Friday, July 27, 2012

Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
A peacemaker is someone who, rather than making war, makes peace.

A peacemaker is not only someone who brings a peaceful influence to a strained situation, although that is one important part of their role, but rather someone who takes the ingredients of a situation that may or may not have already begun to over-boil, perhaps adding a few special ingredients of their own, and making peace from what could have before only led to a charred and unappetizing mess for all involved.

I need to focus more on those times when I see tensions rising and the waters of life beginning to boil so that I can pray, calm down, pray some more, then roll up my sleeves and do what I can to keep temperatures in check and cooking on track so that we can serve the Lord a full course meal of our praise and ministry from every corner of our lives that will be pleasing in His sight and sit well on His tongue.

We have all been made sons and daughters of God through the Spirit of adoption [Romans 8:15; Galatians 3:26], but those who desire peace; love peace; those who are the peacemakers, THEY are the ones who are blessed and shall be called sons of God.

It is in my opinion that by nature anyone who truly believes in Christ and has accepted His gift of salvation must be or have become a "peacemaker" to one extent or another (regardless of if they are always the ones actually making any peace.) To me it just seems that if one has accepted forgiveness and desires after God some part of them must also desire and love and long after peace. It is fundamental to our lives in the Spirit, even if in the flesh we are often the ones to destroy the peace rather than build it.

However, how much more blessed are those who are not only peacemakers in their most inward and hidden parts, but who love peace with the entirety of their being, seek it, and are willing to struggle and grow by the Spirit through the anger, discontent, wildness and peacelessness possessed in the flesh; chains which we carry but are no longer bound to, that through the cross Christ broke and freed us from once and for all and has promised that through the Spirit those chains are not only broken, but by his power from us can be taken.

How can I be a peacemaker, blessed to be called a son of God?

God please teach me to show greater grace when wrongs are done and to confidently sow the seeds of peace into even the most tense of situations. Teach me to turn to you, my rock and my foundation, so that I would stand solidly in your peace and radiate it; to look to you when angers flare for the wash of your calm Spirit; that I would be one who actively seeks peacemaking for your glory amongst the children and to be your example amongst the lost. You have saved me, but please keep sanctifying me; I love you and want to honor you, may I be ever more like you.

Written March 5, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Acts 17:28, in Him we live and move and have our being

"for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'
Hallelujah, praise you God! You have held together all things. The matter of our bodies and the form of the very air we breath. By your power consists the sky, it's physical form of a gaseous space and it's visual breathtaking blue. Your hands hold the specks of dust dancing in the light of the noon day sun and the explosive bright and burning sun itself.

You held together the hands of those who beat your Son; it was by your will the reality of those whips and thorns which marred his flesh did not unravel before the eyes of his mockers. Your strength nailed him to the cross; it was you who held him hanging there. None took his life but Christ laid it down and you raised it up.

His murderers pay their price for the wrongs they willed to do, but it was by your will justice came on one who would receive the debt from those unable to pay.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. KJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NKJV; NIV; TNIV; HCSB

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NASB; ESV

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. NLT

Nine major translations and none differ in any notable fashion for the words they chose in portraying this verse that captivates the truth of our salvation.

The payment for sin is death, that which is deserved and only right and good. Yet the gift of our God is a release from that which is deserved and the receiving of that which we could never deserve. (and what is a gift, if truly a gift, but a free gift? If not free then how a gift? What price or requirement does one lay on a gift? If a price has been paid in the receiving than there has been no gift given at all, but rather an exchange. A gift is not a gift simply for being called a gift, there needs to be more to it than that.) Though death on earth, no death in heaven, a resurrection of bodies to a resurrected world, a new earth, and an eternal life in, and through, and most wonderfully of all, with our Savior and Lord Christ Jesus the king, who was with God in the beginning, and through whom all things were made - without whom nothing was made that has been made.

None took his life, but he laid it down; by the authority of God his Father his life was his to lay down and his to take up again though having already lain it down. [1 John 3:16; John 10:17-18]

That God, that Jesus who gave his all and paid the price which only he could pay, the humble and exalted mighty Prince of Peace reached down to us, as a straw doll made in the likeness of man so too man made in the likeness of God, and having reached down Jesus took our hands and held us close filling these old straw bones once dead with a new and eternal life; by the adoption of the Spirit filling us with his Spirit and making us new creations in Him. [2 Corinthians 5:17 / alternate translation]

In God, sons; in Christ, brothers and heirs. [Romans 8:14-17]

I want to know more of the brilliance and mystery of God's mighty work in this world, and will be reading Christian literature addressing the wonders of God's creation and how much greater it is than we will ever know through science, seeing more of the world and from that seeing how much, much more only God really understands. He made the world and everything in it; He gives to all life, breath and all things; and in Him we live and move and have our being. I want to increase my wonder of God by knowing more and better knowing how little I know, by understanding the mysteries of his creation and seeing how many more there are.

I want to explore your mighty works that they might be revealed, that I might better see your glory! In that by you all things consist, the ocean sways, our human figures dance and my lungs fill with breath, what depths are the riches of your praise that from your mighty works I would be allowed to draw? [Proverbs 25:2]

Written April 27, 2012

When I look into the painted sky
I see so many colors
They're all a part of your design
It's such a brilliant display

I love the way the stars shine for you
And every single mountain bows down
I love the way the universe is singing your song
So I'll try to sing along

Looking up into the dark blue night
I'm in awe of your power
The way the moon pulls the ocean's tide
You are never contained - "Sing Along", by Sixteen Cities

Monday, July 23, 2012

Acts 27:17, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him

". . . so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though His is not far from each one of us;"
And what a beautiful thing it is. The Lord of heaven and earth and every created thing living or dead came down and touched broken man to save him from his own wayward nature. Sending Son to die as payment and Spirit to bring life to we who were already dead, the Creator of all things built a bridge that closed the gap of separation brought about by our own disobedient natures so that any willing to walk by the narrow road, desiring more than the cares and fleeting desires of this world, could come to Him, the Judge, seeking forgiveness; and find that their sentence for all wrong doings, for sin, has been paid for and God's wrath and judgement poured out on another, undeserving, who sacrificed Himself for us so that both the justice and mercy of the perfect and loving God would be brought about in full righteousness and truth.

More than this, having forgiven, the only God adopted as children those who were once lost and enemies of His divine and perfect nature so that they would be more than debtors and slaves bought with a heavy price by the sacrifice of Jesus, who is God and was sent by God, being Himself the eternal God, to come into the world in the form of man and free us from our own imperfect fallen natures, doing what we could never do, living a perfect life without sin, and accepting as one undeserving of death the death of a transgressor, a criminal, that of the cross, an execution, and more than these the judgement and wrath of a God who, though loving, being perfect and just, would act in imperfection and deny His very nature by allowing crimes and wrongdoings to go unpunished.

Seeking forgiveness we are forgiven, and the God of Creation receives not as debtors and therefore servants those who cry out to Him; but rather, by adoption, we are received as undeserving children through His Spirit and our dead souls are given new life, and in death we have no fear for the greater death which comes after. Before the judgement seat we are found as saints, His perfect children, whereas the unrepentant, those who in this life spat in the face of their Hope, the sacrifice and death of Jesus; the Spirit who convicts, offering truth and salvation; and God Himself who chose to make us more than stones and dirt by giving freewill and the freedom of choice and whom in freedom the unrepentant reject and blaspheme, will be judged as God who made all things finds just.

We come before our Father in heaven as loving children who were first loved, just as a child with their earthly father, and we thank Him for being a God so far beyond us yet willing to step close and wrap us in His arms, whispering, "Sweet child, you were unloved and yet I love you. Come with Me you who had no home and I will give you rest. You will be Mine and I will be yours, in this short and imperfect life I will guide you by the hand, I will be with you in your joys and your sorrows; in death I will receive you to a new place eternal, where joys are many and sorrows will not be known, and you will know Me as I have always known you. Come away from the fallen world, you do not yet know the lack of its satisfaction and have not yet seen the better things I have for you. You do not yet see Me but soon you will see fully. I have drawn close to you; wrap your arms around me and I will never let you go, for though you have not seen it long have my arms been around you, able to carry, yet you were unwilling."

Though eternal He has made Himself not far from us.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
" [the words of Jesus, written in the book of John, his personal testimony to the life of Jesus, chapter 3; reference: "John 3:16-18"]

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [the words of Jesus, written in the book of Matthew, his record of the life of Jesus, chapter 11; reference: "Matthew 11:28-30"]

I will be prayerfully posting the above to facebook and writing it out to place in envelopes and give to my friends who do not yet know Christ in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him.

Written April 26, 2012

Michelle's study of Acts 17:27

Friday, July 20, 2012

Acts 17:26, their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Even in the most uncertain times.

Paul says in Romans 8:28, "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

It's not that "all things are good", but rather that "all things work together for good".

We preach no prosperity gospel.

The good message we have been given is that which was carried by Paul: from his brethren the Jews five times receiving 39 lashings, three times beaten with rods, once stoned and three times shipwrecked. Journeying often he faced perils of water, robbers, and the enmity of countrymen, his fellow Jews, and gentiles alike. Perils while in cities, wilderness and sea. He faced false brethren pretending to know Christ. For the gospel he was wearied, toiled and went without sleep often, at times naked and cold. [2 Corinthians 11:24-27]

It was the gospel carried by John whom Jesus loved, the beloved disciple, when exiled to the island of Patmos as an old man.

Ours is the gospel proclaimed by those 11 disciples who had to face the death of their Christ and with it their hope, only from it to grow beyond despair and find an even greater as they came face to face with their savior once again, having risen from the dead.

When we exercise we push our bodies to the limits so that they grow stronger and the load which can be managed before hitting our limit increases.

Sometimes God puts us through the hard times and experiences, allows us to experience our limits, so that our faith will grow stronger through a greater dependency on him.

It's easy to depend on God when our world is crashing down around us; but when everything is right as rain? When the sun is shining and the birds are singing and it's the perfect day to go lay in the hammock and take a nap?

Those days are a blessing from God, but it can be so easy to lose sight of him in the midst of them.

Although preaching to unbelievers we are assured by Paul's words that, regardless of circumstances, God hasn't been taken by surprise at what is happening. He pre-appointed the good times AND the bad; the boundaries of our dwelling whether a large house or a small apartment, even if we have no place to lay our heads [Luke 9:58], has been known by God and decided upon before time began.

I will set aside a half hour tonight to pray about things to come after I return home, mainly about my living arrangements and finding a job, but also wherever the Lord leads in prayer; that He would keep reminding me everything falls within his plans and that nothing catches him by surprise. Wherever I end up, I will be in the Lord's hands.

Written April 25, 2012
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As a praise report, I have since gotten a job working part time with my friend's dad and think the circumstances for getting the job, as well as the time I spent searching for a job, all fell together rather . . . 'divinely'; but you know, maybe that's just me. With flexible hours I'm able to help out at church as much as I like while still spending some time with my family, and even though I'm not making a ton of money with the hours I work, but should have enough saved to meet my first school payments and cover initial (and I mean very initial) living expenses come September.

On that note . . . if you would, please pray for me to find a place to stay and work, or more accurately the right sort of place to stay and the right sort of work, while attending the School of Worship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. The first semester starts the beginning of September and I am submitting my application tomorrow (or mailing it off anyway); all that is left is to record a sound sample (voice or instrument), transcribe my application questions (typed for editing and revision) onto the form (paper and pen) and send them off (envelope and stamp)!

I suppose before anything else you could pray for my application to be accepted too. (Perhaps prayers that I would stop thinking parenthetical monologues on inane details are in some way entertaining for you all would also be in order. Just kidding! I'm sure you all are rolling on the floor laughing right now. Because I'm hilarious. Totally. ;)

If you happen to personally think of any living arrangements or job positions opening up that might just possibly be an answer to prayer I wouldn't at all in the slightest be bothered by your sharing of this information. In fact, I might say thank you and shout hallelujah.

The school is located at the edges of Costa Mesa, CA and Santa Ana, CA; both cities are in Orange County and right next to Newport Beach. Anything come to mind for you? If you've been in the area but don't know of any employment opportunities I would still love to hear your recommendations for taco joints, parks, the best grocery stores, etc; basically anything that would be helpful for getting settled in, or maybe just fun stories about the place. What have been your experiences while living there or visiting, and what would your recommendation be for someone moving down there?

As an additional thought, it was my birthday 6 days ago and I gave it to charity:water. Curious? Clicky! Or paste http// up in your address bar! Pleeeaaase~? Receiving support for this fundraiser would kind of be one of the best present you could ever give me right now. (Other than giving a million dollars directly to me I guess, 'cuz then I could give over half and still have my living expenses covered for the year. :D Except I pledged my entire birthday, so I guess if it's birthday money I still wouldn't have those expenses covered for the year. Oh well, receiving a million dollars would still be cool insanely; or . . . I forget what I was going to say. I stared off into space for a second, and now I can't remember. This could be a sign I should get some sleep soon. D:? )

Comment written July 18, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Acts 17:25, as though He needed anything,

nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

We are his children who worship in Spirit and in truth.

More than any service or act of devotion, God cares for us, his children.

"More than the song I sing" God desires my everything, and I want to give him it joyfully.

I've been allowing myself to rollover and go back to sleep after the alarms have been turned off in our room, but I'm going to refocus on giving God my day by more intently giving him my mornings.

He isn't worshiped with men's hands, but I can glorify him in the secret hours of the morning by spending time alone with my loving father in heaven in thanks and praise, talking with him and thinking on the wonderful ways he works.

Written April 24, 2012
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"More than what your hands are doing, where is your heart?" - Michelle

Monday, July 16, 2012

Acts 17:24, "God, . . . "

"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.
Paul stood before a variety of men in varying settings.

Before hostile Thessalonicans and fair minded Bereans in the synagogues of their cities, in marketplaces and homes and now in the Areopagus of Athens preaching to Epicureans and Stoic philosophers who every day of their lives were surrounded by a multitude of gods.

Paul was not put off by their being curious for curiosities sake, if they would listen he would preach. It did not matter if they would accept readily or turn angry to bring chains, or mock him for his 'crazed beliefs' of a resurrection.

He didn't speak only to those desiring after God and Son. He spoke to all by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the United States we are rarely called to speak before those who would bind us in chains, torture or kill us for our beliefs.

More often we must speak before those who would roll their eyes and walk away, or laugh in derision. Before friends who won't hurt us, but may turn their backs or never look at us the same if we were to show the true face of a Christian, to display the honest love of an invisible God and the faith we hold in Him.

And it's hard.

And the idea hurts.

And it's lonely.

And more than these it's important.

It's love, the love we have for them and for our God, and it's the true value of our friendship.

When we know we will never die, and cry that they will die truly, why do we keep silent? Why do we stand by and watch as they go down the wide path to destruction? Why do we claim to care for them but won't share our faith? Why do I do these things?

What a selfish love is that!

God sacrificed His Son to die a sinners death and receive the fullness of His wrath, but I won't even risk paying the price of a relationship that, as it stands, will likely last at best a few years.

A relationship that, with a sudden change of circumstance, may end in a few short seconds at the hands of a crashing car.

I'm not trying to be "holier than thou".

I spent my time hiding in a class as the shadow on the wall and afraid to be any lonelier than I already was.

I stood and sang with the school choir without sharing that, for me at least, the words of those old hymnals rang true.

But I don't want to be selfish; I don't want to play the part of a coward, not anymore.

Thinking about all that Paul did faithfully following the Lord, I am reminded that though where I am I can't speak in person, I have left facebook unattended for quite a while and at least one conversation without response where I was sharing the truth, the gospel, the good news of Jesus. Tonight I'm going to spend some time on facebook prayerfully focused on glorifying my God.

Written April 23, 2012
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Philippians 3:16, to the degree that we have already attained,

Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
"to the degree we have already attained. . ."

Today's the second day in a row my IBS wasn't done in time for class.

I was doing better about getting my IBS done on time since coming back from the field, but I hit a snag with a busier schedule these past two days.

That isn't a very good excuse however because others finished their IBS for class.

I need to go back to working on my IBS the night before even if I must stay up a little late rather than trying to find time to do them during the day and look back on my applications since returning to the ranch, because I think I haven't been applying some.

I will also continue updating this blog with my inductive Bible studies after returning home.

Written April 20, 2012
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Philippians 3:15, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind;

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
[Philippians 3:7-15]

The first word that jumps out at me here is 'Mature'. Because you know, we all want to be the mature ones. Mature means right. Mature means strong. The mature are the role models and leaders who guide the way for those that have not yet caught up. But you know something else?

Mature means wrong. Mature means honest and humble and broken. Mature means succeeding the power that could be claimed or taken to the one that it belongs.

Mature means taking the lower seat when the higher is not for you.

Mature means backing down when others won't back up.

Mature means admitting faults, forgiving hurts and not making excuses for failures on our part or denouncing the failings of others.

It means taking the high road, the narrow path, to strive for doing what is right and not only the acknowledgment that one is right.

The mature will not show offense when forgotten or neglected or when shown a lack of respect.

Mature means giving correction for another's sake and not our own.

Maturity teaches and lifts up those not yet at the same level while not being satisfied with the level it has already attained.

Maturity is a measure of depth gained, not distance traveled. It is the measure of one's character and growth, not the days and years lived.

This week we, the interns and staff at Potter's Field, are cooking for each other by teams displaying meals eaten in our respective countries over the past six months. The team that went to Africa cooked on Monday, Costa Rica cooked Wednesday, and we from El Salvador will be cooking Friday. Today everyone will be participating in a little rice and beans cook-off for fun.

I haven't been very mature in preparing for it. I didn't begin taking it seriously as soon as I should have; I didn't put in as much time as I could have; I didn't include my teammate as much as I should have; I didn't begin preparing as soon as I could have; I didn't communicate well with those who purchase food for the ranch or those who planned this week of cooking to see what was expected of us when I didn't understand.

When push came to shove I didn't solve problems, it could very easily be said I just complained about having a problem. Rather than taking care of things others took care of it for me because I was being immature about my responsibility in preparing a meal, caring more for the other things I needed to get done, or simply wanted to do, than the things I needed to have ready by Tuesday.

The mature apologize and make do with what they have the best they can even if "what they have" comes from past failures and use their time wisely to the maximum of their capacity.

I will be apologizing to a few people for bothering them and making excuses for my behavior and failures in preparing for our meals. I will run full tilt and do the best I can with what I have for these two meals.

Maturity is an action and a choice, not a passive behavior. Maturity sought after will be maturity found.

Written April 19, 2012
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Derek Powers in El Salvador

Friday, May 4, 2012

Philippians 3:13, reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
Reading Philippians I had wonder whether this verse refers to "forgetting those things which are behind" as things which are good, or things which are bad.

I would say both.

Reaching for the things of God we leave behind all past victories and defeats, the triumphs and trials and happiness and pains. We remember them, take what lessons there are from them, but will be held back by grudges and pride clung to from those seasons of life not left behind when we go to press forward in our walk with God.

In a race there is no looking back.

You do not spend time remembering long hours of practice to run the race to your fullest; the hours of practice make us strong and instill the movements and rhythms of the run into every fiber of our being.

But unlike the runners of a race we are not strong alone. Rather, it is Christ in us who gives us strength and makes us strong.

There are struggles and memories in returning home. A fear of not only returning home, but of returning to "the way things used to be".

My application from this verse is not one I can do but rather one I can pray for Christ to do in me: I must lay down the things holding me to the past and run towards this future with Christ uninhibited by the fears of the flesh. In remembrance not dwelling on the things of the past fearfully, but remembering the triumphs of my God over those fears which once held me.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2
Written April 17, 2012

You have rescued me
from the darkness
placed me in the son

All my fears and failures
are kissed by your light
burn it away
burn it away
my God
of glory and light!

My love and delight
perfect are you
merciful and true
perfect are you

perfect are you
who has washed me clean
purified me
freed me from the chains
of darkness

I have been burned
by the kiss of the light
of you

Jesus Christ
Son shining so bright
My light

perfect and holy and just are you
perfect and holy, merciful God of love, my love goes to you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Philippians 3:12, Not that I have already attained,

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Far from perfect.

That's certainly me, but my father loves me. He saved me, and then his perfect mercy crossed with his perfect love and he went above and beyond what was needed to save, adopting as a son and fellow heir him who was once an enemy.

And that's all I need.

My reason for wanting to go to the School of Worship in Costa Mesa is for a broadening of my understanding of worship.

I am human though, and I'm still in the flesh, and I won't deny that my love for music does take great joy in the thought of that type of intensive training to broaden my vocal skills and learn an instrument. This is the farthest thing from wrong, but it is a distraction from my pure desire for better worship.

Not to say that you need to sing well to worship God. We worship him much more, or much less, with our lives than we do once or twice a week at a church service singing a couple of songs.

Likewise, there are plenty of verses in the Bible speaking of worshiping God through songs and instruments, even dancing. [Psalm 95:1; Psalm 150; Acts 16:25; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19; . . . and etc. ]

The heavenly hosts sing to God [Revelation 5:9] and our human frames are designed for the emotional outpouring and connection of music and song. (Have you ever seen the touch of music turning hearts where words have failed or calling forth feelings thought dead from memories long forgotten?)

God is glorified and takes great pleasure from our praise.

But he doesn't only take glory from those public displays. We are his true worshipers who worship in spirit and in truth, and our father takes a great deal of joy when we just set some time apart to get alone with him where no one else will know for a time of song and prayer in worship.

What are many worship songs but prayers said with rhythm and with intentional praise? It's easy to forget at times that God doesn't take pleasure only if we sound nice, but because we love him and pour our hearts out to him in those times; for our passion and devotion.

However, to come back to the point I was making, while God won't be wooed or impressed by a good voice (Who do you think gave ya' that set of pipes or them lungs?), a crackling voice can be distracting. Forgetting words will trip us up and, even if God loves us beyond this, interrupt our thoughts and disturb the focus of our heart on God.

For someone who practices music at all, it can take our focus from God to the quality of our tone or accuracy in hitting notes. When you're following a CD your focus may go to the artists ability or style versus your own.

You can easily intend to spend time with God but five minutes in find yourself spending time attempting to sing well, even in church.

My application to draw from this verse calls to mind a previous verse in Philippians, 2:12: ". . . work out your own salvation".

Some attend large bible colleges or are blessed by a mentor who exemplifies Christ in his walk with the Lord and teaching. Others have the Bible, a notebook, and a pen. Some don't have any of this, as you hear of in China, but as all of the above they live by the Spirit and are guided and grow by the Spirit. We have the Spirit, and anything else would simply be the means by which we are taught. It is the Spirit that reveals.

Likewise, though I would love to attend the School of Worship and I still hope that God would lead that way, I don't need to attend an institution of man to worship my God or grow my musical abilities for that purpose.

I don't need to know everything about a guitar to pick one up for a time of private worship; many artists won't or can't play anything complected while focused on singing anyway. If I at least know the basics and a few chords that's enough to get alone with God, without a lifeless leader coming from the speakers of my laptop.

I'm going to begin setting aside time to learn the guitar and memorize worship songs, not for anything but me and God.

Written April 16, 2012

Studies to share:
Janessa; seeking God throughout the day.
Michelle; being touched by Christ and returning home.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Acts 21:1, running a straight course we came

Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.
Reading this, that Paul and his company were "running a straight course", reminds me of a previous lesson from our first three months at the ranch for training; that sometimes the most direct path in God's plan will seem a long and winding road to us.

How a person can feel God's call on their lives, but initially, when running towards that call, every door seems to close, and years later, after many trials and growth, this person can then find themselves almost dropped into the calling they felt so many years before. Sometimes they may even feel the need for a reconfirmation from God because they had long ago come to the conclusion that the call they once felt drawn too so strongly had simply come from their own desires.

Sometimes we think we're ready for God's intentions, but sometimes we're wrong. Sometimes God has more preparation in store for us. Sometimes there are skills he would have us learn; or maturity needed before entering into the call he gave us; an understanding that the call is not what we devote ourselves too, but rather that following the call is an answer to our devotion to God; or he may simply have some things he would have done first, perhaps another ministry we are to be a part of, or maybe even a single person in who's life God would have us speak with some time down the road we wouldn't have met had we gone straight into that call or work.

Often he would have us learn a greater dependency on Christ.

Also, sometimes people don't have a single call on their lives. In fact, no one does.

Our servant hood and ministries don't end having left the 9' to 5', stepping down from the pulpit or leaving the mission field.

THE call is to all the world; both across the sea and down the street, both at school and in our jobs, at church and in our own homes.

Paul himself had quite the winding road before finally coming to Rome; years of powerful and often painful ministry before finally reaching those he had been desiring to see for so long.

The NIV translates the word 'depart' as 'torn'. Pastor G explained that the Greek language was extremely descriptive; where many may know of the Greek words "Phileo", "Eros" and "Agape", each describing different forms of love, in Greek there are actually 9 other words, aside from these three, which we would translate simply as "Love"; each describing a different and very specific form of love.

Paul did not simply leave the elders, he tore himself away from them, and I highly doubt Luke wrote of a physical tearing away. The leaving was no easy thing.

In this age we are so blessed by technology that, if I want, if I am intentional in it, my leaving does not need to be a tearing away. In Paul's day, separation meant the only form of communication would be letters sent weeks, if not months before being received. Now, I can Skype for an hour anytime we're both online. I don't like that I lack strong communication skills and find it so difficult to maintain contact over long distances. I want to schedule some time to Skype with a few people from the ranch for after I have returned home to maintain that connection and prevent my own tendencies to cause a complete break in contact.

I will also write a reminder for myself for my last few days here at the ranch as a reminder to reread this study, both to help motivate myself in staying connected and to remember what I spoke of earlier, that God will often lead us down a winding path to reach places of divine calling.

Written April 13, 2012

Studies I'd like to share:
Pastor G's

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Acts 20:38, they accompanied him to the ship.

sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Not everyone in our group of interns will be returning to Crossroads.

Michelle, Janessa and Olivia come from different churches, Karlee will be returning to Vancouver but has yet to decide at which church she will be serving her two month internship, and Shaylene, while returning to Crossroads eventually, will be leaving for a month and a half, first to Texas for her brother's graduation from the military and from there to her sister's marriage in New Hampshire.

This is not to forget Jaymi or Jacob who live in California, both of whom left the field for medical reasons and did not make the travel to the ranch for this month of reentry having been home a few months already.

It is still two weeks off, and it is only two weeks off, but as people leave at the close of this month and this season of our lives comes to an end I would like to be sure of going when able to see them off; even if that means waking up at 4:00 in the morning to get them to the airport early enough to check in for a 6:00 am flight.

"Sorrow is the frankincense that honors the altar of friendship, and the elders didn't hold back to give that sweet aroma as they contemplated his leaving." - Colin

Written April 12th, 2012

Studies to share:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Acts 20:37, Then they all wept freely,

Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him,
These men were so open with their emotions!

First, it must be said that kissing in their culture was not always what it is in ours; there was the romantic aspect of a kiss, but you can a parallel to their culture today in many Spanish speaking cultures, or what might more readily come to mind for others would be France, where one might exchange a kiss in greeting.

However, commonly in our culture would be the image that men are strong.

Men stand strong.

Men do not falter.

Men do not show weakness.

In other words. . . "Grown men don't cry."

And this is in part a piece of the nature God has given man. God did not make man of any greater importance than woman, and he didn't make woman of any greater importance than man.

However, he did make us differently, and in that difference it is generally much easier for a woman to pour forth her emotions than it is for a man. Here we see these elders of the church Paul and his group of Christ followers were used to plant by God falling and weeping for the misfortune awaiting Paul and that this will be their last time seeing him on earth.

They know they'll see him in heaven, but no matter how heaven minded a person is that doesn't change the fact that (a) if you care for a person you are not glad to hear of time they have or will spend in chains and (b) despite knowing there will be plenty of time to see them in the long run, our perspectives are not yet in that of the long run.

When you are 7 years old a year of school seems like FOREVER, and the idea of going all the way through to high school and on to college is a greater length of time than your brain can fathom.

When you have grown up and are now 27 years old you look back and think how funny it is a single year had once felt so long, and could very well be making and changing financial plans for the next three to ten years (and beyond.)

When you've grown old and have reached the age of 77 it doesn't really matter what you do with your day, you're just suddenly surprised to find another year has gone by and you're already 78 and wondering when God's finally gonna call you up to see all the people you've loved but have gone on before yourself. (Though should the Lord tarry and he has me live that long, it's my desire to not live dwelling on that with an empty life but even with a busted leg sitting in a rocking chair all day praising God and glorifying him in whatever way I can, through prayer or study or whatever ministry the Lord give me from that rocking chair, whether it be my grandchildren or that I continue studying and sharing through this very blog.)

To break off of this rabbit trail however, I look at the way these men cried for their dear friend and mentor. They did not hold anything back because there was no point in holding anything back.

They did not want to hold anything back.

The pastor's and staff here at Potter's Field have shared with us how difficult it was to send us off. They poured into us for three straight months as children running towards God; running with us and holding us up in our struggles and studies, helping us to not stumble. . . and we left.

We were gone, and they were alone. They have been very honest so that we can understand for our own futures in ministry and discipleship that when the next group of interns came there was the temptation to not give these new students their all, pouring into them everything they have, because it would lesson the pain when they left.

It would leave just that much smaller a hole from their leaving.

But they also knew that if they didn't pour in everything, if they didn't give this second batch of students their all, it might reduce the pain of leaving, but it would also reduce the joy of their company and presence. If they made it so that there would be no pain in separation, they would be removing all the joy of their company.

I don't want to separate myself from everyone, intentionally or accidentally, and I want our relationship to be one in which everything, both our joys and our fears, can be shared. It is my natural reaction to not share my troubles because I see others complain and don't want to be like that, and because the Lord promises to be our comfort and our peace and I want to depend on him in that. However, we have been made brothers and sisters, one body in Christ, and the Lord does at time give us the comfort he promises through them.

There is a growth and strengthening of relationships that occurs when sharing our weaknesses and struggles and together seeking the support and guidance, comfort and joy and peace of God in prayer.

I have concerns about this season of my life coming to a close and a new season of life beginning, this time in our own backyard. Probably more, in fact, it is most definite that more concerns are plaguing me about returning home then there were about going leaving it, and I am seeking the Lord for them and laying them at his cross. However, I need to recognize that it is not a weakness of faith to seek council from my mature brothers and sisters or support from those who will be continuing on from this work and returning home with me, who can be a pillar of support and source of accountability in those hard times that, save the Lord's working of quite a few miracles in my life and the lives of others, are sure to follow this time I have spent away.

One of the more tangible concerns would be finances and my need to finish paying off those debts I owe from this mission trip, and the worry of what type of a hold paying off that debt will have over my life until it has been finished, how it might limit my involvement in the church or the time I have to devote towards personal projects the Lord might be leading towards.

Written April 11, 2012

Break my heart for what breaks yours
I raise my hands with open palms to you
Raising up, my life and plans
That you can take it and do what you will
Without my hands holding on
Releasing it all to you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Acts 20:36, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.
I wonder what type of a prayer that must have been. Not that because Paul was involved this prayer was somehow better than most "ordinary" prayers, but there are those times where you are gathered with people important to you, or who you've never met before, or all alone, or etc, etc, etc, and God's Spirit just fills those involved and a very special time of prayer begins.

Sometimes a prayer begins as one to remember, and sometimes with a hesitant start those praying seek after the Spirit for their time of prayer and the Spirit comes and fills their willing hearts with words of rejoicing and revelation of those things that should be prayed for.

Since first taking part in the IGNITE365 program more than 9 months ago I have developed a true love for prayer and discovered the joys of truly and passionately taking the time to commune with God throughout the day. Whereas before I, while knowing the importance of prayer, could not personally say that I understood those who talked or wrote about passionate time spent on fallen knees.

God has grown me so much in my prayer life over the past several months, but I don't want to ever say, "I've grown enough." If I did, that would simply be a sign of how much more growing I truly need.

I love prayer. However, I want to be someone who will take the initiative to pray and bring everything to the Lord, not only alone, but also with others.

Coming to the ranch for this month of reentry our group put together a list of commitments that we were making for our time here. One of them included time each week for group prayer and at least two times a week spent praying with a prayer partner. I will be switching my bracelet back and forth between wrists as a reminder everyday to go to my partner for time spent in prayer and supplication, but also with thanksgiving spending time just worshiping and appreciating the God who made us and saved us and adopted us as sons that we might come to him in prayer and faith knowing that he will listen.

More than this, I want to use this discipline to create the habit in me of taking everything before God with my brothers and sisters with Christ in corporate prayer. Whether this means instigating prayer among a large group, just between myself and two or three friends, or even with someone who before I had never met but can hope to one day know more fully with Christ Jesus our Lord after his coming or in heaven should he tarry.

Lord fill my life with prayer.
Give me the strength to always be seeking after you.
Change my focus to the things above and on your power in every trial and circumstance.
My Lord and Jesus,
Brother, Priest and King,
My life,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Thank you.

Let your love shine in me.

From Olivia's study: "I suppose prayer really is just talking to yourself when there's no faith behind it."

Today I would like to share Michelle's study in full.

Written April 10, 2012

Break my heart for prayer
Break my heart for yours
For the children that are crying
For the people all alone

For a world lost to darkness and calling out for light
Needing you and never knowing what it means to cry

Reaching out for anything they think might satisfy an aimless soul

For love and riches with deceit
The efforts of dark and empty souls

Break my heart in a new way
Break my heart as you never have before
Break my heart for those things that God have broken yours

Reveal your son
Reveal you light
Pour out your love on the world through my willing contrite life

God open up your floodgates
And let your mercies pour forth
Reveal yourself to a lost and fallen people
Show us love

Open my heart God
As Christ opened his and bled for yours

Matthew 5:7, Blessed are the merciful:

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
I think I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again, lately I've been troubled with a negative heart. A condemning heart. A hard heart that sees the faults of others and doesn't let them go.

And when I say, "I've been troubled with a negative heart", I mean, "I've been troubled by MY negative heart".

The devil isn't telling me to think badly of others and I'm not struggling to resist his mind control. I'm just human, and I'm just this particular human: me.

A self absorbed, condemning, impatient, peace-less, anger mismanaging, oblivious, manipulative and lying jerk who owns a telescope perfect for finding faults and failures; who fails to find or care about his own Dwarf-star class faults whenever there's a new mini-meteor momentarily passing-on-by.

It can be hard to remember to stop and check for planks when someone splatters ketchup on my new, white shirt, and I've gotten it into my head it's blood gushing from their face. I just NEED to help them get that sliver out of their bleeding eye, now don't I? It's making such a mess of their OWN shirt/life, isn't it!? They should WANT my help, shouldn't they?!? They'll be BETTER for it, AND for God, I know it!

After all, I'm right . . . Or didn't you know that?

God has shown me mercy and he shows that same mercy to others, and they certainly don't have a greater need for it than I do (every single day).

I need to pray for God's wonderful mercies to flow over my life; and from there, that they would overflow into the lives of those close, and not so close, who 'dare' to cross my line of sight being just as messy, unkempt, uncontrolled, uncoordinated, clumsy and willful as I am on the best of days.

There is a time when God would have us speak to our brothers and sisters about their actions or behavior and how they may not be glorifying Him with that part of their lives; but when someone makes a mistake or slips up once and they don't seem ready to make a habit of it, if you aren't in leadership over them and feel the need to address it, there is a good chance that the little 'Word of Wisdom' from God I'd like to speak into someone's life may not have actually come from anywhere but my own steaming big head.

I need to always pray, and take the time to decide, and probably pray some more before deciding whether or not an issue is important enough, if God would use me in such a way, to bring it to their attention as a matter for them to take to God in prayer and consideration. I need to ask the question: Am I concerned for my brother, or bothered BY them?

I do not convict, God convicts. The most I could possibly do is act as the means by which He convicts, and that certainly isn't anything to be puffed up about. On the rare occasion what I see is not the result of my own blindness, the work my God would call me to may be one of nothing more than prayer; to the world an inglorious ministry, but one that contains a glory many, sadly, never come to know, and in all the ministries He gives I desire to be faithful in action and heart.

Written February 20, 2012

- - -
"The only reason we are unmerciful is the misconception that we deserve more from other people." - Colin Sandberg

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Acts 20:32, So now, brethren, I commend you to God

"So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Paul's time with the church within Ephesus had reached it's end; but he did not simply abandon the church. The reality is that he simply gave the church fully back over to the one who held it from the beginning.

Paul was only a middle man, used by the Holy Spirit to teach those called by the Father and sanctified by Christ to walk in the Spirit and in truth, to grow in their knowledge of God until such a time as they were ready and willing to listen to the Spirit guiding them without needing Paul as a medium for God's revelation in their lives.

That is not to say that teachers or the church are not important in our walk with God as some are prone to arguing in today's world.

When Paul is speaking here he is not addressing all the believers in Ephesus so that they can receive his words for themselves individually, but rather he is in an entirely different town speaking only to "the elders of the church" [Acts 20:17]; prophets and teachers and Spirit led Christians who sought after God and who the Lord raised up as leaders and counselors among them.

As we close up this first week at the ranch it becomes apparent how short our time here with everyone will be. I can't help but entertain thoughts of how great it would be if I were able to stay just one more month or return later, either as a volunteer staff member or for another run through the program; perhaps as some sort of senior intern on a team going to El Salvador or on a team going to a different location to see the many faces of God's work in other churches and countries.

However, while I don't know where the Lord will lead me and while the above possibilities are far from impossible (especially in God's economy), to take full advantage of just this month, regardless of what future plans the Lord may bring, I need to accept that at the end of our time here the staff and Pastors of Potter's Field Ranch will be 'commending us to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build us up and give us an inheritance among all those who are sanctified', and send us home, and that it will only be Lord willing I see them again or have the opportunity to spend time learning from them here on Earth.

To use an analogy that Pastor Mike seems to love: In my time here I can't just take the "low hanging fruit" expecting or hoping for more time in which I may climb their branches and go for the best fruits hidden at the top. I need to set my intentions in this time to collect all that I can of the best that I can, but also remember that the ranch isn't the only place God will be speaking to me and growing me, also convicting me. That my relationship with him is not dependent on any person place or thing, only my own decision to either listen to or ignore the things he has to say; my choice to burn with his Spirit or quench it.

God, please fill me with your Spirit as you've filled me with your life.
Empower me to walk with you, to hear your call in humility and accept your grace.
You've dressed the flowers of the field in colors finer than worn by any king.
Please dress me as the flowers Lord, but in love and for your ways.

I hope you would be blessed by Pastor G's study of Act's 20:32.

Written April 8, 2012

χάρις     [charis]
1) grace
     a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of
2) good will, loving-kindness, favour
     a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns
         them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge,
         affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
3) what is due to grace
     a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
     b) the token or proof of grace, benefit
          1) a gift of grace
          2) benefit, bounty
4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

Matthew 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
So. I've been following the application from my IBS on the 6th, Mathew 5:3. No sweets.


It's actually been going pretty well. Although when I had felt like this was something I should do in the past and making the decision was difficult, once I got through the initial hurtle of making it a definite plan of action and telling those who can help keep me accountable it's actually been pretty good.

Not necessarily fun, but I know God hasn't led me to commit proverbial suicide by laying off the 'pastels y dulces' (desserts and sweets/candies).

It's been a week now, and I'll be honest by saying that I have 'cheated' twice; however, I did use moderation and it wasn't some loss of control, "I NEED SUGAR!!1" situation, they were special (and good enough I could have very easily taken much, much more. . .)

Having said that, next time I won't be making an exception quite so easily.

It's also beginning to become more apparent how this little 'lifestyle change' is going to play out, whereas initially the "rules" were rather undefined.

It's a learning experience, and I know God has His purpose for placing this on my heart.

There's the obvious physical benefits to my health, short-term and long-term, but I think it may also turn out to be a good exercise for character. I know God will also use this in some way in his purpose for my Spiritual growth; actually, in at least one way He has already begun.

Anyway, for all that I hunger and thirst for delicious things, I am willing to do this because I hunger and thirst for my God and His will for me all the more.

Likewise, Christ encouraged (exhorted?) us with these Beatitudes, and He says that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who desire it, those who want it, will be filled.

Their longing will be satisfied.

Those who want righteousness will receive righteousness.

Now righteousness is not legalism, and making the choice to be righteous is not legalistic. (See 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23 for just a start on that.) (Not that giving up candy somehow makes me righteous or anything like that, I'm just making a point about legalism/righteous behavior, whereas the candy thing would be what I feel to be a following of His Spirit's lead.)

I think I might need to refocus on this 'little' virtue. Not, 'apply my focus' to righteousness, but in being focused on God, look again more closely to that pure, genuine righteousness He calls His beautiful bride to.

Written February 13, 2012

Seeking after you my God
Your will for my life
In every way

Loving you
Obeying in love
For You made us free

Paying a great price

You have been glorified

Allow me to glorify You

Friday, April 13, 2012

John 13:5, with the towel with which He was girded.

After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
I love how Christ washed them with the very towel he wore.

There are probably many cultural aspects that I do not understand which would open this up in all sorts of other ways, in fact I'm sure of it, but the idea is still Biblical all the same of humbly serving others to the point of using one's own clothes, the little we have, to perform even the lowliest of tasks for them.

Amazingly though, Jesus did not do this solely as an act of service. It was a teaching moment. Christ did this not because washing their feet this one time would have a grand impact on the rest of their feet washing days, but he lowered himself to teach them something crucial to their faith and, not only their future as servants and children and heirs of their God, but for the faith and growth and life of all believers from then to the time of our Lord's mighty return and beyond.

Although it's not nearly so humbling as taking on the garb of a servant and washing the feet of those who look up to and follow me, looking to me as a role model and example, (more than all of these as the Christ and Son of God!) but when we return to our church I would really like to begin a prayer group with the high school and middle school ministries before Wednesday night service for those who would like to or would be able to show up early using a format that, rather than taking all prayer requests at once, opens with a prayer for the meeting and then continues with each request taken and prayed for one at time. In this format your thoughts are less prone to wandering, and overall I could imagine it feeling much less 'formal' to a group of young people who may not yet have a strong prayer life or understand the joy of simply spending time communing with God, or even more likely, how to do so properly. Jesus gave us examples, and many of the Psalms parallel prayer.

When you ask something of your friend or parent you don't simply make demands, and depending on the culture and home life you've come from there may be different ways to make a request properly. For instance, do you make requests in submission or domination? With a thankful attitude or one that expects the meeting of one's demands to be only what is right and proper.

So to with God, there is a wrong and a right way to ask him for things, and there are right and wrong things to ask him for. He wants us to come to him with all our pains and concerns, but he also wants us to come with a right attitude, and just because you don't like to study doesn't mean he's going to give you an A+ on that test coming up.

Please also read this study, very special to me, from Michelle.

Written April 6, 2012

I want to pray to you my God
I want to pray to you always

I want to cry with my heart and soul
Lift up my hands and beg you bring me home

Call out to you

Jesus thank you

I will pray to you and you alone
I will cry to you for my everything
I will lift up my hands and worship you

Devotion and praise

Call our to you


Thank you

Mathew 5:5, Blessed are the meek:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
I want to remind myself of the word 'Meek'.

I remember having a previous IBS on the subject and want to go back and look at my application again, because reading this I feel like it should be reapplied. Jesus didn't say this for nothing, and not only was He described as meek, but He had said it of Himself and continues to say so each time someone opens up the Bible and reads His words in Mathew 11:29.

The greek word used here for meek, "Praus", appears twice more in the Bible. Again in Mathew 21:5, as well as in 1 Peter 3:4. It is also the root word of "Praos", used in Mathew 11:29 referenced above.

The IBS I am thinking of was James 1:21,
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. NKJV
Back in November the Lord led me in this study, and the application from then which must be 'reapplied' now was that "I want to consciously seek meekness in myself in daily life, and pray that God would lead me to meekness, that my character might become more in line with what God would have of me so that He can do all that He would do with my life."

Written February 9, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

John 13:4, laid aside His garments,

rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.
Aware of his glory and power, aware of his standing and honor, aware that he had come from God and would soon be returning to God, Jesus the Christ lowered himself before everyone's eyes in preparation for the lowliest task of a servant.

I often see this story and think of how Jesus lowered himself as an example to the disciples by washing their feet; but what I don't often think of is how even before performing the task of a servant, our Christ had to lower himself completely by becoming like a servant.

Before going to the cross to die numbered among the transgressors; before having been acknowledged by God and his Spirit at the Jordan; before preaching the Words and will of the the Lord and healing the sick and dieing and lame or raising the dead to life; before his ministry and revealing as a prophet, the Messiah, the Son of Man and more than these the Son of God, he lived a life of thirty years numbered among us, transgressors, in preparation for his most inglorious and glorifying victory over sin and death and all the powers of darkness through the lowliest and most painful of deaths and the receiving of all the wrath of God meant for those he was numbered among.

To teach the disciples he removed his robes and covered himself as a servant with nothing but a towel for washing.

To teach the world and save us he laid down his glory and covered himself as we are with nothing but human flesh; yet he did not only cover himself as a man, but made himself as God wholly man.

When Christ lowered himself to human form he did not have a mighty halo proclaiming the truth hidden by flesh. His eyes did not glow, his aura did not shine, there was no invisible confirmation that made people who saw him know though not knowing why that, "Yes, this is God!"

I have already gotten a taste of being humbled anew just in these first few days being back at the ranch, and now I must lay myself down willingly, wholly and without struggle anew at the feet of One greater than I. I want to accept whatever he has, whatever he brings, and will be in deep prayer, asking less about what the Lord has for me and more for a right and humble servants heart that will take joy from all that he reveals and runs toward the paths from which he calls.

I will remove this garment of pride that says I hold any responsibility for the plans God has in store, and dress myself humbly in the readiness of a servant. In this month I will do NOTHING to specifically prepare for any plans I may have in my heart that come after my time here at the ranch. I will be here and I will be all here, and I will not make any excuses about needing to find the balance between being exactly where I am while still being two paces ahead, this isn't the place or time for that.

I am not disregarding or putting away my standing as a worker (God desires workers, not those who sit around waiting to be used [exa. the disciples were called while at work fishing; Christ himself grew up the child of a carpenter and acted as the eldest man in the household after his fathers passing, working as a carpenter, not beginning his earthly ministry as a preacher, or more accurately teacher/rabbi, until at least the age of 30.])

I am however accepting that whatever comes after this month is in God's hands. That whatever I might do in a month here, being "responsible" for the future God gives me, is a drop in the bucket compared to what he could do in a single hour of my returning home; not to mention the fact that doing all those things, doing anything aside from taking advantage of what God offers, will detract from this special time he has given right here.

Jesus not only performed a humble task, but he also made humble preparations.

I can't see why God wouldn't have the same of me, a lowly orphan taken into his family, as that of his son under whom he subjected all things.

"We see that in serving, He girded Himself, to gird means to prepare one self for what is to encircle, as in putting on a belt.
Our serving is a choice. It is love in action. . . Servants and times of serving open opportunities to things we never before would of encountered had we remained seated at the table. He rose from supper and showed us the way to rise out of our struggles and uncertainties into a girded and prepared mind, ready and alert. God does not desire for His people to sit in a cloudy or foggy state, He desire that they have certainty and confidence in their stance. When we serve, He reveals. This action is a example set out for all servants of Christ. Servants serve. When confused, serve. When broken, serve. When joyful, serve. When anxious, serve. When frustrated, serve. When weak, serve. For in those times of serving, God is girding. He is preparing your heart and mind for His plans. He had a plan for Christ, each day that He spent on the earth, so you can trust that He has a plan for you." - Michelle's study of John 13:4

I'd also like to share Janessa's study.

Written April 5, 2012

Matthew 5:4, Blessed are they that mourn:

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
No depths of hell
No sins of man
Can ever keep
Me from His hand

My comforter
My all in all
Calm through the fiercest storm I'll stand

I've always loved this song, and earlier today I had been thinking of it briefly.

Right now I can't really remember the rest, but after praying about this IBS I couldn't help but think of all my worries lately, especially those concerning the condition of my heart.

I haven't had much peace as of late, but Jesus bears the name Wonderful Counselor and He himself said that those who mourn are blessed for the comfort they will receive.

God gave us the emotions of unhappiness and sadness and we are not meant to be satisfied with the troubles of a fallen world; but we do have the joy of knowing that through all our pain there is a mighty God who truly loves us and looks on us as sons and daughters; a groom who waits with anticipation for the coming of His bride; and a Spirit who lives in us and through us, guiding us all the days of our life.

I have been praying for God's help in this time and for His strength, that I would not forget the joy of my Lord and that this time and trial would pass quickly and my heart be made more like His than it has been; but I am going to remember to pray now more specifically for His perfect peace, that I could show and have His perfect love for His people and those people He would have, and I will remember as my heart begins to feel rotten towards another person to just stop and pray.

Not only selfishly for the betterness of my heart, but also for those about whom I am thinking such rotten things.

Now before IBS starts I am going to listen to a song or two praising my Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, remembering the wonder of His name.

'Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.' - Jim Elliot

Written February 7, 2012

Take me take me take me
God take me in your hands and lead me where you would

Take me take me take me
God take me, lead me by the hand

Monday, April 9, 2012

John 13:3, He had come from God and was going to God,

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,
I forgot about our Bible studies going through Nehemiah while living in San Martin. I forgot about what I had wanted to do for Hospital Bloom.

I had held onto it for a very long time, knowing how easy it would be to forget and then lose the fire I had had before for this work I had felt called to.

Well, it's been over three months now, at times a very very busy three months kept busy and without time to think of other things, and apparently at some point I forgot. Colin reminded me today as we, all the interns and Pastors here at the ranch, were discussing our time and some of the things we've learned and experiences we've had and the pain and the rejoicing and pretty much anything and everything God led us to.

Needing the full context to better understand this verse; in verse one of chapter 13, Jesus knew his hour had come and that he would be departing to the Father, "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."

In verse two the betrayal is described as already having been set in motion in the heart of the traitor.

And now Jesus, knowing that the father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, (as I break the rules of IBS, [sorry Pastor G]) to serve the disciples, to lower himself, God in flesh, even to Judas who would betray him, and love them with his service.

I forgot about Hospital Bloom. I mean, I didn't forget, I can't forget, but it hasn't been on the tip of my thoughts with all the things being done and needing done, and have fallen in love with the idea of studying in the School of Worship for a better understanding of the theology of worship, both for my personal worship of God through song and for what it means to truly worship him with my life.

I need to spend some really good time in prayer like I haven't in so long seeking after God's will for my life, and for his guidance and comfort about those things he is leading myself and the other interns to, and for a reorientation of my thoughts and desires so that rather than my own will I would keep my desire and focus on his and his love.

Written April 4, 2012

I was actually brought to tears while reading this study to the rest of our group because for the first time ever, in the School of Worship, I really felt like God had given me a passion for the direction I should go next; I felt the Lord give what seemed like confirmation upon confirmation about this being a good next step; and most importantly I had truly developed a peace about going that I had never had about anything else before, including participation in the IGNITE365 program with Potter's Field Ministries, what seemed like the greatest confirmation of all in the face of the many other ideas going through my head of what could be the next step after this time with Potter's Field.

However, when Colin made mention of that IBS from 3 months back and my commitment at the time, I felt literally crushed. It is the first time in my memory that I can say I was very nearly angry with God, but truly I was angry at myself for the thoughts and feelings I had at being reminded about this thing that I truly did want to do, and that I knew by God's grace would be amazing and able to bear worthwhile fruit (and honestly in part I think it may have been the emotional dam breaking from the time leading up to and actually leaving from El Salvador with the many goodbyes that needed said and extreme change of environment.)

God worked a drastic change of heart in me over the next 24 hours, sorting out the full extent of what my feelings were and where they came from. That just because a fundraiser I don't have the first clue about how to carry out doesn't capture my fascination like the School of Worship doesn't mean I wouldn't take great joy from the work if it is what God would call me to; and that just because God would return me to this commitment I made in the past, for a work I really do want to see made a reality, doesn't mean the confirmations, peace, and passion I feel for attending the School of Worship should necessarily be disregarded, even if it is simply for farther down the road than I had originally thought.

As I leave Potter's Field Ranch I am assured that I am coming from God, from his will; and I know that if I trust in him and walk in his ways, I will be going to God, to his will, also.

Work in me
A miracle of peace
Calm my heart
And make it clean

I want you
And your will for me
My God

It's not about me

It's all for your love

Comments added April 9, 2012

Matthew 5:3, The poor in spirit are blessed,

"The poor in spirit are blessed,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
"The poor" here comes from the Greek "πτωχός " [ptō-kho's]. Biblically it is used as 'lacking in anything' and 'destitute of wealth, influence, position and honour', 'poor, needy' and even 'helpless, powerless to accomplish an end'.

It's use also includes 'lowly, afflicted, destitute of the Christian virtues and eternal riches'.

Fun right? Well, I wouldn't be so sure that's the way it is used in this particular instance.

First and foremost, the word ptōchos is listed on Blue Letter Bible as having a Biblical usage of being "reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms".

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" [Luke 11:13]

Personally, I think these other words of Jesus help to make this come together.

He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
“So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Luke 11:5-13

Sinful man is not just destitute of spirit. We are DEAD of spirit and it is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ Himself, who brings us life.

Having said that, let's bring it all back to selfish little me.

Lately I haven't been feeling good, but that's not to say that I've been feeling sick. (At least not in the physical sense anyway.)

I have good, God fearing Jesus loving times where I look at the world and people and my heart is just so 'right'; but lately I've also been having more times where my heart is just empty a lot more than I like. (As if there are ever those times that, at least in hindsight, we really 'like' them.)

I have a struggle with a critical spirit for which I depend on Christ, and lately that critical spirit seems almost as if it is rearing it's ugly head any chance it gets.

I have my high times floating on cloud nine and praying happily; then I have some low time in the same day, unable to recall that joy of seeking God with my life from only a few hours before.

No surprise that I haven't been devoting as much time to prayer as I'd like, or that time spent in the Word has been almost non-existent. Last Monday my application from Titus 1:3 was to work on this, but that was of course a week ago and I have made little headway in taking back control of my schedule (from my easily distracted busy-busy-work-work-work oriented self, who hasn't been keeping to a more rapid pace to get things done lately in my downer state) and practicing prudence in the mornings and a measure of control to do only what I should do, and not whatever things pop up that I am capable of doing from moment to moment.

I have been trying to devote what free time I have to finishing my last required reading as soon as possible, because you know, "If I can just finish it sooner rather than later I will then have PLENTY of time to read the Bible and pray and do everything without worrying and stressing about finishing it and getting on to the 'next thing to get done'.

(Sarcasm warning) And forget that getting it done now to free up time and eliminating one distraction for later means that the time I should be spending in the Word has been taking hit after crippling hit. ("The Great Omission" actually happens to be a really great book which I would recommend and even encourage everyone to read [not part of the sarcasm; really, it's great.])

As a matter of fact, something that I really need to think about was mentioned, that whereas most people 'work to live' we North Americans 'live to work'.

Anyway, to get back on track with this little rabbit trail that has slowly been making it's way to the application God actually led me to before sitting down to type. . .

In one of Pastor Joe Focht's audio teachings he mentioned how in many cases a new Christian who is still riddled with problems may be walking more fully in the Spirit than a mature Christian who has by then 'gotten everything down' and knows 'the right things to do'.

A new Christian doesn't know anything yet, and may still look a lot like the world, but the thing is that they may very well have, through Christ, ceased being an alcoholic and getting into fights just two weeks before and loving every new thing they learn, whereas the older, more 'mature' Christian may very well be refusing and ignoring the Holy Spirit as they are convicted on better managing their time or being a better husband or wife, even if only in some small and particular way.

Well, awhile back some of you may remember an IBS, or two, maybe even three that had mentioned my eating habits and near obsession with sweets.

So far I've been failing/blatantly refusing what I believe to be the conviction of the Holy Spirit about taking better care of my body through my diet SPECTACULARLY, and I intend to do something about this.

Written February 6, 2012

James 2:14, if someone says. . .

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? NKJV
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? ESV (emphasis added)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith same him? HCSB (emphasis added)

What USE is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? NASB (emphasis added)

Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
A quote from The Message*

Works don't save.

But what type of faith is it if you claim to believe, claim to love, claim absolute devotion(!). . . but don't act accordingly?

Our works, our behavior, our actions. They show our resolve, the things we believe and what we really care about to the world. They show our devotions. They are our witness.

Works don't save: but regardless of what excuses we might give they do indicate the quality of our faith and the value we place in it.

When I was younger I was a terrible witness. And I knew it. I was miserable, depressed, hated myself and at times the world, and because I knew how un-Christlike my behavior was, because it seemed as if I knew of every flaw in myself, every shortcoming in my walk with God, and every sin I committed, I hated myself all the more. I welcomed the thought of heaven, but unlike many mature brethren and writers of the Bible such as Paul, my desire was not alone a simple and beautiful desire for God and the things he has promised us, but rather was accompanied by darker thoughts and a want for a means that God would not have.

Few who long and look towards heaven have a perfect desire at all times. The world is imperfect, and we are not meant to be content or satisfied.

At times the pain hits us and we can't wait for escape to that better place, and that isn't wrong. But at times our thoughts and actions may stray a step too far in the ways of escapism and the means by which we would flee from those difficulties, rather than finding peace, and I thank God for His forgiveness and freedom from those thoughts.

At times Christians go through troubles and difficulties, we suffer and sadly we do not always stand strong in those times, exemplifying Christ. (Our sanctification is continuous on earth and not complete until our final release from sin and death, by our earthly death, and as such should be thankful all the more everyday of what Jesus went through for us.)

But those difficult times are still a time to fight. To struggle. To seek after Him and His will. Even when we fall, Jesus did not only make our sins forgiven, He "broke the power of cancelled sin". He freed us from sin. If we are walking with Him then when we have realized our sin it should cause us pain, but because we are freed from sin, although guilt is a favorite tool of the devil, it is our choice whether we will hold onto the chains or lay them at the cross because they have no hold over us!

Loved ones die and we become sick, the church as a whole and every individual is persecuted at times for our separation from the world if we keep in the world but not of it, and for our devotion to the God who loves and we love, who it stands against as an enemy.

Pastor Don McClure when spending time at the ranch and teaching on the life of David was talking about David's time fleeing from Saul into the land of the Philistines. In describing this he gave a quote from the book "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers that just seemed to illuminate many of my younger years; it did not give any justification, but upon hearing it I was able to look back with a renewed clarity: "The most miserable person on earth is not a lost person; the most miserable person on earth is a saved person out of fellowship with God."

In his teaching Pastor Don said something like this, "You see, an unsaved person might feel bad for awhile about the things they've done, but to them it isn't sin! When someone who is unsaved sins they don't think it matters! Now when a saved person sins, and they know it, they are hurt at the thought of hurting God. When a saved person sins and knows they've sinned they feel guilty for their sin! The most miserable person on earth isn't somebody who's lost, because they don't know they're lost! I believe that one of the most miserable people on the face of this earth is a depressed Christian. . ."

When our lives are not shining with the light and life of Christ, when we have covered that light with some darkness, we continuously have a choice to seek after God, to ask Him for strength and help in revealing that light to the world, and even if we fail time and time again, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." [Romans 8:1]

I have come so far from where I was before. My faith was always strong, so strong that I would cry out prayers I can now be glad God saw fit not to answer; weeping in my bed at the thought of another minute in darkness, let alone the hour or more it would be before falling asleep, or the days, weeks, months and years surrounded by the darkness of not knowing, filled with what I could only assume at the time to be the darkness of emptiness and sorrow when I knew they should be filled with the light and joy of Christ.

Now I know, not just intellectually but also experientially, even when I face sadness and loneliness, even if a time comes when I again face a season of depression, the Lord is with me. I will always have His joy, and I have experienced His use of even the most difficult of situations to grow and sanctify His children (in this case me.) I know to the very depths of my soul that all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. [Romans 8:28]

Where once I would wait day by day for the days to end, unable to pull myself out of the rut surroundings began and I pressed myself farther into, He has actually led me to amazing work. Not only did my Savior save me, but after I wallowed and dug in deep to the mud He reached down and set me straight and walking on the firm road. He brought me to His house with it's comforts and safety and peace. He washed me and clothed me and fed me. He renewed my heart and mind in sanctification, and I pray that He continues to do so everyday.

Where before my life was empty save a faith in Jesus, now Jesus has filled with the things He would have me do and I can show them to the world as a testament of the man-and-God who saved me!

I have always had a faith in Christ, but what is the power of a faith that does not impact our actions or shake and jostle the faiths of others?

We are not saved by works, but 'works' are the natural and good result of a faith that is true, strengthened by knowledge and wisdom (beginning with the fear** of the Lord.) [Proverbs 1:1-7]

*An inexact translation of the Bible, meant to paraphrase scripture into more modern language. Used here as one might in quoting a commentary or speaker as they explain a passage of scripture.

**Respect; acknowledgment and understanding of who God is and His greatness; the original Hebrew:
H3374 יִראָה yir'ah (yir-aw') n-f.
1. fear (also used as infinitive)
2. morally, reverence
[feminine of H3373]
KJV: X dreadful, X exceedingly, fear(-fulness).
Root(s): H3373

Written November 12, 2011

I uploaded this to my blog waaaaay back before Christmas, but while I did save it, I had forgotten to upload it. So. . . I saw it and figured it wouldn't hurt to just get it up today. Better late than never right?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Titus 1:4-5, To Titus, a true son in our common faith:

To Titus, a true son in our common faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you–
I love the little thing Paul does here.

In a letter, the first thing is a section containing the senders information. ("[From] Paul, a bondservant of God. . .")

Next, an addressment: "Titus," "Dear Titus," "My beloved Titus," ("To Titus, a true son. . .")

Finally you reach the letter itself, and all the information the sender attempts to convey. ("For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should. . ." Wait, where's that other bit?)

In this letter Paul, at least as it is portrayed in the English translation, gives a little play on words. After saying, "To Titus," Paul goes on to, instead of the meat of his letter, list the things that are very literally for Titus to receive (Grace, mercy, and peace), and very specifically who they are from (God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior of course).

I haven't been addressing many letters lately; in fact, I haven't been addressing any at all (both literally and figuratively).

No newsletters, little to no facebook (meaning I'm not getting back to the people I am trying to witness to 'en ingles' [in English]), not as many e-mails to my family as anyone would like and I'm not even sure how to contact what supporters I have let alone, because of the way my finances are being handled, who many of them are (if you have supported me in anyway, contextually this would technically refer to finances but also so very true of prayer, I cannot express how thankful I am for allowing God to use you in lifting up myself and this ministry so I could be used like never before).

I had a few other ideas floating around for what my application might wind-up being when I was writing the beginning of this study, but after reading the verse and beginning to write I really didn't have a clue.

Well Paul, the big man, the shining example, that one super-duper willing-to-suffer-anything apostle guy who was totally on fire for Jesus and went through some crazy stuff and wrote a pretty good chunk of the New Testament (You know who I'm talking about?) also wrote quite a few letters.

He kept the news flowing.

Through the empowering of the Holy Spirit he kept the churches and individuals of The church [Ephesians 5:25-32; Colossians 1:17-20] connected, focused on God, and inspired.

I want to be used like that. (And to be totally honest I also don't want to return to the States in debt because I didn't tell people who would have been willing at the time to help that the mission trip I was on had many costs aside from time and effort; but still, I really do want to be used like that. Owing money would be annoying but it's not like I couldn't pay it off.)

The problem is I think Paul wrote many of His epistles while under house arrest, not while having nearly every second of his day filled. The problem with my excuse is I think he wrote many letters while on the road and busy with stuff too, and Paul really wasn't the type to waste a second when it could be used for God, spare time available or no.

So, I guess if I can't find any spare time I'll just need to take some to spread the good news.

Who wants to take a guess what my next free day will be devoted to?

Here's a link to Josh's blog. :)

Written January 31, 2012

So I think I have done an OK job at least of following through with this application, though there is always room for improvement, but I'm glad to pull it up again now at the beginning of our time back at the ranch.

I will be continuing to upload blogs, (there was a bit of another 'fall away' for the past week as we made ready to leave El Salvador) and starting tomorrow I will begin simultaneously uploading an IBS from our time going through The Beatitudes and an IBS written since returning to the ranch.

So then! Tomorrow I will be uploading a study of Matthew 5:3 and a study of John 13:3

If you feel led to give even just a small amount to God's work through this ministry by helping to pay off the rest of what is owed for my mission trip please contact my dad or myself, or ask at Crossroads Community Church for information on how to provide a donation for the program.