Monday, February 25, 2013

A Small Hiatus

My dearests,

I think that perhaps I will not be posting super often for a little while. Yes, my trials, tribulations, rants, and emotions are still my constant companion, and I will most likely still be posting at points, but I think I need to take a little time to work through this next transition with the Lord and with myself. In four months I head somewhere else, and when I know where I will tell you all of course. And in the next quarter I will most likely be impassioned with something that I cannot help but share. And perhaps as soon as I post this I will be flooded with phenomenal ideas for blog posts (I still owe you all one on my experience on the Ellen Show) but don't be alarmed if I go a little while without a word. I am still alive and well, and still committed to posting my rambling mind on the internet for all little eyes to see. For now I just need a little break to take in my surroundings, spend time with those I have come to love over the past year and a half, and figure things out.

I will see you soon, I promise. Perhaps tomorrow, next week, or the next.

Just don't worry. I won't forget about you.

Yours truly,

Meredith 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Productivity has flown away.

Today I am being woefully unproductive. Holed up in my friend's apartment (because she has internet, and this couch I am sitting on, and some crackers that I have eaten hoping she won't notice) I am supposed to be working on a research paper. Old Meredith keeps knocking on the doors of my brain saying "This paper is due Monday! You should be almost done by now!" But new Meredith drowns her out with iTunes and says, "I'll do it later." New Meredith is lacking in time-management skills.

Outside it looks like a once-in-a-blue-moon cloudy day and I think it maybe rained. So I think that gives me permission to curl up on this sofa and not worry about anything. Perhaps I will do a little reading for this paper and then calmly contemplate how I am going to freak out on Friday but then be done with it on Tuesday. Because really graduate school is just a crazy cycle to get used to. Procrastinate, Stress, Nap. That is how it goes. In fact, I think I will skip step one and two and just take a nap.

Perhaps I will gain all the information about the de-Christianization of Europe and the history behind it by magical osmosis.

You never know. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Post About Love Love Love.


Do you realize how much love we are capable of? Who do you love? I think of my niece. I haven't seen her in almost a year but I look at pictures of us together and I love her so much I know that in a heartbeat I would take her in to live with me, no matter the challenges. I would do anything for that little girl. Or I think about my only brother. He might be my favorite person in the world. I was so sad when he left after his week visit because spending time with him is so fun. 

And I will be honest, I did a heck of a lot of dishes while he was here and I hate doing dishes. But I didn't mind because I love him and I was so happy to be with him. And then there are the people that aren't family. The little one that I nanny- I love that little boy as if he was my own. Or my friends that take time to visit or call, I would defend them with my own life. 

When I am with these people I feel a sort of love that changes my actions, that leads me to serve and to have grace and forgiveness. I want to protect these people and I want life to turn out well for them. This love changes things. But what if I multiplied that love by 100 million? I would explode! I couldn't handle it, I can't even imagine loving these people any more than I do. Yet God's love is a 100 million times bigger than my love. God loved us so much that He sent a piece of him to suffer and die for us. And God loves those that I don't. What if I loved the annoying people as much as I loved my niece, or what if I loved the homeless man as much as I loved my brother. Would I be led to serve them more? Would I do all I could to help them, to my life down for them? I assume that I would. 

So here it is Valentine's Day, and I could have a pity party about being unmarried and single but thats old news. We all know I am single as a dollar bill (thanks for that one Eleanor)!  But today I find so many reasons to celebrate. I am loved more than I could imagine and I have been given the chance to love so many of you. Today I choose to praise God for giving us this ability to be even a tiny reflection of the amazing love He has for us, for love is what has made my life worth living. 

My friends, may this day, this week, this year be filled with love love love. Love others, love yourself, and more than anything love the God who taught us how to love. 

Besos! (Kisses) 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Standing Back Up on my Soapbox


If I were to tell you that this post was on heresy, coercive Christianity, martyrdom, and “Christianity by sword” would you be interested? These have been just a few of the topics brought up for discussion in my mission history class over the past week and a half. It has been interesting and sometimes discouraging to listen to the perspectives of my fellow students as we talk through these serious and consequential issues. The truth, as we have come to see, is that as Christians we cannot deny our history, both good and bad. No matter how we turn the coin we have to face the fact of the Crusades, the terrible destruction of indigenous communities, and the burning of so-called “heretics” were all real things that real Christians really did. If we face the truth, the history of Christianity ever since Jesus ascended into heaven hasn’t always been all that great, and that in itself can be pretty discouraging. It always makes me wonder, are we still getting it wrong? 100 years from now will Christians look back at us and shake their heads? 

As we wrestle with these issues and what they mean for our context today a lot of varying opinions rise out of the discussion. I have to admit that I have trouble paying attention in this class, but when people start talking my ears perk up and a fire starts to rise in my soul. I am seriously passionate about some of our discussion topics. For instance I had quite a lot to say on evangelism, heresy, and what it means to acknowledge and move forward from our treatment of indigenous people. What can I say? I have preacher blood in me and sometimes I can’t stop myself. I find that the times when I speak up most though are when I see some of my classmates moving too far towards the middle. This, I believe, could be one place where today’s Christians are going wrong.

I understand that the history of Christianity has been full of extremes that we don’t want to repeat. All too often Christians have gone too far and the result has been traumatic. But at the same time I don’t think that means we should try to fix our past by being wobbly middle-grounders. There are some things, that are simply absolute.

Evangelism by words (not just actions) is absolutely necessary, not just a polite suggestion Jesus uttered to his disciples. 

Heresy is still a serious issue, and we can’t just blame different opinions on different interpretations of Scripture. The truths of the gospel message are non-negotiable, and those who change that message need to be refuted. 

The gospel message we portray to other cultures is seriously important and as my wise classmate put it, we cannot conform the message of Scripture to our lives, instead we are meant to conform our lives to the message of Scripture

We cannot sit back and hope people recognize we are Christians and ask about it. We cannot allow people to change the gospel message to fit their needs. We cannot just sit back and believe that those who have never heard the gospel will find their way to Christ. 

We have been called to the standard set by Jesus Christ and his ministry on this earth. We have been called to proclaim the gospel with passion and urgency, to hold our marginalized, indigenous, immigrant, impoverished, needy neighbors and tell them with certainty that they are loved, beautiful, worthy creations of the most high God. We have a duty, a privilege, and an honor to be strong-headed about the truth of Jesus Christ, to discern the teachings of God from the teaching of the world, and to reject the tiny whisperings of our culture that tells us we are being too extreme or too Christian-y.  

Let me go ahead and say this in case any who don’t go to church or follow Christ happen to read my blog and get this far into the post: Yes, Christians have done a lot of crappy things in the past. Yes, people who call themselves Christians still do really crappy and stupid things. But do not let this define what you know as Christianity. And to the Christians, the seminary students, the church-goers: let us not fall prey to the mistakes of our pasts, let us not be lukewarm in order to make everyone like us, and let us continually return to Scripture to make sure that what we are proclaiming as truth really is truth. 

I believe that there are amazing Christians at Fuller, in American churches, and around the world who are doing radical things for Christ. I am so encouraged by the work of my fellow seminary students, by their dreams, passions, and stories. God is moving in this world and if we all as Christians rise up to be different then the world will finally see that we are not our tattered past or our mistakes. We are followers of Christ, who will fall and fail, but who are loving, passionate, and committed to the only truth we can hold on to with certainty. 

And this is truth:

That Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man, came to this earth to die a brutal and painful death so that in three days he could rise again, therefore separating us from our sin and uniting us with our Creator. That through Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, we can have new life. And that through Christ and Scripture we can come to know the most loving Father and Creator, who loves us despite our failures, who guides us with tough love, and who challenges us to be who he created us to be. And one day our Savior will return to be reunited with all who believe, and right will be restored to this fallen, broken, and messed up world. 

And that my friends, is some seriously good news. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Relevancy Vs. Irresponsibility


I was once told that in regards to politics I had very strong opinions for not knowing very much. Harsh, right? Part of me was thinking, lie to me people! Don’t tell me the truth! But I guess I want the truth, this one just hit me in the gut. I immediately put on my defensive I-can’t-believe-you just-said-that face and yelled “I’ll show you you know-it-all!” Ok the first half is true. I think my actual response was something closer to, “yea, whatever.” As I stomped away (or more than likely sat for a few more hours pondering my revenge) I decided to actually discover the reasons behind my beliefs and come back spitting fire made out of hard facts and strong evidence. About an hour of that and I was bored. Politics made me feel itchy so I decided that it would really just be easier for everyone to realize that I am never wrong. Isn’t that how it works? Or is it, say it with confidence and pretend you know the details? Who knows. At any rate I survived the political season held up by my menacing glares, my occasional wit, and a few well-placed words I learned in my economics classes. 

But there are other aspects of my life where it isn’t ok to just pretend to know what I am talking about. In my Christian life putting up a facade of holiness or knowledge and thinking that it will get me through isn’t going to work. In Christian life it isn’t enough to say the words and just pretend that you can back it up, running away before anyone can actually ask you anything hard. Christianity is being willing to be the one salmon that swims the other way, eventually leading the rest to follow (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen anyone? Great movie.).

Oh but, you know, that whole radical difference thing, that is only for other countries, right? Martyrdom, suffering, being super recognizable....sure Jesus and his disciples talk about that but they meant it for the Middle East, not America. America is church on Sunday and party on Monday! Living the dream! I can profess Jesus and still do what I want, its what is in my heart that counts, not what I do with my Saturday night. I’m just doing the best I can. 

In America relevant Christianity is “the thing”, as it in some ways should be. We have students rising up to stand for social justice and we have at least some people in our churches on Sundays. But can I interject? For just a moment I’m going to let my strong opinions pop out. I think there is a great difference between being relevant and being irresponsible. 

In other countries where people are persecuted for professing Christianity, Christians understand that they have to be different, they have to stand out in order to be what they are professing to be. But in some American contexts we think that we can get drunk on Saturdays and drink communion wine Sunday morning. This is the effect of our circumstances lying to us

The question that sits in my brain like a ticking that won’t go away is this: when people see us walking down the street, sitting at the bar, or driving our cars, do they actually see a difference? Or have we blended in so much with our culture that our Christianity has become unrecognizable? I am pretty sure what the Bible has called us to is pretty radical, more radical than bringing a bible to school or getting a seminary degree. I am pretty sure that God has called us to act differently then our neighbor. So if my non-Christian neighbor and I lead the same life, this is a problem. 

This is my question. If I am willing to jam to music that has derogatory or unholy language, am I answering God’s call? If I am willing to get drunk at the bar or cuss out that driver that just cut me off, am I answering God’s call? If I get unnecessarily angry at the fast food worker or if I fail to show grace to my family members, am I answering God’s call? 

 Let me pause here to give us a little pick me up. Let me throw out a few words, namely grace, hope, and sanctification. We are a work in progress guys, Lord knows myself included! We won’t be perfect, and in no way do I think we should give up margaritas, “secular” music, or saying the occasional expletive when we stub our toe or just feel like life sucks. We aren’t called to be holier-than-thou or robots. We have emotions, bad days, good days, and days when we just want to not care. But we cannot forget that we are called to something bigger, something that is supposed to make us uncomfortable and itchy. 

We are called to show people how our lives are being transformed by Christ. We are called to be examples, showing that there is something that satisfies us more than anything in this world. It is imperative that our lives show that we are willing to give up anything if it means just one more person will be added to the kingdom, if just one more person will ask why we are the way we are. 

My fear is that we as American Christians are losing the truth of what it means to have the name “Christian” attached to us. My fear is that we are slipping so far into the American Dream that we are forgetting what it means to have been dreamt into being by the Creator of the Universe. If we choose to call ourselves Christians then we have a responsibility. And we can mask that responsibility with words like “judgmental” and “uptight” but the truth is its not enough to wear the name of Christ and just not kill people or steal things. In studying Matthew I realize that right in front of me is a whole book about what I am supposed to be, what I am called to be when I take on the name of Jesus follower. 

Its all right there, so what are we doing about it? 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Licenses, Poor Planning, and Why Its Cool that I am still in the US.

Life dilemma number 547.3: My license is about to expire. Sure, that seems like a normal happens-every-six-years kind of problem, but it turns out to be a little more complicated for a nomad. Yes, I probably should have realized that this was going to happen soon since my license says I am an inch shorter than I am now and still has the red ring that warns people I was once under the age of 21, but alas, I just left the little guy in my wallet and now I stare at my 18 year-old-self wondering the best course of action.

The best course of action is, well, unknown, as is my location in six months. Ah yes, just six short months and I am on to the next adventure. To be honest I have spent the last year-point-five freaking out calmly searching for options, until finally I slowed down enough to hear God say "Just wait." Just calm down, be quiet, and trust. Sure, I have to do some work too, seeing what doors open and what doors close, but I know that God will take me where I need to go next. I realize that he already knows where I will go and how he will take care of me. I mean, I am praying it isn't North Dakota or Wisconsin (although I do like cheese....) but wherever it is, it will be exciting.

I will be honest too in saying that I used to feel ashamed about staying in the country. I clearly stated to my college ministry that I was giving my life to missions and upon graduation from Georgia College hoped to be out of the country within the year. When that didn't happen I was nervous that people would think I had left that calling behind, that I was failing to serve God missionally because here I was in the good ole' US of A. But that isn't true. Being a missionary is a process, and everything doesn't happen on our time clock. Each step I take is in preparation for whatever mission field God desires for me, and it is in no way less worthy to pursue a Masters degree that will help me be a better servant. It is in no way less worthy for me to serve God on an Apache reservation, at an Ivy League University, or in my own hometown, because the mission field is everywhere. I know and believe that God has called me to be a missionary, but I have come to learn that the calling itself is on His timeline and being a missionary isn't just a call to far away lands. The journey is just as important as the destination. The calling to be a missionary applies to the here and now, to educating ourselves, to serving God in the United States and abroad. There are issues in our very own backyard and God has chosen to expand my vision in ways I never expected.

So yes, I would love to be traveling the world, working with the Quechua people of South America (my dream), or adventuring through the cities of Spain, and perhaps one day God will lead me there. But for now I will wait, I will learn to be excited about the journey, and I will gladly serve God in any capacity He calls me too.

In light of all this I guess an expired license isn't such a problem after all. Perhaps it is an invitation to go somewhere new and settle down some roots, to have a different "permanent" address, and to embark on a different adventure.

So what is my next step? I'm thinking my first course of action will be to plan a stand-out outfit and perfect hairstyle for that next license. 18 year-old-license-self, you are getting a make-over! Welcome to 2013!