Monday, September 26, 2011

Today's The Day

Funny, this post is also about rain :)

College students on a Monday morning are always a little rough. Add 6:30am practice and cool rain showers, and it's a lot rough. My teammates were complaining about what an awful day it was, and yeah, is being soaked down to the bone awesome? Not exactly. But for some reason, I just couldn't get the smile off my face. I was so filled with joy. Maybe it's because of how I started the day.

Unlike most people, I woke up to the sound of rain at 4:30am instead of a buzzing alarm at 6:15. I thanked the Lord for His presence and surrendered the day to Him. I read some of Ezra and Nehemiah and then a few chapters of Matthew. I turned on some worship music and prayed along, in awe of how great our God is.

So by the time I went to the gym, I was awakened to the glory of the Lord, ready to experience Him whatever way He had planned for me. As I ran, with my clothes and body completely dripping, I remembered Betsie Ten Boom who reminded the world that the Bible doesn't say to give thinks in pleasant circumstances, it says all circumstances. The Lord made today, so I'm going to recjoice and be glad in it.

Thank You Jesus for the rain! You are always good, no matter what.

Today is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rain Down On Us

Ah yes, cross country season in the midwest. One week there are people dropping like flies from heat exhaustion and the next you're bundled up in all your sweats.

Anyway, today we had a race, and throughout the whole thing I had the song "All My Fountains" stuck in my head, due to the fact that a friend asked me to learn it this week. It was actually a pretty good race song - high energy with some pertinent lines like "I tell myself keep walking on...Your river carries me home...let it flow, let it flow" But the bridge is "Rain down on us, rain down on us Lord" and during the 3.1 mile race, I probably said that several dozen times.

Well, we all know that God answers prayer, so not long after the boys' race started, it began to rain. I just smiled because to me, it was confirmation that the Lord had heard me singing to Him, and He responded - literally!

As they make music they will sing,
“All my fountains are in You.” Psalm 87:7

Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the LORD, have created it. Isaiah 45:8

Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth. Hosea 6:3

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Night Watch

Many of you will know that I really like going to bed early. I just do. Part of this is because I love getting up early. The way I've structured my life has kind of come to depend on it. For example, this morning, by 8am, I'd read the book of Ruth, the first 2 chapters of 1 Samuel, Galatians 6, run 4.5 miles, lifted weights, eaten breakfast, and showered - in that order. It has become absolutely crucial to put my top priority first in my day, and that means no matter what, I spend time seeking the Lord before I do anything else. Even if I wake up and my phone kindly tells me I have 14 emails, a half dozen texts, and 8 new facebook notifications, I'm going to pray first. Sometimes this takes a lot of discipline, especially with how crazy life can get as a college student. But I notice the difference. The few times I've waited until "after" to have my special time with Jesus, I find myself lacking joy, peace, and love.

That being said, every now and then I stay up late. I am an imperfect person striving to follow the Word of a holy God, and He tells us to meditate on Him in the night watches. Besides the issue of obedience that this raises, I've also found that I pray for different things in the evening, especially when I'm on campus. The Holy Spirit directs my heart to needs at midnight that are different from the needs at 5am, when everyone is asleep. Sometimes after I've been on a "night watch" I'll hear someone telling me about something "super random and bizarre" that happened to them that night. It'll be something that I was specifically praying for! I love that, that we're able, through Christ, to begin to know the heart of God.

The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we'll know Him and what He sees. We'll know how to better serve His people, because our heart will be knit closer to His own.

Lord, Lord, Direct my heart to You. Let me never tire in Your presence. My flesh is weak, but in You I find strength. To pray in the Spirit is to know You directly and intimately. Bless my time with You Lord, for You are the most beautiful One I've ever known. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street. Lamentations 2:19

when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; Psalm 63:6

My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. Psalm 119:48

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Lately, I have been seeking deeper wisdom and knowledge. I've been checking out Hebrew and Greek study aids and reading more and more commentaries. I love what the Lord is teaching me through His Word and the words of those He's inspired.

So, here's a part of Matthew Henry's Commentary on Psalm 103, and one of my current favorite songs to go along with it.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103

"By the pardon of sin, that is taken away which kept good things from us, and we are restored to the favor of God, who bestows good things on us. Think of the provocation; it was sin, and yet pardoned: how many the provocations, yet all pardoned! God is still forgiving, as we are still sinning and repenting. The body finds the melancholy consequences of Adam's offence, it is subject to many infirmities, and the soul also. Christ alone forgives all our sins; it is he alone who heals all our infirmities. And the person who finds his sin cured, has a well-grounded assurance that it is forgiven. When God, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, recovers his people from their decays, and fills them with new life and joy, which is to them an earnest of eternal life and joy, they may then be said to return to the days of their youth."

Then He saw wisdom and declared it;He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out. Job 28:27

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
Proverbs 2:5-7

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Great Are You Lord

I was reading Numbers today, and I was really amazed by the way that Moses was so open about his own inabilities. I know I have such a hard time admitting that I can't do it all. I want to have everything under control, but that's really not my place. And Moses had the wisdom to know that it wasn't his either:

I am not able to carry all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. Numbers 11:14

I mean, wow. Look at that. I am not able. It's such a poignant act of submission; it's Moses saying, "God I can't do this, but I believe that You can, so I'm asking for Your help here". I wish I remembered to do that right away all the time, instead of getting myself overwhelmed and in a mess, because look at the Lord's response to Him:

And I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take of the Spirit which is upon you and will put It upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not have to bear it yourself alone. Numbers 11:17

I loved this verse because not only is God going to come down to Moses and meet him where he is, He's going to work through other ordinary people. It's amazing to watch the Holy Spirit move in people because I think it shows God's incredible greatness - that He can take broken vessels as ourselves and use them for His glory.

And do you know what Moses did when He realized how great God really is,

And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face Numbers 16:4

That was how he told the Lord he needed help, and would rely on Him for it all. I think we can learn a thing or two from this.

Lord, You are strong when we are weak. You are able when you are not. You are great, Lord. You are worthy of all praise. That You come down to us and use us is amazing. Great are You Lord.

And Moses said, By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I do not act of my own accord. Numbers 16:28

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm In Love

Get out of class, grab some lunch. I was planning out the rest of my free afternoon, taking note of the beautiful weather. I really just wanted to go on a prayer walk, maybe bring my iPod for some soothing worship tunes and my Bible and journal and stop along the river. But in order to fulfill the holy calling God has on this season of my life, I really need to study and do my homework. So, I found myself on the way to the library, yearning for time alone with my precious Savior.

I told myself that if I worked steadily for the next two hours, I could have my last hour and a half before practice in prayer. It was then that I realized that this is a healthy way to be in the world but not of it. Although I wanted the Lord more than anything else, I respected the life He has for me right now. But I made Christ my joy and my reward. Better than taking a coffee break or reading a fun book, I was seeking after more of Him.

Simply put, He is my desire. I'm so in love with HIm.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. 1 Peter 1:8

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beauty Will Rise

Today was such a blessed day - worship at church, a powerful sermon, and a delightful lunch/afternoon with my pastor and his family, followed by the opportunity to pray at a memorial for 9/11/01.

All day, I thought of the song, "Beauty Will Rise", and how it says, "Out of these ashes/beauty will rise". That is what I felt today, and that's what I prayed about at the event, which I am re-posting here.

I am one of those people who prays about everything, including what to pray. So this past week, I've been asking God to direct my heart and thoughts. I mean, what do I have to say? What happened ten years ago today has no words. Every time I checked my phone or calendar, I saw those digits - 9-11 - and was struck by them. Pain will often unite people more than anything else, and today, I see many differences being put outside in order that we would come together and just remember. But I also believe that we need to look ahead. In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah writes that we will be given a crown of beauty out of our ashes, and John speaks of a light that shines into the darkness.

At church this morning, my pastor talked about the picture in his office, where beams of light formed a cross around the twin towers. It reminded me of what Corrie Ten Boom wrote in her account of the Holocaust, the Hiding Place. She was asking God where He was in the middle of the tragedy, and then she saw it: the cross of Jesus Christ etched forever into all of human history. In Christ we have life and hope that the Lord is sovereign. He is in control. We don't know if we will wake up tomorrow and live another day, but those who are right with God through the saving power of Jesus are guaranteed a place in His house today, tomorrow, and forever. And it is by this knowledge, by this grace, God's free gift of freedom, life, and hope to each and every one of us, that I am welcomed into His presence to pray:

Lord, thank You for being sovereign and so faithful. As we remember the events from ten years past, let us not forget that ultimately, our lives are in Your hands. Your word says that You are with those who mourn and comfort the afflicted. But more than anything else, Father I pray that You would use this as a wake up call to us. Only You, Lord are forever. We are just a vapor in time here briefly and then gone. But You are the God who was, who is, and who will be. And You loved us enough to come in the person of Jesus and die for all of our sin and failures. You took that upon Yourself that we would know You. Holy Spirit, speak into our hearts the truth of Christ. Let us come to You, in full recognition that we do not know what comes next, but that we can trust fully in You. We are invited into a relationship with Jesus, to know Him as our personal Savior, and let that be our source of joy, hope, peace, and restoration. Because You have said that if Your people would humble themselves and pray, You will restore their land. Lord, today I pray for remembrance - not just of the victims, but further back, to the cross, to Christ, through whom we are saved and redeemed. I praise You for You abundant blessings, for Your promises to us, and for who You are. You are sovereign, Lord, let this be our cry. In Jesus' name, Amen.

(Although this song is about the death of the Chapman's daughter, I feel it is also a great song for today)

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
But you shall be named the priests of the LORD,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
“ For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. Isaiah 61

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Under Grace

So today I was reading in Exodus, all about the covenant that God continues to promise and His people continue to fail to grasp. Chapter 29 goes into great detail about the sacrifices and offerings that are necessary in order to be in right standing with God. I was pretty struck by all that was required - just one part for example, is the daily sacrifice of two lambs and 1 bull:

This shall be a continual offering throughout your generations at the door of the Tent of Meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you to speak there to you (Verse 42).

A continual offering is what is required to meet with the Lord. The depth of the depravity of sin is astounding. Our holy God is so offended by it that He can't even look at us without the fragrant smoke of our offerings. We cannot be in right standing on our own. All that we do is never enough.

Thankfully, God had a plan. One of the things that is distinct to Christianity is this: that our God came down. He lived, in the person of Jesus, and walked among us. And He took to the cross, giving Himself up as an offering. This offering did what thousands of lambs could not do; it put us in right standing with the Lord not for a day but for eternity. Christ lived in our world, but knew no sin. He took all of our sin - past, present, and future - onto Himself and put it to death by crucifixion. And because He was raised, that sin is forever defeated. God can look through Christ as our living lens; that's what it means to be under grace.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38-39

Well then, as one man's trespass [one man's false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man's act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men. So that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) our Lord. Romans 5:18, 21

Thursday, September 8, 2011

God Is Able

I seriously can't believe I haven't posted on this yet!

Anyway, on the way to the outdoor conference track meet in the spring, I was reading the Bible and the phrase God is able kept leaping off the page. I knew then that the Lord wanted to get it through my thick skull, that no matter what I could or could not do, He could do more, and better.

Ever since then, I've found myself meditating on that phrase. Working on a tough paper - God is able to provide wisdom and focus. Navigating the waters of a sometimes muddy home life - God is able to heal. Struggling through a hard run - God is able to give strength and endurance. Completely exhausted -God is able to restore me. Full of stress - God is able to grant me peace. Overwhelmed by the sin in my life - God is able drown me in grace. Feeling alone - God is able to comfort me, love me, and provide blissful companionship. In all ways, in all things, the Lord our God is able. His love is able, His grace is able. He is able.

This summer, Hillsong came out with the God Is Able album. I could honestly listen to the title track all day. The God who hand-crafted the world and everything and everyone in it came down and lived a perfect life while walking among us. Jesus was tested and tried in every way, yet lived to be the perfect sacrifice - a pure Lamb slain as a sin offering. And Christ did something impossible. He rose from the dead. He forever conquered the powers of sin and death and has taken up a life inside of His people in the Holy Spirit.

Just today, I was trying to figure out how I was going to do everything the Lord has called me to do. But do you know what, it doesn't matter what I do in my strength. Because it is never going to stand up to what He can do. By residing in Him and His sovereignty, I too am able. I am able, solely because God is able.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 2 Corinthians 9:8

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Prepare To Worship

I believe that Christ’s church worships Him better together on Sundays when we are all cultivating individual hearts of worship every day. I can only control myself, so, realizing my status as a member of His church, I make an effort to worship Him for who He is in everything I do, say, and am. This morning was no different. For too many Sunday mornings are rushed – after sleeping in late, we finally manage to get ourselves out the door and into the church, without ever pausing to consider whom we’re about to meet with.

This morning, I rose early to prepare my own heart. I read His Word, and then put together an active worship playlist for a two-hour run. I’ve always felt that running is an act of worship; I thank God for the body He gave me to use. And early in the morning, when all is quiet and still, it creates an atmosphere tailor-made to hear the Lord. After all, if worship is a response, we have to have something that we’re responding to.

After breakfast (and a shower!) I was ready for worship in the presence of the Lord’s saints. During the opening music, I kept seeing myself at the foot of the cross, offering my heart to Jesus my Savior. As one of the elders prayed, I found myself pleading alongside him, asking for the presence of the Holy Spirit to overwhelm this place. The Word was so alive during the sermon; it sounds strange, but I could see it working among the body. Always, always the cross was at the forefront of my mind.

When the service was over, one of the worship leaders came over to me and shook my hand, saying, “It’s great to see you today. I love worshiping with you. I always keep looking over at you, because I can see you right there – at the foot of the cross, giving your all to Christ. And it takes me there”

We were all made to worship our Maker, our Savior, and our Counselor. And He made the church to be His own. We are designed to love the Lord, and He speaks through us to lead one another closer to His beauty and holiness. In heaven, when we meet our Lord face to face, the bonds of eternal worship will unite us. The Bride will be joined in holy union with her Beloved Savior, praising His name forever and ever. And we can only prepare ourselves by keeping the cross at the very center of our worship.

Let our body be pleasing to You, Lord. Hear our praises as we come together, joined by the awesome power of Your name, and the blood of Christ our Savior, shed at the cross, where our worship is made whole.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; tremble before and reverently fear Him, all the earth. Psalm 96:9

His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), [That is might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. Ephesians 4:12-13

Let us rejoice and shout for joy [exulting and triumphant]! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor, for the marriage of the Lamb [at last] has come, and His bride has prepared herself. Revelation 19:7