Saturday, January 5, 2013

And it was Night

"Then they got up and went away that night" - 1 Samuel 28:25b

Night. The visual evokes emotion as I think about it - loneliness, fear, hopelessness. For some time now, I have been intrigued by this simple and familiar word.

The night was never created by God. It was named, but it has been the "void" since the beginning.
        Gen. 1 says, "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep...And God saw light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day and the darkness night."

In contrast, Jesus describes himself in John 8, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life"

If light symbolizes God, then darkness connotes everything that lacks the presence of God. It is the absence, the void of him.

In 1 Samuel 28, Saul is facing a major crisis, but Yahweh is nowhere to be found. His words in verse 15 open our eyes to the true anguish of a life abandoned by God, "I am in terrible distress".
Saul's response to this misery reveals the state of his heart; he runs to a medium, hoping to bring up the prophet Samuel to aid him and show him favor.  Saul sought affirmation, not reconciliation.  What he truly needed was not to prepare for battle, but to recover God's presence, God's communion.

Samuel's words to Saul instilled fear; he would die. His kingdom had long been taken from him and his end had come. With sheer hopelessness, the author writes those last words, "Then they got up and went away that night" (v. 25b).

Why? Why would the author draw such attention to a small detail as such?

John 13:30 "So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night"
A similar phrase, used to describe Judas' exit. Surely, John was not merely telling the time. He wants to tell us it was night; it was like entering into darkness itself.

Darkness can be scary; people lock their doors, walk in pairs.
At night there is less inhibition, "spending" time with a certain someone doesn't seem quite as inappropriate, drinking the extra glass of alcohol won't really be that bad, etc.

But here is the glory that shines through the truth of the gospel. God's Son went through the darkness of God's absence for us, the darkness and agony of God-forsakeness. Jesus cries out in Mark 15 saying "My God, my God why have you forsaken me." He experienced true misery in that moment, he entered into darkness itself. Jesus Christ walked through utter darkness, utter separation from his Father, so that we might walk in the light of life.

Saul went away that night, hopeless and abandoned by God. But, Jesus Christ came and died so that we do not have to ever experience the rejection of our Father. He is the light that shines in that darkness.

Have you been seeking the one who has endured the darkness for you? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here Master, in this quiet place

My favorite Hymn "Here Master, in this quiet place"
 Here Master, in this quiet place, where anyone may kneel. I also come to ask for grace, believing You can heal.

 If pain of body, stress of mind destoys my inward peace,
 in prayer for others may I find the secret of release.

 If self upon the sickness feeds and turns my life to gall,
let me not brood upon my needs, but simply tell You all.

You never said, "you ask to much" to any troubled soul.
I long to feel Your healing touch, will You not make me whole?

But if the thing I most desire is not Your way for me,
may faith, when tested in the fire, prove its integrity.

Of all my prayers, may this be chief till faith is fully grown.
Lord disbelieve my unbelief and claim me as Your own.

 Author: Fred Pratt Green (1974) Scripture:Matthew 7:11; Mark 5:28; Mark 6:31; Mark 9:24

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

So long college...

3 years. What they say is true, my college career has come and gone quicker than expected. It ended on a VERY high note. Here are a few Highlights:
Freshman year: Geocaching with the CROWS This group of young men and lovely roommates really made my freshman year a LOT of fun! We definitely went on some great adventures together.
Sophomore year: JOES Managing Joes for 2 years was an incredible opportunity! I can easily say it shaped my Moody time. Not only were these people my friends, but they became my family. Through the ups and downs, I learned so much about leading a team and managing a business.
Junior/Senior year (i was on the 3 year track): FUNCH These are my best friends. I have never experienced community like this before nor will I probably ever again. From male modeling, to spring break videos, cinco de funch, toasts, and roundtable delight, I will never forget the memories I made with them. Each one is going to do great things for God's kingdom.
Ready or not world, here I come. Moody Grad 2012

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Passover & Jesus

The Passover is a festival celebrated to mark the exodus from the Jews out of Egypt and out of captivity. 

Present-day, many Jews still celebrate passover with a seder, a long dinner composed of Matzah (unleavened bread), karpas, maror, charoset, zero'ah, and beitza. 

The karpas is one of the vegetables on the seder plate. This green vegetable is the symbol of rebirth and rejuvenation.
Maror is the bitter herb that reminds us of the embittered lives of the slaves. In one part of the seder, you make a Hillel sandwich made with two pieces of matza, maror and charoset.
The charoset is a pasty mixture of nuts, dates, apples, wine and cinnamon. This mixture reminds of the mortar the Israelites used to make the pyramids for the Pharoahs.
On the eve of Passover, the Jews were instructed by God to sacrifice a lamb, have it for the meal, and paint the blood on the doorpost of their house. Now on our seder plate we use a shankbone to remind us of the lamb they sacrificed.
The beitzah, or egg, is another symbol of spring, or new beginning. Some animals are born from eggs, and the beitzah also reminds us that the Israelites were reborn when they left. The beitzah is also a symbol of the hagigah, or second offering that was made on the eve of Passover. 

At the seder at my school the most powerful part for me was the Dayenu song, literally meaning "It would have been enough". Passage by passage the song goes through a series of blessings that God granted to the Israelites and proclaims that if the Lord had given them that alone; it would have been sufficient. Yet, God gave more and over and over again blessed his people. This song reminded me deeply of God’s grace and mercy on us to this day through his beloved Son and the blessings that he has promised are yet to come.

On the night before Jesus was crucified, he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. With guest of honor, Judas, seated on his left (after must conflict between the disciples as to who was the greatest..they settled upon him for reasons left unsaid...maybe because he was the money guy, the most scholarly, trustworthy, or from Jerusalem), he shared his very last meal before his death. 

This must have been a time of anguish for Jesus. Spending time with the disciples whom he loved, knowing that soon he would be gone, and this bunch of nobodys who were still fighting about who was the greatest among them, would spread his good news to the world. 

Yet in his last moments, knowing well that the time had come, he still chose to serve.  Jesus chose to bend his knee and wash the disciples feet, a powerful display of service. Little did these men seated beside him know, that just 14 hours later this man would be nailed upon a cross and they would have deserted his side. Even knowing this, and understanding the situation at hand, Jesus loved. 

One of my favorite stories is that of Jesus in Gethsemane before the Upper room discourse, after being welcomed over the moutn of olives by men and women singing "hosanna, king of kings".  Jesus wept. He wept over Jerusalem. They didn't understand. He cried for his people, whom he loved so dearly, because they didn't get it. He came as a suffering servant and not as a conquering king.  They were ready for him to overthrow, but he was preparing to suffer and die.  

As I watched as hundreds took communion at our Good Friday Service at church, I couldn't help but we really understand who Jesus is? Do I? Do they? It hurt my heart and brought me to tears. Even now, as tears fall, I wonder, "Lord, do they get it. Do they really understand what this day means? Does the words of communion penetrate their hearts. Or is today just a "church day"".  I am guilty just the same. My heart is callous, and my mind prone to wander. 

Oh Lord,
I long to know you, intimately, passionately, deeply. I fail and I desert, running away at first fearful thought. Father forgive me, help me to understand. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and words to say taht I might glorify you with my every breath.  Lord, I beg you, for the sake of your children, Reveal yourself to us, help us to understand. Father give me faith like Moses, to hold fast to you, to choose you over the pleasures of sin and to look forward to an eternal hope.  Indwell in my heart and mind, and consume me that I might speak truth to your chosen. Though i am flawed, a nobody, and unworthy of your grace, you have chosen me. Praise your name. Thank you for opening my eyes. For your glory, take my life. Pick me, choose me. I am willing. 
Your beloved servant 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Draw Closer

I feel like my words are many.  There are so many things to pray for, so many people that are hurting. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t feel like there is enough minutes in the day to truly pray for each one of the things that need prayer and I am feeling burdened for.  I feel like the Gentiles in some sense in matthew when it says, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).  I pray empty and numerous prayers trying to make sure I pray for each one of the things I say I will pray for.   But father I thank you. I find comfort in Hebrew 7:25 which says, “Consequently, he is able to save the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  Even though Jesus lived long ago, his ministry is present. He is sitting, because his saving work is done, at the right hand of God praying for exactly what I need before it is uttered.  You know my heart and you know what I am burdened for. You hear the cries for prayer and know the pain in my heart for the needs of camp and friends, family, relationships, struggles, and circumstances.  Oh Father, even just reading this I find peace in knowing all you want is for me to draw close to you.  Your intention in bringing these burdens to my knowledge and to my heart is not for me to get overwhelmed, but create a reason for me to draw close to you. In the midst of this anxiety, you tell us to cast our cares on you.  Just yesterday I studied Matthew 6 the last portion which tells us to not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough worry on its own. We are to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).  Father, in the midst of pain after pain and burden after burden, you are calling me. You have been saying LOUD AND CLEAR “Christy, draw close to me”. God, you don’t want me to pray empty prayers just because I said I will pray for someone. You want me to stop, and take time to be with you, and allow you to comfort me as I prayerfully give you my anxieties and the burdens of others. I do not have to bear it on my own. You are at work; your will will be done. It is not all up to me! Praise the Lord!! I am so blessed to be on your team. If God is for us, WHO can be against us! (romans 8:31).

Lord, today you know all the people and situations that need prayer.  But God there are a few I want to take special time to lift up to you.

First off,
Carla & the Byron community.  God, there has been several deaths that have shaken up this city and my dear friend. Lord, I have no idea what you are up to, but father in the midst of your great plan, provide comfort and peace to a restless and hurting people.  They need your divine strength, and your loving comfort to make it through this trial.  Lord, I may not know this girl, but I am burdened most especially for Carla. Father, so much has been going on in her life lately and I hurt for her.  Even just reading about divorce for my class, I am burdened even more deeply for her and how and proud of how she has sought you through her life. Praise your name for being so faithful to her.  Father, be with her, grow her, comfort her, love her, and draw her into your presence. In the midst of this trial reveal yourself in big ways. Help me to be a good loyal friend to her and to show unconditional love to her. Thank you for the blessing of her friendship.

Second father,
Pavia. Father, she too is struggling. Lord, I don’t know the full extent due to the lack of communication options, but I can tell her time in Cuba has been painful. Father, please, please please for the sake of a good friend, comfort her, love her, heal her.  Lord, there has been so much pain in her story and it brings me to tears just thinking about it.  God, even as she returns to spend a summer serving as a counselor it will be HARD. Lord, I know it was a struggle to adjust for me as well and I know it will be for her. God, give me supernatural understanding as we begin the summer together. Help me to be a good friend to her as I listen as she struggles to move back and become apart of the US culture once again. It truly is a shock to be back and I pray she can rise up to the challenge seeking you first in the midst. And lord, be with her over there. Help her to stay strong amidst opposition. Help her to find strength to resist temptation and fall more deeply in love with you. Thank you for her devotion. Thank you for her deep pursuit of you. Thank you for her servant heart. I admire her so much.

I also pray for my relationship with Jamie. Lord, I want her to be my best friend. She is my sister and I love her. Lord, mend that relationship. Help us to become each other’s biggest fan and to build a healthy friendship. You can do that and I ask for your help.

Finally God,
Lord, I lift up this summer, specifically unity amongst the staff. Father, I pray that godly men and women would be drawn to Covenant harbor. I pray for leaders especially. Ones that are willing to serve the campers with everything, but also lead the staff in drawing close to Christ. Lord raise up leadership amongst the counselors to be women and men of influence, that challenge the staff to deeper longing to love Jesus more, to serve deeper, and draw close to you.  Father, I pray for unity. Lord, may it start at staff training and continue to grow throughout the summer.  My prayer is that we would be like the fellowship of the believers of Acts 2:42-47.
            “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.  And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Lord, I beg of you, plead with you. Father, may this staff LONG for you, may they crave for you.  May this staff be a team that prays daily, may this be a staff that devotes themselves to personal spiritual growth. Lord may they not be content with where they are but desire for more of you.  Father, may their fixation be one and may they have all things in common as they seek you and you alone.  Lord I pray that this team would have everything in common as their purpose is single-mindedMay they seek first your kingdom, and have healthy eyes of single purpose, serving only one master (Matthew 6:22-24 excerpts).  God, I can’t do this. I can’t “create” a staff that longs for you. Father I am so thankful that this is not a burden I have to bear. You are at work already in their hearts, drawing them to you. THANK YOU. I am thankful that you in control. I am blessed to be on your team.  James 5:16b-18 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. The he prayed again and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” God, my God, I pray, that you would bring unity to the staff at Covenant Harbor father. Not just any unity father, but unity that would draw us closer and closer to you.  Lord, may we witness your power and glory revealed this summer in the campers hearts and in the lives of the counselors. You have the power to transform upside down. Father, you did that in my life and I know it to be true. Lord, please father, reveal your glory.  In the name of your Son, bring unity this summer! Refine us to be devoted servants of your throne!
            John 14:12-14 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it!’