Thursday, January 26, 2012

Salt's no good on the Shelf

God has been showing me how incredibly simple it is to be salt and light as we go.

On almost every plane and train that I have been on in the last 4 1/2 months, there has been an open door with the person next to me that led to an opportunity to encourage and many times pray.

On my flight back to the States for Christmas, I was amazed at how people in the airports opened up about the difficult situations they were facing with terminal illness, in either their own lives or a loved one. I was humbled to see how many hurting people are all around us and how easy it is to never see them if we don’t look, or don’t open our mouths to say hello.

In deed, I feel that we are at a moment of great opportunity for these encounters. We have become so isolated and digitized in our communication, that people hunger for real interest and interaction. They long to tell their story and to have someone really listen.

The Incarnation is the miracle of miracles--that the Creator God became flesh and dwelt among men. Yet so often in our own lives we are careless of this gift. We create a castle of personal entertainment or polite small talk to hide behind rather than choosing to be flesh and blood to the people around us. We've forgotten that salt doesn't do any good when it sits on the shelf.  

I don't say this in judgment, for I am as guilty as anyone. But, I am desperate for the truth of the Gospel. I simply want to be more like Jesus, and He loves people. He sees people. As He walked this earth, He was among the people. He was so far past a "comfort zone" that He sacrificed His dignity, His popularity, His very life. As He hung naked on a cross, discolored and unrecognizable from abuse, He was so much more than among the people; He was drenched in their sin, their shame, their very stench.

He did all of this not out of self-righteous pity, but because He knew that when He paid the ultimate price, His coming resurrection would mean salvation for the world. Death was swallowed up in His victory, and He bought for us our freedom: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

As we go about our day, let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see. Let's train our hearts to compassion by our daily choices. Let's look beyond our need to feel good about ourselves and be motivated instead by love and obedience. And let's not be fooled by the lie that says we are being hypocritical if we don't "feel like it." The sweetest and most fruitful encounters usually come when we certainly don't feel like it.

"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:11-13).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Apprenticeship...completed

Dear friends,

Well, the Herrnhuter Star apprenticeship has come to an end, and I am very pleased to report that I finally finished my star! As it turned out, it was quite fortunate that I was so slow at my star crafting because, little did I know, my sister had planned to fly me home to surprise my family for Christmas!! Probably my best Christmas present ever. You see, if I had been faster at building my star, I would have had to leave it in Herrnhut because there would have been no way to transport it safely with me on the plane. As it was, I was able to bring all of the paper points, or cones, and the round frame with me in a box in my carry on, and then assemble it together at home to give to my family as a Christmas gift.

It was so nice. I stayed up all night on Christmas Eve while the rest of my family was in bed. I glued the whole thing together that night, and finished at 4:30am. So on Christmas morning when everyone woke up and came downstairs, my star was hanging by the tree all lit up :). It was the best way to enjoy my first handcrafted-by-moi Moravian Star.

Here are the pictures of the last stage and the final product. The pictures with the star lit up are way brighter than in real life. I promise the star is not blindingly bright, only in the pictures. Next project I guess should be improving my photography skills.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy thoughts for a New Year

Sitting in my room my second night back in Herrnhut--having just unpacked and re-organized everything--I sip tea from my beautiful chinese teapot I finally brought with me from home, and think happily on the blessings of books, lovely music, warm thoughts of family, and a beautiful new year before me.

I don't know what's in store, but I hope that it plunders the depths of my heart. Should there be grief, I hope that I may feel it to the depth of His comfort. Should there be joy, I hope that I may know it in its boundless possibilities. Should there be trials, I hope that I may run face-forward to the challenge. Should there be victory, I hope that in His grace I will triumph. Should there be dissappointment, I hope to be vulnerable in His presence. Should there be comfort, I hope to find joy in the sharing. And should there be love, I hope to give a heart that is whole; a heart that has chosen the depths--to give every ounce and to recieve, unapologetically, all that Love Himself shall give.

Twelve is a good number: 12 tribes, 12 apostles, a dozen eggs, a dozen roses. It sounds complete, doesn't it? It's a full number, good and round. More then ten, it just feels like an overflow. Let's give it all this time around. I'm not talking about running away with your emotions, but embracing the depths of real life. Forget the pixilated stampede of endless notifications. Let's be generous in real time. Have an interesting conversation and ask some real questions. If you found that you have neglected someone, turn around and go back. When you realize you are having a truly grateful moment, take it further and do something to make someone else thankful. When you've done wrong, make it right; and when you've done right, make it better.

Be inspired and inspire others. It's what breathing's all about: taking it in and giving it out. And remember that man's first breath was the breath of God. Maybe we should start that way each day.

So for all of us out there in the bumper cars of life, remember, it's more fun to drive around and get hit than to sit in the corner.

Happy 2012!!!