Sunday, July 29, 2007

Black and White Vs. Gray

As I return home from visiting my sister, I have time to reflect on my life as it is now. The most important things in my life are that Christ as my Savior and redeemer and my relationship with Him. But I wonder if others see what I say is true, or if I am doing what I do for the right reasons. Am I putting aside myself for the eternal situation of others and for the glory of Christ? Or am I as the Pharisees, doing what I do only out of legalistic beliefs? Or am I as I should be, doing what I do out of obedience and a desire to please God?

As my sister and brother-in-law were describing their and their friends’ involvement in their church, it became more obvious (although I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks) to me the different between my friends in Oshkosh and those I’m getting to know here.

In Oshkosh, all my friends were involved in the church somehow, and most with the youth: youth pastor (and elder, among other responsibilities), junior high youth leaders, high school youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, sound booth workers, to name a few. In Nashville, one that I know of co-teaches a Sunday school class. (One major difference that may or may not be related: Oshkosh church—200–300 attendees; Nashville church—3,000 attendees.)

I have noticed in my recent moths of babysitting how much young kids look up to and imitate those they are around. I’m convinced that my friends in Oshkosh realized this, and although not necessarily required as black or white in the Bible, portrayed higher standards than most other recent college graduates around the area may have. For instance, on New Year’s Eve 2006, the college group opted for a lock-in at the church, but only after all from the church who wanted to came out to play games that the college group organized.

The college and careers group at my Nashville church decided that it would be fun during our recent weekend excursion around TN to take a trip to a bar and grill for a steak and a cold beer.

Now, lest you misunderstand, I’m not saying that anything is good or bad with either approach. But it is plainly obvious the difference between the two, the influence of one group over the youth in the church, the black-and white stand versus the gray stand.

Robin and Jason brought this to mind when I visited them. While I am still in the same country after my recent move, I have still had to deal with some culture shock. Many in Nashville (I make generalizations knowing that they do not apply to everyone, but merely to state what I’ve observed) decide what is right or wrong based on feelings and personal interpretations, while those in Sheboygan and Oshkosh (at least those with whom I’ve had close contact) decide one way or the other and stand by their decisions, even if they are wrong. If I didn’t know this is where I am supposed to be, and to whom I should be spreading the truth of hell, God’s grace, and eternal life, I may not enjoy living here so much. If I had not decided at an early age where I would set certain boundaries, I may have been tempted to abandon them. But it is only through God’s grace and abounding mercy that I strive to honor and please Him in all I do.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Mission Field

My mission field is changing, I’ve noticed recently. I’ve now been in Nashville for nine months, the longest I’ve been in any one place (with college and summers in the mix) for the last six years. And, unlike when I was in Oshkosh, I don’t feel the call to move. Rather, I feel called to minister, to be a light, to my small but growing circle.

Biking around here is amazing—the scenery is breathtaking, the weather incredible. I recently wondered, out loud, if non-riders appreciate God’s creation as much as we do. I was shocked at the response from my riding partner at the time. Paraphrased, he said, “I don’t go to church much, but sometimes my wife and I will watch those preachers on TV. Some of them are so big I think they should get out here and ride. They cover it up with big expensive suits, but they still look big, and you could fit three men in the material used for those suits.

“Oh, God,” I prayed, “he’s so lost. And look at the image of You some of these ‘Christian’ preachers are portraying. This is the only image of You he’s seeing now; help me to show You through me in all I do and say.” Thankfully, God is so able and adequate, especially when I question my ability or keep my mouth shut. How do I know but that I have come to this position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

A Name Better Than...

Isaiah 56:4-5 For this is what the Lord says: "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases Me and hold fast to My covenant – to them I will give within My temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off."
A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters

Was it Shakespeare who asked, “What’s in a name?” There’s something about hearing people, especially friends, say your name. It defines you; it sets you apart from others around you. But there are other words that might describe you, too. For me, I’d use words like athletic, loyal, determined, competitive. One word that rarely appears in descriptive lists such as above is daughter. There is no doubt, however, that each of us is someone’s son or daughter. To me falls the privilege of calling myself the daughter of Cliff and Bobbi Acheson.

I can thank only God alone that what He has joined together (in the marriage of my parents), no man has torn apart (Matthew 19:6b).

I love my parents. As far as I know, they have raised all three of us girls by the commands of the Bible. I have tried to follow their godly example. My dad studies the Scriptures daily, a trait that I admire and have tried to mirror—not just because he is doing it, but because I have seen the impact of this discipline in his life. My mom loves serving others. I remember her making meals for families in our church. More recently, she came to visit me and basically cleaned and set up my whole apartment. I can’t imagine loving my parents more, or them loving me more.

How is it possible, then, that my parents are only an example? Not just an example of how I should be when I have kids of my own, or other kids now whose lives I impact (I consider those I baby sit my kids). But my parents are also an example of how my Father in heaven loves me and cares for me. My parents don’t necessarily know everything I do, where I go, or who my friends are. Not because I hide it from then, but because it is hard to communicate all that in just a weekly phone call or infrequent visits. How much more real, then, is it to understand that God knows every sparrow that falls and every hair on my head! (Luke 12:6-7)

And I am His daughter! What a name! And what a responsibility. As much as I represent the Achesons, I represent God infinitely more. How important is it for more me, then, to know and act on the fact that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit! (1 Corinthians 6:19) And how incomprehensible, then, to see that God will give me a name better than daughter. In this world, I cannot imagine a better name.