Saturday, June 25, 2011

He Cares

“MYAH!” I (Jen) screamed as our sweet-but-incredibly-daring 2-year-old stepped off the sidewalk, about to place her foot on the street. I wouldn’t have shouted quite so loudly had I known that the speeding car I heard from behind me had actually not turned onto our street. The coast was clear and she was safe, but I had to be sure. Admittedly, I sometimes wish my personality did not have such a strong cautious streak. I strive not to be an “overly” protective parent. I don’t want to shield my children from what they need to learn. On the other hand, I do not want to carelessly place them in danger, ill-equipped for what may lie ahead.

In our community group this week, I shared something of my fears for my children with this transition we are encountering as a family. It’s not just a physical protectiveness for their safety that wells up in me and too often turns to worry. But rather, a deep-seated desire for their overall well-being. After I voiced this as a prayer concern, my wise brother Trent said that perhaps the sense of protection and care I feel toward my children is evidence of how the Lord cares for His children. God has put that in us as a reflection of the deep concern He has for us. Trent said it better than that, but it really struck me. Mainly, I realized in that moment that I had “forgotten” how much God cares for me. And that any worry or fear I might have is erased in the knowledge and understanding of His love for His children. Please feel free to remind me of that in the coming weeks. I may have a tendency to forget…God loves us. He desires what is best. He is perfectly capable of watching over us—and our children. So, this week I pray that we—and you—take daring steps to follow freely the Father who loves us so deeply.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Movement

Isaiah 56:1-3 - The Lord says, "Be just and fair to all, do what is right and good. For I am coming to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you. Blessed are they who do this. Blessed are those who keep the sabbath day holy and keep themselves from doing wrong. Do not let the foreigner who commits his way to the Lord say, 'The Lord will never allow me to be part of His people.' And do not let the eunuch say, 'I am a dried up tree with no children and no future."

When St. Patrick began evangelizing Ireland, he said, "I want the one who visits us to observe more of a movement than an institution, with small provisional buildings of wood and mud, a movement featuring laity more than clergy. We want it to be more imaginative and less cerebral, closer to nature and its creatures. A place that emphasizes the immanence of Christ and the providence of God rather than His transcendence."

This passage of scripture is one that I have been memorizing and meditating on this past week. Through this step of faith that we are taking as a family, I have had a new appreciation and longing to be close to God and in His word. As I meditated on these verses this week, I noticed a few things that have challenged me and thought I would share them with you.
1. What we are to do as God's people is simple and not rocket science.
~He simply wants us to be just and fair and do what is right and good.
~He then wants us to simply do what He does. The very first thing God did after creation was rest. All through the scriptures, God gives us an example and He simply says do this... Do what I do.
~Keep life simple... don't make it harder than it has to be.
2. Live among people
~He talks about the two extremes of people in the Jewish culture.
a. The Eunuch - the most devoted to Christ and the one who sacrificed the most for Christ
b. The Foreigner- the one who was not accepted because he was deemed detestable
~Both are accepted in God's eyes and have just as much right to the inheritance of the kingdom. Do you treat all people that way?
3.Living among people provides opportunity to serve and love.
~Both examples are found questioning things about how God views them and what their future looks like. They are both wrestling with purpose and acceptance. When we live among people, doing what is just and fair, and what is right and good, and living like Christ lived, people will come to us with life's tough questions and we can point them to the hope that lies in the next verses of Isaiah 56. Read it for yourself.

As I think and pray about what our future holds, I get excited amidst the fear because we are hopefully stepping into something that is not just something we do, but it is a movement that helps all people see that there is a hope and a future. Read God's word. Pray for us in this transition. Live among people and follow Christ's example.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Just Want To Be Like You

Have you ever been around someone you wanted to be like? Someone you watched and you wanted to get to know and be more like? The more you watched them the more you grew confident that you wanted to be just like them and do what they did? It didn't matter if the people around you were doing it or not or even what they may think about you, you were willing to do what they did. The people you want to be like are usually set apart by a few distinct qualities: they are passionate, hard-working, and want others to get involved.

Why do I bring this up you may ask. Well, it has to do with the picture at the top. It is Silas at Bible School this week and he is sitting in the large group time that was led by some of the 6th graders. When he came home he was always so pumped about the songs he learned and the motions they taught him. He started the week by just watching with wide eyes, then Tuesday it was doing a few of the motions and songs at home, to Wednesday and Thursday he was up and doing the motions with the group. Then Friday he was debating about going up when they asked for volunteers. What a transformation of attitude that was all based on those who were on the stage. The 6th graders had worked hard for the last few months learning the songs and motions, they were passionate and excited about what they were doing, and they were constantly challenging those watching to get involved. Today ended with Silas saying, "I should have gone up on the stage, I won't have another chance cause VBS is over."

Here's the takeaway: I was challenged this week by my son to live for Christ passionately, to work hard at everything we do, and encourage others to get involved. It would be a shame to live out this new adventure and at some point find myself saying, "I wish I would have done more, but now its too late." When I live like this, I hope people will want to follow and imitate me. And if I am imitating Christ then they too will be imitating Christ and that is our one hope and prayer as we go on this adventure.

1 Cor. 11:1 - "And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ."

Eph. 5:1 - "Imitate God, Therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children."

Thanks Silas for continuing to teach me so much about life.

Happy Birthday Jen!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Invitation

As we sat on the floor this week sticking labels and stamps on envelopes, I joked with Dave that it felt like we were sending out wedding invitations all over again. The thought came back to me as I was stuffing the letters into the blue slot at the post office yesterday. Actually, this whole thing of sending out support letters is a lot more like wedding invitations than I first realized. I still remember how Dave and I (eight years ago) made lists of who to send invitations to. And then we added to the lists and then we added some more. We were excited to have them a part of the ceremony, but more than that we wanted the people we knew well and loved to be a part of this new life we were beginning together. And the wedding was just that--a beginning. That ceremony was a mere 25 minutes, but this marriage is still going strong!! So it is with support letters for this new missionary life we are starting. The leg-work of writing the letter and taking the picture and labeling the envelopes is just the beginning. As we stuck each address on an envelope, we talked about and prayed for the people who would receive it. We are excited for people to not just hear about what God is doing, but we want the people who know and love us to be a part of this journey and be blessed by what God does. In my little logistical mind that loves checking things off lists, it was great to see the stacks of letters stuffed and to seal them up and to mail them off. But in my heart that is still learning to trust God, it was a big week of faith. Believing that God will provide, realizing this is His journey that we are on, releasing my drive to work it all out, and trusting the US postal service to deliver letters...that was the real work of this week! We hope you read the letter and enjoy the picture. But we pray God shows you how to trust Him more and follow Him deeper. It's harder to check off those kind of boxes, but that's the kind of stuff that really matters.