Monday, June 30, 2014

A Challenge

Earlier this summer, my family and I went to Las Vegas and heard a friend named Vance Pitman preach at his church, Hope Church. (He’s amazing. Check out their website for lots of goodies.) That day, Vance just happened to be starting a new series with his congregation, challenging them to read through the whole book of Psalms by the first week of September.

While I do encourage you to do this, this is not the challenge I want to focus on.

During Vance’s sermon, he talked about how lately he had been having trouble sleeping. Instead of counting sheep (does anyone actually do that anymore?), he began to go through the alphabet. You may think, “Ok, that’s stupid.” Just hold on a second! Vance didn’t just go through the alphabet; he began assigning Bible verses to letters of which they started. It became a tool for verse memorization, and one that has become very helpful to me.

Growing up in a Biblically-saturated environment, memorizing Scripture is not a foreign concept to me. Whether it was in Awanas, Bible class, or Sunday school, I’ve memorized Scripture during several points in my life. However, I have failed to make Scripture memorization a high priority in my own personal Bible study. Why? Probably because I didn’t feel like putting in that kind of effort, which really is stupid because what if I’m in a situation, like many people face in different countries, where a Bible is nowhere to be found? What if I come across someone who has never heard the name of Jesus or knows nothing about the Bible, and I don’t have one on me? The Word has to be in us, engraved upon our hearts.

All this to say, I encourage you to join this challenge with me. I’ve only gotten a few letters so far, but I can already see the difference it’s making in my heart. I pray that this tactic will make it a little easier and maybe even more fun for you to memorize Scripture. I think we’ll be surprised with what all the Lord will do in our lives through this challenge. J

Just to give you an example of what I’ve been rambling about, here are the verses I have for letters A-E.

Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth…Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. (Prov. 4:5,13)
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. (Ps. 63:3)
Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phi. 2:3-8)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. (Ps. 23:4)

Have fun and let the Lord do radical things to your heart and mind! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Working in the Waiting

Sorry for such a long delay in posting…it’s been a crazy past few months. Not necessarily crazy because of schedules, but because of thinking…a lot of thinking. Asking the questions that every college student has had to ask at one time or another: “Where am I going? Am I where I should be? What do I want my future to look like? What do I love to do? How can I spend my time wisely?” These questions are very necessary, but also exhausting.

Not only me, but my whole family is in a period of waiting. Waiting what the future holds, waiting for our lives to finally take off in the way we had always imagined. For a while, I was really bummed that a part-time job didn’t work out for me this summer; but now, I’m actually really grateful it didn’t. The free time I have is being spent with my family, being with the Lord, praying, painting, redoing my room, and other things that are giving me a fresh mind and renewed heart. The Lord always knows what He’s doing, even if we’re left a little confused for a while. J

The Lord is now beginning to show me what the attitude of my heart should be. My soul should be full of praise, joy, and peace, not incessant worry and anxiety. Being concerned about the future is vital, I think, because otherwise we just wouldn’t care. But when our concern is paired with a lack of trust in God, then it becomes dangerous.

He’s also teaching me that instead of just wanting His answers, I should want Him. Is not the Lord so much greater and more satisfying than having all the answers? Sometimes our response seems to be, “well…no actually. I’d rather have the answers!” It’s understandable to feel this way, and it’s pretty much been my mindset for the past year. What I’ve realized, however, is that living and loving Jesus is so much more rewarding and joyful than just calling on Him when we’re confused. He is so incredibly worth loving, because He so radically loved us first.

Instead of praying for a way out of the waiting, I’m starting to pray for God to work in the waiting. (And let’s be honest, despite my slow catching-on of this, God has already been working in me without me even knowing. He’s always ahead of us. J)

If you’re like me, waiting for wisdom, answers, or even just a hint of what to do next, pray for the Lord to reveal Himself to you now. Just because you’re waiting for the future to look a little clearer doesn’t mean you should ignore what’s happening in the present. There’s a lot we don’t know yet, so we might as well spend our time wisely in the time we’ve got right now. What did Gandalf say? “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Don’t wait to fall in love with the Lord. Get a move on that now.

Here’s an encouraging word about this from the great C.S. Lewis:

“And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being form in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’.

Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out – as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a read Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, and knowledge and eternity. “(From Mere Christianity)