Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's everywhere you want to be.

I'm working on my visa application today. Even determining which application to fill out has been quite the mystery. But there is good news: the Hungarian law currently dictates that visa applications may be submitted through the mail. It is no longer necessary for me to travel to New York City in order to apply for this document. Hooray!

I'm actually enjoying some cultural discoveries as I complete the paperwork with capital letters in blue ink. For instance, as best as I can understand it, I am referred to by my mother's maiden name instead of my own middle name while in official Hungarian situations. Actually, the Hungarian tradition of name usage is quite different from that of the U.S. and closer to that of some Asian countries, though I can't articulate it very well right now. Next, the state in which I live is of no consequence (or at least does not merit a blank in the address section). This cultural difference may prove tricky since I live in a lesser known El Paso. And finally, I have again been amazed by the linguistic phenomenon that is European people. Three different Hungarian women who hold positions not unlike switchboard operators were able to flit from Hungarian to English with ease in order to answer my visa questions and direct my calls. As a beginner in the study of the Hungarian language, I can assure you that our languages hold nothing in common. Amazing.

And so the visa application and ministry partner development processes continue and the day for departure grows closer, though I can't see it just yet. I hope to continue to see new situations as adventures and different cultures as valid (No negative attribution here!). Ultimately, I realize that I hold no power over governments and bureaucracies, but God has everything under control.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Choosing the better thing

The life I live is a response to God's mercy (See Romans 12:1. Actually, see all of Romans leading up to chapter 12 to appreciate the big picture.) Unfortunately, from time to time I lose sight of this basic premise. I get caught up in all the lists of things I should do. I am distracted by activities.

Now, I am to work hard and with sincerity (Colossians 3:23). I should be prepared to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16). But I miss the point when I seek things to do over the One to love.

As I study Luke 10:38-42, God's Word confronts me again.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman
named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at
the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all
the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't
you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset
about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Service in love, activities, deeds are good. They are an indicator of faith lived out. They show the world that I belong to Christ. They can be the demonstration of my love for the Father as He saved me by His Son to truly live. Then, such things can become a snare.

Martha loved Jesus, and Jesus loved Martha. She worked to feed a house full of company as His posse came to town. Mary wasn't helping, apparently, but was sitting at Jesus' feet as He taught (revolutionary in that time, by the way). Where did Martha's service become the snare? Verse 40 holds the key: she was "distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." She lost sight of why Christ was there.

As this new year has come in with a bang for me, there is much to be done before I can head to Hungary. Once I get there, there will be much more to do. This life is exciting, and it is an honor to live exuberantly for my God. My students need a good teacher who is serious about influencing and preparing them, for example. The danger comes as I get distracted by the things that need to get done.

I need to get back into the habit of being still and knowing that God is God. He is my shepherd, my life, the power by which I live. He loves me, and I love Him. How is the relationship doing? Do I settle for a "to do" list or do I choose the better thing: a seat at the foot of my savior?

There is so much more that needs to be said as I share my lesson with you. I'm getting distracted by my own desire to write clearly and bring you comfort in the character of a relational God. Instead, I'm going to sit, be real with God, get things done, and not worry so much about things that need to get done.

In the battle of life, let's be still and know that He is God. It, or He, is the better thing.

Psalm 46

Monday, January 7, 2008

For the moment

Hello there! Life is a marvelous whirlwind in this the new year. Enjoy some odd shots of my family while I gather my thoughts.