This is another "I love my church" post...
A little background information on the church I am a part of: we are a regional campus of a church which simply means that we are a part of that church but meet in a different location. We have a live worship team but the sermon is from the pastor of the main campus and it is a video. We are a young group and have been meeting for about a year and a half at a school. Meeting at a school means that we must set up a church every Sunday morning. All of it- chairs, sound system, nursery and children's rooms, etc. A faithful group meets early every Sunday morning to set it all up and then pretty much the whole congregation helps to take it all down after the service. It has been done that way for each Sunday for the last year and a half. Everything we have is transported to the school in a large box truck.
So begins Sunday's adventure...
My husband is the worship pastor of the campus. As we were on our way to church early Sunday morning, he gets a call from the campus pastor saying that the truck's batteries are completely dead. This was at the time the truck should have arrived at the school so that the setup could begin and all would be ready for a proper sound check and in plenty of time for everything to be worked out. The truck not starting means that everything we need to set up for a service will possibly be stuck in a storage spot 30 minutes from the school.
Of course there are back up plans. First, the main campus got to work in finding us new batteries. That didn't work though so they continued to jump the dead batteries, bringing in a larger vehicle to jump it. So, my husband gathered the main campus' portable sound system and we headed out to the school while the campus pastor began to prepare a sermon in record time. We were still hoping that the batteries would charge but were planning for alternatives, just in case.
This could have been very stressful but that was not the atmosphere we arrived to when we reached the campus. There was a group that had already been there for almost an hour, waiting to set up. But there was no grumbling, no complaining, just a group of people ready to do whatever needed to be done. We set up what was there and the praise team warmed up with just the guitar. My husband and the campus pastor spoke and decided if they did not get word in the next 10 minutes that the truck was started then they would go to plan B. This meant that they would use a very basic sound setup with a portable system, my husband and his guitar and with the pastor preaching his recently penned sermon. As for the kids, well, God bless the teachers! Soon after that though, they got a phone call that the truck had started and they were making the drive that would still take about 30 minutes.
At 10:25 the truck pulled into the parking lot. Our service begins at 11:00! What happened when the truck arrived was pretty incredible. Everyone who was there immediately went into action unloading and setting up. People who usually serve in other areas were pulling carts, setting up the children's rooms, unloading cables and doing whatever needed to be done. One gentleman, who normally vacuums, had already been on his hands and knees to clean the carpet so that we wouldn't have to wait for the rooms to be vacuumed. I never heard someone say "would you please help us." There wasn't a need because everyone participated willingly. It was down to the wire but at 11:00, we were ready to begin! It was unbelievable.
But then again, it was not unbelievable if you know our congregation. I told my husband as we were driving out to the church, not knowing what would happen, that in this kind of event I was so glad to be a part of our congregation because I knew whatever happened would be fine. We have such a great group who are always willing to sacrifice and would not complain about not having a perfect setting. As everyone was rushing around setting up, the children's ministry coordinator and I agreed that we were watching the Church in action, as they are supposed to be. I am so grateful to be able to be a part of a church where the congregation has such amazing attitudes. As we were waiting to see what happened with the truck, I prayed that in whatever happened God would be glorified in it. I have no doubt that he was. Only he could have allowed us to set up in 30 minutes and for the truck to start when it did. Only he could give a group of people the kind of attitudes that would be so willing to serve and work and do whatever it takes, all with cheerfulness. I believe that the attitude of the group brought him honor and the service was one of worship.
What a great morning!
Monday, December 17, 2007
This is another "I love my church" post...
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tonight, as part of our study of the Christmas story, we read of the responses of the shepherds, Simeon, Anna and the wisemen as they worshiped Christ. They all recognized the magnitude of His birth and the fulfillment of God's promise. We read multiple passages and looked up the context in the prophecies in the Old Testament but there were two brief sentences in those passages that struck my husband and me.
Luke 2:19- "But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart" and Luke 2:33- "And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him." The first verse is included right after the shepherd's visit Jesus, on the night of his birth. The second verse is Joseph and Mary's response while at the Temple where they were presenting Jesus as a baby and Simeon had just proclaimed His as Christ.
What struck us was that even amidst the miraculous surrounding events of his birth, Jesus was still the first son of a young couple. What must Mary have been thinking the night he was born? Beyond the fact that a bunch of men had just come to visit after a huge group of angels had sent them because her baby happened to be the Messiah...she was a young mother who was holding her little boy for the first time. And their first time to take Jesus out in public they were probably just like all proud parents but instead of hearing how cute their little boy was, they were told about how he was to bring salvation to the world.
I can't imagine the emotions that Mary and Joseph felt. In a few months I will be holding my newborn son. My son will not be the promised Messiah, I won't be visited by smelly shepherds or royalty that studied stars and his birth will not be the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy and waiting. But he will be our son, given to us by God. After all of the events of his birth, the visitors, the emotions...I know that I too will treasure all of those things and ponder them in my heart.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It is very interesting reading the accounts now that I am pregnant. I was particularly struck by what was told to Zechariah about his son, John. Gabriel told him, "Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:16-17) That is a pretty high calling for Zechariah's son and I cannot imagine what it would be like to be told that my son would be used by God to lead His people in such a way.
It reminds me of when I listened to a teaching from the Old Testament book of Esther when I was just about six weeks pregnant. Esther was a woman used by God to save her people and one of my favorite verses is what is said to her by her cousin: "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14b). I remember at that time wondering what my baby's "time such as this" is? Why did God choose to bring my son to this world at this point in history? What is the plan for his life and how will God choose to use him?
I am so excited to see all that God will do in his life. It causes me to pray for him, that he will be obedient and ready to be used by God. It also encourages me to be a mother that guides him to be a godly man. Because who knows but that he has come to position for such a time as this?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
We are in a new apartment this year so we are trying to decide new places for all of our decorations. I collect nativity scenes and I am beginning to have quite a few. I was struggling to find the best way to display them because I don't like putting a nativity scene next to something like a Santa Claus or snowman. They just don't fit together and something about it looks incorrect so I don’t. It caused me to think about how that applies to this season. I try to mix the meaning and purpose of Christmas in with all of the other secular things and sometimes it just doesn’t fit together. One always ends up distracting from the other and for me, it is unfortunately the spiritual celebration. I know it will only get harder when I have a child next year so I am now trying to make an effort to not let myself get too distracted.
That is what I love about A Charlie Brown Christmas. Charlie gets so fed up with the commercialism and stress of the season and finally cries out “isn’t there anyone out there who can tell me what Christmas is all about?” Charlie has a faithful friend in Linus who very simply tells him what Christmas is all about. It is such a sweet moment and it causes me to think “oh yeah, that is what it is all about.” I love Christmas and wouldn’t ever want to change all that is involved with it. I just want to make sure in all of it, that I remember that all it is really about is fulfillment of God’s promise to bring salvation to his people. After all, “That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Monday, November 26, 2007
Now that we know he is a boy and call him by his name, it is even more fun to dream about life with him. I imagine his personality and am so excited to experience life with him. Anything we do now, my husband and I talk about what it will be like next year when we have him. It is amazing that I have not met him but I absolutely love my son and would easily give up my life for him. It is such a wonderous thing.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Do not get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas. I am not even one of those who complain about Christmas decorations being put up in stores in August and I will even stop and look at them. I don't mind starting to think about Christmas plans, gift ideas and crafts in October. But, I don't want all of that to happen at the expense of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Why wouldn't it be? The historical purpose of the holiday is to be thankful for how God has blessed us. It is a government endorsed holiday to express gratefulness. It is a time that I get to be with family and have lots of delicious food. Plus, it has what no other holiday can offer, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I am 25 but I still love watching it every year and it is my dream to see it live one day.
I located the first presidential proclamation for Thanksgiving Day and added it below because I thought it was really nice. Happy Thanksgiving!
THANKSGIVING DAY 1789 BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - A PROCLAMATION Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness." Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. GO. WASHINGTON.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
We heard something on the radio about young men and I told my husband "you have a big job in teaching our little boy." I was teasing at the time but the thought remained with me. I am so grateful that I have a husband who will do such a wonderful job in leading and teaching our son. Not only do I trust his intentions and that it will be a priority to him to be a guide to our son but even more, I know he will be an example of Christian character. I believe that an example has much more lasting impact than words.
My mom told me that having a child will make me love my husband even more. I didn't know that it could start in my pregnancy though. He is so excited about our child and absolutely loves him. His excitement is contagious and makes it clear that he will be an involved daddy. He has been so caring towards me and has been patient and celebrated everything about my pregnancy. I thought about this the other night and was saddened for the families where the father is uninvolved or uninterested. I am so grateful for my husband's excitement and love for our son.
I never thought that I could be as excited as I am about playing with cars and blocks. I am about as girly as they come but I can't wait for the excitement of a little boy in our lives. If he is anything like his daddy, he will bring a lot of joy.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I started a book series called the Mitford series. It has been out for a while but I am just now reading the first. My reward for passing my licensure exam was reading a fun, fiction book (I felt guilty reading any other time because I knew I should study instead). I love to read and still get absorbed into a story, even as I did as a child. I chose to begin this series because it is one that was loved by my grandmother, Meme. I am reading her book and I smiled the other day as I turned a page and saw a small coffee stain. She and I shared a love for reading and I just felt like staying in a part of her world for the time. Back to the theme of the blog...
This book (and the series I assume) is about the comings and goings of a lovely, little town where people know and care for one another and you can walk wherever you need to go. I have found myself thinking, "I'd like to live there" and then wonder if I realistically could live in such a slower pace of life.
The second wonderment with simplicity came this morning when I heard my baby's heart beat for the first time. It was such a simple sound but so beautiful to hear the little life, letting me know that he or she is healthy and growing. It was amazing to know that the little thumps I was listening to belonged to my child.
When I first think of simplicity, I think of slow and easy and not too busy. But I think what makes simplicity appealing is actually that there is something meaningful put into it. In the Mitford series, what is desirable about the life of the townspeople is the purpose they carry with them through their day, particularly relationships with others. What was special about the simple sound of a heartbeat is that it is from my baby and it is the first communication she or he has made to me. That is a new priority, to make what I do meaningful and appreciate the simple things that matter.
There is a song I am reminded of that was popular for a few years titled "The Beauty of Simplicity." Some of the lyrics are:
It's the beauty of simplicity
that brings me down to my knees
I'll praise You for eternity
and lord I love You
You first loved me
And all God's people say:
We, we love You, we love You Lord, we love You
And we, we love You, we love you Lord, we love You
We love You
Again, it is what is meaningful in those words and it is the simplicity of faith. It is not to be hard or busy, but it doesn't mean it won't...rather, it is the powerful, yet simple message that we love Him because He first loved us.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I can write about what others have said: Meme was a fine lady, she was full of grace, kindness and cared about the lives of others. She was busier after she retired than when she worked full time because she volunteered so much. She always sent a kind note, always had a thoughtful word.
But, what I am choosing to write about is what I knew of her as her granddaughter. She was the woman who for my thirteenth birthday, took me to the mall for my first makeover and made me feel so grown up. She would take me out to lunch before a semester of college started, so that just the two of us could spend some time together. She emailed me almost daily when I first left town, keeping me updated about everything from what the rain was doing to the grass at Tabor, to her prayers about different family members. She always stood up for me when I was getting in trouble in junior high, even when I needed to be in trouble. She picked my sister and me up from school so that we could ice cookies and decorate her home for Christmas with her. When I started a Christmas village (because of hers), she took all of the girls in the family to a Christmas village exhibit so that I could see the large collection in town. Growing up, her house was ours to let our imagination run in. It was a beautiful and elegant place, but felt like home. The smell of bacon in the morning still reminds me of waking up at her home. And I know the night before she would have read the Sesame Street book to me and Bearly Bear to my sister for the hundredth time of each. Then she would have scratched our backs as we fell asleep in the room that I always thought was like a princess room. Before I got married, she reminded me that marriage is a commitment that I could not take lightly. She loved my husband and loved how much he and I love each other. She told me of a conversation she had with my sister. My sister said, "Jordan loves being a wife." Meme corrected her and said "Jordan loves being a wife to Brock." She did not try to impress any of us with how much she knew, but it was clear that she was one of the wisest women I have known. She worried about us all, all of the time. She had her post at the window above the driveway, checking on all of us. She modeled how to get along with others, and how to take care of others. She did the right thing because it was the right thing to do, not for expectations or praise. She loved my Pete and took care of him. Her emails, before she was sick, always told me about what they did together and she never said anything but loving words about him. In fact, she only spoke with love about all of her family. She served us and gave her time for us. Meals were a special way for her to have us spend time together and we spent hours at the dining room table, long after the meal was done, telling stories and laughing. Then, my mom and aunt would try to start the dishes and she would repeatedly insist they stop, even though they never listened. I have so many wonderful memories of us all just spending time together, sitting in different rooms in their house. I never once doubted that I was a priority to her. No matter what was going on in her life, I was greeted with a "Hi Honey" in a voice that sounded so happy to see me. Even at her sickest, she wanted me to know that she was going to be okay. She modeled her faith, especially through her disease. She had an unwavering faith in God and strongly believed in prayer. She desired to know more and grow closer to Him and always encouraged me with words of His truth.
This description may not mean much to anyone else reading it, but it is some of the special things she was to me. After all of that, I still do not feel as though I have captured who she was. Proverbs 31:10-31 was one of her favorite Scripture passages. I think it is a good summarization.
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children (and grandchildren) arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Friday, August 24, 2007
I asked how far along this girl was. It turns out that she is almost to the day as far along as I am- 8 weeks. Her baby is the same age as mine. I was almost sick when I heard that and it has been bothering me since then.
I have always been opposed to abortion but hearing that this one who will possibly be aborted is the same age as mine has really shaken me. The only difference between my baby and hers is that mine is wanted. The life of my baby is the exact same as the life of hers. They are both about 6 weeks old, have a heart beat, finger, toes, eyes and ears. They both were created by God for a purpose. It is unfathomable to me to think of my baby as anything but a living person with a wonderful future in store. I physically hurt when I think that hers may not get that chance and that she could think of it as anything different than a baby.
Please join me in praying for this girl. I hurt for her because I know she is terrified right now.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Tonight was a really special night. I have written numerous times how much I love the church I am a part of and this is one of those stories. Tonight was our first baptism service. We are a Baptist church without a baptistry because we meet in an intermediate school. This past year, at a meeting in a member's home (one that I wrote of), our campus pastor noticed that the wading pool in their beautiful backyard would make a perfect site for baptism. Tonight was the first one and it was an absolutely wonderful time.
Eight people were baptized: 3 children, an older lady who did not want to get baptized in front of a large crowd at the main campus and an entire family that has come since we moved out to the second campus. The father of the family that was baptized had been a Christian for over thirty years and decided that this was something he needed to do and lead his family in. We had 30-40 more people than a normal Sunday morning come out to celebrate this time in these believers' lives. Baptism is not an act required for salvation. Rather, it is an act of obedience after someone becomes a Christian. It is a public declaration of your belief. It was so neat to be with those people and their families as we celebrated their declaration.
After the baptisms we all hung out in the backyard for a few hours having a hotdog cookout, playing football and chatting. It was such a great time of fellowship. Who would have thought that we could have been outside in the middle of August and been comfortable? The weather was perfect though with even a breeze.
It has left me with such an excitement about what God is going to do with the West Campus. Tonight is what the church should be like. There are different roles of the church which include evangelism and service outside of the walls. But there is also a role amongst the members which is to be a family and encourage one another on. What better way to do that than to celebrate our friends' baptisms and then have a fun, relaxing, "family" time together? I am again reminded that I am absolutely blessed to be with this group of people, working together for the kingdom of God.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I am pregnant! It still feels odd to see those words and know it is about me. I have known for almost 3 weeks and these 3 weeks have been full of every emotion possible. It is actually impossible to put in to coherent statements what it is that I am thinking. I am sure any woman that has ever been pregnant knows exactly what I mean. It is a joy that I cannot describe and sense of responsibility that is enormous.
The overwhelming thought is related to the statement I began this note with. Psalm 139 is a beautiful passage to read as a pregnant woman. It speaks of the precious love that God has for each person, his own creation. Each person has been lovingly designed by God for a purpose…including my baby. Every day my baby grows and develops. Their little heart is already beating, their fingers will develop this next week and major organs are quickly developing and all will be working within a few weeks. I am so grateful that I don’t just have to trust in nature to make all of that happen correctly. Instead, I know that God is tenderly creating my baby. He knows and loves my child and has a purpose for their life.
I have never appreciated the truth about God as creator quite as much as I do now.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Bob poignantly ended the show with this line- "No one comes back from war unchanged. The wounded face challenges that will last a lifetime and need support that matches their sacrifice so that they are, in the words of George Washington, appreciated by their nation." Support that matches their sacrifice...that phrase stuck with me.
I have shared with people before that I fear our soldiers currently serving will not be given the same amount of support as troops in the past. I wonder if a young man serving in Iraq today will be able to look back fifty years from today with pride in his service in the same way a WWII vet looks back. I am always amazed at the pride a veteran has when speaking of his service and I hope that a soldier of today will feel that they too can be proud of their work. Will we as a country honor the men and women fighting in the War on Terror in a manner that is due? Or will it be like the soldiers returning to Vietnam who received no parades but jeers instead?
I am not going to pretend to understand the reasons for war or peace and what is right or wrong when it comes to diplomatic relations and the safety of a nation. I do know though that I am grateful for the freedoms I have and for the willing people who will put their life on the line so that I can keep those freedoms. I also know I would be devastated if my husband or a family member was deployed so I am very grateful for the men and women who voluntarily go. How do we as a nation, and I as a citizen tell them this? Its worth a thought.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
There is another person, actually a pastor also, who asked that question. It was about 13 years ago and one of the ministers from her church saw my mom at the hospital. She was visiting her mother who was dying of cancer. He asked that common question we always ask "how are you doing?" to which she replied with an something like "okay" or "fine." He had the kindness to say "are you sure you're okay?" knowing full well that a person whose mother is dying is usually not "fine." That pastor ended up being a great comfort to my family through that time and his kindness at that moment meant enough to my mother for her to recall that event to me.
In our counseling program at school, we are reminded of the verse in James 1:18- "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger." In fact, a professor using that verse was how my practicum program started. It is a verse that I have committed to memory as a counselor but also for my personal life. I'm not very good at it. But, its a goal worth working towards!
How different would our relationships be if when we say "hi, how are you doing" we were intentionally wanting to know how that person is and what they might be struggling with and are willing to listen to that. Even in our families and close relationships, conversations are often more superficial, rather than getting to the real issues that might be happening. I think it is because our culture has lost the ability to really listen. It is the common notion that to help someone is to give advice, instead of just being a listening ear and offering a shoulder.
My pastor had been a student and had a good sense of what I was going through. I wore that stress on my face. He could have left it with me saying an easy answer of "pretty good" but instead he took a few minutes to hear how I really was. I already respected and liked him a great deal, but that day he became a friend.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The most upsetting- on many news websites, they are displaying a picture of the killer aiming a gun at the camera. It shocked and disturbed me but I absolutely cannot imagine the reaction of the victim's loved ones who see that picture. The mother who just lost her child will be faced with the last image that her child saw before they were killed. Those pictures are absolutely immoral and irresponsible.
My husband is of the thought that he and other killers should never have their name released to the world. I'm beginning to completely agree with that. The media and public are not responsible enough to not immortalize him.
I am writing emails and comments to many news outlets voicing my opinion. I know my little voice will not mean much but it is important to me to at least tell someone at those studios of my opinion.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
The stories coming out about the people who died are hard to listen to. The pictures and bios make the "32 died" a much more devastating reality. I keep thinking of my little sister at her college campus. I think of the young girls her age whose lives were shockingly ended. I ache for their family and loved ones. I hurt for the students who will have images in their minds that will never cease.
As with most people, I am brought back to other events in my life that seemed to just stop time and shake my reality. The first event I remember was the Branch Davidian standoff and fire. I was young but I remember that event being the first to make me sit down in shock when I turned on the television and saw the events unfold. The first event that I remember really understanding that an evil and horrible act had been done was the Oklahoma City bombing. I can remember exactly where I was when I learned of these and other tragedies. I was sitting on my parents bed watching the fiery devastation of the Branch Davidian complex. I was in the kitchen when I heard of the bonfire falling and killing students at the college town I grew up in. I was sitting in a Saw You at the Pole rally in my own town when I learned of a deadly shooting spree at another city's rally. I was driving my little sister to school when I heard about the first plane crashing in the World Trade Center and on my shortcut road to my college campus when I learned of the second plane and the likelihood that it was terrorist attack. I especially remember the fear I felt as a student when Columbine and many other school shootings happened when I was a high school student. Each event has the same memory a sinking feeling in my stomach and the thought of "this is not okay- how does this happen?
I think that is a question that all of us ask in some way. I know I do. I think we want to know why or how these devastating events, caused by other humans, for many reasons. There is a natural curiosity. There is a desire and need to make sense of the incomprehensible.
My Christian psychology professor addressed this today during our prayer time. He said something to the effect of "psychology can offer explanations as to how a person could do this but psychology can only address the processes." Science, psychology, criminology and religiosity cannot answer why. CNN, NBC and Charles Gibson cannot answer why. The real issue is that there is sin in this world and it is pervasive. Paul in the New Testament writes of groans coming from not only Christians but creation as well, as we wait for the realized completion of salvation when we live in God's kingdom. Christ has already been victorious over death but believers still live on an earth where evil pervades and sin is still rampant. This most recent event is a clear reminder of that reality. It is a result of the worst of human nature and the sin that exists.
Even living amongst this sin and fear, Christians are able to find comfort. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 43:2-3: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. We are not promised to be spared from the rushing rivers or the fire...but because of who God is we will not be overcome by any of it.
This is my prayer for the families, friends, students...I can't begin to comprehend the pain they are experiencing. But I pray that even in the worst moments of their life they will be able to trust in the God who will not let us be overcome by the sin of this world.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
One of the songs we sang was a hymn called "Jesus Paid it All." It is the words of the traditional hymn but we rock it up a little bit and it is a blast to play on the piano. I like the song but it has a special place in my heart for more than it being fun to play.
The song begins I hear the Savior say, "Thy strength indeed is small; Child of weakness, watch and pray, find in Me thine all in all." A few weeks we were practicing this song for the first time and it was during the point of the semester that I was just tired, stressed and really unhappy. That first verse struck me and brought tears to my eyes. Those words perfectly described the absolute weariness that I felt but they were so freeing at the same time. That moment was the start of a change in my heart, outlook, mood...whatever it was, I was changing. I began praying for God's peace in a different way. I had to remember that I am a child of weakness. I had been trying so hard to rely on my own strength and knowledge and that just wasn't going very well.
Again back to Easter morning...we had not played this song in a few weeks and we were rehearsing it on Sunday morning. Again, tears came to my eyes when we sang that first verse. This time it was tears of great appreciation for God's unending faithfulness and the sweet peace He has provided since that night. I remembered that night of practice where I just felt miserable and I am so grateful that He has given me a "new song."
The hymn is actually speaking of the power of God in bringing salvation. We as sinners could not achieve salvation on our own but are given the opportunity of eternal life through the power and sacrifice of God. I understand my weakness as a human and my utter reliance on God for my salvation, I just sometimes forget that I need to rely on Him in this life. It is so strange to me that I can trust Him to be true when it comes to my entire life and salvation but yet I don't think about trying to trust Him to take care of something as simple as a busy semester.
It took me awhile but I am grateful that I finally got the fact that I am weak but I really can find my Lord to be my all in all. What a sweet peace that is.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Last night I went to a leadership meeting for the church where my husband is a worship pastor. I laughed so hard, got lots of encouragement, enjoyed sharing a meal and just enjoyed being with friends. These are wonderful leaders and I actually love being in meetings with them!
I love this church. It is a 2nd campus of a larger church. With the design of the church, it requires a lot of team work and there is a real emphasis on building relationships. I truly love going to church every week and getting to see my church family. I have heard nightmare stories of being a minister's wife but I have yet to experience it and in fact have experienced the exact opposite.
There is a real sense of unity and excitement for God's work. I am grateful that we get to be a part of a church with such wonderful people. I never go a Sunday without many people asking how my week was, how classes are, how many days until graduation and telling me that they are praying for me often. They have invested in our lives and we are surrounded by encouragers.
My husband and I were both raised in church and both of us can remember adults in the church who were special people in our lives. I am so grateful that when we have kids, there are so many wonderful adults that will love on our kids and model to them what it is to live like a Christian man or woman.
So this was not a very profound post but it is something that I am very happy and thankful about. Maybe when classes end I will get a little more thought provoking!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Friday, March 2, 2007
Thursday, March 1, 2007
My mom sent me a perfect email today that made me laugh. She wrote "To quote the book 'My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.'" Leave it to my mother (she is a school teacher and most likely the reason I know about Alexander) to be a voice of reason and sweetly remind me of the message of the book, and really the message of life. I hope I am as smart and wise as she is one day.
My pity party is almost over. I have completed another paper and that is a great relief. I still feel significantly less intelligent than I did two days ago but I will get over it. I have to remember my professor's prayer (that he said ironically right before he handed out one of the exams that contributed to my mood) "Lord help these students to remember that their worth is not found in a grade, but in You."
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Maybe it would be different if school hadn't interfered with the celebration of the holiday for the umpteenth year. I didn't always hate the holiday and I still like all of the decorations and hearts and cards. I still like to go out, even if it has to wait until after a test is over. So maybe one day I will appreciate it again.
I think a big reason that I don't like Valentine's Day is because I don't need it. That same friend I mentioned above said that she used to resent the holiday (she is single) when all of her coworkers got flowers until she realized that the husbands who sent those flowers were jerks the rest of the year. You see, I have a husband who is kind and thoughtful every day of the year so I do not need his obedience to one designation on the calender for me to believe that he loves me.
I have had many reminders lately that I am very blessed to be married to my husband. He is absolutely my best friend and can brighten my day. His character has withstood a lot and it has made him a wonderful husband. I love how he makes me laugh and makes me stop and enjoy life. I love how he tells me that I am more than capable of PhD work and when he tells me how proud he is of me with my counseling and school work. I love it when he listens to me ramble on about the latest thing I have learned or have thought about, and how he asks me for and values my opinion. I love how he makes me stop and hug him when I think I am too busy. I love how patient he is with me. I love how he makes the kitchen too crowded because he wants to help cook. I love to hear him sing, see him smile, watch him in ministry and see him act in a way that only I get to share. Most of all I love that he is seeking after God fervantly and his life and character reflect that. I know without a doubt that he loves me and values me.
So there is my valentine...on February 15. I can feel like I am rebelling against the holiday but I guess I am a sucker after all. Maybe the holiday isn't so bad because I can think of it as a day that celebrates a year's worth of love shown. I might even wear red next year.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
I look at this as one of the "smiles" that God gives me that I referred to in a previous post. I love it when God encourages me like this. It was already a long day with a long night to come. The night will still be long but at least I get to enjoy a Caramel Apple Cider while I am writing a New Testament paper! Even more so, I get to enjoy the warmth of knowing my God loves me as His child and does things to remind me of that.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
If you have heard my opinion on the subject matter, you know that disunity in the church is a something that really angers me. There can be differences of opinion and it is okay to call someone out on mistakes that are made but the church is still supposed to be unified, period. it isn't easy, notice in the above passages that Paul had to write "if any" often. I think he was making a plea because it is hard...but it is still necessary. The Bible is clear in multiple places that the Church is to be unified. Here is why...the Church (universal body of believers, represented by the local church also) represents Christ and represents His love. We are supposed to stand out and be different, in a positive way. When the Church (and church) cannot get along with each other, what does that look like to nonbelievers? Not good, that is why we must show one another love...not because we agree with each other always, but because we are to represent lives changed by Christ who are willing to show forgiveness because He gave us forgiveness. Obviously, this does not happen. I am married to a minister, who is a son of a minister, I have gone to church for my entire life and I go to a school that trains for ministry...I see it enough that it has become a sore spot for me. So please allow me to step on my soapbox for a moment.
My school has once again made it into the newspapers. The administration has done something (along with many other somethings) that they should be "called to the carpet" on. I am not addressing that here but I do agree that there is a serious problem (among others) that must be addressed. My irritation and the purpose of my soapbox is with the people who went to the papers with the story. I do not know all of the avenues they took before leaking the story but I do know that one of those people has an "axe to grind" with the school and has not been responsible with his concerns in the past. I cannot believe that the leak to the media was a last resort for a great burden he felt. I read his blogs every once in a while and he shows a lot of immaturity in his dislike of the administration, therefore losing credibility. The Bible explains how a Christian is to address another Christian caught in sin. It NEVER says to include nonbelievers and talk badly about people who represent the Church in front of them. Why? It is as I said earlier, because it misrepresents Christ. This administration does not represent all of the people that attend that school, the denomination or Christians in general but a nonbeliever may very well not know that. My degree is marred, partly by the acts of the administration who represent my school but also by these men who have now spilled this dirty laundry to people who did not need that information. A person reading the story more than likely will never be in position that they needed that information about the school. But, that person could end up in my counseling office or a student's future church and find out what school we graduated from. That information about one administration's mistake may be all they know about the school and therefore what they will assume about me or that pastor. These people have hurt the students of this school more than helped because of the manner in which they chose to address the problem.
I have no patience for people who spread negative stories in the church just to do it. I have no patience for the churches that make mistakes that make it to the news. I have no patience for people who put their own selfish agenda over the mission of the Church (not just their local church). I have no patience for the church at the corner of a busy street near by who puts negative messages about types of church services on their signboard. I have no patience for the leaders that put themselves in positions that cause problems in the church. If you have a problem with your Christian institution, confront the person that is the cause of the problem and take the steps outlined in Matthew. If it can't be done civilly then just leave the church, find a new one and don't talk badly about your old one. It is not to let people get away with doing wrong (that is why I said to confront the person) but it is to prevent harm to the spread of the Gospel. God is clear in his Word that he will take care of those who have done wrong, especially those in leadership. Let Him do his job and we just need to do ours. Its pretty simple, just get along because we are all in this life together and are given the same mission. It would be a lot easier to run this race if we weren't so busy tripping each other.
I will now step off my soapbox.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
There were parts of the movie that were offensive to me but I knew they would be there. In a society where we are inundated with immorality, it can be easy to become callous to what should be offensive. Sometimes it is a relief to know that I can still be offended. That is beside the point though.
The movie's soundtrack and talent is wonderful. For that, it was a good movie and what I had been told by others that made me want to see the movie. I can appreciate creativity done well, even if it is not my style. As a person who is interested in the emotions of people, it was interesting and thought provoking to view the experiences of people who know they will soon die a painful and early death because of a virus they have contracted (regardless of the reasons it was contracted, that is a heart breaking existence).
Additionally I am glad I saw the movie because I like viewing things that make me think afterwards. My husband nicely tolerates my "what are your thoughts about this and that" questions afterwards. This was a movie that opened up many questions and thoughts for which I will, after this long introduction, write my thoughts on.
One of the more popular songs from the movie has the lines "There's only us, There's only this, Forget regret, Or life is yours to miss, No other road, No other way, No day but today... There is no future, There is no past, Thank God this moment's not the last..." This line is the basic attitude of the movie. Most of these people will die in the next few years and their current existence does not have much to offer. Therefore, all they have is right now and they will make the best of what they have because they have "love".
My husband and I talked about this afterwards and what we thought the message was that the writer of the story was trying to show. At face value, it appears to be what I just wrote, that you have to live for the moment. What was the attitude though about this reality for these people? I did not think, as liberal as the writing was, that the writer was trying to say that it was positive, or even was okay, that this was their existence, it just...was. Rather, it was quite tragic (and I don't think the writer tried to dispel this) that they just had to deal with their current state because they thought had no other way out.
How many people live like this in our world? As we continued to discuss our thoughts on the movie, we agreed that the writer did not give a solution to how the characters lives could be any different. This was probably because he himself did not know the solution. Notice the emphasis on "the".
What a tragedy to see young people who cannot look to their lives with any meaning besides what is happening now. It is because they really have no hope in the (or for a) future. I do not pretend to know what it is to live in poverty or with a deadly disease. I do know though that regardless of my situations, I can rest in knowing that I can at least hope for my future and never have to settle for "what is". Paul writes in Philippians 1:21 that "to live is Christ and to die is gain". This is a man who had suffered in this world through severe beatings, imprisonment, persecution...and even when that was not going on he lived as a man on the run without a home or comfortable existence. Yet, this man knew how to live in life and not just deal with the circumstances. In his hard life, he celebrated because he was suffering for Christ. He could also look forward to the future because that held a life of eternal joy in heaven.
That is how a young person living in poverty, diseased and alone can live a life that is more than for today. That is the solution. A knowledge that this existence, regardless of current circumstances, is one that is for Christ and that there is a wonderful hope for the future is how a person does it.
The movie is both good and bad. I will not recommend someone to see it because it is full of immorality and I cannot put my stamp of approval on it for those reasons. Personally though, I think the lessons learned within it made it a movie that I benefited from watching. I have a visual reminder of how blessed I am that I get to live today for eternity. My life is not one that is temporary, or rented. Rather my life is securely owned by God for permanent residence with Him.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
This was largely to do with all of the opportunities to get to do what I love to do in life. I got to speak, teach a small group, play the piano for worship with my husband and spend time with some great young women as they needed me. All of those things (maybe besides the piano part...though that even counts because I was helping my husband with what he is called to do) are areas that I know God gifted me in and it is just fun to get to do what I was created to do. Sometimes it is hard and I think to myself that it would be a lot easier to be a secretary instead of a counselor. But it is so rewarding and God always has carried me through even when it hurts. I was emotionally worn out from this retreat but what a cool time. I might write later on my thoughts on what I spoke on.
The standout from this weekend came when I had a teenager ask me to be her "big sister in Christ." She is a sweet girl that I have known for a few years and honored me with her trust this past weekend. As I have thought on it more it has reminded me of my "big sisters" in the past. I can remember them from as young as being in sixth grade and they have continued. Remembering them has humbled me that I am now in that position but on an even deeper level now because of the time spent with this girl. I thought those older girls were so wise and almost perfect. How then do I fit into that role? If anything, it has made me spend more time praying for that young girl. It has also made me desire to still have that big sister. A problem with seminary is falling into a belief that I have a lot of knowledge...and I do compared to a lot of people at church merely because I have studied many books and sat through numerous lectures. But, what I lack is wisdom and that is far more important than knowledge. As I have thought on it, I am going to begin to look for an older woman who can be that role for me.