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: