Monday, November 7, 2011

What Do you Do

This is usually one of the first questions when we meet someone new and we're introducing ourselves. Name, where we live, what we do. I've had a couple conversations with people lately about how what we do is not who we are. Our vocation should not define us. Sure, our jobs give us an opportunity to use our gifts for God's purpose, but I don't think we always look at it this way. Too often we look at it as a way to earn money to pay the bills so that on the weekends, we can do what really fulfills us. Spending time with friends. Traveling to new places. Laughing over a glass of wine.

The point I'm trying to make with this is that our lives are so fleeting, we're here and then we're gone, that instead of focusing so much on what we do I believe we should be focusing on who we are. Who God has created us to be. What are those qualities about us that make us special, unique, that God wants to use for His glory. I really enjoy listening to people, getting to know their story. I find myself doing this at different points during my day. I think when we listen to people, when we ask questions and take a genuine interest, we are validating their lives. I want to do more of that. That is part of who I am that is far more important than what I do.

Psalm 90:1-12 talks about how quickly our lives fade away. Verse 12 says this:
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
Our lives are brief. I think we grow in wisdom when we realize this and we desire not to waste them by focusing on things that are out of our control. I desire to grow in wisdom, which develops who I am and therefore flows into what I do. It shouldn't be the other way around.

Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
What a beautiful way to start that passage! He has been our home. He is the place we return to. I think about how important my earthly home is, something that is made or wood and stone. It's the place I'm truly myself, I relax, breathe deep, and find complete peace. I can only imagine what it would be like to experience that with my Father. We can experience that here on earth. He is our home. He is who we are.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I don't want to be a Pharisee

Today I was reading Matthew 23:1-12 where Jesus is instructing the people to listen to the instructions of the religious leaders but not to follow what they do. He said they make religious burdens too heavy to bear but then do nothing to help the people. I guess you could say that I'm a religious leader in a way. I'm a seminarian, as one of my instructors reminded me last night. I think that's a pretty fancy word for saying I'm in graduate school studying ministry. But I am, I am a seminarian, and with that comes the responsibility and the call to share the message of the Gospel. But it has to be more than that. I can't just share the message, I have to live the message. And with that I need to evaluate everyday how I am doing that and how I am not doing that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To be frustrated and humbled

First off- I can't imagine a life apart from Christ. A life where my existence and my happiness and my joy are based off so many things that are out of my control. Where I don't know where to turn when I'm angry, frustrated, scared, depressed, exhausted, angry. Don't get me wrong- I have experienced (sometimes all in one day) all of those emotions and walking with Christ doesn't mean I experience them any less. The thing that separates me from those not walking with Him, what separates believers from non-believers, is that when I'm faced with situations that produce those emotions I am reminded to lay them at the cross and seek His face for answers. The answers might not come in the time frame that I would like, but I can trust that He is at work and that He will produce a good work in me through trusting and being obedient to Him.

Tonight I was frustrated. It's frustrating to see people you love so much searching for answers and know that THE answer, the only answer, is a relationship with Jesus. He's not a magic wand, He won't make the babies stop crying or the bills stop coming, but the peace and freedom they could experience in Him would be beyond the temporary joy they might feel now. And yet when I want to present that answer to them, or something similar to that, I get cut off. Dismissed. Ignored. And in turn that frustrates me. But once the dust dies down I am humbled. I am humbled because I know that once again answers will come but perhaps, once again, not in my time. And in the mean time I am called to love these people, all people, and model true servant leadership that puts the needs of others before myself. That does not keep a record of wrongs but loves despite them. And so I continue to love and listen. And be patient. And that's where I am tonight.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To be broken

I'm not a crier. A person who cries. And yet when I am broken wide open I can't keep the tears from coming. I try to bite my lip thinking that will stop it. It doesn't. I try to distract myself by thinking about something I need to do- grocery shopping, laundry, whatever- but somehow I am reminded, probably by the Holy Spirit, that in this moment I need to just release the perceived control I have on my life and allow Jesus to take total control and if that means losing control and crying like a small child, so be it.

Have you ever felt really insignificant? In my desire to live a life of purpose and be used for the Kingdom I frequently find myself at the crossroads of purpose and confusion. My dad used to tell me that if I was just going to stand around watching, at least stand where the workers wouldn't see me. I like being used. I want to be used to greatly, and so today when I found myself staring straight ahead at the purpose I feel so deeply called to in my heart I felt nothing but insignificance and brokeness. How, Lord Jesus, could you use a broken, messed up, selfish person like me to bring honor and glory to Your name? How could you use me to love people the way You love people? How could You use me to teach people what it means to find freedom in You? It's like asking me to teach Greek to PhD students- are you crazy? I know nothing on the subject! But yet everyday You call me to live a life that reflects Your love and grace and mercy and forgiveness and peace and to teach these things to the people I come in contact with. The people my life rubs up against. What an unimaginable task.

I question the moves that I make. I question my words and my actions and my heart. I don't want to make a false move- and yet the Spirit is so much stronger than my weaknesses. How great are You to use me, broken and flawed me, for Your mighty purpose.

"So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Romans 7: 4-6

The Jews were held captive by the law and no matter what they did, they could not experience true freedom by simply living according to the law. When I try to live according to the law, whether that be the law of society, of myself, of the expectations I put on myself- then I am bound to a law that takes away my freedom in Christ. I serve in a new way- the way of the Spirit- knowing and trusting that He is doing a work through me that I often cannot see or know or understand. Knowing that it is only through falling more and more in love with my Savior everyday that His ways would shine through my life and that His story would be seen working in me.

Father I desire to suffer for the Gospel. It was through Your suffering and Your victory that I can experience life with You. Suffering isn't easy- brokenness isn't either. But in everything I do may I desire to suffer so that the Gospel might be advanced. Use me up for Your glory. By the power of the name of Jesus Christ.