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Not wanting to spend money unnecessarily, I finally broke down and did it. I purchased a small laptop/notebook computer. The hinge on my old computer gave up the ghost and the dinosaur finally had to be laid to rest—but only after expiring in Cuba, just in time for a Caribbean burial.
But let’s get back to the purchase of my new little techy pocketbook – I mean notebook. After installing all the needed software, I see a cloud every time I open it. No matter what I do, I cannot stop the Word-association I make to Hebrews 12:1—the great cloud of witnesses. I use my computer—I see the cloud—and my mind recites:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The idea of the cloud in the computer is to store documents literally “in the air,” instead of using the storage capacity on the computer. The sell is the cloud is always above you, safeguarding your documents like a fort of down feathers with hidden treasure. Don’t be limited by an actual terrestrial hard drive—let the heavens hold your treasure. Sound familiar? It’s accessible and shareable by more than one person at a time. WOW! The C-L-O-U-D!
I appreciate—even celebrate—my forerunners and our forefathers who comprise the cloud of Hebrews 12. But where I have to break with the metaphor is in this. I have so many people in the cloud (and it’s growing) — but I need a cloud of people here and now! Tangible! Not a download of history—but a living soul I can give the down low to! (After telling Jesus, of course.) Are you feeling me?
Jeff and I spend a large portion of our time praying for and encouraging pastors and leaders—the greatest people ever, according to price they pay. And we have been so burdened of late to see the greatest people ever suffer isolation, depression or oppression in the daily of trying to lead and care for other people. (I am going somewhere with this.)
In leadership there are times—moments– when our faith’s fringe is frayed or just maybe the fringe is intact but the core is cracked. You know—a good hair day with a broken heart? This is when we need to remember, dear friend, we have each other. Reach out and touch someone is not just an old ad campaign, but what the Lord Himself created – along with the clouds. So while we lead let’s bear each other’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
Let’s connect with each other – the greatest people ever- in triumphs and in trials.
I would rather run with the cloud. Wouldn’t you?
Oftentimes just before waking up in the morning, I feel the Lord drop a word or a thought into my spirit like He did just this past week. Two words, that’s all it was. But those two words have been pounding like a drum inside of me since. The words are “life exchange!”
A great part of the ministry emphasis of Mutual Faith is centered on life exchange, and we extend this same invitation to you as well. To be more specific, Paul wrote to his friends and spiritual family in Rome and said, “For I want very much to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:11, 12; Holman Christian Standard Bible)
What Paul was saying so many years ago to his Roman family in the faith was that he felt pressed in his spirit to be with them in order that they might experience an exchange of life between them. Not to be redundant, but I like how our friend Eugene Peterson embellishes this passage in his paraphrase bible, The Message. He writes, “…I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you.” (Romans 1:11, 12; The Message)
Just today, Nancy and I were sharing a passage from Acts 3 together, where Peter and John were approaching the temple at the “hour of prayer”. They were confronted by the request for alms (we called it panhandling in my day!), by a man who from birth was severely handicapped and unable to walk. When he asked them for some money, Peter and John expressed that they didn’t have any, but what they did have they would be more than happy to share! That’s when they said to him, “In name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” This is such an amazing story, and this is not the time to further expound on the explosive miracle that occurred in this man’s life in response to the daring faith of Peter and John. But what I do want to highlight are the brief comments made in reference to this passage from The Voice (translation) which you can find, by the way, on biblegateway.com, which says:
“Although this young and thriving church has no political influence, property, fame, or wealth, it is powerful. Its power is centered in living the gospel. The people value one another more than any possessions. They come together as a large, passionate, healthy family where it is natural to pray and share all of life together. The kingdom of God is blossoming on earth as these lovers of God embrace the teachings of Jesus. In the days ahead, the church will lose much of this initial beauty and appeal; it will become consumed with a desire for material possessions, cultural influence, and power.”
Sadly, these words depict a very true and accurate history of much of the church to date, evidenced by much of what we see around us labeled by many as Christian, or church, or the like. But the beautiful thing is there remains a passion in the heart of every true Christ-follower to walk in this kind of intimacy and innocence, joyfully exchanging the life that only He can give between one another.
That is what we are about, and we trust that you are too! We pray for you reading this short and simple view into our lives and ministries that your heart for God and His people will be unrestrained from the entanglements that too often trump the main thing from being the main thing! Receive His life today, and share it with as many and as often as He calls upon you to do so. And don’t forget there’s something in that exchange for you as well!