Saturday, October 31, 2009

We Are What We Think About

It matters a good deal that your book-food should be strong meat. We are what we think about. Think about trivial things or weak things and somehow one loses fibre and becomes flabby in spirit. Soldiers need to be strong.
Soldiers have not time for everything. ‘I have no time for anything outside my profession.’ a young officer said once, and in measure that is true. We can’t be entangled in the affairs of this life if we are to be real soldiers. By its affairs I mean its chatter and its ways of thinking and deciding questions, its whole aspect and trend.
The fight to which we have been called is not an easy fight. We are touching the very centre of the devil’s power and kingdom, and he hates us intensely and fights hard against us. We have no chance at all of winning in this fight unless we are disciplined soldiers, utterly out-and-out and uncompromising, and men and women or prayer.
So first, give much time to quietness. We have to get our help for the most part direct from our God. We are here to help, not to be helped, and we must each one of us learn to walk with God alone and feed on His word so as to be nourished. Don’t only read and pray; listen. And don’t evade the slightest whisper of guidance that comes. God makes you very sensitive, and very obedient.
Fill up the crevices of time with the things that matter most. This will cost something, but it is worth it. ‘See ye My face.’ ‘My heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.’ No one is of much use who does not truly want to learn what it means to pray and listen and definitely choose the life that is hid with Christ in God.

- Amy Carmicheal, Candles in the Book

In light of the modern age, we need to apply this type of living and thinking to how much time we spend on the internet, texting, gaming, movies, music, etc. Our entire life does reflect the focus of our hearts and minds. If we are always set upon weak, temporal things, that is what we will reflect.
Lord, humble us to receive Your grace and reflect Your holiness and glory.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wise Words on True Discipleship

In continuation with my posts on Biblical discipleship, I've gathered some quotations by a highly respected Scottish minister - Oswald Chambers. These are from his various writings and address topics such as obedience and the problem of self. May we be attentive to such wise words...

"Our Lord begins where we would never begin - at the point of human destitution. The greatest blessing a person ever gets from God is the realization that if he or she is going to enter into His kingdom it must be through the door of destitution. Naturally we do not want to begin there, that is why the appeal of Jesus is of no use until we come face-to-face with realities; then the only One worth listening to is the Lord. We learn to welcome the patience of Jesus only when we get to the point of human destitution. It is not that God will not do anything for us until we get there, but that He cannot. God can do nothing for me if I am sufficient for myself. When we come to the place of destitution spiritually, we find the Lord waiting and saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." There are hundreds at the place of destitution, and they don't know what they want. If I have been obeying the command of Jesus to go and make disciples, I know what they want; they want Him. We are so interested in our own spiritual riches that souls that are white to harvest are all around us, and we don't reap one for Him."

"As long as self-interest is there and has to be suppressed, the Holy Spirit will reveal that something else has to go. I may be under conscious apprehension for discipleship, and I go through the form of being willing to give up my right to myself, but the Holy Spirit reveals that I have never really done it. "I will spend myself for Jesus, I will do everything He asks me to do"- but not one thing - and it is the only thing I can do, namely, give up my right to myself to Him. There is only one crisis, and the majority of us have never been through it; we are brought up to it and kick back every time, until God by His engineering brings us right to the one issue: Deny forever your right to yourself. It is a stubborn detachment, yielding bit by bit not because the character is noble but because it is despicably proud."

"One of the subtlest snares is the idea that we are here to live a holy life of our own, with our eyes fixed on our own whiteness. No, we are here to carry out God's will as Jesus carried it out. Jesus carried out the will of God as the Savior of the world; we are to carry out His will as saints. Jesus Christ was a vicarious sufferer for the sin of the world, and we have to be vicarious sufferers, filling up "that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ." Have we ever realized that through the atonement we can take on ourselves a vicarious attitude before God, a vicarious penitence, knowing "the fellowship of His sufferings?""

"Any man would have known with His coming that it was wrong to take life; the law is written in him. Any man would have known that immorality was wrong. But no man apart from Jesus Christ would believe that "my right to myself" is the very essence of sin. When we realize what Jesus means when He says, in effect, "If you would be My disciple, give up your right to yourself to Me," we begin to understand that "the carnal mind is enmity against God." "I will not give up my right to myself; I will serve God as I choose." Jesus Christ came to remove this disposition of self-realization."

"We like to hear about deliverance from hell and forgiveness of sins, but this comes a bit too close, this demands too much, and we back out. "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66), they went back from following Jesus and never became actual disciples. If I do become a disciple my career may have to be ruined - am I prepared for it? Is He worth it? "If anyone desires to come after Me." - "If" means, you don't need to unless you like, but you won't be of any account to Me in this life unless you do. Wherever Christian experience is proving unsatisfactory it is because the Holy Spirit is still battling around this one point, my right to myself, and until that is deliberately given over by me to Jesus Christ I will never have the relationship to Him He asks for."

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God, we mistake panic for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him. We would rather work for God than believe in Him."

"Compromising Christians spread their disease quicker than any other kind. One backslider exerts an influence over the community that is tenfold worse than the influence of a hundred sinners who have never been saved."

"(Spiritual growth) is a question of obedience… turn away for one second from obedience, and instantly darkness and death are at work."

"Faith is the heroic effort of your life. You fling yourself in reckless confidence on God. God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us. Now he wants us to venture our all in a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering....Again and again, you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and every time, you turn back when it comes to that point until you abandon resolutely....Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense--and leap into what He says....Christ demands of the man who trust Him the same reckless spirit....that is daring enough to step out of the crowd and bank his faith on the character of God."

Beauty in My Week

Thanks to Lady Ophelia for this blog idea. I just recently stumbled across these gorgeous paintings. I love the elegance and array of colors. The one below with the two Venetian women reminds me of my sister and me (I'd be the one jamming out on the mandolin, haha!).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... another sunny day. Temperatures are back up in the 90s. *pouts* Autumn, please come!
I am thinking...of so many things; the Lord’s direction in my life, my desire to be a missionary and to be part of a ministry that brings ethnic/acoustic Biblical music to those in need, and wanting so much to work on homemaking skills and yet conflicted by being at school full-time, which I also know I need to acquire skills in music/recording for my long-term goals. *big sigh* I have a big to-do list in my mind.
I am thankful for...sleep!!
I am wearing...a turquoise and brown blouse with a silky light brown skirt complete with frills on the edges.
I am creating... a b-day gift idea for my mom.
I am fellowship with sisters this evening!
I am reading…Deuteronomy and poetry by Christina Rossetti. Usually I am reading 3 – 4 books at a time, but it’s difficult to keep up with that while in school.
I am be productive this week in my musical studies.
I am hearing...a gorgeous instrumental track by Jocelyn Pook called Her Gentle Spirit.
One of my favorite things...being at home.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Having a theological debate on Saturday and a prayer meeting on Sunday.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... I am always inspired by the artwork of missionary, Lilias Trotter. This piece is from her book, Parables of the Cross.

Thanks to the 'Simple Woman'

Friday, October 16, 2009

Beauty in My Week...

Thanks to Lady Ophelia for sharing this wonderful idea of incorporating femininity and beauty in blog posts every week. I chose to do a classic-American-beauty theme for this week. You might recognize some of these actresses.

Being a full-time college student, you don't see true feminine beauty in your week. I guess being in a heavily male-populated area of study (audio production) doesn't help with that...*Sigh* But it is a rarity to meet young women who enjoy modest skirts, dresses, blouses, ribbons, hats, lace, etc. There's hardly any grace, style, or femininity in anything ladies wear today. It's either they try to see how much skin they can show or they go for dumpy comfort (aka wearing pajamas or gym/workout clothes to class). And, naturally, their attitude and personality reflects the way they dress. There's no elegance even in the way they hold themselves or relate/speak to fellow classmates.
Here's to upholding old-fashioned beauty!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stones & Sea

I just recently discovered this song and found that it speaks very deeply of my own heart's experience.

Stones & Sea
Song written by - David Bird, Sarah Lacy, Richard Lacy of Eden's Bridge.

In the beginning,
I was counting the stones on the seashore,
Looking for the precious ones.
Among the stones, I found many pretty things
While the sea rolled on beside me all the time.

Time moved on.
I had collected many stones 'til I tired of them,
And I think they tired of me.
Some were lovely, but I was never satisfied,
And the sea rolled on beside me all the time.

And the wind rose, east and cold.
Whisp'ring sweetly to my soul.
And it said "Look you fool,
You are missing precious things:
Raise your eyes and look towards the sea."

So I looked:
It was as if I saw the sea for the first time,
And it's power captured me.
All the time I had wasted seeking stones,
I had missed the rolling glory of the sea.

And the sea
Devoured a mighty swathe of heart, overwhelmed me
In a way I couldn't know,
And the price for the love of greater things
Was surrender to the great and cruel sea.

And it stole me, and I feared the aching sea,
It consumed me, drowned my mind.
The wind said "Look, you fool,
No matter what you do,
You can't contain the ocean like a stone."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reading Ecclesiastes With the Gospel in Mind

Here is an excerpt from a commentary on Ecclesiastes by Temper Longman which I find to be crucial for one's mindset when going in to study this weighty book. Keep in mind that the author of Ecclesiastes is being referred to as Qohelet because his title is a translation of the Hebrew word qohelet which literally means "one who assembles" or "assembler."

"The book of Ecclesiastes must in the final analysis be understood by the modern reader in the light of the full context of the canon. For the Christian that context includes the NT."
"Ecclesiastes is never quoted in the NT, but there is an allusion to the message of the book in Romans 8:18-21:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

The world translated “frustration” (mataiotes) is the word used in the Septuagint to translate the motto word of Ecclesiastes, “meaningless” (hebel). While Qohelet sounds nonorthodox in the light of the rest of the canon, he presents a true assessment of the world apart from the light of God’s redeeming love. His perspective on the world and life is restricted; he describes it as life “under the sun” that is, apart from heavenly realities, apart from God. In other words, his hopelessness is the result of the curse of the fall without recourse to God’s redemption.
Qohelet sounds modern because he so vividly captures the despair of a world without God. The difference, though, is that the modern world believes that God does not exist; Qohelet believed that God existed but questioned his love and concern (4:16-5:7). As a result, nothing had meaning for Qohelet, not wealth, wisdom, charity. After all, death brought everything to an end. Qohelet is preoccupied with death throughout the book (2:12-16; 3:18-22; 12:1-7) because he sees nothing beyond that point.
On one level, therefore, Qohelet is exactly right. The world (“under the sun”) without God is meaningless. Death ends it all, so he alternated between “hating life” (2:17) and taking what meager enjoyment God hands out (2:24-26).
As we have seen above, the message of the book is found in the simple instruction in the last few verses, not in Qohelet’s speech. Nonetheless, we may still admit that Qohelet has rightly described the horror of a world under curse and apart from God. What he did not have was hope.
As we turn to the NT, we see that Jesus Christ is the one who redeems us from vanity, the meaninglessness under which Qohelet suffered. Jesus redeemed us from Qohelet’s meaningless world by subjecting himself to it. Jesus is the son of God, but nonetheless, he experienced the vanity of the world so he could free us from it. As he hung on the cross, his own father deserted him (Matt 27: 45-46). At this point, he experienced the frustration of the world under curse in a way that Qohelet could not even imagine. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13).
As a result, Christians can experience deep significance precisely in those areas where Qohelet felt most oppressed. Jesus has restored meaning to wisdom, labor, love, and life. After all, facing death, Jesus conquered the biggest fear facing Qohelet. He showed that for believers death is not the end of all meaning, but the entrance into the very presence of God."

- The Book of Ecclesiastes by Tremper Longman

Don't EVER let go of the Gospel when reading a book like Ecclesiastes. Without the Gospel, this book shouldn't even be studied or analyzed. It is very possible to formulate errors in your study and understanding of this book, your worldview, etc unless you are firmly committed to a canonical-Christocentric approach. May He renew our minds whenever we read this book, giving us a passion and a vision for His glory in such a serious and heavy book.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my is finally a lovely day in Arizona! Currently 73 degrees. Yay!
I am thinking...that my praying needs to be more pressed and more earnest concerning a dear, lost friend. Lord, be victorious!
I am thankful...that the recording session I engineered this past weekend went so well. Thank the Lord for bearing me up daily!
I am wearing... a light green skirt with golden trim and a t-shirt with gold and brown designs.
I am creating... a 1200-word paper on “the state of the modern church." I've been procrastinating, though.
I am school in an hour.
I am reading...Mimosa by Amy Carmichael and 1 John.
I am make it to this next weekend in one piece and finish my essay.
I am hearing... my brother playing games and a beautiful song by My Brightest Diamond.
One of my favorite evening of rest and reflection with my Bible and my Lord.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Fellowship with sisters tonight, hopefully a driving lesson with my dad during the week, and lots of reading.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... I want to be here right now:

Thanks to the 'Simple Woman.'

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Psalm 119: The Instructional Psalm for the Life of a Set-Apart Disciple

The Psalms teach us how to think, live, feel, and pray. Our emotions are shaped and guided by them and they direct us into a pure and holy lifestyle. In the words of John Piper, “the purpose of the Psalms is to be shaped by God.” They renew our minds.
As I've been reading through Psalm 119 this past month, it dawned on me that this particular Psalm speaks boldly of a set-apart disciple. This disciple has nothing to do with trifles. His mind is undeniably focused. Walking obedient in the way of the Lord is his life.
Psalm 119 begins very simply by describing those who walk in the law of the Lord as "blessed." If we turn back to Psalm 1:1, we will find a description of a how a "blessed" man does not walk. We need to keep turning ourselves back to Psalm 1 as we read through Psalm 119 because the two are very intimately tied together.


"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word."- Psalm 119:9
When a disciple is meditating on His word day and night and seeks Him through earnest prayer, a change begins to take place. God begins to grant this disciple "spiritual taste buds" for eternal, holy things. The disciple is suddenly no longer content with earthly pleasures. Such things will not suffice. He begins to see beyond the trifles of this world. His whole world of thinking, feeling, and living is purified as the Holy Spirit cleanses him. The way he communicates in his relationships and the way he organizes his lifestyle all speak loudly of the Holy Spirit's purifying work in his life. He no longer deals with things in a fleshly, self-seeking manner. All his life is taken up by his heart's sole desire to seek and glorify the Lord in all that he does.


“Delight comes from significant beholding, searching, and lingering.”
- John Piper
What do you delight in? What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Who do you spend most of your time with? Where and to whom is the gaze of your heart turned?
A disciple's sole delight is in God alone. We take note of this by reading how much this "blessed" man of Psalm 119 is very much in love with the Lord and His way.
Psalm 110:24, 35, 47-48, 162-164. Psalm 1:2.
The Lord's words are like honey to his mouth (119:103) and he pants for them (119:131). He considers them wonderful, therefore, his soul keeps them (119:129).
There is some serious delighting going on in this Psalm. And this is where our lesson lies: a true disciple seeks not earthly loves or pursuits, but all his/her energy, time, and heart is invested in the Lord.


But what exactly are these pleasures and pursuits of the flesh that I keep mentioning? Anything that your heart seeks rest, enjoyment, and pleasure in. The simplest way to discern where your heart lies is to ask yourself, "When I am tired and exhausted - what/whom do I seek comfort in" or "When I am frustrated and troubled - what/whom do I go to for answers and rest?" It could be things as innocent and simple as watching movies, shopping, playing video games, music, internet, playing with the latest iPhone, texting away, food, particular people in our lives, etc. This list takes in anything or anyone that we're tied to and seek satisfaction in.
I can sense the rising protest already. Does this seem extreme? Is this too hard?
Some of us are called to rule these things out of our lives completely while others are not. The point is that many of us have become slaves to our movies, iPhones, texting, computers, games, music, clothes, hobbies, etc. These are the things that turn our head and take up our time. A disciple of the Word does not live this way. You can't be a disciple AND be tied to this world's toys. We are to be DISCIPLINED in every area of our lives. If you are not disciplined in this area than you are a slave to your flesh.
When we set out to stay our hearts on God and truly walk in His ways, we begin to taste the joys of being yielded to the Spirit and not the flesh. We are suddenly no longer slaves to the mindless pleasures and pursuits of our flesh which are always unsatisfying and leave our hearts empty and minds dull. When we run in the way of His commandments, he sets our hearts free (119:32) to live for eternal pleasures and be no longer slaves to trivial, fleshly toys and pursuits.


A disciple prays like the "blessed" man of Psalm 119.
"Teach me, O Lord..."
"give me understanding..."
"lead me..."
"Incline my heart..."
"turn my eyes..."
"confirm to your servant..."
"Turn away reproach..."
(Psalm 119:33-39)
"deal bountifully with your servant..."
"open my eyes...."
"give me life..."
"strengthen me..."

His prayers are saturated with Biblical thinking and God-centered delighting. We know this because he spends time in meditation and memorization of the word - "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (verse 11).
What are we storing in our hearts and minds? The lyrics to the latest album in our music collection? The lines to our favorite tv shows? The list of things we could be storing in ourselves is exhaustive. True disciples of Christ reflect Him while the rest of us just reflect our latest obsessions.

“We are not going to live if we’re not meditating and saturating ourselves in the Psalms day and night. If our souls aren’t being filled and replenished daily with the Word than we’ll just be brittle and frail and chaff-like (Psalm 1:4)."
“Form the habit of living in the Psalms so much that the world of your thinking and the world of your feeling would be transformed into full-blooded Biblical thinking and feeling.”
- John Piper