Preach the Gospel

Preach the Gospel – Use Words

“Preach the gospel;  when necessary,  use words.”

We love to hide behind this quote.  It’s probably one of our favorites, and it sounds almost Biblical… but is it?

I’m sure St. Francis of Assisi had good intentions when he wrote it, and there is truth in the fact that we have to live the gospel, by putting words into action.  However, we do not get to “practise what we preach” if we’re not preaching anything.

For a very long time, I also held to this saying, especially since we’re living in a foreign country where we are unable to speak the local language effectively.  It seems like justification for “preaching the gospel without words”.  Studying Thai somehow eases my guilty conscience:  at least I’m in the process of perhaps one day being able to use words to share the Good News with the citizens of this Buddhist nation.

We are deceived if we think that our good intentions and hopes for salvation for others observing our “wonderful lives” without the spoken Word will ensure them of eternal life. We fail to realize that the gospel has nothing to do with our good intentions and everything to do with our flawed, sinful nature that cries out for a Saviour. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  The Word must be spoken to be heard and to be planted in a heart.

Without Jesus we have no gospel. Without the gospel we have nothing but bad news to share.

“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:8-15 KJV

We find it easy to believe that only some are called to be “teachers”, “preachers”, “missionaries”, etc, so we use various titles to either put people on pedestals or to judge them harder than others when they fall or fail, because they’re supposed to be the “holy ones”.

Moreover, if we somehow believe that it is possible to preach the gospel without words, why do we expect one to study Theology for seven years before standing at a pulpit to minister to others?

We utter thousands of words every day (sometimes way too many in vain), but when we actually get an opportunity to open our mouths to share the most important message we have been commissioned to share, our tongues are tied.

Perhaps we are at a loss for words because we do not really know the Word. We have neglected to take up the only weapon we have against the inner battle of darkness.  So, when the Accuser comes saying: “Who are you to preach?  Your testimony doesn’t count.  You have nothing to teach.  You have no religious title”, it becomes easy to accept the lie that we are not sent, nor called, nor chosen.  Besides, who would listen to us anyway?

Perhaps we will never find the right words to explain how our messy lives became wrapped up in grace. How the One who so loved the world loved us while we were yet sinners and how His ultimate sacrifice set us free.

Maybe we will never be able to adequately describe the joy, share enough about the love, or testify of all the hope that lives within us in a way that the world will understand.  But the challenge is to preach the gospel by opening our mouths to call out to those who are still drowning and to offer them a life line to safety.

Let us challenge ourselves and each other today to preach the gospel AND use words, for the Word is Spirit and is life.

Speaking the Truth in Love

Speaking the Truth in Love

A guy came rushing off the rugby field, blood pouring out of his obviously broken nose bent at a 45 degree angle.  He looked at my friend and asked, “How do I look?”  I will never forget her answer:  “Should I tell you a lie to make you feel better about yourself, or should I tell you the truth?”

Too often, especially when we know that the truth might hurt, we just ignore reality and try to “sugar-coat” the truth.  In an attempt to avoid offending others, we choose to lie or keep quiet.  When we do not know how to speak the truth in love, we choose to silence it by our reactions;  and if we fail to speak the truth, we lack the practice necessary to gain skill in speaking the truth in love.

Our reaction to hearing the truth is often one of self-defence rather than acceptance of our imperfections.  Instead, we choose to reject the truth which can change us for the good, and choose to receive a lie, deceiving ourselves, because we want to “feel good” about the way we are, missing out on the power of truth to change us for the better.  So, since we’re not going through the process of receiving the truth in love, we’re not getting any better at that either.

I know I’m guilty of both – not wanting to offend, and quick to feel offended. Sometimes we go through life in the same way we read through books and our Bibles. Our favorite authors, quotes, scriptures, and people are often those who make us feel better about ourselves and our life styles – no matter what the truth is.

However, in my search for the truth, I’ve stumbled upon some things I did not like, mostly because they made me feel uncomfortable, requiring a willingness to change or obey.  I had to admit that many of my beliefs were based on culture, religious tradition, and even my own ideas and experiences without regard for the Word of God or the example of Christ.

I contemplate this question as I observe the people of this Buddhist nation: ” If I had been born in Thailand, would I have become a Buddhist like other Thais?”  Or, was my birth in a Christian home or a Christian nation my “ticket to heaven”?  I think not.  It is the truth and the truth alone that will set us free and save us.  Yet many will not receive the truth unto salvation and will be surprised when they stand before the Judgment Seat of God and find that their religious traditions and customs or national identity could not save them or hide them from the truth.

However, by grace alone I am saved and not by my skin color or nationality or religious teachings.  I thank God that I had the advantage of being born in a Christian home where I was exposed to the Bible and had the opportunity to discover the ultimate Truth.

I am grateful for a personal experience of true repentance, for being baptized by choice as a step of obedience, for receiving the Holy Spirit., and  for hearing the call and taking the opportunity to”go to the nations”.  It is a joy to walk with Jesus daily on this journey of faith because I know that He is the way, the TRUTH, and the life, and the TRUTH is my salvation and the only way to be transformed into His marvelous image.

I fully realize that I have by no means “arrived.”  Most of the time, I can’t see any further than the light at my own feet guiding my next step.  I am merely a sheep following the Voice of my Shepherd in faith. I am on a journey of transformation into what He wants me to be.

And yet I desire to share some of the light I have received with those still walking in darkness by speaking the truth in love. The only problem is, I’m not always sure “how” to effectively speak the truth in love.  I know that the truth can only be received if it’s desired.

Perhaps I’m not getting the right answers because I’m asking the wrong questions. Or, maybe I stubbornly choose to hold on to what I believe instead of asking questions at all. This is often rooted in pride, and pride is the reflection in the mirror of deception.

“How do we look?” Are we willing to look into the mirror or to hear the truth about our brokenness? We may look into the mirror and lie to ourselves, but we can’t fool God.

Sometimes a broken nose needs further breaking in order to be set straight. It might hurt, but the result will be well worth it. If we speak the truth in love, some people will be offended while others may choose to receive. And those who receive will be set free by the same life and love that set me free.

 
Ephesians 4:13-25 KJV

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”

Letter of hope - to my unborn child

A Letter of Hope – To my Unborn Child

Dear Little One

It’s three o’clock in the morning, and I’m sitting in a tiny room of a guest house in Kuala Lumpur, Malyasia. I know you are also awake, and your movement is a refreshing reminder of new life and grace.  Since the other guests might think I’m crazy if I start talking to you, I decided to write you this letter instead.

Yesterday, I had to leave Thailand because my temporary visa expired before your dad’s work permit was completed to support my non-o visa application in Bangkok.

Being seven months pregnant, the airline refused to allow me on the flight, so we had to rush to the nearest hospital for a new medical certificate (the one I had was older than a month) to prove that I’m “fit for travel“‘.

Before you arrive in this world, you might as well know that your life will probably not be “normal” by any standards.

While most of my friends are decorating baby rooms and going for regular check ups at fancy, sterile OB-GYN offices in preparation for their due dates, I’m just learning how to say in Thai: “I want a natural childbirth”.

Instead of buying a car seat or stocking up on various baby necessities and supplies, we’re still figuring out a simple mode of transportation which will be safe for you, too, in a country where most babies are held in one hand while the parent is driving a motorcycle with the other.

And yet I have so much peace in the middle of all this uncertainty because I know that everything is going to be okay. We might not have any insurance in this world, but we know we’re covered by the One who has it all covered:  covered by His love that never fails, endless grace, and hope that never shames..

It might seem reckless to the world, but I’m learning that faith does not need a back-up plan.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.’ [Proverbs 3:5-6]

 I want hope, faith, and love to be enough — enough to make a good mother out of me, one day at a time, trusting that God will complete His good work in us by teaching and molding all of us along the way….even when we make mistakes.

I know perfectly well that I cannot promise you a good future in a worldly sense based on money and material goods.  However, I can certainly promise to  offer up prayers to guide you on the road to eternity, to dedicate my time and energy to train you up in the ways of the Lord, and to lavish you with a love that comes from God above.

I pray for wisdom that goes beyond knowledge. It’s so tempting to run to the internet for answers instead of the Bible, or to “google” solutions instead of praying for guidance.  I don’t want to fail you as a parent by accepting worldly standards that demand that we provide you with “the things money can buy” instead of the real treasures of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

It doesn’t matter how many languages we are able to speak, where in the world we live, or how much money we have in the bank;  if we do not have love we have nothing to offer you.

I hope to hold you in my arms one day soon when the word ‘love’ will make a little bit more sense.  I have a feeling we have many lessons in love ahead of us on life’s journey as a family together, and you will be a mighty teacher.

Photographer: Leon Skinner

The simple truth

The Simple Truth

The simple truth

…is that the truth is simple.

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We’ve overcomplicated faith

By adding theology

Opinions and our own ideas

And it’s not setting us free.

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Caught up in daily life

We’re running the wrong race

And in our search for “something more”

We’re missing out on grace.

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We could learn from the history

Of many generations

We can be curious and travel to many nations

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Only to discover that the truth

Was always lying in plain view,

A Book we might consider “old

Holds the secret to “all things new”.

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If only we would take to heart

This precious Word of God,

We’d have all the answers that we need to know

And all the nourishment we need to grow..

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To be convicted of our sin

Is often when the truth sets in,

That’s the time to swallow pride

And lay all worldly things aside.

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As we are guided on our way to eternity

Knowing there is only One door…

And Jesus is the key!

It's time to be real.JPG

It’s Time to be Real

Dear Friend

A few days ago I stumbled upon these words on my website: “Is Dorette fake?” It was listed underneath the search engine results that lead people to my blog.

The odds are very high that someone was not actually questioning my integrity since there are probably a ‘dorillian’ Dorette’s out there, but somehow I still felt offended.

My immediate reaction when I feel offended is to defend myself. From experience I have learned that it doesn’t even matter if I have a good argument or not – defending myself always leads to a fight that I will never win. If you are right, everything you say might prove you wrong; and if you are wrong, nothing you can say will prove you right.

With some restraint, my second reaction was to question the question. Does anyone have a right to question our integrity on the internet of all places? Is it even possible to be real in this cyber space of networks and social media? How many of our flaws and failures do we have to share in order to be real? And are we even real in the real world? And in the end, it all seems so confusing that it is better to stop pursuing the matter at all.

I feel that we are all trying to live up to the expectations of society, putting on a cheerful façade, while secretly struggling in many areas of our lives.  As Christians, we may unintentionally contribute to the fallacy that we have it ‘all figured out’ and ‘have it all together’ by not sharing our doubts, fears, and frustrations with others. Perhaps we are afraid others may see our weaknesses and judge us badly. Or, perhaps we have simply cried our tears in secret to the Lord, knowing that we can “cast our cares upon Him, for he cares for us.”

I am fully aware that being fake would be the easiest thing in the world for me at this time (except with my husband) because of the distance between me and those who have known me all my life. Separated by time and space from friends and family, I could pretend to be anything I want to be and choose to share only my ‘best moments’ with them.

However, let me get real and share a testimony and revelation that may give you hope and encourage you to likewise get real. My husband and I recently spent five months in Vietnam, and it was a very difficult time for me. I was tempted to blame the combination of pregnancy hormones, home-sickness, and adjustment to another country, language, and culture (the third in 3 years) for being irritable, discontent, and argumentative. The rats living in our roof and mice dancing around the kitchen did not make my disposition any better. Hence, I engaged in a series of silly fights and conflicts with my other half, a reaction to those things around me that I could not control.

I felt like a complete failure as a wife, Christian, and mother-to-be. Every ounce of me wanted to call it quits and board the first plane to ‘go home’. I questioned my motives for being in Asia: Did I genuinely want to make a difference and lead people to Christ? Was I fooling myself? Was I willing to “count it all loss to gain Christ”? I was haunted by the vanity of good intentions with nothing to show for them.

Slowly, but surely, my own brokenness led me to confess and repent of my faults and failures, exposing the ‘real’ Dorette to the Lord who already knew me in all my imperfections. And, as I fell to my knees, I fell into His arms of love. I was reminded that “He loved us while we were yet in sin” and realized that nothing we can do, no matter how good or bad will make Him love us less.

This undeserved grace is not only the essence of the gospel, but also the reason why we are compelled to love others who are yet snared in sin. For if “God so loved the world,” how can we refuse to love our neighbours?

I am not in Asia because I am good, but because of His goodness. If we believe that we are good we might be fooled into thinking that we do not need God. On the other hand, if we believe that we are not good enough, we might question our worth to be used by God. The enemy uses both pride and shame to keep us from doing God’s will.

While going through this difficult time, I decided to share some of my struggles with a few close friends and family members, to swallow my pride and ask them to pray for me. The response was overwhelming. Not only did God use them to encourage me, but my reality somehow created a safe environment for others to be ‘real’ and share the struggles of their hearts as well. By praying for one another and bearing one another’s burdens, we all were strengthened.

Being real is not about being wrong or right, good or bad, a success or a failure; it’s about being honest enough with ourselves to admit that we need God. I pray for the chipping away of our pride and shame so that His glory and goodness can be revealed in us.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

I truly hope that this testimony and revelation will likewise give you hope and encouragement to be real before God who can turn all things into good for you through His love, understanding, and compassion.

Love in Him,

Dorette