Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Green Book Goodness: Come Away, Redux

More confirmation that we (as Christians, as Nazarenes, and as missionaries) are called to simplicity, flexibility, and prayerful abandon, courtesy of the Green Book:

"If we ask God for so little it may well be because we feel the need for him so little. We are leading complacent, secure, well-protected, mediocre lives. We aren't living dangerously enough; we aren't living the way Jesus wanted us to live when he proclaimed the good news" -Anthony de Mello

"I am telling you my own experience and that of my colleagues: we could go for days on end without food; we could not live a single minute without prayer." -Mahatma Gandhi

"The less we pray the less we are likely to live the risky, challenging life that the Gospels urge us to; the less of a challenge there is in our life, and the less we are likely to pray." -de Mello

"Given the type of life I am leading, if I ceased to pray I should go mad!" -Gandhi

Which brings us back to a song that keeps getting stuck in our heads:

Here we go again...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Willingness > Willfulness

A few ideas (and one corresponding Scripture passage) brought to you courtesy of this week's Green Book readings:

"Willingness is the opposite of willfulness, being full of our own will and ways and satisfaction in being self-made or self-controlled persons...Willingness is a chosen position of vulnerability that recognizes we are ordinary beings in need of God's love, companionship, and guidance.

"[Willingness] includes our acknowledgement that we are not all we would like to be or all that God hopes for us and point toward our desire to hear and follow the Spirit's invitations even when it means giving up our ways in favor of what we perceive as God's ways." -Jeannette A. Bakke, Holy Invitations

This is a particularly tough pill for me (Aaron) to swallow, as I'm about as willful a person as you are ever likely to meet. And my own willfulness, admittedly, often leads me away from the path of of loving, Christ-centered willingness that I want my life to reflect.

Fortunately, I've discovered a solution! Well, God created a solution and helped me stumble gradually upon it: a life immersed in Scripture, sermons, devotional music, reading, and writing.

The Apostle Paul said it like this:
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." -2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)

What's your solution?

Mission Legacies

We've been listening to a lot of sermons lately. Live ones, of course, and weekly podcasts from OKC First Church of the Nazarene...but especially older, missions-themed sermons from various online archives.

Among our favorites are recordings of second- and third-generation Nazarene missions pioneers Dr. Elmer F. Schmelzenbach and  Rev. Harmon Schmelzenbach.

They encourage us, they inspire us, they invigorate us, and they (occasionally) shame us. Mostly, they remind us what Nazarene missions are all about, and who we (as Christians, as missionaries, and as Nazarenes) are called to be: simple, loving, trusting, passionate, hard-working, single-minded, sold-out followers of Christ. 

If you're interested, you can listen along with us here: and here:

Papa Els would be proud. :)

I Know That My Redeemer Lives!

One of our good friends and Krakow church members, Jarek, preached a few weeks over a passage from Proverbs 4:

"My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."-Proverbs 4:20-23 (NIV)

As Jarek spoke about what it means to guard our hearts, I (Aaron) was reminded another passage, one from Christ's Sermon on the Mount: 

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 

I thought again how important the priorities we embrace are to our lives (and especially our ministry). What we value -what we spend our time, money, and energy on- make all the difference in our ability to deny ourselves, honor God, and love others. 

"Follow the example of Job," Jarek said. "He was the richest guy in the neighborhood, and he lost everything! And when that happened, he just said, 'What next, God? What would you like to teach me? What is your next lesson?'"

This got me thinking about Job, and about one of my all-time favorite Bible verses. These were Job's words to his friends after days and weeks and months of personal torment, heartbreak, and death: 

"Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! 

"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes —I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" -Job 19:23-27 (NIV)

And then we got blessed. :)

"All of these bad things happened to Job and his family," Jarek said. "He lost everything. But his heart was full of fear and love for God. THIS thing he didn't lose!"

Our fellow volunteer, Hannah, recalled a passage from 1 John. "Do not love the world or anything in the world," she remembered. "The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." -I John 2:15, 17  

"The world will pass away," Jarek reminded us, "but God's Word will never pass away."