29 October 2016

down here with Jesus

Here's a non organized update of the last few days, including some great chapel services, carpooling and school, mud and rain and sunshine, playing with Aunt Sharon, visiting the gorgeous baby Kennedy, and loving on Pepper the dog.  

Matt had a FANTASTIC week at Houghton College, preaching in chapel, teaching in an anthropology class and in Bible studies, and meeting with dozens of staff and students to talk about God's call on our lives.  He is continually emphasizing to all those he's meeting with the great need that we have to truly know and search out and live by God's Word, and the time they all had together was precious.

This morning around 3 am our time, he arrived safely in Manchester, and he now has the next few days to get rested and get ready for the defense of his doctorate on November 1st!  If you're praying for him, send him an email, matthaiti@gmail.com...I know he's love to know of your prayers.  

Meanwhile, the car is mostly fixed, the ground is finally mostly dry (meaning the laundry is finally mostly dry!) and it's been a great week of classes and study.

Lucner shared a fantastic message in chapel yesterday on humility, and I wanted to share one of his examples with you as we bow low to serve and love like Jesus did...

(Cultural information needed to understand the story: In this culture, smoking is seen as a sin issue, along with anything else considered an addiction.)

So one day, Lucner was walking down the road when he saw a man from his church, and he was smoking.  As soon as the man saw him, he quickly enclosed his cigarette in his hand, burning himself, hiding it from Luke, both out of embarrassment and out of respect for his pastor.  Lucner saw, of course, and so greeted him and quickly continued on, so the man wouldn't be further embarrassed or burned.

(No matter what our culture here, equivocate this with catching one of your brothers or sisters in Christ living in sin...gossiping or showing hatred or cheating on a spouse or being consumed with worry or speaking badly of others or refusing to live in forgiveness or WHATEVER)

After that day, Lucner deliberately started entwining his life with the man, spending time with him, visiting him, growing in relationship.  

As they became better friends and grew in their relationship, the man told Pastor Lucner he was so addicted to smoking that he couldn't go another minute without a cigarette, and before too long, the man just started smoking openly in front of Luke, now his friend, now comfortable, now knowing that Luke wasn't judging or alienating him.

When others saw him smoking in front of Pastor Lucner, they felt that the man was disrespecting him...but Lucner didn't mind being disrespected, didn't mind being made humble or low in the eyes of the community...because this was about relationship.  This was about loving the man well...and not leaving him in the sin he was in.

Eventually, because of their now true friendship, Lucner was able to talk to him about his habit lovingly, and today, the man gave up this culturally-sinful encumberment and more importantly, gave his heart and life full to Jesus, and is now following hard after the Jesus Lucner showed him.

"I was able to talk to him about his sin and walk with him out of it because I was willing to be made low alongside of him.  I was willing to come alongside of him.  Now some may say that this isn't the kind of pastor they want...they want a high and lifted up, beautiful pastor.  But if Jesus was made low and humble for us, must we not be made low for others, that they might see Jesus?"

Perhaps this hasn't been a very high and lifted up week for you...maybe it's been full of lots of monotony and sick kids or math homework or grading papers or washing dishes or driving kids around or crunching numbers at working or sweeping the church or night shifts or cleaning up a million times or working with difficult people at thankless tasks.  Maybe you've been disrespected this week, maybe didn't receive what you very much so deserved, maybe weren't loved on or treated the way that you should be.

So while we're down here with Jesus, let's pour out some grace, let's hang out with some sinners, let's patiently point towards His Word and draw other's closer to His Holy side, let's be accused, let's be mistreated, let's not let His great grace in our own lives be in vain, let's love deep and wide and practical, all the same.

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