Walking in Freedom

Miscellaneous musings along the way

Haiku August 27, 2011

Filed under: Just for fun — songofjoy88 @ 5:39 pm
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This may be my shortest post ever…

 

Introducing Haiku

It’s five, seven, five-

The syllables in each line.

This is a haiku.

 

 

The Inner City

Beautification

Unapologetically-

Gentrification.

 

 

College

Insecurity,

Irresponsibility-

Intoxication.

 

Little is Much August 26, 2011

Filed under: Faith,School — songofjoy88 @ 8:59 am
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The anticipation builds… on Monday, I’ll meet some of my students at orientation and then I’ll see all 153 of my students on Tuesday!  It’s kind of crazy to think back to a year ago and realize how much my Lord has graciously taught me.  I had no idea what to expect a year ago.  Since I student taught 7th and 8th graders, it was quite a jump for me to have a classroom full of 10-12th graders for six periods every day!  On top of all this, I was still recovering from my jaw surgery and eating mushy/soft foods.  It wasn’t all bad (I discovered the deliciousness of vanilla protein powder!), but it was a nuisance to plan around this different diet.  Also, the shift from college dorm/apartment living to having an apartment all to myself was quite an adjustment.

 

To compensate, I tried to exert more effort, especially at school.  School became my life.  Throughout the year, though, God began to reveal to me that my job was a lot less about anything I could teach or offer my students and more about me trusting God to use me as His vessel of truth and love…  You know that hissing sound when you run cold water over a pressure cooker that has all that steam built up inside?  That’s what this gradual realization was like- a release of all the pressure that I had internally put on myself.

 

I began to understand (and continue to learn now) that I have so little to offer these students.  Students coming from broken homes, evicted because of a parent’s drug addiction, caring for a 2-yr old son, dealing with abuse at home, experimenting with drugs, struggling with depression… the list goes on- so lost and desperate for love.  What can I bring?  How can I possibly have an impact?

 

The answer to these questions is simple.  Nothing.   And, I can’t… at least not if I’m the only one in the picture.  But thankfully I’m not!  There is work to be done, and with the power of God in me, I can press forward.  And the cool thing is I don’t even have to ask God to give me opportunities to show people grace.  He has already prepared the work for me and equipped me for the task.  Let’s get to work as we proclaim with our lives that, because of Christ, little really is MUCH!

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

Hebrews 13:20-21

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen

 

Little is much when God’s in it
And no one can fathom the plans He holds
Little is much when God’s in it
He changes the world with the seeds we sow
Little is much, little is much

 

The Noted Quoted August 22, 2011

Filed under: Just for fun — songofjoy88 @ 8:58 am
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I usually have plenty to say, but this time I’ll leave it to some other people.  Be enlightened by this random selection of quotes that I like. 🙂

  • “It’s easy to stumble out of church. It’s almost impossible to stumble out of community. One more reason why circles are better than rows!” – Andy Stanley
  • “As with every other aspect of life, we are called to be thoughtful, full of thought, in our relationship to technology. Not daftly dancing along to the latest drumbeat, enticing as it may be. Rather, asking ourselves whether we ‘should’, not simply whether we ‘can.’ Should I let my children play a video game now? Or should I accompany them on a hike? Should I watch a movie? Or ought I read or write or pray?” -Tom Rowley
  • “There is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’ I’m confident that God will take care of me.” –David Platt
  • Irony: the opposite of wrinkly.
  •  “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” – Frank Clark
  • Everything is easier said than done, except for talking- that’s about the same.
  • “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” -Sam Ewing

 And here’s a sweet song for you to listen to…

“Open up the Sky” by Deluge 

 

This day in history… August 16, 2011

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 10:03 pm
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Some 23 years ago, a little baby girl with a head full of brown hair was born in Colorado… No, no, no this is not the begininnings of my life story- this is just a celebration for me and those who know me of how God has worked in my life during that time!

 

It really is amazing to look back and see how evident it is that God has always been with me and has persistently drawn me to himself.  Some circumstances that were nothing but miserable at the time have been redeemed and restored by my Great God.  Through those times, I have learned more about myself, and more importantly more about God.  And God allowed me to use my experiences to encourage others.  He’s pretty cool like that!  Also, I’m so thankful for all the people God has brought into my life… if you’re reading this, that most likely means you (unless you’re creeping on my blog and have no idea who I am!!).

 

I think birthdays are also a good time to look forward.  How will I live from this day forward?  What will I devote my life to?  Who and what will I give my time to?  Who will I love?  Who will I serve?  For me, and I’m guessing you too, I have to keep coming back to these questions.  I have to answer them day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.  Answering them once isn’t enough, at least not for me.  There are sooooo many distractions that our world offers or flat out shoves in our face!  So many lesser things… but I don’t want to waste my life.  As you read this verse and listen to this song, consider the questions above.  Even though it’s probably not your birthday, “today” is always a good day to refocus on the One who gives us life!

 

Romans 14:8

If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

 

Don’t Waste Your Life by Lecrae

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RWEllqh5J0

 

The Lord’s Prayer August 13, 2011

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 9:57 am
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So, you know how they have NIV/Message parallel Bibles??  Well, this post is an NIV/rap version of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.  

 

 

Jesus, Priceless Treasure August 11, 2011

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 12:59 pm
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Last night, we had worship night for my community group at church.  It was a good time… I even played bassoon for a couple songs. 🙂  During the quiet reflection time, I flipped to a random hymn called “Jesus, Priceless Treasure” by Johann Franck.  Here are the lyrics:

 

Jesus, priceless treasure; Source of purest pleasure, Truest friend to me:

Long my heart hath panted, Till it well-nigh fainted, Thirsting after thee. 

Thine I am, O spotless Lamb,

I will suffer nought to hide thee, Ask for nought beside thee.

 

In thine arm I rest me; Foes who would molest me Cannot reach me here. 

Though the earth be shaking, Ev’ry heart be quaking, God dispels our fear. 

Sin and hell in conflict fell

With their heaviest storm assail us; Jesus will not fail us.

 

Hence, all thoughts of sadness!  For the Lord of gladness, Jesus, enters in. 

Those who love the Father, Though the storm may gather, Still have peace within.

Yea, whate’er we must here bear,

Still in thee lies purest pleasure, Jesus priceless treasure.

 

The words of this hymn written over 300 years ago stirred me up.  Do I really view Jesus as a priceless treasure, source of purest pleasure, and my very best friend?  Maybe one of those… on a good day!  I am challenged by the writer’s longing for God, his surrender, and his contentment with God alone.  I focused in on the last 5 words of the second verse: “Jesus will not fail us.”  What a great comfort to know that in the chaos of life, He is constant and He cares for us… a lot!  I love the way the 3rd verse exhorts me to look to the God of my circumstances instead of making my circumstances a god.  Jesus, alone, is worthy to be valued above all else, whether our current situation is great or miserable.  True peace does not come from what may be happening in our life; peace comes from the One who has promised to never leave you on this adventure called life.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.   John 14:27

 

Hard Rock Café August 4, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Relationships — songofjoy88 @ 4:27 pm
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I wrote this about two and a half years ago and just stumbled on it.  Hope you like it!

 

The message was simple enough, but it was in the most unexpected place.  A brown paper bag from the Hard Rock Café- really?  Below the store’s name, there it was, simply stated: “Love all.  Serve all.”

How could it be that a plain paper bag communicates part of Christ’s message more clearly than the church?  Sometimes we’re all too eager- I’m all too eager- to revert to our “highlighter Bible,” in which we’ve underlined all the passages that we like.  We focus on the verses that speak to us, while inadvertently neglecting everything else.  But, Jesus’ message is not for us to edit.  He meant what he said and we had better start living like we believe that.  Yes, we need to narrow our focus on specific aspects of following God throughout our lives, and in that sense our “highlighter Bible” serves us well.  However, we cannot turn our eyes from the all-encompassing nature of Jesus’ message.

Love All

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expounds on the Old Testament teaching to “love your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18) by instructing the crowds to “love your enemies” (Matthew 9:43).  Jesus explains that loving the people who love you is not remarkable because anybody can do that.  But what will make people take notice is the way Christians love all– especially our enemies.

Rather than preaching Christ’s message to love all, sometimes it seems as if the church communicates a message of “scrutinize all.”  We are hesitant to love all, because some people just aren’t too loveable (at least by our messed up human evaluation of them).  So, we look for reasons why we maybe don’t really have to love everyone.  We condescendingly look down on people who are gay or women who even consider abortion.  We vocally oppose homosexuality and rally against abortion with cries of pro-life.  But where are our cries for pro-love?  We toss around the cliché of “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but we’re looking so intently at the sin that we can’t even see the sinner!!  Jesus acknowledges our tendency to scrutinize others in the Sermon on the Mount when he told the crowd: “do not judge.”  He seems to express that this tendency comes from our eagerness to ignore the plank in our own eye, by pointing the finger at someone else.  Perhaps we need to “take the plank out of [our] own eye” so that the sin of our brothers appears as only a speck and we can see the person for who he or she really is (Matthew 7:1-5).  Only when we can see people, not just their sin, will we be able to love them.

Serve All

In most cases, serving others is not viewed as a desirable thing to do.  Sure it might be cute to visit people at a nursing home or serve at a soup kitchen once or twice.  But in those situations, we’re serving on our own terms.  We choose a date on our calendar that fits conveniently with our schedule.  We decide where and who we want to serve.  We clock in for our two hours of service, serve, and then we’re done.  And then we give service awards to people to commend them for serving, communicating that we view service as an exception rather than the norm.

Even as we serve others, we want people to take notice.  So, we total up the hours we’ve put in or accumulate a list of different organizations we’ve volunteered with.  It’s ironic that our efforts to serve others all too often turn into an issue of pride.  Simply serving others is not enough; we want to be recognized and commended.  We want to be great.

It’s somewhat reassuring to know that we’re not the first to desire greatness.  The Bible tells us that Jesus’ disciples argued with each other about who was the greatest.  To this, Jesus replied, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).  Perhaps part of the problem with our view of service is that we have separated it from humility.  To us, service has become about being noticed and making ourselves feel good.  But the words of Jesus convey that we must humble ourselves.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he urges them to humbly consider others better than themselves and to look to the interests of others.  Then, Paul provides the perfect model of humble service in Jesus Christ.  Though he was God, he “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… he humbled himself and became obedient to death –even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:3-8).  Bringing it back to Jesus, we see how humility and service are closely intertwined.

Furthermore, when we embrace humility, we will be better able to serve all.  Not just the people we like.  Not just the people who are easy to serve.  Not just the people who are convenient to serve.  Humbly, we can undertake Christ’s non-discriminatory instruction to “serve all.”

So, maybe Hard Rock Café has more to offer than decent food and a montage of music memorabilia.  Perhaps we would do well to heed the 4 simple words printed on that brown paper bag: “Love all.  Serve all.”