heaven

Racism: Anti Mission // Micah

God is opposed to racism, in part, because He is against anything that stands in the way of mission. Though rarely talked about, of all the reasons why people shy away from sharing the good news, racism is one of the ugliest and longest running.

To hate another for their ethnicity is to declare ugly the beautiful diversity God insists He will have in His person for eternity. Revelation 7:9 tells us, “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, ‘Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!’” When a race thinks so much of itself that it feels superior to the “created of another shade” it effectively disfigures the picture God is painting. Racism dulls the multi-hued mural heaven is piecing together. If God intends a mixed multitude to enhance the beauty of His eternal choirs in paradise, then Sundays should provide a window into glory.

Racism is not only ugly, it is age-old. While it is a trending topic today, it has long been a hindrance to mission. Thousands of years ago, one of the greatest missionaries was constantly abused on this point. Paul’s synagogue mates could tolerate much of his message but Acts 22:21-22 reminds us that their religion veiled their racism and it would not stand mission. “But the Lord said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'” The crowd listened until Paul said that word. Then they all began to shout, “Away with such a fellow! He isn't fit to live!”

The simple truth is that those who despise other races are less concerned about God’s heart for “all nations”. Hate always hinders efforts to provide all with the good granted by the gospel. Let it not be so among us. May we rise above the ugliness of the times and let the love of God guide us into a life for people and on mission.

- Micah McElveen

Happily Wed // Micah

James 4:4-5 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?”

We all have ambitions, which flow from our hopes and desires. The first few verses in James 4 remind us that dissension in Christ’s family chiefly flows from ungodly ambitions being pursued in ungodly ways. Like a hot knife through butter, verse 4 cuts to the chase declaring, “You are with me or you are against me, choose this day whom you will serve… and if it is me, then love me exclusively and follow me wholeheartedly.”

He uses language from the bedroom, reminding us that we sleep around on God when we choose the world over Him. He explains that cheating creates division in the family and sows discord between us and God. He pulls from other scriptures, highlighting that God, like a good husband, has a zealous and jealous love for His bride. He reminds us that anyone who violates the intimacy meant between exclusive lovers, no doubt becomes the enemy of the betrayed.

Father, help us to quit vacillating and embrace the hope of Heaven, the desires of the Lover of Our Soul. Help us to align ourselves with the ambitions of our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Transform our will to yours, Maker, Savior, and Lord, that we would walk in our union as lovers, Happily Wed.

- Micah McElveen

Only God // Micah

 

One of the functions my role at Vapor Ministries involves is stakeholder development. I help connect people with our mission, which plays out in poverty stricken environments, in ways that Meet Needs & Feed Souls. With that I live squarely between two very different worlds. Often I have sat in a rickety tin shanty, holding the undernourished child of a destitute mother, on a Monday only to be hosted in a well furnished home, discussing the endeavors of an established entrepreneur, by Wednesday.

With modern advancements the distance between third-world environments and first-world settings have substantially closed and yet, at times, it seems the chasm is larger than ever. It is heavy to feel the weight two parties carry, see how they could enrich each-other, but with so much on the line fail to make the connect. Bringing the two together in healthy and impactful ways is the job of an advocate and yet my inadequacies complicate the already difficult task.

While being positioned between the two worlds can be deeply unsettling, for every discouraging encounter there comes an entirely liberating one. One in which, it seems a different force is at work. Two groups aren’t trying to adjoin alone, a third superior presence is forging a meaningful union. In times like these amazing breakthroughs occur as strangers are moved to lay their lives down to serve each other. Oh the wonder of the moment! When an other worldly love pours into the open hearts of yielded people who in turn make room for those in need. My soul is deeply stirred when Worlds are brought together as heaven settles on earth.

Yes, part of my role is to “close the gap,” to function as a bridge between radically different places that desperately need each other. But I have come to realize it is futile to pursue a heavenly call in the effort man can produce. Instead, I along with all of God’s children, am invited to pursue the good of man and glory of Christ in a strength much greater than that produced by man. This greater power comes from Only God.

John 6:7&11 “Philip replied, ‘Even if we worked for months, we wouldn't have enough money to feed them!’... Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.”

Deuteronomy 8:17-18a "Be careful not to say, 'My own ability and skill have gotten me this wealth.’ You must remember the LORD your God, for He is the one who gives ability to get wealth…"

I John 3:16-17 “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God's love be in that person?”

- Micah McElveen

Here As It Is... // Micah

Every once in a while we catch a glimpse of how things were meant to be, how they will one day be. A moving gesture, a restorative interaction, a perfect moment plays out and we think, “This is how it could be.” You see, we were made with capacity to both perceive what is wrong and long for a day when all things will be right. After all, we were made for earth yet designed for heaven.

This reality has been strongly impressed on my heart this week. My wife and I began it in Haiti with a gathering of Vapor Ministries leaders from Africa, Haiti and the US. This eclectic collection of Christ followers, all committed to restorative work in poverty rich places, gathered at our regional center in Haiti. Representatives from 15 distinct tribes and over 20 languages convened for a worship, training, and cross pollination event. It was other worldly. At one point I caught a glimpse of Heaven come down as Revelations 7:9 principally unfolded before us. Passionate Multi-Lingual worship broke out in this multi-ethnic gathering. We were all focused on the Worthy Lamb who came to make all things new and is now ushering in a new heaven and new earth. In that moment Heaven bent low as intense praise burst forth in one of the most unlikely places, a third world environment actively being made new. It was magical.

I have learned to cherish and pursue moments like these. Moments where the values of Heaven control the atmosphere and Christ’s presence is chiefly prized. Moments where we see Him high and lifted up yet coming down. As we reflect today on His first coming I pray we commit afreash to ushering in His second coming by pursuing his mission. May we join Him in making it “here as it is... in Heaven.”

Revelation 7:9-10 “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. They were shouting with a great roar. Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”


Mathew 6:10 “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

- Micah McElveen