My favorite book of the Bible is the book of Acts. I believe the book of Acts gives all of us the exact example we are looking for from God in regards to how we are supposed to live in a broken world - how we are supposed to be willing to give up everything for the purposes of God - how we are supposed to step out in blind faith trusting that God will provide - how we are supposed to keep coming back even after we are beaten and fall down. My favorite story in Acts shows how God often uses 'fools' of the world to shame the wise and allow God's glory to be known.
My favorite disciple in all of the Bible is Paul. In my opinion, Paul probably had the single biggest effect on the spread of the gospel throughout the nations and his story is told in detail in the book of Acts. He lived a life that I strive to live each day not by what I say, but by how God empowers me to live. However, Paul was not always the great disciple Paul. Paul was an extraordinary sinner. In fact his name was first known as Saul and he had a strong reputation for taking bold stands against Christianity - he in fact started out as a murderer of people who professed faith in Jesus.
Then one day the Lord appeared to Saul and called him out for his sin against God's people. God placed scales on Saul's eyes making him blind. Soon after this God sent a man named Ananias to place his hands on Saul's eyes. The scales were removed and Saul's sight was restored. From this point on God used Saul, who was later renamed Paul, to spread the Gospel across the nations.
What has always fascinated me about the story of Paul was that God took away his sight and then restored it, allowing him to see the world differently. I often asked the question why his sight? Why not his ability to walk, his ability to hear or why not just perform some great miracle for him to believe? As I pondered these questions I began to look at my own life and I noticed my own blindness. Maybe I was not the Saul who did not believe in God, but I had been the Saul who was blind to God and his purposes for my life. Slowly God began to remove those scales from my eyes and my world would never be the same. I am still blind in many areas of my life where God is working or calling me too, but every time I sit down to pray since studying the book of Acts I try to end all my prayers with the following: God please give me the eyes to see what you see and my heart to break for what breaks yours.”
I used to see Kingdom Hoops / All Iowa Attack by the end results on the bracket boards, the trophies that surrounded the gym, and the number of players we helped to get to play college basketball. I used to see my own personal success on how much money I had in my Orange Savings Account. I used to see my worth on the assets that I possessed. Then my life changed when I opened my Bible and began to pray that God would remove the scales from my own eyes.
AND THIS IS WHAT I SAW THIS PAST WEEKEND AT THE HAWKEYE SHOOTOUT -
I saw a swimming pool full of boys and girls from the spectrum of farm communities to the inner city, laughing and playing together.
I saw a young man who once gave me great joy if he simply said "hi" to me, laughing and smiling as he did cannon balls into the swimming pool.
I saw another young man play with poise throughout the weekend despite his Dad showing up to watch him play, when just a year ago we completely lost him emotionally for about six months when his Dad showed up to this same tournament.
I saw a girl become one of the leaders of a team that despised her just less than six months ago because of my decision to have her replace one of their most liked teammates that had decided to leave the program in the fall.
I saw a young man begin to understand just what God may be calling him to after years of failure and unwillingness to listen.
I saw five guys on Friday night that had the opportunity to be part of the Hawkeye vs. Cyclone rivalry. I remember these young men reaching for this goal just a few years before, and now they have an incredible platform to be used.
I saw a team come together that has been made up of three teams that never really saw eye to eye on the basketball court and who come from drastically different backgrounds.
I saw a spirit and glow in young lives as they walked onto the floor of Carver Hawkeye Arena preparing for the championship games.
I saw two boys on a team hug after a semifinal win who just four months ago would warm up as far away from each other as possible.
I saw God working in a program that has such a bigger purpose than just basketball.
And yes I did see those three championships :).
I returned home on Sunday night to another week but then I saw -
God working in a good friend's life.
I saw 18 Kingdom Hoops players playing in the high school game of the week.
I saw God working in my life.
In a single picture emailed to me I saw God confirming everything he is calling us to do to help change lives. I saw two kids who were not long ago searching for answers in a third world country accomplish an awesome goal at their junior college.
I saw a two year battle with the United States Embassy in Ghana lead to a 55 second interview for the approval of our next host student that will attend Pella Christian.
When I saw these things over this past week, I saw God.
Have a great week.