I have the great honor of leading a group of 9 people to India from February 21-March 2.  This group comes from Illinois, Indiana, California, and Arizona.  Our desire is to be the hands and feet of Christ not only to the people we encounter in India, but all those around us.  We are a group of radicals looking to stir up the hearts of our apathetic friends as we repent ourselves of the same sin.  We are tired of talking about serving the world…we just want to “go” and we want to take you with us.  Through our experiences you will be faced with the question “what can I do to change the world” just as we are.  I look forward to updating you all on what were up to.

Check out this video of my time with the lepers:

Last night I was watching a documentary on WWII and it absolutely blew me away. I’ve always been enamored by the wars and the people involved in them, but last night I was in awe and also sad. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor 132,000 men stepped up to the plate and signed up to fight for our country. Do these kinds of men still exist? If they do are they in the majority? It seams to me that men are getting less and less like the men that God has called them to be; protectors, leaders, provider…etc I’ve been doing some study in Genesis and have been amazed at some of the things that God has called some of these men to do. He asks Noah in 6:14-22 to build a huge boat ( what’s a boat…just trust me Noah) and in verse 22 it said he did everything God asked him to do. In Genesis 17:9-14 God tells Abraham…”hey the way you will show me that you are mine is to circumcise you and your family” come again God, “if you love me you will cut off the skin around your penis.” Here’s the kicker…he did it. God also asked him to sacrifice his only son, from Sarah, in Genesis 22 and he did that too.
Where are the husbands that Eph 5:21-33, and 1 Peter 3:7 has called them to be? Where are the men that are willing to do anything to honor God and protect women and children?
One of moments in the documentary that really got me was when a nurse was talking about her encounter with the wounded soldiers. She said ” we all cried (referring to the nurses), but never in front of the men” She realized the sacrifice these guys were committed to, and as a result of their sacrifice and leadership it empowered others to be strong….this is the way it should be. As men lead others follow. That is why Paul says in 1 Cor 11:1 “do as I do.” Men let’s step up to the plate, put others before ourselves, be obedient to God (even when it seems insane), and lead well.

As I read through Scripture it always amazes me how God tests people. I’ve been studying Joshua and am in love with what God causes the Israelites to struggle with. They cross the Jordan river (Joshua 3-4), which was a massive task and they think “well, I’m glad that’s over let’s throw some stones to remember what God has done…Now I need a break.” God in His infinite wisdom and grace says “you though that was hard wait till you see what I have planned for you next.” God tells Joshua…”I’m giving you Jericho (one of the oldest, most fortified cites anywhere), now walk around it for 7 days and then scream at the top of your lungs on the 7th day and watch me do my thing (Joshua 6).” Can you imagine how amazed the Israelites were when “the walls came tumblin down”…holy cow it worked.
Why do we doubt God? Do we really believe we know more? Are such control freaks that we really believe we know more than an omniscient God. Over an over in scripture he reminds us that pride comes before the fall. That the very thing that happened at Jericho can happen to you and I if we just believed that He is God, and we are not. We need to move forward in obedience and in a humility based upon where we position ourselves in light of a righteous and holy God. Then…wow…then we will see God move mountains. Like Joshua, who later on prays to God “sun stand still” and God listen and causes the universe to throw on a proverbial E-break in response to a human who’s faith is in an infinite, all powerful God. Take a moment, throw your hands to heaven and say “God…I got nothing, I am utterly dependent upon you and what you would have me do.” What a beautiful surrender.

I was reading in my Bible the other day (always a good thing to do) and I ran across a note that I had written in the ledger reminding me of a time when I was struggling with the idea of grace. My buddy Dan and I headed to Northern Wisconsin to stay in a cabin for the weekend to attempt to wrap our minds around grace. That was a great weekend. So let me share with you a passage that helped me move forward in grace.
So much of my upbringing was about doing (or so it seemed), and grace really has not a lot to do with doing and a lot more to do with receiving and living in light of it. Romans 6:15-16 “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”
For so long keeping all the rules (don’t swear, read your Bible everyday, make sure you go to church as often as possible, help old ladies across the street, make sure to pray at every meal, make sure to pray before you go to ben, make sure your prayer sounds really holy, and so on and so forth) is what was master over me. I ate and drank regulations, attempting to please God and appease Him. The funny thing is it almost cost me my relationship with Him. Isn’t it interesting that the very thing that I was trying to impress God with, was the sin that was blinding me. I read a statement by John Calvin it said this “that until men have been shown their own emptiness, they are not prepared to receive the grace of God.” When we choose grace and obedience to God as a result of grace…we become free. We throw off the chains of doing and fall down on our faces with hearts of receiving, which in turn effects our living. Then and only then is when we receive God’s approval…empty and open ready to take on all He has for us. God bless you as you move forward in making this a reality in your life.

I have the amazing opportunity to lead a conference for 1000 pastors in Feb.  These pastors are sharing God’s love in the midst of a culture that rejects the living God and accepts over 1,000,000 other gods.  These men are being persecuted for their faith in a way that you and I will never understand.  Read through the book of Acts and you will see what these men endure on a daily basis.  So…Here is my plea, for $20 you can send one of these pastors for 3 days to a conference that will build them up, encourage them, and challenge them to continue the work the Lord has given to them.  The $20 pays for their travel, food, lodging, and the conference.  I challenge each and every person who reads this to send it to as many pastors, directors, volunteers, and  individuals they know.  We have an opportunity to make a Kingdom difference for just $20…come and help me, and Harvest India encourage these amazing men.

Details

harvestindia.org- This is the organization that we partner with at Cornerstone

Suresh Kumar-  This a President of Harvest India and great brother in the fulfillment of the great commission

How to Give- Right now they are working on an online giving link to cschandler.com, but right now you can send it to the offices

2211 E Pecos Rd., Suite 2
Chandler, AZ 85225      Attention Jeff Gokee for India Pastors
-Your giving is  tax deductible…the more you give the more you write off (sweet!)
Links: harvestindia.org,  cschandler.com, Twitter- Harvest India, Facebook- Suresh Kumar
Thanks,
jeff

I had an interesting conversation yesterday, the kind that makes you realize how stupid Christians can be sometime times, the kind that make me feel stupid. There are certain phrases that Christians say to each other that are suppose to comfort each other…”just trust God, he’s in control (proverbs 3:5-6)”-truth…”well, the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will (bad theology)”- not true. “God won’t give you more than you can handle (1Cor. 10:13)”- huh!!! I have said this to people over the years, and it is Biblically grounded, but We like to use this passage as a cop out. Christians use this card when they don’t know what answer to give to someone in pain.
Yesterday Patti and I were hanging out and ran into Holly McRea who’s 5 year old daughter Kate has been battling with brain cancer since late June. She is an amazing woman, and we have been so proud of her as a mother, and a believer, enduring this unbearable disaster. We talked a bit about her finally getting some time to herself before Kate heads back in to the Hospital and then started this discussion about silly things Christian say to each other in the midst of pain. She brought up this idea that “God will not give you more than you can handle,” and with fervor said…”I can’t handle watching my daughter go through this,” to which my wife nodded in total agreement. Her perspective, and i have to admit i’ve never really thought of it this way, was on the money. Holly said “i see it like this, God won’t give you more than He can handle.” So simple…takes the control away from me and gives it to God. Think about all the Bible stories you know and tell me that is not the truth. Imagine Moses facing the Red Sea with a million Jews…he couldn’t handle that (Exodus 14) Or what about Joshua at the wall of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27), Daniel and the lions den (Daniel 6), shadrach meshach and abednego standing before the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), and so many more Gideon (Judges 6-8), Esther (Esther 4-5), and lastly Jesus (The whole Bible). These are people left to their own strength and “humanity” are in trouble, but because God give us more than HE can handle, we can rest in His strength and not our own. 1Corinthians 12:8-10 says it all “when i can’t handle it….He (Sovereign over all, The I AM, The Alpha an Omega) is strong.” Thank you Holly for reminding me of God’s greatness even in the midst of you and your families pain. I stand in awe of your trust and reliance upon God as your Jehovah Jireh. God won’t give you more than HE can handle….not the opposite;  from the mouth of the enduring. Love you guys….God heal Kate

Sometimes the most annoying thing someone can tell you is that they know where you have been and what you are going through. Our body language says thanks, while our internal voice says “shut up, you have know idea what I am going through.” We have this moment where we realize people say things like that because they don’t know what else to say. The only person that can truly say “I’ve been there” is Jesus. The journey of my life as I last blogged about is to find out who God is. One of the ways I am doing that is through really discovering who Jesus is. The whole Bible is about Jesus and every conclusion ends with Jesus. I’ve been studying in Hebrews and this morning in 4:15 I had this moment where i saw something that I knew, but it struck me in a whole new way. I know my wife loves me, but sometimes she will say, or do something that awakens me to the reality of the truth. Hebrew 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.” The commentary i was studying made a great point that because Jesus never sinned means he experienced with worst forms of temptation in every area…places you and I have never seen and He resisted it. So Jesus sympathizes with our struggle to peruse Him. I always imagined God shaking his head at me in disappointment, like a master who is looking at a puppy that just peed on the carpet. But the moment I had this morning, and what a wonderful moment it was, is that our High Priest (unlike those of old) sympathizes with our weakness and desires for us to experience the realities He did, as a life aligned with our Heavenly Father. Jesus can truly say “i know where you’ve been, hang in there.”