Saturday, May 21, 2011

Working In You That Which is Wellpleasing...

As of this coming Monday, I have only two months left in Germany! Its hard to believe that I've been here for eleven months! Its hard to believe that I'm leaving soon! As I look back on the time I have spent here I think of all the wonderful memories I've made from traveling, working, and meeting some wonderful people along the way.

But I also look back on the time I spent here with lots of regret for not using my free time better, to be honest, the computer is a major distraction and I have lots of regrets for spending *way* too much time on here. I know I would be much closer to the Lord if I had directed my time more wisely. So as I was thinking about lost time and how I felt like I would never be what God desires me to be since I'm so easily distracted, and so many sins sway me this way and that, I was reminded of Hebrews 13:20-21- "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." and also Philippians 2:13- "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." These verses are such a huge encouragement to me because when I feel that God isn't working in my life or get discouraged at the slow progress I seem to be making spiritually, I am reminded that God works in us in spite of our failings and He is all-powerful to mold us into what He would desires us to be. The main job on our part is continuing to run towards Him. Its very simple but I really needed this reminder from the Lord.

I have to leave for Rome in a few minutes so I don't have time to write more but I hope to update again next week when I return. I am sooo pathetic, I can't believe I've only updated my blog about four times! *cringes* I have quite a few more things I need to write about including: turning 25, discovering white hairs on my head, a book I'm currently reading called "The Shallows," my trip to Israel, my dreams for the future, jobs I am seeking or not seeking, my remaining trips, favorite memories from travels, things I have learned, how I have changed, the gospel, running, and plans for this summer. So I will save that for next time if God continues to keep me breathing. May God shine His face upon you all, thanks for reading my blog!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Halfway Done

Yes, I'm still alive!! I was considering that for a post, but somehow this doesn't capture everything that I've been up to since July when I last posted. There are several reasons why I haven't posted in a while: I was discouraged and felt like I had nothing good to write about, and when I finally did have something to write about, I didn't know where to start since it had been so long. Okay, before I start getting melodramatic, I will attempt to update in an orderly and reasonable fashion. "Attempt" is the keyword because sometimes I'm a little scatterbrained and all over the place when I write.

At the time of typing, it is lightly snowing (since yesterday) after nearly a month of no snow. This past winter has not had as much snow as I imagined (thankfully) though I have seen quite a bit of snow here. I was expecting blizzards and 5 ft. snow drifts, kinda like Siberia. See, I always expect the worse or the best, yet I would describe myself as a realist, most of the time, situationally might be more accurate. In any event, Germany is a wonderful place to live and I am so thankful to the Lord for the opportunity He has graciously given me to live in the beautiful Alps and travel around Europe.

Work has been going very well. My hours are from 5am to 1:30pm, though I get off earlier sometimes. I enjoy going in early and don't mind waking up at 3am, however, my dilemma is making myself go to sleep early at night. As much as I would like to see myself as an early bird, I'm a night owl at heart. Anyhow, I'd like everyone to know how much I LOVE my job! Well, what I really love is the people I work with, who are mainly Greeks, Romanians, a German, and the rest, Americans. I have a super fun time at work talking, laughing, getting hugs, playing the piano, taking breaks, faaiiiling, etc. I mention failing because something misfortunate and crazy always seems to be happening to me at work, this makes for an interesting day tho!

I mentioned I was discouraged for a while. The first several months were difficult because I felt alone, like I wasn't connecting with other Christians, and I was feeling quite sorry for myself. One thing I've discovered, through multiple lessons is that I am most miserable when I am focused on ME. The right response is to turn outwardly, rather than inwardly. Turn completely to the Lord and pour yourself into blessing others. Unfortunately, I didn't do this at the outset, not completely at least. I'm thankful that the Lord changed my perspective, mainly with the counsel of a friend. She kindly sympathized with me, but most importantly pointed me to the Savior who was also familiar with loneliness. Since He had been with God the Father from the very beginning and knew Him in ways we don't He undoubtedly was lonely at times. It also didn't help that His disciples were out of it and didn't even understand what He was trying to communicate most of the time. She pointed out that Jesus responded by focusing on others and praying to God. So this was some of the best advice I received. Thank you, Katie!

Traveling has been a blast, even solo trips! So far I've been to Bonn, Germany (birthplace of Beethoven) for the Beethoven Festival concert, Geneva (for Reformation Day), Nuremberg, Paris, and London. I've gone to the top of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze, which is very close to Garmisch, where I live. This past Saturday I took a sobering and very informative tour of Dachau Concentration Camp. And I'm taking a three day trip in a few days, to either Prague or Berlin. I know my title for this post is "Halfway Done" but I'm actually more than halfway done, it sounds better like that though. My military id card expires July 22, so I'm guessing that will be the day of departure. I'm sad that its gone by so fast and was complaining to someone about that recently, but realized I should be grateful for the time that I have had, and the remainder of the time I do have. Gratefulness is an excellent remedy for a complaining spirit. Well, I think this shall do, thanks for tuning in, friends! I intend to write on here more often because I have several items I'd like to write about. So...stay tuned!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reporting Live: From the Fatherland!

I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Germany. It's hard to believe that I am living here in the middle of the Alps! I would have never envisioned this being my life a year ago. You never know what God has in store!

Most of you know already that I have been assigned to work in the custodial department on night shift. It's interesting, as soon as I tell people here what my job is, they visibly wince and ask how I am dealing with it. I don't think it's really a big deal mostly because my sister, my brother, and my brother-in-law have all worked night shift positions and I've seen them handle it, I don't think it will be terribly difficult for me. So I try to have a positive attitude and hopefully better represent the Savior. Although I would have preferred the 5am shift, I know the Lord has a purpose in placing me where He has me.

So what is life like here? It's interesting and challenging. Nearly everyone here is into three things: the World Cup, traveling, and drinking. I'm not into watching sports, I prefer to play them so I am out of the loop in regards to the World Cup, although I do love to play soccer. The traveling part I can identify with since I have always been fascinated by geography and history, so i can converse easily on these subjects. The drinking, not so much. I've explained to a few that although drinking is not a sin, I decline from it primarily because it can lead very quickly to drunkness (which is sin) and other sinful behavior, not to mention saying or doing things you will later regret. (Editor's Note: Because I don't participate doesn't mean I am condemning those who partake in a wise manner, nor do I consider myself better than them in any way.) This means I have a limited social life since I don't go out to the bars and clubs, but God will send me friends in His own way I have realized.

Two night security guards have befriended me (their office is right next to my room and I have to pass it every time I go to the bathroom) and I am trying to be a witness to them (they are both Catholic and in their sixties, for some background here). One has told me on two seperate occasions that he hopes I am not corrupted while I am here. I was touched by this non-Christian who wants to see me do right. My response to him was that God's word clearly lays out the consequences of sinful behavior and I am continually aware of them through reading His word on a regular basis. This is the primary reason for the direction of this post, because I have been contemplating standing strong amidst a world that is sinking into hell, yet needs Christians to live with them, love them, and tell them about the Lord. CJ Mahaney writes in his book Worldliness that seduction from the world, rather than persecution by it, is the biggest challenge facing Christians today.

It would be foolish and prideful to think that certain sins are unable to touch you, or that you are stubborn enough, to resist. It is this kind of thinking that will allow you to be decieved and fall into sin blindly. As Christians, we are no longer under the weight of sin, however, we are neither immune to it either. Paul warns in I Corinthians 10:12, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." And one more from Proverbs 16:18, which we all have heard, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

We clearly need to be on guard, vigilant against our flesh, the world, and Satan (I Peter 5:8-9) at all times. Especially our flesh I'd have to say, since we are so easily deceived by sin, which is why it is so needful to have the fellowship of other Christians. Hebrews 3:13 says, "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." It is so easy to see the sins in others and be impatient with them for it, and at the same time be completely blind to our own sin. This is where our relationship with other Christians comes into play very helpfully, by pointing out to us our sin. Ouch! It certainly does hurt at the time but will reap eternal benefits for us as we correct our behavior. So we must not be proud but humble about who we are -weak people in need of God's enabling, strengthening grace!

And of course, spending time with the Lord is so needful. That's where our strength comes from to withstand temptation and to choose what is right. Continuing to cultivate that love for the Lord is a sure safe guard to avoiding sin and overcoming temptation. When I think about the lure of the world, I'd rather stay with my Savior, I'd rather have Jesus (love that hymn). And who wouldn't who knows Him and loves Him?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thoughts On My Imminent Departure

I hate goodbyes.
I will miss my family and my friends, quite *dreadfully!*
I must be crazy to be leaving my sweet little nephews. Miss them *much.*
I dislike missing out on things, I had better get used to it.
I am a bit nervous, scared, frightened.
Thankful that God will never leave me.
I hope I make friends.
I kind of wish I didn't sign up, but I have to work!
This will look good on my resume (the bright side).
I've always wanted to work for the government!
I wonder what life will be like there.
What job will I be assigned?
I hope that I won't freeze to death. I hate being cold!!
Hoping I will return a gourmet chef after cooking for myself for 13 months.
Potatoes are inexpensive and there are multiple ways of preparation. I think I will be eating a good amount of potatoes.
I wonder what will happen between then and now. Will some of my friends get engaged? Anyone I know die?
I am excited to visit all the places I have always dreamed of traveling to.
My agenda: London, Paris, Geneva, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Rome, Normandy, Greece, Spain, St. Petersburg, Beethoven Festival, Berlin...
Looking forward to Daniel coming to visit me (during his spring break in March), Felicia (maybe?), Heather (hopefully), and Katie (idk?).
I am thankful there is a Bible-believing church in Garmish, it is good to be among the redeemed.
It is clear now that this was the Lord's good intention for my life.
This gives me peace.
I am so thankful that His purposes always come to fruition.
I am looking forward to what He will do in my life and how He will change me.

There are so many areas I need to be strengthend and sharpened in:
Confidence in the Lord
Better disciplined
More trusting in the Lord
Prayer life
Have a gentler, kinder heart towards others
Minister effectively with resources I have
Be a better blessing to other Christians
Reach out to non-Christians with patience and without intimidation
Write better
Learn more through books I am taking
Be a good witness for the Lord
Prioritize better
Use my money wisely
Invest in others more
Overcome the fear of man
Openness and vulnerability with others
Love Jesus more
Surrender and submission to the will of God

This is not an exhaustive list, and I realize that I will not come back perfect, or even close to it. But, I am hoping to stand more firmly and faithfully in Jesus Christ. So if you think of it, I'd so appreciate your prayers on my behalf!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Zealous Man

As a young child, Theodore Roosevelt was terrified to go alone into the family's church in Madison Square, New York City. When his mother inquired the reason, he told her of "the zeal" he had heard the preacher speak of, a monster he imagined who lurked in the dark shadows of the church waiting to devour him. His mother wisely consulted a concordance and went down the list, reading aloud the verses having to do with "the zeal." She got to Psalm 69:9- "For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up..." Theodore cried out, "that's it, that's the verse the preacher read!" And so often, the thought is that kids aren't paying attention in church! I read this humorous story in a biography on TR several months ago (one of my fave presidents) and I just had to laugh out loud.

What does it mean to be zealous? To be consumed, eaten up with an idea or truth that has gripped your heart. You stake your whole life upon it and are willing to do whatever it takes to further the cause and see it's purpose and goals achieved. There is a definite sense of urgency. Galatians 4:18 says it is good to be always zealously affected and Titus 2:14 says that believers are meant to be zealous of good works.

One book that was spiritually beneficial to me during my college years was Practical Religion by J.C. Ryle. I came across this book on my Dad's bookshelf and took it with me to college. Ryle has many excellent, relevant chapters about living the Christian life and it was such a treasure to discover, one such chapter was on zeal. I was recently going over old files on the laptop my sister and I shared in college, when I came across these quotes I had typed up a while ago. I was freshly encouraged and provoked to be a truly zealous Christian, because our time on earth is short, we have to make our lives count for Christ!

A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, through-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies, -whether is has health, or whether he has sickness, -whether he is rich, or whether he is poor, -whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offense, -whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish, -whether he gets blame, or whether gets praise, -whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame, -for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares nothing for it, -he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such an one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray. ~Practical Religion, pg.184-185

Think of the shortness of time. You will soon be gone. You will have no opportunity for works of mercy in another world. In heaven there will be no ignorant people to instruct, and no unconverted to reclaim. Whatever you do must be done now. Oh, when are you going to begin? Awake! Be zealous, and repent. Think of the devil, and his zeal to do harm. It was a solemn saying of old Bernard when he said that "satan would rise up in judgment against some people at the last day, because he had shown more zeal to ruin souls than they had to save them." Awake! Be zealous, and repent. ~Practical Religion, pg.208

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Behind a Frowning Providence, He Hides a Smiling Face

A man rushed out the door on a dreary, foggy London day. Hailing a cab, he directed the driver to the Thames River. His intention? To throw himself into its cold depths and end his life. It wasn't his first time attempting to take his life. He suffered depression, bouts of mental instability, and the despair was too much for him this time. He was determined. Surely this would end his sufferings.

The fog quickly became as thick as butter and soon the cab driver was hopelessly lost. The man became agitated and disgusted with himself at yet another failed suicide attempt. He told the cab driver to just let him off in the midst of the thick fog, only to discover that it was where the journey had started. His home.

His name was William Cowper. He was a Christian.

Recognizing this providential kindness of God in leading the cab driver unwittingly back to his home, he wrote a poem titled 'Light Shining Into Darkness' which eventually was set to music becoming the hymn we know today as 'God Moves in a Mysterious Way.'

It's one of my favorite hymns and serves as such a reminder of the sweetness of God's sovereignty. It is severe at times, often in the form of trials, but ultimately for our own good and of course, His glory. Knowing that God has purposed everything that happens in my life is freeing, but difficult to understand. Particularly when you don't get what you want, which yes is frustrating at the time and cause for many a tear, but then you look back really thankful that God doesn't always give you what you want. In fact, it's quite enjoyable to laugh at yourself and remember again all the reasons why you can't trust yourself (Jeremiah 17:9- "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?") and MUST cling to the Lord. Paul Washer said, "God saved you from Himself, God saved you by Himself, and God saved you for Himself," and I'd like to add that God is continually saving you from yourself.

One example of God working His will in my life, despite my inclinations elsewhere, was having me attend Pensacola Christian College. Since I was 14 years old, it was my dream to go to Israel and live there one day. So of course I was looking at colleges to attend there and found one in the heart of Jerusalem called Israel College of the Bible, it was a typical Messianic/Charismatic one and that didn't bother me too much at the time (now I realize how doctrinally weak it was and too much of an emphasis on Judiaism). I applied, was accepted, received my passport, and was about to apply for my student visa. The college had dorms but only enough for either the boys or girls which is why each year they switched who got them. That year happened to be the boys turn, so the college tried to help me find a resonably priced apartment, to no avail (very expensive to live in Jerusalem as you can imagine!). My Dad finally said I couldn't go and that I would have to go to PCC where my sister was attending and my brother was soon to be going. I was crushed and cried a whole lot but I can tell you now that I am soooo very thankful that I attended PCC. God did so much in my life and taught me so much and it was wonderful to go to college with my sister and brother. There have so many instances like this in my life, even before I was saved in fact, God's hand is always on His eternal children, guiding them to walk His paths. We will always discover in the end, that His way was more perfect, more beautiful than we could have ever imagined ("As for God, His way is perfect:" Psalm 18:30).

Of course, He often allows us to trip and fall down in our sins, so we can look up and realize how much we do need His help, His guidance, His direction, HIM. John Calvin writes, "Even the greatest saints, though realizing that they can only be strong in the grace of God, and not in themselves, are nevertheless more sure than they ought to be of their own bravery and persistence, unless He leads them by the trials of life into a deeper knowledge of themselves." So much is connected to a proper view and understanding of God, others, and ourselves, which we will never perfectly grasp in this life. This is why the difficulties and disappointments of life are necessary for our sanctification. They enable us to see our Lord Jesus Christ more clearly. And He will make everything beautiful in His time! There is sooo much more that can be said about God's sovereignty, especially in salvation!!! Perhaps for another blog post one day, but for now... chai tea time!

Jesus answered him,
"What I am doing you do not understand now,
but afterward you will understand."

~John 13:7~

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kick-off Party of 1

Okay, so I told some of my friends I would finally post this week. Is the first post the hardest? I hope so cause I don't really know what to write for this one. I have a few topics I would like to write about later on but the first post has to be special, right? It is the kick-off after all.

So, I am excited about writing this blog, I will probably write on here more often when I am in Germany and bored with nothing to do cause everyone is at work or asleep in the US (I think Germany is somewhere around nine to ten hours ahead). My passport came yesterday so now I just have to get a physical, fax it in along with my passport number, and then the resort will run my background check and then notify me by email whether I am hired or not (officially). So I will be leaving in May, which seems like a long ways off but I know it will be here in a flash. Which makes me sad to think of everyone I will be leaving, especially my family. Thirteen months is a very, very long time. I wish it was only for eight or nine months. In some ways, I am dreading May. I hate farewells. I think going to college 3,000 miles away has prepared me for this experience. But I'm thinking it will certainly be a far cry from my PCC experience. You know, I think I might blog about PCC sometime cause it was quite, quite the experience(mental note saved for future blogging). Not to say I'm not excited about going because I really am. I know the Lord will use this to make me more dependent upon Him.

Okay then, I think this post suffices for my little kick-off party posting, now to toast my little blog with.......some mint hot chocolate. Yum!