April 21, 2013
This first week in Antalya, Turkey has gone so quickly. It has been a great week at a conference with AICEME pastors and their spouses. These 40 people serve in international churches in Europe and the Middle East - from London to Moscow (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Turkey, Austria, and Switzerland, too). There are some folks from Japan too. It's an annual conference for rest and inspiration. It was my privilege to teach some sessions on stewardship and development. Another morning session I spoke on prayer that tied into my other sessions. I also had the joy of listening and learning from two of the other speakers, Dr. Mark Wilson and Dr. Ben Witherington III, New Testament scholars.
This morning we worshiped in the international church where there people from a dozen other countries. A man from Iraq was there who stood up and shared that there used to be over a million Christians in his country but people have been fleeing and the number is just 400,000 now.
This morning the sermon by Ben was on 1 Cor 4. There is so much pain and suffering in our world. But this will be redeemed. In the meantime, we are not to just grit our teeth and pretend everything is fine. We are not to deny our weakness and suffering. Instead allow His light to shine through us. People are more likely to see Christ in us when we are vulnerable and in times of suffering. His power can be shown through our weakness. We are being renewed day by day. And I was reminded that the light of God shines on each of us first before it can shine on others through us.
As I sat next to a sister from Iran and amongst people from other places where it is not easy to be a follower of Jesus, my challenges seemed to small. It was encouraging to hear them talk about their unconquerable Spirits. Like the Apostle Paul, "I may have been knocked down, but I am not in despair." We cannot control our circumstances but we can control how we respond. And the world is watching.
My faith is not based on what I do not know. There is much I do not understand about God - His mysteries. My faith is based on what I do know. And I know God's love is greater than any pit of despair. His light has shown in the dark areas of my life. And I can testify that He that is in us is greater he that is in the world. Iron truly sharpens iron and I am humbled by my brothers and sisters here today.
Trusting in the eternal weight of glory as I know that scale outweighs the suffering of this world.
delighting in this Turkish time,