Thursday, November 4, 2010

Be Men and Women of Prayer

On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the LORD in remembrance,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
~Isaiah 62:6-7

will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?
~Luke 18:7-8

Monday, October 25, 2010

Who can ascend Your holy hill?

I'm having a hard time not completely going head over heels for paul washer - in a "my favorite person to youtube/podcast/internet search for" kind of way. This sermon titled "Regeneration" is a GREAT sermon on turning from sin to righteousness. I strongly believe the issue of walking righteously, and consequently running away from sin, is a topic that I wish was taught more (with a nazarene background, I know that what he says about wesley is true teaching at least in my church) . It was only until after much difficulty, stubborness, confusion and 'getting swept up with teachings' of every kind in this world, that the Lord has made clear to me that he desires holiness in His children. Washer, in this sermon, touches on this AND MORE (which is why i like it so much) because he kind of zeroes in on the power of regeneration and how as believers, we are no longer under the power of sin! We don't 'love sin' or have to just 'live with this issue of sin' in our lives - but that we are not slaves anymore. Not that we don't struggle with sin, citing 1 John, or free to run amok, but geez, he does such a great job of tying grace and a joyful, holy way of living together. I mostly just feel like praying more after I listen to this man preach - truly preaching Christ.

Verse - Romans 6:16: (Yes, I wish I could make that part stand out any further. Maybe flashing lights?)
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

Straight from Martin Luther's mouth

I just finished this book on the life of Martin Luther and was that man spirited. I mean to say, not that he was full of the Spirit, which he was with what was revealed him, but have you read any of his stuff?? The guy had a vibrancy in writing, and had such mastery over humor, the english language, the scriptures and doctrine, that what he wrote to the catholic church was both challengingly and clever. I am sad I've never read his works before; and here I read only excerpts. Even so, here are some entertaining ones :)

On humbleness and when the Lord directed Peter to cast on the other side:
'I would have said, "Now look here, Master. You are a preacher, and I am not undertaking to tell you how to preach. And I am a fisherman, and you need not tell me how to fish.' But Peter was humble, and the Lord therefore made him a fisher of men.
On the monasteries/convents being incorrectly regarded as the highest christian life. The shepherds after the birth of Jesus:
Surely that must be wrong. We should correct the passage to read, 'They went and shaved their heads, fasted, told their rosaries and put on cowls.' Instead we read, 'The shepherds returned.' Where to? To their sheep. The sheep would have been in a sorry way if they had not.
On Christian duties:
If the burgomaster does his duty, there will scarcely be four who will like him. If the father disciplines his son, the lad will be ugly. It is true everywhere. The prince has nothing for his pains. One is tempted to say, 'Let the Devil be burogmaster. Let Lucifer preach. I will go to the desert and serve God there.' It is no light task to love your neighbor as yourself.
And a brief life history:
I am the son of a peasant...and the grandson and the great-grandson. My father wanted to make me into a bugomaster. He went to Mansfeld and became a miner. I became a baccalaureate and a a master. Then I became a monk and put off the brown beret. My father didn't like it, and then I got into the pope's hair and married an apostate nun. Who could have read that in the stars?

These are just some of what he said. Definitely wrote voraciously against the teachings of the catholic church (even called the pope the anichrist). I highly recommend reading about him. I read "Here I stand: A life of Martin Luther" by Roland Bainton which I thought VERY good. It was very comprehensive and covered so much historically, including the background with revolutions, princes, electors, and the different cities and countries involved and effected by the reformation. It's a complex account, but he does well in presenting it in chronological order, so that it's easy to see the logical flow of events (excepting when what happened made no sense) and it is filled with excerpts from Martin himself. So he doesn't so much tell you what he believed on certain points, but lets you read them yourself. A good first time ML book for me :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wanna Runaway

I sometimes wish I could just be a hermit. In a small, foreign part of the world. I mean, I wouldn't have to deal with all this nonsense called life. Just think about it - the luxury of the ascetic life! No make up issues, and no hair fixing. (I would say no fashionable clothes to worry about, but that would be under some crazy notion that I do dress fashionably) I could shave my head and none the wiser, none! That's just one aspect of life that is nonsense. Also, I like the idea of strictly structured and disciplined living. A lot. Not for any penitential reason, but for the minimalistic one - I don't need all this space, luxury or western clothes. And I could just be in my little yurt, (cause i'd probably be in siberia somewhere..) with my books and tea and nobody, seeking God....oh the life.....

However, I'm not called to that. It sure is noble to want to live forsaking earthly comforts and become a scholar - but how important is that in the life of a christian?..... Seriously, (and I am not exaggerating at all) the idea of being a nun or any kind of cloister-equivalent has always appealed to me since I became a believer - precisely because I think it's easier.

And now you may think I'm crazy for saying that, but it's hard to live in a world where everyday you rub elbows with other sinners, and most that don't know Christ, and it's your duty to tell them. It's hard to live knowing that you're a light to shine in the world, and not an indoor candle solely for reading. It's hard having to daily battle (what seems like) every temptation from materialism to covetousness to malice. (Rom. 2: 23) And mostly it's hard having to speak up when people actually don't know what you believe. (Which is every time unless you have one of those "5+2 = 5000" shirts) It's hard being bold.

And most times, I just want to shut myself up with my Bible and with God and be all alone in the world. But the closer I get to God in the Word, the more I feel like Jeremiah -

But if I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.

Christ put such a hard calling on every christian - namely to boldly proclaim His name. And if the Holy Spirit resides in you, chances are these verses describe exactly how you've felt at one time or another in your day. You must speak His name. You must tell that person, or that other person, or somebody, anybody who will hear you! And it's really uncomfortable most of the time. I must confess something. I've felt led to pray with a couple sick people for healing at the clinic when they came - and I haven't. It keeps welling up within me, and I have a million excuses not to. Lord give me the boldness to pray openly for healing! I am weary of holding it in. I'm terrified to speak, and weary with shutting in this fire burning to get out.

This is more of two posts in one, more of a ramble, and less of anything developed, but the thing I'm trying to say is, what use is a silent christian?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Post Expedition

I'm having a hard time here.

And I just took a quick look at my last post (titled "Affliction") and so it seems I am being thematic, if even unintentionally.

The issue over my head is purpose. I feel purposeless. I have felt like this in Midland (though God knows I had my hands full) and I feel this now - though, again, there are daily things on the agenda and always english to teach. This is something deeper i know, past tasks.

I have this feeling that God has silenced me, and hid me away in a country where I cannot speak or be found. I feel very hidden and unused. 'I can't be doing anything for Him now,' my mind says. 'Surely He has forgotten me.' I don't understand how this works - how Russia fits in with my life. How I have not spoken to more than 2 people about God and yet He has led me here. God, couldn't I do more for you in a country where it is 1)at least legal for me to go and speak to someone about Christ and 2) I could at least speak! and yet here I am.

There have been good things about being here. In the Agape ministry, I am the young one here. Having met so many of the people here who have been walking with the Lord so long, i see that there are decades of wisdom. One lady, a doctor (cause they all are really) advised me when I opened up to her one night. She prescribed me to smile about the Gospel and about Jesus Christ and about future glory 3 times a day, every day, until I feel better all day. What a great prescription.

That's what I'm doing now. Truthfully, when I get to thinking about 'how am i any use to You?' i forget that He loved me so much to come and get me. And draw me close to Him. He softened my heart slowly, because He knew what I needed. And then, He filled me with love for His Son and left me on earth with a promise that this will all pass away one day to be replaced by joy.

I've been reading John lately and 6:29 is a great verse. I don't say that because I have any special revelation on it, but because it's so deep and complex to me, I can't get it out of my head. I'm praying through it now. I really recommend reading this whole passage but this is just the verse:
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
It's humbling to me. But confusing, because to me, I think the act of believing is...perfective maybe? I think that's the word I'm looking for. Because once it's done, it's a completed act, once and for all. So I read this verse and think, 'okay, did that. Now what?' But there's a continuity to belief that I don't understand. I must keep doing it, it seems. But what does that mean and what does it look like?

I have no answers, but I am praying for understanding. Also, I LOVE the idea of thinking on the Gospel three times a day. Everyone should do it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


There is a verse in Isaiah that now I've lost. It may even have been a Proverb or Psalm. Oh well. It talked about the humble and how God will help them. Only, it was memorable because there was a footnote over 'humble' that said 'also afflicted'. And then I started thinking about a prayer I had and the place I'm at spiritually. With so much affliction I could die. I have so much awareness of shortcomings in my life, and brokenness in my heart that I am so grieved and afflicted I could die from grief. My prayer from Daniel a few months ago was to walk humbly with God. Is that then to walk afflicted with God? The important part is that it is done 'with God.'

I am hopeful about where I am. I have seen desolation ad hoplessness in myself and my abilities and it was in God's perfect Grace to cross my path with a woman who spoke truth to me. She was where I was once, God let me see that, and it took 20+ years for restoration from Him. She was so encouraging about his promises of goodness. I am so hopeless, I can't even hope for blessings, only healing.

What's beautiful is that God is patient and forever.

Yesterday I couldn't stop reading Psalm 147:10. Just that one verse. It gave me hope and life. He gave me that to remind me when He takes delight in me. Right now, me. Because I fear Him and hope in His love. I hope in His healing.

Affliction is a curious thing in the Christian walk because we are afflicted by so many things. There are so many things that bring us humble and low to God. I love knowing "I'm down and here and You're up there."

It's an odd knowledge that I'm broken and desolate, in a way, and that God will fix all things in His time. And not knowing what He'll do. I know when an object here on earth is broken, what it's supposed to do and how to fix it. But i am so helpless, I don't even know what's step one. What am I supposed to look like in the end? How is this supposed to be fixed? This heart that, medically, is healthy? (I think). I can only wait on God. And that only inspires praise and humbleness. There is only to wait on the Farmers' expert hand and His wisdom and time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Lamentations -

"She who was a princess - has become a slave"

"Among all her lovers - she has none to comfort her"

"Look, O Lord, and see"

"He has left me stunned,
faint all the day long"

"My transgressions were bound into a yoke -
by His hand they were set upon my neck"

"My eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me"

"The Lord has become like an enemy"

"The Lord is in the right"

"The Lord has swallowed up without mercy...
in His wrath He has broken down...
He has brought down to the ground in dishonor..."

"The Lord has made Zion forget festival and Sabbath"

My ruin is as vast as the sea - who can heal me?

"He has filled me with bitterness - He has sated me with wormwood"

"I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, "My endurance has perished;
so has my help from the Lord

Let me put my mouth in the dust- there may yet be hope

My pursuers are at me neck;
I am weary; I am given no rest

Renew my days of old-
unless you have utterly rejected me,
and you remain exceedingly angry with me

Daniel 10 -

"Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days."

17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe." 18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 "Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong." When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I love revelation from the Lord!

Haha, but who doesn't?

I really enjoy those times when a verse hits you later (in this case about a year) and you have a significant spiritual understanding of it that is assuredly the Holy Spirit telling you deep truths. A couple of days ago I was reading Isaiah and paired it with Hebrews - which I've been reading often. This passage is from Isa. 28. Earlier in the chapter, Isaiah is talking about how the land will be destroyed and is basically bringing bad tidings. I had read this passage before, but I didn't quite understand it. To me it sounded like Isaiah just started teaching me how to garden.

23Give ear, and hear my voice;
give attention, and hear my speech.
24Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?
Does he continually open and harrow his ground?
25 When he has leveled its surface,
does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,
and put in wheat in rows
and barley in its proper place,
and emmer as the border?
26 For he is rightly instructed;
his God teaches him.

27Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
and cumin with a rod.
28Does one crush grain for bread?
No, he does not thresh it forever;
when he drives his cart wheel over it
with his horses, he does not crush it.
29This also comes from the LORD of hosts;
he is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in wisdom.

Then I read in Hebrews 12:

7It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?8If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Anyway, I read these two, but didn't understand they were related until later in the day. But I see now that they are both about discipline. It's clear to see how in Isa., right after promising hard times to Jerusalem and using harsh words - like 'beaten' and 'crush' - to describe it, he offers them solace in the fact that it won't be the end. And the author of Hebrews (though more frank) explains the necessity of discipline. The verses kind of speak for themselves, but in all of this it is great to know that in disciplining us, He is excellent in wisdom.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A few thoughts

The Lord has been very good to me in Midland. I had such a hard time here, but prayer has solved every problem I have ever had in my life. And so it has been a good almost-three weeks.

There have been a few things the Lord has spoken to me, & one of them is a prayer of my heart.

The first one occurred as I was reading Daniel, which I don't know why, but the Lord led me there. I read in Daniel 10, when Daniel had a vision and a man, or "one having the appearance of a man," spoke to him and in verse 12 tells him: "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words." I was really touched by the characteristics used to describe Daniel: he set his heart to understand and humbled himself before God. Those are two things I have been praying a lot about for myself.

Secondly, as I was driving, I was uncomfortable with some social situations (as I usually am...) and I was praying panickingly, not really expecting the Lord to answer, about all of my anxieties and worries. And then He calmly told me, I am the orchestrator of the world. And I thought, wow, what a great God we serve that He even answers frantic, senseless prayers. Anyways, what was cool, was that in the end, I am very certain that everything happened exactly as the Lord intended, with more blessings to be had!

Thirdly, in prayer, I was comforted by the Lord's Spirit in knowing that I have need for nothing else in this world because I have Jesus. What a great prayer! The Spirit brought me such peace in this, it's indescribeable! I thought, what else do I need? Nothing! We have need for NOTHING with Jesus!
This last note means a lot to me, mostly because coming out to Midland was not easy. It may have been the most difficult move-of-faith in my life. I left my family and friends and came out here, with Jessica going to the other side of the world. For about a week I would brood a lot, and I was working myself into a little depression. Before, I never would have said I struggled with depression, but in that first week, I would have readily admitted it. But Satan is a theif of joy, and seeks only our destruction. The Lord saved me from so much. Not because He gave me more and changed my circumstances, but because He reminded me of who He is. In Him we have life in abundance.

I also started reading the cost of discipleship. I can't believe I never read this before, and I partly have caroline to thank for this. I'm only in the second chapter where he's talking about the call to discipleship. It's about how obedience and faith are intrinsic to each other, and one thing he repeatedly says is "only those who believe, obey and only those who obey, believe." I'll have more thoughts on this book as I get further in. It's by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and YOU should read it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wisdom V. Folly

1Wisdom has built her house...
3She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
4 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!"

13 The woman Folly is loud...
she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way,
16 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!"

On reading Proverbs chapter 9 I'm struck by the similarities between Wisdom and Folly, specifically in how they present themselves and where. Both in the high places, both with the same call, to a population aware of its ignorance and its desire to know. Which is really what this world is full of, the missional call being one that directs them towards Wisdom. (job 28:28) Anyway, my main point is the difference which needs to be made distinct. I think there is a parallel here in my life (surely in the life of all Christians) and that is the drive towards a heart of peace. That peace is found in Christ. However, we are constantly bombarded with sinful urges and desires, that trick us under the guise of givers of peace. They mock the grace that could be ours, and lie to us, saying: "if only I [insert sin] I will feel at rest and fulfilled." But the difference lies in do we know where this thought originates/is coming from? Is it rooted in truth? Is it backed by the Word? Can this spirit line up with the Gospel (1 John 4)? Because if it doesn't, surely it is Folly in the guise of Wisdom.

They even offer the same things. Sort of.

And to him who lacks sense she says,
5"Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight."

And to him who lacks sense she says,
"Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."
18But he does not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Bread and water/wine. I will not even begin to touch on the connection these have in the New Testament, but needless to say, they represent life. There is also no little matter that they are presented in parallel forms, starting with the same phrasing again. This was not just for the beauty of conformity, but I think to draw to attention that they are very similar. There are distinctions that need to be made. This leads to: do you know where this will lead you? Ultimately, how will you feel afterwards? When confronted with the desire to sin, (and always they are sins I am familiar with) I think: "I know now I desire, but afterwards? How empty I always feel." It is death. That emptiness is the death of Sheol. The Bible as roadmap as the Psalmist said (119) is very serious. Because it truly tells you where you will end up if you pursue these things. Wisdom will lead to insight and life. Folly to the shame of secrecy and the depths of death.

Now test all things against the Word, where these urges come from, and where you know they will lead.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reasons To Study Acts

Here's the thing: Sunday at Intern meeting, George asked about our thoughts for content next year and what to teach in the small groups. There were some suggestions, one specifically on foundations of our beliefs, but I stayed silent. I couldn't think of anything, but now I have. Over this past semester I've been casually reading Acts from time to time, more so recently due to my roommate Rachel's study of it with her friend. Needless to say, I think that's the book.

I haven't really thought this out yet, but I'm gonna compile a quick list of reasons for why:

1) Focus on missions/evangelism/outreach/the 'lost' sheep. Reading about the early church, the undeniable mandate of the Lord to 'go' and reading about lost souls coming to Christ is supposed to encourage us to go and speak of what we know is truth!

2) Reliance on the work of the Spirit. So many times we get caught up in our own ability and what we can do for the Gospel on earth! But reading through Acts, you can see how much prayer there was dedicated to their mission, how much reliance there was on the Spirit for boldness to act, and how in all things, the Spirit was guiding them. Even in Acts 16:6 the Spirit moved Paul not to speak! In all things on this earth we need discernment, and that from the Holy Spirit. Acts provides great examples of His power. Speaking of which.....

3) Miracles. I know. I know. As a people we try to rationalize everything, and Christians are no different. But let's face it: Miracles are completely irrational. There is NO empirical reason why the prisons would be shaken, how Paul escapes prison via an angel, and how the Spirit for real teleports Philip like 30 miles away (Acts 8). Truth is, this things have happened, are real, and John 14 says we will do even greater things through Him!! So, to know what our competition is (haha, just kidding) we need to know the history of it.

Well, that's kind of it. I'm sue there's more I'm not thinking of, but this is something I would be EXCITED about doing and working on! Maybe I'll write my own bible study on Acts....?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When Two Worlds Meet

Leslie Marie Shelton is an UNBELIEVABLY good piano player. I'm listening to her right now. Nice. (Shouts)

Where was I....? 3 months later, so much has happened. It is well documented in my journals. To continue on with things current...

Tuesday night is the immediate burden on my heart for prayer right now. Some people are getting together at my house to go reach the lost, treasure hunting style. I'm so excited for it. And that alone is a HUGE testament to the Lord's genuine, real change in my heart. How crazy to be excited, and anxiously anticipating evangelism!?! Lord I praise You for evidences of Your life-changing love! Haha!

Any who...Tuesday. I asked a friend of mine Justin if he could head over, and he said he might could bring some acc'ers. Nice. I'm excited for multiple reasons, mostly because it's another chance to watch the Lord use the power of the Holy Spirit to make Himself known. Here's the verse on my heart:

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!" 1 Co. 14:24

Something interesting about that verse, "secrets" is sometimes translated as "treasures." Does this verse have another meaning? :)

Okay, I'm done. Admittedly, this blog is a by-product of my procrastination.