Today was…

(This post is about yesterday (Sunday, June 24th, 2012).  I started to ramble a bit… just so you know. 🙂  I wrote this yesterday in my journal and decided to share it with you as a continue to finish several other blog posts.  I plan to have at least 2 more blog posts this week on Wednesday and Friday.)

Today was a good day.
Today was a sad day.
Today was a day of new beginnings.
Today was a day of changes.
Today was the day God planned for me.

Thank you Lord for setting apart a Sabbath day of rest.  A day when we can take a break from many of our weekly tasks and worship you–alone and as part of the body of Christ (the Church).

I need and I look forward to each Sunday.  Today was especially wonderful because last week my family worshipped at a different church and the previous Sunday because of our huge extended family’s Father’s Day reunion (which I greatly enjoyed).  I laughed when we arrived at church in our large van and one of the dads’ jaws dropped at seeing me park the car.  I don’t know if I’ll ever tire of seeing the surprise on friends’ faces when I drive up. :p

When I walked in to the building, one of my sister’s friends (I was going to say “little” sister, but she is growing up and little no longer fits) came over, gave me a hug, and told me she had missed me.  It was really sweet. 🙂

Since our pastor was out of town this week a visiting pastor preached.  Currently we are in a sermon series in the book of acts.  The visiting pastor preached from Philippians 4:4-7.

Радуйтесь в Господе всегда; и снова скажу, радуйтесь.  Кротость ваша да будет известна всем людям; Господь близко.  Ни о чём не заботьтесь, но во всём, в молитве и прошении, с благодареием открывайте просьбы ваши пред Богом.  И мир Божий, превосходящий всякий ум, соблюдет сердца ваши и мысли ваши во Христе Иисусе.  ~Филиппийцам 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Anxiety is very prevalent.  Did you know that the US has an official “Anxiety Awareness” day and month?? (April 22nd, and April)  Neither did I.  Society has no way of helping us cope with it.  Sure–we can escape for a short while through drugs, alcohol, games, sex, online sites, etc. but in the long run none of those things will help.  But when we trust in a God who gave us His son to save us from something far worse than death (hell) we know He will take care of us — even in the little and sometimes mundane parts of life.

For me, most of my anxiety lies in the future.  Where will I go to college?  Will I go to college at all?  If I do go, how will I pay for it?  What job/career should I study?  What if I’m being called into the mission field?  Just to name a few. :p  Coupled with another lecture  I attended on Wednesday evening about money, the sermon convicted me and helped me realize that money was/is becoming an idol in my life.  I was putting my faith and hope on money instead of on God who gives me everything I have.

After church a lady friend (a mother of 3 children) came up to me and asked me a ‘big family’ question.  “Growing up in a large family, what are your thoughts on the size of your [possible] future family?”  It’s a good question and I love being asked ‘big family’ and ‘homeschool’ questions. (If you have a question for me, ask me here.)  As for my answer: “I’ll be happy to love and raise however many children the Lord blesses me with (0 – ?).  If I am unable to have children of my own I would love to adopt children.  Now of course, this all depends on whether or not I get married.  I do not know if a godly husband is in the Lord’s plans for my future.

I enjoyed talking with a young couple (members of our church) who serve on a college campus as part of Campus Crusade for Christ.

 Immediately after eating a delicious meal with them (and with my family at home), I left for Russian church.  Today we sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in Russian and it was beautiful. 🙂  I love singing old hymns in Russian and English.  An elderly lady who was sitting next to me on the pew asked me in Russian, “Do you speak Russian?”  I was able to understand and reply!  It was really neat.

The sermon was from 1 Corinthians and it taught about loving others instead of judging them.  I think that too often we as Christians stay in our own little bubble.  We have our Christian community and anyone outside falls under our judgement.  Nowhere in Scripture does it command us to judge others.  God is the judge.  We are to love the sinner but hate the sin.  We like to go around pointing fingers and comparing our ‘righteousness’ to their sinfulness.

We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourself. (Matthew 22:36-40James 1:27Matthew 25:311 Corinthians 13.) Don’t take me wrong here.  I don’t mean to stay we should allow practicing prostitutes, drunks, or homosexuals to join the church.  Not at all.  We should befriend, love, care for, and witness to them.  Church membership is for professing believers of Christ who are not actively living a lifestyle directly against God’s word.

How can we be the salt and light of the world if we are unwilling to invest in friendships with non-believers?

Лубов, one of the church members, came and spoke with me after the service.  She taught me: “спасибо за пение,” which means “thank you for singing.”  I am so excited to be finally getting to know more of the members at church.  🙂  I asked Руслан, “Где Ина?” (“Where is Ина?”)  He responded with a six (6) or eight (8) word sentence.  The only word I caught was sister. 😀  So, Ина is staying with her sister today. 🙂

Following dinner, we had our weekly family meeting.  My mom gave us all some very hard news.  One of the families who were our good friends had left our church.  The family has been in our church longer than we have been (over 8 years).  They have several children who are close friends to all of us.  (This is not the same family as the one mentioned here.)  It is so painful losing close friends from church.  Of course they will remain our good friends–but we will no longer see them each Sunday.  I know that God will use this split for His good… but it is so hard to see.

Please pray for my church.  There is a lot of conflict to be worked through.  I am praying that it will be resolved peacefully and that it will give all the glory to God.  And maybe that the handful of families who have left will return.  Even if they do not return–God is faithful.  They will serve Him in a new church body, and others will join our church.  It is just hard to have close friends leave.  Satan would love to see us all split apart.  It’s my prayer that everyone can solve their differences and that those who do not return join another good church and continue to serve the Lord Jesus.

I’d like to end this post with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs.

Here I am a sinner, broken and in need of you
Take my life and wash my fears away
For you are the great I am, rest assured I feel Your hands
Holding me until the darkness clears

Father to the fatherless, redeemer of my soul
My life is yours forever, my heart will always know

Your mercy saved me, mercy made me whole
Your mercy found me, called me as your own 

(Mercy by Parachute Band)

Praise and a Petition for Philemon

If you did not yet read my first post, on Titus, here’s the link:  (https://languagenthusiast17.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/thoughts-on-titus/).  It has a brief introduction explaining this series of posts.

Paul also wrote the book of Philemon while in Rome as a prisoner circa 60 AD.  The purpose was to appeal to Philemon that he would forgive and accept back Onesimus, a runaway slave.

Underlined Verses (NIV 1984):

Philemon 1:4-7 “4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

1. In the beginning of this short book [v. 4-5] Paul thanks God every time he prays for Philemon.  Why?  Because he has a strong faith in Jesus, and because he shows love to others.

Thinking Question: Do people thank God for me in their prayers?–Do I show love to others and have a strong faith in Jesus–so firm that it is obvious and affects every area of my life?  We are called to be “a city on a hill.” Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

2.Through verse 6, Paul teaches us how important it is for us to be actively sharing our faith with others.

Thinking Question: Do I/How Can I use my everyday life/experiences to share the good news with people I run into?  Another application of this verse–actually the first several verses–is the necessity of prayer.  As believers we should be regularly praying for each other.

Life Application: One thing I try to do is this.  Every time I think of someone I pray for them.  It does not matter who they are or how well I know them.  God knows each and every one of us intimately.  Take a few minutes of each day to pray for people in your life.

3. Verse 7 restates *1 Corinthians 13.  I need to love others–even when they are being unkind or hurtful.  Also when I show love it encourages other Christians to do likewise.

There is truth in every book of the Bible, even the smallest ones.  If you have not read the Bible before (no matter what your religious beliefs are) I strongly urge you to.  Go to this page [https://languagenthusiast17.wordpress.com/my-personal-beliefs/bible-reading/] to see a short summary of each book and my suggestions to new readers.

* 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV 1984):

“1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Thoughts on Titus

Introduction: For the past eleven weeks (77 days) my friend Mrs. G. and I have been reading through the new testament.  It has been a new experience for me–reading the books so quickly.  For some of the books I’ve decided to write a journal and/or blog entry on.  In each books post I’ll give the basic background info of the book, verses that stand out to me, and some of my thoughts regarding those verses.

Paul, in Rome, wrote this book to his friend Titus circa A.D. 64.  He wrote the letter to encourage the church in Crete to do good works.  Chapter 1 has instructions for Titus.  Chapters 2 and 3 are about Living the Faith.  Chapter 3 has final instructions.

Underlined verses (NIV 1984):

Titus 1:1-3 “1Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior, …”

Titus 2:4-5 “4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Titus 2:11-14 “11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Titus 3:4-8 “4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

A lot of things stand out to me just in these first 3 verses.  First Paul is a servant of God.  Secondly that knowledge of truth leads to godliness. –What does this knowledge include and rest upon?– faith and hope of eternal life which is promised by God.  Thirdly, God does not lie.  Fourthly that God is our savior.  Wow, we’ve only read the first three verses of this small book and found enough statements to “chew on” for quite a while.

1. If there is a God who made and holds the universe in His hands, shouldn’t we all be His servants–just like Paul?  God gives us everything–life, blessings, trials, even His love–we owe our every breath to serving Him.

Thinking Question: Do I spend my every word, thought, and deed to please God–or am I living for myself?  I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not do this 24/7.  The greatest commandment is: Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

[Will write more later.  This’s good for now. 🙂 ]