Hello Everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. It was such a blessing to experience sunshine and warm weather! Awesome! Maybe Spring is on its way. How cool would it be to be warm outside again? That’s a funny sentence!
TONIGHT: Worship @ 6:30pm. Faith must have an object. And all of us practice faith of some kind, we just may not realize it because its object may not be something we are conscious of. Come and find out what it is utmost important to keep God as the object of our faith. Tonight we will be answering the WHO question.
WEDNESDAY: Ladies group @ 3pm. Yes we are on Ladies! Woo Hoo!
THURSDAY: Meal & program @ 6:30. We will continue to dig into the word. This time we will look at tools from critical thinking skills. The university wants students to be able to think critically. But those same skills that are used in the classroom can also take us deeper into an understanding of what God’s Word may be saying to us. Should be fun! Spice up your thinking!
SPRING RETREAT @ LOUCON: Let me know if you can go April 10-12 to Loucon for our Spring Retreat. Just got word that there is a possibility we might be able to partner with Wesley Foundation from U of L. How completely cool is that! Steve Boutell, campus minister there, is awesome. We would have a fantastic time for sure!!!!! Cost is $40.
Now For Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:
Last Wednesday several of us gathered in the chapel and received the imposition of ashes. It was a time to mark the season of Lent, to remember how much we need God. When I was in high school, my youth group celebrated Lent by having breakfast and a devotional every Wednesday morning before school. I’m not quite sure how I got there, because my parents both worked in the big city, an hour away from the small town I lived in. A part of that also involved giving something up. My favorite thing to go without was always Dr. Pepper. At the time it was my favorite soft drink, so there was some element of self denial there. As the years went by I would give up TV shows that I knew weren’t good for me. It seemed to be a natural way to break myself of bad habits and cut off the in-flow of mental junk food. It’s seemed to help. Whatever show I gave up has remained on my “let’s not watch this” list. So I believe self-denial is good. Those pangs of longing for that thing we’ve cut ourselves off from can serve as a reminder to turn our attention towards God.
This Lent there is an element of that in my practice this go around. But in my heart is a deeper desire than to simply purge or order my life so that the extra baggage is done away with. My prayer for each of us this Lent has been that we would enter deeply into the love of Christ and fall deeper in love with Jesus. It is odd to be so focused on love during Lent, but I believe greater love is the ultimate goal of this season of repentance and discipline. But it’s a lot easier for God to love us than it is for us to love God. After all, He is invisible. It takes faith, believing beyond what we can see, to know Him and commune with Him. We are completely dependent upon Him to get this love feast started.
And that is exactly what He does. The last few days I have been drawn to Song of Solomon. I remember singing a song in Sunday School as a child, “He brought me to His banqueting table, and His banner over me is love; He brought me to His banqueting table, and His banner over me is love; He brought me to His banqueting table, and His banner over me is love; His banner over me is love.” I’m sure if my Sunday School teachers had read all the words to that book, they probably wouldn’t have had us singing that song. After all, of all the books in the Bible, this one is particularly laden with very strong language about the sharing of love in a physical way between a man and a woman. It is very full of passion. If it were a show on TV there would be an insignia in the upper right hand corner listed as TV-14, or even as TV-M, mature audiences only. (I can just see Bibles being opened right now, and feverish turning of pages to the book right after Ecclesiastes.) However, I believe it is the passion that draws me. The Church included this book within the Bible because it is a picture of the passionate love God has for His people, and that Christ has for His bride. The Lord would have us know that He is unashamedly, passionately loving us, right this minute, always, and forever. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism put is this way: “Grace for all and in all.” God is reaching out to us in love, every moment of every day, to every person, whether He is recognized or not.
And what happens when we recognize and receive Him sets the world on fire. John Wesley said just that, “I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” His heart was so stoked by the love of God that his radical message of grace was kicked out of the churches of his day. He didn’t care. He preached on the sidewalks. And legend has it that he preached God’s message with such fervor that he left imprints of his feet in the concrete. All because he discovered God loved him, really loved him.
I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if each one of us made that discovery. How radical would we be if our hearts were set on fire by His love? To know in the core of who we are that He longs for us? To hear Him speak of us with tender joy, and unabashed desire? To know that if we allow it He will claim us for Himself and set a banner over us that declares His love to the world? I have seen this. A few weeks ago during the midnight feeding I discovered a woman preacher on TV who teaches scripture like I’ve never seen. She has a way of uncovering the meaning of the text word by word, going to the deepest places and showing the original intent from the original language in a way that marries passion with study. Only a nerd could be so consumed by such laborious study of text. Yet this woman is no nerd. She is stunning, with flawless features and flowing hair. Physically beautiful. Sure of the Gospel she preaches. You can tell her confidence in the Lord is deep. You can tell it has changed her life. You can tell it is personal.
So last week I wanted to know more. I googled her name and found her website. Along with it came entries from all kinds of different sources, some with a very different perspective on this woman preacher. Her critics blast her because of a sordid past. I mean sordid. The kind that go way beyond a TV-M rating. And apparently their accusations of what she was could very likely be true. She doesn’t address her critics. She ignores them. She just keeps on preaching God’s word. There is a big part of me that really wishes she would openly tell her story. Because it is clear that whatever she may have been, she is not now. I have often said that if God could call someone like me into ministry, God can call anyone. Because I’m short. Because I look like a teenager (although you have to stand further away now to be fooled). Because I get so visibly excited about the craziest things. Because I have such a college sense of humor. Because I will use anything I can to get the message of God’s good news across . . . anything! Because I am absolutely weird and quirky to the nth degree. Because I am the last person you would want to organize anything. Because I cry openly and laugh loudly. Because, because, because. But here’s the thing. Here is a woman whose past defined her in way that is totally shunned by the church. No one associated with anything religious would want her as their spokesperson. It might send the wrong message. But God wanted her more than her past branded her. God placed His banner over her in boldness. And she stood under it. And today she waves His banner, the gospel in a way that brings Him near where others can’t. Through a shunned and rejected vessel God is able to transform the world. It’s true of her. It’s true of me. And it is true of anyone who reads this message.
The world would have us believe that true love is a competition, and only the most worthy woman (or man) left standing gets a rose. And the enemy would have us believe that God gives roses the way the world does. But the good news says that we are the rose. We are the rose that God delights in and chooses for Himself. He never rejects us. He just gives us the room and free will to reject Him. Yet even our rejection will not quench His love. So just immerse yourself in it this Lent. Jump in. Be drenched with love, and let it change everything. Let it change the world you’re living in.
This is me trusting,
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