Friday, September 26, 2014

Preparation

"Listen! I hear the voice of someone shouting, “Make a highway for the Lord through the wilderness. Make a straight smooth road through the desert for our God. Fill the valleys and level the hills. Straighten out the curves and smooth out the rough spots…. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed….”  Isaiah 40: 3-5a

John the Baptist went around shouting, “Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord’s coming!” He was preparing the way for Christ’s beginning ministry. There were spiritual wildernesses, a crooked religious system scorching people’s souls dry, and a powerful political reign oppressing them. There was no beautiful glory of God shining anywhere. Not until John got the ball rolling. He was appointed and sent for that preparatory work. His tragic beheading grieved the Lord and His followers deeply. Preparing for Christ’s appearances, whether it be for His first or His second coming, demands obedience and courage.

Presently we are living in days when there are shocking evil things going on. There is a spiritual wilderness or wasteland in many people’s souls around the world, even right where I live.  When I listen to the international news an urge arises in me of desiring to shout – well, at least to speak up – to my Muslim friends: “Get prepared for the second appearance of Jesus to this earth. He is coming!” God appoints us to prepare the way for His return. I don’t want to  concentrate so much on talking about Israel, political world events and differing eschatology views, all of which are valuable and have their place, but rather stress the most urgent need of all:  to get reconciled with God.
 
As I discovered today talking with one Muslim couple, it is amazing how current events like what is happening in Iraq and Syria, can lead easily and naturally into conversations about end times and Jesus’ return and the need to be ready. “Rough spots” are experienced in conversations and “crooked curves” have to be maneuvered around for sure. There are arguments, conspiracy theories, incorrect information like Jesus coming to get married and have children,  Mahdi beliefs, and strong dajjal fears.  Often there seems to be no clear “highway” to travel on in such conversations, but rather rabbit trails, dead ends or road blocks.

Sometimes I wonder how a smooth highway of end times conversation can take place.  There are religious valleys which take people down into disillusionment where they are stuck and then I see high hills full of fantasies and unrealistic utopian ideals which need to be brought down. No one ever said preparing the way for Christ’s appearances would be easy.  It is actually tough work and there is plenty of preparation to engage in. Still I find it exciting to be part of God’s plan to prepare my Muslim friends for His next appearance on earth. I try not to get distracted by secondary issues in doing so.

I sense Jesus will return soon. His glory is soon to be fully revealed when all this preparatory work is accomplished. Yeah!

Dear heavenly Father, help me to navigate through all the rabbit trails, valleys, high hills, rough spots, curves, and barren spiritual wilderness that come my way in preparing my Muslim friends for your imminent return. Create that smooth highway in my conversations.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On the Road

"...Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not..." part of 2 Timothy 4:2.

Ed and I occasionally need to take a taxi. The rides often encourage animated conversations with our Muslim or Hindu drivers. Sometimes the first people who hear of the miracles in our lives are taxi drivers. They get our stories in the raw. One time we told a taxi driver how we had been visiting our granddaughter in the hospital and had prayed for a miraculous healing and God healed her instantly! Another time my life had been preserved from death from a car accident where my car was totalled. I needed to take a taxi the next day. The wonder of the story of preservation spilled off my lips. It gave opportunity to share how we need to be prepared for the next life. I decided to share some of the excerpts from Ed's latest blog posting here:

"Trips by taxi can be quite interesting! At times humorous. Most of the drivers who are newcomers to our land respond to a friendly passenger and may share happy news or even a felt need during a short ride to my destination.

"Our water buffalo had a female calf!", exclaimed the taxi driver from India. "We'll be able to ship more milk to the Nescafe Chocolate Milk Factory. He just received the news from his family. Because of my Pakistan days, I could relate to that since I saw with my own eyes how important a water buffalo cow was to a family's income. On another trip, the Punjabi driver was so impressed that I could talk some Hindi, he called his taxi driver friend in Vancouver and had me talk to the man. At first the fellow at the other end swore at me since he thought it was a prank. I handed the phone back to my driver and he settled him down and I talked with the Vancouver man some more.

In Adelaide, Australia we were on a taxi and I asked the Hindu driver if he knew how to get to heaven. "No, I don't." He was even unsure what heaven was all about. Perhaps he was thinking we'd ask him to take us there!! We were able to explain to him that you can't use a GPS for that trip but because Jesus prepared the way, we can join him in heaven simply by following him.

Our Muslim background believer friend, a taxi driver, picked up a newly arrived Uzbek couple at midnight and dropped them off at a hotel for free since they had no Canadian cash or credit card. He even offered to help look for an apartment the next morning. Then he gave them our telephone number. So, they contacted us and we had many good opportunities to share Jesus.

One morning we took a taxi from our hotel to a church we were speaking at in Edmonton. The Somali taxi driver was quite distraught that there was another murder of a Somali young man over the week-end. Actually about 25 Somali young men were murdered over a period of 10 years in Alberta. Joy said, "I know someone who knows who killed all these guys." "You do!?", asked the driver. Joy was able to share about Jesus who knows about all these things. He forgot where he was going and we had to redirect him to the right road! At the end of our trip, we gave him a 'Jesus' dvd. He thanked us profusely.

On another morning when I felt really lousy and quite discouraged, I took a taxi to see the doctor. All I could think of was "Jesus loves me, this I know..." so I started singing the chorus in the back seat. After about the 3rd time around, the taxi driver started singing along! I gave him a New Testament to find out more about Jesus." from "Reaching Muslim Men in Context".

We never know where our conversations on a taxi will go and how God will use them. There are opportunities to socialize, evangelize, relay miracles, give marriage counselling, comfort, or utter a prophetic word, sing or pray. Enjoy!

Dear heavenly Father, enable me to recognize every opportunity You send my way. In  Jesus' name, Amen.