And imagining myself not being there to walk through all of that with her. I wrote a prayer for her firstborn praying that he/she would be a mighty picture of God’s redemption and mercy to the world. I encouraged her in her walk reminding her that first and foremost of her family’s needs: a wife, mother and friend that loves and follows Christ.

I’m realizing with each passing day, how hard it is going to be to say goodbye to all of these faces, friendships and memories; especially Epiphanie. I am trusting the Lord with my Muslim friends knowing that He is for them. I am trusting the Lord with change, with growth and with provision of new community. It’s so hard to love deeply for a short amount of time and potentially never see people again this side of heaven.

But, alas I am reminded of the new heaven and new earth in which the glory of the nations will be displayed all for Christ! And in Heaven, in that sweet, blissful place I’ll get to go on walks and meet Epiphanie’s little boy or girl that I’ve prayed for. I’ll get to meet Senegalese people who came to know Christ through reading a Bible they received through one of our Bible distributions on campus. I’ll get to hear cool stories of how God used CPC students to reach the nations. I’ll see people who we’ve shared with and pleaded with God to save, that we never saw the fruit of this side of heaven.

And that’s the hope that those who are in Christ have. That it isn’t about behavior modification, being a good person, but rather a belief in a God who loves you, wants to walk day in and day out with you, and has extravagant plans for your future. It is the hope that says: I know you can’t do it on your own, that’s why I sent Jesus. Trust in me and believe that I can do marvelous things because I am a marvelous God. Walk with me here and now. And believe that we’ll go on plenty of walks in Heaven.

And so now, I praise God that friendships within the body of Christ are eternal. I praise God for even the labor now that I can so quickly believe is in vain, those will testify to His faithfulness in Heaven. On my walks with Jesus I imagine Him pointing across a beautiful field saying, “You remember that taxi driver you and Elaina prayed for and gave a copy of the Gospel to? That’s his son that you prayed for. Through that book, his dad trusted in me and led him to me!” Or saying something like, “You see those groups of girls? That one over there, Fatou, received my word at your Bible distribution on campus. She took it back to her dorm and all of her roommates wanted to study it too. They had a Bible study and all came to trust in me!”

I can’t promise that’s what Heaven will be like and I can’t say that’s what Jesus will say, but I imagine seeing in Heaven the Lord’s faithfulness and seeing the fruit from being here fully displayed in His kingdom.

So, I walk here. I press on to fight the good fight of faith even if it does make me teary eyed at times. I long and confidently hope for the things of heaven, and l love that I serve a God who has amazing plans for us in this life and the next.