Friday, February 29, 2008
"For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men".
This particular scripture verse has been a means of grace in my life over the past 7 months.
August- I began a new job, moved in with two wonderful roommates, my last two classes begin at UNF, and I ended a wonderful 2 1/2 month "relationship" with a good friend.
September- Jacksonville experienced 4 days of straight rain and our apartment roof caves through (in my roommates room), I move into the Holiday Inn on Baymeadows Rd. Oh and on accident I leave my textbook inside my apartment and can't get it out for 3 weeks due to "liability" reasons.
October- We were relocated from the Holiday Inn into a company stay type suite on the apartment complex premiss, finally allowed to get our stuff from our apartment, I ran a 5K and experienced 3 weeks of consistent swelling in my ankle that wouldn't subside.
November- Went to an urgent care center and XRays came out fine on my ankle and after a month the swelling went down, experienced 3 weeks of sickness (cold, cough) due to lack of sleep and pulling all nighters to finish out my two classes to graduate.
December- Continuation of all nighters at Florida Coastal Law School (they don't have to deal with parking decals!!) with my roommate Sarah, ended up failing a class and couldn't graduate and I began experiencing inflammation in my knee over Christmas.
January- Begin doctors appointments (XRays, blood work, MRI) to determine inflammation in my knee, tests prove that the pain I was experiencing was due to a fluid build-up, informed that we could finally move back into our place the beginning of February and began my class Research Methods of Psychology over again with a much better teacher.
February- After seeing an orthopedic he insisted that we drain my knee and he proceeded to send the fluid away to be tested. Results a week later showed, Gout in my knee. Gout is a disease in the knee that forms from a buildup of uric acid. It is unheard of that someone of my age has this. 90% of people who get Gout are men and women who usually have it are over 50+. My doctor said she has never heard of this type of case before and neither had my orthopedic. We FINALLY moved back into our place after being displaced for 4 months and I lost my job the day before I turned 24.
What do I say to all of this chaos? I hope that no one ever has to go through what I went through these 7 months. Is this is a season of suffering and trials the Lord brought me through? A season of sacrifice? or Trust? I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out. Maybe I won't ever figure it out or maybe its not meant to be understood. These experiences have been so very hard. I've told myself over the years, "your a good student, you don't fail, your successful, your an above average student" and then too fail a class and not even graduate. To communicate to my parents and siblings that I failed was one of the hardest things to do. Studying for a test in a hotel room is impossible (don't try it). Eating out for a month is disgusting. Being sick during finals, pulling all nighters for exams and working a F/T job is practically impossible. I don't even know how I got up every morning to face the day. Running was my favorite past time. I haven't run since October and its been quite a struggle for me. Now I don't even know when my next run will be. Being with someone for 2 1/2 months last summer taught me a lot about myself and I wouldn't trade that season for anything. It was a short summer season that God somehow planned but He also planned for it to end in the most settling way. Finally realizing I have a type of disease that is completely unheard of for someone my age has been hard to understand.
The Lord has caused grief and affliction to come and go these past 7 months but their has been an unceasing amount of peace and joy in my heart. I have cried much and but I know I have smiled and laughed much more. Lamentations reminds me that "He will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love". I know that He is holding me and caring for me. Have I sought God in the midst of this insane turmoil? I wish I could say, yes but I have not. I believe now I am finally getting the big picture. God wants my attention. I can finally say, now He has it completely. Sometimes God has to cause grief and affliction and to bring us to our knees and He has done that with me. Although He cast me off for a little while, He has brought me back to Himself. This is just another season of life. Is it closed? or is it still open? I don't know, only He does. For "He is in the heavens and He does all He pleases".
There are many questions that I am faced with right now. Where will I work? Where will I live when August comes around and my lease is up? When can I run again?! What will summer hold for me? Graduate school? Teaching in Europe? but I am not living my life worried about these, I am living my day for today and looking forward to tomorrow.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
1) God always keeps His promises, but He keeps them in His timing, not mine.
Meaning...I might have to wait!
Scriptural Example: Psalm 69:13: "But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness."
2) God always keeps His promises, but He keeps them in the way He sees fit (that is, the way that best suits His glory and my good).
Meaning...He might answer in a way that is contrary to my immediate desires!
Example: God promises grace. If I ask God for grace to teach me patience, He won't always teach me in the way I desire (the easy way!). My path to patience will likely be uncomfortable, hard work, like most sanctification.
3) God always keeps His promises, but His promises are often conditional.
Meaning...His blessings often require my obedience first!
Scriptural Examples: Philippians 4: 6,7: "[condition] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [promise] And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I Peter 5:6: "[condition] Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, [promise] so that at the proper time he may exalt you."
Though my experience may seem to "argue" or disagree with Scripture when I can't see God's provision, the truth is that God always keeps His promises. He might not do it when or how I think best, but He, whose thoughts are higher than my thoughts, will be faithful to his Word in His own time and in His own way.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
John Piper posted this poem on the Desiring God blog this morning, and in light of last weeks message I thought it was worth sharing. Piper considers it one of the best poems ever written on a biblical text and I think it is amazing as well (not that my opinion on it matters). Karsten is on of Piper's sons and is reasonably well-know for his poetry, much like his father. This poem is completely different than anything I have ever read. Don't read Luke 18:25 until after you read the poem.
by Karsten Piper
He spread his blanket on the sand,
kneeled and arranged his bowls and tools:
hook, mallet, clamp, chisel, rasp, razor.
His smile glinted in the rongeur’s claws,
and upside down in the curette’s spoon.
Light shone out of the needle’s eye.
“Hoosh,” he said and began plucking hairs,
paring calluses, shearing wool, shaving
to the follicles, cutting to the quick.
He sorted these, trimming skin with skin,
hair with hair, into rows of clay bowls,
and set a large basin to catch each sour drip
as he sliced the hide and used both fists
to yank back the whole stubbled, gray pelt,
as wet and red on its underside as afterbirth.
He piled this heavily away, draping it
in clean linen, and turned to the meat and bone
heaving under sheer, tight membrane.
Sawteeth chewed into femur, rib and shoulder.
Pliers twisted and wrenched away tendons
until everything softened, canted, and collapsed—
yet not one sliver dies. Each ribbon and shard
bawls for the horror and hurt of their missing,
wishing for the old braying wholeness.
Pain bloodies evening and morning,
stabbing day after day from even the first cuts,
like the slow light of far stars.
Eyeballs and heart float alone in the last bowl,
dark and defenseless, quavering when he leans down
and they recognize in his eyes how little is left.
“Easy now, Camel,” he says and lifts me
in his fingertips, one quivering strand at a time,
through the eye of the needle.
Friday, February 15, 2008
This morning when I woke, a strange feeling came over me that is difficult to describe. Remorse, Joy, awakening, sadness... a range of emotions that can only be explained by one singular factor. The Grace of God. How do I go from weeks of sinful selfish behavior to the all-of-a-sudden desire to please God, read His Word and sanctify my soul? This can only be due to the work of another. I am brought to tears at the thought of what God has done for me.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Come, my soul, think about this. Believing in Jesus, you are actually and effectually cleared from guilt; you are led out of prison. You are no loner in chains as a slave; you are delivered now from the bondage of the law; you are freed from sin and can walk around as a free man-the Savior's blood has procured your full acquittal. You now have a right to approach your Father's throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare you now-no fiery sword; justice cannot strike the innocent. You disabilities are removed. Once you were unable to see you Father's face; now you can. You could not speak with Him; but now you can approach him with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon you; but now you have no fear of it, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believes is not condemned and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges you might have enjoyed, if you had never sinned, are yours now that you are justified. All the blessings that you would have had if you had kept the law are yours, because Christ has kept it for you. All the love and acceptance that perfect obedience could have obtained belong to you, because Christ was perfectly obedient on you behalf and has imputed all His merits to your account, that you might be exceedingly rich through Him who for you sake became exceedingly poor. How great the debt of love and gratitude you owe to you Savior!
A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear with You righteousness on,
My person and offerings to bring:
Thye terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior's obedience and blood
Hid all my transgressions from view.
-Morning and Evening - February 13
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
It said, “O not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear. Rather look at them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept hitherto; do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”
He will silently plan for thee,
Object thou omniscient care;
God Himself undertakes to be
Thy Pilot through each subtle snare.
He will silently plan for thee,
So certainly, He cannot fail!
Rest on the faithfulness of God,
In His thou surely shalt prevail.
He will silently plan for thee,
His purposes shall unfold;
The tangled skein shall shine at last,
A masterpiece of skill untold.
-E Mary Grimes.
Though my soul has not been at ease lately, I have and still believe that God has ordained for me to be in this particular season of life. Though there are times I want to give up, God has shown me that I need to continue to run the race of endurance with full speed and trust that this is where He wants me to be at this point in my life. Over the last couple of days I have felt God’s grace pouring upon my life in a deeper and more profound way. And for that I am so very grateful!
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I long to have faith like Abraham. God promised the patriarch what was humanly impossible, and Abraham believed Him. That’s why Romans 4:18-21 is one of my favorite passages:
In hope [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
One thing I love about this passage is the absolute nature of its language. Abraham allowed for “no distrust”; he stood firmly, “fully convinced” that he would see God’s promises fulfilled. He was 100% certain that God would do what He said. No wavering allowed.
With God’s help, I am on my way to cultivating that kind of faith. I’m not there yet; I may not get there in my lifetime. But: I’m on my way. I have made a fundamental change in the way that I try to look at God’s promises: with faith! This choice, the decision to grasp His promises tightly and to believe them, has had a great impact on my life. Here’s an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote a few days ago:
Though the fight for joy is still a daily battle for me, what helps me the most is choosing to cling to God’s promises and actually believe them (novel idea!) instead of desperately fighting to win this war without the hope of God’s help. I have begun to make the choice to rest. To believe.To be still in God’s “future grace,” still in his promises, and still in his power, instead of despairing in my failure.
Some verses that help me to focus on God’s ability and promises to accomplish the impossible: Isaiah 41:17-20, Ephesians 3:14-20, and 2 Cor.12:9-12. I love these verses because each communicates God’s power to do far more than I ever could do myself or even think to ask of Him. Though the desert (naturally) seems irreversibly dry, He promises flowing streams to the desolate heart. I will believe it! Though I am painfully aware of my weakness, it is then that I am strong in His unending power. Though I can’t comprehend or feel His love for me, I believe that He is able to restore my soul to know His love, even in a way that “surpasses knowledge.”
I'm not saying I won't waver. I will need to redirect my unbelieving thoughts to believing thoughts. I’ll have to ask God for forgiveness for doubting His promises and His faithfulness to carry them out. There will be times when I revert to hopelessness, instead of believing God as Abraham did. But I have faith that God will even help me with that weakness as He works in me each day to make me more like His Son.
Thank you, Father, for your promises, which are "yes and amen" in Christ. Please increase my faith to believe them!
"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ." 2 Cor. 1:20
Monday, February 4, 2008
One unlikely match-up Sunday pits two powerhouse opponents against each other: the National Football League and the Christian church.
On one side are church-sponsored Super Bowl parties with big-screen TVs, soft drinks and some soul-saving talk at halftime. On the other are NFL lawyers threatening to crack down on unauthorized use of the game. The league, which owns both the Super Bowl name and the broadcast, has restrictions that limit TV screens to 55 inches at public viewings, except at venues like bars and restaurants that regularly broadcast sporting events. Airing the game at events that promote a message, including a religious message, is forbidden.
Churches have long used the Super Bowl to draw newcomers and build fellowship among congregants. But in the face of legal threats, many are scaling back. Last month, a congregation of deaf Christians in upstate New York scratched plans to broadcast the game with closed captioning after learning they might be sued. At the First Baptist Church in Summerfield, N.C., the Rev. Richard Odom canceled plans to host 500 people. "God didn't command us to watch the Super Bowl," he says.
Others have rebranded their events as "Big Game Fellowship" or "Superb Owl" parties to avoid the trademarked phrase Super Bowl, or moved their parties to restaurants or congregants' homes to dodge the league's screen-size restrictions for "mass out-of-home viewings."
The conflict flared up last February when the league ordered Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis to cancel plans to show the game on a 12-foot-wide screen. Now some religious-rights advocates and pastors are challenging the rules. Yesterday, North Carolina Democratic congressman Heath Shuler, a former NFL quarterback, sent a letter criticizing the league's stance to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Mr. Shuler says that if the league won't budge, he plans to draft federal legislation that would exempt churches from the screen-size restrictions.
"It's unfortunate that the NFL has given exception to sports bars," Mr. Shuler says. "If they're going to give exceptions, let's give one to faith groups that are having a positive influence on people's lives."
The Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil-liberties group that defends religious rights, is threatening to sue the NFL on behalf of an Alabama church.
I read this yesterday in the Wall Street Journal
Read the rest of the article here.