Saturday, December 31, 2011


Today I've seen quite a few status updates on facebook concerning this past year.  Many of them stated that it was not a very good year and that they hoped for a better one to come.  This got me to thinking.  Was my year good or bad?  I could list off many things this year that left a part of me broken, including my parents separation and many other things, but does that mean the year was bad?  I don't think so.  Why?  Because God heals.  When things left me broken, I turned to the potter and asked him to glue me back together.  Instead, He took the pieces, ground them up, and used them and fresh clay to make a new and better vessel, one who understands His ways a little better and is more ready to be used for His glory.  The old parts leave me with memories and life lessons while the new areas redefine who I am and tell another part of my story to those who will see it.  So was two-thousand-eleven a good year or a bad one?  I can say with confidence that it was most definitely a good year, one in which the provision and providence of my Lord was shown again and again, including in the end of my parents' separation.

Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Poem

Mary looked upon her child,
The one who'd come from her own flesh
So many prophecies foretold
The things for which this babe was born

A son shall come of virgin birth
Into a poor but royal home
His name shall be Immanuel,
"God with us", the Lord Himself

Though you were the King of Kings
You came to us to be despised
And even as a tiny babe
Your fate on the cross was always sure

The Child grew in stength and grace
And learned the craft His father taught
I wonder, when He hammered a nail
Did He cringe at what He knew would come?

Because though you were the King of Kings
You came to us to be despised
And even as a tiny babe
Your fate on the cross was always sure

As You hung upon that tree
I know You must have thought of me
And though You knew all I would do
You gave Your life to set me free

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The First Christmas Eve

I wonder what it was like
On the Eve of that first holy night.
Did Mary know the night before
That tomorrow a Savior would come?

I wonder if anyone paused
And didn't know just why.
Did all creation hold their breath
In great anticipation?

"For unto us a child is born"
But was anyone really looking?
"And to us a son is given"
But did they know it was soon?

I wonder if children laughed
For no particular reason.
Did the heavenly choir prepare their voices
To tell the shepherds the news?

I wonder if ox and sheep
Knew what was soon to come
Did the stars shine out all the brighter
To celebrate Jesus' birth?

"For unto us a child is born"
But was anyone really looking?
"And to us a son is given"
But did they know it was soon?

I know there was no royal feast,
No heralds saying, "Prepare the way."
But did his parents stop and think,
'Maybe He'll come today.'

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Our Glorious God

Over the last few months, my pastor has been teaching in-depth on the gospel and it's application to believers and non-believers alike.  A few weeks ago, he spoke on an attribute of God that really struck me - His self-centeredness.  Now wait a sec, how can God be self-centered?  If He only cared about Himself, he wouldn't have sent His Son to die to save us, would He?  God is self-centered in a very specific way; He plans and works everything for His glory and His alone.  You may still be wondering how that's possible.

Let's start with a question.  If God has commanded us to not be selfish, isn't He being a hypocrite if He is seeking only His own glory?  The answer is 'no.'  What is the root reason that it is wrong for us to be selfish and seek our own glory?  Because we are not the one most deserving of glory.  We are not all-powerful, all-knowing, ever and everywhere present, etc.  So what are we to do?  We are to seek the glory of the One who is, being God.  By this logic, it would be wrong for God to seek anyone's glory but His own, because we are not worthy of that glory, He is.  Getting lost yet?  : )

Moving on to the cross.  If God is always seeking His own glory, why would he send Jesus to die for us?  When a person comes to realize that they were given an immeasurable gift, one that will save their souls and bring them into communion with God Himself, what is their first response?  "Thank you, God!" as well it should be.  By sending Jesus to die, God the Father brought much glory to Himself.  As Christians, what is our main goal in life?  To bring glory to God.  We do this by living godly lives so that non-Christians "may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven", using the spiritual and physical gifts He has given us, and many more ways.

Have you ever wondered why God didn't crush Satan in the beginning, after he revolted?  He could have.  But if He had, His perfect love story would never have taken place.  Everything would be perfect, and His creations would praise Him, but it would not be the same praise and glory that comes from someone who has lived in an imperfect world and seen what evil is and can do and now resides with a perfect and holy God.  Adam and Eve could never have given that kind of praise if they had never fallen.  Does this make God cruel, that He allowed Satan to go free and tempt Eve, causing the whole perfect system to come crashing down?  I don't think so.  By allowing that to happen, He set in motion a beautiful story of pursuit, redemption, and completion.  Life is hard, but God is amazing, and I don't think I'd really want it any other way.

So what does this mean for us?  If the ultimate purpose for the universe is to bring glory to God, if we refuse to do so, we will never find joy or peace in anything we do.  On the other hand, if we strive to bring glory to the One who deserves it, we will find joy even in things that are mundane or painful.  In other words, Soli Deo Gloria - Glory to God Alone.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Perfect Glove

From what I've heard, most people who have worked at Camp Barakel start thinking about the coming summer of camping and their part in it around December.  I'm strange and started thinking about it in late October.  When I did, I began to realize that what I had been planning to do - counseling - was not where God wanted me.  This surprised me a bit, and I started trying to figure out where He did want me.  Jump ahead to November second, and I'm leaving the church after choir practice.  I wasn't even thinking about camp at all when, completely out of the blue, an idea landed in my lap.  'What if you were to be the YAPS P.A.?'  I remember even looking up at the roof of my car thinking, 'Where in the world did that come from?'

(Here's where I skip me freaking out about the awesomeness of the whole concept and almost getting in an accident thanks to hardly being able to keep my eyes open due to pure excitement.)

By the time I arrived home, I was convinced.  This is what I want to do; this is what God wants me to do.  I wrote a long and slightly jumbled email to Jon and sat back to wait.  NOT.  I couldn't wait; I could hardly sit still.  I started coming up with cool ideas for the program.  I decided on a theme acronym and wrote out Bible studies based on each letter.  I realized it was late and that I was exhausted, so I headed to bed.  I couldn't sleep.  Ideas wouldn't leave me alone.  I was up for hours more before I settled down enough to go back to bed.

Before I went to sleep, I wrote down a prayer, asking God to prepare me and change me in whatever ways were necessary for me to be the best YAPS P.A. I could be.  Over the next few weeks, He did just that.  He's revealed so many things in my life that I was been completely blind to before, and I'm sure he's not done yet.

I now have the finished preliminary outlines of the aforementioned Bible studies, a YAPS song sheet, a Bible memorization passage picked out, and more, smaller things.  A little less than a week ago, I started praying for this summer's YAPS every night after I went to bed.  I've heard some people pray to calm themselves down before bed.  It doesn't work for me.  I've decided that I need to go to bed an extra hour early every night because it takes me that long just to settle down again!

What fact makes me seem even crazier than everything I've just said?  I haven't even received a reply from Jon telling me what his thoughts on the idea are.

In short, I don't remember ever feeling this strongly and being this excited for anything else in my entire life.  It's almost like I was made for this single purpose, like this job is the perfect glove to fit the hand of my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Resolved: what does it mean to you? defines "resolved" as "firm in purpose or intent; determined."

New Year's Day is five weeks and five days away. For most people in the USofA, it is associated with the dropping of "the ball," January, confetti, late-night parties, and New Year's resolutions. I don't have any statistics to back me up, but I'm going to venture a guess and say that most New Year's resolutions have to do with weight loss in some capacity or another. Others have to do with being more productive, spending less, being a better person, etc. All of these are fine goals on the outside, but how long to they usually last? Why are they tossed away so quickly?

I believe the key lies in the motivation. If your motivation sounds something like this, "I'm going to lose weight because I want to feel better about *myself,*" or, "I'm going to give more to the needy because I want to feel better about how much *I* have," the chances of your resolution lasting more than a couple months are not high.

So what should you do? What have I done? What does resolved mean to me?  Well, for starters, quit associating resolutions with New Year's Day. I recently gave up watching most of the eleven TV shows I followed every week. (Granted, they weren't all on all year 'round, but that's still way too many.) Every time I had a big photo shoot to edit, I'd just find another show to watch while I worked, then I would be hooked. God had been poking at me about this for some time, but I just wasn't ready to give it up yet. When I came to the conclusion that I was going to do this, I didn't think of it as a New Year's resolution, if fact, the thought didn't even occur to me until someone told me yesterday what they're doing better for 2012. I just saw it as something that needed to be done, something that needed to change because God said so.

I am resolved.  I have decided between me and God that, even if I have the time to watch something, those shows won't be an option, and I won't be finding any more.  Why do I believe I can stay on this path without faltering?  My motivation.  I'm not doing this for myself.  God said I needed to, I saw that He was right, I did it.  There are other reasons I could list, such as the fact that following so many shows messed up my priorities, etc., but those are really just the reasons behind God saying so.  In the end, His word should be all I need as a reason to do anything.  His commands should always be at the top of my "to do" list.

What do you need to change right now and not wait for the New Year?  What means enough to you to commit your life's work to it?  What are you resolved to do?

With every post, I intend to include a picture I've taken that may or may not have anything to do with the post in which it resides.  This was was taken in Colorado a few years ago.  I just recently edited it properly.