Toasting the Bread of Life

I propose a toast to Jesus!

I’ve been reading through Exodus as part of a reading plan, and I was struck by my own tendency to mimic the infuriating behaviors of God’s chosen people. Namely, their seeming inability to trust God no matter how many times He proves Himself trustworthy.

The specific instance I read about today involved God giving very specific instructions concerning how much manna the people were to gather and the people giving God the equivalent of a very specific finger in response. Ok, maybe not quite that harsh (though an event that is that harsh is coming up, I know) but there is clearly a strong theme among the Hebrews of blatant disregard for God here. He promises them that He will meet their needs and care for them, and they basically take the stance of “no thanks God, we got this one!” The kicker, in my opinion, is this: they are doubting God’s daily provision while they are gathering God’s daily provision. In what universe does that make any sense at all?!

Apparently, in the universe I live in. In a sin-laden universe where our fallen nature consistently clouds our judgement and leads us astray. Let me set the scene for you: every morning I wake up to have time in the Word. Every morning I benefit from that time in the word. Somehow, inexplicably, every morning I find myself thinking things like “I read yesterday, that ought to be enough for now… I’ll just hit snoozzzzzzzzzzzz…”

Clearly I’ve adopted an attitude of disregard and distrust for God’s provision. Despite His proven track record of meeting me where I am and revealing Himself to me as I absorb scripture, and despite my proven track record of feeling spiritually underfed on the days I don’t read, I consistently wake up with a mindset of “I gathered enough scripture yesterday… I’ll pass on gathering more today.”

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 in Luke 4:4, reminding us that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. Scripture (i.e. the word of God) reveals Jesus (i.e. the Word of God). The Word of God is also the Bread of Life. Exodus 16:18 tells us that those who gathered much manna had no excess; those who gathered little had no lack. A few verses later we learn that those who attempted to store up manna found it spoiled the next day. The Bread of Life, like the bread from heaven, cannot be gathered in excess and, although I can store up what I gather through meditation, I can’t expect my stores to sustain me indefinitely. No matter how much I take in today, I will find myself needing to gather more the next day and the next day and the next day…

So here’s to Jesus, the founder of our feast!

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Work and Play

Preparing for the fall semester is, I am told, a very busy time for The Austin Stone Community Church staff, especially the Kids staff. That said, now that the fall is underway, the people I work with were in need of a well deserved break, and so our staff retreat was scheduled for this Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning.

Most of you who have been following my blog may realize that I’ve only been working for TASCC since last week, (which was a short week because of labor day). So I came in to the office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, as well as Sunday of this week, before taking three days off to rest in the Lord with my team. Although I will freely admit I did not really need the time off, I discovered quickly how wonderful my team is and how much fun they will be to work with. From an Austin Segway tour, to a fun game night playing Mexican Train and Super Mario Brothers for the WiiU, to Top Golf, I had an awesome opportunity to meet and get to know all the unique and friendly and Jesus-loving individuals from the other campus’ Kids staff, and their spouses. My life is officially super-saturated with gospel-centered community. I am so blessed and so excited to see how God uses these people in my life.

Please be praying for me though, that as I am surrounded by those who love me and desire to see me grow and develop, that I will do two things. 1) Be used by the Lord to spur them on as well, and 2) not grow dependent on people for my spiritual sustenance, but that my dependence will be fully on the Lord.

That said, I took two and a half days off after only 4 days on the job… It’s time I get back to work!

1st day! Praise the Lord!

So today was the first official day of work for Austin Stone Community Church, and my emotions were going a little crazy. Excitement, fear, joy, relief, anxiety, and almost every other feeling in between.

Obviously this is a short blog post, but I just wanted to let all of you know that I am so blessed to be here and so overjoyed by the support and encouragement I’ve received from my friends and family along the way. I’m at about 85-90% of my support, and trying to push for that last $300.00 or so.

First world problems

When I got here on Saturday, I was impressed by the cool set up that The Austin Stone is providing us. A two bedroom, two bathroom apartment for me and three roommates, fully furnished? I’m ok with that. I’m also really glad I chose to err on the side of caution and bring less rather than more. There are a few things I’m wishing I already had with me (power strips and my bedside lamp to name a few) but I am overall very well established in this new city.

Today was my first day attending my new church home, and I got to work with two year olds who were completely adorable! I helped set things up (a little bit, I accidentally slept in and missed a lot of it) and then after service helped take things down and pack them up. Although it was not an “official” day of work for the church, today ended up being pretty filled with church related activities.

Through much of the day I had minor issues that kept popping up and left me frustrated again and again. From over sleeping my alarm to a long restaurant wait to missing exits to being locked out, to struggling with an Ikea dresser (or malm?) I found myself up against frustration after frustration and had trouble keeping my eyes consistently focused on the Lord.

Then, when I drove out to meet my roommate to borrow his key to get into the apartment, I met a man who introduced himself to me as Brother Boo. Sadly, I’ve forgotten his real name, which he also gave me, but his words to me were straight from the Spirit: “You know, kids in Uganda wouldn’t even understand the problems we have. They wouldn’t know they even had problems if they were dealing with the minor things we deal with.” That was a humbling reminder of how incredibly good God has been to me. My family and friends, my girlfriend, this chance to pursue my dream of ministry, His amazing provision for me through support raising and selling my car and moving from Dallas to Garland to Austin… God continues to bless me.

Each of the tiny setbacks and hassles I’ve dealt with today are nothing compared to the problems facing tons of other people the world over, so today I am choosing to be thankful for how smoothly things are going and how much of God’s goodness I am getting to experience right now. And if things turn south and everything falls apart, I will choose to be thankful for the fact that God doesn’t have to give me what I want to be good. I will praise Him for salvation and for His sovereignty even if I don’t see another material/circumstantial blessing from not till the day I day.

I’m super excited to actually start work on Tuesday, and will be raising the last 10-15% of my support from Austin while working, so I think it’s probably good that God took some time today to remind me that He is good even when I’m stressed out!