Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The problem: Who am I depending on?
The answer: Myself!
Where is God in this controlling world of mine? That is a very good question. When I get in that mode, even quiet time and prayer time is scheduled in. I have to remember that those should be the first things I think of doing, and I should never limit my time with God. But it is so easy to get in this mode, especially at this time of the year when there is so much to do before finals.
And you can imagine that when my schedule was literally blown away by the tornado that it did not settle well with me. Those first few days when I had none of my personal belongings (not knowing what had survived), when I was just sitting at home doing nothing was hard. I watched TV, would think about the tornado constantly, or sleep. My control was stripped away from me. This allowed me to spend time with God more.
Now I had not really gotten into a "routine" about doing my quiet time, and I was not limiting my time with God, but I was still controlling it. So I feel like one of the lessons God was trying to teach me through the tornado was that I am not in control! He is! So the answer to the question I posed earlier should have been God, but I can honestly say that before the tornado He was not the top priority (in some aspects). Although I did depend on Him for many aspects of my life, I do not think that I depended on Him in all aspects. God does not want to be Lord of part of our lives. He wants to be the Lord of our entire life.
So I encourage you to daily give it all to Him. If it seems like you have too much to do or you are tired and stressed. Go to Him. Do not try to figure it out for yourself. Do not depend on your own strength. He wants to help you, so go to Him.
This is just something I have learned this semester. It is something God has reminded me of time and time again throughout my life. I am not in charge. I am not in control. God is, only God.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Well this is not exactly what I had intended to write about this week. I had a few books in mind for my next review, but I was on our university website yesterday and noticed the newest news article. So I am going to write about a book that I have not read, and one that has not even hit the bookstores yet.
As you all know, a tornado hit our campus on February 5, 2008. That happened 12 weeks ago today. This book will be released on June 1, 2008, and it is a compilation of stories from those of us who survived the tornado (I am not one of the ones in this book... sorry).
Students and faculty who experienced this terrifying night have submitted their stories and 20 of the stories will be included in this book. I have been told what some of them probably, and so I know some of those who will be featured in this book. Each story points to God's providential care over every single one of us that night. Although 51 students were injured and the last student was released from the hospital about 2 weeks ago, God spared everyone of us from death. These stories will point to the care that He showed us that night.
So I cannot really right a "review" of this book at the present moment, only a "preview" for what will be included. But I encourage everyone to purchase a copy of this book. It will be available at LifeWay on June 1 and all proceeds for the book will go to the Union University Disaster Relief Fund, a.k.a. to help rebuild our really expensive dorms.
Once again I would just like to praise God for His unbelievable protection that night. His presence was felt in the bathroom that I took cover in, and the memories and emotions that still come back to me from that night continue to remind me that the only reason I am alive today is because of what He did that night. Every single student could have died, and by looking at the destruction, some should have. There was no logical way that anyone could have been pulled out of some of those buildings. But God worked past all logic and protected His children.
So please purchase the book and read about one example of God's amazing love!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
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Saturday, April 26, 2008
Personally, I still have 2 papers, 2 essays, 3 projects, and 4 finals to go. And sadly that does not include the normal reading assignments that we get daily. So I am going to be busy from here on out. In fact, after I finish with this post I am going to get started (hoping to get a lot done) on one of my papers. Life is definitely crazy right now.
Yesterday, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary was on campus helping with the rebuilding project. They were replanting trees along with other landscaping work to help Union look like it used to. I know that the time is coming for me to start looking into the next step of life, seminary. And I had already planned on looking around this summer to see where it is God wants me. Yesterday was a prime opportunity for that, and I was able to speak with a guy from Southeastern during a free lunch. Who can pass up a free lunch? So I am beginning the search, and yesterday was only the beginning.
Well campus is looking even better. From Monday to Friday we saw 1 dorm go from nothing but safe rooms to a two story building with walls. Another dorm went from one story to a two story building with a roof, shingles, and preparations for bricks. A third dorm went from almost nothing to a two story building with a roof. We now have 1 building pretty much covered with bricks, and a 2nd building is now being bricked. There are 4 buildings I can no longer see, so there could be bricks back there as well. All in all, 10 of the 14 buildings are up. 1 of the remaining 4 have safe rooms, so I am assuming it is the next one to go up. Praise God that 81 days after the storm we have a huge chunk of the rebuilding finished.
I guess this was another long post. But a lot has been going on down here. Have a great weekend, and I will be coming with another book review soon (I think - I have to figure out what to talk about).
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Last Saturday, I attended the Casting Crowns concert in Nashville. John Waller and Leeland were with them. What an amazing Worship Service. That was unlike any concert I have ever been to. Yes, there were people up on the stage singing, but they were not singing for themselves, and it was obvious. All 3 groups sang to God and lead the thousands attending in worship. Here are some of the amazing songs I heard:
John Waller, The Blessing - What a powerful song! We have a choice as to whether we are going to follow God or walk away from Him. He gives us that choice, by setting "life and death before us." The newly added Scripture verse at the top of this blog is where this song comes from. We need to live life in such a way that we are choosing to follow Him daily. We can get up each day and choose to allow God to work in us, or we can choose to go out on our own. He gives us that choice and tells us the consequences, "blessings or curses."
Casting Crowns, East to West - If you have not heard this new song from them, please go to youtube or godtube and listen to it. The song itself is pretty self explanatory but one phrase sticks out to me. "You know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other." Those are two truths in Scripture that I have heard a lot in my life. But until I heard this song last summer, I had never heard them put together. Jesus died for our sins, and our sins are as far away from Him as is the east from the west. But putting this together, our sins are forgotten because of Jesus stretching out His hands on the cross! WOW! This is a very powerful truth that I think we overlook at times.
I may later add more songs that have really impacted my life, maybe even more from this concert. But for now, think about those truths. First, it is our choice as to whether we are going to follow God in our daily lives. Second, remember that we are saved from our sins, and rest in that fact. As a result, we can now live for Him daily knowing that He loves us and will guide us.
Also, the picture above is what was drawn during the concert with the songs "Voice of Truth" and "The Word is Alive." May the Word continue to be a part of your daily lives.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
So let us look carefully at what we know: As Christians, we hold certain convictions that need to be a part of our decision. We also need to be sure that we are voting as we feel God is directing us. But this is not always the easiest thing to do. With a shaky economy and a war, many feel like they should vote primarily for those reasons. I feel that those 2 hot topics are major decisions that should be considered when we vote. But we must also include God, knowing that He can resolve those problems with any of the candidates.
I am not going to say who a "Christian" should vote for because I do not feel that there is a clear cut answer. If we decide to vote on morals, then it is going to be hard to distinguish between these 3 candidates. But what I encourage everyone to do is pray. Prayer is one of the most important aspects of our walk with God. We should be in constant prayer as it, and with such an important decision in our future, we should be praying now for who God wants as president.
Please join me in praying for our nation under the leadership of George W. Bush. Pray for the war that it will come to a good resolution in the days ahead. Pray that our economy will ease up and not hurt the middle/working class. And pray that America will make the right decision come November. As a nation, we need to turn to God and let Him have control.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Well as of 3:00 this afternoon when I left campus there were at least 8 two-story dorms on campus. 1 or 2 others have the first floor up (out of 14 total). Also, it has been said this week that sheetrock and bricks will also be going up within the week, and I think I saw some of those bricks today. I cannot wait to see how it looks in the morning when I return to campus. But as of Tuesday, they stated that 20-25% of construction is now complete. Just to give you a time frame, that is 10 weeks after the tornado. They still have 3.5 months to work. They are right on schedule. And along with construction, the rest of campus is great as well. Everyone is in a mad rush as we head to the end of this long semester! And preparations are being made for next semester (schedules, housing assignments, etc.).
So what about me? Well this has been the longest and hardest week of the semester for me, and sadly I do not see things slowing down until the end. I have had projects, tests, and reading assignments all at once this week, and there are many more to come soon. But I am still finding rest and trying to persevere to the end. I was talking to someone today about the long semester, and they were struggling getting to the end. But we decided that since God had gotten us 10 weeks through, He would get us through these last 4. But there is saddness coming. May 15 will be the end of my best semester here at Union. Despite all that has happened, I have enjoyed this semester more than the other 3. Also, May 15 marks the half-way point for my college career. I will be 2 years in to college, and will be heading down hill starting in the fall.
But with the end of the semester comes summer, which I bet everyone is looking forward to. I was offered a job at FBC Martin this summer to work in the Christian Wee Learn Daycare Center. So the week after I finish school, I will be heading there to work with the K-5th Grade school group that is on summer break. They are incorporating a new "Bible Drill-like" curriculum into this summer, and along with Jessica Breeden, we will be helping out with that age group. Also, I have been asked to "co-pastor" Kids Kamp with Tobey Taylor. So I cannot wait for summer, it is going to be fun.
Well that is about all that is going on down here. Just school, work, and looking forward to a break. I hope you all have a great week. And for all you college students, try not to stress out too much.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
For those of you who are students at Union, you may well remember the chapel series we had last semester with David Platt. His last sermon especially was very challenging to me. For those of you who do not know what I am referring too, let me catch you up. David Platt went up to preach during his final chapel that week and told us of how the Chinese Christians he met with one time were so hungry for the Word. He then told us to turn to Romans 1. I was sitting in my seat following along when I realized that David was not reading to us. He was quoting Scripture. I thought that he was just reading a small passage to preach from, but soon he was well into chapter 2. He did not stop until he had finished chapter 7 or 8.
That made me realize the importance of memorizing Scripture more than ever before. Sure I had participated in Bible Drill for 9 years, but I had never considered memorizing longer passages. After his chapel, I was determined that I was going to begin storing God's Word in my heart. So I began memorizing 2 Timothy, probably my favorite book of the Bible. By the end of 2007 I had finished. That experience allowed me to grow in God in ways I never thought possible. His Word became so real to me in those 2 months. So I began thinking of another book to begin memorizing. But then Christmas break came and I neglected to memorize. After that the tornado hit, and I no longer had a copy of an ESV Bible (which is what I used when memorizing 2 Timothy). I began drifting further and further away from the memorization of Scripture, a discipline I feel is needed in all of our lives.
But then, I listened to this personal testimony by Darlene Rose (you can find a link on the homepage). It was really about how she triumphed through suffering. But near the end of her testimony she mentioned how she had God's Word in her heart. They had taken away her Bible, but she was still able to recall various passages because of the studying she had done. That encouraged me to get back into what I had started last fall. So I reviewed 2 Timothy and began Philippians (which I am currently working on).
So why am I sharing this with you? Because I want you to understand the importance of "hiding His Word in your heart." It is amazing when you are in the middle of some of life's hardest situations, but Scripture comes and gives you peace. The night that I was sitting in the bathroom waiting for the tornado to pass, I could hear God through His Word. He provided a peace that I cannot explain, and it came through His Word. We do not just have the Bible to read each day and put it away. You do not know when your Bible will be blown away by a tornado or taken from you by the government. You do not where you will go in life or if the Bible will always be a legal document that you can have. That is why it needs to be more than just a book you have in your library. It needs to be more than just something you read. It should be something you treasure, something you know, and something you can use 24/7.
So as I was saying, I do not want you to think that I am trying to put myself up on a pedestal. I am actually ashamed that I only know 1 book of Scripture along with some other verses. I want to know Scripture better. I want it in my heart.
I encourage you to find a passage of Scripture, whether a verse, a chapter, or a book, and just start. Memorize 1 verse, study that verse, see how it applies to Scripture and your life. Then move on to the next one. Study and memorize His Word, apply it to your life. You will be amazed at what you can learn from God.