Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Laura and Chey- Sisters- Thank you for showing me how to be a woman who loves Jesus as her only passion. I will forever look up to you two as spiritual leaders in my life. And secretly I do want to be like you when I grow up.
Audrey, Anna, Maria, Rachel, and Kim- Little Girls- Thank you for journeying with me and experiencing Jesus with me. You guys helped me form a foundation of the basics in Christianity...praying, reading the word, etc. I will forever remember all of the times we've had together at the girls' nights. You guys are the best! (Sorry Kim, I don't have a recent pic. of us. You're still loved though!!)
Hope and Brittany- I don't know what I would have done or where I'd be now if you guys hadn't come into my life in college. You guys are true friends through and through; always ready to give of yourself for others. Thank you for the many times that you helped me delay doing school work for a doughnut/gil. night. You both are amazing. Thank you for showing me how to love Jesus more.
Mazvita- You get your own category because you are unique. Thank you for talking with me all of those late nights. Thank you for sharing your heart with me and being vulnerable with me. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and discernment. Thank you for letting me watch you grow in the Lord, in the painful times and the happy times. (I am so excited for you and Ben!)
Laura. Chey. Audrey. Anna. Maria. Rachel. Kim. Chelsea. Hope. Brittany. Mazvita. Thank you for being godly women of faith. Thank you for trusting in the Lord with seemingly unwavering faith. Thank you for loving Jesus and depending on Him even through the toughest of situations. Thank you for always trusting that the Lord has a plan and purpose for your life, and for my life. Thank you for clinging to Jesus and hiding yourself in Him. You've left a mark on my life forever. You are true friends. Thank you for being selfless and giving yourself fully to God and to people. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. You are all such amazing, beautiful women.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Verses 1-7 When Cain was born, Eve said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. Perhaps she thought that this was the promised seed. If so, she was wofully disappointed. Abel signifies vanity: when she thought she had the promised seed in Cain, whose name signifies possession, she was so taken up with him that another son was as vanity to her. Observe, each son had a calling. It is the will of God for every one to have something to do in this world. Parents ought to bring up their children to work. Give them a Bible and a calling, said good Mr. Dod, and God be with them. We may believe that God commanded Adam, after the fall, to shed the blood of innocent animals, and after their death to burn part or the whole of their bodies by fire. Thus that punishment which sinners deserve, even the death of the body, and the wrath of God, of which fire is a well-known emblem, and also the sufferings of Christ, were prefigured. Observe that the religious worship of God is no new invention. It was from the beginning; it is the good old way, jeremiah 6:16 . The offerings of Cain and Abel were different. Cain showed a proud, unbelieving heart. Therefore he and his offering were rejected. Abel came as a sinner, and according to God's appointment, by his sacrifice expressing humility, sincerity, and believing obedience. Thus, seeking the benefit of the new covenant of mercy, through the promised Seed, his sacrifice had a token that God accepted it. Abel offered in faith, and Cain did not, hebrews 11:4 . In all ages there have been two sorts of worshippers, such as Cain and Abel; namely, proud, hardened despisers of the gospel method of salvation, who attempt to please God in ways of their own devising; and humble believers, who draw near to him in the way he has revealed. Cain indulged malignant anger against Abel. He harboured an evil spirit of discontent and rebellion against God. God notices all our sinful passions and discontents. There is not an angry, envious, or fretful look, that escapes his observing eye. The Lord reasoned with this rebellious man; if he came in the right way, he should be accepted. Some understand this as an intimation of mercy. "If thou doest not well, sin, that is, the sin-offering, lies at the door, and thou mayest take the benefit of it." The same word signifies sin, and a sacrifice for sin. "Though thou hast not done well, yet do not despair; the remedy is at hand." Christ, the great sin-offering, is said to stand at the door, revelation 3:20 . And those well deserve to perish in their sins, that will not go to the door to ask for the benefit of this sin-offering. God's acceptance of Abel's offering did not change the birthright, and make it his; why then should Cain be so angry? Sinful heats and disquiets vanish before a strict and fair inquiry into the cause.
Verses 8-15 Malice in the heart ends in murder by the hands. Cain slew Abel, his own brother, his own mother's son, whom he ought to have loved; his younger brother, whom he ought to have protected; a good brother, who had never done him any wrong. What fatal effects were these of our first parents' sin, and how must their hearts have been filled with anguish! Observe the pride, unbelief, and impenitence of Cain. He denies the crime, as if he could conceal it from God. He tries to cover a deliberate murder with a deliberate lie. Murder is a crying sin. Blood calls for blood, the blood of the murdered for the blood of the murderer. Who knows the extent and weight of a Divine curse, how far it reaches, how deep it pierces? Only in Christ are believers saved from it, and inherit the blessing. Cain was cursed from the earth. He found his punishment there where he chose his portion, and set his heart. Every creature is to us what God makes it, a comfort or a cross, a blessing or a curse. The wickedness of the wicked brings a curse upon all they do, and all they have. Cain complains not of his sin, but of his punishment. It shows great hardness of heart to be more concerned about our sufferings than our sins. God has wise and holy ends in prolonging the lives even of very wicked men. It is in vain to inquire what was the mark set upon Cain. It was doubtless known, both as a brand of infamy on Cain, and a token from God that they should not kill him. Abel, being dead, yet speaketh. He tells the heinous guilt of murder, and warns us to stifle the first risings of wrath, and teaches us that persecution must be expected by the righteous. Also, that there is a future state, and an eternal recompence to be enjoyed, through faith in Christ and his atoning sacrifice. And he tells us the excellency of faith in the atoning sacrifice and blood of the Lamb of God. Cain slew his brother, because his own works 1 john consequence of the enmity put between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the war broke out, which has been waged ever since. In this war we are all concerned, none are neuter; our Captain has declared, He that is not with me is against me. Let us decidedly, yet in meekness, support the cause of truth and righteousness against Satan.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Sometimes life is just normal; nothing new is happening, nothing tragic, nothing overly exciting, just the same ol' same ol'. Laundry, cleaning, going to work, hanging with friends, church, movies, reading, eating...the ins and outs of life. Its like for a moment in our lives, life plateaus, no ups or downs but all is constant. stagnant. Yet, still moving forward.
I think during these times its the hardest to TRUST. Its hardest to LOVE. to find REST and COMFORT. Hardest to SIT and BE with the Lord. It feels like life has stopped. We lose our purpose. We lose our drive. We feel normal. We feel mundane. I mean, we are aren't doing anything spectacular. So we must not be anything spectacular, right?
WRONG! We're letting life and the things we do define who we are, define our self worth and our importance in this world. The reality is that the Lord defines who we are. He has given us purpose, even in the mundane, "go therefore and make disciples...teaching them to observe all I have commanded you..."
Lean upon Jesus when life seems meaningless. He will give you purpose; Jesus becomes the focus. Be faithful in the little things. Walk one step at a time. Trust in Him because even the mundane can be beautiful, full of meaning, and full of life.
the dirt. the smell. the heat. the smiles. the kids. the songs. the noises. the drums. the animals. the w.c. the bucket baths. the bugs. the skirts. the flip flops. the truck rides. the roads. the rice. the peanut sauce. the beggars. the widows. the cokes. the market. the moto. the tanties. the pace. the friendships. the language. the mornings. the evenings. the soccer matches. the harvest. the millet. the rain.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
" Worship is our response both personal and corporate to God for who He is and what He has done expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live." -Louie Giglio
Worship starts and ends with God. As we recognize His worth our natural response is worship.
"O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength ,Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord , our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!" Psalm 8
Worship is recognizing His worth; Who He is.
"Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing." Isaiah 40:26
"Who is like the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people. He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children." Psalm 113:5-9
"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who had first given to Him that it might be paid back again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things." Romans 11:33-36
Worship is recognizing His worth; What He has done and is doing.
"Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:8
"And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." 1 John 2: 2
"O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You." Psalm 139: 1-12
When we recognize God's worth all we can do is express the deep emotions in our hearts. This expression comes in various ways; we "shout joyfully to the Lord," break forth and sing," "clap your hands," "bow low and worship," "fall prostrate before Him who sits on the throne," "cast their crowns before the throne," "kneel before the Lord our maker," ect.
Our attitude expresses our worship to God, with joy, thanksgiving, awe, gratitude, and humility.
We worship God in spirit and truth. "To worship God in spirit requires that we be alive on the inside, experiencing the life He gives by spiritual birth. Without His life, you can never truly worship. And to worship in truth means to worship God as He really is, bringing more than our words, but bringing words amplified by an authentic life that flows from being spiritually remade within." -Louie Giglio
Our actions, expressions, and attitudes in worship should be "amplified by an authentic life that flows from being spiritually remade within." I LOVE that! Worship is the lifestyle that you choose when you see God as He truly is, in all of His glory, splendor, and majesty. All you can do is honor Him and praise Him for who He is and what He's done. All you can do-must do- is give Him everything you have through a life of service to Him and to those around you.
"Its not the words I sing, but me I bring; I'm the offering laid at your feet, My steps the melody, oh so sweet, All of me in praise of Thee."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Whenever I hear anything said about friendship these days I am all ears and usually struck to the core wondering and examining my our heart, life, motives as to whether I am truly a good friend. Let me back up to why I am blogging about this. Yesterday's sermon talked a little about authentic friendship. The definition of a friend that was given was this:
"A trustworthy peer with whom we mutually choose to lovingly live with by seeking unique access and service for God's glory and our mutual good."- Mark Driscoll
Our pastor pointed out the words, "peer", "mutually choose", "live with", and "God's glory". The word that gets me the most every time is the "live with". I know that it doesn't seem like it should be interesting or even difficult, but its the one that trips me up the most. He said that living with doesn't mean cohabitation, but that it simply means a co-sharing of activities, emotions, hearts, etc. This means that the friend shares their "junk" with me and I with them. This means that there is risk involved. This means that there is risk because of the fact that you have to trust this person with your heart, thoughts, and even sin, and KNOW that they will care for it as you care for theirs. Its always hardest for me to trust my heart, to be completely vulnerable and let people/ a person into that part of my life. This is the challenge that hits me every time I hear anything about friendship, "Am I doing my part in being a friend? Am I letting that person into my heart, into my sin and letting them help me through it? Do I trust the Lord enough to guard my heart though I share it with others?" Sometimes, most times, my answer is no.
I was just thinking about how Joel and I are now over our heads into the youth group at our church. Joel is teaching the Sr. High boys and I the Sr. High girls. I am also helping with the youth worship band. I am so excited that the Lord has asked us to serve this specific people, a people who is usually looked down upon because of their age and stature in the world. What are "youth" anyway? Why do they matter? I think they matter because, as cliche as it sounds, they are the next leaders, teachers, pastors, rock stars, etc. in our world. Also, they matter because they are God's children.
Its been a few weeks now since we went to the youth retreat, which was on a beach...AMAZING. But anyway, we really had the opportunity to get to know these kids and for them to get to know us. Since then more of the kids are opening up to us and sharing their lives with us. Its such an astounding thing! Yet at the same time our hearts break because they are just kids and they are going through some rough times: lose of hearing, boy trouble, family separation, figuring out who they are going to be, and the list goes on. They are looking to Joel and I as mentors through these times. They are looking to us to lead them to Jesus and to lead them to truth. What a heavy weight! I rejoice that the weight and the burden is the Lord's first and he chose Joel and I to share in it, and to tend to His precious lambs. My prayer is that He gives us the grace to walk steadfast with our eyes focused on Him first and foremost, and that He gives us the grace to be good stewards of the hearts that He's entrusted to our care.
Monday, October 26, 2009
From living in landlocked Missouri to living on tropical island Okinawa
From being a virgin to..you know...
From having 3 lady roommates to having 1 man roommate
From English, French, and Moore to Japanese
From non-denominational Christian Fellowship to baptist Koza
From being 23 to being 24
From shopping at Wal-Mart and Schnucks to shopping at the PX and the Commissary
From hobbies such as going to coffee shops to hobbies such as laying on the beach and bike riding
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I've been having a rough night...I think it mostly has to do with the fact that the more I sit silently, the more I realize my humanity, which isn't necessarily a bad thing...just hard. There is just so much ugliness in my heart, so much refining that needs to be done. Sometimes in the silence, when all my thoughts come up, I wonder if I'm truly saved and if I've been changed even in the least bit by the Holy Spirit. John was talking today at church about Jesus and that it was a costly grace. I feel like I need a deeper revelation of what the truly means. I need a deeper knowledge of who Jesus is. Then I will know that despite ALL of my shortcomings, He still is working in my life. I'm not questioning my salivation really...I guess you could say that I am aware of my need for a Savior. I don't even understand fully.
"Oh wretched man that I am." "Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be."
I guess its a good thing that I am learning to hate my sin. How is it possible to stop sinning? The outward action sins aren't too difficult to stop, its the ones that are rooted in my heart, in my brain...bitterness, jealousy, pride. How do you stop those?
Jesus let me know you more!!!
"This is Jesus in His glory, King of Heaven dying for me. It is finished He has done it. Death is beaten. Heaven beckons me."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Today, sitting in the sunlight in the sand, I took in some of the Japanese way of life. Shutting my eyes I heard the tiny voices of children talking, the cheering of a crowd watching a volleyball game, voices singing in harmony because of a won volley, and laughter everywhere.
These are the sounds of a peaceful people.
My eyes still closed, I smelled the Japanese flesh popsicles(YUM!!), a smell that reminds me of home and mom's bbq. I also smelled the salt of the sea as the waves crashed against the sandy shore.
Opening my eyes I saw families far and wide, scattered on the beach enjoying each others company. Children of all ages digging in the sand , running, and splashing in the water. Young and old alike, floating on intertubes in the water. A group of college age students sitting under a gazebo like tent drinking, laughing, enjoying life.
A culture of such tradition, of such modesty, closely knit to family, finding enjoyment in life.
I am brought to curiosity...Do they ever work? When...it's 2pm? Do the teenagers actually like spending time with their parents? Why don't the women wear swimsuits but instead shorts and long sleeve shirts? What are they talking about? ...
What a beautiful culture, full of life, tradition, and mystery. I can only speculate what aspects of God's character are shown to the world through this people. Maybe patience. Maybe peace and serenity...
Give me grace to learn and to adapt O God.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Yesterday I was faced with a harsh reality. Yet again the situation I loathe finds its way back into my life, playing games with my mind. Ever since I can remember I've been against the American concept of beauty, the idea that to be beautiful one has to be thin. It doesn't matter the content of the person's character or even the beauty in their face. The sole deciding factor of beauty in America is a thin body.
Throughout my life I've been challenged to forgo my thoughts and convictions concerning this, but I have stood strong. Just recently though, I'm beginning to think that as I deal with Americans, my fictitious ideals of beauty are not reality. Because this world is fallen, because the people in it are fallen, the reality that supersedes all others, is that thin is more beautiful. What a lie the devil hass weaved into the whole of society.
When this reality keeps its distance from my personal life, I can bear it. Even at times, I can fight against it. When this reality invades my space like a bad smell, its not as easy to keep my hands up.
So the question remaining is, What does one do? Conform? Retaliate despite the cost? Dismiss it like it nothing to be bothered with? Or run away as far as one can go?
What is one drop of water going upstream while an entire river flows down?
Do I do it for him? He is an American to the very core. His ideas of beauty follow that of the mainstream.
Is it pride that keeps me from it? Is it obedience to a different lifestyle?
Can one mere person change the cultural norm of a nation?
I would like to believe so, but for now, the battle in my mind remains. There will be no resolution tonight.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Used for worship, expressing the depths of her heart to the Lord.
Praise, Adoration, Truth.
Why is she afraid? Why is she ashamed?
The last time she sang, she was in the limelight. Worship is what she did, who she was.
What happens when star falls?
Guilt, Shame, Hypocrisy.
Finding herself in Jesus, the Healer, holding her world in His hands.
Her portion, her strength. All she needs. Finding forgiveness as far as the East is from the West.
Healer, You are holding my world in your hands. Nothing is impossible for You.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
life and peace. life and peace.
a world where life and peace reign; what would that look like?
life. no death. no decay. life.
life. wholeness. newness. life.
a world where life and peace reign; what would that look like?
peace. no hate. no want. peace.
peace. rest. security. peace.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I just read an email from some friends in Aman, Jordan. The Lord told them to go to Aman to be missionaries and to live among a people that seems to be so against the gospel. At the beginning of their journey they got discouraged often because of the difficult language training and the few people that they encountered. They left their homes, their way of life in America, to up and move to this foreign country and NOTHING was happening. Yet they remained hopeful that they were not there in vain and the Lord had a reason for sending them.
Now months later, the Lord is opening up opportunities to share the gospel with these traditionally Muslim people. There are definite seeds that have been planted. They get to practice their Arabic by reading the Bible to devout Muslims!!! The Lord moves in mysterious ways for sure.
Its amazing to me that the Lord puts people in specific places, at specific times, to touch the lives of specific people, whom he loves so dearly. I can barely think about it without tearing up. We have a Father who loves people, His people, SO much that he pursues them, and he uses US, the people in His Church, to speak truth and love to the hurting and broken.
People everyone need to know about Jesus. He lives in me and therefore I am a light, whether I like that fact or not, whether I feel like it or not. People who are slaves to sin and living life for themselves watch me, either consciously or subconsciously, because I have LIFE and I know the way to life.
It is so easy to think that my life is about ME. Or to become angry or upset because I am not in the place, physically, where I think I should be. Or that I would be more effective if only I lived here and was with X people group. The TRUTH is that Jesus has me where I am for a purpose! I am working the job I am for a purpose! I am on the path that is best for me because Jesus wants the best for me! There is someone in my life, even if just one person in my life, that Jesus wants to speak to. Will I really be so consumed with me that I lose the chance to be used by Jesus to change the eternity of someone else?
"You are a the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden..." Matthew 5:14
Friday, August 28, 2009
HERE IS YOUR GOD:
The Lord God will come with might with His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them to His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
HERE IS YOUR GOD:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
HERE IS YOUR GOD:
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
TO WHOM THEN WILL YOU LIKEN GOD??
DO YOU NOT KNOW? HAVE YOU NOT HEARD?
HERE IS YOUR GOD:
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth DOES NOT become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to Him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait
Yet those who wait
those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Lift your eyes on high and see who created these stars.
Lift your eyes and see the Everlasting God, the Lord.
Why do you say, "My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"?
Lift your eyes on high,
Lift your eyes,
Turn your gaze toward heaven,
See the Lord.
From Isaiah 40
Monday, August 24, 2009
As I sit here the noises of life surround me in my search for silence; cars passing by, children playing in the hall, the quiet hum of the air conditioner, and even the typing of the keyboard keys as I type. These noises are only external, a distraction for just a short while. Mostly these can be tuned out, but the noises in my mind reminding me of dirty dishes in the sink, conversations with friends from the night before, thoughts of dinner and sleep, of these I cannot escape. I am consumed by doing. I can blame this on our culture and how it has formed me to believe that the more I do, the more significant I am. But the reality is that in TRUE and ABSOLUTE silence, I am faced with me, with my doubts, with my failures, and with many questions. Yet the Lord calls me and says,
"Be STILL and know that I am God."
This is such a simple reminder, but when I know that HE is God, then somehow, my failures and shortcomings seem to disappear. He is above all things. My focus is shifted, and my perspective changed. There is hope in knowing that He is God; my life and I have meaning, the knowledge that I was created for a purpose becomes tangible, and the rhythm of my life changes. The reality that success is not in my hands but God's rings true and the healing that I need begins to take place there in the silence.
I lived in Burkina Fasa, Africa for 2 years, which was the best time of my life. I lived among some of the most poor and needy people of the world. I played with children all day long, and somehow got to call it "work." I made so many friendships and memories there with the local people. I became fluent in 2 new languages.
And now I find myself in Okinawa, Japan with my lovely husband, where most days I hang out with other women and "go shopping." The best days are the ones when my husband and I go exploring.
Life seems to take the funniest of turns. From living in the dust to living on the sand. From living with nothing to living with more than I could ever have asked for...Who would have known that a plain ordinary girl, like myself, would have so many adventures? Don't get me wrong, I love that, somehow, I am the one traipsing off doing "things of grandeur." I just never though that I would end up here, ever really. The two places are so very different. Its hard not to compare them. My hope is that this place and these people help to mold me into someone who I never thought I would be.