Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Path

Note to the reader: I began writing this about 3 months ago, about the time that I wrote the post, "Ramblings of a Nomad."

I'm stumbling around in the dark, trying to feel my way. But wait, I know it's not dark in here. Then why can't I see anything?

Wait, who's that? Jesus? Oh, it's so nice You're here.

What am I doing? Well, I have things to do, places to go. That's where I'm headed right now. If You'd like, You can come with me. You'd love to? Great, just follow me! We just need to go out the door, and over the hill, around the corner and over the bridge and...

What did you say? That's not the way? Don't worry, I can figure this out myself. Just out this door. See? We're already halfway up the hill. Phew, this is a lot harder than I expected.

What's that? Did You say something? Did You say there's a -- whooooaaaaaa!

Ohhh...ouch. I think I scraped my knees. I didn't see that small cliff ahead. I guess I couldn't.

I'm blindfolded.

I can't even see one step ahead of me. I think I know my way around, but that doesn't change the fact that I can't see a thing. Now I'm worried. What if I fall again? What if there is something blocking the path?

Jesus? You came down the hill with me. I'm sorry for forgetting that I can't see. Will You lead me? Whenever I think I can figure things out, I run into a dead end, or an unexpected pitfall, or an obstacle in the path. You even promised to lead me, and You've faithfully led me before.

Just lead the way, Lord. You want to lead me by the hand? I would love that!

Wait! What are You doing? We're just going around in circles! Now I have no clue which way is left or right or up or down. I feel completely disoriented. How am I supposed to find the path?

Are you leading or am I?

Oh. No, Lord, of course You must lead. You can see, and I can't. You can find the path. Or rather, You already know the way.

But I have one question. For how long must I wear this blindfold? Until the end? But how far, how long till we reach the end? I weary of the journey sometimes.

Jesus? You are strangely silent now. Yet I feel perfectly at peace with my hand in Yours. Where are we going?

Just trust Me.

Just trust You, Lord? Is that all?

“What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this” (John 13:7).

That's good enough for me, Lord. I can't wait until that day. Because I won't only know all the reasons why You lead me in these paths, but I will finally know You face to face -- You who knew me before You formed me in the womb. "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).


"You do not give strength to the road you are travelling by [having] faith. But you increase in strength and in assurance because you have a Guide right by your side, and you can ask Him with perfect faith to guide your steps aright.

"Then trust in the Lord Jesus to lead you step by step into the right path. You can derive assurance and strength at every step you advance, ... You can 'run and not be weary'; you can 'walk and not faint,' for you can realize by faith that you have your hand in the hand of Christ. You will not sink under discouragement, for as you follow on to know the Lord, trusting in Him, you will have the assurance that the One who never forsakes those who fully trust Him is your constant Helper." 

(Ellen White; Letter 313, November 2, 1905, to Mabel White, her 19-year-old granddaughter)




































Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Better Country

"We are Strangers and Pilgrims"

For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. - Heb 11:14-16

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ramblings of a Nomad

My original intent was to write a note letting you all know that I'm not writing a post yet. Indeed, this still is my aim, to point you to the forthcoming post(s). However, as I write, I'm aware that I have an itch to scratch, on my brain somewhere, and I think writing will help. I'm afraid you are all about to fall prey to the ramblings of a nomad.

This nomad is not the kind who lives in tents and herds sheep somewhere in the Middle East (forgive me if anything I write at this hour is politically incorrect). This nomad is a 19-year-old girl, a Filipino born in Australia, living in Canada, though never at home for more than 3 weeks at a time. I seem to spend most of my life packing suitcases and preparing for the next take-off.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining at all. I love to travel. I love seeing new places and meeting new friends. I love fresh experiences, and growing from them, whether good or bad.

(Now, I can easily say most of that in retrospect. A lot of times when I experience something new, I stress and get worried about everything my imagination can conjure up, and bad experiences are never fun while they're happening. Thankfully, God is teaching me through experience that I can trust Him with every single thing.)

I will leave the details of my recent adventures for future posts. For now, on a more serious note...

Sometimes, I get weary of my nomadic life. Sometimes I wish I could just settle down in one place for a decade or so, and skip all the hopping from place to place, living out of two now very familiar suitcases, trying to drag (or decide whether or not to drag) my violin all around the world, and avoid the pressure of keeping up with transportation schedules. Sometimes I wish I could just stay in an English-speaking country and not have to deal with the confusion and frustration of not being able to communicate, or the risk and embarrassment of trying and saying something weird. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to learn how to act and react in a different culture. Sometimes I wish I could just see and pay for everything in Canadian dollars. Sometimes I wish I knew what the next 5 years' plan for my life is, set in stone. Sometimes I wish I could just have a 'normal' life.

Sometimes.

At other times, or most times, I would not trade this life for any other. My life has been full of unexpected turns and hills, of bright moments and dark moments, of times when God threw doors open wide and times when He closed doors in my face, but He has never failed me. He has been constantly present at my side, guiding me, helping me, comforting me, teaching me, loving me. Looking back at my "solo times" with God in the various places where my travels have taken me, I see a special string of unforgettable moments in communion with Him.

They were mountain-top experiences...

...and often quite literally.

I would not trade these for the world. And looking back, every place where God has led me has proved (or surely will prove) to be an invaluable step in my life.

Though tired of hopping, I gain strength from hopping.

I will cling to the lessons I'm learning from the stories of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Joseph. They were nomads too.

Whenever God calls, I will go, even if I don't know where I am going.
I will trust even my very life's blood to the One who never fails to keep His promises.
Though the future is unknown, and past sins and failures are enough to make me weep at the feet of Jesus, I will surely struggle with that Angel and prevail, never relinquishing my desire for the promised blessing.
Even if I found myself thrown into a pit, dragged off as a slave to a foreign land, cast into prison in spite of my innocence...

God is faithful, and I choose to remain faithful

to the end,

knowing that it is His power working in me which actualizes the results of that choice.

If the reason I'm a nomad is because it is fulfilling God's purposes, then I am perfectly content. I can trust Him with my life and with every step.

Because He leadeth me.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Letter from a Faraway Friend

I started writing this in an email, but soon decided I wanted to share it here. It's a letter to my class, but I pray you will find a blessing in it too.

__________________________________________

Dear Class Family,

I just realized that I haven't talked to bunches of you all in a long time. And bunches of us haven't talked to other bunches of us in a long time. This is not good...but we can make it better! 

Just an update from my side...

I've been here in Germany for an internship with Amazing Facts Europe since April. They started the first AFCOE-Europe here then too, and it's been going well and God has blessed. It's been quite the experience working here while these two organizations are in "creation" phase. I've learned so much, about working in a multicultural setting, starting ministries, and living with all sorts of different people. It's really a blessing and privilege to be here. Personally, I've been able to learn some German, and I've had the opportunity to learn new things like social media, photography (anyone want to sponsor my new interest? lol), coordinating church services, and planning trips around a bit of Europe by myself (which would be much more fun if one of YOU could join me! Anyone want to come over in August?). 

Spiritually, I've learned so much and grown a lot. But I think I can sum it up in a few words:

My identity is not in what I do. Even if it is God's purpose and calling for my life, I should not -- no, cannot -- define or identify myself by what I do. My identity is not who I am, but who God is. Who is God? God is love. Thus, my identity is a covenantal, marriage relationship with God -- "Till death do we part"; and my purpose is to be a disciple of Christ, doing what a disciple of Christ does--making disciples. The way to make disciples is to love, because of my identity. Because God is love.

We can never dwell on that thought too much. "God is love" seems so simple, but I think we make life, and much more our spiritual life, too complicated. It's human. I am very much human, I've realized a lot in the past year. But God is very much God, and He is merciful and patient...by His grace working in me, I can live and love and lead more like Jesus every day. Only by His grace!

Life gets busy, distances expand, and time grows old. But once upon a time, in a land far away, between the mountains, across the river, where little people pick up orange orbs from the ground, a group of those little people once lived together. Prayed together. Laughed together. Cried together. That year was a milestone in our lives -- and I also believe it was in our spiritual lives as well. 


So, I want to appeal to you: Remember your identity in Christ. I know we each discovered our identity in a deep way that year, and I believe God has taught us each more since then. But it's easy to forget. I don't know what it will take to remember, but I encourage you, take some solo time, like the time we had in Kauai our last Sabbath there, and ask God to help you remember your identity in Christ. In the past two years, life has thrown trials at me like a whirlwind, and all I could do was cling to God and my God-given identity. I have a feeling it's been similar for you. Remember your God-given identity, and cling to it. Because God is clinging to you.

Perhaps I'm the only one who misses you all so much right now. But I don't really think so. Someday very soon, we will have a real family reunion. Not in Kauai, not in Europe, not at Fountainview, but in the land that is fairer than day -- with Jesus, who has kept us faithfully.

Since that day we marched with purple and black.

To the Class of Twenty Eleven.

With love in Christ,
A Faraway Friend


Sorry, I couldn't resist :)


Friday, June 28, 2013

A Letter from God

People have often called the Bible "God's letter to us." My question is, how often do we actually read it as such? As His personal, handwritten letter of love...

to you?

Below, I want to share a compilation of passages from God's word which spoke to my heart.

Pray. Read it. Live it. 

After all, it's not only my story.

It's yours, too.

*References are at the end.
____________________________________



Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.

Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born.

And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, "Live!" Yes, I said to you in your blood, "Live!"

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son....
I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.

When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine.

Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you.

I remember you,
The kindness of your youth,
The love of your betrothal,
When you went after Me in the wilderness,
In a land not sown.

But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be. You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them. You took your embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and My incense before them. Also My food which I gave you—the pastry of fine flour, oil, and honey which I fed you—you set it before them as sweet incense; and so it was.

And in all your abominations and acts of harlotry you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, struggling in your blood.

The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron;
With the point of a diamond it is engraved
On the tablet of their heart

You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity.
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way,
In the multitude of your mighty men.

Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, So have you dealt treacherously with Me...

Now then, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord! ... Because your filthiness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your harlotry with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children which you gave to them... I will lay to rest My fury toward you, and My jealousy shall depart from you. I will be quiet, and be angry no more. Because you did not remember the days of your youth, but agitated Me with all these things, surely I will also recompense your deeds on your own head.

How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man,
The Holy One in your midst;
And I will not come with terror.

Return, O backsliding children...for I am married to you.

Now, therefore...
Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
And take away the foreskins of your hearts,

Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

Come now, and let us reason together...
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

I have formed you, you are My servant;
...you will not be forgotten by Me!
I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions,
And like a cloud, your sins.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

Can a woman forget her nursing child, 
And not have compassion on the son of her womb? 
Surely they may forget, 
Yet I will not forget you. 
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.

Those [wounds] with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed.... And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done.

For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;

Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

And it shall be, in that day...
That you will call Me "My Husband,"
And no longer call Me "My Master,"

You are all fair, my love,
And there is no spot in you.

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the Lord.

Let not your heart be troubled... In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days... I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them... For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

Behold, I make all things new.

Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!


(Jer 1:5; Eze 16:3-6; Hos 11:1-4; Eze 16:8-14; Jer 2:2; Eze 16:15-19, 22; Jer 17:1; Hos 10:13; Jer 3:20; Eze 16:35-43; Hos 11:8-9Jer 3:14; Joel 2:12; Jer 4:4; Hos 10:12; Isa 1:18; Eze 36:25,26; Isa 44:21,22, 49:15,16; Zech 13:6; Eze 16:60-63; Isa 54:10, 43:1-4; Hos 2:14-16; Song 4:7; Jer 31:3; Hos 2:19-20; John 14:1-3,27, 13:34,35; Mat 28:18-20; Rev 3:11,12; Jer 31:33,34; Rev 21:5; Song 2:10-13)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Inn (Running in the Rain)

It's been a long time since I posted anything. So much has happened, and if I were to tell it all Blogger might malfunction or the post might go on for eternity. Well, not quite. I hope to start blogging more, and to describe life in Germany and the things we've done and the lessons God has been teaching me.

But right now I want to share something in particular. I recently felt the need to write something, anything, one night. There are those times when you just need some time for creative expression. For me, this usually becomes an offering of worship to God. 

I sat on the windowsill with pen and paper in hand, with a headlamp to illumine the night. As I poured out my heart to God, a precious nightly routine, a picture flashed in my mind's eye. Quickly, I tried to capture it in words. The picture is a story, and for me the person in the picture story was myself, and I know God used it to teach me and bless me. In reality, though, I believe it tells the story of every Christian's experience in the rainstorms of life.

Read it carefully and prayerfully. Close your eyes and see the picture. 

I believe you will find yourself in the story.

I really do.


____________________________________

The Inn

I'm running
Over hills of green, with clouds above
A thunder crash spurs me on
As sky touches earth with rain
The masses above, rolling, enfolding
Black like midnight ink
A flash lights my way
Fading in the misty grey

I'm soaking
Clothes plastered to my skin
I look behind and hurry on
I search, look for the place
Where shelter may be found
Beneath the leafy green
To hide, from storm unseen

I'm tired
The distance stretches on
The pounding of my weary feet
Along the path, echoing
The beating of my heart
With short, panting breath
Pausing for a rest

I'm kneeling
Who cares about the mud
Rain and mist swirl around
No song of bird, nor snap of twig
To break the stillness now
I bow my dripping head
And hear a voice, instead

I'm here
Get up, go on My child
Don't stay here in the rain
For just ahead, o'er one more hill
Awaits a little Inn
It's safe and dry
There now, don't cry


I'm walking
The rain begins to cease
And sun lights up the path
My hand in His, we reach the top
Look, I see the Inn!
He, smiling, urges me
So I run, eagerly

I'm running

Valerie Jacobson
June 12, 2013






Monday, March 25, 2013

Beyond the Open Door


HSBC. I'm not sure what that is, but it seems to be a company that has its advertising all over Calgary Airport.

Yes, I'm in the airport. Again. And no, I'm not in the Philippines any more. And I'm also rather jet-lagged still, which I predict will be reflected in this post.

(I should explain that the reason I was silent about my return from the Philippines is because I was planning a surprise visit to my old school, Fountainview, which worked wonderfully. Some people thought I was still in the Philippines, and voila, there I am at church!)

In a month's crazy change of events, what was going to be the next 22.5 weeks quickly became a matter of days.

It all started at midnight. I was riding with the pastor up on our trip to Ilocos Sur in the north of the Philippines, and as we journeyed in the night I received an email. That email would change the next year of my life.

Probably the rest of my life, for that matter.

I prayed. I prayed so hard. And I talked with family and friends, searched God's word, searched my heart -- all the while preparing sermons for the week of prayer for the kids. Resume sent. Research done. Intense prayer... "Not my will, but Thy will be done." Agonizing waiting.

And every time I finally gave my worry and stress over it to God, wonderful peace. Right after peace, miracle after miracle. It's like God was waiting for me -- just trust Me -- before He would act.

He far exceeded all my expectations. I'll share a few examples:

Financial barriers broken down (they were never there, actually, but I didn't know that right away).
Impossible timing for papers worked out just in time.
Visa in my passport within hours of my appointment.

So now those who have no idea about what I am sharing are probably wondering what's going on. Most of my friends and family know already. I'm going to Germany/Europe for a year for an internship with Amazing Facts Europe. It is exciting, and God has really opened the door so wide. But honestly, I don't feel ready or capable. In my own strength and wisdom, that is. I am ready -- ready to trust God to do the work in whatever way and through whomever He sees fit. And it's not just the work to be done in Europe. It's the work to be done in my own heart. I'm ready to trust Him with it.

It's His work, anyhow.

Beyond the Open Door

In the things familiar we find security 
Resisting all the changes that days and years can bring, 
When God decides to lead you through an open door 
Inviting you to walk in realms you've never walked before. 

Beyond the open door is a new and fresh anointing, 
Hear the Spirit calling you to go. 
Walk on through the door for the Lord will go before you 
Into a greater power you've never known before. 

Hear the spirit calling to wake the living dead, 
To reach the huddled masses who cry out for living bread. 
Arise oh mighty army, take up thy shield and sword 
For the Father lifts His golden lamp beside the open door. 

Beyond the open door is a new and fresh anointing, 
Hear the Spirit calling you to go. 
Walk on through the door for the Lord will go before you 
Into a greater power you've never known before

Where He leads me, I will follow 
Where He leads me, I will follow 
And where He leads me, I will follow 
Into a greater power we've never known before, 
Beyond the open door.

~Faith First


Friday, March 15, 2013

The Golden Rule

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. - Matthew 7:7-12
At first glance, this passage is about seeking God and asking blessings from Him. But then, the last sentence seems to be completely unrelated, except for the fact that it starts with "Therefore..."

Therefore, whatever you want people to do to you, do to them. We candidly call this the "golden rule." Basically, it means that you shouldn't expect people to do for you what you are not willing to do for them. I shouldn't expect you to make me food and take care of me when I'm sick, if I am not willing to do the same for you, we're our positions reversed.

I could not see how this "golden rule" tied in with the previous verses, and I was praying that God would show me why they seem to be linked together. Then He showed me a beautiful picture of His character...

Vs 11 describes "how much more" the Father will give good things to us. It reminded me of this verse:

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?- Romans 8:32

The Father freely gave us all things in the gift of His Son, which in reality is a gift of Himself. If an earthly parent gives good things to his children, the Father does infinitely more. God, in the person of the Son, "gave Himself" for us. This is the ultimate gift, giving oneself to another. Another word we use for this is "surrender."

This, then, is what God is like: He doesn't expect us to do for Him what He is not willing to do for us. He doesn't ask us to give all ourselves to Him without first giving all Himself to us. He doesn't ask for full surrender and entire consecration without first doing the same for us.

God lives by His own golden rule.

He does to us what He would have us do Him. From the very beginning of time, He gave Himself and committed Himself unreservedly to a deep, personal, and eternal relationship with each one of us; and He longs to reciprocate this response in us towards Him. This is why John says, "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). God is the ultimate Initiator. He loved us first, and then and only then He asks us to love Him in return.

Interestingly enough, Jesus says that this principle "is the Law and the Prophets." This is because the Law and the Prophets are a picture, a Story, of a God who lives by His own golden rule -- who loves first, gives first, and surrenders first, before He ever asks for the same in return.

And He does ask. He longs. He wants to have that deep, personal, and eternal relationship with us. This is why He gave Himself for us, even to death. It is only after He has given all that He asks the same from us.

God lives by His own golden rule.

What will be your response?

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Soldier's Prayer

+Sean Nebblett recently wrote a blog post (please read it before continuing on; this will make more sense if you do), and it inspired me to share this poem with you. It's an old poem, but the message remains relevant. The prayer stays the same. It always will, until that glorious day...

May we never stop fighting. We will somehow win. Though it seems all the odds are against us, and we have not the strength...

God does.

May we be freed from the enemy within, so that we may focus on the mission...

There are crosses that need to be planted.
___________________________________________

January 22, 2011

Lord, I'm tired of it all,
tired of fighting, of taking
a few steps, but then fall;
It's not just the old ones,
but the young soldiers too;
At least this one,
she's one of the few
who to her comrades may appear
to hold nothing in life
'cept Your mission dear.

But it's a lie.

Now don't get me wrong --
To die for that mission,
she enlisted, with strong
resolve to complete.
To go forward
To forsake all for the call
and count all but loss
no matter the cost.

But in the thick of battle
resolve starts to break.
When the mighty foe presses in,
how much more can she take?

I have not the strength
To meet the strength
of the attacks
To return blow for blow
I'm being pushed back

Who is this foe?
Who makes the attack?
from within.

It is me. My self.

And I
hold Your mission dear.
This soldier, her focus clear
at times. But the enemy
Has infiltrated
Has betrayed
Has battled
Has blurred
Made dear to her these things else:
pride, desire, temptation --
The chains of self.

I have not the strength
To shake off these chains.
But I will try again
I will fight again
I will somehow win


And You say:
"Will you stop living a lie?
Yes, you must try again.
Yes, you must fight again.
Yes, you will somehow win.
But not with those chains on.
It is My mission or those,
what will you choose?

"The choice is yours
But you have not the strength."

This soldier has not the strength to battle at all
She takes a few steps, but then falls.
She holds dear the chains
She holds dear Your mission
She fights with confusion.
She cannot see
But she will go forward
Forsake all for the call
Count all but loss
No matter the cost.

I have not the strength
But You are my Strength
Break the chains
Return the blows
Push self back
Press the attack


I will somehow win.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

Heartache Paradox

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ..." - Philippians 3:20

A while ago, I had a meaningful conversation with a good friend of mine. I also read a moving post by David Asscherick on the Lightbearers blog (which I highly recommend you read—go ahead, click on it).

Both left me with an increasingly familiar feeling:

Heartache.

But this is not the kind of heartache you might think. This is not missing my friends or wishing I was in previous places, enjoying previous times. This is not homesickness.

Yet...

it is.

We were talking about how awesome it would be if Jesus came back before the fall:
"Even if Jesus doesn't come in the fall, Val, He is coming soon. And probably sooner than we think."
"I know. I know so bad it hurts."
Oh, the longing.

The heartache.

Anything God-centered is usually a paradox. A beautiful paradox that makes no sense to the world. Take the cross, for example: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Or the spiritual battles faced by every Christian—you've heard the saying: "You stand tallest when you're on your knees."

We overcome by obedience, we climb higher through humility. We forgive them that persecute us, and pray for them that spitefully use us. We turn the other cheek. We go two miles instead of one.

We love freely, we sacrifice more. Yet it does not deplete our joy, and we never lack.

We know that God died—just think of that!—for us.
We know that we are children of God. 

We know that He is coming soon to take us home, for this world—with its disappointments, sorrows, tragedies, strife, sickness, death—is not our home. It just can't be.

We know so bad it hurts. Our hearts ache for home.

The world thinks we're crazy.

Somehow, we have to tell them. We must show them what a beautiful paradox it is, this heartache. We must show them that there is more...

Beyond this dark world...
Beyond the farthest stars...
In our deepest heart...

Our aching heart.

Until their heart aches like mine and yours.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

This is not the end here at this grave 
This is just a hole that someone made 
Every hole was made to fill 
And every heart can feel it still-- 
Our nature hates a vacuum 

This is not the hardest part of all 
This is just the seed that has to fall 
All our lives we till the ground 
Until we lay our sorrows down 
And watch the sky for rain 

There is more 
More than all this pain 
More than all the falling down 
And the getting up again 
There is more 
More than we can see 
From our tiny vantage point 
In this vast eternity 
There is more 

A thing resounds when it rings true 
Ringing all the bells inside of you 
Like a golden sky on a summer eve 
Your heart is tugging at your sleeve 
And you cannot say why 
There must be more 

There is more 
More than we can stand 
Standing in the glory 
Of a love that never ends 
There is more 
More than we can guess 
More and more, forever more 
And not a second less 

There is more than what the naked eye can see 
Clothing all our days with mystery 
Watching over everything 
Wilder than our wildest dreams 
Could ever dream to be 
There is more
    
~ Andrew Peterson



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