Almost 2011!

Happy almost-New Year, everybody!  I love the beginning of a new year.  Fresh beginnings, new opportunities...it's great!  Tonight I'm going to my first New Year's party sort of thing.  My youth group's having a lock-in, so it should be fun!

In light of the new year, take a look at this when you get a chance!

I found this cool idea here, to have a word that's kind of my focus for the year.  The word I chose is:

So often I think I'm scared to hope for God's best, so I'm going to try this next year to hope for the best that He brings!  Even if it's not what I would choose, I know it couldn't be any better.  I also hope (haha) that I can share more of God's precious hope with other people this year!

So, here's hoping for a fantastic year!

Happy New Year!


Four Questions

“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 (NASB)

This was the second group of leaders we had trained in two weeks.  The training had been going well even though many of the believers were young: some young in years and some in their faith.  A couple of them were only 15 and 16 years old.  Some had only been Christians for a few months.

The teaching for the morning was on baptism, and a 15-year-old girl wanted to be baptized.  She had been a believer from a young age but had never been immersed.

Four questions are asked during a baptism: (1) Do you believe in Jesus? (2) Has He forgiven your sins? (3) Do you promise to walk with Him always?  But there is one more question.

I watched and listened to the father, who would be performing the baptism.  Calmly, and with much joy, he asked the first, second and third questions.  Then I heard a surprising question.  The father asked the fourth question, “When they come into our house and take us away, when they beat us and try to get us to deny Him, will you still follow Jesus?”

There before my eyes, a father was asking his daughter to be willing to be persecuted for her faith in Christ and to be willing to see him persecuted for his faith.  With a sense of awe, I prayed that I might be more like them.  I think they understood more clearly what the Father felt when He sent His Son to die for us.

* excerpt taken from "Voices of the Faithful" by Beth Moore, page 192


WOW #5

I commit my soul to my gracious God and Saviour, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer, and an infidel, and delivered me from that state of misery on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me; and Who has been pleased to admit me, though most unworthy, to preach His glorious gospel.  I rely with humble confidence upon the atonement, and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, God and Man which I have often proposed to others, as the only foundation whereupon a sinner can build his hope, trusting that He will guard and guide me through the uncertain remainder of my life, and that He will then admit me into His presence in His heavenly kingdom. -- John Newton

And the face shines bright
With a glow of light
From His presence sent
Whom she loves to meet.

Yes, the face beams bright
With an inner light
As by day so by night,
In shade as in shine,
With a beauty fine,
That she wist not of,
From some source within,
      And above.

Still the face shines bright
With the glory-light
From the mountain height,
Where the resplendent sight
Of His face
Fills her view
And illumines in turn
First the few,
Then the wide race.

-- Unknown

Wherefore it is every profitable for us to have always before our eyes this sweet and comfortable sentence, and such-like, which sets out Christ truly and lively, that in our whole life, in all dangers, in the confessions of our faith before tyrants, and in the hour of death, we may boldly and with all confidence say: O law, thou hast no power over me, therefore dost thou accuse and condemn me in vain.  For I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom the Father sent into the world to redeem us miserable sinners oppressed with the tyranny of the law.  He gave His life, He shed His blood for me.  Therefore, feeling thy terrors and threatening, O law, I plunge my conscience in the wounds, blood, death, resurrection and victory of my Saviour, Christ.  Besides Him I will see nothing, hear nothing. -- Martin Luther

Upon Thy Word I rest
   Each pilgrim day.
This golden staff is best
   For all the way.
What Jesus Christ hath spoken,
   Cannot be broken!

Upon Thy Word I rest;
   So strong, so sure,
So full of comfort blest,
   So sweet, so pure:
The charter of salvation:
   Faith’s broad foundation.

Upon Thy Word I stand:
   That cannot die.
Christ seals it in my hand.
   He cannot lie.
Thy Word that faileth never:
   Abiding ever.

-- Frances Ridley Havergal

When there is real weakness, especially of the kind that surprises and humiliates us, it is our opportunity to learn what Paul had to learn through his “thorn”: the grace of God is all we need, for “…power comes to its full strength in weakness…” -- Elisabeth Elliot

If I am to love the Lord my God with all my mind, there will not be room in it for carnality, for pride, for anxiety, for the love of myself.  How can the mind be filled with the love of the Lord and have space left over for things like that? -- Elisabeth Elliot

To ask for the guidance of God is to make a choice, and this takes faith.  It must be faith of a far higher kind than the breezy “if I like what I see I’ll take it.”  It is the faith that has strength to wait for the rewards God holds, strength to believe they are worth waiting for, worth the price asked.  Our prayers for guidance (or for anything else) really begin here: I trust Him.  This requires abandonment. We are no longer saying, “If I trust Him, He’ll give me such and such,” but, “I trust Him.  Let Him give me or withhold from me what He chooses.” -- Elisabeth Elliot

Lord, give to me a quiet heart
That does not ask to understand,
But confident steps forward in
The darkness guided by Thy hand.
-- Elisabeth Elliot

Jesus slept on a pillow in the midst of a raging storm. How could He?  The terrified disciples, sure that the next wave would send them straight to the bottom, shook Him awake with rebuke. How could He be so careless of their fate?
   He could because He slept in the calm assurance that His Father was in control.  His was a quiet heart.  We see Him move serenely through all the events of His life—when He was reviled, He did not revile in return.  When He knew that He would suffer many things and be killed in Jerusalem, He never deviated from His course.  He had set His face like flint. He sat at supper with one who would deny Him and another who would betray Him, yet He was able to eat with them, willing even to wash their feet.  Jesus in the unbroken intimacy of His Father’s love, kept a quiet heart. -- Elisabeth Elliot

Sin and despair like the sea waves cold
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold
Points to the refuge, the Mighty Cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide.
Whiter than snow you may be today.
-- Julia H. Johnston

None of us likes pain.  All of us wish at times we did not need to 'go through all this stuff.'  Let us settle it once and for all: we cannot know Christ and the power of His resurrection without the fellowship of His suffering. -- Elisabeth Elliot

A spirit of restlessness and resistance never waits, but one who believes he is loved with an everlasting love, and knows that underneath are the everlasting arms, will find strength and peace. -- Elisabeth Elliot

He is not all we would ask for (if we were honest), but it is precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency.  It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my Light. -- Elisabeth Elliot


Of That First Night

Did the star take on a brighter brightness?
The snow that fell, a greater whiteness?
Did Joseph and his poor young wife
Know then how they would spend this night?

And did they know that God the Son
That night, before the eve was done
Would be born in a lowly stable
And thus would be Holy birth’s label?

Did angels crowd at Heaven’s door
Eager to share of Christ, their Lord?
To go and shout, “Look here, He’s come!
He’ll save from sins His chosen ones!”

And yet, He was a little baby,
Just a child had come to save me
A tiny boy of infant size
Yet it was He who carved the skies!

His tiny fingers wove that star
That shone straight down, so very far
And yet He cried like any child;
God, by humanness defiled

So it was, so long ago,
Before had come His time of woe
Two thousand years ago, this night,
A Child was born, and there was Light.

-- Sarah Butler

This is Christmas

The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Hymn 32

The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Where is this stupendous stranger,
   Swains of Solyma, advise,
Lead me to my Master’s manger,
   Show me where my Savior lies.

   Far beyond the seraph’s thought,
Art Thou then so mean and lowly
   As unheeded prophets taught?

O the magnitude of meekness!
   Worth from worth immortal sprung;
O the strength of infant weakness,
   If eternal is so young!

If so young and thus eternal,
   Michael tune the shepherd’s reed,
Where the scenes are ever vernal,
   And the loves be love indeed!

See the God blasphem’d and doubted
   In the schools of Greece and Rome;
See the pow’rs of darkness routed,
   Taken at their utmost gloom.

Nature’s decorations glisten
   Far above their usual trim;
Birds on box and laurels listen,
   As so near the cherubs hymn.

Boreas now no longer winters
   On the desolated coast;
Oaks no more are riv’n in splinters
   By the whirlwind and his host.

Spinks and ouzles sing sublimely,
   ‘We too have a Saviour born,’
Whiter blossoms burst untimely
   On the blest Mosaic thorn.

God all-bounteous, all-creative,
   Whom no ills from good dissuade,
Is incarnate, and a native
   Of the very world He made.

-- Christopher Smart


A Hymn on the Nativity of My Savior

A Hymn on the Nativity of My Savior

I sing the birth, was born tonight,
The author both of life, and light;
   The angels so did sound it,
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light, and were afraid,
   Yet searched, and true they found it.

The Son of God, th’ Eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
   And freed the soul from danger;
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word, which heaven, and earth did make,
    Was now laid in a manger.

The Father’s wisdom willed it so,
The Son’s obedience knew no No,
   Both wills were in one stature,
And as that wisdom had decreed,
The Word was now made Flesh indeed,
   And took on Him our nature.

What comfort by Him do we win?
Who made Himself the prince of sin,
   To make us heirs of glory?
To see this babe, this innocence;
A martyr born in our defence;
   Can man forget this story?

-- Ben Jonson


Everything's Thanksgiving, Part #11

0201. winter

0202. Christmas--my favorite time of the year!

0203. being done with Christmas shopping

0204. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 2010

0205. sketches

0206. this poem

0207. Christmas cards

0208. people coming home for Christmas

0209. 14 inches of snow on Thursday and Friday!

0210. stuffed animals

0211. how God provides for everything

0212. spending time with family

0213. building up muscles

0214. clean water

0215. warm sweaters

0216. thick, fuzzy socks

0217. wrapping paper

0218. Christmas music

0219. stripes

0220. The Chronicles of Narnia books

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter,
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But His mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him:
Give my heart.

-- Christian Rossetti


Prayer in Faith

It is good that we should have to submit to what we do not understand.  It teaches us the laws of faith and hope.

It is good that we should have to do what we should rather not, in circumstances not of our choice.

It is good that there should be always something to prick us no, something to remind us that we are in an enemy’s country, belong to a marching column.

It is good that we should meet with checks and failures in what we undertake, to keep us humble and prayerful.

All these things belong to sowing in tears.

God seems to have laid out the order of things in His Church, not for a general and brilliant triumph but for the hidden sanctification of the individual souls which compose it.

-- Janet Erskine Stuart


WOW #4

From moral weakness of spirit; from timidity; from hesitation; from fear of men and dread of responsibility, strengthen us with courage to speak the truth in love and self-control; and alike from the weakness of hasty violence and weakness of moral cowardice,

Save us and help us, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord.

From weakness of judgment; from the indecision that can make no choice; from the irresolution that carries no choice into act; and from losing opportunities to serve Thee,

Save us and help us, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord.

-- The Southwell Litany for the Personal Life

Holy friendship has no looks but what are simple and modest, no caresses but those that are pure and sincere, no sighs but for heaven, no familiarities but those of the soul, no complaints but that God is not loved, the infallible signs of purity.

Worldly friendship confuses the judgment…  Holy friendship has a clear light and does not seek to hide itself, appearing willingly before good men.

-- St. Francis de Sales

Stand Still and See

   I’m standing, Lord:
There is a mist that blinds my sight.
Steep, jagged rocks, front, left and right,
Lower, dim, gigantic, in the night.
   Where is the way?

   I’m standing, Lord:
The black rock hems me in behind,
Above my head a moaning wind
Chills and oppresses heart and mind.
   I am afraid!

   I’m standing, Lord:
The rock is hard beneath my feet;
I nearly slipped, Lord, on the sleet.
So weary, Lord! and where a seat?
   Still must I stand?

He answered me, and on His face
A look ineffable of grace,
Or perfect, understanding love,
Which all my murmuring did remove.

   I’m standing, Lord:
Since Thou hast spoken, Lord, I see
Thou hast beset—these rocks are Thee!
And since Thy love encloses me,
   I stand and sing.

-- Betty Stam

Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is what sin is . . . The struggle to submit . . . is not a struggle to submit but a struggle to accept with passion.  I mean, possibly, with joy.  Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy—fully armed too as it's a highly dangerous quest. -- Flannery O'Connor

For Christmas is not merely a day like any other day.
It is a day made holy and special by a sacred mystery.
It is not merely another day in the weary round of time.
Today, eternity enters into time, and time, sanctified,
is caught up into eternity.
-- Thomas Merton

The Carol of Seven Signs

The briar in a dry land grows;
Mary shall wear the blood red rose,
Her Son shall wear the thorn.

Saint Joseph cut the cherry tree
Whose fruit he gave to his lady.
then what was left? The stone.

Saint Joseph cut mahogany
To make the babe a crib—but He
Was to the manger born,
To wood already worn.

One father split the cedar tree
And made two beams: A house! cried he;
A cross, the other mourned.

Shepherds brought wool to the royal stall
For the mother a robe, for her darling a pall
for sleeping both cold and warm.

Three gentlemen offered three measures of myrrh,
A drop to perfume, a sponge to blur,
A tun to embalm the Lord.

And gold is lovely to the eye
But cold as stone to him who lies
Behind the golden door.

Now these—the briar and the cherry,
Wood and wool and gold—did Mary
Ponder when Christ was born.

Within her breast she kept it all,
A thorn, a cross, a stone, a pall,
And they herself adorned—

For the pain was His, but He was hers,
Her child, the treasure of her purse,
By whom her womb was torn:
Et eius Salvator.

-- Walter Wangerin, Jr.


Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss Him free.
He will come like child.

-- Rowan Williams

I'm still alive...

I know, I know, my lack of posting is shameful.  Especially considering the posting freak I showed myself to be last month.  But honestly, nothing has really happened that's worth posting about, and I didn't want to post anyway!  But now I feel kind of guilty, so let's see...

It's actually December!  As in, the very last month of the year.  I can't believe how fast this year has gone by.  It's seriously incredible.  Christmas is my absolutely most favorite time of the year, so I'm pretty happy.  Sadly, we haven't gotten any snow yet, but after the mounds of frozen water that were dumped on us last winter, we didn't really expect much this year.  I'm still hoping, however, that we get a white Christmas.  Only fourteen more days!

I haven't been doing a whole lot lately.  Rachel and I are signed up to take the GED on January 10th and 11th, so we've kind of been studying for that.  Everybody who's taken it says it's totally easy, which doesn't give me much of a desire to study, but I'm doing it anyway.  This week is our last meeting for Bible club before we take a break for a couple of weeks.  God has blessed us immensely with the number of kids that have been attending this year; we have about 30-35 every week!  I've also started attending a systematic theology class with my mom.  It's really deep and sometimes confusing, but I like it.

Last Friday at 12:01 AM I saw The Voyage of the Dawn Treader!  It wasn't as good as I expected it to be, but I can't figure out what was missing in it for me.  Still, it was a great movie.  I always forget how much I love Aslan, and watching this movie from a Christian perspective brought many things to my mind that I hope will come to others as well.  I can't wait to see the next movies!  I think the next one is The Silver Chair...

Merry almost Christmas!
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