Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mortification According to Amos

I looked up the word mortify and found 3 different definitions:
1. to humiliate or shame, as to one's pride or self-respect
2. to subjugate (the body, passions, etc.) by abstinence, ascetic discipline, or self-inflicted suffering
3. to practice mortification or disciplinary austerities
I have been thinking about the mortification of sin in my life most recently. I am quickly becoming convinced that Christians (in America, especially) are not appalled by their sin as the Lord is. Ecclesiastes 3:8 calls for an appropriate time to hate. I believe that the action of hating sin falls into this time frame. The minor prophet Amos preached to the Israelites, "Seek good and not evil, that you may live...Hate evil, love good..." (Amos 5:14-15). Amos was a prophet under the reign of Jeroboam II, which was a time of peace and prosperity, but also during a time that the Israelites lacked true worship and justice. Their worship was ritualistic and routine as they were not pursuing the Lord with their hearts (4:4-5; 5:4-6). Why does God have Amos tell the Israelites to hate evil and love good? Probably because hating evil is hating evil in all capacities, even in our own hearts and lives. If I truly hate evil, I will hate it anywhere I see it. If I love good, I will love it in whatever capacity I am able. Sure, I hate things that are evil (murder, separation from Christ, etc.), but does this really mean that I hate evil? Not if I do not hate the manifestations of it in my own life. In chapel at the beginning of the semester, Joe proposed the thought that "struggling" with sin is merely "putting up" with sin. When I am putting up with sin in my life I am not hating evil and loving good. Ridding of sin takes mortification. It takes hating all that is evil, not just evil things, and loving all that is good.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

community day musings

Today I served alongside students from Master's in the canyon that we live in. ASB sets up a day that the students volunteer their Saturday mornings to do whatever the neighborhood residents need done. This morning we probably had 150-200 students go out, and my group of 4 went to a home around the corner. We helped take down a very nice play set that the family was donating to their daughter's school auction. Their children have outgrown it, so they'll let some lucky winner pay $500-$600 to the school for a nice playset. We were the ones taking it apart and setting it aside to be hauled off in the very near future. The family was extremely kind to us--the mom sent us off with three batches of cookies and we got to engage in some neat converstaion with their daughter who is looking at applying to various colleges. I walked away not really sure of their beliefs. They send the youngest daughter to Catholic school but do not attend Catholic--or any--church themselves. The mom offered her home to us whenever we might want to get off campus, and we left our phone numbers to babysit over a weekend sometime.
All this is leading up to the thought that, on the outside they appear to have everything together. Nice house, three cars, beautiful children, etc. And they are generous and kind, which is almost a rarity these times. And to some extent, they display fruits of the spirit. But they're all for selfish purposes, due to the sole fact that they are not associated with Christ. How do you convince or even begin to talk to someone in their position about total depravity, that they NEED a Savior? Do you just love on them and be their friend on a completely surface level and hope that conversation will "come up" accordingly? Personally, I tend to just check these people out of my mind. They know the truth and are choosing to ignore and not belive it. But I don't think this is how Jesus would do it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

keeping you posted

I went to the doctor's office three times today: once for them to tell me to come back later when it wasn't so busy (after already taking my vitals), twice to get the Typohid vaccination for PNG, and thrice to have an ear infection diagnosed in the right ear. I spent nearly every minute between chapel and RA class, until now at the office. Sitting in urgent care--with sick crying babies, adults with broken limbs, and the occasional old folk in for some reason or another--is quite the exercise of patience. I was reading through Paul's epistles for NT class, and I got to the point of being bored with it. (We'll address that sin later.) As I was about to call my sister to catch up on her day, the doctor finally came in to check out my ear. As he was writing out the prescription he noticed that I had just had a Typhoid injection that morning. Here is a brief synopsis of our conversation:
Dr: "Why Typhoid?"
me: "Travel injection."
Dr: "Where are you going?"
me: "To Papua New Guinea this summer."
Dr: "Why PNG?"
me: "For a short-term mission."
Dr: "Are you going with a group?"
me: "Yes, with New Tribes Mission."
Dr: "Where do you go to church?"
me: "Church of the Canyons" (woot) "Where do you go?"
Dr: "Grace Community."
me: "I am a student at Master's."
Dr: "oh! I know that well."
me: "Do you know Dr. Mark Tatlock?"
Dr: "Yes! I know him well."
me: "He's my advisor for this trip."
Dr: "I'll be praying for you."
It was sweet. What a sweet body of believers we are surrounded by.
And to think that I was becoming bored with reading Scripture and losing impatience just moments before! I have had the recent thought that my faith is sometimes circumstantial. I will write more about this as thoughts develop, Lord willing.
As for PNG, I heard from the missionary family this morning. They will be in So Cal in a couple of weeks, and I will get to meet up with them! When we get to meet up in March we will be discussing this further. The Swansons are on furlough right now in the states and hope to be back on the field by the time I get there. But in the case that they are not, they want to make sure that I will be hooked up with another missionary family and safe. At this point, we can all be praying for wisdom and faith as leadership makes decisions as to if me being in PNG for another 6 weeks--in the nature that I desire--is safe and wise. Final decisions will not be made for another couple of weeks, so this is yet another test of patience and flexability!
"...Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses...for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." I have been drawn to this passage for a while now, and my prayer is that my heart would echo Paul's words here (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Thursday, February 8, 2007

where is PNG, anyway?

What do we think of the prayer letter picture? And at the bottom we find the location of Papua New Guinea (slightly above the continent of Australia). Well, friends, I meet with the advisor tomorrow morning for the final say on all the PNG stuff. This is quite a journey. There is so much involved in putting together a mission trip, and I'm just talking on the individual basis. I cannot even imagine what this would be like in putting a whole team together (which was once a thought that was entertained). One thing I have been constantly reminded of in all this preparation is how easy it is to rely on myself. I came into the semester giving a testimony to the rest of the RA's about total dependence--primarily on the Lord--and I've been realizing how much my own walk does not always reflect that. When I do not pray and do not rely fully on God's grace in my life, I am living a works-based religion, right? Not to mention the amount of pride involved in that. Gross! I've been reading 2 Timothy of late, and I am continuously drawn back to 1:9, "...who has saved us and called us with a holy calling not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity..." Not only am I granted God's grace, but I have been granted it from eternity past. Yet I still think that I have something to offer God other than my ugly sin. I constantly think that by reading the Bible every morning or being on youth staff or attending enough chapels I will be sanctified. Clearly, in light of 2 Timothy 1:9, this thinking is wrong! I have nothing to offer God other than my sin. In one sense, this is so freeing! In another, it reminds me of my total dependence on God. I can do absolutely nothing apart from His sovereign grace. I think that's all for now.