Thursday, October 30, 2008

for all my peers

Question:
(and please DO leave your answer in the comments section. I have a site reader and know who is reading my blog, so DO respond)

Do you think your real life relationships are changed/altered/dimished/helped/hurt by your online relationships (your facebook/blogging/skype/gchat relationships). Many relationships will have both real life and online components, but my question is if and how the online component is affecting the real life component.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Moment of Grace

This blog post is dedicated to Laura, David, Sarah, and Casey.
Laura shared something the Lord has been teaching her recently, and it didn't hit me until a few hours later how deep this truth is. My feelings to not dictate my being. When I am feeling something bad, sadness or pain, that doesn't change the fact that the Lord is good. I don't mean to diminish pain or any other feeling, but to give it its proper place in my life. It is not what decides what is true about me. The Lord decides what is true about me and His promises to His people are true whether or not we feel them. We are forgiven. We are loved. We are in Christ Jesus the apple of His eye. When Laura shared this with me, I heard it and walked away. Little did I know the Lord would deal so greatly with me today.
David and I work together in Student Association here at Westminster. And he made a comment to me yesterday that stung my heart deep in its core. Not because his comment was wrong in any way, but it was dead on right. Nor did he say it in anger or malice, but with honesty and love. What he said probably wasn't even caught by anyone else in the room, but its effect on my spirit made it obvious to me that the Holy Spirit was working this one. The Lord has been hard core convicting me of my pride, my ridiculous pride. And after a few days of looking at the ugliness in the mirror, I am ready to cry out for mercy.
So I have come to The Loft (our student hangout) to get work done. I had a long day of school and work, and instead of lying in bed and watching tv, I've decided to use my one free weeknight to get work done. As I was driving over here I was hit by the sadness of the relationships, or lack thereof in my life right now. My closest friends live the furthest, and I am feeling alone. I know people out there who love me, but here in this place right now, I have nothing to hold onto besides the pile of books I have to read.
Those were the thoughts that were running through my mind when I signed onto gmail. I saw Sarah's gchat message: "If you ever doubt God's love and patience for you, just read the Bible" Matt Chandler. And I realized, it was exactly what I needed. That's when I saw Casey's chat message: Romans5, baby, Romans5. Ok, sounds good. And that's what I read. And God is faithful. The first few verse are about how we stand in grace and worship in hope of the glory of God. That is what is true about me. My lonliness is my feeling right now. Sadness maybe. But those are not what is my being, who I am. I am fully justified, standing before God, worshiping Him in the beauty of His glory. Because that is His promise to me, and His promises are true no matter what I feel. Amen.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Discipleship

I just checked out from the public library Deitrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. It's one of those books that I have had on my to read list for years and yet never had the time to get to it. Even in the first chapter I find myself drawn to this man who suffered and died to live out the Gospel among his own people. He was a German pastor during the Third Reich and he stood against the Nazis. Even when his friends offered to get him out of the country, he stayed believing that his duties as a pastor and a leader in the country required him to suffer with his people. He died in a concentration camp just days before liberation.
I have been thinking about discipleship a lot recently. Partly because my internship with Jews for Jesus is directly related to discipling their interns. Partly because it has been of particualr interest to me over the past few years. And mostly because no matter how academic I get, it comes down to what the Lord is doing in my own heart. I cannot pretend to be above the Lord's correction in my life. Goodness no. Indeed this past week I have been confronted by the Holy Spirit about my overwhelming fear of man. He is so good and faithful to not let me go on my own. But instead His hand is always gently correcting me and calling me to repent and turn to Him.
So what is discipleship? First we need to know, what is a disciple of Christ? The most basic answer is one who follows Christ, who is being conformed into His image. This concept is so richly tied into all the beautiful biblical theology I have loved over the last year. Adam was created in the image of God. He was above all the other creation, was created to be God's representative here on earth, stewarding the rest of His creation. But as we know, Adam failed and humanity fell into a rebellious animal-like state, no longer truly reflecting the beautiful image of God to all of creation. But Christ is changing that. He was the new Adam, the perfect one who lived sinless and died for the sins of those chosen in Him before the foundation of the earth. And for what we were chosen? Just for heaven? Just to be "saved" from hell? NO! Well, yes, but that and SO MUCH MORE! We were chosen to be new creations in Christ, to do good works through the power of His Spirit alive in us, and to be that image that reflects his beauty here on earth. Adam was created in the image of God, and now through the power of the Holy Spirit, by the blood of Jesus we can live as his images.
How does this educate us on the issue of discipleship? Disciples are those who are being conformed into the image of Christ. Colossians tell us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and we read in Romans 8 that we have been chosen to be conformed unto His image. What does this look like? This has been the question I have spent the past few weeks reflecting on. The more I think about it, the more I think it has everything to do with relationships. Every fruit of the Spirit named in Galatians deals directly with our relationship with either God or another person. There is no fruit that is experienced outside of relationship. Even the two greatest commands that Jesus summed up the whole of the Law in are directly dealing with these two kinds of relationships. So a disciple of Christ is someone in relationships. And not just with God, but with the body of Christ and humanity as a whole. I think a disciple of Christ loves others with a heart brimming over with joy. A disciple of Christ considers others above himself, and yet rests confidently in the peace of God. There is a gentleness in disciples of Christ. There is hope that flows through every action of a disciple of Christ. In our western culture, with our intense love for knowledge, have we replaced these qualities with bible trivia skills? I would never discourage anyone from studying the bible, but how do we measure spiritual maturity? How do we judge someone's relationship (or our own for that matter) with God? Is it based on how many bible stories we can quote? Is it how often we go to church? Or is it seeing the depth of a person's desire to serve the lowliest? I think someone's spiritual maturity is harder to measure than just how many bible studies they have completed. A disciple of Christ will be seen by their love for their brothers. The Lord is working this out in my heart, and in the process I am seeing more and more His Spirit transforming my life, breaking me over and over again and reforming me into His image. Wow, He is amazing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

a new "do"








So, here some pics I promised some of ya'all. I dyed my hair on Sunday and got it cut on Monday. I'm used to the change (since I have dyed it since 7th grade) but wts people aren't and its been amusing to see the guys react to it. Some of them notice right away and some of them stare for a moment, cock their heads to the side with a confused look on their face, and then finally ask me if I changed my hair. Amusing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

There isn't much to say these days. Life is moving along and work is keeping me busy. I am finding myself appreciating lots of little things. The leaves turning into deep reds, oranges, and yellows put me in a reflective mood. Not contemplative. I love the season. I forgot how much I loved it until last week when suddenly the air got cool, the sun began to set earlier, and sidewalks where littered with brightly colored leaves. I think others who have grown up in this season filled land have learned to look forward to different seasons. They live through the spring, knowing it leads through summer, and the summer to fall, fall to winter, and of course the cold of winter eventually gives way to the budding roses of spring. But I don't think that way. The coming of a new season is a shocker to me. I suddenly notice that everything around me is different. And everytime I walk out the door I see the changes and I wonder at them. I never ceased to be amazed at the beauty. What a beautiful God we must have if all this beauty around us is a reflection of Him.

An Autumn Poem

See how the colors change,

How brighter greens roll to dark reds

inciting a passion deeper than our hearts can hold.

See how breath is caught in the chest,

crying to come forth in sighs of sadness,

hoping for the warm winds of the past.

Crisp air hits the skin of lovers

who lie cheek to cheek

clinging to each other in the fading light.

- Anonymous

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One of my favorite things is when a dear friend of mine speaks into my life the very words I have spoken to her time and time again. It amazes me how easily I forget the awesome graces of our Lord. I had one of these moments a few nights ago. I was talking to a friend who I have walked with through many tears in the past year. This time I came to her and confessed my own doubts of the Lord's faithfulness to provide. All I saw in front of me was fate deciding my life and my own passive acceptance of this path. But she reminded me of the Lord's condesencion into this world of ours. His promise that He is with us today and tomorrow. And His mighty sovereign hand that holds all the earth together.
I've been contemplating the pain of love not returned. With many of my friends starting relationships I find myself content where I am, but contemplating where I am not. I am not in a relationship. I am not in a marriage. Even though I do not feel it right now, I am alone. Not in any cosmic sense, but then again lonliness is rarely actual cosmic solitude. Instead it is the feeling that no one is with you in a deeper sense. No one understands you. No one "gets" you. And I am there, but I don't feel that despair that often comes with such a situation.
But back to the point, I have been contemplating lost love. What does God know about the pain that comes from a love unreturned? I'm young and fairly unexperienced. I haven't lived long enough to know much, but one of the few things I have learned over the past few years is the pain of love unreturned. When you feel so much for someone and they can't return it with anything satisfactory. The pain and humiliation. The questions that follow. Why not? What am I missing? The gross desire to change into someone else, someone who might merit the love you can't seem to get.
But, as my friend reminded me, God does get this one. While He might not desire to change and He doesn't question His own perfection, He understands the pain and humiliation of a love rejected. His love for Israel ran deep and is often described as the love a husband has for his wife. Israel was not only the object of God's love, but He actually created her for Him. Yet Israel in the grossest way rejected God. He loved her. He loved her even in her painful rejection. He loved her so much that He came down to her and suffered and died for her.
Now my own pain and feelings of rejection are no where near what God has suffered through with Israel. But I can see through my own pain the shadow of the depth of God's pain. And it amazes me to know that this Lord over all the universe has been here, he's been here in pain and suffering. He is no stranger to the lowside of being human. And yet, He loves perfectly. There is no bitterness in Him, no jealousy. And He calls us to be faithful to Him, to be conformed to Him, to be bearers of His image. What a God we serve!

Monday, October 13, 2008

ramblings that could have been posts

A few blog posts I wish I had time to write (and maybe will find the time in the future):
Obama as a demi- god and my fear that we are setting him up for failure in the way we place all our hopes in him.
Reading Mother Theresa and pondering the anthropological theology she presents in her writings.
My heart is in a new place and I wonder how much of letting some old dreams die has to do with the moving on.
Learning a lot about discipleship and the Lord is walking with me in discovering what it truly means to be a disciple of Christ.
Loving my Missions Anthropology class and even though it requires an insane amount of work, it is everything I thought my program in Urban Missions would be.
Hablo Espanol todos los dias ahora que vivo con una familia Peruana... y me encanta.
I have been feeling so loved and so blessed this past week.
The Lord has shown me again and again this week how weak my faith is, how easily I am rocked by the waves of this life. And yet, He remains faithful!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

some Augustine for thought...

"You stir us up to take delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless till it finds its rest in you"