Thursday, September 14, 2006
"Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev. Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. Rebekah lifted up her eyes and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. She said to the servant, 'Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?' And the servant said, 'He is my master.' Then she took her veil and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.
This is the telling of when Isaac and Rebekah first met. Around 3,500 years ago, in a time and place where marriages were arranged, a story of love is shared, in spite of our idea today that any kind of arranged marriage keeps people from experiencing "true love."
Here in Genesis what is revealed is the power of God and His desire for love in a marriage relationship. The writing and imagery is very romantic, as the picture painted is of Isaac in a field meditating or strolling with his head down, waiting, thinking about what God has in store for him. He may have been contemplating of his future bride. As the account shares, while he was pacing around the field, his eyes lifted up to see camels in the distance...
Rebekah was of pure blood, a virgin untouched by men. Her life changed one day when she routinely went to get some water for her and her family. Upon arrival, a man was waiting there by the spring; this man proceeded to ask for a drink of water (since she had containers). Graciously, she provided not only for him, but also gave water to his camels as well. The man then asked her if he could stay in her household, testing Rebekah's generosity. Without hesitation on her part, she responded kindly and allowed him to join her and her family. Little did she know this all began with another man and his trust in God...
Abraham had sent his servant on a mission back to his homeland. Not wanting his son, Isaac, to marry a foreign woman, Abraham was trusting in God's promise which was made to him decades earlier: "To your descendants I will give this land." Abraham believedthat God was going to provide the proper wife for Isaac according to His promise. Here, through Abraham's faith, is where the romance began...
With Isaac's eyes lifted up, looking intently in her direction, Rebekah was approaching on her camel. As she lifted her face, her eyes connected with his for the first time. She dismounted curiously while Isaac approached them and though she did not know who he was, she inquired because there was something special about the moment. When the man told her that it was Isaac, his master, she prepared herself for what seemed to have been confirmed at first sight. She prepared herself for marriage.
After hearing how faithful God was in providing her, Isaac took Rebekah to be his bride. It all began with God's original promise. Then, because of one man's trust in God, a servant's obedience to his master, and a woman's graceful submission, God honored all of them and the marriage. At the end of the passage we as readers are given a glimpse of just how God rewards:
"and he loved her..."
A marriage will result in "true love" if arranged--by God.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
In an open plain, the clouds begin to form, lightning striking from every direction and the thunder growing louder, more intense, almost shaking the ground underneath my feet. The quaking causes me to look nervously around for a stampede of wild animals. Nothing. I shift my eyes upward, toward the sky above when the first drop falls dirctly in the middle of my forehead. It trickles down my cheek, following the same path that many tears of pain and sadness once flowed. Another, then another, then another. As the droplets hit my skin, I take notice of what they are. Not water, not rain like I know. The substance is think, dark in color. Red. Blood. At first, fear grips me, blood pouring from the sky onto every part of my body. But as I am covered, from head, down to my chest, then my stomach, then my feet, a feeling of freedom rushes over me, unlike anything I have known before. What I once lost--comfort, shelter, security--none compare to what I have found...or what found me.
Joy floods over me and I begin to dance. Covered in this blood, exposed and naked, I feel clean and deeply refreshed. Truly for the first time.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
How selfish am I?
How arrogant am I?
How boastful am I?
How self centered am I?
I believe that I really do not come close to truly experiencing the gospel in a transformational way, at least not to the point that I can recognize it and give praise to God for it. I know that the Spirit has grown me and is sanctifying me daily, so I wonder if it is just my lofty expectations that hinder my sight. I do also trust that sin in my life keeps me from knowing better the true knowledge of God. My pride stands before me, running out into the world to attack all that does not see things the way I do. He keeps me from asking questions of sincere inquiry because he wants to make sure I don't look stupid or ignorant (although this what happens when I don't ask questions). My arrogance tells me that I have little to learn and what I do know is far greater than anyone else my own age. He recounts all of my "life experience" and declares that I have learned enough. My self-inflated ego sells me as someone who can get the ladies, is an amazing leader with limitless vision, and one of the most devout Christians there ever was. He pawns a false verison of me off, deceiving the world in hopes that I will be bought by all.
But if I am honest with myself and before God, I will acknowledge that I am a slave to those traits, a slave to those characters who want to be my masters. Three of the hundreds of possible thousands of players in my life, these all shield and shelter me from the awesome, fearless, immense, magnificent, glorious power of God, which when unleashed in the lives of His children destroys all that which "protects" us from Him.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
--The key to salvation for 5th century Desert Monks
In Philippians, Paul writes that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (2:12), knowing that it is under the power of God in which we are able to do it (2:13). The truth here remains: We are to work out our salvation. As Christians, devotees to the Anointed One, our lives do not come to a culmination on that day when Christ entered hearts. Instead, it is the beginning of life, the beginning of salvation. We are saved; we are born again; we are being brought up on milk first; we are now children of God.
Yet we must still grow for the walk has just begun. This is the working out of our salvation. So when the Desert Fathers asked the Lord, "What must we do for salvation?" The response was to flee from this world, be silent, and to pray always. Solitude. Silence. Prayer.
This is the anti-movement of Christian life today. We are so busy with activities and groups and "ministry" that we rarely have time for God, just good one-on-one time with God. If there is no solitude there can be no silence. Maybe that is why we do not seek solitude--we are afraid of the silence.
To me, silence seems to be the toughest to achieve in a world where words are always spoken, horns constantly beeping, music continually playing, and commercials are annoyingly blarring. The noise is not only heard, but seen, making our eyes dart at the latest fashion, the newest technology, the fanciest color schemes--seeking to gain and keep our attention, if only for a brief moment.
Christianity seems to take this position. Churches have schedules for their services with smooth transitions, leaving no room for neither "awkward" silences nor reflective silence. From the welcome, to the music (called worship), to the video, back to the music, to the giving (where music is playing), to the preaching, to the goodbye (where music will play)--all are done smoothly and with enough noise to keep our short attention spans from wandering off to something other than our tiny gathering.
If it isn't the church service, it is the weekly schedule of work, appointments, bible studies, ministry opportunities that consistently draw us into the noise. All good things on their own and with the right perspective, but what has been enstilled in the American mentality, thus the Christian worldview that derives from it, is, "If you are not busy with something, you are not doing anything significant with your life." We are taught that if we don't burry ourselves within the noise, we will not be contributing to society.
This is our culture, American and Christian. We have become so accoustomed to the noise that if, for a brief moment complete silence surrounds us, we instantly grow uncomfortable, shifty even. We manage to fill the "void" with the noise of our minds: "What do I have to do today?" "There are so many bills I have to pay." "I wonder if we'll talk, and if we do, what do I say?" Words, songs, worries, concerns, joys, the future, the past--even writing--anything to keep silence from haunting us.
The problem is silence reminds us too much of death. No voices, no people, no responsibilities lead us to feel no importance, no significance, no meaning and if we don't feel any of these we would find it hard to live. Might as well be dead, right? Both silence and death bring us into areas where we are fully uncomfortable because the essence of each is completely unknown to us. Yet as Christians we should know better. For as death to ourselves takes us to eternal life with Christ, should not silence in the world take us to a deeper communion with God?
In both there is nothing of importance or significance or meaning--except for God Himself.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The last update was from the near beginning of Summer Project. Well that is over...haha. It was an amazing times with a lot of growth and inside jokes. If I get (or take) the time I will have to try and share some of those jokes, especially the story behind the wonderful "drink of industry" known as Sqwincher. I had a great time with the students, especially my three guys. I really think God used the relationships in that group to teach us about His love and grace. The Project really left me with a desire to grow more compassionate toward both Christians and those who do not know Christ. I am daily reminded about God's grace on my life, how I am a sinner, once was dead, but because of His great mercy and love with which He loved me, I was saved and brought into this relationship with Him. I am a child of His kingdom through the blood of Christ and live eternally with Him. And this is all by His immense grace! How crazy is that??? The Bible says that in Christ "we have received redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:7).
I must be drawn to compassion if I am ever to be effective in ministry. This is my prayer.
And now, after the Project experience, I am traveling. It has been some great times with friends, family, and partners in this ministry. I have had the time to reflect on the Project and think more about what ministry will look like at UF. I am getting excited. I hope that those of you who read this will keep praying (or begin praying) for hearts to change and grow at that school. It isn't about getting them involved in Campus Crusade; it is about them coming into God's kingdom and experiencing true love. Pray that God will use us in this, His ministry.
I hope to share more of my travels in the future.
By His Grace.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I don't get to shower much…
We live in the library...without air conditioning.
The summer heat is progressively getting worse…and we are roofing…
But MAN am I enjoying every minute of what God has me doing in Pass Christian, Mississippi !!!
I am going to admit, the days are long and the labor is tiring. I believe I knew that coming into this. What I didn't know about Summer Project was the intensity of it all. From the day I arrived two weeks ago I have been working. The 14 of us staff folk spent the first week preparing for all the students to arrive. We showed up to a library full of books and rooms that could not comfortably sleep the 43 students who were coming soon after us. But we tore down and we built up. We were able to construct 18 bunk beds in two days, build shelves for the rooms, take out all the books and the pallets that were holding them, and put together little quadrants of couches and chairs with decorations in order to make this whole place feel like home. And this was only the beginning.
The students arrived last Sunday and the intensity picked up. We now had people we were responsible for. The pressure of giving them a summer they would never forget began to become a reality. It is one that I am excited to try and provide. In the week they have been here we have sent them on a GPS scavenger hunt around town, worked with them doing construction, served in God's Katrina Kitchen (the place we eat at everyday that serves food to the entire community), prepared for the Vacation Bible School that we are going to have for kids in Pass Christian, and most importantly we have begun their spiritual development by getting to the heart of the Gospel, challenging them with the reality of Christ and seeking their growth as His disciples.