oh the times, they are a chaaangin’

Today was completely and utterly an autumn day in Moscow. We had some pretty crazy-random downpours throughout the day that Willy watched through our big bay window in the living room. The birch tree outside is now changing from green to yellow and the leaves are on the driveway, on the front steps and finding their way inside the house. I think it’s going to be the earliest fall I’ve ever witnessed here in Moscow. (By the way, these are old pictures, but I still like ’em.)

Yesterday we went apple-picking and pressed eight or nine gallons of fresh cider with friends. I can’t get enough apple cider, it’s just so good and refreshing; and nothing you can buy from the store compares with the first sip taken after pressing. I also now have about 15 lbs. of apples sitting in my kitchen that I need to process into something. I made a French caramelized apple tart that is wonderful, but I’m thinking of doing applesauce next.

I don’t really see any warm weather coming our way, but it’s alright with me. I’m content this fall; I will be sipping coffee, tea and hot cider, curling up with good books, probably baking treats once in awhile and just enjoying life. The Lord has given me a lot of joy lately. I just feel like I can see Him in everything. And I’m also aiming to look for Him in things, too.

How are you?

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a statement of faith:

I believe that the thing God wants of us the most in this life is our hearts being turned toward Him.

David, said to be a “man after God’s own heart,” phrases it so beautifully and perfectly in Psalm 27:4:

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

David clearly narrowed down what is important: dwelling in the presence of the Lord continually and seeking Him out. He could have asked for greater power, earthly treasures, whatever, but it is clear from this passage that what he valued most was following after the Lord, not creating a better world for himself or for others.

God isn’t part of the systems of this world. He did not create politics, business, economics, church denominations or any other system that we use to make order of and understand how things work. He created the world, gave us bodies and breathed life into us; therefore He is not bound by anything that man has created.

If we are trying to know God by leaning on man’s systems, we are at the very least wasting time, and at worst, failing to know Him at all. Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and Searching For God Knows What, has a great quote that I’ve probably already used sometime: “I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.”

If we are to be like David and seek after the Lord wholeheartedly, basking in His presence DAILY, we have to be willing to put aside systematic thinking that can just end up being a huge time-waster.

I’m not saying that systems of the world are completely irrelevant, but if we view God through a lens influenced by the world, we will never see Him clearly. If we instead look at our own lives and reflect on how each moment is an opportunity to let Him in, we will see a profound change in our hearts instead of seeking out a profound change through the systems the world wants us to believe in.

I hope that my point is clear and encouraging. In my own life, I have gotten caught up in trivial matters and wasted time instead of using my days to allow God to change my heart to be more like His. Even things done with good intentions can distract us from the ultimate prize: knowing Jesus (Phil. 3:7-16). For a while, I was distracted by how corrupt the world is, and what needs to be done to fix it. I was getting really frustrated by things that I saw as huge problems, and the worst part was that I have absolutely no power to change them. (Things like social equity, corporate corruption, management of US food systems and production) But I understand now that the biggest change that I can make in the world and the way that I can help restore things to the way God intended them is by turning my heart over to Him so that I myself will be changed. (And let me say now, lest anyone think differently, this is naturally a difficult process, even when the desire is strong.)

I just want to remind you that no matter who you are or where you feel you stand in your relationship with Jesus, He wants to change you further, put a new heart in you still, and make you into a reflection of Him. We are encouraged in scripture over and over to “seek the Lord” and that is truly what He desires. He does not desire for you to be a conservative right-wing Republican, He doesn’t care if you are stock-savvy and street-smart, and I personally believe that He is not keeping a tally of how many people you’ve invited to church this year or tried to witness to.

All He cares about is if you’re seeking Him or not. Yes, He calls us to certain things at certain times and seasons in life. But that is the only commitment He requires of you, and the only judgment He will make of you.

As for me, I WILL seek the Lord.

I pray that you will too.