Friday, February 27, 2009

Jeremiah 18:2a

"Arise, and go down to the Potter's house....."

This is the theme verse for my dorm, dorm #330. We live in wholehearted obedience to this verse on a weekly basis, sometimes multiple times a week. A lot of you have been asking about my Michigan family, so let me introduce you to the Potter family.

This is Joel and Bethany Potter (more affectionately known as Mama Bethany and JoPo or Captain Von Trapp, depending on who you ask) and their two phenomenal boys, Jack and Owen.

My little brothers. Jack just turned 4 and Owen will be 2 at the end of April.
Aren't they the cutest kids ever?!

When I babysat a few weeks ago, Jack and I spent the half hour before bedtime watching the cooking channel on TV. By the time we were done and getting him in bed, he had decided that his mom is going to teach us both to cook. We're going to learn togeeeeether!!!!!!!

Look at that face!! He's so cute!!! I'm gonna try to bring Owen home with me for Summer...I just have to get Mom and Dad's consent. Drat.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Where is my focus?

Did you ever think about how often we allow our circumstances to drive our attitude in life? How often do I adopt the "poor me" attitude, feeling sorry for myself because my life is so miserable? All the time, unfortunately. As much as what I've been thinking about applies to me feeling sorry for myself, it also greatly applies to when there is a REAL trial that I'm facing. I know that there are going to be huge problems all throughout my life....but what I've been learning is that my ability to deal with those trials and struggles will all depend on my focus and perspective.

In my "Life of Christ" class the other day, we were learning about when Peter walked on the water. In the middle of the storm, Peter looks to Christ and Christ tells him to come. As long as he kept his gaze on the Lord, Peter walked on the water. The moment he took his eyes off the Lord and put them on his circumstances, he began to sink into the water. I know that I am going to face numerous storms throughout my life, some will be worse than others, but I know that the only way to get through them is to keep my eyes on the Savior. My teacher gave an example that his friend used to use all the time. When he would ask people "how are you doing?" all too often he would get that response "*sigh* I'm doing pretty well, under the circumstances." He would pause a moment and then ask them "..........what are you doing under there?" The bottom line is that we will rise above or sink below our circumstances depending on our focus. Jesus didn't come for us to walk under our circumstances. He came so we could learn to walk above them. In the words of Dick Sanford "It doesn't matter how deep the waters are if you know how to walk on them!" How do we learn to walk on them? Keep our eyes on Jesus!
Later on that day, I was talking to my dean, Shirley. I had been struggling with some things and was extremely excited about what I had learned in class. She gave me another great picture. So often we hear people say that when we're going through trials, look up!! I've always thought that it made so much sense...until that day. When we're going through trials, we need to look down! In Christ, we are seated in the heavens! Don't look up, look down at where you are seated and know that all of your needs are provided for in Christ and all sin and failure are gone as we are covered in the righteousness of Christ.

My last thought on this whole topic comes out of Matthew 11:28-30.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

When faced with a trial, it is so easy to focus on the weight of my burden. Honestly though, if I am trusting Christ as my Savior, I'm the one with the light load. All the weight that I complain about carrying, He is carrying an infinitely heavier burden on my behalf.

SO, if my eyes are focused on Christ, I can walk above any and every circumstance that comes my way. When faced with a trial, I can look down and know that I am seated in the heavens with Christ. When struggling under my "burden" I can look next to me and know that Christ is on the other side of the yoke and know that my burden is infinitely insignificant compared to His!
I've got to keep my eyes on Christ!!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I know it's wrong to choose favorites......

.................but these happen to be some of my favorite people in the entire world. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

The grass withers and the flower fades....

...but the Word of our God stands forever!

I'm sitting here at my desk in the library. My homework is open in front of me. Am I doing it? Nope. I got antsy so I got up and started taking a tour of this library that I spend so many hours in. I started many Bibles are here in this very room? Shelves upon shelves, some in English, some in various other languages. How easy it is for me to forget what a huge deal it is to have a Bible in my language. And here I sit procrastinating about reading it when there are millions of people who would love to have even one book of the Bible translated into their language.
This picture is of a board that covers a wall in our school hallway with the country, tribe, and population count of all the people groups that still do not have a Bible in their language and are mostly unreached with the Gospel. 2,500 of them. And here I sit in a room with tons of books that are either Bibles or they have something to do with Scripture and teaching the reader more and more about our wonderful God. Why in the world God chose to save me and bring me here to sit here surrounded by His teaching, I have no idea. I am so undeserving. But I know that I must make every endeavor to make good use of the time that He has given me and take in as much of His Word that I possibly can. The good news is that the Word of God is a never-ending supply of learning, blessing, and instruction. The more I learn, the more I can share.

Right before I began typing this entry, I was looking in our special "reference" section of the library. These books aren't allowed to be taken from the library and have to be used under supervision here. I never really looked at them until today, but I was completely fascinated. I've always been fascinated by Old books and this section was full of 'em. There were books from the early 1800's! I started looking through them and just thinking about all of the people who had held the same book in their hands almost 200 years ago, people who are rejoicing before the throne of God now. I came across one book that was written about 1 Corinthians, published in 1885. Every few pages in the book, the author had included blank pages for his readers to take notes on. As I flipped through the pages, I was blown away as I read page after page of the previous owners notes, written in beautiful handwriting. Here was a man that lived over a century ago and as he studied the Word of God, the Lord was teaching him the exact same things that I'm learning right now. It's hard enough for me to think that the Bible has been around for centuries, but I guess it never dawned on me that for centuries people have been pouring over the exact same words that I am now. I guess I've always thought about the existence of Scripture in terms of time, not people. For years and years they have been learning about, struggling through, and rejoicing over the same concepts and blessings that I am going through right now. God has so wonderfully and graciously preserved His love letter to us, speaking to every heart, and changing every life of every person who will believe in Him. He is never-ending. He is constant. He is never failing. And God and His Word are never ever changing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let your light so shine before men..

At church on Sunday we had a missionary from Poland come and speak to us. He told a story of a pastor friend of his who had been serving at the same church for 15 years. After all that time of serving at the church, his congregation remained indifferent and unresponsive. He felt that the Lord was calling him to leave and begin work at another church, but before he left he wanted to say goodbye to the chief of police, the fire chief, and the mayor. Although they all remained unbelievers, he had been working on building relationships with them during the time that he lived in that town. Upon hearing that he was leaving, each one, completely separate of the others, had the same response: "I'm sorry to see you go, but I'm not surprised. That church has never treated it's pastors well." Wow. That brought two things to my mind. Number one, how are we supposed to treat those who labor to bring us the Word of God? We should take care of them, encourage them, and be ready to help in the ministry in any and every way that we possibly can. Number two, was this a church a shining light for Christ to the dark world around them? Obviously not. Even unbelievers knew that the people of the church were doing something wrong and it in turn drove them away from God. How heartbreaking. May we strive to live in accordance to the commands of God and in doing so, shine so brightly for Him that we are a testimony and witness to the lost people around us!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who needs a boyfriend!?

My lovely mother sent me and my roomies some lovely candy in a festive valentines bowl.

My daddy had some See's candies shipped to me here in MI. As unholy as it sounds, I don't plan on sharing. Unless there is a chocolate with a bunch of girls, that could be very likely. We'll see.

And this is the cherry on top. :) I sat at my lonely desk in the library on Friday, stamping books, shelving, organizing, and all that other fun stuff, and my friend Kaylee walked through the door with THESE! Phenomenal! Elisabeth sent me flowers. I was so excited! Thank you sissy!!!

Who needs a boyfriend when you have family like this?!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Julie and Wim

Julie and Wim took some time to show off their sweet moves while we were setting up for Sarah's wedding reception. I must say it was one of the most adorable things I've ever seen! I get to take credit for the phenomenal photography skills...not that I'm proud or anything......

Monday, February 9, 2009

Only Grace

My mind has been extremely active over the last few weeks, pondering the various concepts that I've been learning in classes and discussions here. Some of the most prominent things that have been going through my head revolve around the fact that failure under grace allows us to get back up and move forward. Well, a friend of mine gave me a cd and as I was listening to it while I did the homework for this specific class, this song "Only Grace" came on. I was seriously blown away by the words. It couldn't be more perfect for what I'm learning right now!

“Only Grace” by Matthew West
From the album “History”

There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday…has disappeared
The dirt has washed away
And now it's clear

There's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe me it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only grace

You're starting over now
Under the sun
You're stepping forward now
A new life has begun
Your new life has begun

An’ there's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe me…it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only grace…

And if you should fall again
Get back up, get back up
Reach out and take my hand
Get back up, get back up
Get back up again

There's only grace…
There's only love…
There's only mercy and believe me it's enough…it’s enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only…there’s only…grace…

There's only mercy and believe me it's enough…it’s enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There’s only…grace……
So get back up…get back up again…
Get back up again.

Wow, God is so good! This is exactly what has been going around in my heart and in my head, exactly what God has been teaching me and blessing me with! I can't even begin to comprehend the amount of grace that He lavishes on me daily that I do not deserve!!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Get back up

Failure. I've been reminded over and over again of how often I fail in my struggle against the flesh. I'm also reminded what a lovely name I have...Grace. How do those even remotely go together? Under the law, Failure=death. But living with the grace of God in our perspective, there is room for failure. Grace does not embrace failure, but offers forgiveness instead. In Christ we are forgiven and righteous, as God looks on us and sees nothing but His perfect Son. Struggle is just plainly a part of walking the narrow road. But when the flesh fails and you fall down, under the grace of God, you get back up. If your heart is filled with fear and you fall, grace allows you to get back up. If you face disaster and heartbreak and you fall, under grace you can get back up. Get back up!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I can't believe it..........

Well, this just means that when God brings Prince Charming along, I don't have to do much planning. :) Phenomenal, isn't it Amy?!

One day.......

Today in Chapel we were talking about acceptance. It turned out to be a slightly painful topic...but oh so encouraging. Acceptance is something that we all search and hunger for. But who are we seeking acceptance from? Honestly, I find myself choosing to labor for acceptance among men rather than resting in the acceptance of my God. Oh how often I find myself avoiding difficult things or confrontations in my search for acceptance among those that I live with and see on a daily basis. But I am constantly reminded now that I am in Christ. I am forever accepted because I am in Christ and HE is accepted. The Father is pleased with His Son. All the "watchers" don't matter in the least bit when I know that my acceptance lies in Christ.

I was talking to my a friend of mine today about all that we've been learning over the last few weeks. We both came to the conclusion that it's not the easiest thing to learn day after day about how completely worthless and inadequate we are. And yet it's the greatest thing in the world to know how worthless and helpless we are apart from Christ. All that we are that's worth anything in the scope of eternity is all because of Christ. With the great gifts that He has given us and continues to lavish on us daily, our hearts and minds should be continually on His face and overflowing with joy and gratefulness to Him. Key word there: should. Why is it that day in and day out we dig into the Word of Almighty God and discover truth after truth, gem after gem, gift after gift and we forget it in the matter of a few seconds. With all of this beauty before me, I am continually aware of the depravity of my own heart as my focus constantly wanders from the wonders that are being laid out in front of me. How is it even possible to give way to sin and darkness, choosing to take my eyes off the truth and light, even for the smallest amount of time? As I talked with my friend today, we found ourselves longing for heaven, where we will be with Christ, the struggle will be over, and we may rest in the purity, holiness, and righteousness of the Father. I came upstairs to work on my homework and the song "Arrived" by Enfield came up on my ipod. God's timing is perfect. My heart was encouraged. I immediately sent the lyrics to my friend in hopes of encouraging his heart as mine was and I'm going to post the words here now in hopes of encouraging anyone else.

"Arrived" by Enfield

Watching and waiting our whole life through
for the moment when we arrive in glory
We'll be standing before His emerald throne
O what a day it will be!
All tears are gone and sufferings cease
perfect new life with no earthly strife
For we've finished the race
run to His embrace
O what a day that will be!

When we've arrived, stunned and surprised
All things resolved in the blink of an eye
No more distractions, no sin left to fight
The first glimpse of Jesus and faith becomes sight

Feel the ground shake, hear thunder roar
see blinding light and seraphim fly
All amazed we will fall, yet the Father will call
"Stand, I have made you my own!"
A choir with angels, martyrs, and saints
singing His praise with no end to the day
shouting "holy, holy, holy" to Almighty God
O what a song that will be!

When we've arrived, stunned and surprised
All things resolved in the blink of an eye
No more distractions, no sin left to fight
The first glimpse of Jesus and faith becomes sight

"No more distractions, no sin left to fight
The first glimpse of Jesus and faith becomes sight"