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."