Friday, November 30, 2007

From Valley of Vision

This book is amazing. I'm thankful for Bobby, Phyllis, and Nena who all introduced it to me - so thankful that I've been able to pass it along to my girls too.
Yesterday was a hard day for me, so I went to bed last night just wanting comfort from my Jesus - I found that in Ps 141:8 - mainly but the rest of the Psalm was good:

But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;in you I seek refuge;

Then, I turned in the Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan prayers):

"That I have erred both on the side of my hopes and also of my fears, that I am unfit to choose for myself for it is not in me to direct my steps. Let the Spirit produce in me wise desires by which I may ask right things, that I shall know thou hearest me. May I seek first thy kingdom and its righteousness, may I value things in relations to eternity, may my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude. May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have thy blessing, rather than be successful in enterprise, or have more than my heart can wish. May I regard the "world" (however you want to define it) as dreams, lies, vanities, vexation of spirit, and desire to depart from it. And may I seek my happiness in thy favour, image, presence, service."

Also, what hit me with the last two sentences was the end of James 1 - which I've read every day this week and trying to figure out what it would look like in my life: 1.27c - "to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To Grope...

Last night here at Southern we had a women's chit chat cafe. This is where we get together, eat chocolate, drink coffee (or me, water, because I don't like coffee) and listen to a woman in ministry who can offer something to us from her relationship with God. They are definitely beneficial!
Mrs. Bobbye Rankin was here with us last night. She opened with Rom 16 and those that grope in the darkness (talking about missions). She shared about many of her experiences as a missionary - telling the good news of Jesus to the lost - those blind and groping in the darkness.
I have not been very diligent at my quiet times, but last night I opened the Word and just flipped it open, not knowing where to go. I landed in one of my fave OT books - Isaiah. This is what I read:
Isaiah 59: (portions)

59:1 Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. 4 No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind;we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. 11 We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: 13 transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. 14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. 15 Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. 17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.18 According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. 19 So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. 20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. 21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.

Why do we? Why do I? The redeemed of the Lord - bother with sin - why? Why do we grope around in the darkness of our sin - we know better - we have the Spirit of the Living God living in us...yet we grope!

Grope: to feel about blindly or uncertainly in search, to look for something blindly or uncertainly, to feel one's way

On my own - again

Well, all my stuff is almost in my new apt. I haven't lived by myself about 18 months. Now, I love Erin and my parents...but I do love living by myself.
It is so much better than living in a dorm.
I ate breakfast this morning with real silverware (yes, in a styro bowl just because I can't find mine yet) and in my own dining room.
I cooked dinner for some friends last night and washed the dishes right there and had everything at my fingertips.
I have all my books in the state I live in, but they are all still in boxes because I can't figure out how to put my lone bookshelf together.
I have some "home" things and slept on a full size bed last night with lots of pillows.
I have all my movies here - so excited about that!
Its voice-quiet. Now, there is still plenty of noise as I live on a corner of campus, but no voices! :) That's so great! Can you tell I like my peace and quiet.
Anyway, I love having my own place again - people, you can come visit - I'll take pictures when I get everything put away - which may not be till after the holiday season!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yet it is as God Has Planned

life sometimes just isn't quite as I would have planned it. Yet, (as my mentor said this morning), it is as God has planned it. Ultimately, I do want that - but God has also allowed times of mourning in our lives. Not mourning over a death or anything, just mourning over unfulfilled longing, visions, dreams, desires.

Yet it is as God has planned.

This morning my verse for a battle with sin was Ps 62.5-8:

"For God alone, o my soul, wait in silence. My hope is from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I will not be shaken. on God rests my salvation and my glory. My mighty rock. My refuge is God. Trust in HIM at ALL times, people pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us!"

How pertinent are these verse to my life today. So grateful for the reality of Scripture and the truth of the VERY WORDS of the Word of God. A time when words have lost so much of their meaning - yet I can trust that these are the very inspired Words of God.

I was reminded again this morning by a friend of the validity of Ps 84.11a "For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor." - He is a SHIELD!

May the vision of God's Glory be my life's ambition. If I ever get a clearer goal, a more specific goal, that would be good - but God's glory - not my own - is what life is all about. He is my glory - not anything else or anyone else.

Yet, it is as God has planned. Thanks Phyllis!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Galatians 5.1

Bondage. Yoke. Slavery. Strangle. Stronghold. Enslaved. Struggle.

What do you picture when you read these words?

Many in the mid 1800s in this country were looking to this man to free them from a life of slavery they had known. They wanted a man to free them so they could live the life they wanted to live. He did so. But, years ago - Jesus did something so much more freeing for us - on the cross.

The first words up there are very strong words to me, especially in certain areas of my life: areas of sin that Satan throws at me.

Galatians 5.1 is my verse for the day in an area of sin that I'm trying to "live by the Spirit so I will not gratify the desires of the flesh" - Here it is:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."
Paul is writing to the church at Galatia. The bulk of his letter is dealing with the law and its legalistic hold on the church there. Christ did come to set us free from the harshness of the Law - our hope and freedom and loyalty is in HIM - not in how well we uphold the law.
But, knowing the above - he also says we should not go back and live like we once were living. i love the last bit of this verse - therefore (since Christ is your freedom) don't return to being slaves again to the law - don't return to being slaves to sin in your life - be slaves, servants, bond servants of Jesus Christ - who paid your penalty and has set you free.
We, by the power of the Spirit, can strangle sin in our lives - literally like a wrestler puts a stranglehold on his opponent. We need to strangle sin and let the only thing that has any hold on us in this life - be Jesus.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Random quotes

Facebook has become a great way to participate in ministry for me.
It also gives space for quotes that you like. I thought I would elaborate on two of the quotes that I have on my page:
"We would do well to meditate...on how prizing God's gracious wisdom, and treasuring his sovereign reign over our circumstances, purifies us from the sin of impatience."
John Piper said this in his book Future Grace. It is definitely one of my favorites of his, short chapters so you can read one day and finish it in a month. I have not done that, but one can if one chooses!
I tend to get impatient with a lot of things in my life. Ministry positions, jobs, friends, relationships, marriage, driving in traffic, standing in line at Wal-Mart. In all of these things - God is sovereign and has a plan. He reigns over our circumstances. He reigns over everything. Impatience is in direct opposition to that knowledge.
"The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder" -
G K Chesterton wrote that. So many things and people can claim our focus. When really - we are commanded to focus on two things: love God, love people. That's it. God's glory will shine and we (and all of our superficial wonders) will fade in comparison to the brightness of the GLORY.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Thrill of the Chaste

This book has come into my sphere of knowledge in the last month or so. A pastor's wife and friend in NY mentioned it to me. She said it opened her eyes to the reality of what some women live through - the idea that premarital sex is going to be fulfilling.
A fellow blogger and youth ministry person in NC had this book in his library, so I asked if I could borrow it. He said I could, graciously sent it to me, and I've now finished the book.
All in all, I think the book was good. Dawn Eden is a self-described Agnostic Jew who is now a born-again Christian. She is 38 and still single, living in the NY area. This book is real and transparent as to her life before she became a Christian and how God has done a work of grace in her life since her salvation experience.
This book would be a great read for young women who have come from a lifestyle of random sexual partners or serious boyfriends who they are sexually active with. It would be great for them to see someone who has lived it out and is still not satisfied with the results. Happiness doesn't come from that. Happiness and ultimate satisfaction comes from Jesus. He may grace us with a spouse, but He may not as well - all in His sovereignty.
Below are some quotes I thought were good:
"As time passed, however, another, clearer advantage came into view. It was the realization that all the sex I had ever had - in and out of relationships - never brought me any closer to marriage or even being able to sustain a committed relationship."
"By viewing sex as a means to an end rather that the fruit of a loving relationship, I rendered myself incapable of having a loving relationship."
"Active resolution: the determination to never miss an opportunity to experience God's grace, or miss an opportunity to share His grace with others." - (Instead of never getting out in the world or always trying to pursue and date).
I think this book is weak on its theology, though definitely written from a Christian viewpoint. It brings up points of interest, but doesn't complete them - only offers little blips. But, it was in the Christian living section/relationships, not theology.
This book has been relatively hard for me on a personal level: God has shown me some ways I tend to pursue single men, those ways may not be the conventional way, but they are my ways - and with an impure heart - so pursuing isn't right, no matter how you do it. It also has brought me many moments of loneliness. So, I'm glad I'm done reading this book.