Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Grandma Mac: In Memoriam

For those of you who might be unaware, Brittany's maternal grandmother, Mrs. Patty McDonald, passed away a few weeks ago. She was a great lady, a strong Christian, and fervent lover of both God and her fellow men (and women). Grandma Mac will be missed by her many friends, family members, and especially by those to whom she tirelessly ministered.

With that in mind, several of last week's Green Book readings seemed especially apropos as we grieved the loss (and celebrated the life of) Grandma Mac:

"And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the LORD as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the LORD, the Spirit." -2 Corinthians 3:18

"I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" -John 11:25-26

Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." -1 Corinthians 15:51-52


Monday, February 27, 2012

"Why I Like the Holiness People."

"I like their aim. They aim high. If they miss, nevertheless, they have scored one good point.
They are uncompromising.They are against sin and wrong, including Sunday trains, secular newspapers, Sunday cooking, Sunday gossip, tobacco, and other uncleanness.
They are Prohibitionists, almost to a man.
They are agitators.
They make and distribute tracts.
They circulate books.
They have a catching sort of degree of spirituality.
They are in for everything that is good.
They say "amen" out loud.
They shout as I feel.
They [root] for a fellow while he is preaching.
If the load is heavy, they all jump out and push.
Wherever you meet one, he is already organized and ready for work.
If they are scared, they pray and shout, and work and move, so that it can't be detected.
They always want to dig deeper, climb higher and know and do more.
They are long-winded in the closet, and nearly out of breath in a testimony service.
Every one of them will pray if you call on them, and if the fuse seems damp, they will pray, call
or no call.
They are God's globe-trotters.
They don't ask how many are the enemy, but where are they?
They can shout in the cemetery.
They actually use the Bible in their work.
They will go to China or Africa as cheerfully as to the market.
It is not a money question with them.
They know the Holy Spirit.
They love you hard.
Their experience throws up a highway I'd like to die on.
They've come to stay.
They are unpopular with dirt, dignity, and the devil.
They are not in "ruts."
They cry and run as if they had jumped the fox. That makes me spur on in the chase.
Whenever I meet or hear one of them, it makes me want to quit something, or do something,
or go somewhere, or be somebody.
They are my kinsfolk."

-Rev. John B. Culpepper, Holiness Advocate,
Fayetteville, North Carolina, August 15, 1903.

...with special thanks to Rev. Scott Sherwood.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Come Away

The song "Come Away," by a California-based worship band called Jesus Culture, has been bouncing around in our head a lot lately courtesy of some friends of ours from YWAM/Norway.

It's been particularly strange time for us lately, as a family emergency meant unexpectedly traveling from Poland to the US and back in the past two weeks. But these simple lyrics continue to bring us comfort and affirmation that God is still in charge, and still has a plan...no matter where we are, or what kinds of things are happening around us.

"Come away with me, come away with me.
It's never too late, it's not too late,
It's not too late for you.

"I have a plan for you.
I have a plan for you.
It's gonna be wild,
It's gonna be great,
It's gonna be full of me.

"Open up your heart and let me in."


Friday, February 10, 2012

Life of the Beloved.

Two gems from this week's Green Book reading, "My Beloved."

"But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.' " -Isaiah 43:1-5a (NIV)

"Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: 'I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother's womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.

"I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.

"I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me, I am your father, your mother, your borther, your sister, your lover and your spouse...yes, even your child...wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one." -Henri J. M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Church

Anytime I (Aaron) get anxious about what I think the future of the Church should look like...in the midst of its brokenness, its imperfection, its humanity...I am encouraged to reconsider and re-imagine what we can (and should) be by a Derek Webb song called
"The Church."

The lyrics and a (super-cheesy) YouTube link are included below.

I have come with one purpose
to capture for myself a bride
by my life she is lovely
by my death she’s justified

I have always been her husband
though many lovers she has known
so with water I will wash her
and by my word alone

So when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you’re not alone

‘Cause I haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church

I have long pursued her
as a harlot and a whore
but she will feast upon me
she will drink and thirst no more

So when you taste my flesh and my blood
you will know you’re not alone

There is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
and though some may be her bridesmaids
they can never be my bride

And now, a word from our sponsor...

‎"O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first, will afterwards be pleasant. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life: there is no other way...do not starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether." - John Wesley, 1760

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The prayer of a righteous man...

A couple of weeks ago, Rev. Jay Sunberg (the Church of the Nazarene's Field Strategies Coordinator for Central Europe, and an all-around good guy) spoke at our house-church meeting in Kraków. Jay spoke from II Chronicles 7:14 -an inspiring, challenging text under any circumstances- and used it to explore the ways in which the "bigness" of God's plans sometimes contrast with our own.

"What would GOD say needs to happen in Poland?" Jay asked us. "In our community? In our neighborhood? In our church?" (My thoughts: more prayer, more service, and more relational invitations!)

Here's what God says is possible:
"...if MY PEOPLE, who are called by MY name, will HUMBLE themselves and PRAY and SEEK MY FACE and TURN from their wicked ways, then I WILL HEAR from heaven, and I WILL FORGIVE their sin and WILL HEAL their land." -II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Thanks to Jay, so many things strike me now about that passage:

1.) "My people. "
In other words...God's best plan to heal our broken world starts with (and depends on) us!?! We are his people. He has called us. And we are called to humility, to prayer, to righteousness, and to action. Only then can God move in the fullness of his purpose...which he chooses to accomplish through us! Not money, not governments, not power, not overwhelming resources...when we're obedient, he uses us. Wow. What a scary, exciting thought!

2.) "Humble themselves."
The sooner that we acknowledge that we don't have all of the answers and submit ourselves to God's will for our lives, the better it will be for all concerned. Especially us!

3.) "Pray."
Jesus taught his disciples to pray big prayers, saying "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:10-12, NIV) We need to remember that God is not limited by the constraints of our circumstances...he's a good, all-powerful father, who longs to be at work in and through the lives of his children. We need to ask God to move in big, only-God-can-do-this ways, and then trust him to do so!

4.) "Seek my face."
We need to become ever more God-conscious in our daily lives...to seek God's face in prayer and meditation, and to see his face in the faces of the people that we live, work, and play with. In my experience, searching for God's will often simply means doing God's will -doing the good, God-pleasing things that we know to do- and actively listening for his voice along the way. God's not hiding; he wants more than anything for us to know him and be known by him!

5.) "Turn from their wicked ways."
To make a long story short, I've been kicking a passage from 5th Grade Bible class around in my ahead for several days now. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16, KJV). In other words: God can't use me (in full) until I stop doing A, B, and C, nor until I start doing X, Y, and Z...that's what it means -for me- to be a righteous man. One whose prayer availeth much. So I've got some work to do!

6.) The Payoff:
"...then I WILL HEAR from heaven, and I WILL FORGIVE their sin and WILL HEAL their land." This is big, exciting, only-God-can-do-this stuff!!! :)

Here's how Jay put it:
"If these things are true (and God says they are)...we need to pray for BIG things. We need to pray for POLAND. We need to pray KRAKÓW. For our NEIGHBORHOOD. For our FRIENDS...and how do we get from meeting people to building relationships to introducing them to Jesus? The bridge is PRAYER."


Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some habits to learn (and a few to unlearn). As always, your prayers are appreciated! :)