Thursday, September 04, 2014


I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand… to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness…I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:6-7, 16

This week I was walking through Yosemite Valley with my oldest daughter for a glorious 24-hour escape into the wilderness.  As we passed by a newspaper stand (for my younger readers, newspapers were the precursor to the MSN or CNN homepages!), we were jarred back into reality. Hannah read the front-page headlines of the NY Times and stated, “Look Dad, ISIS is continuing their campaign of terror, a child trafficking brothel in Thailand was broken up, and the Ebola virus is growing as a threat in Africa. What a sad world we live in.”

Her comments couldn’t be more understated.  I reflected on the drive home that this is not the world as God intended -- this is the world humans, in our folly have concocted.  We can all give a hearty “Amen!” to both aspects through Jesus’ promise in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

True, we live in a broken world where human structures (yes, even the institution of the church!) and human beings are broken -- this causes trouble. (From Strong’s Concordance: The word trouble means "compression, tribulation" and carries the challenge of coping with the internal pressure of a trouble, especially when feeling there is "no way of escape.”)  As followers of Jesus we can take heart or live with hope because Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension ensure that evil will not have the final word!

I have never encountered a ministry that holds these two realities in tension better than the International Justice Mission. This past year, my 15-year-old daughter and I had the privilege of experiencing a weekend with IJM leaders and supporters for a Global Prayer Summit. As we interacted with country directors and those within the leadership of IJM, we discovered a deep joy, hope and faith within them. These traits were so abundant and super-human, it was evident that the Spirit of God was producing such fruit. They really believe that God is on the side of justice and while it is a dark world, the dawn is coming.

Sitting with them, we also discovered that they steward a deep pain, a gut-wrenching grief because of their work. For them, brokenness has names -- thousands of names of victims they have rescued.  They have stared evil in the face and have personally been wrecked by it.

After that weekend I asked a representative from IJM to come and speak in the worship gatherings this weekend. We will have a vivid experience together appropriately hearing of the evil in the world around slavery and the hope we have in Jesus of doing something about it.  For those stirred, the PCC Freedom Team will host a lunch after the 10:30 worship gathering to explore how PCC is endeavoring to engage locally and globally in anti-trafficking. (noon in the Back Patio, behind Room 20/Fireside)

Would you pause right now and ponder with me: What is the trouble that grips your heart like a vice? How does your relationship with Jesus who has overcome the world inform that trouble? How are you doing holding those two realities in tension?

We have an incredible year before us starting this Sunday.  It would be a great Sunday to invite someone to join you in gathering with the church. Speaking of the year, if you want a list of the requests that we prayed for this past weekend, you can access those here.

I love being your pastor!