Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Embracing Obscurity- Chapter 4

(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)

Chapter 4: Embracing Significance

- In this chapter the author show that embracing obscurity does not exclude us from having significance.  Instead, he points to the Scriptures to show where we can find true significance and not the pseudo-significance that the world often chases.

- The thought that "we are the object of His desire" (Page 57) is mind-boggling enough.  However, the thought that I am the object of His desire is even less understandable.  I can somewhat see why God would pursue mankind- His creation in general, but what a blessing that He pursues me individually!  What a great God we have!

- In the chapter, the author gives five principles that point us to true significance:
1. We have been created by God.
- "Only God has ultimate, eternal significance, and the only way we mortals get it is by joining our lives to His."  (Page 59)
2. At salvation, God gave the Holy Spirit to live within us.
3. Jesus Christ calls us His bride.
- We find significance through His love and through the relationship we have with Him.
4. God has adopted us made us His heirs. 
- Our inheritance includes resurrection from the dead, a new body, and an eternal home with our Savior.
- "You, who have absolutely no right to anything of God's, share in everything He is and owns."  (Page 63)
5. God has something for us to do.
- "The visibility of our part stops being such a big deal, as the reality of being on the cast at all sinks in." (Page 67)  I find it so easy to compare my "role" with those of others, and always find something in their role that I would wish for my role.  This pointed me to the fact that when I do that, I am showing my ungratefulness for God's grace in my life and my discontentment with what He has given me.

- The section about our value prompted some questions in my mind.  He made the case for us having inherent value by being in Christ, a value that is outside ourselves.  Is there a difference then between value and usefulness?  If the author is correct, then would we say that my life has value regardless of what I do, but I am more useful to God when I obey?  I am not sure if my questions arise from my own faulty mindset or my incorrectly processing the thoughts he presented.  Do you see what I'm getting at?  Anyone have thoughts on this?

- In the discussion questions, he asked which source of significance means the most to me personally.  I think the one that stood out to me the most was the first one- God created me.  More specifically, I appreciated the thought that only God has inherent eternal significance, but He gives that to us when we become His.  I am thankful for that encouragement.

- Once we understand the source of true significance, we each can more easily and more heartily embrace obscurity!

I've had my say, what say you?

Discussion on Chapter 3
Discussion on Chapter 5

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Embracing Obscurity- Chapter 3

(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)

Chapter 3: Embracing the Humble King

- The theme of this chapter is the Lord Jesus Christ.  The author brings to the reader's attention Jesus' humility or His embrace of obscurity.  He then challenges us to follow that example.

- "What's also incredible to me, and sheds so much light into God's nature, is that He lets this all happen." (Page 39)  I had not thought about this before.  We should not let the incredible thought of God coming as man become normal or overlooked, yet we often do.  If God had our mindset, He would quickly rid Himself of us.  Instead, He allows all of this to continue.

- He said that if we could choose how the Messiah would come to earth, we would choose much differently than God did, and I agree.  Israelites were looking for a Messiah but did not accept Jesus because He didn't fit their preconceived notions.  We would tend towards the talented, charismatic, good-looking, etc.  He was God, yet that is not how he presented Himself.  His humility truly is a lesson for us.

- It is interesting to consider that only 10% of Jesus' life is revealed to us.

- We tend to hold Bible characters to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.  I am tempted to look at Joseph and Mary and disdain them for their seeming doubt over the truth of Jesus' identity.  However, I have Scripture and I let His identity become common and uninspiring in my own mind.  May God help us see the facts of our Savior as we should!

- I was challenged when the author stated that Jesus' obscurity glorified God as much as His ministry.  I want to be willing to be willing to glorify God in obscurity as well.

- I am currently reading chronologically through the Gospels and have come across passages that talk of the crowds that followed Jesus and the distant places from which they came.  Yet in spite of that, Jesus was not concerned about his reputation, especially with the religious leaders, He was concerning about the Father's will.  What a challenge to someone who often overvalues people's opinion and undervalues his Father's!

- I thought the contrast between Christ's disposition and Satan's (page 49) was quite good.

I've had my say, what say you?

Discussion on Chapter 2
Discussion on Chapter 4

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hughes News #48

"Tie your shoes and pray for the Hughes"

Dear Friends,
The Lord gave us several opportunities in September.  One Sunday early in the month we traveled with a deacon and the church secretary to minister to two village churches.  Viola and Natasha sang and I preached.  I also led the service and the Lord’s Supper, both of which were new experiences for me in Russian.  Our hearts were touched by our brothers’ and sisters’ desire for God’s Word and for fellowship with other believers.
Leading the Lord's Supper with the first church.

Viola and Natasha singing a special with the second church.
Thank you for your prayers for the Bible studies I led through Titus.  Due to the amount of time it took me to prepare the material, I taught a total of five weeks.  The Lord challenged my heart and grew my understanding of and ability in Russian as a result of the preparation and delivery.
We have made a second trip to Soroca to look at houses.  Several we crossed off our list quickly but there is one that remains a good possibility.  We are planning at least one more trip before our furlough.  Also this month Viola started Romanian lessons with a tutor.  She is hoping the understanding she gains will give her a foundation for future study.  We want to finish out this term strongly, making the most of the time we have here.  We would appreciate your prayers regarding the various things we have to do.

Us with a Harvest Sunday display.
In His service,
Jacob and Viola Hughes
For Prayer:
1. Viola’s plunge into Romanian
2. Us to use our remaining time here wisely
3. God would provide a specific need for furlough

For Praise:
1. Pleasant day ministering to two village churches
2. Tuesday night Bible study lessons went well
3. God simply resolved two potentially difficult situations