Friday, March 25, 2011

In Wonder At His Majesty

I was going through some photos from Israel this evening and re-discovered these two...I don't know how I let them hide for so long! Brings back many good memories.
The bottom one was a sunrise early early one work day. That was one great thing about working, we were there before the sun and had a view of it rising over the Golan heights and sea of Galilee. So beautiful.

The top one reminds me of a certain quiet Sunday morning on a rooftop with a Bible and the geography of the text right in front of me. It was priceless and unforgettable.

If you ever get the chance to go to Israel you should DO IT. Israel was not on the top of my list, but wow has it really impacted how I read and view the Bible.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Something Cool

This, my friends, is something really cool. This is a gate in the area of Tel Dan which is said to be one that Abraham the patriarch of Israel went through on the way to the land of the Canaanites. They have covered it up with a big tent structure because it was made of mud bricks. Thousands of years ago Abraham and his wife Sarai left their inheritance and land and family and friends to go to an unknown land, an unknown place. And this structure still stands from that time until now.

Cool huh?

And in the words of one of my dearest friends, "I was there!"

The Sound of Music

I’ve been thinking about music this week a lot. Up until just recently I really listened to very little music. But now I am in a quiet office alone a lot and have the time and quiet to keep some music going in the background. At first I was listening to Pandora. Pandora is a great way to get into some new music without a lot of work. Then I re-discovered Grooveshark. That’s a great way to have continuous doesn’t have a time limit. But you do have to know what you’re looking for.
So I’ve been listening to music. Bluegrass, CCM, Traditional Chinese, some pop, Andes Manta, Glenn Miller, the list goes on but you get the idea.
The message of lyrics has been on my mind a lot this week. Because the office is quiet, I pay attention to the lyrics of the songs. One day I was listening to a popular bluegrass band, and after a few songs realized how depressing and hopeless their lyrics are.  One song after another had negative connotations. I finally couldn’t take it any more when I realized my mood was going down because of it and switched to some Veggie Tales just as an opposite extreme.

It really makes a lot of sense to be selective of the messages that are being subconsciously absorbed during hours of music listening. I’m careful about what my eyes take in and absorb, I’m careful about what my body takes in and absorbs, why should this stop when it comes to messages that enter my mind through my ears? It’s really true that you are what you eat. And it’s also true that you take on the worldview of the things you view, read, and hear even if you really don’t agree with it on reflection.

I’ve been finding the past few weeks that my mood can be encouraged or disheartened by the music I listen to. If I listen to a lot of music that has messages of no hope, or disappointed hopes, I find myself wondering where my hope is and forgetting the goodness in front of me. If I listen to happy music full of positive hope and joy, my mood is lifted and I’m happier.

Not that these mood swings are overtly obvious. But it’s enough that I’ve noticed an upward or downward turn according to what I listen to, and it’s been interesting to test out.

So what are you listening to? And what is the worldview and message of the song? Does it really agree with how you believe and live?

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Paralyzing Fear

  1. How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
    What more can He say than to you He hath said—
    To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
  2. “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
    For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
    I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
    Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
  3. “When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
    The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
    For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
    And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
  4. “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
  5. “The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
    I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

My sister Carrie sings this song sometimes when we play at churches or other places. A week or so ago she was practicing, and I was sitting in the rocking chair with my eyes closed and let the beautiful song and lyrics fill my heart. 

One of the things that struck me was how calming and assuring this song is. It's all about how God will not forsake you, even if you're going through the hard things. It never says the hard things will be taken away, just that the hard things won't overcome you.

Fear. It can be a distressing, overwhelming feeling. Or it can be a reverent awe.
It's easy to let fear over take you and consume you and paralyze you.
It's easy to let fear keep you from fulfilling dreams or taking necessary risks.
It's easy to let fear control.

I have a first hand memory of fear taking control. Paralyzing fear.
It was after I had had a stressful, fearful season. I didn't even realize quite how fearful a season it was. Then one night I became paralyzed literally with fear. I awakened one night to find that I could not move my arms or legs, that I could only breathe in short, panting breaths. Dad had to carry me to the car so we could go to the emergency room. Once there the attack had started to wear off, but they gave me some meds and told me to breathe deeply and slowly.

I'll never forget the feeling of being so fearful I was paralyzed. It was horrible.
Then it happened again.
But this time I had learned to fight fear. I was able to think through the fear and practice taking deep, calming breaths.

And now to apply it to my life in other ways. I could not let fear stand in the way of things I wanted to do or felt called to do. 

One of my greatest fears growing up was the fear of communicating with others when there was a language barrier of one sort or another. As a way to face this fear and take deep, calming breaths, I signed up for a mission trip to a country where they did not speak English, and I didn't speak their language, which was Spanish.

And when I faced this fear, and walked steadily forward, I found that it wasn't so hard after all. And that Christ's love is an international language.

Facing fear can be difficult. It is certainly risky. But I am determined to not let fear be the overwhelming factor. Especially when I recall how often I have read in the Bible to not fear. When I am doing what God is calling me to do, when I am being obedient, and holy, there is no reason and no place for fear.

Instead, an animation of boldness. Because God's grace is sufficient. 

On Blogging

My poor little blog has suffered for attention lately. Sometimes the adventure of life takes up too much time to blog about it.

Blogging is a  way I think out loud. I've found that I think better when I write. I write all sorts of things. I write prayers. I write thoughts. I write questions. I write notes. I write letters. I write blogs. Thoughts have a way of settling down and making more sense if I put them in black and white.

Blogging is also a good way to see the journey, if I will take time to document the journey. When I look back at old posts I'm sometimes surprised by the pattern of changing thought. Sometimes my blog isn't even on my blog. Sometimes it's in my head, or in my journal. I've got about a million blog posts in my head waiting for their turn to pop out. Some will never make it. Some will be showing themselves soon.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone really listens to my blogs. Is anyone out there? Does anyone even care? And then I realize I'm not really blogging for them. I'm blogging for me. And I'm blogging to express the journey of heart and life and adventure and the twists and turns.

And so I blog on.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Visual Theology

I was taking a quick blog jog (hm, that sounds pretty cool) and went over to a new blog that I'm enjoying. It combines two favorite things: theology and photography. There's a very good article today that I thought I would share...

An Unappealing Prospect

Happy Transfiguration Sunday everyone!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Must Follow

Lent begins this week. Lent is a time of contemplation as we consider the sacrifice of Christ as He died for us.
Lent is about self denial, self control, repentance and considering where we are and where we should be. 


I want everyone to know Jesus is the most important thing in my life.
I have to follow Him.
Even if it's through the valley of the shadow of death. Because without death there can't be resurrection.
And resurrection is life.

Life for me. Life for you.

For me following Jesus is unquestionable. It's an inner voice, a connection I can't deny. If I try to ignore for a day or two the voice of wisdom and try my own way, I am miserable. 

I am willing to die for you. And that means die to self. Which hurts more than bodily death. My will and my desires are strong. They may be noble and good, but if they do not line up with your word and will, they are useless.
You must be all. I must be nothing.
I can hope that if I give up my wish, by giving it up I will get it back again. But that wouldn't be truly giving up, would it? I have to expect to never see it again. To be completely satisfied without.
But what is that compared to the cross? Pain and suffering so I can have my own way?
I can say no and ignore what I know You would want.
But the look in Your eyes. The glimpse of nail scar makes me run to you and say yes.
Yes to self denial. Yes to pain from my own personal cross. Yes to following you.
Whatever the cost.
So prepare my heart to say no to myself. And yes to you.
I am still willing to die in order to follow Jesus. It is easy to sit in the safe warm house, free from worry or pain and say that I would die for my faith. Yet I want to believe that I would be able to do that. And isn't dying to self dying in order to follow Jesus? Yet dying to self is the hardest of all. 
All I can think of is how selfish I am. 

Dad says this every Sunday and I think it sums up what I've been mulling over today.

It's not about you. It's about what God wants to do in and through you.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.