Thursday, June 18, 2015

Final blog post for SBS!

Hello everyone!
After almost nine months of learning how to study the Bible, we are coming to the close of our school this weekend.  As I look back and reflect on what this year has been I have been amazed at how much I have learned, but I have been even more astounded by how much I have yet to learn.  It’s really easy for us as humans to think we have everything figured out, I guess because we keep our perspective so narrow that we don’t leave room for things to simply be bigger than we are, but closing our eyes to the hugeness of God doesn’t make Him go away.  Through this school my perspective has changed; I’ve grown in my understanding of how big God is, I’ve seen how insufficient my own ability is in light of my weakness, and I’ve seen how God’s patience cloaks this world in all of its frailty.  I’ve processed a lot of information about history, cultures, scholarly opinion, and literature, and my natural human response is to think that I know something other people don’t know, or I’ve somehow found the “key” to the Bible that hundreds of years of study have not unveiled to anyone else.  This is so deceptive because God has laid His truth bare and naked before humanity from the moment He said “Let there be light!”  He made it accessible to everyone, regardless of how much they know or what their experience may be.  This is so humbling because it means that no matter how much I study there will always be more things I don’t know, but at the same time I could not study at all and have all the knowledge I need for a full and complete existence by simply saying yes to Jesus.  That’s the beauty of the gospel; Jesus makes fullness accessible in a moment by accepting His sacrifice, but the process of learning to live out that fullness takes an eternity. 
There is so much I could say about what I’ve learned from the books in the New Testament, like how my identity was rocked by Ephesians, Hebrews showed me why I can have faith in God, John showed me the sweet tangibility of Jesus’ humanness and understanding for my weakness, and Revelation blew my mind with how incredibly in control God is and how good His plan is for His people; however, that would take much too long to elaborate on here so if you want to hear more about it I will be home in a week and you can message me and we can meet up.  Overall I think I am simply in awe of how available God makes Himself to us, and the Bible is proof of His care because He wanted to make sure that we knew who He was and how much He loves His precious creation.  I’m so thankful for this opportunity I’ve had to go through the whole Bible this year, and I’m extremely thankful for all of the support of my family and friends; thank you so much for walking through this journey with meJ

Can’t wait to be home again!

Love, Aubrey

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seven months in, two months to go!  It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on what we’ve been learning so I want to be able to do that, but first I want to thank everyone who contributed financially to me… my school fees are now paid off :D  Thank you for being willing to partner with me in my journey through the Bible, both God and I are blessed by your generosity.
So after about six months trekking through the Old Testament we finally reached Matthew, and what a transition!  The climax of the Bible rests in the gospels; God has promised since Adam and Eve sinned to fix the problem of sin, so how are His people going to respond to it?  I love the chronological method because God’s plan is so clearly laid out through His covenants: He promised Eve that her descendant would crush the serpent that deceived her, He promised Noah that He would not give up on people, He promised Abraham that He would make his descendants a great people who would bless the whole world, He promised Moses to make Israel holy and set apart, and through the prophets He promised to send a descendant of David to come and make everything right, renewing God’s relationship with His people.  Jesus fulfilled all of these promises, but in a completely unexpected and shocking way to the Jews.  Jesus was so compelling and yet so frightening at the same time because he showed people a better way to live, but that way challenged just about everything they had depended on.
The Jews saw themselves as justified by their ancestry, but Jesus constantly said that faith, not Jewishness, made people healed.  The Pharisees thought that by following the law better than everyone else they could earn the favor of God, but Jesus came hanging out with sinners and prostitutes, claiming that it is those who receive forgiveness that are the most acceptable to God and not those who thing they don’t need it. 
Jesus confronted people on their hypocrisy and exposed the ways they depended on themselves rather than God.  His humility clashed with their pride, His boldness overshadowed their cowardice, His love melted their judgment, and His faith challenged their unbelief. 
I was challenged by Matthew and Luke in how I view other people and how I view myself: Do I expect things from myself that God is not expecting?  Do I think that by getting everything “right” I will somehow be in a better place with God and have His favor?  Do I wait for other people to “get it together” before I feel like I can love them or show patience and grace?  Galatians confronts this religious mentality, emphasizing that nothing in the physical can add to what Jesus does in the spiritual when people accept His sacrifice.  I loved Galatians 4:6 that says how we are children of God and He has put the spirit of Jesus in our hearts crying out “Abba! Father!”  This was His plan all along; from the very moment Eve and Adam chose sin God’s blueprint was laid out and He knew exactly how He was going to bring humanity back into relationship with Him.  Now Jesus offers us that same relationship, and we get to have access to everything the Father has, and we don’t have to do a thing to earn it, not a thing!
  I struggle sometimes with reconciling what God says about me with what I’m feeling in the moment, or what I see around me.  However, Jesus shows me that all I need to do is believe God, and that’s it.  When I’m feeling alone I can remind myself that the Spirit of God is permanently camped out in me, never leaving and always interested in everything I do.  When I feel intimidated by my own inadequacy I can remember that God said it isn’t about me, it’s about Him, so I don’t have to have everything together.  When I get frustrated because my plans didn’t work out I can believe God who said that He has a plan for me, and His plan is much better than anything I can come up with.  Jesus was perfectly at peace with himself in a fallen world because He knew that God’s plan was bigger than what people thought about Him, how He felt and what He saw; He now offers the same peace to us, and all we have to do is say “I’ll believe you.”  That’s pretty incredible in a world where everything has to be earned and there’s always a catch; there’s no catch with Jesus, there is only everything and we can get it through simply saying yes. 

Thank you so much for all your prayer and support, we are so close to the end and yet have so much more to do; I would really appreciate prayer for clarity and openness in my heart as well as endurance to really finish this school well and get all God wants to show me.

Love, Aubrey

Friday, February 27, 2015

Just Some Pictures

An attempt at an exhaustive list of the characteristics of God

Study Time!

Dressing up as Bible characters during Esther week to celebrate Purim:)

Funeral for Jerusalem during Lamentations, looking very mournful

Monday, February 23, 2015

(Sorry, this one’s going to be long, just to warn youJ)
Happy February!  Here at the base it’s been pretty sunny lately and I find myself complaining to my Canadian friends how it just doesn’t feel like winter, then they ask if it’s an unusual thing to have such hot weather at this time, and I sheepishly reply that it’s actually quite normal for here, and I haven’t known much different, there are just times when I wish the cold would linger a bit longerJ  Overall the weeks since Christmas break have gone by fairly quickly, but so much has happened in them it feels like forever since I last wrote.  We are currently finishing up Daniel and Obadiah, Daniel being the last major prophet (we made it!).  In my last update I touched on the prophets and how I was seeing God’s mercy and love through the predictions of judgment as He knew that Israel had to go through exile in order to get rid of their mindset of idolatry so that He could bless and restore them.  Since break, however, I have made a more personal connection with the prophets, which I will try to explain as briefly as possible since it has been extremely impactful for me and there’s a lot to it.
Coming back from break we plunged into Isaiah, a monster of a prophet with 66 chapters (and we had to chart every one of them).  I was sick, having already been sick for a week, and we were coming back from laid back break to scheduled, rigorous CSBS, so I was having a hard time diving headlong into the homework and was feeling pretty content to just not finish the book (since that does happen at times in this school).  On Friday, however, our staff had a talk with us as a school and basically reminded us why we were here (having observed us being very distracted, having conversations and overall not being super motivated).  They talked about their own struggles in CSBS and how they at times felt apathy and discouragement but they pushed through and believed they were going to get good things out of every book, and reminded us how valuable this time is and how rare an opportunity to study the Bible full time is.  I felt like my heart was being turned inside out as I saw my selfishness and complacency, not just in that week but in general.  I saw how much more I valued having “my time,” seeking out things like social interaction and facebook to distract me because I thought that’s what I needed, but really it wasn’t helping me because I was practically ignoring God throughout the day.  I didn’t finish Isaiah, but I did about 30 charts in a span of 24 hours after that talk, and every chart was like a prick going deep into my heart.  I saw the prophecies about Jesus and how He let Himself be abased and unattractive and rejected for the sake of love, contrasted by how much I feel the need to be desirable, affirmed, and accepted by people.  I saw the heart condition of the people Isaiah spoke to and how they were constantly offered healing and restoration if they would only repent, but they refused.  And refused.  And refused.  This verse went pretty deep for me: Isaiah 57 18-21 “I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips.  Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them.  But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss up mire and mud.  There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.”  About ten verses before God passionately tells His people that when they cry out they should let their collection of idols deliver them, since that’s where they’ve put their trust.  Our culture has so many idols (things we turn to for security and comfort and peace) that we are often oblivious to.  “Go on, let your phone deliver you from your stress!  Let the television take care of that relationship!  Go to Google to find all your answers!  Let the doctors fix your body, how’s that working for you?” Was all I could hear as I read God’s pleas to His people that they would stop turning to meaningless, futile, human-made objects to try and get the safety and peace they so desired, and the result was that their heart was like a tossing sea, always raging and completely void of peace.  I was reminded of how God is the only answer to peace, and submission to Him is the only way to get it. 
To briefly explain, the week after Isaiah God asked me to do something in response to the idols He showed me in my heart, one being fear of what other people think of me.  For the application part of my homework I asked God what He wanted me to do in response to this, how He wanted me to combat fear of man, and He told me to cut my hair.  After some back and forth it became clear that this wasn’t a slight trim, but a drastic all-off bye-bye scary terrifying haircut, and I knew I had to do it.  What terrified me was the unknown about it: how I would look and what people would think, if they would think I was crazy, stupid, irresponsible, and maybe even if they thought I looked like a boy or just ugly.  That was part of it, the other part was that I loved my hair, and I’ve never worn it short, like really short, and I was very insecure about what I would look like.  It was a process, but I did it (with some help from a friend, and some confirmation from Jeremiah 7:29 which I found the next day during our first read) and it was hard, but God had grace for me to do it (I’m so thankful He did because I don’t think I could do it again) but what it’s doing is helping me to rethink the way I’ve viewed pretty much everything in my life, seeing more how I evaluate my worth through what the world tells me instead of how God sees me.  If you would like to know more about this process and what it’s done you can message me, but for the sake of not being too lengthy I’ll end with this verse:
Isaiah 12:3-4 “Those of a steadfast mind you keep in peace – in peace because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock”
I would encourage all of you to ask the Lord where you are not trusting Him today, and let Him show you where in your heart you are lacking true, constant, refreshing peace.  If He asks you to do something, He will help you do it and He will not let you down because He is good.  Don’t be afraid to jump, because He absolutely, completely, without a doubt will catch you.

Thank you so much for supporting me through my journey through the Bible, love and peace to all of you!