The Maxfields

The Maxfields

Sunday, May 17, 2015

God's Grace and Your Sufferings

In an essay written by David Powlison titled God's Grace and Your Sufferings (in the book Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor) he made a couple of fairly profound statements that I thought I would highlight here.

"What makes it hard for us to hear [God speak to us through His Word]? There are times we have a hard time slowing down to listen. There are times we simply don't want to listen. There are times we are busy listening to ten thousand other voices, including our own. There are times we feel so weary and disheartened that we don't feel up for listening. But whatever the particulars, our essential problem is deafness to God's voice. We become absorbed in the world of our own experiences, thoughts, feelings, and opinions. The early church used a wonderful phrase to capture the essential inward-turning nature of sinfulness: curvitas in se. We curve in on ourselves. Sin's curvitas in se pointedly turns away from God. When you or others suffer, you experience or witness the strength of this incurving tendency. It's hard not to be self-preoccupied." p. 155

"But it is worth noting that Christians, as new creations in Christ, also live in an essentially different relationship to their own sinfulness. Your sin now afflicts you. The "dross" no longer defines or delights you. Indwelling sin becomes a form of significant suffering. What you once instinctively loved now torments you. The essential change in your relationship with God radically changes your relationship to remaining sinfulness. In Christ, in order to sin, you must lapse into temporary insanity, into forgetfulness. It is your worst cancer, your most crippling, disability, your most treacherous enemy, your deepest distress. It is the single most destructive force impacting your life. Like nothing else in all creation, this threatens your life and well-being.

"This is not to justify or excuse our sins. Your sin is your sin. When you get your back up in an argument, when you vegetate in front of the TV, when you spin a fantasy world of romance or eroticism, when you grumble about the weather, when you obsess about your performance in the eyes of significant others, when you worry, nag, or gossip, you do these things. No evil twin, no hormone, no satanic agency, and no aspect of your upbringing can take credit or blame for the works of your flesh. You do it. You wanted to do it . . . but you don't really want to, when you come to your senses. And you do come to your senses. The conflicted dual consciousness of the Christian always lands on its feet. You commit sin, but you are more committed to the Lord, because he is absolutely committed to you. Many psalms capture this tension that always resolves the right way. They confess the dark vitality of indwelling sin while confessing love for the triumphant mercies and goodness of the Lord." p. 163-164

"Grace means courage. When God says, "Fear not," his aim is not that you would just calm down and experience a relative absence of fear. He does not say, "Don't be afraid. Everything will turn out okay. So you can relax." Instead he says, "Don't be afraid. I am with you. So be strong and courageous." Do you hear the difference? The deep waters have not gone away. The opposite of fear is fearlessness. Fearlessness is active and enduring. It carries on constructively in the midst of stressful things that don't feel good at all. Courage means more than freedom from anxious feelings. Endurance is a purposeful "abiding under" what is hard and painful, considering others even when you don't feel good." p. 165

I have not read enough of David Powlison's writings.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Books, Books and more Books

One of the things we decided to do when we got here to the Rez, was not get cable TV. Because of our training in Colorado and periods of limbo before and after the training, we had gone about two months without watching TV. So I figured this was a good opportunity to continue the TV fast. Surprisingly the revolt was very muted.

We do have internet and can watch movies and shows on Netflix. But its not the same and we just don't waste as time watching like we used to. (I should probably state for the record that I was the biggest offender.)

A benefit of this is that we all read more. For me especially, I've read a ton over the last couple months. I know most of you probably couldn't care less, but I thought I'd share a few of the books I've read and why I thought they were so good.

1. Reservation "Capitalism": Economic Development in Indian Country by Robert Miller. While Mr. Miller could have used a better editor (there was too much repetition in this book), overall this was a great summary of the economic problems on modern Reservations and ways tribes are going about solving this problem. It gives a great history of the US Government treatment of tribes and the different approaches it has taken, how the approaches have changed over the years and consequences of these government approaches. Very good book if you want a primer on economic development on modern day Reservations.

2. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene H Peterson. I know I'm not a pastor, but I've seen this book for years and thought I would finally read it. It is a great book that helps us non-pastors get a picture of the life and struggles of our pastors. They have a difficult job: often thankless, stressful and often bearing criticism and complaints. Everyone should read this book, pray for your pastor and then see what you can do to minister to them and their families.

3. Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard. Eugene Peterson mentions Annie Dillard in his book and it lead me to want to read more. Very, very interesting writer. Her style is beautiful. She is able to observe the created world around her and see things that I can't. And then her ability to describe those things is amazing. I'm now in the middle of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek of which she won the Pulitzer Prize. It is very good as well.

4. Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer edited by Joel R Beeke and Brian G Najapfour. This book was given to me by friends from our church as we were leaving. It is an amazing book and very practical on why we should be praying, why it is such a blessing in the life of the believer and the prayer life of our Reformed and Puritan fathers. I was also exposed to A Method for Prayer by the great Matthew Henry in this book. A fantastic resource and still as practical today it was in the 1700s.

5. God's Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation by David W Saxton. This book has transformed my personal Bible study. After reading this book as well as Taking Hold of God I was struck by how feeble and malnourished my own personal time with the Lord was. The examples of the Reformers and Puritans were very helpful and convicting. I heartily recommend both books!

6. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. This is not a book for the faint of heart. You will come face to face with a sovereign God that is in control of every event that happens and has ordained all suffering - for His glory. Our God is great. He is also gracious and compassionate.

7. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. A very good book that helps point out some of the problems with the current approach to alleviate poverty and some methods on how to change what is currently being done. I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Steve Corbett in April and ask him a long list of questions. He was very gracious with his time and gave me a green light to call him with questions in the future. You can bet that will happen.

In the Lord's provision, a couple weeks after we got here an FM station started that replicates the KIRO 710 AM programming from Seattle. So now I can listen to the Mariners games on the radio. You might smile when I say, "in the Lord's provision." But I truly believes that's true. The one thing that would have pushed me to get TV would have been to watch the Mariner's games.

While my own list of books to read is long, I'm always looking to hear about good books other's have read. Feel free to let me know what you've read.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Faithfulness and Friendship

"Are you making friends?" is a question I am asked frequently. It's not an easy question to answer, but it makes me stop and think about the people the Lord has put in my life. My favorite answer to that question is a story from Youth Group a few weeks ago. When we all break into smaller groups after worship upstairs, the high school girls go downstairs to look more deeply at the passage of scripture we read upstairs. We are able to think about how it applies to each of our lives individually. Because I am very new to the group, I don't feel as connected with the other girls, some of whom have been coming for years. It has been an adjustment to get used to feeling new and slightly awkward, and while I know God has called me here, I can't help but feel slightly out of place.

God's faithfulness has been a major theme for me this past year, but He never fails to remind me of His faithfulness when I need it most! Before the discussion time officially began on Tuesday night, the girl sitting next to me took my binder and started writing on it, hiding it from me as she wrote. I was honestly really curious, wondering what she would think to write on the blank front of my new binder. As she handed it back, I could read Welcome 101: Love you! written in red sharpie. It sounds simple, but it felt like the closest thing to friendship and it still does.

He is faithful, and He will surely do it.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Is it Sunday yet?

As of yesterday, March 8th, we have been on the Rez for two months, and now that we are here, I feel like I have a constant mental countdown until Sunday. Every day that passes signifies one less day until I am able to worship with little people surrounding me, praising Our Father for His goodness. As I had hoped and prayed, I do get to help with the preschoolers on Sunday morning, and last Sunday we had eleven little people sitting in our row during church! I love all of the kids, but the preschoolers have a special place in my heart. My heart is full to hear them, the littlest ones, singing praises to Our Father. One little girl in particular leans her head really close to mine and listens to hear which words I'm singing, and then she sings them aloud when she has them memorized. I wish you all could hear her tiny voice too; it is a continual reminder that God's eye is on the sparrow so how much more does He care for each one of us?

Another little girl who is often found sitting next to me during church doesn't sing. She rarely speaks. She's had a green runny nose for the past month and it was at least a couple of days of springtime Kids Club before I saw her smiling. She has been coming to church regularly since I've been here, and each Sunday I get tiny, tiny glimpses of a tiny friendship between us. The past two Sundays we have spent considerable amounts of time on the monkey bars after church. She can't do them all by herself, but with my help she can pull herself across. The moments we spend together on the monkey bars bring my heart so much joy - she smiles, even laughs some, her little tongue sticking out in determination where two front teeth used to be. Just last Sunday, she was telling me when she wanted me to let her dangle from the bars and when she needed help, a huge change from just two months ago when she wouldn't even tell me her name. The Lord heals brokenness, and that's what's happening, little by little, on those monkey bars.

In the Midst of Chaos

It has been awhile since we've posted.  As you can imagine, things have been very busy.  I'd love to bring you up to speed on how we are doing and what is going on with the ministry here at Sacred Road.

Where to begin?  

Our family is definitely in the middle of the "chaotic" stage, as we learned at our missionary training. This stage can feel messy, crazy, unsettled, unknown and scary.  I have had all of those feelings since we arrived.  

I saw this picture at Hobby Lobby and it made me smile
We found a place to rent on the reservation and we are so thankful!  It has been a bit of an experience for this "city" family but we are grateful to be about 20 minutes from the Sacred Road church.  We have a goat, llamas and chickens in the backyard and we are learning how to outsmart the mice in our house. The house is an old doublewide with no screens on the windows and a tin roof, so we are wondering just how hot this house might feel in the dead of summer.  Oh, and how could I forget the bugs.....we have spiders, fruit flies, and wasps in and out of the house.  "Mom, I found another spider (or weird bug) in my room," is a phrase I hear almost daily. 

Lest I make it sound too awful, we are truly having a great adventure together here as a family.  We laugh at so many things about this house, the llamas that suddenly appear right outside the window,
and our whole experience here.  The memories we are making while here together in this house are absolutely priceless. 

We have found a home to purchase here on the reservation.  It is a "for sale by owner" home but because of a divorce happening with the seller, things are moving slowly on their end.  At this point we have no idea how long it will be before they are ready to move ahead and sign papers with us.  We do love the home and hope it might work out for us to purchase it.  We are trying to hold it loosely in case the Lord has a different plan.  Please continue to pray that the purchase of this home might be soon if that is the Lord's will.  If not, pray we will find the house He's planned for us.

Amidst the chaos, we love being here!  We are taking in so much as we observe and participate in the ministry activities.  Our Sundays are full as we are learning our roles and where to help out.  The Sacred Road youth group meets every Tuesday night.  I am amazed at how many teenagers come eagerly each week.  I assist Mary Granberry in the kitchen on Thursdays as we prepare meals mainly for the Sunday after church meal.  As summer begins and mission teams arrive, the cooking schedule will pick up and several summer interns will also help us.  Friday mornings there is a staff women's Bible study and a few native American women attend as well.  This time together is precious and the Lord is working in each of our hearts.  Darren is really enjoying his work and will be blogging about that very soon.

Sometimes I stop and glance around and can't believe we are actually here.  Thank you for partnering with us to make this possible. Living here, we have been given a great privilege to love these children and youth.  I love each one so much even if they don't know it yet.

Today I read Luke 15:8-10 about the woman hunting for the lost coin.  She sweeps the house, looks for it until she finds it and rejoices by calling her friends and neighbors when she finds it.  Then comes the verse, "I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents".

I watch the children who are the lost coins.  I'm seeing them hear the truth of the Gospel each week through Bible stories.  I watch the Sacred Road staff sweeping and I pray that many lost coins will be found. Your prayers are a vital part of this ministry.   

Thank you for your prayers and for journeying with us.  Your support means so much to us.