Walking in Freedom

Miscellaneous musings along the way

Passion 2013 January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!!

 

What better way to start off the new year than streaming the Passion 2013 conference online?  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Check out the live stream at 7pm eastern by following this link: http://live.268generation.com/  Also, you can watch other messages from the conference at your convenience for a limited time by following the same link.  The conference ends Jan 4th, so be sure to check out the site in the next few days. 🙂

 

What an encouragement to see thousands of young adults (18-25) setting aside the first few days of their new year to unite with other believers “for His fame!”  To those who have written off the younger generation, take heart!!

 

Tonight (Session 4) Francis Chan delivered a passionate message, stressing the faithfulness of God.  Our actions do not (and cannot) change God’s character.  His promises of blessing and warnings of judgement remain true no matter what!

 

To top it all off, Lecrae will be there tomorrow (Jan 3) at 7pm est!

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Enter Into Their Pain December 21, 2012

Just finished a book about leadership and followership by John Perkins and Shane Claiborne titled “Follow Me to Freedom.”  The biggest idea that stood out to me was that a good leader leads out of the pain he feels for the people who are following him (or her).  When your passion turns into a person- their character and experiences, and especially Teen Angstthey’re pain- then you are at a place to lead.

 

Who better to look to on this than Jesus?

“He was despised and rejectedby men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted withgrief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.”

-Isaiah 53:3-5 (ESV)

Our Savior knows pain.  He chose to enter into a world permeated with pain.  He not only bore the pain of rejection, but “he has borne our griefs.”  Before you were born, before youjesus-on-the-cross even knew your pain, he bore it- ultimately, on the cross where “he was pierced for our transgressions.”  In a strange twist, this climactic act of cruelty is the very event that opens the door to peace and healing for people- the people who were Christ’s passion.

 

I haven’t processed all of this yet- it’s all very fresh in my mind and heart.  But, God is starting to let me know that I can’t expect to lead or have influence in the lives of people until I know and share their pain.  yikes!  That sounds messy and quite possibly dangerous!  It’s not enough to be passionate about a cause or issue, although that’s a great start.  God has called us to love Him and love people.  His passion was for people, and ours should be as well.  Our life is to be about relationship.  And a huge part of relationships, as shown in the work of Christ, is deciding how we will deal with and respond to pain.

 

This Christmas, I’ll be reflecting on the God who chose to send his son into a world where he would experience great pain- for our sake!  May Christ who chose to expose himself to real brokenness and hurt be the guiding example in my life, especially as I interact with my students!  A leader worth following knows and shares the pain of the people!

 

Here’s a link to a Chris Tomlin song called “Mighty is the Power of the Cross” that includes some of the Scripture above 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8sw-g6P544

 

Forgive and Forget? October 9, 2012

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 9:40 pm
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It all started when one of my high school students (I’ll call him Isaac) chose not to pay attention to the lesson because he was catching up on work that should have already been completed.  As I was moving around the room helping students with the assignment, he quickly became frustrated because I wouldn’t come over to him to reteach the entire lesson to him.  Isaac’s frustration boiled over as he angrily gathered his belongings and stormed out of my room.  I still had students in the room to teach, and I wasn’t about to chase after a student who clearly wasn’t in the mood to see things from another point of view.

 

The next day, I put a half sheet “Re-entry” form on a clipboard and handed it to him before he came in the room.  It included questions like “what happened?” and “what could you have done differently?” and “how can you prevent this from happening again?”  After being in the hallway for a bit, Isaac knocked on the door.  It didn’t take long for me to notice that he still had the “teacher wasn’t doing her job” mentality.  I told him I didn’t think he was ready to re-enter the room to which he replied something along the lines of “can’t we just forgive and forget?”

I have only God to thank for bringing to my mind the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).  What does this have to do with a stubborn teenager?  For those of you who don’t know the story, a woman is caught in adultery and is brought before Jesus by a group of religious men.  According to the law, the penalty for this sin was to stone her.  Jesus responds by saying, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”(v.7)  Realizing their guilt, all of the men gradually leave.  Jesus, now alone with the woman, asks her if anyone condemns her.  When she says there is no one, Jesus declares “Then neither do I condemn you.  Go now and leave your life of sin.” (v.11)

 

Jesus extended grace.  He chose forgiveness.  BUT, he did not ignore her actions that led to the accusation in the first place.  He declared forgiveness and also made a call to action.  He sent her off calling her to leave her life of sin.  God does not forgive us so that we can keep messing up (Paul says a lot about that in Romans!).  We see through the story of this woman that forgiveness propels repentance (or turning away from sin).

 

I shared this story with Isaac, stressing the importance of changed behavior.  I emphasized that I didn’t think less of him as a person, but I expected him to change his behavior.

 

Yes, God does remove our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).  Even still, from the story of the woman, we see that he desires that we walk away from our sin.

 

Radical, crazy love September 8, 2012

So, I know I’m already 4 weeks into the school year and the weather is finally getting a bit cooler… but one thing I love about summer is that I have a lot more time to read!   One book I read over the summer was Radical, by David Platt.  If you’re looking for a book that will shake up your idea of what it means to be a Christian in America, I would highly recommend this book.  Through stories and Scripture, Platt asserts that the American Dream isn’t really what God has in mind when it comes to living out our faith.

 

Another book I just finished is Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  Similar to Radical, Chan challenges believers to live out the gospel in tangible ways as a result of their passionate love relationship with God.  Through stories of “average” people who have boldly lived out their faith, Chan reassures the reader that a life of radical commitment is possible for anyone who is truly in love with God.

 

To continue on a similar theme, I picked up a Timothy Keller book at the library today titled Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just.  I’ve only read the intro and part of the first chapter, but I’m excited to dive into my first book by Keller!  I think it’ll be neat to make connections with this book and the others I’ve been reading… and also see how it relates to my job teaching kids with rough lives outside of school- some who have spent time in jail.

 

Enough August 29, 2012

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 9:29 pm
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Discontentment can sneak up on you… it needs no invitation.  It needs no particular reason.  If I’m honest with myself, I think it’s my default setting- maybe it’s yours too?  I’ve got no profound words, so I’ll let The Word speak.

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. -1 Timothy 6:6-8

In the context, Paul is specifically talking about material things.  But we can be discontent about things other than not having cool cars, a nice house and designer clothes.  We can be discontent about circumstances too- failure at school or work, unfulfilling job or relationship, undesirable living situation, etc.  No matter what is keeping us stuck in discontentment, we have a choice to let God be enough- or not.

7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

-Proverbs 30:7-9

I really like how this proverb highlights the delicate balance between having so much that we become prideful and self sufficient, versus not quite having enough to survive which could lead us to steal.  Maybe you don’t agree that the balance is delicate.  The gap between poverty and riches is huge.  I’m closer to poverty, you think, because I don’t have a huge fancy house and my car is at least 5 years old.  I don’t buy designer clothes and I don’t have money stockpiled away.  Yes, I’m definitely closer to poverty than riches, you reassure yourself.

And perhaps you’re right… after all, I don’t know you (nor you me).  But what if you’re closer to “riches” than you think?  Or maybe you’re already there?  Right now, are you depending on God to provide for you (and your family)?  Or do you trust your own efforts to sustain your life?  Are you content?  Is God enough?

Lecrae sure thinks so!

God is Enough by Lecrae

 

Kind of like jaw surgery?? July 18, 2012

Filed under: Colorado,Faith — songofjoy88 @ 3:10 pm
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trying to eat warm cereal through a syringe… between the swelling, jaws rubber banded shut and numbness all over, this was quite a task! also, note the bell for me to ding if I needed something- haha!

Just over two years ago I had jaw surgery.  It wasn’t an emergency surgery or anything, so I had time to prepare, but the change from before to after surgery was dramatic.

 

Back in middle school (when it was cool), I had braces for 2.5 years, so it didn’t seem to make sense why I was now considering surgery… about 7 years later!  I didn’t need surgery, the doctors told me, but if I didn’t, I may have problems with my teeth wearing down later and needing crowns and whatnot.  Also, there was the ever present nuisance of avoiding any food that required my front teeth to make contact (sandwiches- especially with lettuce, tomatoes, etc.; chips, apples…).  Over the years, my jaw grew in a less than ideal way and my teeth didn’t fit together well at all.

 

So, I had braces for about 9 months leading up to surgery as they prepared my teeth for the position they would need to be in once they did the surgery.  Things seemed to get worse, but I knew the orthodontist was just setting things up for the surgeon.  Two months after graduating from college, I had the surgery.  After that day, everything changed… though temporarily not for the better!  The swelling was ridiculous and the whole rubber banded shut jaw made it very difficult to communicate!  In many ways, I became like a baby- laying around/ sleeping all day, eating liquids only (later mushy foods, then soft foods), not being able to talk, and dependent on the help of others to get what I needed (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) 🙂

taking my pain-killer medicine through a syringe- yum! (not really, but I couldn’t really taste anything, so it could have been worse!)

But now I can say- it was all worth it!  I can now eat whatever I want without wondering if food will awkwardly be hanging out of my mouth because I can’t bite it off!  Everything fits together so now I can enjoy the simple things like eating a burger that has lettuce, pickles and tomato on it!

 

Thinking back on all the changes and adjustments I had to make through this makes me wonder if moving and/or starting a new job isn’t kind of like jaw surgery.  For me, my first teaching job was a good fit (at least in that season of my life)… but as time went on, things didn’t fit together quite as nicely.  Nothing unbearable, but just enough to make me look ahead and consider how long that was the place for me.

 

When the opportunity to teach in Colorado came up, I had a decision.  It was less about a “right” and a “wrong” choice and more about where God wanted me in the long run and what he wanted me to be doing.

 

I imagine in some ways, the transition will be like my surgery.  A sudden change that God has been preparing me for that will require adjustments on my part.  I can’t expect to do everything I was doing here right after I make the move- it’ll take time to get plugged in to a church, learn the roads, get plugged in with a community band/orchestra, etc.  And not only will it take time, but it will take the support of others that God graciously puts in my path.

 

But, I trust, that in the long run I will be able to look back and say it was all worth it!  So, thanks to those of you who have “tweaked the wires” and helped prepare me for this transition!  And, most of all, thanks be to God who has orchestrated this and had this in his plan all along! 🙂

 

I’ll be posting more regularly now, so check back if you’re curious how the “surgery” goes!

 

Don’t Waste Your Life February 14, 2012

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 8:08 pm
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About a year ago, I read a book by John Piper titled “Don’t Waste Your Life.”  I just wrote a book review for a church newsletter, so I thought I’d share my comments on the book with you:

John Piper opens the book with the story of an old man who accepts Christ at the end of his life and laments through tears about his life saying, “I’ve wasted it!  I’ve wasted it!”  The impact of this story on Piper’s life led him to consider what it really means to live a life that is not wasted.

 

In a world of subjectivity, he emphasizes the importance of reading God’s word to know His will.  And as he studied the Bible, Piper came to the conclusion that the aim of our life is the glorify God and delight in Him.  He expounds on what Paul meant in Galatians when he wrote about boasting only in the cross.  The book also details the implications of living out the Gospel in our relationships and at work.  Moreover, Piper exhorts his readers to treasure Christ above all else.

 

While the content of the book is challenging, the 1-2 page sections within each chapter make it easier to digest.  Throughout the book, Piper quotes and references Scripture and quotes teaching of well-known authors, like C.S. Lewis.  The solid theological foundation and applicability of this book guarantee that your time spent reading it will not be a waste of your life.

 

And even if you’re not a big fan of rap… give this high energy song by Lecrae a listen- the title is the same as the book: Don’t Waste Your Life.