Saturday, December 10, 2005

God Loves Poland

God loves the Polish people. He has uniquely created them for specific purposes in His eternal kingdom. Their determination and ability to survive has equipped them with many skills and talents that have been hidden from view. The Historical and Economical challenges that these precious people have endured are preparing them for a special ministry of healing and hope in God’s family. Yet, I am convinced that God, in His faithfulness will dust away the past so that His glorious creativity will shine through.

God is Perfect and Holy! He never makes mistakes.

Though the hurts and disappointments of life appear to be either God is absent and uninterested or He Himself is the initiator of those problems. The Truth is God is Always present with us. God is constantly calling, drawing, and wooing us to Himself so that we might experience His faithful love and care in the midst of the injustice of this life.

The reality of God’s presence is seen in every act of love, kindness, encouragement, care, service & beauty.

Pray that the Polish People would personally experience God’s loving, care & presence in their everyday life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Starting New in Jesus

When someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior all of heaven rejoices. Yet, I think that when that person decides to take the step of obedience to be baptized there is a different kind of joy. Something that is deeper in a way because it is a physical at of walking out their new faith and standing before others and saying “Yes” Lord.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to see to young women step into this new place of obedience and to experience the washing away of their old life of sin.

It is funny how sometimes we are forced to do things differently. This was the case for this baptism. NO POOL. Ok, we used the lake. NO WHITE ROBES. This is a tradition in many protestant churches in Central and Eastern Europe. NO TRANSPORTATION/DRIVERS. Ok, I’ll shuttle the church (300 kilometers/190 miles).

Praise God for the death of His Son who washed away all our sins that we may have new life.

The Fellowship of the believers:

Joshua: Lesson in discipline and love

Sometimes I find that I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want. The worst thing is when I do that I someone else shines the light of the Lord on it. My reaction (on the inside) is to recoil and just give up. Or to run and hide somewhere anywhere. I find the discussions in my head go from doubt, hurt, blame, and disbelief to defeat. Then I have to force myself to look at the nature of God and his desires for the best in my life.

Joshua reminds me that we all make mistakes no matter how “spiritual” or what our role is. But God is faithful to correct us for our own good and the good of others.

However, when I’m corrected my normal response is to withdraw and to want to give up. There is something within me that says, “fine”! You do it! I quit! I’m just too imperfect to do this task or to serve the Lord.

Yet the Lord desires to correct AND restore me, you all of us. To tell you the truth the correction is sometimes so painful, at the same time I know that it is necessary for me to really learn, change and grow. It is like exercising without the pain in my muscles there is no change in the strength and endurance of my muscles. The discipline is necessary for our equipping and healing.

Often after I have received the discipline of the Lord my confidence is shaken a bit. I’m sure that Joshua had some of those same feelings. I have the sense that I don’t really know what or how to take the next step. Yet, God in his love and faithfulness encourages us to get back on the horse and try again. Sometimes it is so hard because everything within me wants to say “Forget it”! I don’t know how he does it, but just keeps drawing me to try it again and all the while he is inviting me to trust him.

The reality is that I’m usually sitting on the ground because I have tried to “ride the horse” in my own strength instead of trusting him.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Great Battles for the Lord

It is always amazing to me how easy it is to behave in the same manner as the rebellious and foolish children of Israel.

Uturn 2005 - Mission Possible was fantastic (more later), yet after all the dust had settled and the last guest had left there was an ominous silence. A silence and isolation that was what I would imagine Elijah felt after the battle with the prophets of Baal.

The past 3 weeks have been a time for me to fight with and within myself; those old voices that sometimes haunt the mind. They seem to remind us of every short coming and every weakness that once existed in our lives. I realized just how easy it could be for me to be sullen, depressed, isolated and alone if I allowed myself to be. I remembered what it felt like before I committed my life to Jesus.

It was during this time that I cleaned….and cleaned. I was alone with myself, my thoughts, and piles of stuff. At first, I was just overwhelmed but as I pushed myself into my Lord and plowed through the mess I found a fresh look at myself and my relationship with the Lord.

Eventually, as my apartment regained order there was a new sense of relief, followed by hope, hope and anticipation of what the Lord will do in this new season of my life.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Song of Passion

Today I was visiting Wroclaw, Poland with my good friend Carol. We decided to take a few days of vacation and enjoy the sites and sounds of big city life. Wroclaw is a beautiful city with a unique style center. There is a wide variety of intricate and ornate building facades which seem to captivate my attention. The photographer’s heart within me is constantly frustrated by my apparent inability to capture the detail and intricacy of the various buildings that surround the center.

Like many old cities in Europe during the summer months the want-to-be artisans, musicians, artists, human statues of every type, shape and size had come to the center of Wroclaw to try their hand at their craft with hopes of making a bit of money on the side. In the nine years of living in Europe and the ten of traveling here I have seen and experienced just about every possible combination of art and talent or the lack thereof.

But today…something caught, no grabbed, and no captivated my attention. It wasn’t the living statue waving at the bashful little girls hiding behind their mother, nor the 50+ Harley Davidson motorcycle riders celebrating 35 years of their club in Wroclaw.

No it was something much more profound. PASSION! HOPE! BEAUTY NOT OF THIS WORLD! It was music that touched me so deeply; even now I could burst into tears. In the natural this simple woman in plain white jeans and red T-shirt, holding her white cane and playing background music from a small tape recorder was nothing to take notice of.

It was something about her voice that reflected the beauty of her creator. Her song seemed to follow me everywhere I walked in the city. It was as if every cell within her glorified the Lord.

I pray that I would worship my King with such PASSION, HOPE, and GRATFULNESS everyday.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Time of Great Mourning

This week is a time of Great Mourning in Poland. It is difficult for those of us who are not Polish and not Catholic to fully understand the significance of the death of John Paul II. I was raised Catholic and I have been in relationship with Poland and its people for nearly 20 years, yet there are many aspects I can’t quite grasp. For days now I have been trying to find a symbol or a person or even a group of people that could possibly have the same significance for an American. I think that it would have to be a combination of people: George Washington – a man who had a significant role in birthing the nation. Abraham Lincoln – the man who held the country together in the difficult times of war. FDR – the leader who cared for the needs of the simple people. A man who was connected to the hearts of the people, he was the father of people’s hearts. Billy Graham – a great spiritual leader and guide. Martin Luther King Jr. – A man who spoke out against social injustice.

For many Polish people a big part of their heart has a huge hole in it. It doesn’t seem to matter if they are particularly spiritual or if they agree with the Catholic Church they LOVED Pope John Paul II. Because they know that He loved them. In the Catholic Church the Pope is referred to as the “Holy Father”, here in Poland John Paul was referred by some as “Tata” “Daddy”. To others he was their beloved Uncle and still others a friend.

This part of Poland was a place of special meaning to the Pope. He enjoyed walking, kayaking in the mountains in this area. The people here are especially connected to him. Even though the Pope John Paul II, the man, was quite old and very sick there are people here that have a difficult time believing that he would actually die and leave them.

It is like any death of someone near to us, it makes us acutely aware of our mortality and it heightens our spiritual needs. For many people the death of this great man of God has left them with a spiritual void that is difficult to describe, define let alone fill. In some ways it is similar to the spiritual void that existed in Japan at the end of WWII. It is different as the Church is still here, physically, but many people have lost trust and confidence in it apart from John Paul. I really feel that in the months ahead many people will be looking for spiritual answers. But it will take individuals in love and patience who can listen to the Holy Spirit and give honor to the heritage of the Catholic while pointing the way to Jesus, the answer.

As a missionary in Poland, the question is how do I support these people in their grief and help them to see Jesus, the ROCK of our salvation, who will never leave us. I pray that the Holy Spirit would give me the words that bring the life of Christ into the lives of those individuals who loved the Pope but never really knew his Lord.

Proverbs 3:3-6

Two of the more than 100 Mountaineers at Sunday's Mass for the Pope Posted by Hello

Zakopane Mountaineers riding to the church in tribute to the Pope. Posted by Hello

The Pope's Flags in Zakopane Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Easter: Reflections, Preparations, & Celebrations

Holidays are always interesting times to be away from home; family, friends & church family. In the last 20 years I have celebrated many holidays away from home but not so many Easters. I have always enjoyed Easter. I don’t know how much the fact that it comes in the spring when nature is promising new life has to do with it. But there is something very special about celebrating the new life that we can have by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

It is strange to think about, but I have been walking with Jesus almost 30 years. It has been an incredible adventure of discovery. The discovery of who he is, who he has created me to be, and what good works he has prepared for me to do. It has been filled with many ups and downs and the unveiling of new possibilities around every corner.
This Easter was such an adventure. It really started with the unearthing of my/our heritage in the faith of our Lord Jesus – Judaism. A good friend of mine from Krakow came and did a Shabbat dinner early in March followed by a Seder dinner on Holy Thursday. Both of these events were a great time to better identify with my/our Lord, his life, his faith, & our roots in that faith.

The Shabbat Prayer Posted by Hello

Shabbat Fellowship Posted by Hello

The Seder Plate Posted by Hello

Worshipping together Posted by Hello

Liberated women Posted by Hello

The young and old participating in the celebration Posted by Hello

Family time Posted by Hello
Kids! I love children. I believe Jesus did/does too! So, for Easter we decide to invite some local children to make enchanted Easter eggs, something I used to do with my Mom when I was young. It was great fun, as the children had never seen anything like it before. Unfortunately, the date we scheduled the event for was when many children were ill. To end our time together we told the Easter story with the help of The Resurrection Eggs and a fantastic CD made by Piotrek, a young man in our church.

Team work Posted by Hello

A test of patience Posted by Hello

Enjoying one another while preparing Posted by Hello

Ania assisting her 2 nephews Posted by Hello

Everyone needs a little help Posted by Hello

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...what should I put inside? Posted by Hello

Decorating can be difficult Posted by Hello

Children listening to the Resurrection Egg Story Posted by Hello
Finally, we spent Good Friday reflecting on the price Jesus paid for our sins. We actually crucified (taped them to a cross) to the cross and then the young people put together some scripture, music and 4 monologue to help us really focus our attention on what happened on the cross.

Easter Sunday was a time to celebrate all we received with our new life in Christ. Halleluiah He is Risen!

Kasia's monologue Posted by Hello