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Today’s reading in Joel really has me thinking, especially with his use of the word REND.

Rend

Rend Your Heart

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

Further down in the passage there is a call to the priests “who minister before the LORD” to gather EVERYONE, and it didn’t matter what the age or status, for a solemn assembly and to fast.   These leaders were to “weep between the temple porch and the altar.”  Through the mouth of Joel God is calling His people out; first and foremost His leaders.  What does this mean for me?

Rending my heart is not a passive act.  It is purposeful.  When I agree to rend myself before God I have to sacrifice.  I have to die to my own will and submit to change.  I am allowing my heart to be torn to shreds and be built back up again by God.

I will have to love  people who I don’t want to love.  I will have to forgive people who I see impossible to forgive.  I will have to say “no” to things that I want to engage in.  I must draw nearer to God’s word and His voice.

How does this rendering affect my relationships?  Will I seem different to people?  Will my family and friends respond differently to me?  What about those who don’t understand my faith?  Will my decision to go deeper with God alienate even more those whom I love?  What about those relationships that have fallen by the wayside due to life’s circumstances?

As I think on this, for me it comes down to two things: I am called to love people, (1 John 3:10) and to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  If these things are not woven into the fabric of me then I need to render my heart.  By rending my heart I will grow to care deeply for those people I am called to love, and I will see prayer as I do breathing.  I cannot live without it.

Looks like I need to spend some serious time between the porch and the altar.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

In reading various commentaries on Joel 2, I came across a really good writing about prayer by evangelist Leonard Ravenhill.  He heart was all about prayer, especially in calling God’s people to pray.  He said,”…when the church of Jesus Christ is prosperous, she never has revival. It’s when she’s poor. Prayer is the language of the poor. “Bow down Thine ear and hear me, for I am poor and needy.”
The self-satisfied don’t need to pray.
The self-sufficient don’t want to pray.
The self-righteous cannot pray.

But the man who realizes,
“I need something outside of anything that’s human at all,”
he wants to bathe his soul in prayer.”He goes on to say, “Read the Acts of the Apostles and all you read about is prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer. When they had prayed the place was shaken.”  What does this mean for our current circumstances?  As a church we must be all about prayer.

To read the entire writing by Leonard Ravenhill check out this link.  I found it quite challenging.  http://www.ravenhill.org/weeping2.htm

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Our trek to the most remote island chain in the world started almost 12 years ago.  Even though we never really felt compelled to travel here, we jumped at a chance to buy a voucher for two tickets at a garage sale.  We chose a hotel that was being remodeled.  We traveled one month after 9/11.  There was plenty of room to spread out on the beach, and we found really good deals at the market place.  The total trip cost around $1,000, with the tickets included.  We found ourselves pleasantly surprised by how much we were enjoying our surroundings.  About two days into the trip we prayed for God to show us how we would minister in this place.

A couple of years later my husband won a trip to a neighbor island through a sales promotion.  It was beautiful.  The island moved at an even slower pace.  The hotel upgraded our room to an ocean view.  We found the perfect breakfast place, and loved learning the local history.  Sitting on the beach during sunset with our feet in the surf while listening to a band play James Taylor covers was pretty magical.  Again, we prayed how God would have us minister in this place.

Not long after that my husband was invited to teach and train the sound team of a local church here on the island.  They graciously offered me a ticket to join him.  I spent the week reading books, swimming, and taking in the local sites, sounds, and cuisine.  It was a pretty sweet adventure.  We left wondering how God would end up using us on this Island.

Our home state is beautiful.  Our hometown is an hour from the beach and an hour from the mountains.  It didn’t take long to get to Mom and Dad’s, and an even shorter time to get to my in-laws.  Siblings and nieces live close by.  Why would we want to move away from it all?

Our family spent a month here the year before we moved.  By the end of that month we were invited to come join the church for a season.  We loved the people.  We really believed in the church’s core values, and  were encouraged by the emphasis they put on creatively sharing the Gospel.  It still wasn’t an easy decision.  We thought it through.  We knew we had to say yes, or we would regret for the rest of our lives.

It’s been almost a year.  We continue to pray how God wants us to use our gifts here in our new church.  We are still figuring out the balance of ministry life and family life.  It’s a bit more challenging, honestly a lot more challenging, without a support system like we had at home.

There have been moments of greatness, and that keeps us pushing forward.  In a future post I’ll share a timeline of events of this past year.  It’s been a doozie, but one that is full of the evidence of God’s handy work in getting us from there to here.

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