Beau here. As a church, we read through the Bible together in something we call The Journey. This year, we are going through the early church by reading the Book of Acts and jumping out of Acts at the right chronological point into each of Paul's epistles. It is really fun to have 3,000 folks reading the same thing, so when God hits me with something, I can immediately chat with lots of folks whom I know are reading the same passage as me. I have also been fortunate enough to line up a Bible study at work with some folks to discuss the Journey each week.
Anyway, over the past week or so, I have been studying Acts chapters four and five. I have been journaling a lot about two aspects of the passages.
First, the early Christians were radically transformed by the Holy Spirit. You see people who denied their relationship with Christ as He was being crucified now going to engage with those who killed Christ, basically pursuing them the same way Christ did. They are doing the same thing that got Christ killed! They get thrown in jail, and when they get out, they go back to where they were when they got arrested and do the exact same thing. The Sanhedrin tells them to stop speaking of Christ, and they basically say "you want us to obey you instead of God?!?!" They then get thrown back in jail and receive 39 lashes. Ouch. So how do they respond to their brutal beating? Acts 5:41 says "So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they has been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name." Wow! I journaled on this asking myself the questions "Do I view the opportunity to serve Christ as a privelege no matter the circumstance, no matter the call?", "Does following Christ get the first call on my time and resouces, or just enough to make me feel good about myself?", and "Is following Christ a faddish hobby or my life's calling?"
Second, we see the early church using their excess resouces to provide for the basic needs of their brothers and sisters (Acts 4:34, 2 Corinthians 8:13-15). They didn't buy extra TVs, bigger houses, the latest in clothing fashion, etc, all stuff I am guilty of. They recognized that we are all one body in Christ and God uses His people to fulfill His mission. This got me really mulling over Ephesians 2:10 which says "For we are His worksmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." You see that? God prepared good works beforehand for me to walk in them. So as I journaled, I wondered how often I don't see the good works God has prepared for me because I am too busy serving me. My Christian brothers and sisters are dieing around the world, and I am missing out on the privilege (Acts 5:41) of fulfilling the good works God prepared for me beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).
So as I was working through all this, I got an e-mail from my friend Celestin, at ALARM on Wednesday. Some Watermark friends and I are heading to Rwanda and Burundi on March 8th to teach on conflict resolution and leadership. Celestin asked if we could also spend time in Kenya helping folks work through the trauma healing process resulting from the recent riots that resulted in several hundred murders and a couple hundred thousand folks being displaced from their homes. In addition, they were requesting funds to help provide for the basic physical needs of the people. Of course, my mind immediately ran to the passages I had been meditating on this week, especially Ephesians 2:10, Acts 5:41, and Acts 4:34. God is so cool that way.
Needless to say, we head to Kenya as well on March 8th and have the privelege of living out (at least this one time...still struggling overall though) 2 Corinthians 8 as it says "he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack."
Please be praying for us. Also, pray for me specifically, that I would be about Christ, not about me. Grateful for the Word...