Shiloh Art, 11/13/12

The walls of Reid commons were echoing with the sounds of the languages last night as the UM community discussed the Tower of Babel, from Genesis 10-11.  Our ears got a treat in hearing these beautiful noises that mean so much to one person and so little to another.  The “babel” of one becomes another’s meaning, purpose, foundation.  As we looked deeper into the noise, we discovered the tower was a place of pride, destined to fall.  Built with subpar materials for a subpar purpose so far from what God originally intended for His people.  The question is then posed: what is your tower?  What materials are you using to build up your life?  Are they feeble attempts at righteousness you’re attempting to stack up until you reach the kingdom, or are they God-given, God-blessed, and God-supported?  Only through His blessing and His work can good be done–rely upon that as graduation/school/plans of any kind loom upon us.  They can be good…

Elizabeth Bacon
acrylic/mixed media on canvas

Words are what define our culture.  They help us make sense of our world and give us a tangible purpose to follow.  The jumbled words of the globe portray the scattering of languages at Babel–of a people in a disconnect with their God.  “So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth.” (Gen. 11:8).

by Drew Young

Hope never fails, however; if you look for it, you can see the ever-present light.

click here to be directed to this week’s podcast

Under Construction

We decided that it’s time for The Scribe to get a face lift. So we’re taking the time to change the theme, organize the blog better, and invite more people into the process. So please be patient with us as we work on this site, and if you have any ideas or feedback please let us know!

Have a great day!
Nicole Smith

A Missionary Call By: Robert Speer, Chairman of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, 1901

Here’s an article we’re reading tonight with the Global Missions Scholarship students.  This was written over 100 years ago.  Is this still applicable?  Do you find yourself in his words?

“What constitutes a missionary call? It is a good sign that men ask this question. First, because it suggests that they think of the missionary enterprise as singularly related to the will of God. Second, because it indicates that they believe their lives are owned by a Person who has a right to direct them and whose call they must await.

But when we have said these two things, I think we have said everything that can be said in favor of the question because, far too often, it is asked for thoroughly un-Christian reasons.

For instance, Christians will pursue a profession here in the United States having demanded far less positive assurance that this is God’s will than it is for them to go out into the mission field. But by what right do they make such distinctions? Christianity contends that the whole of life and all services are to be consecrated; no man should dare to do anything but the will of God. And before he adopts a course of action, a man should know nothing less nor more than that it is God’s will for him to pursue it.

If men are going to draw lines of division between different kinds of service, what preposterous reasoning leads them to think that it requires less divine sanction for a man to spend his life easily among Christians than it requires for him to go out as a missionary to the heathen? If men are to have special calls for anything, they ought to have special calls to go about their own business, to have a nice time all their lives, to choose the soft places, to make money, and to gratify their own ambitions.

How can any honest Christian say he must have a special call not to do that sort of thing? How can he say that, unless he gets some specific call of God to preach the Gospel to the heathen, he has a perfect right to spend his life lining his pockets with money? Is it not absurd to suggest that a special call is necessary to become a missionary, but no call is required to gratify his own will or personal ambitions?

There is a general obligation resting upon Christians to see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached to the world. You and I need no special call to apply that general call of God to our lives. We do need a special call to exempt us from its application to our lives. In other words, every one of us stands under a presumptive obligation to give his life to the world unless we have some special exemption.

This whole business of asking for special calls to missionary work does violence to the Bible. There is the command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” We say, “That means other people.” There is the promise, “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” We say, “That means me.” We must have a special divine indication that we fall under the command; we do not ask any special divine indication that we fall under the blessing. By what right do we draw this line of distinction between the obligations of Christianity and its privileges? By what right to we accept the privileges as applying to every Christian and relegate its obligations to the conscience of the few?

It does violence to the ordinary canons of common sense and honest judgment. We do not think of ordering other areas of our lives on this basis. I think ex-president Patton of Princeton was representing the situation accurately when he used the following illustration. He said, “Imagine I was employed by the owner of a vineyard to gather grapes in his vineyard. The general instructions were that as many grapes as possible should be gathered. I went down to the gate of the vineyard and found the area around the walls well plucked and the ground covered with pickers. Yet away off in the distance no pickers at all are in sight and the vines are loaded to the ground. Would I need a special visit and order from the owner of the vineyard to instruct me as to my duty?”

If I were standing by the bank of a stream, and some
little children were drowning, I would not need any officer of the law to come along and serve on me some legal paper commanding me under such and such a penalty to rescue those children. I should despise myself if I should stand there with the possibility of saving those little lives, waiting until, by some legal proceeding, I was personally designated to rescue them!

Why do we apply, in a matter of infinitely more consequence, principles that we would loathe and abhor if anybody should suggest that we should apply them in the practical affairs of our daily life? Listen for a moment to the wail of the hungry world. Feel for one hour its sufferings. Sympathize for one moment with its woes. And then regard it just as you would regard human want in your neighbor, or the want that you meet as you pass down the street, or anywhere in life.

There is something wonderfully misleading, full of hallucination and delusion in this business of missionary calls. With many of us it is not a missionary call at all that we are looking for; it is a shove. There are a great many of us who would never hear a call if it came. Somebody must come and coerce us before we will go into missionary work.

Every one of us rests under a sort of general obligation to give life and time and possession to the evangelization of the souls everywhere that have never heard of Jesus Christ. And we are bound to go, unless we can offer some sure ground of exemption which we could with a clear conscience present to Jesus Christ and be sure of His approval upon it.
“Well,” you ask, “do you mean, then, that I should take my life in my own hands?” No! That is precisely what I am protesting against! That is exactly what we have done. We have taken our lives in our own hands and proposed to go our own way unless God compels us to go some other way. What I ask is that, until God reveals to us some special, individual path on either side, we should give our lives over into Jesus’ hands to go in that path which He has clearly marked out before His church.

I want to say one last thing.

I think love will hear calls where the loveless heart will not know that they are sounding. If there were a hundred little children crying, a mother would be able to pick out the voices of her own – especially if they were voices of pain and suffering.

There is a mighty keenness in the ears of love, and I wonder, after all, whether that may not explain a great deal that one is perplexed over in this matter of a special missionary call. Is it possible that, in many cases, it is just a matter of a callused heart, a reluctant will, or a sealed mind?

God so loved the world that He gave. It was need in the world plus love in God that constituted a call for Jesus. Do we need more than what sufficed for Him? If they were our own, would we hesitate and hold back?

Let us lay aside all double-dealing, all moral subterfuge, all those shuffling evasions by which the Devil is attempting to persuade us to escape from our duty, and let us get up like men and look at it and do it.

Students are old enough to decide to do their duty. They are old enough to decide to go to college. They are old enough to decide for law and medicine and other professions. They are old enough, too, to decide this question. God forbid that we should try to hide from solemn consideration of our vital duty behind any kind of pretext.”

Shiloh Art, 11.6

From new painter Alicia Alexander:

Alicia Alexander
acrylic on canvas

Our second week on talking about Noah, we revealed a new focus, that should have been obvious–God.  The first week, we saw God using water for destruction, as a justice to a sinful world.  Now we see water as cleansing, as hopeful, as a means for reflecting His great bow in the sky.  It was not only for us he sent the rainbow, but for Himself, to remind Himself of His promise to never again flood the world as He did so long ago.  Not for us did He even make the promise.  He knew we would remiss back into a world of sin not five minutes after His preserved creations stepped back onto dry land.  Not for Noah did He command him to build the ark.  He was certainly not perfect, or savior, or almighty . . . but simply one of God’s instruments.  When waves come crashing, remember God has promised–He will not destroy those who are His.  The dove leads us out into dry land; into hope, redemption, and the most beautiful, ridiculous, undeserved, complete, unconditional love there is.

by Drew Young

Shiloh Art, 10.30

The workings of Monica Longoria:

Monica Longoria
acrylic on canvas

The classic story of Noah: world gets violent, God gets angry, God has compassion, Noah builds ark, God floods earth, flood washes away, Noah and crew live it up on dry land.  Its interesting the role that water plays in this story, as that of the antagonist in a sense.  We want water to be peaceful, calm, refreshing, life-giving; and here God goes and uses it to destroy (almost) all life on earth.  Our righteous selves can see this as injust–what is a loving God doing destroying His creation?  But what else would we have Him do?  Our God is not unjust, and does not tolerate sin.  His judgments and actions are right, and He has right to anything in His creation.  The ark serves as a symbol of hope and mercy in the midst of the waters, showing both the justice and love of our God working side-by-side.

by Stephanie Guckenberger

God Stories: New Beginnings

We were created to share our lives and tell our stories. UM puts on an event each semester just for this. God stories gives 6-8 students the opportunity to share a story in which God has taught them something through. Tonights theme was New Beginnings.

We’re all born into this world that is broken. We all find ourselves, at some point, broken. But God’s in the business of making things new. Taking our sin and shame, He uses our past for good in the present and future. Through our trials, pain, and lessons stories get created. With these stories, we get to help other people, relate to other people, and share with other people. These new beginnings aren’t just for ourselves, but others too. When we are made new, others get to be influenced by that too, and a new story starts to be written. That’s some good stuff.

Look out for the podcast coming up with the stories shared tonight. It will posted on this blog in the near future.

-Nicole

Shiloh Art, 10.23

The story continues:

by Drew Young

The tale of Cain and Abel is one we’ve all probably heard . . . but have we really?  They lived on this earth.  Walked the same broken ground that we walk; had the same desires, the same fears, the same envy, the same hate.  While the sun is coming up over God’s good world, sin looms in the valley, but it cannot be hidden.  God always knows, and His punishment will be just.  Christ, however, has made our intercession; the ground soaking up His blood as it soaked up Abel’s so long ago.  For all of our moments of Cain-like rage and pseudo-power.  Go against Cain’s lack of shame and repent, with humility and praise for the God who gives.   Take Christ’s freedom and run.

by Mikaela Woodbury
acrylic on canvas