Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oh Law!

Something that I have been learning about myself this year is how very broken I still am.  I know that sounds depressing, but I hear it's a good thing.  Apparently, as we grow in the Christian life and get to know Jesus better and better, we also begin to recognize the brokenness and sin that is in us more and more as well.  So it's like a good and bad thing at the same time.  But what's incredible about this is, as I realize more areas of sin, brokenness, pride, lies that I believe, etc., I also am more and more actuely aware of my absolute need for the gospel.  I am broken.  I have an utter need for a Savior that didn't disappear when I gave my life to Him - it simply is, and will never change.  I will always need Jesus to be my righteousness, for I have none in myself apart from Him.  Even if I do a good thing, my motives are all broken and twisted. 

What we church people tend to do is have this moment in our lives when we become aware of our sin, recognize our need for a Savior, choose to give our whole selves to Jesus because we recognize the truth that He is our only hope....and then try to bust out goodness and righteous living from that point on in our own efforts and power, because, after all, we're supposed to be "good Christians" now. We come to Christ based soley on His grace, but then in our practical living, we place ourselves back under the Law - trying to earn God's favor by our righteous acts.  We get caught in cycles of guilt when we fail, rather than being amazed at the continued grace of Christ in our lives, and we fail so often becasue we feel like we should be able to be righteous in our own power now, rather than relying on His righteousness to flow through us. 

Preach the gospel to yourself every day. 

This is what I have been teaching my girls this year, and am teaching my D-group this summer as well, through Tim Keller's study on Galatians.  One of my favorite sections is a section that Keller includes from Martin Luther's intro. to Galatians:

"Oh law!  You would climb up into the kingdom of my conscience, and there reign and condemn me for sin, and would take from me the joy of my heart which I have by faith in Christ, and drive me to desperation, that I might be without hope.  You have overstepped your bounds.  Know your place!  You are a guide for my behavior, but you are not my Savior and Lord of my heart.  For I am baptized, and through the gospel am called to receive rigtheousness and eternal life...So trouble me not! For I will not allow you, so intolerable a tyrant and tormentor, to reign in my heart and conscience - for they are the seat and temple of Christ the Sond of God, who is the king of righteousness and peace, and my most sweet savior and mediator.  He shall keep my conscience joyful and quiet in the sound and pure doctrine of the gospel, through the knowledge of this passive and heavenly righteousness."

Good stuff, that. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Getting to Know You"

We've had a great time over the past week as students have spent a lot of time getting to know one another and beginning their jobs, ministry teams, discipleship groups, etc. 

One of the highlights of last week was our "Low Country Boil" night!  We cooked up a HUGE pot of shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage and everybody had their fill.  Talk about some amazing food!  The students also had a great time chatting and getting to know one another as we waited for dinner to be served.


On Saturday we had our first beach outreach.  I have continued to be incredibly impressed by the high caliber of the students that we have here on project.  They all seem so eager and ready to learn, grow, and jump in to share the hope that they have found in Christ.  We planned several ways of initiating with people on the beach, including playing corn hole and volleyball; providing a tent with the Soularium survey, an art expression wall (pictured above), and free water; and then sending students out in pairs to simply initiate spiritual conversations with people on the beach using Soularium.  We expected people to mainly want to stick around the tent or play cornhole and volleyball, but the majority of students wanted to go out in pairs to talk with people!  Seriously, these students are gung-ho about evangelism!

We wanted a non-traditional question that would cause people to think and also provide a way to get into spritual conversations.  Many times we ask people how they view God, but not how they believe He views them.  It was cool to see people consider this question and respond by writing their responses. 

Like I said, our students were awesome about taking the initiative and jumping right into conversations with people, sharing about Jesus and how He has changed their lives.

Last night was our first D-group Bible studies!  I took my girls to dinner at a famous local place called Taco Boy (incredible guacamole!), and we decided it was a great time for a photo.  I have also begun my first discipleship appointments with my girls this week.  There are five girls total in my D-group, and so far it has been great getting to know them.  It is a little overwhelming realizing that I only have 5 weeks to get to know them and figure out how to best pour into their lives in such a short amount of time.  I feel like everyone has such high expectations of learning and growing and being transformed on summer project, and I can begin to put the pressure on myself to be the one who causes that growth.  I have to constantly remind myself that the Lord is the one who transforms lives, not me, and if anything is to happen in their lives through my influence, it will totally and completely be through His Spirit working through me.  So I'm having to keep reminding myself to get on my face before the Lord, recognize my inability, and ask for Him to work through me. 

The schedule here has been pretty intense, so moments of rest are precious to us, and SO life-giving!  This was my Sunday afternoon activity, and probably the best few hours of my week :)

"He leads me beside the still waters
He restores my soul..."
~Psalm 23