Sunday, July 31, 2011

God May Give YOU Money, but All I Get is Another Bill

Today we attended "Solid Rock Church" in New Windsor NY again.  We were hoping to take my Mother in Law, as she had agreed to go with us, but plans changed.  They usually do, and that is the rub for someone with TBI.  "Executive function," which is one of the causalities of TBI, is the very process by which a person deals with changes to the plan.  So, God's sense of humor is a major challenge for me.  First, I hit my head so hard I lose the ability to deal with changes, forever; and then I discover that I am not in control and changes in plan are the norm in life, not the anomaly.

So, needless to say, when we left the home where my MIL is in rehab, sans her, I was having issues with life in general, and my life in particular.  Knowing that your attitude is a result of a brain injury does not make it any easier. The fact that you do not know that your attitude is anything but normal makes it worse.  We almost did not go to church.  Really.  I would have preferred to run the car into a tree.  Right before that thought became primary, it occurred to me that I was screaming.  It was not a choice I had made, it just what I was living at that moment.  I did not know what I was screaming at, or why I was screaming, or what I was saying as I was screaming.  I still don't.  Just then the church came into view, and since God had seen fit to open my eyes right before we passed the church, I decided to follow the plan, what was left of it, and go to church.  Anne was still screaming at me.  I really don't know what I was doing, but I knew she wanted to go to church, so I stopped screaming, and went. (No kidding.  It changed that fast.  One minute I was fighting for my life, my soul, my integrity, by rights, my ....  and the next moment, that never happened, and we were going to church. Look, I can See God ... )

It was missions week.  I forgot they told us that.  For the times I have been in other churches, when it was missions week, with a team returning from the field, that usually means that you get to watch a really cool video of what happened, who you helped, and why it was a good idea.  I have been on a mission, and the return was a massive let down.

I still have learned so much that I have not been able to share it all.  I want to share it all.  So I assumed that was what we were going to hear was what I have always heard, this is what they did, thank you.  Plus, there was the added issue of I still owe the Church 5k for the last and only mission trip I went on, but more on that later.

Photo Credit: Solid Rock Church
Mission Report Page
Anyway, this was not like any missions trip report I have ever heard.  First off, they were less interested in telling us what they did, which was build a church and give hundreds and hundreds of shoes, (and cloths) out to people in Honduras who did not have shoes, and more interested in telling us how much they had learned from the people in Honduras. Seems that the Honduras Mission Team was a changed group of people.

But before I tell you about that, and my real issue addressed in this message, look at the picture here.  These people don't just preach the word; they don't just live the works and the word as James demanded (James 2:17) of us, these people take Jesus' life as a role model for their lives.  They did not just give them shoes, they washed their feet first. (See my blog on the actions of faith) One of the team members told us, those at church, that an old man in Honduras told her that the people of Honduras they were there to help, learned Humility from the team members. Yes, they liked the shoes, which many had never owned, but they learned Humility. Sound like anyone in the Church that Jesus founded to you? (John 13:1-17)

One of the team members cried out, "Who am I. Why me. What makes me good enough 0o tell others about the Gospel while I still sin?" She went on to say, "Love is the only language we need to speak, and I will never be the same again."  Wow.  Never be the same again, just because she could help others.  Wow.  Wow.

Then another team member gave his witness.  He said that though they (those living in Honduras) had no shoes, they have no clean cloths, they were always full of praise.  The entire team suggested that if we could praise like they did, then our want from our abundance would be less of a sin, because our gratitude to our creator would be unstoppable.  Seems these people love the Lord, even though they are beyond poor, on our scale, and we should learn from them.

The mission team did not just tell us this though, they pulled us in.  The entire service was about showing us what they had learned.  They had us sing in Spanish. No really.  For those of you who know me, that is very funny.  I have issues because of my injury just stringing enough English words together to make myself understood.  Yet there you have it.  Anne and I singing in Spanish - "fuego" and asking the Fire of the Holy Spirit to come down.  Did I mention dancing? No, really, we were doing that too.  Here is a short clip just to show you how on fire this church is with the Holy Spirit.

Yet, there has to be more than just transformation, as if being a new man is not enough (Ephesians 4:22-24).  This is a Pentecostal Church, and I am disappointed when I attend a Pentecostal church, and there is no mention of the Spirit of God being active now.  And ..... they did not disappoint.

Just so you understand my level o skepticism when it comes to things of the spirit beyond the bible and salvation, let me tell you a story about Anne and I in a Pentecostal Church in Tennessee. We were down south to take a certification course in Krav Maga.  We took Sunday morning to go to Church, because, well, that is what we do.  The bible tells us to, and that is good enough for us.  So off we went.

Right before we went, I mean right before, say 2 hours, we learned a pressure point strike that you apply to the chin with a palm strike.  Needless to say, since I love karate, this was pretty cool.  The only problem was that the Krav teacher told us that this strike was used in Charismatic churches to knock people down, so they think they were slain in the spirit. That really annoyed me. Not that they would do that in a church, because that is nuts, but rather, he would say they would do it. So he was a fool, I said, and off to church we went.

They called us down to pray, and since there were 1000 people there or so, I took Anne's hand, and stepped out to the alter, to get me some of the Holy Spirit I had been told acted if you had faith. One of the elders came up, put his finger on my forehead to pray over me, and then dropped a palm strike right on the pressure point on my chin. No kidding. People were falling down all over the place. Not me though, because I saw it coming, and changed the angle so it would not work. He did it again. It did not work. He moved on, doubtless believing that the Holy Spirit was not going to talk to me that day. I am sure he did not know he was doing the strike, but that does not mask the fact that it was fraudulent. Yet, since I believe the bible more than my own eyes, I still, with faith and skepticism, look for the real deal.

Today, I found the real deal. The speaker says, "Signs and wonders," just like it happens everyday. She says that they "only had 100 to 150 pairs of shoes to give away," for a group that was to be only 85ish kids large. They opened the door and they say there were "Too many kids. It looked like a whole village of people." They had 13 bags of shoes. At the end of the day they had 1.5 bags left. They knew they did not have enough when they opened the door. "No way." Then they had said to each other, "By faith we will start." Then God showed up, and they gave out more than 300 sets of shoes, when they only had 1/2 that many to give. Does that sound a tad like Mark 6:41-44? They did not address where the shoes came from. They did not need too. If you are a uber-doubter, then you would say someone else went out and bought 150 sets of shoes. (Even though there were not stores or money.) That would still go down in my book as an act of God. "God showed up," they said, "every day."

But that is still not why I am writing this blog today. This is what I learned, when it is all said and done. One of the mission leaders got up and said that based on the witness we had just heard, that we too should sacrifice to help the Lord. That we should give of our money, our time, and that God would show up. He showed up for them with money and shoes. He would show up for us.

I took that step of faith 4 years ago. He did NOT show up with the money. I still owe my church 5k for the trip. My senior pastor actually asked me once if I would do it again. NO, not while I still owe for the last one.. I hate stealing from people. I owe the church 5k. If I had 10K, I would give it to the church, 5 for what I own, and 5 for the very next trip. It is not a matter of sacrifice. I don't have income, and my wife has very little. If you know us, we already give beyond our ability to give. That has never been an issue. But WHY, I thought, when they got up and said this, would I go on another tip to give God another opportunity to give someone else the funds to do it, and hang me out to dry. It actually makes me ill to owe any money to someone. I equate it to stealing.

Their answer to this questions of why was what I though was "warm and fuzzy," or an answer you would expect to get when talking about God. "You don't always get to know what value or blessing you are to others."  Aweeeee, I thought, how nice.  I still owe my church 5k, so it was cold and clammy to me, not warm and fuzzy.

So I left very disturbed, and my wife never knows how to deal with that type of issue with me. I am not good at describing what the problem is until I know the answer. Then I remembered last weeks service, where we were told that we had to give it up to God. So I did. Late. Long after I lost control, but I gave it up to God. (For how I learned that lesson, Visit my "If it is Going to Be, It's up to Me," blog.

No. He did not send me $5000. That would break the apparent covenant I have with him. Yet, Anne and I came up with a solution. Save $100 a week for a year. Have to either have $100 a week show up by and act of God, or perform an act for God, and find it. Either way, in 52 weeks, I get to start saving for another mission trip. Yea! God shows up "All the Time,"  cuz he is good. 4 year old problem solved.

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