Saturday, February 27, 2010

February in Fredericton

February Break at University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick

It is the weekend. February Break is now over. We had a week off, and now we're all playing catch-up on the work that we were supposed to be diligently doing during the break.

But thanks to a girl in the Campus for Christ ministry at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, not everyone's Break was spent sleeping in and vegging (which is a good thing).

This girl (not myself for those who were wondering) decided to see about finding a way to better-use the time she'd been given, and so she worked with Campus for Christ staff to start a missions trip to the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Thanks to her, five students and four staff members decided to spend three days ministering to and evangelizing students at the University of New Brunswick (and St. Thomas, which is so close, they share the same Student Union Building) and connecting people to the Campus for Christ ministry that is just getting started there.

I was part of this team.

It was a great experience, and I am glad that I went. God used this time to explain to me a number of different things that I didn't understand half as well beforehand, including grace to allow that "whoever is not against us is for us" as Jesus said in Mark 9:40 (NIV).

I get caught up in methodology at times, without realizing that at the heart of it, if people's real desire is to make Jesus Christ known, then methodology is secondary; and I shouldn't wish to inhibit people from sharing about Christ, even if I disagree with the methods they use.

I do believe, however, that some times we can get the method wrong, even if our heart is in the right place. Remember that the disciples were unable to cast out a demon because the particular type could only be cast out with prayer and fasting and they had neglected these two very important things (see Mark 9:29). If we neglect Christ's teachings and our 'duties' as His followers, then this will result in spiritual impotence (as He said to remain in Him and only then would we produce fruit in our lives; see John 15:4).

These are some of the things I have been considering since the missions trip.

It is good to wrestle with these things, as each answer hopefully spurs me on to growth in Christ.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lent

Lent is a part of the Christian liturgy, or "set form of ceremony or pattern of worship" [wikipedia.org]. It is the part of the Christian calendar leading up to Easter, and consists of 40 days and 40 nights of self-denial, such that the believer partakes in and sympathizes with the trials and sufferings of Christ.

I am a Protestant, and a Southern Baptist, specifically. We generally believe that we do not need liturgy, as it is not something prescribed by Scripture, but by tradition. My church does not observe Lent, and I have never had a reason to observe it before.

As a tradition, I think it too often becomes something that "Everyone does" (as I heard a girl say in the cafeteria). But I bet if you asked those people why they did it, they wouldn't be able to tell you. They'd say "Everyone does it" and that explanation would have to suffice.

I never want to worship God out of empty tradition, when my heart is not in it.

In Isaiah 29:13, God says "These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." (NIV)

I do not want God to say this of me, so I think it is good that I have never observed Lent until now, as it would have been empty and meaningless. While I had no heart for God or His Word my sacrifices could not have pleased Him, but now that my heart is growing, and I better understand God's love and sacrifice, I believe that my sacrifices, as a ways of worshiping God, are indeed pleasing to Him, if I give them out of pure motives and a cheerful heart.

Therefore, I am observing Lent this year. It began Wednesday, February 17th. My sacrifice is taking variable forms throughout the next 40 days, as I identify different things I can give up for the sake of denying myself and better-understanding the gift of Christ's death for the remission of sins.

Some of the things I have already identified (to remind myself):
1. Food purchased with my DalCard (hot chocolate, coffee, pizza, etc.)
2. Novels (I tend to obsess over them to the point of neglecting my school work and Bible study)
3. Elevators
4. FarmVille (and other online games)
5. Puzzles in the Newspaper (I tend to obsess over these until I finish them)
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LENT UPDATE [March 18, 2010]

I was doing well until a week or two ago, when I somewhat gave up the task. Even now, though, it is good for me, for I realize how weak-willed I am on my own without full reliance on the Spirit of God within to direct me.

To God alone be the glory.