Friday, March 15, 2013

Where did you come from?

This week my ESOL class from the college came over to my house for dinner. There are 16 people in my class, from 9 different countries! They brought food, so we got to enjoy things like Peruvian potato-cheese sauce, Tai noodles, and Haitian baked chicken. Mmmmm...! I was so proud of the way they all engaged each other in English language conversations. There was a lot of joking and laughing, too, which made me believe they were comfortable and happy and felt welcomed and loved in our little Hobbit Hole. 

As we sat around the dining room, our conversation turned to the topic of immigration - where did you come from? What was the process that you had to go through to get here? There was a variety of answers, all very interesting, and it was fun to learn more about their families and histories, and share ours with them. And as we recalled the steps that have led us here, I thought about how important it is for followers of Jesus to take time to remember spiritually where we have come from, and how we've been brought into life and freedom and redemption... 

"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you..." - Deuteronomy 15:15

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air... All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." - Ephesians 2:1-4

"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." - 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

"When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:20-23

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Receive. Apply. Don't forget.

These words of wisdom hit me hard last night during our discipleship class... so hard, in fact, that I wrote them down in all caps, and underlined them:


The bit about soap actually dates back to 2003, old college days when our InterVarsity staff/mentor, Marshall, explained that the Bible is like soap - it does no good, just sitting on a shelf for your viewing pleasure; it's gotta be applied. Words of wisdom I have never forgotten. I used this a lot when I taught youth group in 2005-2007 (Shout out to my now-grown-up TCF kids!). Studying Scripture and learning from it and living by it has been a majorly important thing to me for a long time, and I love sharing it with others.

But I realized last night that often in my personal study time, I skim over the verses that are directly gospel-driven, as in: "Remember what you were, what God saved you from, and how he did it." Maybe I start to think that since I am already saved, and have been for many years, that part doesn't apply to me anymore. I like to camp more on verses about how to live now... and those are good verses, much needed, but if I forget why I am called to a new life, I can easily fall into legalism and religion and rituals, and get dependent on myself rather than God.

Pastor Nick stressed that if we are going to share the gospel with others, it needs to be alive and at work in our own lives. No wonder sometimes it feels like a strain to talk and be enthusiastic about the good news... I don't let it continually change and affect me! In fact, I think there are days when I don't even think about my own salvation and what it costs. On the days when I do remember, it floors me... I'm overwhelmed with awe and thanks and joy, and it is a beautiful thing to live in the light of that truth.

So I want to make this a daily exercise: to remember the gospel story in my life and ask God to constantly use it to change me and draw me closer to Him. I'd like to ask for your help in this too... will you remind me of the beauty and truth of the gospel? And I will do the same for you. The more often we speak it and pour it into each other's lives, the more naturally it will overflow to others. That is what a gospel community is all about.