Tuesday, August 24, 2010

relocated to:

my new photo blog.

you're most welcome to join me there!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Last night, after a beautiful Maundy Thursday service at Christ Church, we all as a group walked around the Old City, past the Kidron valley and up to the Mount of Olives. It was a solemn yet beautiful walk, the light of stars above and twinkling lights of city below, everyone silent remembering that night when Jesus prayed, and wept, was betrayed. Yet amidst the darkness, and the appearant hopelessness of it all, Jesus did not flinch...though he could have stopped the whole thing with a word. Yet he "for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Strong as the darkness of that night was, there was a joy that was stronger! And it was the joy that through this death, those he loved who were far might be brought near by his blood. Those who were stained with sin and shame would be presented blameless to the Father in the light of his righteousness. That in this darkest moment would shine such a light that would never be put out, "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor. 4). And that through his blood we would be redeemed, and that when we stand overwhelmed in the depths of his mercy we would praise him as our king.

This quote kept coming to my mind, and I think it's such a powerful reminder of how deceptive the circumstances this world can be! That no matter what happens or what darkness seems to reign, that God is sovereign,he is always good, his faithfulness endures forever and forever he shall be our king.

"When Christ uttered, in the judgment hall of Pilate, the remarkable words, "I am a king," he pronounced a sentiment fraught with unspeakable dignity and power. His enemies might deride his pretensions and express their mockery of his claim, by presenting him with a crown of thorns, a reed and a purple robe, and nailing him to the cross; but in the eyes of unfallen intelligences, he was a king. A higher power presided over that derisive ceremony, and converted it into a real coronation. That crown of thorns was indeed the diadem of empire; that purple robe was the badge of royalty; that fragile reed was the symbol of unbounded power; and that cross the throne of dominion which shall never end."
-JL Reynolds

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mining for Wisdom

This morning I walked down sunny Jaffa street (crazily busy during the holiday!) and found my way to the Coffee Bean where I enjoyed a cold ice coffee and (even more delicious) a new book! It's a study guide that goes through the book of Job, called "Mining for Wisdom" by Derek Thomas.

I'm only a few chapters into but am already so encouraged and really excited to learn more from this book...and to learn from the amazing story of Job what it means to believe that God is good, whatever the circumstances of life, and to trust in his faithfulness even if "all the lights go out".

One bit stood out to me in the first chapter, where Derek Thomas is defining wisdom, according to the Bible. He says:

"Being wise, in Bible terms, is set against the backdrop of our relationship to God. Unless we 'know God' (through faith in Jesus Christ alone) and walk in his ways, we are fools. As Jesus said: 'And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand' (Matt. 7:26.)

Reverencing God is crucial. Depending upon him, walking humbly before him, worshipping him at every point of our lives is the way of wisdom. Wise people, the Bible insists, glorify God and enjoy him in all circumstances.

Even in Pain!
Even when life turns bitter!
Even when dreams are shattered!
Even when nightmares become reality!
Even when we secretly think that God is a 'cosmic sadist',
as C.S. Lewis once confessed."

Later he mentions again Job's reverence, and fear, of God. He said, "Job had a great God and he knew it! When we fear God, as a rendition of Psalm 34 by Isaac Watts puts it: 'we will have nothing else to fear'!"

I pray that God would teach me what means to fear him, to every moment be an awe of his greatness and his love. To remember how small I am, how short are my days and yet how full of grace he is towards me! How weak I am, yet how strong and steadfast is his love. And that my heart would worship him joyfully, whatever happens in this life, however dark things seem to be.

"If I say,'Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,'
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you."
(Psalm 139:11-12)

Friday, March 26, 2010

How seet the name of Jesus sounds

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Shadow of the Almighty"

So, I've been inspired by my friend Allison to read more books! I'm not quite as ambitious as she is (365 books in a year!) but I will strive for something. And as I do, to put down my thoughts concerning these books, because some of them are just amazing! And some not so amazing...so I will tell you what I think. And just maybe you will be inspired to read them too! So here's my first book review. And feel free to comment if you've any thoughts about it as well.

A Review of:
Shadow of the Almighty
the Life and Testament of Jim Elliot
by Elisabeth Elliot

You know those books that are so bent, dog-eared and scribbled with ink that it's rather difficult to tell what book it was in the first place? Well this book, for me, is one of them! Seriously, it was amazing. One of those books that, as I read, I longed to absorb every bit of it. I have gone back to its ink-stained pages so many times since putting it down that I can’t really say I’ve “put it down” at all, it’s been with me almost constantly ever since!

But what draws me to it so? What brings me back to its pages so many times, eagerly sharing bits of it with others as I do?

Is it the writing style? Not really. The content is almost entirely taken from the letters and journals of Jim Elliot, with only a bit of commentary by Elisabeth Elliot. It hasn’t been edited, certainly wasn’t intended for publication when it was written, and consequently isn't the most thrilling read. It’s simply his life, plainly told midst thoughtful ramblings of ideals, dreams, longings. fears and everyday life.

And yet his wasn’t really even a fantastic life, either. For a long time I had only known of Jim Elliot by means of Elisabeth’s testimony in “Passion and Purity”, and I must admit that after seeing it more behind his eyes I’m rather less impressed with his “ideals” than I was before...it’s clear to see from this book that he was by no means perfect.

So what is it? It’s not a great literary achievement. It’s just the simple story of a life; and not a terribly impressive life at that.

But maybe that’s what makes this book so amazing to me! The smallness of it. The simplicity, inadequacy and brevity of a life made beautiful by no reason other than that it was lived and lost for Christ.

Towards the end of his life, he wrote:

“Father, with happy committal I give you my life again this morning- not for anything special, simply to let you know that I regard it as yours. Do with it as it pleases you, only give me great grace to do for the glory of Christ Jesus whatever comes to me, ‘in sickness and in health’."
It’s not that he didn’t long for “anything special”…in fact he wrote this after expressing his deep desire for children, for a family. He was ambitious, visionary; yet he understood that even if none of his ambitions came about, if all his visions fade to black and every dream be crushed, ‘in sickness and in health”, his life was Gods, and that was enough.

Even at the end of his life he seemed to sense that everything might be whisked away in a moment, and yet it wouldn’t matter! The smallness or the bigness of his life didn’t matter to him, so long as Christ was glorified. This is reflected in one powerful section when he says:

“Failure means nothing now, only that it taught me life. Success is meaningless,
only that it gave me greater experience in using the great gift of God, life.
And life, I love thee. Not because thou art long, or because thou hast done
great things for me, but simply because I have thee from God.”
I love that. It’s what’s so powerful about this book, I think. It’s simply the words of a man who was often prideful (as I can be) and many other things- but who sought and learned throughout his life that to die is to live. And not just on that final day, when our last breath turns cold, but every other day before that waking up with the realization that Christ is enough.

It’s not the fact that he was a martyr that made him great. It’s not that he was a missionary that made him great. In fact, he wasn’t great at all! None of us are. Christ is all the greatness in our lives and this book is a testament to that. Perhaps that’s why I love it so. It reveals the absurdity of counting anything as worthy of our devotion and of our lives other than Jesus. Many people hail Jim Elliot for his martyrdom. In the preface, however, Elizabeth Elliot poses this question:

“Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for him, after all, so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first? Furthermore, to live for God is to die, ‘daily’, as the apostle Paul put it. It is to lose everything that we may gain Christ. It is in this laying down our lives that we may find them.”
Jim Elliot lost his life in the end, but that really wasn’t the climax. All throughout his life he had been losing it already, in exchange for something far greater- Christ.

So let us strive to die! To wake up every morning with the fresh realization that everything is a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.

And if you get a chance to read this book, please do! It’s well worth it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

teach my soul to wait

Although I restlessly await
Some faraway and distant fate
Still hold me, bind my faithless heart
And teach my soul to wait
Oh, Lord teach me how to wait!

To wait upon thy arms of love
Love stronger than the tide
Than all the ocean’s grand display
Love stronger than my pride
Love stronger than my pride

And when my way
Seemed ne’er so black
The darkness, ne’er so strong
To this bright hope
My heart will cling:
Your love is stronger yet.
Your love is stronger yet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

of Ice cream, beggars, and frozen hearts.

The sun glared brightly that morning. The air was warm and the thick rays of light shone hotly off the ancient Jerusalem stones of those narrow streets. I was sufficiently aware of the sun's effect on my body, my parched throat reminding me it was due time to head home!

I rounded the corner of Christian Quarter road, the heavy smell of spices, stone and fresh falafel lingering in the air. While skipping to the next song on my ipod a dark figure caught my eyes. She was covered head to toe in black, this Muslim woman who sat against the wall with a young boy in her lap. Her weathered face and dark, distant eyes were lifted up to me as she repeated probably for the hundredth time that morning some pitiful plea in Arabic for a few shekels or more. The small boy in her lap lay with one hand held out wearily waiting for coins, the other hand clinging to his mother's scarf as he squirmed tearfully, looking hot and tired and already weary of the day's work.

I tried to smile encouragingly and continue walking by, telling myself that beggars actually make a good bit of money and she probably could have a real job if she wanted too....

...but what if she couldn't? Or even if she could, that boy looked awfully tired and in need of some cheering, if not a shekel. After walking a few minutes I came across a little grocery market. Stepping inside, I gave the shopkeeper the few shekels I had in my pocket for two bars of ice cream and skipped excitedly out the door in the direction of the mother and child.

The woman recognized me as I approached, and I will never forget her eyes when I had knelt down to give them my gift. The boy's face just shone brilliantly with pleasure, but in her eyes was such a deep, deep look of gratitude; her mother's heart so full of love and simply thankful that somebody had cared.

I only wish I cared more. Whether there in Israel, here at home, or anywhere else God leads me- there are always people who need love- and I pray my heart would be soft enough to give it. Make my heart like yours, O God, that you may be glorified in me!

"Savior, let thy love be felt,
Let its power be felt by me,
Then my frozen heart shall melt,
Melt in love, O Lord to thee."
-Thomas Kelly