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Friday, 20 June 2008

Follow the Leader!

After a flurry of posting activity last week, my mind seemed to have gone completely blank! I wondered about a number of topics, but simply wasn't able to produce anything on any of them.

This evening, however, we had visitors joining with us in our evening meal and, as might be expected, we had a great time afterwards talking about serious issues – and a lot of not-as-serious ones!!

Our visitors were a couple from Liberty Community Church who, with their two daughters, are heading off to Tanzania at the end of July. They are expecting to be there for some five months – returning (hopefully) just in time for the Hogmanay Party!!! Stephen is the Principal of Tilsley Theological College, here in Motherwell, and this is a sort of “working sabbatical” for him. For Debbie and the girls, it is more of a great adventure.

That’s the thought that has struck me. You see, the real Christian life is one of adventure. We follow the example of Abraham, who “... when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. ... went without knowing where he was going.” (Heb 11:8-9). It’s all to do with faith/trust. If I trust the One Who is guiding me, knowing that He already has a perfect plan for my life, then I can safely follow His leading knowing that, whatever happens, it is for my highest good – and for His glory.

Not too difficult to take that sort of attitude in the comfort of my home in the relatively safe UK. But what if I was in N.Korea, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma, or any of the other 50+ countries in which, in 2008, acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord is to invite harassment, persecution, imprisonment, torture, death? It’s one of those things that never fails to amaze me. From my (albeit limited) contact with the persecuted church, it seems that those who suffer for the Name of Jesus really do “... consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (James 1:2). They seem to have an inner conviction “... that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:3-4).

Let’s all take Jesus’ command to “Follow Me” to heart – whether it leads us to an African country; to our next-door-neighbour; or to persecution, and even death! It was, after all, that same Jesus Who, having told His early disciples that His way was to be the way of the cross, said “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matt 16:24-26).

He set the example – we simply follow!

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