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Archive for July, 2010

Clean or Unclean?

Please read Acts 10 before you read this post. 🙂

In verses 9-16, we read about Peter as he observes a blanket filled with ‘unclean’ beasts and birds. The Lord told him to get up, kill the animals, and eat. Peter, being raised in the Jewish faith, was shocked. He refused to eat the ‘unclean beasts’ that God told Israel in the Old Testament not to eat. The Lord then said “Do not call unclean what I have made clean.” This happened three times.

Peter ponders on this for a while, until several servants Cornelius, “a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment”, sent came to his door. Peter received them and they became his guests for the night. Two days later, we find Peter and Cornelius’ servants in the town of Caesarea. They meet Cornelius and assembled his entire household to hear Peter preach to them.

By the old Jewish law, Jews should not eat certain ‘unclean’ animals. I discovered that the unclean animals stood for the Gentiles. Since Gentiles are also considered unclean, it is fitting for the unclean animals to symbolize them. The Lord then said that Peter should not call unclean what He has made clean. That means Peter should not call Gentiles unclean, for man is made in the image of God. Peter didn’t understand at first, but when Gentiles-Cornelius’ servants came, Peter invited them to be guests in his own house! Then Peter preached to Cornelius’ household, who were also Gentiles! He began to associate with the Gentiles after this revelation.
The meaning in a nutshell: Peter learned that what God has made clean, he should not call unclean. 🙂

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Like the end of every personal conversation, there was silence. One guy couldn’t stand it. “Hey, ya’ll know about sports after church? You can hitch a ride with us; we’re going to start preparing. First, we need to throw these plates away…” his voice trailed off.

I moved with the group to the trash can. As I emptied the plate of the trash and placed it with the other plates to be recycled, I thought of how much my life is like that dish. I was scraping away the dirty things that stained the hollow of my mind, instead letting God take it and recycle it into something new, clean, and useful. With my plate, I was contributing to the many that can be recycled into something that will affect the world! What lessons God can teach!

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Spiritual Babies

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All of a sudden, the group of guys I saw surrounded me. I didn’t know what to say, much less act. The guy who saw me earlier spoke first, “Hi! My name’s Jordan. What’s yours?”

He was surprised when I revealed that I had the same name! The rest of the group introduced themselves. Just as the last person shook my hand, the speakers blared, “Sunday school!”

The group motioned for me to go with them. When I entered the classroom, I was introduced as if I had arrived at a new school. Since I didn’t know how to conduct myself Jordan helped me survive the lesson.

During lunch, the same group of boys came over and sat beside me. After learning some more about each other, I was asked, “Do you believe in God?”

I replied yes, but that was not to their satisfaction. They prodded, “Do you believe Jesus died for your sins?”

Well, McKenzie had asked me that before, but I didn’t really think about it. I didn’t need to answer; they knew the answer as they studied me. With great skill, several of them told me how they received Christ. All of them mentioned that they accepted the Christian faith when they were ministered to by some new-found peers at church. They also said that since Christ loved them enough to die for their sins, they are willing to sacrifice their lives by investing in the lives of others. They may not know how to love very well (and I have to admit, they didn’t), but they do know how to care.

My heart was touched in the most tender area as I listened to them share how their pain was relieved, what they struggled with, and their passion for their faith. I somehow knew that I needed Christ. When I told them the precious words, “I want to know Jesus,” they literally exploded with excitement. As they prayed for me, I noticed some had tears in their eyes. How great was their passion! How mature they were! What love Christ must have, that these young men are willing to share their deepest pains! Once again, I was touched.

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I walked slowly down the hallway. Everyone was happily chatting with each other. They had mentioned during some announcements that snacks are available at the back counter. Having nothing better to do, I wandered over and picked up one of the bowls of Cheez-Its. The servers had not noticed me.

I remembered what McKenzie, my school’s resident “God-boy”, said to me. He invited me to visit a local church of my race. He was African-American and I was Asian. We got along quite well, despite his religion, so out of respect I did what he suggested.

McKenzie was so open and devout in his faith. He said he enjoyed school, but his church was a place where he can worship God peacefully with other believers. He wanted me to see what I was missing, so he sent me off. It was nothing like he described. The English ministry in this church has people ranging from 12 years of age to young adults. It could be imagined as a school, with the teens wearing street clothes and conversing with their respective gender peers. Only the adults dressed formally.

As I munched on the snack, I thought, “Is this really where Christians meet? First, they listen to some guy preach the Bible and they sing songs, and then start acting as if they were at school! How come McKenzie acts so different from these people? I’m not even noticed!”

I heard a guy laugh, and I turned to the noise—my heart dropping. As I did that, the voice’s owner caught a fleeting glance of me, and he seemingly returned to the conversation a group of boys my age were having. I hung my head, feeling rejected and alone. By now, I would have left. But out of respect for McKenzie, I will stay until the end.

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