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!