Tuesday, December 16, 2008

House #9

I spent the morning at the library getting some reading material for Christmas break.  I brought back a few favorites like Daniel Deronda (by George Eliot) and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) and a few new books including Anna Karenina (Tolstoy of course!).  All of our books are still in storage since the last move, so we are relying on the library more than usual.  One of the things that I miss the most while at Cedarville is the chance to just curl up with a book and read for pleasure!  No test, no paper - just reading for pure enjoyment.  Hopefully I will get to catch up on my "fun" reading this break because heaven knows I won't have any extra time next semester!  :)

This afternoon we went "house shopping."  This will be my ninth house.  I think that we are all ready to get into a home.  The rental we are living in right now is fine, but it's just a house...definitely not "homey".  Today I believe we toured either seven or eight houses.  Sometimes I wonder if this next house will ever feel like home to me.  I mean, I don't live here anymore other than my breaks from Cedarville and I don't know anyone in this city!  I guess that we'll just have to wait and see about that!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ponderings

It's ten days until Christmas!  I simply can't believe it!  When I was younger, I was always annoyed at adults who made comments about the time "flying away" or something to that effect.  Well, now that I am getting a little bit older, I catch myself using those same phrases that once bothered me so much.  :)

"And all who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."
Luke 2:18-19

Speaking of Christmas...I've been thinking about Mary a lot lately.  In verse 18, Luke writes about how everyone who heard the news marveled over it, and, I assume, they were all discussing it.  As Mary was the mother of Jesus and a main character in this "play", I would expect her to be talking with everyone and sharing everything she knew, sharing her opinions and her thoughts.  But verse 19 says that "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."  

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoughtfully; to mediate.

Obviously Mary didn't understand what all of these events meant as they were occurring.  I think that her "pondering" showed her devotion and dedication to the Lord.  She trusted Him.  Just a chapter earlier in Luke's account, Mary replies to the startling news that the angel brings by saying "Behold the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word."  Her attitude of pondering events are a continuation of this trust in the Lord.  She didn't feel the need to talk with other people or share her information.  She rested in the Lord, assured that He had a plan.  I am sure that that wasn't easy...my own response would be completely different!  "Lord!  What WERE You thinking?!  You really want Your Son born in a stable??" etc, etc, etc.

I don't have children yet...but even so, I am crushed at the thought of ever having to choose someone else to raise them if something happened to me (ie legal guardians; godparents).  It just seems heart-wrenching to have to decide on someone else to raise your children, even more so if you were there to watch it.  But isn't that was Christmas is about?  God sent His Son to earth as a baby and chose Joseph, the simple carpenter, to be His surrogate father.   Joseph was human and so I am sure that he made parenting mistakes.  What a huge responsibility to father the Son of God!  God knew when Jesus came to earth as a baby that He was going to die...it's strange to think about Christmas from God's perspective as the Father.  Anyway, that's just something that I was thinking about!

On a different note...I have been reading and thinking a lot about the important effects that the previous generations have their posterity.  This had encouraged me to be praying for my future in-laws.  People always joke about how terrible in-laws are...as George Banks says in Father Of The Bride "Who made up that term: in laws?  What does that mean?  We're legally bound to these people?!"  I am praying that I join a family who passionately love the Lord and are leaving a legacy of godliness, who welcome me as a new member of the family (NOT an "in-law"), who will be godly grandparents, aunts and uncles for my children to know and adore.  Families are important!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Yet...

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NKJV)

"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls -
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills."

I guess that this post is sort of a continuation of the one about Job that I wrote a couple weeks ago.  It's just what I've been thinking about a lot lately.  This passage (which was mentioned in that post) seems to be one of those sections of Scripture that I continually go back to.  Think about this passage in regards to biblical times...Habakkuk is pretty much describing his world falling apart!  He is dependent upon each of the things that he mentions (fruit, crops, animals).  Three times Habakkuk uses the word "though" to preface his statements.  Then there is a pause before he continues with the glorious word "YET"- yet he is going to rejoice in the LORD and joy in the God of his salvation!

We all could copy Habakkuk's prayer here, I think.  Most of us won't talk about herds or fields failing.  Here are a few examples of what I believe are more common for us .

     Though...a family member died unexpectedly
     Though...I have an unsaved spouse
     Though...I was abused as a child
     Though...I didn't get into the college that I wanted
     Though...I am unappreciated by my spouse and children
     Though...my roommate and I seem to be at odds all the time
     Though...my parent has a terminal illness
     Though...my spouse left me
     Though...a family member struggles with alcoholism
     Though...someone spread terrible rumors about me

(Obviously these are not all situations from my own life as I am unmarried, attending the college of my choice, have a fantastic roommate, have healthy parents, etc, etc)

Each of us will have a different set of "though's".  Some may have a relatively short list and some may have very long lists.  Habakkuk doesn't pretend that everything is perfect...I think that he is acknowledging that things are wrong.  But (this is important), he doesn't stop there!  He continues!

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that it's important for us to acknowledge the 'though's' in our lives.  It doesn't help to deny what has happened to us.  Like the lyrics by Point of Grace: "Heal the wound, but leave the scar, a reminder of how merciful You are."  The stories of what God has does in our lives are our testimonies of His greatness.  But, just like Habakkuk, we can't stop there!  Bitterness breeds on harboring those hurts we have experienced.  It is absolutely essential that we continue on!

Even though we all begin differently, we all end the same way!  'YET I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.'  Incredible! 
As it says so often in the Psalms: Selah!  Just take a minute to stop and think about it.  Reflect on the incredible truth that our joy is not dependent upon our circumstances and that the LORD is our strength in each and every one of those stressful, sometimes heart-wrenching circumstances!  Amazing! 
  
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On a completely different note...it's pretty weird to blog.  I mean, I seriously doubt that anyone reads this (except maybe for Natalie!).  I really don't mind; it's just nice to have a place to write out my semi-public, semi-private thoughts. :)  And hey, if somebody does actually read this, maybe it will challenge them or maybe they can correct me if I am wrong.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cardboard Testimony

Last Wednesday was our Thanksgiving chapel here at Cedarville.  During the service they set aside a time for people to share their "cardboard testimonies".  Each person simply took a piece of cardboard and wrote a short phrase on either side describing their life before and after Christ changed them.  Seeing their faces fill with joy (and sometimes tears) as they flipped the sign around...incredible!

That evening, I was telling my mom about it and she said that she had seen a similar thing online.  Being a highly educated person, I turned to...google. :)  I found this link on youtube.  Hillsong United had done the same cardboard testimonies in one of their services.  Once again, amazing!

All of this made me ask myself a question:  what would my cardboard testimony say?  
   broken-hearted and bitter...JOYFUL and FORGIVING because of Jesus!

What about you?  What would your cardboard testimony say?


Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Quiet Evening...

I'm sitting alone in my dorm room, ready to begin a paper for New Testament. It is so incredibly refreshing to just have a quiet evening. No one is knocking at my door and I don't have anywhere to go for the evening.

Last night I read the first couple chapters of Job. It has been a long time since I read through Job, so I am looking forward to it. I want to read through it slowly and re-read each portion a few times before moving on. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor and theologian) told his students that in order to get the most out of a passage they should read the same passage for at least five days in a row.

As I began Job last night I spent a while on verses 6-12 of chapter 1. So many people misquote this passage. People always talk about Satan approaching God regarding Job. Read the passage! The Lord says, "Have you considered my servant, Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (v. 8, NKJV). The LORD was the one to first mention Job, not Satan! Read on and you'll see that Satan never asks for power over Job. The only authority that Satan has over Job is what God gives to him. Also, I love verse 20 "Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped." (emphasis mine) After hearing absolutely devastating news, Job's first response is to fall on his face and worship. He knew that his contentment and fulfillment was not based on his circumstances. He chose (perhaps as an act of his will) to worship despite losing all that he owned and all that he cherished (his children). Compare this to Habakkuk 3:17-19. I just pray that when overwhelming circumstances enter my life that I will have the same response as Job and immediately worship...not allowing time to feel sorry for myself and not allowing time for the father of lies (John 8:44) to get my eyes off the Truth.

Also, I found this website (Reformed Praise) and have been really blessed by the songs. Check them out! They have free downloads for many of the songs. We have sung a couple of the song in chapel ('Sovereign Grace' and 'Irresistible Grace'). Some of my favorite songs are 'I Lay My Sins on Jesus' and 'Help Me Remember'.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Precious Bible, What a Treasure!

I can't think of a better way to begin a blog than with the words of this hymn by John Newton!  Just take a few minutes to meditate on these words...



Precious Bible!  What a treasure
Does the Word of God afford!
All I want for life or pleasure,
Food and tonic, shield and sword;
Let the world account me poor-
Having this I need no more.

Food to which the world's a stranger,
Here my hungry soul is filled;
For excess there is no danger,
I am gorged, yet never ill;
On a dying Christ I feel,
He is meat and drink indeed!

When my faith is faint and sickly
Or when satan wounds my mind-
Tonics to revive me quickly,
Healing medicines I find;
To the promises I flee,
Each affords a remedy.

In the hour of dark temptation
Satan cannot make me yield
For the word of consolation
Is to me a mighty shield;
While the Scripture truths are sure,
From his malice I'm secure.

Vain his threats to overcome me
When I take the Spirit's sword;
Then with ease I drive him from me,
Satan trembles at the Word;
'Tis a sword for conquest made-
Keen the edge and strong the blade.




For about a year I have been contemplating the idea of getting a blog, but have been hesitant to do so.  This hesitancy was based on two things.  

First of all, I didn't want to fall into the trap of using a blog to vent feelings and "blow off steam".  That's silly, rather juvenile and, most importantly, not biblical.  It is not "imparting grace to the hearers" and can be used to stir up dissension.

Secondly, I didn't ever want to pretend that I was any closer or farther from God than where I really was.  With some groups of people I find the temptation to always have some great, fabulous insight to share...or to have some incredibly deep thing that God is teaching me.  With other groups of people, I feel like I can't share honestly where I am because God has so completely and radically changed my life and I have such an incredibly close relationship with Him and I feel like I will intimidate them.  I recognize that both extremes are wrong and so I begin this blog committed to honesty.

So why DID I begin a blog?  There have been times when I wanted to share what God was teaching me or share a passage of Scripture.  I have done this a few times on Facebook, but it just doesn't seem like the right place to do that.  So I'm trying out blogspot!
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