Pride

100_100 From Abby “Abs” Amos

Yesterday was one of those work out days where I had zero motivation! I hopped on my machine of choice and began plugging away at my routine. To distract me from the rigmarole of the work out I began watching the pool down below me through the window. It’s an indoor water park complete with huge water slides. As I was watching, I noticed a little girl about 4 years old scooting down the slide, but the slide was DRY. She couldn’t slide down because there was no water coming down! The little girl turned around and began walking back UP the slide. Now mind you, she was in my direct line of vision, and I was 2 stories up. This slide was enormous. If she fell over the edge there is no way she would have survived. The girl continued to climb her way back to the top. I was getting nervous wondering what would happen. She wouldn’t be able to continue UP the slide if the water came on.

Suddenly, the water did come gushing from the top, knocked the girl to her backside, and rushed her down to the bottom. She had no defense. That water hit, and there was no way she was going to make it back to the top. It was at that moment that a realization hit me like a ton of bricks. That water was a symbol to me of temptation.

My boyfriend and I are in a very serious relationship. With the love we have for each other, and the closer we move towards marriage, the harder it is to stay physically pure. We have set high boundaries for ourselves, both have accountability groups, and even wear purity rings yet the fight to stay pure is beyond what we can handle on our own without our God.

I Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Just like that water knocked that little girl defenseless that is the power that temptation has. I may think I am going along at a safe pace, working my way to the top, then all of the sudden, if I’m not prepared, WOOSH. That water comes gushing out of nowhere and can knock me senseless.

But that is where hope comes in to the picture! I Peter 5:9 goes on to say “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” I am not alone! YOU are not alone! We can stand firm in our faith in God. God wants holiness for our lives. He wants faithfulness, and He will see us through.

I have been learning a lot about my own pride lately. It’s been a scary realization. Often times when I make a mistake in life, the major reason for my remorse is pride. I don’t want to look bad in front of other people. That makes temptation even more dangerous! “If no one finds out about it, then who cares?” could easily be a lie of satan that could creep in. Peter also warns just before those other verses that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Oh that God would continue to humble me. Solomon is right in saying that “Pride goes before destruction.”

I write this today, humbly confessing my own mistakes. I am humbly admitting that I have been swept away by the waters of temptation at times. I am also writing today guessing that you have, too. What I believe God wants you to cling to is this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in my weaknesses…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Corinthians 12:9-10)

There is HOPE. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. He has the power to fight any raging waters that come our way and bring us safely, and dryly to the top. Stand firm my dear brothers and sisters. STAND FIRM.

Every tribe & nation

I spent this past weekend at Breakaway (a North Central Region InterVarsity Retreat) with our students from Normandale. Among the students in attendance was my Ugandan friend Ritah. Ritah has been in the United States now for around two years. She is a wonderful child of God whose faith has pushed me closer to Jesus and His Mission. On Friday night I went to greet Ritah and she excitedly pointed to another girl and intensely proclaimed “she is from Uganda”. I have never seen Ritah so excited. So all weekend long I saw Ritah and her Ugandan friend hanging out…laughing and enjoying each others company. Ritah was able to experience a little bit of “home” while spending the weekend in northern MN.

Yesterday morning I found out that God had a greater plan for bringing these two women together. During the final session our speaker Chris gave an invitation for those wanting to receive Jesus into their lives as Lord & Savior for the first time. He asked those that wanted to do this to stand up so their friends could gather around and pray with & for them. As I stood in the back I saw Ritah’s new Ugandan friend stand to her feet. Her friends put their hands on her and prayed with and for her as she accepted the author of life into her heart. After the session I witnessed a precious site as Ritah and her now sister-in-Christ embraced. It was an amazing moment.

I will never cease to be amazed at the tenacious love of Jesus. He pursued a precious Ugandan soul across the ocean to the United States by placing her at a retreat in northern MN. And although God most likely used the teaching times and such to open her heart, He also chose to set up a divine appointment between two Ugandan women thousands of miles from their home. Jesus is building His church…redeeming this world one soul at a time so one day every tongue, tribe, and nation will bow before Him… proclaiming His goodness and greatness. I am so thankful and humbled to play a part.

“Thank you Jesus! You are worthy of all glory. I am in awe of Your love. May I recognize and participate in Your reconciling work…initiating a generation of Jesus’ followers that will continue to reach the nations.”

A Prayer of Thanks for This Day

From Gretchen Miller:

Father,
Thank You for this day.
For all its joys and sorrows,
trials and triumphs,
laughter and tears–
For the time spent with friends
And time spent with family–
For tasks completed and tasks yet on “the list”.

Thank You for this day to work,
This day to rest,
This day to play,
This day….
To smile,
To share,
To speak,
To listen,
To write,
To read,
To sing,
To learn,
To teach,
To see,
To hear-
To LIVE!

For all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…
And I celebrate This Day.

You Are the God

From Rob Stearns

I had been thinking about a couple verses in Ps 94 for a couple of days when I got the news that a sister of a dear friend of mine had just been diagnosed with cancer.  The way these verses were playing in my head had a completely different context as to what I just wrote.  I crawled into bed shortly after getting the news.  I was wide awake, although it was late.  These verses wouldn’t let me sleep…they took on a completely different meaning.

This poem became a poem with double meanings.  A praise to God that He is the maker of every part of us…and a petition to heal.

You are the God

You are the God
The God of our eyes
You have shown us so many—
Let us see your ways

You are the God
The God of our ears
You have told us so many—
Let us hear your voice

You are the God
The God of our minds
You have taught us so many—
Let us know your will

You are the God
The God of our hearts
You have touched us so many—
Let us beat for you

You are the God
The God of our trials
You have held our hands so many—
Let us triumph for you

You are the God
The God of our bodies
You have groomed us so many—
Let us live for you

You are the God
The God of our souls
You have healed us so many—
Let us be healed for you

An album worth purchasing

For Christmas my father-in-law bought me Charlie Hall’s newest album “The Bright Sadness“. Whether I’m in my car, working on my laptop, or running/lifting weights with little Gina (my ipod shuffler), I haven’t stopped listening to it for over a week now. With songs like Bloom Again, New Year, Scenes, and Hookers and Robbers, you will find yourself drawing closer to God…appreciating Him for His majesty, complexities, and goodness. I have participated in musical worship several times with Charlie Hall’s leading. I have always appreciated his humble heart and desire to move people towards an understanding of God’s greatness and the only proper response – a LIFE of worship.

I know you are all big boys and girls and can find this on your own. But you can find the album in most book stores and online HERE and on itunes.

Letters of Recommendation

This is part of my weekly letter written this morning to Consumed’s Intercessors Team…

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” – Paul in his second epistle to the church at Corinth

From the verses above we can see that Paul was obviously being attacked by some regarding his position within the global church. His response to such attacks was not to produce letters of recommendation, but to state the transformed lives of people he has ministered to and with is proof enough of his calling. I couldn’t help think of these verses this past Friday night when I sat in Pastor Gary’s home for the Normandale Christmas party. Now none of us that are ministering at Normandale are under attack, but as I looked around at the packed house of students I was humbled. I was humbled by the amazing opportunity God has given us to be agents of transformation in the lives of so many young adults. The wonderful aspect of the annual Christmas Party is that former students know about it and stop in during the night for a visit. This is my fourth academic year at Normandale so it was wonderful to touch base with past students from the last few years. But I received greater joy in seeing students from 1999 or 2000 that are still stopping by. Pastor Gary and Sharon (our faculty advisor) have compiled quite a stack of “letters” over the years. I was encouraged and challenged on Friday by these faithful ministers of Jesus to press on and continue serving. I pray for the sake of God’s wonderful Name (if He chooses to let me stay around long enough) that I am faithful enough to compile such a stack of letters. These are treasures that moth and rust cannot destroy.

Alleluia

Christmas always moves me emotionally. I don’t think a Christmas season has come and gone without me, at least one time, shedding a tear or two. The thought of the Lord of the Universe becoming a baby never gets old for me. What humility! What love! Currently I’m listening to a version of Silent Night as I work. The artist ends the song by singing…

Jesus, Lord at thy birth…
ALLELUIA

Is there any other appropriate response than alleluia? Just to break that down…

JESUS – The LORD saves
LORD – The King, Yahweh, Most powerful being ever
BIRTH – How could this be? Our Lord…born? Our Lord…baby? Our Lord…carried, changed, and fed? Our Lord…HUMAN?

ALLELUIA – A superlative expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph.

“Jesus, I sit here in Caribou trying to fight back tears. I am simply dumbfounded, moved, and humbled by you Jesus! As my friend Gary says – “You were always Lord, but you had to become Savior.” Why? I may never fully know. But I love you very much for the sacrifice. Alleluia indeed King of Kings. You astound me!”

Psalm 131

From Gretchen Miller

God has been so gracious to give us some earthly parallels for our finite minds to gain some understanding of His infinite love and intimate relationship with us. And although we know they pale in comparison to His true character–they do give us a glimpse and play a huge role, at least in my life, of making the Invisible God become visible. Recently, I have been working through Beth Moore’s Bible study “Stepping Up” on the Psalms of Ascent. I was especially touched as I meditated on the second verse of Psalm 131, which reads,”Instead I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with it’s mother, I am like a little child” (HCSB). In her study Beth writes, “Is anything a bigger handful than a three-year-old? When was the last time you tried taking every step one of them took? Weren’t you exhausted? And yet when they’ve worn themselves out and the day is done, they’ve had their baths and squirmed into their jammies, hair still damp and smelling so good, they finally give up the fight and fall sound asleep…safe in their mommy’s arms. Tomorrow there will be more battles to fight, but for now the child lets down his guard, lets his parent be in charge, and surrenders every care in the world”.

Now, my earthly picture doesn’t involve a three-year-old and his mommy, but rather the world’s cutest two-year-old and her daddy. My daughter Macie and my husband Jamie have in recent days given me a beautiful picture of how I desire to be in relation to my Heavenly Father. In “Stepping Up”, Beth Moore encourages us to write our own Psalm based on what God has taught us in our study and the following is birthed out of my time spent with God and His Word to us in Psalm 131:

I want to be your baby–
Rest my weary soul upon your lap–
Let my worries run away as I just sit with you and laugh.
I long to share a precious moment with you soaking in my face-
sing a song of satisfaction in my safe and happy place.
Then maybe giggle for a moment
while You lean in and sneak a kiss.
I am so enraptured by Your presence I don’t ever want to miss-
Not one second…
Not one smile…
Not one word…
Don’t pass me by–
Just let me take these feelings and capture them in time.

I don’t worry about tomorrow-
I don’t care to know its fate.
I am living in TRUE FREEDOM-content to rest and wait.
There may be troubles and fears all around me,
But where I sit they don’t exist.
I am kept,
fully surrounded by your arms,
and KNOWING this:

You are my Hero and my Keeper
And with You there is no fear.
I can drift away in slumber
Knowing You are always near.

So I stop my useless fighting and place my head upon Your chest.
You brush Your hand upon my hair and I fall into peaceful rest.

Daddy, help me learn to trust You
And help others do the same.
May I rest in Your strong, sweet arms
And bring glory to Your Name!

Selah (A Christmas Song)

From Rob Stearns:

Selah (A Christmas Song)

A child is born
In a faceless farmhouse
A child is born
The Prince of Peace
Prophecy fulfilled
She holds him so close
To ponder what he means for us

Selah Selah Selah
Prince of Peace
Prophecy Fulfilled
Selah

She calls him Josua
And Emmanuel
God is with us
On this wondrous night
Savior for…
All mankind is here
Lying safely in his mother’s arms

Selah Selah Selah
God is with us
Our savior Emmanuel
Selah

Over yonder, above the fields
A choir of angels
Sings his praises
Dancing on the stars
Above the city of David
Our king is born
Resting safely at his mother’s breast

Selah Selah Selah
The angels sing
In David’s city
Selah

Oh sweet child
In your mother’s arms
The King of kings
And the Prince of Peace
Prophecy fulfilled
Emmanuel
O Josua, in your mother’s arms

Selah Selah Selah
Oh sweet Josua
In your mother’s arms
Selah

In this night
When you were born
The angels sang your praise
And filled the sky
Our savior born
For us to save
We can rest, in our Father’s arms

Selah Selah Selah
Oh how the angels sang
Selah Selah Selah
Our savior born
Selah Selah Selah
O Prince of Peace
Emmanuel
Selah Selah Selah

One of those nights

This is my friend Ritah. I am the one next to her glowing like an angel (sorry for the bad picture!). Last evening my family and friends participated in a Multicultural Community Dinner at Normandale Community College. It was an evening of International dishes, dance, poetry, guitar playing, and singing. Ritah, one of InterVarsity presidents, had the honor of singing and representing her homeland of Uganda. But last night she represented more than Uganda when she sang. She represented her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As she stood on that little stage in front of 100 or so people from their various countries and faiths, Ritah proudly stated she was going to sing to her Lord. She told the listeners she was singing a song in her native Ugandan language entitled, “Let me sing“. She said her performance was dedicated to the one who has blessed her life…Jesus. She hoped her singing would bless all who listened. I believe it did!

As Ritah sang “Let me sing” I looked around that room and saw faces from Mexico, Vietnam, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Russia, Canada, and the United States (to name a few) watching Ritah worship undignified before God. It made me think of the day when every tongue, tribe, and nation will bow before Jesus and “sing” to the King of the Earth. It convinced me even more that I was right where I needed to be…using my life to “sing” the wondrous news of LIFE to the nations in my backyard. Thanks Ritah for last night. You touched my heart along with so many others. Let’s keep singing and watch the world meet Jesus.