Saturday, October 27, 2012

polluting towels

What I have been up to:

Monday night, I finished my last class of Biblical Hermeneutics. I aced my final, but more importantly I have walked away with a plethora of knowledge and tools to properly study and interpret His Word. I'm so grateful to have gotten to take this course.
Thursday night, I started another course at the Seminary, this one titled New Testament Survey on the Pauline Epistles and Hebrews. I remained awake for the 7-10pm meeting time, and gained much information from this first class on the Corinthian letters. I'm looking forward to this Thursday night where we are discussing Galatians and Ephesians. Oh and no tests in the course, hooray!
Thursday and Friday, I packed up what was my current home and moved more than 3/4 of it into boxes. They are successful stored in my parents attic and won't be touched until after I 2014. The few personal items and clothes that are left are in 5 buckets where they and I will be living at my grandparents house until I leave for Kenya.
Lazy Saturday morning with my most favorite breakfast, Cinnamon rolls. This morning I cooked them to perfection, lightly brown on the bottom and gooey in the middle... oh they were SO yummy! 
I also have been working on some quiet time with God. Read through Galatians and Ephesians. Worship music has been playing in the background. Such a good morning and so needed!

One of my new favorite songs is called "Reign in us" by Starfield. Here's some of the lyrics and a link to the song.

Lord Jesus 
come lead us
we're desperate for touch.
Oh Great and Mighty One with one desire we come,
that you would reign that you would reign in us.
We're offering up our lives, a living sacrifice, 
that you would reign, that you would reign in us.
So reign please reign in us
come purify our hearts
we need Your touch
come cleanse us like a flood
and send us out
so the world may know You reign, You reign in us.

And then I read these versus this morning in Ephesians and felt convicted. Through this next week, I'm challenging myself to remain in these truths because it is so easy to fall into the sin of gossip and ultimately it creates pride in myself that I am better.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:29-32

Satan and his angels have a way of discouraging God's people by allowing unwholesome talk to not only be thought, but spoken. But the Bible says we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28) and called to carry each other's burdens (Gal 6:2). It also says in 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 that He died for us (everyone) so that, whether we are awake (alive) or asleep (dead), we (believers) may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Paul challenges the Thessalonians to continue to encourage and building each other up. When we think bad or talk bad about others, it is only hurting us. Our hearts and minds are becoming like a dirty towel, polluting ourselves with unwholesome things. In Jesus, we are all one, and we are all striving towards the same goal, to be one in Christ and to be more like Him. 

Finding faults is easy, that's what the Pharisee's and teachers of the Law did, they were purposely seeking to find Jesus going against the Law. But Jesus was different, He had meals with sinners, He knew people failed, and when they did, He forgave, immediately. And He still does that today. When we sin, because of the Cross, we can repent in Jesus name, and God forgives us, immediately, he washes us clean, he makes our towels without blemishes again. When we speak unwholesomely of others, we are doing nothing to live as Christ did. We are encouraged by Paul to build each other up, to talk positively of one another, and when someone sins against us, we are asked to forgive, just as Jesus does for us.
Are you holding a grudge against someone? Has someone's motives frustrated you? Or maybe they said something that hurt you? I challenge you, and myself, to let these things go. For we are all one in Christ Jesus, brothers and sisters of the promise and here on Earth there is enough sin to keep us at war. But God has asked us to live at peace with everyone (Rom 12:18). So let things go, forgive those who have wronged you, and do your best, myself included, to build one another up and encourage each other in Christ. Let's live with faith that we are children of the promise, that we have been washed clean with His blood, and that He does reign in us so that the world will see His glory. 

Jesus, please reign in me, cleanse me so that others will see your perfection, your forgiveness, and your glory. Thank you for the work you are doing in me moment by moment in bringing your truth to light so that I may live a more Godly life. Thank you Jesus for the continued peace you give me admist the busyness that has been my life these past three weeks. We have studied, learned and accomplished so much together and I thank you for helping me to sense your Spirit within me in those difficult and trying times. Holy Spirit I pray that You would continue to reign in me, continue to bring light to your truths, continue to prepare me for the amazing ministry that you have put in front of me, and continue to show me your grace and mercy. I look forward to all that you have for me today and wait in eager anticipation for your coming. In the waiting, grant me your peace and forgiveness so that I can live a life worthy of Your Name and one in service for Your Kingdom. In Your name Jesus I pray, Amen

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fun Friday

I love getting to do fun random things to pass the day.

Fast appointment. Today started out with an eye doctor appointment. I was so thankful for an early morning slotted time so that I knew it wouldn't last all day. My eye had been red for a few days and had not really gotten better. Probably didn't help that I kept trying to put my contacts back in. My doctor told me it was (because it was almost cleared up he couldn't really see a whole lot of it) either bacteria from my contact or a "cold in my eye". Either way, contacts are in and my eyes are still white!

Fliers delivered. Afterwards, my job paid me to drive around El Cajon and deliver fliers for our upcoming outreach on Halloween. I got to listen to praise music for a couple hours while driving from school to school. I love my job for the randomness that I get to do all the time. No day is ever the same.

Food & fellowship. Once all the schools had their fliers, I met up with a friend and shared mexican food and some quality time together. I had been looking forward to it all week and so glad our schedules worked so we could catch up.

Friend time, unscheduled. After hanging out, I was on my way to the seminary when I realized I needed a detour after all the water and coffee I drank that morning. Sitting in the parking lot of my work, talking to one best friend on the phone, the other one was just getting off work and had a few minutes to kill before she had to leave. We all got to catch up together; I love God's timing in the little things.

Fearless; another class. Yesterday afternoon, I got an email asking if I wanted to take another seminary course. At first, I didn't want to. It takes time, but the knowledge that is gained is priceless. So with a good impression after my hermeneutics class, I have decided to do it. So I went in and signed the add form to enroll me in a course called, the Pauline epistles and Hebrews. I am auditing again so no stress with grades, even though I care. :)

Free time. This afternoon and evening, there is nothing on the calendar. I have done a bit of studying for my final on Monday night, but mostly, I have been doing nothing. Literally laying on my bed, resting my body and mind. I'm looking forward to an early bedtime and another great day tomorrow.

Happy Friday everyone!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

the Sabbath was made for man

Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." -Mark 2:27

I read this verse a few days ago and I can't seem to get it out of my thought processes. The overwhelming feeling hasn't subsided. However, I was sitting at home Friday afternoon, and thinking over my morning. With the help of my brother and his girlfriend, we moved my dresser and futon, dresser drawers and all my bookshelves to a shed at my parents. My current home is becoming more empty, and yet there still seems to be a lot there! So as I sat on my bed, looking around my room, and I couldn't find anything to accomplish! Frustrating. Soon after I had to leave and now I'm away for the weekend, house sitting. Being away from the craziness has been nice and I have caught myself a few times thinking I should be doing something right now, and yet, at another house, have nothing to do. With nothing to do, I can finally sit down and actually process this verse. 

The Pharisees see Jesus and his disciples walking through the grainfields and picking heads of grain. The Pharisees question Jesus regarding them "working" on the Sabbath. After an explanation regarding David eating the consecrated bread from the house of God, Jesus says these words to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. In Genesis 1, we learn about how God created the heavens and earth, land, moon and stars, animals, and us. Genesis 2:2 says By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. verse 3: Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. God worked, he created everything, and then he rested. He has given each of us tasks to accomplish, but then he also has set aside time for "rest". The Pharisees of the day had taken this law to mean nothing could be done on the Sabbath. Jesus knew what rest was, and therefore created Sabbath for man to rest.

As the Pharisees got sucked into the laws, they had forgotten that God created the Sabbath for them, not them for the Sabbath. God created me, and gave me a day of rest, to refuel myself in Him and in physical rest, so that I can better serve Him. So these moments of sitting, having nothing to do, it's forced rest. But a good lesson can come out of it. As busy as my schedule is in the next few weeks, and I'm sure not any better in the coming months, I still must find time for a Sabbath rest. 

But what does that look like for me? I have a lot to get done, but I need rest. Both to keep my physical body healthy but also my spiritual soul intact. One of the most relaxing things for me to do is read my Bible and ponder God's word. I also enjoy quiet moments of prayer. And my favorite place to do this is the beach, actually anywhere in nature. And all this can be accomplished by running, even though it takes energy, because  it allows me to enjoy nature, supports a healthy lifestyle, and I get to do a lot of thinking and praying. To me, running can be restful. So tomorrow, or maybe Monday, I might just have to get back into a routine of exercise...actually I'm looking forward to it already! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

extremely overwhelmed.

It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. -1 Peter 3:17

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as thought something strange were happening to you. -1 Peter 4:12

So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. -1 Peter 4:19

Why the overwhelming feeling?  Why the physical weight on my chest because of a to-do list?  Why do things seem so impossible?  Why the anxiety and fear?  Answer= lack of trust. 

As the to-do list grew longer and longer and the time frame to accomplish it seem shorter and shorter, I finally came to my breaking point. Tuesday afternoon, getting into my car to leave work, my heart began to pulse at a speed I couldn't control, sweat rolled down my face and my body froze. I could not control anything. My breathing became heavy and the tears began to flow. Not just tears, but full-fledged uncontrollable crying. Moments passed by as fear physically overtook my body. I was having an anxiety attack.

My thoughts just moments before were filled with the to-do's. Homework for an online class ending October 29th, homework for a seminary class ending Oct 22nd, presentations that need to be prepared before November 2nd, and the process of purging and moving that must happen before Oct 31st...or before. It seemed impossible, and it still seems overwhelming, but by God's grace and trust in Him, it will all get done. 

As my body shook from the crying, I began to pray, Please Jesus, help me, help me. I can't do this alone. I don't have to do it alone, you are here, please help me. *deep breath* Please Jesus... My body began to calm, tears continued to fall down my face and I closed my eyes. As best I could, I pictured Jesus, crying out to His Father to take this cup, but not my will but yours be done. The garden became my car and with my eyes closes I silently prayed that very prayer, not my will but yours be done, over and over.

The tasks are my own, but God has a plan for these next few weeks that are so precise I can't even fathom all the good that will happen. In those moments of panic, my trust was in myself, the burden was my own. But His words says to commit myself to my faithful Creator and then continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:19) All the things on the list are good things, that have purpose, and therefore with my trust in my faithful Creator, I can accomplish anything He asks of me. Even as I write this out, the weight is feeling less heavy. For days "spiritual cowardice had wormed its way into my soul as my eyes had become obsessedly focused on my circumstances and I had lost my interior vision of God as my soul's strength." (Gary Thomas, The Glorious Pursuit, Chapter on Fortitude, p. 156) 

A couple days ago, the feeling was still very real and poignant, I opened up His word and said a simple prayer asking that He speak to me. I love how God's word has that power and He most certainly answered. I chose Romans, and found chapter 9 titled, "God's sovereign choice". God's sovereignty, good topic, and found verse 16: It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. Tonight, I thank God for His mercy that He continued to love me despite my hard heart and independent attitude. I turned back and He was right there, waiting, with open arms to receive me. Such joy flows within knowing I not only serve a Holy God, but that Holy God loves me and knows me as if I was His only child. 

The to-do list hasn't exactly got smaller, even though I have made quite a bit of progress. Pieces are coming together and I see how it just might be possible for everything to get done. Wednesday, I took a sanity day from everything and spent it conquering all of my online homework. Friday afternoon, I finished my seminary class homework for the week and purged a lot of clothes. Today, with the blessed help of one of my best friends, my current living shelter was de-cluttered, organized, and got its first preparations for my leaving. I have absolutely loved the downsizing, putting certain things away knowing it probably won't be touched until 2014. I am very encouraged, with my faithful Creator's help and mercy, that everything will get accomplished, in His timing, with His strength, and my obedience. 
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