Friday, March 4, 2011

An Email from Oswald

Our friends Whitney and Stephen are... well... quite indescribable really.

I mean, I can use words to describe them, but words don't really do them justice. They are by far the most creative, quirky, God-seeking, life-appreciating, iron-on t-shirt making, color-themed party throwing, synesthetic, unique couple we've ever known. I hate that our move from Atlanta has caused so much time to slip by between visits and true fellowship with them. Their perspective on the world, God, and others challenges me so much as well as their passionate commitment to see beauty in the smallest of things... like a car wash, sewage grate, or puddle. Don't think those things are beautiful? Check out their videos here to have your perspective challenged. :)

Anyways, back to the point. Dearest Whit sends out a devotional to about a million people everyday and has for... 6 years now? Everyday. It might be from Oswald Chambers, it might be from Tozer, it might have some Whitney Wood Bailey thoughts mixed in, but she sends it on... without fail... to challenge her friends and open our eyes to our amazing creator and all Christ as done for us.

Today's morning devotional was so good and so what I needed to hear I felt like I should share. Since getting such positive feedback on the "Anger Management" post, I feel compelled to write more regarding spiritual refinement and what it looks like to walk with God daily. I feel like I meet new people everyday who read this blog and it stuns me to think I am being used by God. So very humbling.

Anyways, today's devo was from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself." Acts 20:24

It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis.

What do I really count dear? If I have not been gripped by Jesus Christ, I will count service dear, time given to God dear, my life dear unto myself. Paul says he counted his life dear only in order that he might fulfill the ministry he had received; he refused to use his energy for any other thing. Acts 20:24 states Paul's almost sublime annoyance at being asked to consider himself; he was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Practical work may be a competitor against abandonment to God, because practical work is based on this argument - Remember how 'useful you are here, or - Think how much value you would be in that particular type of work." That attitude does not put Jesus Christ as the Guide as to where we should go, but our judgment as to where we are of most use. Never consider whether you are of use; but ever consider that you are not your own but His.

1. One of the many things that struck me about this excerpt is how often we surround ourselves with "christian sentiment", but live by what we think is common sense.  Our consumeristic culture has caused us to habitually read the bible for how it encourages us to feel better about ourselves instead of how it demands us to turn away from selfishness, from what we "count as dear" and be like Christ. 

Zach and I have learned so much over the past year and been refined and stretched in about a million ways. One critical lesson I've learned through our personal life and ministry is that Satan doesn't spend the majority of his time in strip clubs or bars or sketchy neighborhoods or places we consider "dark" and apart from God. Satan spends his time in churches and in the minds of today's christians by masquerading as God and getting people to do his work in "the name of Jesus." It's heart-breaking, but totally brilliant if you think about it. In an effort to destroy God's church he infects it like a cancer devouring it from within. It's really his most destructive and conniving maneuver than gains the most ground against Christ. 

I pray our communities do not continue to live in ignorance of this, but perpetually evaluate the state of our hearts, our motives, and if we really are only counting Christ as dear not our own lives.

2. The second significant thing about this Oswald gem is the revelation about  practical work. I have been wrestling with this for sometime as I look for employment (and have for almost a year). This is such a harsh deviation from the attitude of our culture and its emphasis on success and achievement.  As I struggle with finding "where I can be the most useful" this passage slaps me in the face with the fact this is not the end goal. The end goal is to serve Christ and Christ alone so we "dare not boast of anything else." (Romans 15:18)

Thank you Whit for bringing this truth to the table and serving God through your commitment to His true word.  You have repeatedly been an instrument in my life and I am blessed because of it. 

Also, if anyone is interested in being on Whitney's daily devo email list she is always adding new people who cross her path. It's a pretty unique means of ministry and getting God's word out there. Anyways, if you leave a comment below or email me your email address I'll get you on the list. 

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