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.