Monday, November 19, 2012

Green pastures

Courtney and I were talking this past Saturday morning and freedom in the Lord came up.  I remember in college being told that there is real freedom in discipline and obedience.  We will find freedom in the Lord when we learn to obey Him and do as we are called.

I see things differently now...  I no longer think that obedience and disciple produce freedom in Christ.  No, now I think that freedom in Christ produce obedience and discipline.

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

The cross has to come first.  Because of the gospel, those whom are called are free - are freed from sin and slavery and free to do as we choose.  Yet, having a relationship with the Lord Jesus spurs us to live obedient lives.  Not so we can be good Christians (what is one anyway?) BUT so we have a more intimate relationship with the Lord.

I think it is so easy for us to get caught up in what we do and don't do.  This side of heaven, we will all fail.  We will not do as we should and we will do as we shouldn't.  A week or so ago, I was taking something before the Lord, and He said to me, "Elizabeth Ann.  I know you want to go and do.  I want you to learn to BE."  Such a hard, but important, lesson for me to learn.

I was excited - and chuckled a bit - when I read Jesus Calling later on that afternoon:

Ask and you shall receive

Since January, some friends and I have been serving supper to homeless people downtown on Sunday nights.  It started with two friends and I carrying around a pot of chili looking for folks to eat, and has turned into something really cool.  We meet in an old gas station parking lot and there are usually around 50 or so folks that come by to eat and hang out.

We've gotten to know a lot of the guys that come each week.  It's been really cool to meet a tiny portion of their overall physical needs, make friendships, pray over people, and hear their stories.

Back in March, I flew in from Nicaragua at midnight on my birthday.  After some time out with friends, a bit of sleep, and church, I cooked supper and feared I'd be the only one serving that Sunday night.  Completely out of the blue, this guy pulled up and dropped off a bunch of food.  He'd seen us and wanted to help out.  He said he couldn't stay to help serve because it was his birthday and he had plans.  We were birthday twins!

Turns out, he's a chef.  Since March, he's cooked a few meals for us and has always been willing to help.  I've been busier than normal lately and have missed the past few Sunday's downtown.  Last Thursday, I sat in my office thinking about who would cook this Sunday?  I could do it, but knew I'd be exhausted and it would stress me out more than make me glad to serve.  (Does that ever happen to you?)  (As I've been learning more and more about being in the presence of the Lord, a by-product has been learning about rest and more freedom to know my boundaries.)  Anywho, Thursday I was thinking about it and getting a bit stressed out.  Later in the day, I took it to the Lord.  Casually, almost.  And you know what?

"Email Heath" was the Lord's response.  Hmmm...I hadn't seen him in months and it was really last minute to ask.  But, I emailed him anyway and his response blew me away.  Not only was he willing to cook food for Sunday, but he and his friends had a fundraiser planned for that Saturday.  Wow.  He and his friends asked their friends to bring clothes, dry food goods, and cash to help people downtown.

He brought his rugby team buddies downtown last night and they had TONS of dry food and clothes for people to take.  Heath cooked a great meal.  They were all really cool and will hopefully be back.

I was really blown away by the provision of the Lord last night.  It was a beautiful picture of entrusting something to God and watching Him go above and beyond anything I was planning to ask for.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mushrooms or oaks?

I read this quote on Facebook this morning:

When God wants to make a mushroom, he does it overnight, but when he wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years. Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. Be patient with the process.-Rick Warren

Such good perspective for me.  I like things to be done quickly and seamlessly.  Yet, from what I have gathered so far, life isn't like that.  God could work that way all the time, but often times doesn't.  He could have sent his people to the promised land the quick and direct way, but he chose to have them detour over and over again for 40 years.  Jesus could have lived an easy and pain free life on earth, but he didn't.  Instead, He was mocked, disregarded, tempted by satan in the wilderness, and persecuted to the point of death - for something He was not guilty of.

I heard a sermon the week before last.  He said the life without struggle and pain would be easy.  You would wake up, go to work, go home, do it again the next day.  And that life would be boring.  As much as we say we do, we don't really want a life free of trouble.  Because then we don't experience the victory found only in Christ Jesus.  In the struggle and pain, we see, we feel, we embrace the power of God.  God's love is able to rescue us...even in the midst of trouble.

Isaiah 61:1-3 are some of my favorite verses.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Yes, I think I'll take the struggles and storms in order to become an oak tree rather than a mushroom.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A few updates...

I just haven't been in the mood to blog.  Sharing funny stories seems futile to me these days.  Other things seem to heavy to blog about - who wants to read the heavy?  I wonder.  And so, posts are few and far between.

That being said, here's a mixed bag of things going on lately:

  • I'm still loving teaching.  My students are fun and I feel really natural up there.  Definitely a blessing that I've been given this opportunity.
  • It came up that one of my students is a good break dancer.  I called him to the front and made him do it for the class.  It was awesome!  :)
  • Adult acne: it is the worst!  
  • Celebrated Courtney's 30th in style.  Had a fun party in the Big Burg.  She loved it.  We all did.  Maggie and I came up with this for her birthday gift.  I have to say, 7 months of planning and scheming paid off! Check it out:
  • I got to celebrate Shannon and Chris tie the knot this weekend in Greenville.  Had a great time; I'm still sore from dancing!  The true mark of a good time!
  • I ran 40 minutes last night.  Kick start to getting back on the exercise train.  Felt really good.

  • Last week I got some really good time with the Lord.  At one point the Lord said to me, "Elizabeth Ann. I know you want to GO and DO. I want you to learn to BE."  And I wonder how many of us need to hear the same thing?  Identity: it keeps coming up and I don't think that's going to stop any time soon.  Do I really know who I am and who I belong to?  Why is it that it is harder to be than to do something?  Because there isn't anything to show for it?  Because sometimes it takes more discipline to sit and be still with God than to do a Bible study or help others, etc.?  
  • Went to the 6:00 pm service last night for the first time.  The sermon was from 1 Peter 4:1-11 and spoke a lot about suffering.  Been thinking about the blessings that come from suffering.  We all have things we'd rather bypass, but in those things, the Lord can do so much.  
  • I have a case of the Monday's.