The Maxfields

The Maxfields

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Cost of Discipleship

What does it mean to follow Christ? How much of what we believe is affected by our culture? What lenses do we read Scripture through and how do those lenses impact how we understand Scripture? And then how does that understanding influence how we apply Scripture to our lives?

I've been thinking about these types questions lately. One of my concerns is how difficult it is to see blind spots in my understanding of Scripture. In my own life I've noticed how difficult it is to recognize when I am looking at things through a middle class American lense rather than a Christian lense. We live impacted and influenced by our surroundings and often can't see how those surroundings alter the way we think (or don't think) about things.

A book written a few years ago by David Platt, attempts to address some of these questions.  The book is titled, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. There are a few quotes I'd like to share.

"Somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." Pg. 7

"Yet the kind of abandonment Jesus asked of the rich young man is at the core of Jesus' invitation throughout the Gospels. Even his simple call in Matthew 4 to his disciples--'Follow me'--contained radical implications for their lives. Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar to them and natural for them." Pg. 11
Christ and the Rich Young Ruler

What do we do with the verse after verse in Scripture that tells us to give of ourselves, give up our lives, give up our belongings, give up our family? Many of these verses speak directly against what the American dream is telling us. Frankly, many are speaking against what today's American church is telling us.
  • Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-20a, 21
  • Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10: 37-39
  • Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let them deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26
  • At the end of Christ's interaction with the Rich Young Ruler Christ says, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." Matthew 19:29-30
  • Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:32-34
  • Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . . So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:25-27, 33
  • Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me: and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:25-26
  • And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:44-45
It is really hard to know what to do with these verses.  It is easy to read them in a spiritual way and say that what we are to give up are simply moral vices. And we know that is true.

But its too easy to stop there.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Hearts

What a crazy year it's been! There are so many things that we have to be thankful for.  On this Thanksgiving Day I thought we'd  list a few of the things the Lord has done in our lives this year.

1. My firm has been especially gracious to us.  The long period of transition has enabled us to raise funds while at the same time providing for a proper transition to clients to others at the firm.
2. So many people have been encouraging and supporting of us as we've told them what we are doing. Particularly my clients that are affected negatively by the change.
3. I'm thankful for our family, parents and siblings, that has been behind us 100%.
4. It was great to have our Exile church family join us on a mission trip to Sacred Road last July. And now to see even more people signed up to go this next summer. To have our brothers and sisters in Christ coming alongside is amazing.
5. Susie and the girls spent three weeks on the Reservation in July and August. It was a make or break period of time and the Lord used it to strengthen and confirm our calling to join Sacred Road.
6. Yesterday, within two weeks of putting our house on the market, we signed papers to sell. In November to sell within two weeks? Praise God!
7. Raising funds has been an amazing experience.  People have responded like we never would have expected.  We have been able to tell hundreds of people about the ministry of Sacred Road.
8. We are thankful to be nearly to the end of this stage of this transition period.  The Lord has been so good this year. But having feet in both worlds has been difficult for all of us.
9. I am thankful that my two girls, ages 14 and 16, are excited to serve the Yakama Nation in White Swan. While leaving suburban life has it's difficulties, they want to serve the Lord.
10. I'm thankful for books like Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper and Radical:Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt.  They encourage believers to take risks for the glory of God.
11. I'm thankful for books like Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World, by Michael Horton that stress how important regular, consistent, obedient church life is in the life of every believer.

Above all, I'm excited the Lord has placed this call upon us. What an amazing experience to be in a place in which we daily know that the Lord is working on our behalf.  And while we know that He does that in the life of every believer we have been able to see Him in action in amazing ways this year.

"And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'" Revelation 7:11-12

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Eye of the Storm

It has been a very interesting time for the Maxfield family the last few weeks. Through all of this I often think about what it means to live by faith. We use the words "step of faith" a lot. We usually use it to say that we live our normal life and then periodically we take a "step of faith" and do something when we don't know what the result is going to be. As if it is only in those "step of faith" moments when we can't see the future.

We too often don't realize that every step we take is a step of faith. Every breath is dependent on God sustaining us. How do we get outside the box that we have created for our lives? As long as everything fits inside our box then we think we are in control and we are content. The only problem with that is then we don't need God.

We put our house on the market on Thursday. It looks great and Lord willing, it will sell quickly. One slight problem though, we haven't found anything to move to yet. This is one of those moments where I'm sure people think we are a bit crazy. Moving full steam ahead to sell our house and get on the Reservation in January -- without any place to go if our house sells.

One of the other interesting things going on now is the many conversations with clients and referral sources telling them what we are doing.  This week I was talking to an investment advisor and had a very nice conversation. He referred to what we are doing as giving our life a sense of urgency. I hadn't thought of it that way before. But I really liked that word and the perspective it gives.

Sometimes it seems like one day just follows another. I go to work, come home, then go back to work the next day. While I know there are things that I accomplish, there is also a certain sense that it is just one more day at the office. (I've been listening to old UFO songs as I've been typing and one of the lines was "it's got so predictable, feel I've been doing time." Another song had the chorus "chains, chains, pulling us down." There really is a sense that we've created a life for ourselves that can feel like a prison.)

But when the focus is not on the job, or making money, or helping millionaires save more money on taxes, there is a sense of urgency to helping people.  There is a sense of urgency to trying to help create jobs so that someone unemployed can provide for themselves and their family. There is a sense of urgency to sharing the Gospel with someone that has never heard of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

December 2nd is my last day of going into the office every day at VWC.  All sorts of mixed feelings about it. There are a lot of good people that work there (several that I hired). I've worked with many of them for a significant period of time over the 16 years that I've been there. Many clients that I would call my friends I won't be talking to or seeing much going forward.

Looking forward to living life among the Yakama people. Sharing in the good and the bad, the easy and the hard. Living in a community in which we will be able to minister to others, while they minister to us. Being dependent on the prayers of God's people as they pray for us, Sacred Road and the Yakama people. But most importantly being dependent on the Lord as He works in us and through us.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Day on the Rez

We made another trip over to the Rez today.  Even though it makes for a long day -- get up early, drive over, go to church, stay for lunch and play with the kids, look at a couple of houses, then drive back -- we always love the trip.  Seeing the staff, catching up a bit and then spending some with the kids helps to reconfirm why we are doing this.

Two highlights of the day.

The first was seeing Octavia (named changed of this precious little girl).  I often refer to Octavia as appearing shell shocked.  Whether she has fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), is a crack baby, has other mental and emotional issues, or has any combination of those is not really in doubt. She is a handful to say the least. In the past, it has taken one person specifically assigned to Octavia to keep her focused and without creating chaos around her.

But as the kids were lining up to go into church this morning, I look over and all by herself Octavia is picking up pens and crayons and putting them in their containers. Then she was stacking up the containers to get things organized. I was amazed. In the last few months she has started to settle down, learn to control herself and is now even making a positive contribution. She's able to sit through church too and seems to be able to listen to the service and participate. Very cool to see how the time spent with her is having an impact on her life.

Me and Daylene on the teeter-totter
The other highlight was the little cutie, Daylene. I was able to spend some time with her a few weeks ago -- putting together a puzzle and then pushing her on the swing for what seemed like 30 minutes. Today she came in and sat down by me. I didn't recognize her until later, but when she first sat down she was her normal, quiet, shy self. She wouldn't talk to me until I commented about her temporary tattoos on her arms and then she wanted to show them to me. After church it was a bit of a struggle to get her to eat lunch; she really wanted to go play on the playground.

Once we got on the playground she wanted to swing on the tire swing, super fast, in her words. She wanted to slide down the slide, play on the teeter totter (see the picture), and pet the dog (Cooper). She asked me if I knew her brother and talked about what a nice dog Cooper was and told me about her dog. I found out later that she is known for not talking to anyone. Even her older sister talks about her not talking to people.

These kids struggle.  Their home life is a mess. It shows itself in many ways.  Like Octavia, they might be out of control, unable to focus and acting out.  Or they may be like Daylene, who doesn't talk to anyone and is a bit difficult to manage.

To be able to spend time with them, give them fun experiences where they can get away from the issues in their life and be around people that love and care for them is very special.  It can be easy to focus on that and say, "Look at all the good we are doing!"  There is good being done and the love of Christ is being extended to "the least of these."

But it can't stop there. Showing mercy without sharing the Good News of the resurrection of Christ does nothing eternally. It's like giving a band-aid to someone with cancer. Those of us in Christ are called to help alleviate suffering in this world.

"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" Isaiah 58:6, 7

Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. True suffering, suffering beyond just physical, mental and emotional suffering, can only be alleviated in Christ.  Suffering of the soul is alleviated by the true Shepherd.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You set a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  Psalm 23