Saturday, September 8, 2012

His Word, My Journey

There is a girl I'm friends with on facebook that is an avid runner and travels all over the world. She takes photos of her running shoes everywhere she goes. I love this concept but not enough to actually start running. So this summer, inspired by the "She Reads Truth" instagram feed, I decided to take photos of where I spend time with the Lord. Here is a rundown of everywhere God took me this summer and some thoughts of things I've learned.

My first trip of the summer was with 4 other girls to New Orleans and Destin. We arrived in NOLA in time to walk around, have dinner, watch the Rangers on TV in the hotel (yeah, we're wild) and then go to sleep. I woke up early the next morning and went down to the hotel lobby to read and pray. Clearly God was ready for me because the coffee that they were brewing in the lobby was "Napoli Blend." You can imagine my excitement over this favor.

Destin was beautiful. White sand. Clear blue waters. A condo that had recently been remodelled. Mornings in the condo started with the greatest cinnamon rolls ever, coffee (not Napoli Blend), and a dose of Him.

A few days , I took my studying down to the shore and soaked up sun, sand, sea,Starbucks and scripture.

My other trip this summer was my yearly pilgrimage to New York. This year, I went by myself and was so excited to take pictures of my study all over the city. But it was hot. And it was crazy humid. So I stayed indoors most of the beginning of the trip where AC rules. No Bible in Central Park. No Bible in Bryant Park. No Bible on the Ferry. Just Bible in hotel lobby in midtown. This is the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Ave. The lobby was fancy and the hotel had over 1000 rooms. It was way different than my hotel on the Upper West Side at the beginning of the week. It was so fun to be in the busyness of the city.

I spent Monday nights this summer with some of my favorite people on the Central Market patio studying Tozer's Pursuing God. I learned about seeing Him everywhere and serving Him everywhere. One of my favorite quotes of this book, a quote that has put a wrinkle in my heart, is this: "Studying theology will make theologians but it will never make saints." As I explored that quote more and dove into books like 7 by Jen Hatmaker, Love Does by Bob Goff, and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, I saw this quote in action. I've learned so much from these saints this summer and feel the call to action strong in my heart.

Now, I've returned home. A place where God has shown me this summer has great purpose and promise for me. My daily routine is where He works out His will and good pleasure and shapes me into the image of Christ. Home. This is what God did one morning through my bedroom window. My favorite picture of the summer.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Taking In, Pouring Out

I have stepped away from everything in my spiritual life that looked familiar.  The church that has my heart, my church of 13 years, is a memory from where I'm sitting now.  The Bible study that I've learned with and served in for the past 6 years is in the same rear view mirror.  To say that I have been a little lost and wondering is an understatement.  To some people, a change in Bible study happens every semester or year.  That's not me.  My life is shaped by the hands of my Creator and the tool in His hands for the last decade has been consistently the church and BSF.  Those 2 entities have become so much my heartbeat that I now try to remember events in my past based on what I was studying or teaching in one of those 2 places.  I actually said to a friend at the beginning of these transitions that I had no idea what my spiritual life would look like at the end of this year.  God did.  Where I had thought He was calling me to attend church wasn't where I actually am attending church.  What I thought was my reasons for leaving one church were actually surface level symptoms of much bigger issues in my heart.  Where He has taken me over the last 4 months has shaken me to the core. 
Most Sundays, I tell Him I just want to go back home to the church that I know.  Then, I drive downtown and walk into a building that isn't even a church.  I take communion with real wine.  I do cooperate readings. I listen to a former professional baseball player preach.  I sing to a worship leader that refuses to wear shoes on account that he wants to be completely connected to the holy ground he's standing on.  A year ago I would have called this place disobedient, too progressive, wanting to make a show of God, wanting to be different to be "relevant."  Now I see it in a whole new light. 
First of all, the baseball player can preach!  Also, this church has this idea that you come and get filled on Sundays.  The rest of the week you dump it all out on the neighborhood and city you live in.  Yeah, there is ONE time each week where the church comes together and re-unites, takes communion, and gets fed from the Word of God.  The worship is intense.  The tears flow.  The release of the week is palpable.  The drinking in of Truth and Mercy makes a loud slurp.  Then, we are reminded that the gospel doesn't happen at church.  We are told to be intentional by doing things that make us accessible to our neighbors like taking evening walks around the block and hosting parties.  Several men leave church and go hang out on Lancaster with the homeless...not to give them anything but to build relationships in the name of Christ. 
I always thought that when God stretches you it is because you've learned something new.  You see Him differently.  The stretching that I'm encountering is releasing all of my notions about church and just being church.  The word "service" takes on a whole new meaning when you think of it as dumping all you know of Jesus on those around you that are desperate for it.  He is calling me to do weird things, to live counter culturally.
As I pray throught this, the Lord constantly brings me to people who are living out the pouring out.  Katie Davis's story is unlike anything I've ever heard.  Her desperation for the Lord drives me to cling to Him more.  As Our Own captured my heart fromt he moment I read the first tweet about them.  God's Littlest Angel orphanage has me dying to adopt Haitian babies.  These are just a few from around the world.  These same tragedies are happening here in my own city.  Apathy and uninformed living are just no longer an option.  Change is coming.

"Father, You are so worthy of a completely surrendered life from me.  You are faithful and true and are trustworthy with my hands.  Give me an obedient heart to answer Your call and to dive in where I see needy and hurting people and not just pray for them.  Give me grace for the least of these and grace for myself when I fail."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Letter to Seda

Do you have any idea how adorable you are? I think Granny must have flown home like a maniac from her visit with you on Saturday just to e-mail me these pictures.

Granny said that you wanted to call and say, "Sarah, I love you," so I guess that means you have forgiven me for Christmas when I made you take the barrett out of your mouth. I'm so glad. Forgiveness is the hardest lesson to learn. You, being the baby genius you are, have learned the lesson early. Words cannot express how much I love you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Serenade We Don't Want to Miss

So, I've given up Starbucks (my, and everyone else's favorite study spot) for lent. If you know how many times I've cheated over the Lenten season, please do not post that in the comments section of this blog! Therefore, I have packed up my Medium Brown Bag from Bloomingdale's with my laptop, Bible (why does mine weigh so much!) and notebook and have moved into Panera this morning. I love the fresh pastry smell. I love their Latte's. I love free Wi-Fi. I love it here. My tray of food looks like I should be brunching in Paris this morning. I can hear quiet chatter all around me. One man next to me has a strong accent and his words are like honey. The book of Genesis is spread out in front of me and an empty notebook page waits patiently underneath it. I don't even mind the crying baby across the room. It has all the makings of a perfect day. I just can't look out any window or I'll see this:

Calm and peaceful on the inside, crazy zoo seeking families lined up for miles on the outside. Last year during this week of spring break, I lived really close to the zoo and drove in the spring break traffic a lot. I can remember watching 2 kids slug it out in the back of a minivan while waiting at the stoplight to turn into the zoo. MADNESS! Outside is such a contradiction of the inside quiet and peace.

As Beth says, "The lesson is not wasted on me." This is what I desire: to know the Lord so intimately and to walk so closely to Him that His peace and Word are spoken to me even in the midst of my everyday traffic. Quieting myself to hear is challenging, especially during my regular weeks of work, ministry, and living my life. I am praying that while my life is a little quieter this week, God will train my ears and mind to quiet so that I am prepared for all aspects of my life. I want my life to be a noticable contradiction. I want it to be said of my God that He brings stillness and peace, even in the midst of traffic. Notice I'm not using "calm in the middle of storms." I don't have lots of storms in my life. I'm sure they will come. They always do, but right now my battle is traffic.

From the Word of the God

"Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a child rests against his mother, so my soul rests within me." Psalm 131:2

"Better is a dry morsel of food and quietness with it than a house full of feasting and strife." Psalm 17:1

Child of God, let your heart be quiet before Him, if only for a few moments. He is rejoicing over us with singing, a serenade we can't offord to miss.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Running After Christ is NOT Always Pretty!

Many of the Samaritans from the town believed in him because of the woman's testimony.
-John 4:39

What an incredible harvest after one woman's meeting with the Christ. You can tell by these results that she had Elohim in her eyes when she returned to the village. Her head was swarming with ideas of love, peace and hope, and there was no stopping her witness. She loved Christ madly! In my heart, I desire this insane passion for Christ. But what would it cost me? The same thing it cost her. If we back up to the process that brought the whole village to Christ, we see that it wasn't such a pretty thing.

1. Humility: v. 9-"You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" This woman doesn't even know she is looking at the Messiah. She only knows her role in society. As a Samaritan, she is below the Jews. As a woman, she is below men. I can't help but think her head hung low. She had been used, abused, and cast aside before. Now, she comes in contact with a man that everyone would say is above her on every chart that existed in society. She didn't know that today He would sit her hind feet on high places. Today, she would be made an heir to the Kingdom above all others. Right now, she only recognizes that she is low and he is high. Humility does that to us. We recognize that He is God and we are not. We don't put Him on the throne of our lives; He is already there! What we do is bow in reverence to that fact. Praying for Humility is a scary thing because it usually comes with brokenness. But how necessary that prayer is if we want to know Him today more than we did yesterday! Yesterday this woman didn't even know who Christ was, and today, she will make Him the Banner that she carries back to the village.

2. She sees her need: v. 15-"Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty." She had just gotten an earful of information about "Living Water." She heard it all straight from Messiah's mouth. Did she possess that water? No. She had to ask for it. This is true of Salvation and it is true of sanctification. We must ask for both! She asked for the Living Water of Salvation that day because she saw her need. The Holy Spirit had opened her eyes to the debt that sin brings. It is the same with sanctification-the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ after salvation has taken place. He wants us to be like Christ! He commands us to walk in holiness. We need his power to make that happen...ASK FOR IT! And then give Him the glory when He gives that power. He is Mighty to Save!

3. She comes face to face with her sin: v. 17 "I have no husband." she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right that you have no husband. You have 5. And the man you now have is not your husband." Ouch! Her ugly truth comes out of his mouth and probably smacks her in the face. Has God ever done that with you? He has with me, very recently. He shows us our sin to bring us to repentance. That sin smothers the Holy Spirit's work in our lives. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot know God more or grow deeper in love with him. Confession should be a part of our daily lives. We should look to the blood of the cross not just as something that brings salvation, but also as something that brings about sanctification and hope for more of Him.

4. She was transparent in front of others: v. 39b-"He told me everything I ever did." She proclaims this to all of the Samaritans in the town. Chances are they already knew everything about her as well. She was probably the fountain from which every juicy piece of gossips came in that town. But just the act of saying it out loud lets the people see a transformation from her. Being transparent about your struggles and sin allows others to see that God came to seek and save the lost, not the squeaky clean.

A life transformed and then on display for a watching world to see. We want to be transformed, but do we want to be laid out as an example for others? Chances are, if we are put on display for others to see, the grace that will meet us under that spotlight will reveal a whole new side of the countenance of God, a side we would never have known if not for the brokenness and revealing of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Putting down facebook and picking up Deuteronomy

So, there is this little-known addiction out there called Facebook. Anyone heard of it? Well, since the fb execs are smiling down at me and giving me a great wireless signal at my house, I've returned the favor by being facebook obsessed for the last 24 hours. This lets me know that I've definately made the right decision about NOT getting the internet at my house. I think that all of my self control would go out the window! Thankfully, I have a God who has bigger plans for my day than sitting on Facebook all day and waiting for my other "Teachers on Swine Vacay" friends to post something amusing. Today, I am seeking those plans above any other because I know that they are plans of hope, purpose, and a future. Those plans start with this blog. I've known for a while now that this was something that He wanted me to do, to speak truth, not of myself, but of Him, into people's lives. Somehow, I will trust that He will direct me as to what to write and will direct others to this spot in cyberspace to read what He says. I also want to use this blog to point out others who are writing about their own experiences with Christ in this world. I have been changed by reading these posts from the LPM website of Melissa's trip to India through Compassion Ministries. How humbling to think of what my desires are when these people are without everything! I also devour everything this guy writes about the Lord...incredible thoughts. And the list of 500 things Christians like is hilarious! Now I'm off to spend some time in my new favorite book, Deuteronomy.