Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Living Free

"If God is God at all, he must know more about our needs than we do; if God is God at all, he must be more in touch with the reality of our thoughts, our emotions, our bodies than we are; if God is God at all, he must have a more comprehensive grasp of the interrelations in our families, communities, and nations than we do." -- Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

The excerpt above comes from the fantastic book I am working through with my discipleship group here at Auburn. I am loving this book because it is thought-provoking and contains inescapable truths gleaned from the "Psalms of Ascent" in the Bible. I have been living in the Psalms as-of-late and have found this second read of Peterson's book to be so helpful. I encourage you to grab a copy today. You can find used and new copies online.

This particular excerpt comes from the chapter on service. The beautiful thing about the way Peterson thinks is that he always surprises you. His chapter on service (and Psalm 123) is more about freedom than anything else. He speaks a lot about how we as Christians talk about freedom, but not many people "feel or act free" (65). Why is this? Why do we continually allow ourselves to be enslaved by other people or things (legalism, money, etc.)?

One of my favorite hymns is "Make Me a Captive, Lord" by George Matheson. It is not a hymn you hear everyday, but the words speak right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian is to be held captive only to Christ and not to the thousand other people and things that seek to enslave us. The first line says it all, "Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free."

I long to be held captive only by Christ and to really live free. Free from so much concern about what others think. Free from legalism. Free from the temptation to judge or compare myself to others. Free from the idea that I am somehow Lord of my own life or that I have all the answers. Free to live fully in the knowledge that God is God and I am not and that is a good thing. This is what God desires for me and for you. I pray each day we move a step closer to the full realization that it really is "for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Cup Overflows...

I have been in Auburn for a little over four months now. I think it is safe to say that these have been some of the most amazing and most challenging days of my life. I absolutely love my job and the students I have the joy of working with each day. It has been a rich experience for me so far and I am confident the Lord led me to this place. I am reminded of that almost daily.

But...it is to leave a place like Asbury where community is practically a part of the curriculum and come to a place where I know no one. I am realizing only now what a unique place Asbury is and what a beautiful thing (imperfect as it is/was!) the community is there. I miss the friends I made there everyday.

It has been a rough road for me here personally. I have never felt loneliness the way I have felt it here. There have been many tears and many lonely nights. Outside of my job, I really know no one. I am making friends with some people in my Sunday School class, but it is a slow process.

However, in the midst of the heartache and tears (and there have been many tears...), I have encountered God in some unexpected ways. Old friends I haven't talked to in ages have randomly written and/or called me and all of my friends have been so good to me from a distance.

I have been reminded that though I know no one here, I am known. I am known by God and loved in spite of me. He delights in me and he can and will take care of me. I am known by my family and loved more than I deserve. I have the privilege and honor of knowing and being known by five of the most exceptional people in the world (and two nephews that are equally exceptional!!). May that not be lost on me. Finally, I am known and loved by people in Arkansas, Ohio, California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada, Zimbabwe and so many other places. These people encourage me daily with their prayers and love me deeply.

My cup overflows...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Praying Hands and Feet

"The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless. The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless." ~ Billy Graham

Poverty of Spirit

This week at Auburn Wesley Foundation we are deep in a season of discernment as to where God is leading us for missions in the coming year. There is a team of five students and the director who have been meeting for a number of weeks to pray about the direction we believe we should take. It is a beautiful thing to behold how this decision is approached with such tenderness, care, and prayer. I am humbled to be a part of it all and confident that God delights in such diligence in prayer.

Part of the preparation for opening up the process to the whole fellowship was a mission-oriented worship service on Sunday night. It was one of the most incredible worship services I have ever been a part of as a participant or otherwise. Two students shared about their experiences last summer in different locations (Ghana and Bolivia). Both did a beautiful job expressing what they learned, giving glory to God with each story of his faithfulness and their increase in trust. These two have remarkable depth...and now I know more of why!

One of the students shared something that provided the subject for this blog, "Poverty of Spirit." He spoke of how his experiences really stretched him in new ways and caused him to take a long hard look at himself. He read the following passage of Scripture...

"Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay." -- Psalm 40:17

He reflected on how he never really wanted for anything physically in this life. He could not relate to the people with whom he was working in their poverty and need. He realized his poverty was a "poverty of Spirit."

I didn't hear the next few things he said (sorry Joe!) because I found myself in that phrase and in Psalm 40:17. I have never wanted for anything physically, but I know what it is like to live in "poverty of Spirit." I don't want to live there, though. I want to live where the psalmist lives, in a place where all I want is for the Lord to "think of me" and know that he alone is my help, my deliverer, and all I want and need.