Friday, January 7, 2011

Better Than Fried Rice?

I’m a sucker for a free lunch, so a few years ago, when a colleague of mine asked me to join him at a local Chinese restaurant, I was all in. The catch was that he was entertaining a couple from Kenya, Africa and he wanted me and a few others to meet them. Meeting new people is always intriguing but honestly… chicken fried rice and an egg roll was the real draw for me.

When we arrived at the table, I noticed that our guests were very quiet. They were pleased with the restaurant choice and the people who gathered to meet them, but they seemed a bit shy. Edward, my colleague at ABC, got the conversation started. “Charles, tell us about your orphanage in Kenya. How did it all start?” Charles began talking quietly and humbly. Passion grew in his voice the more he talked about how God had led him to use his entire wealth to begin an orphanage for street kids abandoned because of AIDS and violence. For the next hour, Charles Mulli told us story after story of God’s incredible provision in the lives of hundreds of abandoned kids. His stories were riveting and were filled with faith, miracles, and joy. About three bites into my egg roll, I got a deep sense that I was in the presence of someone very significant—someone significant to the care and spiritual welfare of many in the Kingdom of God. As I soaked in this opportunity to hear of God’s miraculous work, my egg roll became less and less important. I was being blessed far beyond chicken fried rice.

Have you ever been in the presence of greatness and not realized it until later? Perhaps someone had to point out someone famous to you. “Hey, do you know who’s here?” they ask. You respond, “Really? Here? No kidding!” When I read Psalm 96, I wonder if the songwriter is saying this about God. “Hey, do you know who’s here? It’s God. Did you notice? He’s here!” Throughout the psalm, the writer implores his readers to sing, to declare, to worship, and to ascribe to the Lord. In essence, the songwriter is saying to take note that God is present. He’s here and he wants to be known as the God of the Universe.

Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Psalm 96.2-5

Did you notice the Psalmist points out a distraction—something much less important? The nations were filled with “nothings” (a Hebrew translation for idols). Nothings. Things of vanity. Idols. Other gods. Fried rice? Distractions from the reality of someone special is present.

Is there anything distracting you this week from fully experiencing God? You know, many of the things that distract us from fully knowing God are usually not bad things. They only become idols when they take a higher importance than our pursuit of God. Remember today, God is here, he wants to be known and wants you to declare his goodness and greatness.

This week's author- Phil Niekerk, senior small groups pastor

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