Saturday, November 19, 2005

He can move mountains

I'm sitting here at work on a Saturday, wishing I was somewhere else...preferrably laying on my couch, wrapped up in a blanket, watching a movie or reading a book, and loving on my puppy dog. But, such isn't the case. I'm here and feeling like I could fall asleep, even though there's plenty to keep me occupied. So I thought I'd take a little Coke break and write a bit of what's been on my mind the past few days.

As a final assignment in my theology class, we were asked to right a 3-page paper on the Scripture passages Dr. Ware asked us to meditate on this last half of the semester. Since we went from the doctrine of Scripture into the doctrine of God, the two passages were Psalm 145 and Isaiah 40. I have found myself increasingly humbled, speechless, amazed by the Lord this semester, and it was no accident that these were the passages I was asked to spend time reflecting upon. In this reflection paper, I talked about the trip to Texas for Thanksgiving which is quickly approaching. I wasn't exactly expecting to write about what I did, but it was apparent that something very specific was heavy on my heart and flowed out of me as soon as I began typing.

"As Thanksgiving has so quickly approached, I have grown increasingly anxious to see my family. My relation to certain family members is one of the primary areas of my life in which I am left without words as to how I should pray. The common insinuation among certain individuals is that I am arrogant and “all-knowing” simply because I have focused my studies in the areas of theology and ministry. I have “all the answers” and no one is allowed to disagree because I know everything about everything...the Lord has graciously opened up many opportunities in recent years for us to have loving conversation about Him and His work. Just last year around Thanksgiving...One afternoon my mom received a phone call from my great aunt telling her that my second cousin had attempted to end his own life... Such an event clearly led our family into a whirlwind of confusion and chaos...but in the midst of the pain, my great aunt has peace. She has peace because the Lord is faithful. Through ceaseless prayer and crying out, “God, why? Why did this happen to my son?” He showed her that He is sovereign and He is sufficient...I bring all of this to light because such a transformation is not even understood or grasped by some in my family. The Lord ordained an event through which He wooed my aunt to Himself, and I now share such a sweet bond of fellowship with her, even though this all took place shortly before my move. We both come to a text and lay hold of the truth:
--Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding? (Is 40:12-14)--
When I speak of God’s sovereignty, of His grace, I would not say that I am faced with mere ridicule. There is a deeper sense of contempt with the way in which I converse about the Lord, or the popular one is that I am still young and have yet to experience “real life,” thus making me still very na├»ve and idealistic in my view of God and the world. Such common feelings invade my mind each time I get closer to seeing them again, wondering what the holidays will have in store. There are so many ways in which I am distant from them, and even though such are manifested as practical differences, I know that the root is in relation to the Lord. Many in my family claim knowledge of God, but I am often left in wonder as to whether or not they truly know Him. Above and beyond anyone’s opinion, I am fully aware of the truth that I am a prideful and sinful creature. As stated previously, I often feel distanced from my family. Although I know why, the truth of the matter still makes me sad at times. I am saddened that I do not hold a common faith, even when some may claim otherwise...I constantly pray when around them that the Lord will show Himself through me and that any selfish intentions of mine will fade away. I know that I am selfish, and because of that I know that my disagreements may have such motives, but I desire that the Lord be glorified when I am in their midst...The last thing I want is for my family to be like me, to imitate me. I desire that they know Him, and may He be gracious in using my frail, sinful self as an instrument for His glory."


Some of those feelings have been constant as far back as I can remember, but are altered somewhat as I grow older. There have been years when I've been angry, when I've been frustrated by not understanding, years when I've felt very lonely and isolated, but this year is somewhat different. How can I not be thankful for my family when the Lord has clearly used my relationships with them to grow and refine my dependence on Him?? I love them dearly, and with that love comes great burden. I am insufficient, and only He can intercede and work through my weakness. Only He can move mountains...

Friday, November 04, 2005

With water...

The Church(words and music by derek webb)

i have come with one purpose

to capture for myself a bride
by my life she is lovely
by my death she’s justified
i have always been her husband
though many lovers she has known
so with water i will wash her
and by my word alone
so when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you’re not alone
(chorus)‘cause i haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church
i have long pursued her
as a harlot and a whore
but she will feast upon me
she will drink and thirst no more
so when you taste my flesh and my blood
you will know you’re not alone
(chorus)
there is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
and though some may be her bridesmaids
they can never be my bride
(chorus)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Sweet Memory

The fact that we are limited creatures doesn't sound so exciting to some, but there are unexpected (and unexpected because of our limits!) moments when the Lord reminds you of how precious and glorious He is. Do you ever expect to be driving, in a hurry for that matter, to work and He bring something to mind so wonderful that it moves you to tears?
Memories can be bittersweet, and such a memory for me is of my grandmother. Over a year has passed since she left this place and there are not many experiences that have been more beautiful in my life than when she passed away. My grandmother and I had this indescribable bond that joined our hearts from as far back as I can remember. When I think of any individuals, particularly in my own family, who have radiated Christ, she is often one of, if not the, first one who pops into my mind. She is the woman I have always looked to as a godly wife, woman of gentle and quiet grace, and one who treasured the Lord more deeply than any earthly things.
Today I was driving to work, in a hurry, and a song came on the radio. It's one I've heard several times but have never actually listened to. The song is Bart Millard's remake of the old hymn, "In the Sweet By and By," with the same chorus but new verses. So this song came on the radio and this is what it says:

"Seven years old upon my knees/On the third row pew, trying to see My grandmamma sing In the Sweet By and By/ It wasn't the sweetest soundin' thing/ But there's somethin' about when grandmamma sang/ That moved your feet, stirred something up inside/ To see her grin from ear to ear/ One thing for sure was very clear/ This wasn't just a song/ It was her life// (chorus) In the sweet by and by/ We shall meet on that beautiful shore/ In the sweet by and by/ We shall meet on that beautiful shore// Now times have changed to say the least/ My grandmamma's voice , a memory/ Just like the old song said, she's on that shore/ And if she's looking down on me/ I hope she's proud of what she sees/ Cause thanks to her I'm walkin' with the Lord/ Oh to hear her once again/ Wrap herself around that hymn/ Lord, If I could just go back once more// (chorus)// There's a land that is fairer than day/ By faith we can see it afar/ For the Father waits over the way/ To prepare us a dwelling place there/ Oh I can hear her singing along..."

This sudden, overwhelming feeling of gratitude overcame me, and I began to cry. She was so precious, and I'm not sad that she's no longer here, but when I do think of her, I can only hope that my life even resembles such a woman of quiet, gentle grace. She was a godly wife, and she just loved Him, and treasured Him far more than any earthly things. "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior. . . .They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled"(Titus 2:3-5). That was her life. And I do miss hearing her sing from time to time...

Thursday, March 31, 2005

help us, our God

March 31, 2005. Today is one I pray will not be too quickly forgotten, but one that will remain in the hearts of the people who dwell in this nation. Terri Schiavo passed away this morning after a battle that literally has our country split down the middle. Fox News had a poll up today that showed 54% of the people supporting the removal of the feeding tube as an act of mercy on Terri's behalf. This situation leaves far too many open-ended questions for me to hope that the battle stops here now that she has passed away. There are pertinent issues leading up to her condition over the past fifteen years that remain a mystery, even when certain sources claim they know "what Terri would've wanted." There is speculation over the desired privacy coming from her husband that is a wonder, raising suspicion as to why he wouldn't want her own family in the hospice room while she was deteriorating and then, ultimately, at the time of her death. There are countless questions to be considered and that need answers in order for this case to come to rest. I pray that those seeking the truth will not stop fighting, but will continue demanding the truth in which only true freedom can be found...

I came across an interesting correllation today that seems worthy of mention in discussing the battle over Terri Schiavo: Pope John Paul II. As America has watched Terri die a slow and horrific death over the past 13 days due to have her feeding tube removed, the Pope has had his fair share of health problems with the final results still pending. While the courts have ordered Terri's feeding tube to be removed, and the families' pleas to have it reinserted have been turned down, Pope John Paul II has not only had a tracheaotomy in recent weeks, but he now has a nasal feeding tube in hopes of aiding in recovery. I am not bringing this up to state any type of speculations, but this is just an example of the Terri Schiavo case setting some sort of precedent for the field of medicine in the days and years to come.
"Dr. Barbara Paris, director of geriatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, said the tube may be just a temporary measure to boost John Paul's nutrition while he continues his recovery. But she said it could also be the first step toward having a more permanent feeding tube inserted directly into his stomach.
That procedure, known as PEG — percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy
— involves making an incision in the abdomen so a tube can be passed directly into the stomach." (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,151886,00.html)

As countless Americans can attest, I will never forget the events of September 11, 2001. I've heard those from my parents' generation and up say they will never forget exactly where they were at and the events of the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Similarly, many of us can remember 9/11 in such a way. Remembering where you were at when you heard the news, blurred feelings of confusion, helplessness, and the list continues. It was also the night of the week when Grace Bible Study was held, the college Bible study that has been held in Abilene since the 90s. Grace still took place, and I remember the atmosphere being...heavy. I bring this up because one of the songs we sang that night is one that has been resounding in my head throughout the course of the day. And at this point, it is the only prayer my heart and mouth can utter:
Help us, our God, help us, our Savior
For the glory of Your name, for the glory of Your kingdom
Deliver us, and atone for our sins
Deliver us, and forgive all our sins
Help us, our God, we come to You desperately needy
Help us, our God, may Your mercy come quickly to meet us
Help us, our God, help us, our God,
Help us, our God, for Your namesake
Help us, our God


Lord, come quickly, and Lord, forgive us all...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

the purpose behind the pursuit

A conversation just ended between myself and a former peer. We attended the same university, were in over half the same classes, had the same major and emphasis, and there was a day that has long since passed when we were very similar. I began my undergraduate work as an independent woman, ready to face the world and stand with my head held high as a confident career woman. I was one devoted to academia, diving into books and acquiring knowledge like a kid in a candy store. Not only was I a good school student, but I could spout of Scripture left and right for anyone asking for a reference. Does this all sound good so far? Maybe so, but here's the dilemma when I read over what I've just written and think back on such times...me.
All that is necessary is to look over past assignments and journals I devoted all my energy and life to and you can see a pretty good picture of idolatry. Such a word may cause some to squirm in their seats and maybe such uneasiness is good. Please don't hear me saying that books and writing in personal journals are bad things. I am one with a disposition for such outlets, and such are gifts from the Lord. But when the focus, the purpose, is not the very Giver of such gifts, we run into a serious problem. We work and study and work and seek and work and work and work and work...
"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep." ~Psalm 127:1-2
So the question I had to answer was not in regards to how I was holding up in my classes, but how my self-motivation was surviving. Such striving eats away at your very soul, and in such striving there is no life to be found. I can read renowned and well-loved authors all day only to lie awake in the dark of the night, staring at the ceiling, wondering why I feel so empty. I can proudly quote a Scripture reference for every issue you throw my way, but let's take a glimpse at Scripture itself for revelling in such knowledge of the text.
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life." ~John 5:39-40
I am not saying that such idolatry is not still a very real struggle. As a matter of fact, the word "sponge" was referenced by the one person who probably knows me best regarding such struggle just this past week. Yes, sponge...that which is absorbed stays until it is squeezed so hard, there's nothing left to do but for everything to be released. I acquire all these things and instead of bringing forth joy and life, everything eventually comes to a head and I find myself sitting in utter exhaustion.
I want to be a good student and writer, yet He's telling me to be still. I want I want, I want...and my wants are so loud that I eventually lose my voice. This is when it becomes blatantly clear that I have put myself before Him, and that which I don't want to do I've inevitable done (Romans 7).
My confession is admitting that I do not continually seek Him above all things. In the light of His glory and grace, all achievements and striving are petty and lifeless. I am quickly approaching the transition from post-undergraduate to actually pursuing my masters degree. The Lord has already brought me to a place drastically different than where I was at during college. My prayer is that He be glorified in every detail of every assignment, in each paragraph I read. May I only dive into the academic world again so that I may continue drinking deeply from the fountain of grace. May He alone grant wisdom and understanding, as such can only come from Him.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

trying things out

I'm trying this out to see how I like it.