Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PICS from Mountainview with AIM

Mom and Jules Dad and Eli

Dad and the kids
Jason, Steve, Kris, Julia and Eli (and an AMAZING view.)
Peace from Eli

Casualties by choice...

I'm blogging a little less, so please pardon my fewer posts - I've decided to not be "all or nothing" (wink wink) but in doing so I admit that inconsistency is something I'm consistent with, which for some reason in blog world, I feel extra guilty about!

Recently, Jason and I got to travel to the mountains of New Mexico. While there, Jason got to speak to the present AIM (Adventures in Missions) class - it was just such an amazing weekend. The lessons was transforming for me personally, as we worked through it, and just being around these kids as they let God invade their hearts on amazing and uncomfortable levels was inspiring. It's not easy, (I can say that since I have been there) - but it is worth every difficult moment - I'd never trade it for anything.

There were many highlights of the weekend, but the one that was most powerful came in between one of the classes, while the students had a simple assignment to just clear their minds and not think about anything for 10 minutes, then pray for 10 minutes, and then read a short passage they had been assigned from Matthew.

I climbed into the back of our Tahoe with the door open overlooking the field where many students scattered to find a quite place for themselves. The wind was blowing - quite a bit. Some sat curled by trees, others lay flat on their backs while still others lay face down on the ground.

It was eerily quiet, with just the sound of the wind despite the many people around. It hit me, (and that scene and moment are now frozen in my mind)...... this was reminiscent of civil war scenes I had seen on the history channel... of bodies strewn across a field. Except these bodies, in fact, were not the casualties of war, but the willing, self-sacrificial, and in a sense, suicidal, victors. Studying passages like "turn the other cheek", and "when asked to walk one mile, choose to walk two...",.... these kids laid themselves across a field to let God accomplish in them what their own strength and force of will can not.

Somewhere I read that in the end... they win.
Man's greatest victories have yet to compare to the eternal victory found in laying down your own life only to take up His. And what an unending victory we continue to discover that to be....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tough as nails...

Have you ever tried to hang something up?

I'm notorious for taking shortcuts when it comes to hanging decorations, pictures, etc. I like the finished look of a decorated house, but I don't like to take a lot of time to make it happen right. So I use whatever nails, screws or thing-a-ma-bobs I have on hand to get the job done, rather than go shop for whatever I need that would hold best. I'm not an idiot - most of the time it works - but I admit that every now and then, I pick a screw that's too long or too skinny or a nail that is too short, and sure enough, the whole thing pulls out of the wall. It leaves a big hole (that I can't patch with toothpaste), and I now have to move whatever I was hanging down or up or over an inch to cover up the mess.

So Jason and I have been wrestling with understanding some concepts this week. (And it does relate, I promise.)

One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And He said to him, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40

All of the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

These two concepts - Loving God with all your heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself, are the nail in the wall. Anything else we attempt to do for Him has to hang on that nail. You can make your own analogies as to whether or not your love is strong enough or adequate to hold. We could spend a lot of time there. But my wrestling today just centers on love being the crux of it all.

Everything else we would do, in the name of faith and belief and devotion to him, must be hung on love. Love for Him and love for others. I didn't say it. He did.

You wouldn't think that would trip us up, would you? For some of you, it doesn't. I've met you - and you get it. And I love what I learn from you as you shape me and bring me closer to Christ. But for some of us, it's a longer journey. This "love" He references is almost so simple, we could blow by the critical depth of getting what He's saying. In fact that only thing that may catch our eye is that He says it's most important, so we know we're supposed to pay attention. I know at times I've read this and thought "Yeah yeah, love. But what after that? What's the next thing we're supposed to do?"

But if I don't internalize that He has a purpose in me understanding that this "love" is most important... I will decorate my house and my church and my faith with tons of nice looking things that I think will please Him but that will eventually pull out of the wall and leave everyone standing in a pile of rubble.

It's sad, but if we're honest, there is much we can do in the name of faith that can be done from beginning to end without "hanging" on this love that Jesus mentions. ....I can come to church. ... I can serve..... I can defend a doctrine or belief.... I can write a check........I can study... I can pray....

We can eventually do all of those things without genuine love for Him and others.

Maybe they started from love, but just slipped into habit. Routine. "Something we do because it's "Right". But the "Right" nail will eventually pull out of the wall, along with all the other acts we hung on it. ......and we wonder why our faith crumbled with it.

All because we underestimated the importance of what "most important" meant when we pursued what we thought God wanted of us. Love seemed to be something we just took for granted would always be there. Something we thought was present in us and that we didn't have to think twice about.

But if He said it was most important ... it's worth thinking twice about. It's worth thinking daily about. In fact, by declaring the utmost importance of love... he not only didn't assume it's presence, but went out of His way to educate us and heighten our awareness to it.

Obviously, we wouldn't ever just pick up a picture and throw it on the wall, without first checking to see what we'd use to secure it there. Maybe that's what Jesus was saying about every single act we do each day. Check your love... make sure whatever your about to "hang up" is going to stick.