Thursday, June 28, 2007

Finding Joy In Silence

To continue our theme on joy, I have felt the Lord impressing on my heart the importance of cultivating that joy. If the source of our joy is to be God, than in risk of overstating the obvious, we need more of God. How then can I accomplish that? Well, God has been showing me that, like Mary, I need to come and sit before his feet.

In Roberto Rivera y Carlo's article on titled "Into Great Silence" he talks about the film that features the Carthusian monks who live most of their lives praying, studying and working in silence. The result of this purposeful silence is a joy in knowing that "God is" and knowing His goodness in a way that few of us can even imagine. Here's an excerpt from his article:

*The product of what the Carthusians acknowledge is a difficult rule that few can follow is a "joyful penitence" spent in an "everlasting prayer" where the monk (or nun: there are Carthusian nuns) can, in the midst of solitude and stillness, know that "God is" and know His goodness in a way that few of us can even imagine...
What drives their joyful penitence isn't misanthropy or fear but the conviction that if God is to be found, if He is to be truly known, He must be pursued wholeheartedly — a conviction Gröning drives home by inserting text cards with verses such as "Anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). A big part of this wholehearted pursuit is putting oneself in a position where you can hear God who, as the passage from 1 Kings tells us, will not (and should not) turn the volume up to compete with the noise generated by a world turning out of control. The Hebrew kol d'mama daka, translated as "still small voice," can also be translated "still silent voice" or, my favorite: "the voice of eloquent silence." *

Carlo goes on to speak about the importance of stillness and silence in our lives and recalls Jesus' own discipline of withdrawing to secluded places. He says that if Jesus knew the need to find a "quiet" place, how much more are we in need of that? Now I'm not saying that I think everyone needs to become monks or nuns to accomplish this, but my hearts prayer is to embrace the verse: "Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

The more I get alone
The more I see I need to get alone more, more
Cause just when I think that I'm alone
Your Spirit calls out to me
And even silence has a song
Cause that's when you come
Sing over me

Oh this world, it falls around me
And flutters all it's beauty in my eyes
But let me choose the solitude
Simplicity has always simply changed my life
Cause even stillness makes me move
Cause that's when my heart
Learns to dance with you

Still, let me be still
Let me be OK
With the quiet in my heart
Still, I want to be still
I'm so quick to move
Instead of listening to you
Shut my mouth
Crush my pride
Give me the tears
Of a broken life,
I'm your child
Tame my heart
To me impart

"O Lord, forgive my failure to be still and know that You are God. Help me become less enamored with noise and love silence more in order to know You better. And in knowing You better, my joy will be secured in the only place that it can last. Let me remember that You can move in silence and that's when my heart learns to dance with You. "And those who know your name put their trust in you,for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 "


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strength and Joy for the Unknown

As I’m entering into a new phase of life with a very busy, chaotic, and an amazing month and a half behind me, I am freshly aware of God’s grace in my life. I have recently had a greater understanding of the fact that God is so good to me!

At the Florida Ladies retreat I was convicted by how often I can find myself turning to worthless things that will get me no where in life instead of spending time seeking to know God more and deepen my relationship with him. In just graduating and walking into a new phase of life with no idea what my future holds, I am tempted to worry at times. I have found that the only thing that will get me through this “waiting time” is to have my full trust in God and know that the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I was so encouraged by a quote that Jenny Detwiler provided for us at the Florida Ladies retreat by John MacArthur:

Spiritual joy, on the other hand, is not an attitude on chance or circumstances. It is the deep and abiding confidence that, regardless of one’s circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the Lord. No matter what difficulty, pain, or disappointment, failure, rejection, or other challenge one is facing, genuine joy remains because of the eternal well-being established by God’s grace in salvation. Thus, Scripture makes it clear that the fullest, most lasting and satisfying joy is derived from a true relationship with God. It is not based on circumstances or chance, but is the gracious and permanent possession of every child of God.

This quote helped me in so many ways. It helped me to realize that there is nothing in my future that will bring me more joy then my relationship with Jesus Christ! My prayer daily in this new season of life is that in every thing I do, the joy of the Lord will be my strength!

One thing I ask of the Lord,

that will I seek after;

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to behold the beauty of the Lord

and inquire in His temple.

Psalm 27:4


Monday, June 25, 2007

After talking to her father...

Apparently these have been in circulation among Sovereign Grace bloggers for a few years now, but this is the first time I've heard about them.

Top 10 Courtship Pick-Ups:

10. "So I talked to your dad last night..."
9. "I lost my phone number. Maybe through a purposeful relationship, we can find out if I'm supposed to have yours."
8. "Your Bible...or mine?"
7. "We're perfect for each other. Our parents have so much in common!"
6. This one comes right out of the book of Song of Solomon, "You're so, so, how can I say this biblically? Your teeth are like a flock of ewes that have come up from the washing...Your hair is like a herd of goats running down a mountain!"
5. "Do your feet hurt? 'Cause you've been running through God's plans for me all eternity long!"
4. "Let's get our siblings together and go out sometime."
3. "I can't wait to see what you look like at 50."
2. "Your modesty's showing."
1. "My parents are back in town. Wanna come over?"

10, 9, and 4 are definitely my favorites, but I have to say; number 5 is a bit cheesy.

So, who can think of some more funny ones?

(HT: On the Silent Planet)


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Book Sale

Desiring God Ministries reports that they will be having an online book sale from june 27-28. Everything will be 5 $. No exceptions, no limits, so take advantage of this opportunity.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Joy, Part 2: The Enemy and the Source of Our Joy

Isn't it amazing? You start a day trusting God and rejoicing in His grace; everything is going your way and you feel good. By the end of the day (or perhaps by the end of the morning?), you feel quite the opposite: worries and discouragements flood your heart. I'm sure we can all relate to this scenario, but what is it that causes the "joy" to go out the door so quickly for you and me? Our problem is this: We are allowing our circumstances to dictate whether or not we'll be joyful. If only [blank], then I'd be happy!

Our circumstances, or, rather, the act of resting our hope in them, can become the enemy of our joy because they are unreliable and unsteady. When we base our happiness on the hope that things will turn out our way, it’s no wonder we lack joy! If we count on getting our way as a source of happiness, "joy" will take a nosedive whenever our circumstances do (and nosedive they will). In fact, when we idolize our desires and actually do get what we want, what we're experiencing is not true joy at all; it's only a temporary feeling.

I'm so glad that we have an infinitely better source of joy than our ever-changing circumstances; we have a firm, unshakable Fountain of Delights in the unchanging God. He is the only dependable source of genuine and lasting joy.
Though our circumstances change rapidly, the Almighty God remains unchanged. He remains good, faithful, merciful, loving, and sovereign. Whatever befalls us, we have a consistent source of joy in the Lord.

But what about when we don't get what we desire, when things don't go our way? Though trials are very real and painful, it is possible to be joyful in the midst of them. We find lots of evidence in Scripture that it is possible to rejoice when circumstances are less than desirable. The prophet Habakkuk knew that he could rejoice in the Lord in the midst of some serious affliction:

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though everything in our temporarily happy worlds may be crumbling and changing, we can "rejoice in the LORD." We can rejoice in the very midst of suffering because he remains the same unchanging God, but in order to do that, we must transfer our gaze from our circumstances to our God.

If you are a Christian, you have a source of unending joy in the Lord at your disposal, a source that continues for eternity. That's a lot longer than the first three hours of your morning!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Future Glory

Most of you probably know this, but for those who don’t, Ryan, Kaleb, Adam, Candace, Annsley and I went on a mission’s trip last week to Haiti. Although there were many experiences and interactions that taught me so many things, there is one in particular that I would like to share. As we arrived at the orphanage and began to work, sweat and serve, my corrupt heart began to work and fill my mind with sin. As the daily gifts of God that I have always overlooked were removed; complaints, despair and selfishness quickly became a struggle. My service that day at times, I fear, did not please God. But God in his good and amazing grace showed me my sin that night and gave me truth to battle my sin. He revealed to me that service to him not filled with joy and done for his glory, motivated by a love for him because of his work at Calvary, is not pleasing to him. Left to my own sin and myself I would have served the Lord in a manner that displeased him and brought him no glory. But again in his amazing grace, He gave me 1 Peter 4:13, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed”. This verse strengthened me and showed me that I was called not only to suffer for Christ, but also to rejoice in it! And to rejoice because of the glory that will one day be revealed to all of those he bought with his blood and followed him. As amazing as this was to me, God showed me something even more amazing. Everyday after working, we would go into the orphanage and worship. As I looked around and saw the kids and teenagers singing and dancing, worshiping God, I was greatly affected. I was here in Haiti for one week! I wasn’t even really suffering; I was having fun! Yet I was the one struggling to rejoice. These people were the ones that had to suffer for the rest of their lives. They were the ones called to live in poverty with no hope for a better life in this world. Yet they were rejoicing! What made them happy was the forgiveness of their sins and the hope of the future glory to be revealed to them. These people pleased God because they rejoiced in their sufferings. God challenged me with this, and comparing my sufferings to theirs, I should be rejoicing in everything I do. We, as Americans, sometimes just have too much to rejoice in other than God. We place these gifts above him and lose sight of the Giver. David Trogget shared about an African pastor who said, “I cannot wait to get back to Africa, where the only thing people have is the Gospel”. The Christians of Haiti never lost sight of the Giver because all they had was the Giver. Father, please give us the grace to never lose sight of you amongst all the gifts you have given us. When you remove these gifts and you bring suffering into our lives, may we always rejoice and serve you with gladness because of the future glory that is to be revealed.

Kevin Glick

Monday, June 18, 2007

Joy, Part 1: "Be joyful always"

At the Ladies Retreat this past weekend, us girls were encouraged to pursue Joy Inexpressible. We learned that not only does our joy serve everyone around us, but, more importantly, it reflects the Gospel with brilliance! Since I am freshly inspired to pursue joy, I thought I'd re-post a five-part series of thoughts I wrote about a year ago on the subject. Here's Part 1.

"Be joyful always." Those are the words we find from the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:16. It's one of those straightforward commands in Scripture that leave no room for misunderstanding. It's also one that most of us woudn't mind obeying consistently. Who wouldn't want to be joyful all the time?

It's not always that easy. When it comes down to real life and when circumstances don't go our way they can immediately rob us of our joy.
Though fighting for joy is one of the main battles we face as Christians, we've got to remember that we are commanded to be joyful. Obeying takes hard work, but it's rewarding work, and it's worthy of our effort.

Proverbs 17:22 says "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty appealing to me! To have such a joyful heart that it's as "medicine" to my soul and brings glory to God? I want some of that!


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Paul Potts

This video is on every other blog but it is so good that I had to post it. Paul Potts is a cell phone salesman from South Wales who loves to sing opera. He is currently participating in the finals competition of "Britian's Got Talant". He truly has an amazing voice.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Spurgeon on Sin

This is a wonderful excerpt from Charles Spurgeon on our sin, in light of the cross

3. Let us abhor the sin that brought such agony upon our beloved Lord.

What an accursed thing is sin that crucified the Lord Jesus! Do you laugh at it? Will you go and spend an evening to see a mimic performance of it? Do you roll sin under your tongue as a sweet morsel and then come to God's house on Sunday morning and think to worship Him? Worship Him! Worship Him, with sin indulged in your breast! Worship Him, with sin loved and pampered in your life! If I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I valued the knife that had been crimsoned with His blood? If I had made a friend of the murderer and daily consorted with the assassin who drove the dagger into my brothers heart, what would you think of me? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice to the crime!

Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the incarnate God; can you love it? Oh, that there was an abyss as deep as Christs misery, that I might at once hurl this dagger of sin into its depths, whence it might never be brought to light again! Begone, O sin! You are banished from the heart where Jesus reigns! Begone, for you have crucified my Lord and made Him cry, "why hast though forsaken me?" If you did but know yourself and know the love of Christ, you would vow that you would harbor sin no longer. You would be indignant at sin, and cry:

The dearest idol I have known,
What e'er that idol be,
Lord, I will tear it from its throne,
And worship only Thee.

This passage helped show me the dangers of having a light-hearted disposition toward sin. Many times I let my sin deceive me into think that it is not serious. It is only a slight affront to God, besides, He has already poured out His wrath on His Son. There is none left for me, right?

These are the tricks that sin plays on our minds. It takes God's wonderful truth and twists it into a web of deception that leads us to places we thought that we would never go. Scripture teaches us that sin's only desire is to rule our lives. Genesis 4:7 "Sin is crouching at the door. its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

We cannot allow our sin to have control over our redeemed bodies. Why did Christ die? So that we may continue on in our iniquity? Hardly. God has most recently opened my eyes to the close proximity that sin has to my heart. In fact, they are intertwined. My greatest blessings are tainted with deadly sin and my most honorable deeds soaked with pride. It would be foolish of me to think that temptation does not lurk at every corner. There is no sin that I am not capable of, no law unbreakable by a sinner like myself. The grace of God is all that inclines my heart to Himself and it is only by His desire to do so that I will be faithful. So that is all that I ask for.
Father in Heaven, I pray that you would impart upon me your grace and allow your Spirit to clothe me in power to turn from evil and defeat the sin that so desires to destroy me. Thank you for your Son, it is through His perfect obedience that all of this is possible.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Harris and Simmons Break Out the Moves

Here's the tail end of the hilarious Harris/Simmons dance performance at New Attitude. The audio on this video is not very good, so you may want to turn the volume down a little!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Piper on Modern Day Heresy

I pray that we would all be as passionate about the gospel as John Piper.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Amber's Top 20 Na Memories

1. Jonathan trying to serve by clearing the table but unintentionally throwing my debit card away and, consequently, having to dig through the food court trash can to retrieve it. (Don't worry. I smothered it with plenty of hand sanitizer. :)

2. Seeing childhood best friends from Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina and seeing and meeting more El Paso people.

3. The Great Guys vs. Girls Sweat-Out (In sum: Girls were siss-iss-ing; Kyle couldn't stand it and threatened with the heat; the girls claimed we could handle it better than the guys, and, bam, there you have a stubbornness-generated sweat-out.)

siss.iss (verb)
1. to whisper

2. to talk privately while giggling, especially when done by females

4. Memories from staying in a hotel room with five of my favorite girls ever: Jenn reading to all of us out loud, taking two hours to pack our bags the last night, sharing hairdryers and clothes, and late night talks. Good times.

5. Being reminded by John Piper in two stellar messages that (1) God's chief end is to bring glory to himself and that, (2) by the gift of faith, I am credited with Christ's perfect obedience.

6. Nate's tie-dye play dough hand and resultant Fudgecicle at TGI Friday's.

7. God providentially allowing our group to have enough room in our vehicles to give Orlando guys a lift. Ryan and Kaleb sacrificially serving by picking them up from and taking them back to their hotel.

8. Human alphabet in front of the big Na sign.

9. An average of five hours of sleep for five nights in a row = severe sleep deprivation. (Thank you, Lord, for the gift of caffienated beverages.)

10. Late night adventure with Jenn and Lana at the Travelodge. Exhilarating AND very necessary. (Though I think I may have ruined the secrecy of the outing. Didn't I, girls?)

11. Watching some hunters run into the woods wearing neon vests and prematurely scaring off a few does.

12. Eric Simmons and Josh Harris breaking out the dance moves.

13. Me being so dependant on the rest of the group for remembering where places were that I'd have been lost if I had to walk to community groups alone.

14. Eleven times of worship crammed into four days.

15. I share this one at my own expense: Me being so sleep-deprived that I unconsciously ripped my Cracker Barrel check to shreds before I went to pay. Having a good laugh as a result.

16. Lana to guys: "Oh, look! There's an extra seatbelt!" (Way to put it graciously, Lana. And with a sense of humor.)

17. Hanging with Cherish.

18. Ditto Lana's #21 and Kyle's #5.

19. Candace and me getting our ice cream paid for by a Ninja and getting matching t-shirts.

20. Being with good friends for six days in a row and experiencing biblical fellowship, fun memories, and God together.

Isn't He GOOD?


More Na...

This past Sunday I was given the privilege of sharing my Na testimony with the church by my favorite pastor in the world, Joe Calabello. :) This was not hard for me to write because of the abundance of grace and mercy that God has poured out over my life. I thought to share it here on the blog so that others might be encouraged two ways:

1) To write your own testimony out regardless of whether you went to New Attitude or not. It can be about how either God saved you or a particular work that He is doing now or in the past. This was extremely helpful to me because it showed me in greater depths God's love for me. For some reason, when you think something through and begin to write it down things become more clear. I think that this is seen primarily through Gods Word. Written words have value that spoken words do not. They are timeless and can referred back to again and again without losing their potency. Our memories have a way of "forgetting" something that has been spoken and discarding it whether its of spiritual worth or not (That's why we must take vigorous notes at church). To sum up, after I wrote out what God did for me, I was able to see with greater clarity God's love, God's glory, and my mission: To bring Him glory.

2) To edify others. I am not a spiritual guru nor an example for others to look up to. Plain and simple, I am the worst sinner that I know. But this does not mean that I am to keep silent about the work of the Spirit. I want others to see that if God can grab the attention of a wayward sinner like myself, than surely He can and will impart His grace upon the lives of others.

So, here goes...

"I came to New Attitude this year with a heavy heart. I was bearing the burden of my sin and I did not even know it. As C.J said during his first message this past weekend, 'I was oblivious to the obvious.' I had been allowing my sin and lack of obedience to inform the way I worshiped my God. Through the teaching, worship, and wonderful biblical fellowship, God opened my eyes to my legalistic mindset. I was not obeying God Because it pleased Him, I was trying to obey because I thought that I had a debt to repay. But God is merciful and He showed me that the perfection of obedience that I thought I owed had already been accomplished in full. Christ, who always has done what pleases the Father and always will, has stood in my place and been the righteousness that I could not. Most of all, I came away from New Attitude 2007 sensing the pleasure of God when I do obey His Holy law. I can take joy in my faithfulness to Him because I know that it is all by His grace and covenant love for me. All of this has allowed me to live with greater anticipation for the days to come when sin will power no more. One day, because of the redeeming work of Christ, I will have a body that no longer struggles with the pride that grips my heart now. All of this is made possible by the Cross. Thanks be to God for showing me that 'He is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.'"

Throughout the weekend God laid Luke 2:14 on my heart, "Glory be to God in Highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased."


Monday, June 4, 2007

Top 20 and 1

Before I post my "Top 20", I would just like to say how kind of God it was to allow all of us such rich moments full of His presence and the truths of His Word at NA, as well as precious times of fellowship with the people He has graciously placed in our lives. I hope everyone will heed the constant encouragement to obtain all the messages from the conference! And you don’t need to have attended NA to listen to them. They would be great messages for anyone!

Top 20 Highlights of the Trip for me:
(In no particular order)

1. The guys trying to get the girls to say they wanted to stop to use the bathroom before they would admit they had to go. (It never worked)

2. Watching people get stuck in the revolving door. =)

3. Everyone singing A Whole New World & Back At One in the van on the way back. (Sorry Kevin, Nathan, Stephen and J. Nash if you didn’t want people to know that! =)

4. Worshiping a Holy God and knowing that as great as it was, it was only a taste of what’s to come.

5. Getting candy and breakfast every community group. (Thank you Mr. Caesar!)

6. Seeing old friends & meeting new ones.

7. Not having to risk my life or miss community group to save seats. (Thanks guys! Anyone mow over any future prospects? =)

8. Solid teaching informed by infallible truth.

9. Girl time in the room. (What happens in the room stays in the room.)

10. The sweet pain of conviction after “The Idol Factory”.

11. Jen R, Amber and I having a “late” night adventure. (Shh…don’t tell the guys.)

12. All the great and helpful discussions going up, during and coming back from the conference.

13. Winning the heat-out in the van. (I think when 3 girls are sitting in their seats conversing pleasantly and 2 guys are sweating, their eyes are turning red and they can’t sit still, means the girls were victorious. Hey, even C.J. Mahaney said he likes to win.)

14. Watching people picking up their cross and “taking it to the other room”, “go somewhere they didn’t want to eat”, “put $2400 on their credit card”, “give up community groups”, “pose for six pictures when they would have liked to stop after one”, “packing, unpacking, packing and unpacking the vans”, “sleeping on cots, floors and sleeper sofa’s”, and so much more. (Thanks everyone!)

15. Watching as NA attendees men where hunting a little too aggressively and women were breaking logs and throwing leaves too vigorously. (I’m sorry that was mean…but I couldn’t help it.)

16. Watching the guys secure our pizza spot, even at the expense of running people off the other couch. (Shameful)

17. Opening and closing all the doors while we’re driving to try and get the dinging sound to stop and then realizing the ahem “driver” had left the blinker on.

18. Zebra gum!

19. Having C.J. confirm that sports are a good thing.

20. The moment I remembered where I was a year ago and where God has me now and feeling overwhelming peace, joy and gratefulness.

21. Not having to worry about anything the entire trip because of the wonderful leadership, sacrifice and humility of all the guys as they sought to lead us as well as spur us on in our relationship with Christ. (I decided to add one more since Kyle added like two more in comments. =)

I nominate the next person to post their top 20.

- Lana -

Friday, June 1, 2007

C.J., Mark Dever, and Starbucks

The good part is at the end after the plane to New Attitude.