The Great Debate

As a Canadian living in the USA, especially during election season, my voice hasn’t always been welcomed in some conversations. I have been okay with that for the most part because politics has never been a strong passion of mine anyway. I struggle with retaining information pertaining to what party stands for what cause and what their plan is to carry it out so I have often felt that I don’t have much to offer. Broken promises and failed expectations seem to be the bottom line in most political arenas these days, that much I understand. So I pray.

My personal life has been full of broken promises and failed expectations as well, so, on some level I understand this political circus we are in right now. However, it doesn’t give me the right to “dis” or slander anyone. I am just tired of it, as I imagine many of my American friends and family are as well.

This morning in my devotions I read James 1:26-27, “if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he declares himself and his religion worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

This is not my voice, but God’s – thru His Word – Scripture.

“A tight rein on his tongue”. I think this idea has been absent by the politicians throughout these past few months (maybe years. Maybe decades). So many people have shared that they are sick and tired of the rhetoric and lack of verbal self-control many of the politicians have shown.

I too have struggled with maintaining a tight rein on my tongue over the decades. Maybe you think this is one of those times. It has been a life-long process of surrender for me. If you know me personally, you have heard me on more than one occasion say, “Refraining” as I tightened the rein on my tongue (while tempted to make a sarcastic or harsh comeback)

I trust that other speakers, writers or those with a quick wit know what I am talking about. On occasion, when I haven’t had a tight rein on my tongue I have also made promises and broken them, which sometimes makes me not much different than those I am watching in the world in the world of politics. But with God’s help I am growing in the right direction everyday!!

To some I am a religious person. But honestly, I care more about my relationship with Jesus than I do with being religious. I have learned that when I care more about cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus, I am more receptive to His Voice and what He is doing in my life and am ready to pour out what He has poured into me. As a follower of Christ, when we fill ourselves with Christ and His Word, that is Who we pour out.

When we allow ourselves to be polluted by the world then we pour out that pollution on those around us.

People are hungry for the truth. People are hungry for honesty. People are hungry for strong character. Me included.

Follower of Christ…what are you pouring out?
Hate, anger, resentment, slander, tolerance, apathy and compromise? Not helpful.

Please don’t live your life in a way that deems the religion of Christianity worthless.
Please don’t refrain from cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Whoever becomes the President, God still remains The King.
REFLECTION:

Will you receive this scripture today?
Will you please learn to keep a tight rein on your tongue as you face the barrage of political rhetoric?
Will you please own up to your broken promises?
Will you please forgive those who haven’t fulfilled your expectations?
Wanting to stand United…in the States and in the Body of Christ.
Thank you for joining me on my journey,

Kinita

My Wake-Up Call

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money”.

Our team at the top of the Monkey Temple for Buddhist and Hindu believers.

Our team at the top of the Monkey Temple for Buddhist and Hindu believers.

Saturday April 25th, 2015 will forever remain in my story for many reasons. That was the day of the tragic earthquake in Nepal that killed over eight thousand people and rendered millions homeless, not to forget all the people that will live with the trauma of that day in the deepest parts of their soul for months and maybe years to come. I am discovering that being a survivor of a tragedy like that challenges me to think about “what is really important to me”.

Since my conversion to Jesus Christ at the age of 14, I have grown to really love the LORD and have chosen to serve Him ONLY. Like most relationships, there have also been ups and downs in my relationship with Him. There have been times when I have grown in trust, faith, understanding and strength while at other times I was afraid, doubted, or held on to fear, pride, self-protection or other things that I believed were important to me. Yet, time and time again, God would bring me to scripture passages that would gently turn my heart away from those ups and downs and help me to focus the eyes of my heart on Him.

That day when the LORD shifted the tectonic plates, ultimately destroying physical Hindu idols and monuments made and worshiped by man, I believe He also crushed my idol of self-protection.

You see, protecting myself (aka: porcupine – see “blog post called “Anger Management”) was what was very important to me leading up to that day. You could call it my idol. Although I had confessed and surrendered it on several occasions, I guess it was never completely gone.

The Porcupine I used as a visual aid.

The Porcupine I used as a visual aid.

That day not only did the earthquake take down physical idols that were important to Hindus, my idol of self-protection was crushed – permanently.

Idols can be defined as things that are so important to us that we would be devastated if they were gone. They block our view of Jehovah Jireh (God as Provider). We then run the risk of missing the way He is providing for us in our crisis.

At noon on the day of the earthquake, the Hindu “rain god” was to be paraded through the streets of Kathmandu. The Hindus had prepared a way for the 7-story-tall rain god to move through the city by taking power lines down and blocking area roadways for it’s safe passing. The earthquake hit at 11:56 and was so powerful it toppled and destroyed that structure. To me that was a wake-up call to the church (Church = who we are not just where we go), the Body of Christ, the Body of believers to acknowledge our idols.

The remains of a Hindu temple following the April 25th earthquake.

The remains of a Hindu temple following the April 25th earthquake.

In the Hindu faith, the religion includes worship of stone gods and idols that are in plain view of passersby. In the Christian faith, however, as much as it is a religion, it is more specifically a relationship with a living God. This relationship with Jesus produces a transforming of our hearts and lives so we reflect a living God and not the things of this world.

Unfortunately, some Christians tend to hide idols (in their heart) while showing great commitment to God on the outside (perhaps through service or words). Let’s not forget that, “…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). I assure you, I am not exempt from that. The Holy Spirit reminds me everyday to hold things loosely so as not turn them into idols.

I believe that Christians would experience the abundant life referred to in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” more effectively if we grew in our understanding and awareness of our internal idols.

I like the way author and pastor Tim Keller says it. In his Epilogue, he writes, “…idolatry is always the reason we ever do anything wrong”. He then quotes Martin Luther, “the fundamental motivation behind lawbreaking is idolatry” (referring to the Ten Commandments). There is something you feel you must have to be happy, something that is more important to your heart than God Himself.” (pages 165-166; “Counterfeit Gods”)

All this might sound judgemental to you (believer) but the truth is, as we read in 1Corinthians 5:12 and 13, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside…”. We are also called to “build each other up in the faith” (1Thessalonians 5:11) and that is my hearts desire. In reality, when idols are brought into the light, they not only lose their power but we make more room for Jesus.

Want more Jesus?

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him….They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than The Creator”. (Romans 1:21, 25)

Hey believers, can we please stop feeding our idols and instead, can we be united in Christ and share Him with the world?

REFLECTION:

Ask God to show you the things or people that “if they are removed from your life” you would be devastated.

How powerful are the idols in your life?

What do you need to take down so you can make room for MORE God in your life?

Are you being lead by your idols or lead by Jesus?

Thank you for joining me on my journey.  Blessings on yours.

Kinita

Be Prepared

(It has been three weeks since I have been home. Today in my devotions was Luke 21:19, “…by standing firm, you will gain life”. I wrote this blog post three days ago. I love how God keeps me on track)

As I write these blogs about my experience in Nepal, specifically during the time of the earthquake, I have been reviewing my journal entries leading up to that day. There was an undeniable connection between those entries and the day the ground shook beneath my feet. From Scriptures to Oswald Chambers’ comments, the LORD was preparing me for that day. Through the following scripture passages and quotes from Oswald Chambers, God was preparing my heart to, “stand firm” so that I wouldn’t give in to the chaos around me.

Journal entries:

Oswald Chambers’ comments

— “the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship.” (with the Holy Spirit).

— (based on Matthew 11) – “No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God in a human spirit, it is an inner unconquerableness.” (yes, that is a word).

— (based on 2 Kings 2) – “do not forecast where the temptation will come, it is the least likely thing.”

— “you have remained true to God under great and intense trials, now beware of the undercurrent.”

— “unguarded strength is double weakness.”

— “kept by the power of God” is the ONLY safety.”

— (based on 2 Corinthians 1) – “our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the Promises of God and not by our education or intellect.”

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Scriptures:

Psalm 55:9, “…destructive forces are at work in the city…”

— Psalm 55:16-18, “As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me”

2 Chronicles 15:7, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

2 Chronicles 15:15, “…they sought God eagerly and He was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side”.

(Morning of the earthquake)

2 Timothy 2:3,endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”.

2 Timothy 2:4, “no one serving as a good soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”.

2 Timothy 2:7, “reflect on what I am saying, for the LORD will give you insight into all of this”.

2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

Practicing spiritual health, spending quality time with Jesus, is the only thing that can truly prepare us for a crisis. Be it physical, financial, emotional, relational, or whatever. Basically any kind of crisis.

With the help and companionship of the Holy Spirit we are able to see, with our own eyes, Christ in the middle of any crisis.

I write like this because I want to share what the LORD has done in my life and to give you an eternal Hope in your journey.

I don’t expect all my readers to agree with what I write, but I do expect that somehow what God poured into me and how He prepared me through Oswald Chambers’ words and various Scriptures, would also encourage you in your journey as you not only face the crisis in your story, but also live.

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REFLECTION:

How do you prepare for what life throws at you?

What are some lessons you have learned from crisis’ that you have experienced?

How has God’s Word impacted your life?

Thank you for joining me on my journey.  Blessings on yours.

Kinita

Victim or Vessel?

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.

My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.

When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.

The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.

Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.

It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.

Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.

I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.

I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)

Special friends we made at the Embassy.  Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

Special friends we made at the Embassy. Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.

When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the "Multi-Purpose" room, and lived up to it's name!!

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the “Multi-Purpose” room, and lived up to it’s name!!

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As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.

Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.

In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.

“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)

I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.

REFLECTION:

In what direction is God tipping you?

How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?

What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?

Thank you for journeying with me,

Kinita