I am headed to Guangzhou, China to attend the 2nd annual "Global Christian Schools Network Conference." I fly out on Sunday morning and will be there for four days. I am looking forward to the adventure.
A friend of mine recommended that I read Randy Alcorn's book, Safely Home, but he also said, "Be careful, it will mess you up." I read Safely Home and it "messed me up."
Safely Home is a fictitious novel that compares and contrasts the modern day lives of two men. One man lives and works in the corporate world of the United States of America and one man lives and serves in the world of the underground Christian church in China. In the book, these two men are friends and former college roommates who haven't seen or interacted with one another for twenty years. In the story they re-connect in China and the perspectives of Western Christianity and the persecuted church come crashing together.
In this story is found a glimpse into the throne room of heaven, the ground is stained with the blood of martyrs, the indifference of materialism is exposed, the cries and suffering of the persecuted church are heard and the beauty of committed faith in God is realized.
I came away from reading this book with an ache in my heart for a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Safely Home exposed my spiritual apathy and it inspired me to treasure all the more the Word of God and the priceless treasure that it holds within its pages. I don’t want to share more of the story for fear that I might spoil it for you. If you have the time or the inclination, I heartily recommend the enlightening, challenging and inspiring read of Randy Alcorn’s book, Safely Home. But be careful because… “It will mess you up.”
"Imagination is the greatest gift God has given us and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him." --Oswald Chambers
Last Saturday I attended an International Festival (I-Fest) that was hosted and sponsored by the International Christian School that I work at here in South Korea. The weather for the event was perfect and the campus was filled with people that were enjoying themselves as they visited the various booths, games and activities that were featured at “I-Fest.”
There were lots of child focused events at the festival like face painting, a dunking booth, balloon animals, carnival games and even a rickshaw ride. In the midst of all of the festival activities I noticed two cute little kids playing in the dirt. I don’t know if they were building castles or making cakes, but it was evident to me that they had bypassed the alluring world of cotton candy and carnival rides and had entered the indescribable realm of imagination.
As I looked at the children and considered their obvious joy and contentment at playing “make-believe” in the dirt, I couldn’t help but think that they had something that I desperately needed in my own life—imagination.
Imagination is something that adults are all too quick to write off as a childish attribute. The world is too serious. It is a place where rational thinking is deemed reality, all things are explainable, and “pretending” is replaced by materialistic “things” and amusement. As the bells and whistles of “stuff” go off all around, the call of creativity is stifled and imagination is relegated to the realm of entertainment. This is not how it should be for a follower of Christ.
Jesus speaks of the necessity of having a childlike faith as it relates to following him. "Imagination" is a childlike trait that must be realized in the faith of a Christian believer. In Hebrews 11:1 it says, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and confident of what we do not see." In other words, it says that Christians are to engage the world of reality around them with a strong dose of hope-filled imagination.
Throughout the New Testament, the Apostle Paul makes reference to the "mystery" of Christ and to the "mystery" of the Gospel. Words like "imagination" and "mystery" are not terms that are only reserved for fairy tales and fantasy. They are integral to the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Eugene Peterson says, “For Christians, whose largest investment is in the invisible, the imagination is indispensable, for it is only by means of the imagination that we can see reality whole, in context.”
God is the giver of all good things and the element of "imagination" is a unique and treasured gift that He has given to humankind. Within the realm of "imagination" the unseen becomes visible, peace is realized in the clamor of the world around, and there is a conception of hope in the unknowing glance at the future.
Just like the little children at I-fest, Jesus played in the dirt too. Instead of making mud pies, he made mud and healed the blind. Imagine that...
Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight.
--Elizabeth (Akers) Allen
Two weeks ago my youngest daughter, Sarah, participated in a service trip that was sponsored by her Middle School here in South Korea. Sarah, along with twenty other students and 4 adult sponsors, went to a remote location in Northeastern South Korea to serve at the Jesus Abbey and to draw closer to God through corporate worship, living in community and times of silence. The Jesus Abbey serves as a place of retreat and worship for visitors, and its sponsors are working to equip people for service and ministry to the people of North Korea when the "wall" comes down. Take a look at the video. Enjoy...