Friday, December 28, 2012

Arrival

23.5˚C, the voice over the intercom said. Nice, cool December weather—not bad, except for the fact that it was only 6 o'clock in the morning. Upon disembarking the plane, a strange but familiar smell greeted me. Yep, this is the Philippines, alright. We walked quickly with the eager hordes of people to immigration. Surprisingly, the entire process (immigration, baggage claim, and customs) didn't take near as long as we anticipated. Soon we were on our way out, wheeling our carts through the masses, to meet my grandpa and his driver outside.

Some guys helped us load our suitcases into the van and hung around for a tip. I think they were disappointed though—we didn't give them much (they didn't do much) but they probably expected more from foreigners.

As we drove through the streets of Manila, I watched the scenery flow by. Jeepnies. Shacks. Lots of billboards everywhere. Crazy driving. Dirty buildings. Outside the city, it was much prettier, with many palm trees and much greenery. Sort of like Hawaii. After way too many toll booths, we finally made it to Lipa City, where my grandparents live. Even crazier driving. Lots of people. By the way, pedestrians do not have the right of way here. Run-down businesses and huge grand malls, rich and poor living on the same street—the Philippines is full of polar opposites.

Since I was here just over 5 years ago, it's not exactly culture shock, but I guess I forgot exactly how different things are here. There are things here that you wouldn't even imagine seeing in North America. We are so blessed to be some of the most wealthy and healthy people in the world, and we don't even realize it.

We arrived yesterday, on Thursday morning. I will post more later. I think that we are having a family reunion tomorrow afternoon, so I'll have more to write about.

Happy Sabbath everyone!

(This was shot quickly with my iPod while driving through town today)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Headed to the Philippines

I just wanted to let my readers know that I will be off the continent in the Philippines for the next months. No, I don't know exactly how long yet. If you know me and would like more details, and if I haven't already emailed you, please don't hesitate to contact me! I'll try to keep up my blog while I'm there; I don't know yet if the internet will be easily accessible or reliable.

Any prayers for whatever ministry I will be involved in while there would be much appreciated. I pray that God will help me put into practice what I learned at ARISE, and that He would shine through me, with nothing obstructing anyone's view of Jesus. It's not me that I want people to see and recognize; it's Jesus.

I pray that this will become reality as I seek to minister and bless others in the Philippines:

"Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." ~ Isaiah 60:1-3


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Broken


Dear Father in Heaven,

Last Wednesday was a day full of experiences. You taught me so much, Lord, and in spite of the necessary pain, I believe it was my best day at ARISE. I went to bed with my heart full and grateful.

It was early morning, and I was preparing for the preaching practicum. It was hard; the message just didn't feel right. Kneeling there, in the darkness of the classroom, I pleaded that You would take it and do whatever You needed to. Then it underwent major surgery. This is what I had been waiting for! The message seemed clearer, concise, and better than anything I had prepared before. Yet there was still one thing… 

During my preparation, I prayed specifically that You would make me humble and do the speaking through me. You reminded me that living the message was most important, so I prayed that You would put it in my heart and enable me to live the message as I shared it. I left the room confident that it would be according to Your will.

Breakfast came and went. The moment slowly approached. 1, 2, 3… 7 sermons preached and critiqued. Then, it was my turn. Sending up a prayer, I walked up to the front, and when the 10 minute timer started, I launched in.

That was probably the worst sermon I have ever preached. 

The content was good, but that was about it. David said that he had expected a 10 from me and got a 7; he was disappointed. Some parts were not clear enough. Most importantly, I needed to spice it up and throw my weight into it—because he didn't believe me. He only believed I was sincere after knowing me for 4 months, but anyone else couldn't have believed me. He knew there was some enthusiasm lurking in me somewhere; he had seen it before. 

Content: solid. Delivery: passable. 

What David didn't know was that I had been intending to make it more relevant to our class. I had been intending to write on the board the very points he said he missed. But it all went down the drain.

After more critical remarks from David, Jeffrey added his two cents (which wasn't very much at all). I felt like the man in the Operation game—and it hurt! But I saw my weakness in speaking and took the pointers bravely. I knew it would help me in the future. 

As I sat down, however, I found it hard to pay attention to the rest of the sermons. I began to question why it hadn't gone well. Why couldn't David believe me? In silent prayer, I realized that I hadn't been passionate about the message. Of course the audience couldn't believe me.

But why wasn't I passionate about the message? The very message itself, which was "Lift up Christ, lift up Christ. He must increase, and I must decrease"—this message was not active in my heart. I was a complete hypocrite. I had fooled myself into thinking I was trusting God, when I had been trusting myself. Then I remembered my prayer that morning: "Lord, please make me humble." Ironically, You knew this was the only way to answer it. You showed me what was inside myself. You made me fall upon the Rock and be broken.

I realized that I had been holding You back by my pride. You couldn't use me to the fullest extent because I would have trusted myself, instead of You. I had fooled myself for so long, thinking I was trusting You when I really wasn't.

It reminds me of what I read in Jeremiah 17. There is the man "who trusts in man, and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD" (vs. 5). Then there is the man "who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD" (vs. 7). The first is cursed, the second blessed. But then it reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…" (vs. 9). I had deceived myself into thinking I trusted in You, when I actually trusted in myself. God alone searches the heart and tests the mind, and He knows better than we the extent of our self-trust.

Before, my spiritual walk had been locked; it wasn't going anywhere very quickly. But when You let me fall on the Rock, it unlocked the barrier of my pride, and my relationship with You was freed. You brought me to my knees at the cross, and I beheld the Lamb of God anew. This broke me further still. Though I deserved nothing, You declared me worth everything, including Your own life; and still I had been blind and selfish enough to put myself in front of the cross. How could I do such a thing? Yet in the cross, You promised me freedom—freedom from this thing called self and this enemy called pride, which I hated and feared. But You told me to fear no more. Christ won the victory. I have no need to fear the enemy within.


You tried to teach me this before, but You had to wait until this opportunity to stop me in my selfish tracks and humble me before the cross. It was the wrong message, and it lacked the right heart; therefore, it cost me the chance to share a last, meaningful message with my class. But You knew that was what it would take to break me. Though it hurt, I thank You. I can honestly look back and say the cost was worth it. And that's exactly what You said on the cross as You thought of me—selfish, prideful me. You said I was worth it! What wondrous love is this!

Later that day, as I savoured our last classes and visited our contacts for the last time, I rejoiced that You were able to speak to my heart and through my mouth in deeper ways than before. 

I just needed to be broken first.

I'm sorry it took so long. Let me never forget. 

Thank You, Father.
In Jesus' precious name,
Amen.






Sunday, December 16, 2012

Time That is Left

Laptop on the floor, plugged into the wall under my window. Behind me, empty room except for a few messy suitcases. Beside me, a bunk bed—one mattress bare.

Messy dorm.
Quiet halls.
Vacant rooms.

Empty,

yet full

hearts.

3.75 months is quicker than you think. It amazes me how a group of 45, plus staff, can become so close in so little time. This will be my second class family now.


May we never forget the times...


when we partied at Jeffery's and David's till the night was long gone.

when we laughed at Cody in class because of a new epiphany he discovered.

when we struggled to understand the mysteries of theodicy and other serious subjects—and through God's grace, we prevailed.

when we laid prayer requests before the Lord in James' class.

when we met with our friends in the community, amazed at how God could use broken vessels like us.

when we sat, spellbound, drinking in Ty's words as he expounded on the deepest facets of God's infinite love.

when we cried
by ourselves in the secret place,
during communion,
at the commissioning ceremony,
in our midnight prayer meeting—our last night together.


Though we are not together in body any more, may we never be apart—
in mind,
in heart,
in purpose.

As Jimmy says, let this be the last ARISE class to graduate. We want to go home.

We need to go home.

What will you do with the time that’s left 
Will you live it all with no regret? 
Will they say that you loved till your final breath? 
What will you do with the time that’s left?

Oh, Hallelujah! 
Oh, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! 
Amen
- Mark Schultz


What will you do with the time that's left? 

"Enter into the joy of the Lord."
"Count the cost."
"Take courage."

Matthew 28:18-20.

ARISE and shine.


Friday, November 16, 2012

More than Conquerors

I just wanted to share with you today's Revival and Reformation devotional, because it really blessed me today.
_________________________________________________________________________________

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33, NKJV.

Christ came to our world as the surety for humanity, preparing the way for all to gain the victory by giving them moral power. It is not His will that any shall be placed at a disadvantage. He would not have those who are striving to overcome intimidated and discouraged by the crafty assaults of the serpent. "Be of good cheer," He says, "I have overcome the world."

With such a General to lead us on to victory, we may indeed have joy and courage. He came as our champion. He takes cognizance of the battle that all who are at enmity with Satan must fight. He lays before His followers a plan of the battle, pointing out its peculiarities and severity, and warning them not to join His army without first counting the cost. He tells them that the vast confederacy of evil is arrayed against them, and shows them that they are fighting for an invisible world, and that His army is not composed merely of human agencies. His soldiers are coworkers with heavenly intelligences, and One higher than angels is in the ranks; for the Holy Spirit, Christ's representative, is there.

Then Christ summons every decided follower, every true soldier, to fight for Him, assuring them that there is deliverance for all who will obey His orders. If Christ's soldiers look faithfully to their Captain for their orders, success will attend their warfare against the enemy. No matter how they may be beset, in the end they will be triumphant.

Their infirmities may be many, their sins great, their ignorance seemingly insurmountable; but if they realize their weakness, and look to Christ for aid, He will be their efficiency. He is ever ready to enlighten their dullness and overcome their sinfulness. If they avail themselves of His power, their characters will be transformed; they will be surrounded with an atmosphere of light and holiness. Through His merits and imparted power they will be "more than conquerors." Supernatural help will be given them, enabling them in their weakness to do the deeds of omnipotence.

Those who fight for Christ are fighting in the sight of the heavenly universe, and they should be soldiers, not cowards.... By faith they are to look calmly upon every foe, exclaiming: "We fight the good fight of faith, under the command of an omnipotent Power. Because He lives, we shall live also."--The Signs of the Times, May 27, 1897.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving Appeals in Class

This is for Amaris' sake :) (I did post that poem, too, Amie)

The following is a pretty straight transcription of the appeal I gave in Gaining Decisions class today. Our assignment was to give a 3 minute appeal to the class, stating our topic (on which we would have preached a sermon in all of our imaginations), and then using an appeal text, story, and making an appeal or call.

I really want to praise God for this, because last night I wrestled with the assignment all evening and seemed to come up with nothing (or too many things). So I went to bed with nothing written down and a thousand thoughts flying through my head. In the morning, during my devotions, I prayed about it, and still couldn't stop thinking about what I should do. I was praying about two specific stories to use, and two different angles to approach the topic of salvation from (it had also taken forever to know which topic to do). I tried telling the two stories that morning, and there was no way that I could tell one of them, the personal one, in 1.5 minutes. I felt that it was the kind of story that needed time to sink in by describing the nuances of what was going on. The other story was simple and straight to the point.

Finally, at lunch, I sat down, prayed, and asked God to lead me. I only had about an hour (we have a nice 2-hour lunch break, so we don't fall asleep in class -- yes, they did even told us that), and I just gave it to Him. This is what came together. Because I have never really given an appeal before, and had just learned how to do it in class the past two days, I wrote out the appeal/call section at the end. (For those of you who know me, I have taken to not really writing out much of what I share up front any more. Just notes in point form, and if there are a few exact phrases that need to be said, I'll write those too.)

Class time came, and we all went upstairs to the area where we always have worship. This is because there is a piano there, and one of our fellow classmates who is awesome at the piano was volunteered to give background music for the appeals. We learned in class that you should always have music (only if you have a good pianist) for appeals, because it helps reach into the heart. It helped us all too, to be in that "appeal mode." It would have been hard otherwise, having not heard the entire sermon beforehand.

As time went on, I began to wonder if I really should have used the other story, because it was more personal. It bothered me more and more, and I prayed about it as I listened to the others give their appeals (we drew names out of a hat). My turn came, and I got up, still praying and wondering, and as I set up my computer I told the class "Sorry, I'm having second thoughts about the one I chose. I was going to do a different one."

While they laughed, I continued to pray. I had come to realize by now that every time I share up front, somehow, God brings me to the place where I feel unprepared -- and I have to trust completely and unequivocally in Him. In times past, He has changed the message less than an hour before, or a day before. Once, He added part (not all) of the punchline during Sabbath School before I shared for the church service. Often, I never have an ending written out -- I have to trust that the message is in my heart and that God will speak His word through me. The last time, I felt totally unprepared and only had a skeleton of notes. Each time, God has taught me to trust more and more in Him and less and less in myself when I speak up front. And for those of you who have heard my testimony or read my identity paper, you'll know this lesson is essential.

So I kept praying, "Lord, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to do the other story, even though I have nothing written out for it at all?" I knew that it could be a possibility. I gave it completely to God.

But He finally said, "Just go for it. Use what you have, and trust Me."

(All of that took about 3 seconds, by the way. Don't you just love our hotline to heaven?)

And so I did. Afterwards, when I thought about it, I could see that God had once again brought me to the place of trusting Him and not myself -- not by feeling unprepared, but by completely giving what I had prepared to Him. I knew that He had helped me prepare it, but I also knew that He could completely change the message on the spot, too. So I let Him choose.

I'm finally starting to understand more fully what God meant in Jeremiah 1:17: "Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you" (NKJV, emphasis supplied). I knew it somehow described a balance between preparation under God's guidance and speaking God's words, including preparation of the heart, but now it means so much more to me. Now I really have experienced this verse. Praise God! I'm so thankful.

So, here it is. I transcribed it from my recording of our class today. Generally, a new line indicates when there was a considerable space in my flow of speech. The appeal, though it was written out, was not always word for word with my notes. Jay Rosario, our teacher, gave tips once in a while between appeals, which slightly changed my delivery. I pray you'll be blessed, and all the glory goes to God.

____________________________________________

My topic is Salvation [remember to imagine that the sermon has already been preached]

[piano starts playing]
Our last verse tonight will be Romans 6:23:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I had a friend, who lives in Iceland, and I heard a story once. He was a little boy, and his friend invited him over for a birthday party. And he was really excited. So, he went to the store, and he bought him the perfect gift: it was a toy car. And he was very excited, and he wrapped up the gift, and he put it on the table in his house, and it was just, it was just sitting there, waiting for the day. Then the day came for the party, so he took the gift and he walked to his friend’s house, and he was excited because he saw other people also going to this party, and he was excited to spend time with his friend, celebrating his birthday.

And he got to the door

and he knocked.

And, the mother opened the door, and she said, “Oh, you brought a gift for my son. I’ll take that. Thank you, but we never invited you to the party.” And with that, she slammed the door in his face.

And he stood there, speechless.

He was sad

and disappointed,

and his hope of spending time with his friend was dashed, and he turned around and walked away.


Jesus is standing at your door, holding the gift of eternal life and forgiveness for your sin.

For those of us here who have already accepted this gift of salvation, I have a question to ask you.

How many of us have taken the gift, but slammed the door in Jesus’ face?

Too often we want to be saved so we can have eternal life, but Jesus in my heart? In my life? Sure, Jesus, I’ll accept your gift so I can live and go to heaven, but you’re not coming in—I never invited you.

And we slam the door in His face.

But He is our Friend. He wants to come in and spend time with us. He doesn’t just want to give us the gift. He wants to celebrate the joys of life; He wants to be with us in trial, for He went through the greatest trial so we could have that privilege.

Friends, will you slam the door in Jesus’ face today? Or will you let Him come in—bringing not only the gift, but Himself? What would keep you from fully inviting Him into your life?

Maybe you’re afraid of what changes might happen.

Maybe,

maybe this love is just,

it’s, it’s too hard to grapple with, but it’s simple:

How could you shut out the one who gave up His own life for you? Will you slam the door in His face?

Even if you have never accepted this gift before, or, or if you have,

and you want to respond to God’s infinite sacrifice of love for you again today,

and accept not only the gift, but also the Giver,

into your heart, and into your life today,

would you please stand with me.

Let’s pray.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Light


In the beginning
I said to myself,
"I am not lowly,
Or selfish; I'm set."

The days floated by
I still felt alive
My selfishness hidden
My sin, and my pride

Then came the time
I no longer was "right"
And everything faulty
Appeared in its light

The light came from heaven
Pierced into my soul
I loved it, yet hated
This paradox woe

It made me uneasy,
Confused, and unsure
I wanted to fix it
I could not endure

My heart was so heavy
My mind was a mess
Why can't I just live
The way I know best?

Why doesn't it work
When I give my all
To live and to love?
I try, but I fall

I climb my way up
This mountain of fear
I look down, almost lose
My grip, and a tear

Drops in the abyss
Of my sorrow and strife
I start to feel dizzy
I'm afraid of the height

Then a hand on my shoulder
Warm and secure
Calms my nerves and my shaking
With His voice He assures

"Climb with Me
Look down no more
Look up, see this path?
I've been here before

"It may look too steep
And the goal, too far
Take My strength, My friend
And give Me your heart

"So together we'll climb
Till the end is in sight
And darkness will flee
For I am your Light.

"I love you."

September 12, 2012



Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Best Class...for the Umpteenth Time!

Yes. For the umpteenth time. If you were to ask me what my favourite class has been so far at ARISE, I'm afraid I'd have to give you a list. It would look something like this (in chronological order):

Who is God?
Abiding in Christ
Does God Exist? (Apologetics/Faith and Reason)
Sabbath
Dos and Don'ts of Evangelism
Marriage, Family, and Relationships
Music
Origin of Evil
Theodicy
Understanding Homosexuality
Building Community
Sanctuary
Nature of Inspiration

And for today's best class ever: Nature of Christ.

No, the list above is not a list of all the classes we have had (but it does contain the majority). I've especially enjoyed these, and it would be really hard to pick my favourite from the list. So I thought I would let you have it all, as it also gives a bird's-eye view of the kinds of classes we are taking.

But back to today's best class! Awesome insights poured into my mind and created a fountain into my heart, as the beautiful truth of Christ as our High Priest who can ultimately "sympathize with our weaknesses," and was in "all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15), became clear for the first time (along with Romans 8:3 which says God sent His Son "in the likeness of sinful flesh"). After being informed on the controversy over the subject and the two extreme views, we learned that truth is found in the tension between two extremes—like having a string on an instrument perfectly tuned by finding just the right tension (not too tight, not too loose).

It took us about 4 hours to explore just one aspect of the subject, so this won't do it justice, but I'll try to summarize in a few paragraphs.

THE ISSUE: Did Jesus have our pre-Fall human nature or our post-Fall human nature? That is, was He like Adam before the fall—able to form a righteous character by obedience to God's law? Or was He like Adam after the fall—with all the same sinful propensities and inclinations as we have? The two extremes take sides on opposite sides of a huge chasm, using SOP and Scripture to defend and disprove. But the conclusion we came to was simple, Bible-based, SOP-confirmed, true gospel, and life-changing.

First, we studied Jesus in the wilderness and discovered that He was tempted in the three leading temptations found in 1 John 2:15-17: lust of the flesh, pride of life, and lust of the eyes. (All other forms of temptation come from these three leading temptations.) Not only that, but He was tempted to the most ultimate extreme at His weakest and loneliest moment, facing temptations a hundred times greater than anything we will ever have to face.

This surely was eye-opening, but before we could move on we had to overcome the hurdle in our minds that Jesus was not exactly the same as we are. He was God. He actually hated and recoiled from sin and sinful things. We love and run to sin and sinful things. However, when tempted, His human will longed to do something good (like turning stones into bread) both to satisfy His hunger (lust of the flesh), and to answer the devil's "if you are the Son of God" challenge. If He did this, He would have relied on His own divine power, and this was not His Father's will; thus, it would have been sin, because anything that is not God's will is sin.

In summary, I wrote in class:
Christ's human will was His human nature, which is the same as our human will. Our human will is inclined to rely on our human self; Jesus' human will was inclined to rely on His divine self. Thus He meets us at the ROOT of our fallen human nature: SELF.
Then, He took that fallen human will/nature to the cross and left it crushed through the second death—rising only with His glorified human body and divine nature. And in Christ, we can have the same experience. "Christ took our fallen human nature so that He could overcome in our nature in our behalf, and give us perfect obedience as a gift" (James Rafferty, our instructor today). Nothing we do can add to what Christ did in our behalf. This is the true message of righteousness by faith, clearly seen in the truth about the human nature of Christ! And now I understand both truths more clearly. Today's class was truly life-changing, paradigm-shifting, and heart-filling.

This was the best class ever. 

**If you want a more detailed version, or some texts and quotes, just ask, and I'll try to get them to you. For more "Best Class" synopses, stay tuned! Eventually, I will get to that list...or I hope to, at least :)


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Random Conglomerate Post

It's been a long time since I last updated with a real post, and I thought I better let you all know what's going on here at ARISE. We just got back from outreach and I am very tired. But I also just ate supper, so I can't really go to bed right away. So, here goes. Sorry if it is slightly scatterbrained.

Allie and I arrived at Eugene Airport on September 2. I can't believe that was nearly a month ago. We got picked up at the airport by one of the ARISE interns (student from last year who stayed for the rest of the year), named Nick. After a rather long stop at Safeway, we pulled onto the campus which would be our home for the next three and a half months. To be honest, it felt very weird. Weird to be a student again. Weird to be on a campus again. Weird to live in a dorm again. Weird to have deans again (and not be one!). But it was good and exciting. We put our food away and lugged our things to our room, and settled in. I finished up my summer job of music orchestrating as well.

The next day was Orientation day. After breakfast and worship, all 45 of us students gathered in the classroom with the interns and staff. We introduced ourselves and were introduced to each of the instructors (David, Ty, James, Jeffery, Jay, etc.) and other staff as well. Lunch came after orientation (it was awesome!) and then, our first class! It was a great class to start the program with: Devotions, taught by James Rafferty.

Oh, I forgot one thing. To those who would be interested in knowing this, ARISE completely revamped their curriculum this year. We are their 10th class, and also the second class after ARISE and Lightbearers Ministry merged, and every year they try to make it even better. But they've been calling this year's program the best yet. The classes follow "The Story," or in other words, "Pre-Creation, Creation, Fall, Covenant, Messiah, Church, Re-Creation." Now, rather than having a class on Daniel then on Church History, on the Sabbath then on Apologetics, each class falls consecutively in the storyline of "The Story." The more practical classes (such as Door-to-Door, Overcoming, Dos and Don'ts of Evangelism, Abiding in Christ—to name a few we've had already) fall under a category called "The Telling," which is the counterpart to "The Story." It has been really good so far, and "The Story" is helping formulate the big picture in my mind as the classes progress (which is the whole point). I am really glad that I came to ARISE for this program, and I believe that God worked it out for me to be here this year.


-------------------------------------------------

That was part 1. I started writing this post almost a week ago. Goes to show how busy it is around here...

This is part 2.

So what does a normal day look like at ARISE? Here's a bird's-eye view:

Mon-Wed:
7:45 Breakfast (I'm always late unless I'm on meal prep—then I'm early)
8:45-9:15 Worship
9:30 Class (with breaks)
1:30 Lunch (Recently, I've been playing soccer with a few other students and David Asscherick's kids after lunch)
3:30-5:30 Class (with breaks)

Thursday looks the same, except that we go on outreach (usually door-to-door, sometimes doing something on the University of Oregon campus) instead of having classes in the afternoon. On Sunday, we leave at 2:00 and we always come back by 8:00 to share testimonies.

Whew. Enough of the general mumbo-jumbo. Oh, I forgot one thing. On Sabbath, we all go to church in Springfield (neighbouring city), and usually if we stay for pot-luck we bring food. Every year ARISE picks a different church to work with. Sometimes a hike up a nearby mountain is offered in the afternoon.

Now for the exciting stuff! This past Monday one of the interns taught an optional self-defence class. It was a lot of fun; I loved how practical and helpful it was, especially for girls who might find themselves in a city environment in the future (it was good for the guys too). We learned what to do when someone starts choking you from behind, if someone grabs your wrist to pull you somewhere, and other general things too.

Last Saturday night Jeffery Rosario invited us all to his house (he is the only instructor who lives on campus) for a board game/bon-fire party. It was so much fun! We had smores for the second time (the first was at a previous party). Jeffery had told a few of us earlier about a Bible quiz game, and he said that it was extremely difficult and anyone would "get thrashed" on it (especially people like him, who didn't grow up as an Adventist but rather came into the church later). Him and I got in the lead and went head to head, but he won by just one question. And he was right! The questions were really hard.

Well, I'll save the rest for another post. I can tell my writing is degenerating in the effort to get so much information down. Toodle-doo.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ARISE Day 2

Ok all, quick post. I'm at ARISE, on Day 2 of class. Sitting in the classroom waiting for my third class.

3 words: This is amazing.
4 words: Can't believe I'm here.
5 words: God wants me right here.
6 words: Lord, help me soak it in.

I'll update more later...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Change

Well, it' been a while since I actually wrote a post. Time has been flying by like a hurricane, and I can't seem to grab hold of enough of it. Just two days ago, I said goodbye to my beloved Fountainview. It always seemed like it was far ahead in the future, but then all of a sudden...I was gone. And I've been too busy to think much about it. After three years at Fountainview, I'm charging full speed ahead for ARISE. It feels like I'm on one of those moving walkways at the airport...and I'm running as if I'm about to miss my flight. It is exciting...but it's with mixed emotions that I contemplate this speedy change.

Change is what makes up life. It's unfortunate, because I dislike change, though I usually can adjust quite easily once it happens. There's just that one moment of gazing out at a familiar landscape...before you leap off the cliff and fly to destinations undiscovered, and the clouds blur the scene behind you.


But I've learned that discovery is not as unpleasant as I once thought. It is the gathering up of more experiences to store away in Memory's Hall. And no one can ever take those away. The memories are always there, even if you are no longer in the place where you gained them, or with the people you made them with.

Every bit of nostalgia and longing for these etchings upon the heart is but an echo of our inherent desire for Home.

Heaven will be cheap enough.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

God Needs All His Puzzle Pieces

A couple of weeks ago I realized that my time here at Fountainview is nearly up (I leave in 4 days!). All of a sudden, I thought of all my experiences here at Fountainview, and how much God has worked in my life. I felt that maybe I should share my testimony one last time before I leave. Here is the result. If you would like, feel free to download it using the "Download" button.

Praise the Lord for the message! I know I was blessed in sharing it as well.







Sunday, July 29, 2012

Better than I

I thought I did what's right
I thought I had the answers
I thought I chose the surest road
But that road brought me here

So I put up a fight
And told You how to help me
Now just when I have given up
The truth is coming clear

You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
For You know better than I

If this has been a test
I cannot see the reason
But maybe knowing I don't know
Is part of getting through

I try to do what's best
And faith has made it easy
To see the best thing I can do
Is put my trust in You

For You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
For You know better than I

I saw one cloud and thought it was the sky
I saw a bird and thought that I could follow
But it was You who taught that bird to fly
If I let You reach me
Will You teach me

For You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
I'll take what answers You supply

You know better than I

~John Bucchino




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Life Update

So. You are all in for a rushed blog post. I've been busy (as you can tell because I haven't posted in almost a month). A lot has happened since I last posted:

Fountainview Graduation
Grad Clean-up
Canada Day (my first one as a CANADIAN, eh?!)
Canada Day Pops Orchestra Concert at Kelowna (which I played in)
"Camping" trip with my parents

Let me pause there. We were supposed to go camping in three different places on three different nights, and then head back to the place in the Rockies where we were going for a wedding. But a torrential downpour revolutionized our plans. After sleeping in the car the first night (the rental SUV was longer, which helped; we stuck all the gear in the two front seats and folded the back seats down, and wala! you have a bed on which three different sleeping pads get to squish beside/on top of each other, and then you get to sleep on those), we decided that any activity would be miserable in the rain. (Side note: we did eat freeze-dried food [add hot water]...including ice cream. It all actually tasted really good.) Next stop: Calgary! Real destination: the outlets! It was actually very profitable; I got all the shopping done that I would have had to do in the two weeks before I head down to ARISE. The next day we went to the Columbia Icefields, and rode and walked on the Athabasca Glacier and drank fresh, cold, crystal clear glacier water. Tastes like nothing! AMAZING!

 Freeze-dried food



 Lake Morraine


 Big Vehicle: the brakes work backwards. You brake to go. True story.

The the Columbia Icefields (where they really start) far away. 

Like the moon...with a flag...except for the mountains and blue sky. 


 Glacier water!!


 My dad took this one (these pictures are all taken with a Sony SLT camera).






Since then, I've been busy cleaning, deaning, orchestrating, playing violin.

And that is the basic story of my life...for the past 3 1/2 weeks :)


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Homesick for Heaven

by Henry de Fluiter

So dear to my heart is the promise of God,
A home with the pure and blest;
Where earth weary pilgrims, strangers here below,
Will find their eternal rest.

I'm homesick for heaven, seems I cannot wait,
Yearning to enter Zion's pearly gate;
There, never a heartache, never a care,
I long for my home over there.

'Tis Eden, fair Eden, I long to behold,
Where naught can despoil that's fair;
Where saints of all ages, hold communion sweet,
The glories of heaven share.

I'm homesick for heaven, seems I cannot wait,
Yearning to enter Zion's pearly gate;
There, never a heartache, never a care,
I long for my home over there.

But chiefest of all is the thought that enthralls,
That I shall behold my King;
Rejoice in His presence, revel in His grace,
And ever His praises sing.

I'm homesick for heaven, seems I cannot wait,
Yearning to enter Zion's pearly gate;
There, never a heartache, never a care,
I long for my home over there.



Thursday, June 21, 2012

They Come and Go


Seasons
June 21, 2012

bird song
bright flower
green grows all around
soft grass
warm dirt
showers fall on the ground

blue sky
hot sun
wind kicks up the dust
cherries red
lemonade
ice cubes are a must

clouds come
leaves fall
mornings fresh and cold
apples ripe
wet rain
snow is yet foretold

frost forms
blizzard blows
children go and play
snow men
cozy fire
early end of day

they come and go
round and round
for some intended reason
passing by
it never stops:
the turning of the seasons



About One Year Ago...

The Edge
June 19, 2011 

Close to the edge
But not close enough to see
Hard to imagine
What will there be?

I step a little closer
Hesitant to even peek
A knowledge of the other side
Not sure I want to seek

I peer from a safe distance
Into the great unknown
Too blurry, it hurts the eyes
And I turn. I'm not alone.

Twenty-five pairs of eyes
All return my gaze
Look out there; look at each other
As if we're in a daze

We step a little closer
Catch a glimpse of what lies ahead
Expecting to see 26 together
Realizing we'll be apart, instead

A dull ache begins to grow
Excitement, sadness, fear
I quickly shut my eyes
Must not shed the first tear

We think of all the memories --
Of how the Lord, our Guide
Brought us here, once just a class
Now a Family, close and tried

Hand in hand, we look again
Out to the world beyond
A spark has lit within our hearts
In Christ we'll keep this bond

We must not let the spider web
Of not too long ago
Ever break, though time and space
May come between. Do not let go.

And we'll go forth, beyond the edge
To greater heights unknown
We'll trust each other to the Lord
And pray, for it's been shown
That a people, a class who puts Him first
Shall reap a great reward
Though we are sad to leave each other
It's a price we can afford

For God is eagerly waiting
Preparing our home in Heaven
To welcome our Family into His
The Class of 2011


Monday, June 18, 2012

Thoughts After a Year...

I currently have three other posts in draft form...they are coming, I assure you!

Life is crazy busy around here as the year is rolling down. Grad is only in 6 days! Already a whole year since I graduated...

And it makes me think.

What has happened since I graduated?
What have I accomplished?
Where am I now?
Who am I now?

It can be sobering to think back on the first year after your graduation. Sometimes it seems as no time at all has gone by. But almost 365 days have passed. 

Was each day worth it? 

Did I live according to the ideals and goals I had when I walked down the aisle?
Did I continue to seek God as my first and highest passion?
Did I take advantage of every circumstance He provided to bless or to grow,
or were my days characterized 
by missed opportunities?
by victories or defeat? 
by lessons learned?

Did I make a difference? 

Am I different?

All these questions...all these thoughts after a year. The answers are between me and God. 
But I can see that though I have had 
many missed opportunities, 
many apparent defeats,
and many lessons slowly and agonizingly learned—
though I have not always been faithful—

God is faithful. 

He steadfastly led me step by step, 
pausing too often to wait as I became distracted with worries and temptations, 
gently picking me up and dusting me off when I fell, 
and lifting my head once again to focus on the narrow way, 
pointing to the light at the end. 

It fills me with utter gratitude that He is merciful.
And though I am not worthy, He is still using me to bless others.

And He has brought me here. He has made me who I am.

I am confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in [me] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6


What about you?



Friday, June 1, 2012

Watch His Purpose, Watch His Ways...

WHEN GOD WANTS A MAN
(Anonymous)

When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man...
When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world shall praise...
Watch His methods;
Watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects...
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into frail shapes of clay that only God understands. How his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands...
How he bends but never breaks when His good he undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses...with every purpose fuses him;
By every art induces him to try His splendour out...
God knows what He's about!

When God wants to take a man and shake a man and wake a man...
When God wants to make a man to do the future’s will;
He tries with all His skill...
When He yearns with all His soul to create him large and whole...
With what cunning He prepares him...
How He goads and never spares him! How He whets him and He frets him and in poverty begets him...
How often He disappoints whom He sacredly anoints!
With what wisdom He will hide him;
Never minding what betide him...
Though his genius sob with slighting and his pride may not forget;
Bids him struggle harder yet!
Makes him lonely so that only God's high messages shall reach him...
So that He may surely teach him what the hierarchy planned;
And though he may not understand...
Gives him passions to command.
How remorselessly He spurs him...
With terrific ardour stirs him
When He poignantly prefers him.

When God wants to name a man and fame a man and tame a man...
When God wants to shame a man to do His Heavenly best;
When He tries the highest test that His reckoning may bring...
When He wants a [god] or king;
How He reins him and restrains him so his body scarce contains him...
While He fires him and inspires him…
Keeps him yearning, ever burning for that tantalizing goal.
Lures and lacerates his soul...
Sets a challenge for his spirit;
Draws it highest then he's near it!
Makes a jungle that he clear it;
Makes a desert that he fear it...and subdue it, if he can -
So doth God make a man!

Then
To test his spirit's wrath
Throw a mountain in his path;
Puts a bitter choice before him and relentlessly stands o'er him...
Climb or perish, so He says...
But, watch His purpose, watch His ways.
God's plan is wondrous kind - could we understand His mind?
Fools are they who call His blind!

When his feet are torn and bleeding;
Yet his spirit mounts unheeding...
Blazing newer paths and finds;
When the Force that is Divine leaps to challenge every failure,
And His ardour still is sweet -
And love and hope are burning in the presence of defeat!

Lo the crisis, Lo the shouts that would call the leader out...
When the people need salvation doth he rise to lead the nation;
Then doth God show His plan...
And the world has found a man!


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