Three Cups of Tea

Monday, February 23, 2009

Greg Mortenson was moved by the kindness of the poor village people in the Pakistan mountains after he became lost on a climbing trip in 1993. He vowed to return and build a school to educate the children there. Over the next decade he built sixty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He shares his experiences in the book Three Cups of Tea. Greg sacrificed much and learned many life lessons during those years.

He tells of a valuable lesson he learned while building a school in Korphe. The villagers had to work hard as a team in order to build a school. The large boulders had been blasted into chunks of stones that were then taken to masons. Masons would shape the stones into bricks. The women in the village carried water to mix cement, and even the children helped by putting slivers of stone in the gaps between the bricks. It really did take a village to build the school. Throughout each step, Greg monitored the activities urging everyone to keep pushing forward. The school walls were going up steadily, but nothing was proceeding fast enough for Greg.

Then Greg’s mentor and the Chief of Korphe, Haji Ali, took Greg on a long walk that ended with tea. The Chief told Greg that he must respect the ways of the Pakistanis if he wanted to thrive there. “With the first cup of tea, you are a stranger. With the second…a friend. With the third cup of tea, you are family.” Greg said this was the most important lesson he had ever learned in his life. “We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly… Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationship as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them.”

Isn’t that sound advice for all of us? I want to strive to …

Slow down – “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Build relationships – “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

Learn from others – “Listen closely, pay attention to the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge.” Proverbs 22:17

In his beautiful song "Be Still and Know," Steve Curtis Chapman reminds us to “let the noise and clamor cease” and worship God. I want to do this over a few cups of (green) tea!

Click here to enjoy "Be Still and Know" -


Monday, February 16, 2009

In his book Fireproof Your Life, Michael Catt uses the sequoia tree as a metaphor for a fireproof life. The sequoia stands as a giant in the forest. Over hundreds of years these hearty trees develop many layers of bark that fortify them against the elements of nature. The bark is two feet thick around the tree. The tree’s branches reach eight to ten feet, and its deep roots keep it strong enough to weather fires and snowstorms. But after a fire, the sequoia might smolder for six to twelve months from the “pain” that pierced the bark.

Catt remembers something Dr. Jerry Vines said in a sermon about the three Hebrew children in Daniel 3 who stood firm in their faith against Nebuchadnezzar. Vines said “They wouldn’t bow. They wouldn’t bend. They wouldn’t burn.”

In this story King Nebuchadnezzar built a huge golden statue and commanded all the people to bow down and worship it. Anyone who didn’t obey would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Three children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, loved God and were dedicated to worshipping only him. When they wouldn’t bow down to the golden statue, the king had them thrown into the furnace. An unusual thing happened though. The Lord appeared with them and protected them. The only thing burned was the cords that had been tied around them Astonished, the king blessed their God and said no one could speak against the God of the Hebrew children.

These children were fireproof. They didn’t bow to the culture around them. They didn’t bend their beliefs to be politically correct. They didn’t burn when challenged by the fires around them. They kept their faith and God remained faithful to them.

God has promised to be with us when we face the fires.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the water,I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Isaiah 43:1-3

Through the power of the Holy Spirit we too can withstand the “fires” that come into our lives. We must be strong like the sequoias and surround ourselves with the “bark” of prayer, Bible study, Christian friends, and worship. We must stand firm like the Hebrew children and vow not to bow or bend or burn when we face trials. Then we can be fireproof too!

Ultimate Valentine

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine’s Day began as a Roman pagan holiday before a Roman Catholic pope made it a Christian feast day in the 5th Century. There were three early Christian saints with the name Valentine, and it is unclear which one of them was honored with this occasion. All three saints were said to have been martyred on February 14th.

It was not until the 14th Century during the Middle Ages that the celebration was associated with love. People in England and France believed that birds started to look for their mate beginning on February 14th. For this reason the day was linked with lovers and became a time to celebrate by exchanging love letters and tokens.

Today we typically recognize our loved ones on Valentine’s Day with gifts, flowers, cards, and candy. It is a time to express our love for others.

The Bible tells the story of the greatest love of all, the love that God has for all of his children.

Ephesians 3:17-19
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

It is hard to fathom how big God’s love for us is. He loved us so much that he sacrificed his own son for us. God is the ultimate valentine as seen in John 3:16.

For God so loved the world.
That he gave
His only
that whosoever
Believes In Him
Should not perish,
But have everlasting life.

Give this love note to someone for Valentine’s Day this year!

Deo Volente

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Deo Volente is a Latin phrase meaning Lord Willing, or as we say in the South, “Lord willin’.” The Puritans used this phrase to acknowledge their desire to seek God’s will in their lives as seen in James 4:15.

Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.”

Two centuries later, the Methodists used "Deo Volente" in their conversations and correspondence to connect their intentions with God’s will. Some would write the initials D. V. at the end of their letters.

How do we know the Lord’s will though?

In his classic book, The Will of God, Dr Leslie Weatherhead offers a road map to discerning God’s will. First, he urges that the greatest help is available when we “deepen our friendship” with him. Then he describes six “signposts” that give us some direction.

1. Conscience – We can listen to that still, small voice that helps us to know right from wrong.

2. Common Sense – We can base decisions on a sense of good judgment after giving thoughtful consideration to a situation.

3. Advice of a Friend – It is often good to seek wise counsel from a trusted friend who has a keen Christian insight.

4. Great Literature – At first I found this to be a curious inclusion.; however, I realize that I have often used examples found in the classics, biographies, and histories to teach a moral lesson to students. Heroes and villains, past and present, can teach us much about choices and consequences.

5. Voice of the Church – Through study and fellowship with Christian believers we find comfort and guidance as we seek God’s will.

6. “Inner Light” – Weatherhead finds merit in the Quaker practice of seeking God’s Inner Light by listening for God to speak. Certainly, a time of meditation and prayer, followed by a time to listen to God, is crucial in discerning God’s will.

These signposts offer useful tools to be used in combination as we seek to determine God’s will when we get to the crossroads. We can rest assured that God wants us to follow him and will guides us right at the time we need him. It’s also comforting to know that he can even weave our mistakes into his plan. For many of us, the hardest part comes in the doing of God’s will more than the discerning of God’s will.

Romans 12:2 teaches, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Try using “Deo Volente” in your conversations and correspondence this week and see the reactions you get!

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