Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Whole Life

The violinist in the orchestra has submitted first to the instructor. He obeys the rules laid down by him and handles his instrument accordingly. He submits then to the music as written by the composer, paying attention to the markings for dynamics as well as to notes, rests, and timing. Finally, he submits to the conductor. The conductor tells him, by word or gesture, what he wants, and the violinist does just that.
Is there any image of freedom and joy more exhilarating than a full orchestra, everybody sawing, tootling, pounding, strumming, blowing, clashing, and hammering away for all they are worth, under the direction of the immense energy and discipline of a man who knows every note of every instrument in every concerto and knows how to elicit that note exactly so that it will contribute most fully to the glory of the work as a whole
? – Elisabeth Elliot

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a disciplined life wholly devoted to Christ is only for missionaries and those in full-time ministry. We are each called to different paths and lead very different lifestyles. But we have the same calling in Christ. This is the beauty of being a disciple of our Lord: many walks of life, but one vision, one goal! A disciple’s life is orderly and obedient, but never inflexible and rigid. Inflexibility suggests that one is working by the flesh and without the joy of faith. Christ is at work in us, making such an obedient, disciplined life possible.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. – 2 Cor 9:8

The life of a disciple of God is not burdensome, nor is it an empty existence. As Elizabeth Elliot once wrote, “A holy life is a whole life. The words whole and holy derive from the same root.”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “He that heareth my Word and doeth it, he it is that loveth me.” “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” “His commandments are not grievous.”
God is working grace for us through discipline. His commands are His enabling.

If Christ seldom makes offers without demands, He also seldom makes demands without offers. He offers His strength to enable us to meet His demands. - John Stott

Every moment that we go to Him, laboring in our prayers for others, for His glory to be shown, for His will to be done, for Him to be victorious over sin in our lives, God will be triumphant.
Every time we turn away from earthly pleasures to comfort and satisfy us and throw ourselves on Him to save our souls from complacency, God will be triumphant.
Every time we wrestle in our prayers and days of fasting, asking for His power and grace to help us live this life, to be equipped with the wisdom and knowledge of His word, God will be triumphant.
Your body may be spent as a disciple, for the road is not an easy one, but your inner man will be multiplied. His grace will always be sufficient.
I end this post on some simple illustrations of discipline and obedience given by Elisabeth Elliot in a book written to her daughter.

“...I can see a sailboat skimming silently along the horizon. It is a beautiful image of freedom. But the freedom of the sailboat to move so swiftly and beautiful is the result of obedient to laws. The builder of the boat had to know the proper ratio of beam to keel and mast. The one who sails the boat obeys the rules of sailing. A ship tacking against the wind moves deviously, but when she runs with a string tide or a following wind she takes to herself the power of tide and wind and they become her own. She is doing the thing she was made for. She is free not by disobeying the rules but by obeying them.
Modern highways are often called freeways, but how much freedom of movement would there be if each driver were encouraged to choose any lane, any speed, any direction that happened to his fancy at the moment?
I noticed on Boston Common a sign saying, “Please,” which the public was expected to understand was short for “Please keep off the grass.” Almost everybody had obeyed that sign and that’s why there was still some grass….This choice (of allowing the grass to grow) meant a restriction, a willingness to limit themselves to the walks. It meant not doing what they wanted to do in order to have something they wanted more.
You and I have talked about college students’ idea of freedom in dormitories. They don’t want lights-out rules or coming-in rules or quiet rules. Consequently this freedom of theirs to keep the lights on till all hours, to stay out most of the night, and to play records at 3 A.M. means that there’s no freedom to sleep, there’s not even the freedom to study, which means that students are no longer free to be students, the very thing they’ve come to college and paid fifteen thousand dollars to be.”

Drop Thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace

- John Greenleaf Whittier

I'll continue this thread of posts on discipline next week. My next post will focus more on how a set-apart disciple lives, thinks, and prays.

Books Cited and other such recommended sources:
Elliot, Elisabeth. Discipline: The Glad Surrender.
Elliot, Elisabeth. Let Me Be a Woman.
Piper, John. The Anatomy of Legalism and the Discipline of Prayer.
Piper, John. Daniel's Defiance of Darius in Prayer.
Piper, John. Taylor, Justin. A God Entranced Vision of All Things. Chapter 5: Pursuing a Passion for God Through Spiritual Disciplines: Learning from Jonathan Edwards by Donald S. Whitney.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

“train yourself in godliness” – 1 Tim 4:7

“strive to enter by the narrow gate” – Luke 13:24
“take up your cross daily” – Luke 9:23
“work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – Phil 2:13
“I pommel my body and subdue it” – 1 Cor 9:27
“If your right eye offends you pluck it out” – Matt 5:29
“strive together with me in your prayers” – Rom 15:30

The "training in godliness" and the working out of our salvation is a way of living that has been almost lost. To our modern generation, it is a thing of the past. But to a disciple of the Lord, such a life is precious. A disciple seeks to acquire a Biblical understanding of spiritual disciplines.

“We are the creatures of a great master Designer, and His ordering of our lives is sure and certain, yet many people live without any visible order or peace or serenity. The way we live ought to manifest the truth of what we believe. A messy life speaks of a messy – an incoherent – faith.” - Elisabeth Elliot

Discipline - By Faith Alone

Before one can move forward with how a disciple lives, there is an issue that must be addressed. Many object to discipline in the Christian life with a slew of reasons that are usually along the lines of...
“I already go to church on sunday. I attend and participate in a weekly Bible study; I read my Bible and pray often enough – how much more disciplined should I be? Isn’t this enough?”
“That’s legalistic talk! I read and pray when I desire to because there’s no sense trying to be spiritual when my heart isn’t in it – and God wants our whole hearts when we’re seeking Him, doesn’t He?”

Firstly, we must remember that those who do not love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength cannot willingly submit all to Him in glad surrender. The true saint knows that the Lord’s commands are His enabling. When Christ call us to be His disciples, he makes that possible through His grace.
Secondly, a disciple does not seek comfort or gain. Not even the slightest bit. This is what the missionary, Amy Carmichael, called “Calvary Love.” A love that thinks nothing of self but looks upward to the Master, completely and is utterly taken up by that which is eternal. Love never asks, “Is this enough?” "How much must I give?” Calvary Love gives all.
Thirdly, legalism is such an abused word today. Those who use it in objection to a life of discipline use it in ignorance. It would help to acquire a Biblical mindset about what is and what is not legalism.

“….legalism is the pursuit of the law with some other engine than faith, on some other steam than the Spirit. What is the engine of legalism? Paul calls it “works,” (Romans 9:32) and he calls the fuel of this engine “flesh” (Gal 3:3). “Works” is the opposite of “faith” and “flesh” is the opposite of “Spirit.” So legalism is not whether you strive to obey the commands of God, but which engine and which fuel you run on.
Thus the power of legalism comes from ourselves (flesh). This is crucial because the aim of legalism is to trade with God value for value. And so the engine of works must have something self-wrought to offer God in the deal. “To the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor but as what is due” (Romans 4:4). Legalism deals in debt-payments and magnifies its worth to God.”
In contrast, “the power of the “obedience of faith” does not come from ourselves but from God (the Spirit). The aim of the obedience of faith is to receive everything from God as a free gift of grace. And so the engine of faith must have nothing self-wrought in its dealing with God. “By the grace of God I am what I am … I labored harder than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). The obedience of faith deals in beneficiary delights and magnifies the grace of God.
Discipline is not legalism. Hard work is not legalism. Acting against carnal impulses is not legalism. They may be. But they may also be the torque of the engine of faith running on the fuel of the Spirit to the glory of the grace of God in a self-centered and undisciplined world” (Piper).
“Legalism is not attacking the American church today in the form of spiritual discipline. Not by a long shot! That is not our besetting danger. I think the most distinctive form of legalism (not the only one) in our day is almost exactly the opposite, with two sides to the coin.
One side is a fear of anything remotely resembling the biblical concept of discipline implied in phrases like “train yourself in godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7) or “strive to enter by the narrow gate” (Luke 13:24) or “take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23) or “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:13) or “I pommel my body and subdue it” (1 Corinthians 9:27) or “If your right eye offends you pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29) or “strive together with me in your prayers” (Romans 15:30). That whole reality of Christian discipline, that has marked the greatest saints for 1900 years, is feared today in the new legalism.
The other side of the coin is the emergence today of what you might call psychologically correct speech. If you don’t use a certain language to describe morality and ethics and duty and God’s commandments that is “psychologically correct”, then you are defective as a Christian people helper. In place of the old list of taboos there is now a new list of taboos: words like “ought” and “should” and “must” dare not (read: should not) be used. And warnings like “those who do such things shall not enter the kingdom of God ” (Galatians 5:21), and “if you live according to the flesh you will die” (Romans 8:13) are banned. They are simply not “psychologically correct” ways of dealing with reality.
….I urge you to consider whether some of our weakness in the cushy, self-indulgent, meet-my-need American Christianity is owing not mainly to our bondage to lifeless lists of dos and don’ts, but to our loss of biblical discipline” (Piper).

“The call of Christ is to die not to live. You must by the grace of God make a decision – that Lord I want approval from You and no one else. So much Christian work originates in the flesh and carnality.
“Lord, I only want Your approval.”
I know those are strong words – unless you are sensitive to the Lord, you can easily misunderstand. We have a problem in American, in our church – we misunderstand obedience for legalism and bondage.” - K.P. Yohannan

Encountering God Through Spiritual Discipline

Spiritual discipline encompasses meditation, memorization, and study of the Word, prayer, fasting, and private worship. We should daily seek solitude in order to meet God and to saturate our minds and hearts in Scripture.

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…” – Matt 14:23
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. – Mark 1:35

“seeking God-focused solitude is a Christ-like habit…when we rightly practice the spiritual discipline of solitude, we not only conform to Christ’s example, we encounter him” (Whitney, pg 118).

A disciple understands the need to be a good steward of his time for without it there are no other disciplines. Perhaps this is why the practice of spiritual disciplines is so uncommon these days. Our time is so misused by our carnal pursuits. With modern technological advances, we don’t need to be productive or patient anymore. Everything is given to us with speed and comfort. In addition, we’re constantly distracted and kept busy by our society. Our world keeps us constantly moving and constantly longing for this and that. Sadly, this is a mindset that children are being raised on and they’ve taken it into their adult life. To be at rest, to be still, and to be productive and fruitful are no longer values and characteristics bred into our children.
It’s all about play.
Much of Christianity plays through life because we see no need for discipline. We dress up our toys and pursuits with “Christian” morality and attempt to justify our carnal fetishes by claiming they’re “innocent” and “safe.” Most of us dare not recall the Apostle Paul’s words, "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive” (1 Cor 10:23).
Even worse, there are those in their 20s, some pushing 30s, who live and breathe on this kind of self-indulgent, childish, and spontaneous lifestyle as an escape from the daily pressures and stresses of their jobs. These are what Alex and Brett Harris, authors of Do Hard Things, call “kidults.” Adults who live and think like 5 year olds. Kidults rely on earthly pleasures (movies, TV, games, food, music). They turn to these things when they are tired and weak and depend upon their obsessions to supply them.
Until this generation realizes just how sad and horrifying this kind of living is and comes to understand how imperative it is to redeem the time, we will continue to play through this life as if it was our own. We must recall the words of Jesus:

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” - Mark 8:34-37.

Father, save us from carnal Christianity! Teach us how to live Mark 8:34-37!
A true disciple acknowledges every day as a gift and seeks to use it for the glory of God.
As disciples, we are called to a higher living, although many may not see it.
It is the way of the Cross.
It is the way in which all our rights are surrendered into the hands of our Lord
It is the way in which we die to self and live to Christ EVERY DAY.
It is the way in which we submit every day and its decisions, pursuits, etc to God in prayer.
It is way in which we no longer give into our addictions of luxury, comfort, and fun, but are relinquished (soul, heart, mind, and strength) to God for His divine purposes.
It is the life poured out in service to others, to be our Lord’s hands and feet.
It is the way of Calvary Love.
It is the way that Christ went.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. - Matt 10:24

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. – Luke 6:40

Books and Links Cited and Recommended:
Elliot, Elisabeth. Let Me Be a Woman.
Carmichael, Amy. If.
Piper, John. The Anatomy of Legalism and the Discipline of Prayer.
Piper, John. Daniel's Defiance of Darius in Prayer.
Piper, John. Taylor, Justin. A God Entranced Vision of All Things. Chapter 5: Pursuing a Passion for God Through Spiritual Disciplines: Learning from Jonathan Edwards by Donald S. Whitney.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... another sunny day. *sigh* I want rain.
I am thinking... that I keep too many heavy things on my mind.
I am thankful for... the power of the Cross.
I am wearing... black dress pants and a purple silk blouse.
I am creating... a 1200-word paper on “what is a woman of God?”
I am going... to school at noon and later this evening I’m hanging out with my sister, cousin, and a very special friend!
I am reading… Candles in the Dark by Amy Carmichael.
I am hoping... for many things. I’m waiting on the Lord concerning those hopes. But for today, I am simply hoping to sing well on a Mozart aria during rehearsal today.
I am hearing... “Fumbling Toward Ecstasy” by Sarah McLachlan
One of my favorite things...the way my Beagle looks at me with his beautiful, dark eyes.
A few plans for the rest of the week: The usual – school and music. I'm at college six days a week. It's exhausting.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...Desert Blue Bells.

Thanks to the 'Simple Woman.'

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To be a disciple...

When your heart was opened to the tremendous reality of your sin and the Cross and you knew Christ as your Redeemer, Lord, and King, what did you reckon yourself to be?
“dead to sin” – Rom 6:11
“you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Col 3:3
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” – Gal 2:20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – Matt 28:19-20

Jesus’ great commission continues today, making disciples of all nations. When we are reborn, we are from that moment on disciples of Christ. A disciple is a learner and a pupil. A disciple lives his/her life directly under the authority of the Teacher. There is no swaying or turning from the teachings, commandments, rules, and standards of the Teacher.
“be holy, for I am holy” – Lev. 11:44
This is elementary. Such knowledge is not new to us.

So, then why are Christians the most negligent pupils on this planet?
One of the reasons is that “we are contented with easy satisfaction in our spiritual lives” (Oswald Chambers). “We have suffered from the preaching of cheap grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. People will take anything that is free, but they are not interested in discipleship. They will take Christ as Savior but not as Lord” (Vance Havner).
This is where many take a debilitating fall after they’ve been brought out of “Egypt.” Just as the Israelites failed to enter the Promised Land because of their lack of faith and their love for ordinary things, so we also fail to enter in to God’s promises because we yield to the same. We’re contented to merely be Christians, but not to LIVE as Christians. Living out our lives in faith and discipline is just something we don’t want to do because it requires training and work in our spiritual lives. This is an attitude that marks most of Christian youth because the world has got our attention.
The world has us. It has enraptured and dazzled us in every way.
That should terrify us.
By our feeble judgment it could be just a “little” distraction. It could be things as innocent as an obsession with gaming, TV, gadgets (like the latest iPhone), or boyfriends and girlfriends (and even the impatient, unruly desire to have one). This list is exhaustive in our lives; it could be anything or everything. We could be hanging on any little thing at this moment. Anything that has our focus, our time, our thoughts, our energy, and even our emotions is our special “little” god.

Accepting Christ as Lord means He is Lord over your ENTIRE life. You don’t get to live for yourself as a disciple, but you do get the joy and freedom of knowing the unfathomable abundance of grace, mercy, love, and wisdom of the Lord. But you cannot know it until you begin living for Him alone.
What does living for Christ alone mean?

“It means self-discipline. “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Freedom begins way back. It begins not with doing what you want but with doing what you ought – that is, with discipline. To be a disciple means to be disciplined” – Elisabeth Elliot

We know this to be true. We just don’t know it as a reality because we never lived it. We are like children. But we have lived as children do for far too long. This day we are called forward to maturity in Christ. Children think only of today and its pleasures. A child is focused on self and does not naturally hold to any standards.
“Maturity starts with the willingness to give oneself. Childishness is characterized by self-centeredness. It is only the emotional and spiritually mature who are able to lay down their lives for others" (E. Elliot).
Prisoner reformer, Sir Alexander Paterson, once wrote “make us masters of ourselves that we may be the servants of others.”

Such maturity is reflected in the daily life of a disciple.
“The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on all speak loudly about what you believe. “The beauty of Thy peace,” shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul” (E. Elliot).
Before I move forward, there is something that must be addressed. Namely, legalism. Those who are raised on the modern churchy mindset may immediately protest and question the mere mention of any work, training, or discipline in our spiritual lives because they’ve been taught that that is legalistic. My next post on this subject will discuss that.
For now, I encourage all to meditate upon the words of Jesus.

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:27-33

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. – John 12:16

When discipline becomes glad surrender, “Every day we experience something of the death of Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours.”

The true follower of Christ will not ask, "If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me? Rather he will say, "This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!”
A.W. Tozer

A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. – Adoniram Judson

Discipleship means adherence to the person of Jesus, and therefore submission to the law of Christ which is the law of the cross. - Dietrich Bonhoffer

Elisabeth Elliot quotes were taken from her books, Discipline: The Glad Surrender and Let Me Be a Woman

Monday, September 14, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, Sept 14
Outside my dad and brother are tearing out a brick pathway in our backyard to prepare the ground for gardening.
I am thinking...about a decision that is going to take a great deal of faith and prayer.
I am thankful God who will always be enough.
I am wearing...a black blouse and a gypsy-styled, black and pink skirt.
I am creating...lots of future blog posts (hopefully I'll actually complete them, haha). Still working on the one for discipline and discipleship.
I am Acapella Choir in another hour.
I am reading…The Book of Numbers, Parables of the Christ-Life by Lilias Trotter.
I am hoping...that I can survive some of my classes and that the Lord will guide and provide for a very big decision.
I am hearing...Fox News, fan blowing, my brother and sister talking.
One of my favorite being still and lots of private time (Especially in the midst of a crazy and busy semester).
A few plans for the rest of the week: Practice vocals/guitar, driving lesson with my dad, and prepare for a day of cooking with my sister and cousin on saturday evening(the dishes will be Jewish themed in light of Rosh Hashanah).
Here is picture thought I am sharing... Chocolate flower!

Thanks to the 'Simple Woman.'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Meditations on a set-apart life...

A great many things have been whirling through my mind as of late (yes, even on top of the 13 credits at school - hooray for brain overdrive and mental exhaustion).
Discipleship. Spiritual Disciplines. Prayer. A life with a Biblical, Victorious, Christ-exalting vision.
So much to think and pray upon. It's almost overwhelming.
It's like peering over a vast canyon or ocean, ready to embark on the greatest and dangerous adventure. So much must be considered...What does it mean to live a set apart life in Christ? What will it cost? How does a set-apart life look in day-to-day life? How does one live a lion-hearted, victorious Christianity? How does one keep from being conformed to the pattern of this world? How does one (and what does it mean) to have one transformed by the renewal of his/her mind in Christ?
If one is going to truly live set-apart in Christ (in their mind, heart, and body) it must run on something very different than the fleshly works basis that most of modern Christianity is fueled by. Something truly spiritual and divine has to be at work in a set-apart life. But how is one able to find that?
It's a living that is every day, moment by moment, in utter abandonment and surrender to Christ alone and completely dependent upon His grace alone.
There is certainly more to think upon here, but for now I begin with these loose, disorderly thoughts (forgive me, it's been a long day). I'm currently working on a Biblical study post on what it means to be a disciple of Christ. This post serves as a type of preface to that entry. It's a stream of verses that came from musings and questions concerning the life that Christ has called me to, a heavenly and humbling realization of who I am now. A life that is not mine. A life crucificed in Christ. A life that is wholly and irrevocably His.
By faith through grace in Christ Jesus, I am called as...

a disciple of Christ Jesus (John 8:31, Matt 28:19),

an instrument for righteousness (Rom 6:13),

an ambassador for Christ, God making his appeal through me (1 Cor 5:28),

a servant of Christ Jesus...set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1),

a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom 12:1)

a fellow citizen with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph 2:19),

a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:3),

a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy (2 Tim 2:21),

a good steward of God's varied grace (1 Peter 4:10),

a stranger and exile on the earth (Heb 11:13) with a citizenship that is in heaven (Phil 3:20),

and part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that I may proclaim the excellencies of him who called me out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

For now, I highly encourage and recommend The Bravehearted Gospel blog. If you desire for the epic grandeur of the Gospel to return to the Church, then you shall love that blog.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

I've seen these done on many blogs and now I'm finally participating in the fun! Thanks to the 'simple woman'.

September 7 1:38 pm
Outside my is another sunny day down here in the ‘valley of the sun.’ There usually isn’t anything exciting to report on a hot afternoon.
I am thinking...about everything that needs to be done this week (school-wise), books that I really want to read, contemplating some serious plans for next summer after I graduate, about how much I desire to be a true prayer warrior, and how faithful the Lord has been despite my disobedience to Him this past year.
I am thankful being Labor Day so that I can have a day off from school.
From the kitchen...I smell nothing scrumptious baking. *tear*
I am wearing...A denim skirt and a long, delicate brown blouse.
I am creating...a blog post on Biblical discipline and an original song (it’s a waltz!) on my guitar.
I am going...nowhere today. Feeling tired and a little sick. :(
I am reading…nothing at the moment (Terrible, I know!) because I’m waiting for some books to come in at the library. However, I’m still reading through the OT and currently on the book of Numbers.
I am hoping...for the Lord to bear me up daily in His grace.
I am hearing...the beautiful vocals of Amy Nuttall singing Scarborough Fair.
Around the brother and sister are playing a strategy board game and my Beagle is sleeping soundly.
One of my favorite things...long rainy days.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Work on Jazz improvisation, practice the selected songs for choir and voice lessons, go out for driving lessons with my dad, work on a more well thought-out weekly schedule (and sticking to it! Going to school forces me to be disciplined!), and movie night with my cousin and sister on Saturday.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

One of the worst parts about living in the city is that there are no fields of wildflowers! *tear*

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Expectation is from Thee

Elizabeth Prentiss was intimately acquainted with suffering. If you read her biography, you will find her life touched by much pain and sorrow. Yet it was through her afflictions that her faith was deepened and her heart purified. She lived a simple life as a beloved wife and mother, but her life was far from ordinary. She was a disciple who lived a Cross-centered life. The gaze of her heart was always on the way of her Savior. Her poems and songs speak of this.

Lord, I have nothing, in myself am naught,
Weak as a bruised reed Thou findest me;
And yet I dare to call myself Thy child,
Because my expectation is from Thee.

I am so poor in grace, so weak in faith,
Seek Thee so feebly on the bended knee;
And yet I must keep seeking, still aspire
Because my expectation is from Thee.

I long so for Thy presence, yet how oft
My sins constrain me from Thy face to flee;
I grieve, I falter, but hold on my way
Because my expectation is from Thee.

I do the deeds I would not do, leave undone
The gracious work that should completed be;
I am ashamed and sorry, yet hope on,
Because my expectation is from Thee.

And the dread enemy of my poor soul
Tempts me to yield and fail; but even he
Gives place at mention of Thy dearest name
Because my expectation is from Thee.

So self-renouncing, desperate in myself,
My fallen ruins I can calmly see,
For when I poorest am, all lost and gone,
My only expectation is from Thee.

- Elizabeth Prentiss (Golden Hours: Heart-Hymns of the Christian Life)

Judgement Seat of Christ

"Master forgive and inspire us anew. Banish our worldliness, help us to ever live with eternity's values in view." - Leonard Ravenhill

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We Must Give Time to God

Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of retarded spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession, do so many persons find themselves no farther along than when they first believed? Some would try to resolve the difficulty by asserting flatly that such persons were never saved, that they had never been truly regenerated. They are simply deceived professors who have stopped short of true conversion.
With a few this may be the answer, and we would accept this explanation as final did we not know that it is never the deceived professor who laments his lack of spiritual growth, but the true Christian who has had a real experience of conversion and who is sure that he is this very moment trusting in Christ for salvation. Uncounted numbers of such believers are among the disappointed ones who deplore their failure to make progress in the spiritual life.
The causes of retarded growth are many. It would not be accurate to ascribe the trouble to one single fault. One there is, however, which is so universal that it may easily be the main cause: failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God.
The temptation to make our relation to God judicial instead of personal is very strong. Believing for salvation has these days been reduced to a once-done act that requires no further attention. The young believer becomes aware of an act performed rather than of a living Saviour to be followed and adored.
The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God. Paul was anything but an advocate of the once-done, automatic school of Christianity. He devoted his whole life to the art of knowing Christ. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ….That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death…I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:8, 10, 14).
Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him. Without meaning to do it we have written our serious fault into our book titles and gospel songs. “A little talk with Jesus,” we sing, and we call our books “God’s Minute,” or something else as revealing. The Christian who is satisfied to give God His “minute” and to have “a little talk with Jesus” is the same one who shows up at the evangelistic service weeping over his retarded spiritual growth and begging the evangelist to show him the way out of his difficulty.
We may as well accept it: there is no short cut to sanctity. Even the crises that comes in the spiritual life are usually the result of long period of thought and prayerful meditation. As the wonder grows more and more dazzling there is likely to occur a crisis of revolutionizing proportions. But that crisis is related to what has gone before. It is a sudden sweet explosion, and uprushing of the water that has been increasing its pressure within until we can no longer contain it. Back of it all is the slow buildup and preparation that comes from waiting upon God. A thousand distractions would woo us away from thoughts of God, but if we are wise we will sternly put them from us and make room for the King and take time to entertain Him. Some things may be neglected with but little loss to the spiritual life, but to neglect communication with God is to hurt ourselves where we cannot afford it. God will respond to our effort to know Him. The Bible tells us how; it is altogether a matter of how much determination we bring to the holy task.
-A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"to touch souls to eternal issues..."

I do not think there is anything so essential to real service for God… as an entire separation and devotion to the work.” Thus speaks Arnot of Central Africa; thus speaks every man and woman whose life has made more than a passing flicker in the spiritual realm. Whether among our fellow countrymen or the people of the land, it is the life that has no time for trifling that tells.
We all long to live to the uttermost,
Not with the crowd to be spent,
Not without aim to go round,
In an eddy of purposeless dust,
Effort unmeaning and vain,
in very truth to live, to touch souls to eternal issues.

- Amy Carmichael

After a year, I decided to start this blog again. I don't claim to be gifted at writing. I am most certainly not an eloquent person. However, I've come to appreciate it as a very healthy discipline (when done in the correct manner - not merely as a way to vent unbridled emotions and thoughts). There are some blogs that I've been following for awhile now (written by some very wonderful, Godly women - many of which I've posted on the right side of my page here) that have inspired me in my pursuit for Christ-centered blogging. This is my attempt at a more spiritually-personal, but Biblical and edifying blog page. The aim is "to live to the uttermost" and glorify God in my words. May He impart grace onto whomsoever visits this simple little blog.
These are not just the mere thoughts of a silly-heart and an excessively romantic musician, but the musings of a sojourner and the lessons from a disciple-in-training. A set-apart young woman learning true Biblical womanhood, daughterhood, and sisterhood. A frail, wandering-hearted sinner clinging to the Cross and yearning to love with a pure heart.

p.s. I do hope visitors enjoy the music in my playlist. I have a love for melancholy, contemplative, and hopelessly romantic melodies and tunes (My Brightest Diamond, Loreena McKennitt, Vienna Teng, and Melody Gardot being my current top favorites). : )