Monday, November 29, 2010


Having heard of Advent many times, but never really understanding anything about it, this year I decided to dive right in. There are a lot of reasons, but the main one being that I really want Christ to be the driving force of my Christmas celebrations, and I want to get into the meaty concepts behind the incarnation of God himself.

According one resource, the word Advent is from the Latin adventus for "coming" and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. 

Taken from a Noel Piper article, Looking Forward: Preparing to Meet Jesus Face to Face, this is a great brief on Advent and its purposes:
"Advent is a time of looking back, remembering the faithful people who were waiting for the salvation God had promised, as 1 Peter 1:10-12 tells us.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,inquiring  what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted  the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Then the very next verses continue by turning our eyes forward in Advent, looking toward the return of Jesus.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:13-19)
There will be another advent of Christ; he will come again. This makes Advent a season for introspection. Peter gives us God’s high standard as we contemplate our standing with him: “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16)...."

    Awesome Resources:
    • Journey to the Manger, an Advent devotional from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary
      • Go sign up HERE, for daily emails. So far I have really enjoyed it.
    • Daily Scripture Reading from CRI Voice for Advent 2010
      • check that out HERE
    • What is Advent?  by 
      • Noel Piper, from Desiring
    • A Season to Look Back and Aheadby Noel Piper from Desiring 
    •  The Jesus Advent Celebration: The Jesse Tree Journey
      • a free Jesse Tree Advent book 
      • from    Click HERE to download it now!
      • (pretty cool illustrations as well)

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Growth or a Sore Thumb

    "In a healthy church, growth is the norm. In a not so healthy church, those who are growing stick out like a sore thumb."

    I heard this quote recently, and I'm wondering how many of us would be able to say that growth is the norm in our churches? And its not talking about numbers, necessarily, but the growth of the individual Christians. Are more people    growing, or are more people just stagnantly hanging out at status quo? Are more people developing a love for theology and God's word, or only being spoon fed by the pastor once a week? 

    I would say that a strong exposition of the word penetrates hearts. And when the word gets in your heart, the Holy Spirit definitely does some work.

    What do you think?

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Bountiful Thankfulness

    This is my favorite prayer from the Puritan prayer book, Valley of Vision, and at the end one of my favorite psalms. 
    Have a great day of Thanksgiving.

    Thou great and only potentate,
    Thou hast made summer and winter, day and night;
    each of these revolutions serves out welfare
    and is full of thy care and kindness
    Thy bounty is seen
    in the relations that train us
      the laws that defend us 
      the homes that shelter us
       the food that builds us
       the raiment that comforts us
       the continuance of our health, members, senses,
          understanding, memory, affection, will.
    But as stars fade before a rising sun,
     thou hast eclipsed all these benefits
     in the wisdom and grace that purposed
     redemption by Jesus thy Son.
    Blessed be thy mercy that laid help on
      one that is mighty and willing,
     one that is able to save the uttermost.
    Make us deeply sensible to our need of his saving grace,
                                       of the blood that cleanses
                                       of the rest he has promised
    And impute to us that righteousness which justifies the uilty,
       gives them a title to eternal life,
      and possession of the spirit
    May we love the freeness of salvation, and joy in its holiness;
    Give us faith to grasp the promises,that are our hope,
    Keep our hearts from straying after forbidden pleasures;
    May thy will bind all our wishes;
    Let us live out of the world as to its spirit, maxim, and manners,
      but live in it as the sphere of our action and usefulnesss;
    May we be able to live to every call of duty, accepting without question
       they determination of our circumstances and our service.
    [The Valley of Vision, pg 212)

    Psalm 13:4-5
    But I have trusted in your steadfast love;   my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
    I will sing to the LORD,   because he has dealt bountifully with me.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Who I am: I am Forgiven

    This is one of my new favorite songs by Sanctus Real, titled "Forgiven."   I just listen to the words and relish the fact that I am.. forgiven.  Check it out:

    The lyrics are epic:

    Well the past is playing with my head
    And failure knocks me down again
    I’m reminded of the wrong
    That I have said and done
    And that devil just wont let me forget

    In this life
    I know what I’ve been
    But here in your arms
    I know what I am

    I’m forgiven
    I’m forgiven
    And I don’t have to carry
    The weight of who I’ve been
    Cause I’m forgiven

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Experience New England: To the Golden Shore Tour

    If you havent heard me talk about this book already (have you been living under a rock?) then let me just quickly introduce it to you. "To the Golden Shore" is a biography about Adoniram Judson, written by Courtney Anderson. Judson was the first missionary sent out from America to another country. He went to Burma. Its an amazing book and everyone should read it. The leadership team for Christian Student Fellowship has been reading through it this trimester, and I'm really getting a lot from it.

    Travis, our campus minister, decided we should take a day trip and explore some of the points of interest from the book. Most of the book takes place in either New England or Burma, and so we were able to explore quite a few interesting places! Let me share a few pictures, following with relevant quotes from the book:

    Tabernacle Congregational Church, Salem Massachusetts
    "Next Thursday, February 6, 1812 by appointment of the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Messangers Adoniram Judson, Samuel Newell, Samuel Nott, and Gordon Hall are to be set apart by a solemn ordination at Christian missionaries to carry the Gospel of Salvation to the heathen. The public exercises are to be holden at the Tabernacle in this town, and to commence at 11:00am..."
    -Samuel Worcester (pg 106)

    Salem Harbor, Massachusetts
    "It proved impossible to load the Caravan in time to sail on the tenth. She lay at the end of the Crowninsheild's Wharf- closest to the sea of all of Salem's wharves- until the 13th."  (pg 116)

    Beverly, Massachusetts
    "Jaunting the few short miles to Salem, as they must have done often, Adoniram and his father would not have gone far through Beverly's streets before unmistakable evidences of wealth began to appear everywhere."  (pg 21)

    First Congregational Church in Wenham, Massachusetts
    "In Wenham the church chose the pastor but the town employed him and paid his salary. Immediately after the church made its decision, a town meeting was held. The town voted to invite Mr. Judson to be its minister..." (pg 16)

    Judson House, Plymouth, Massachusetts
    "But the Judson's did not settle on this side of the Town brook. East of the brook, in the direction of the new church and the Training Green, the land rose upward into what was then known as 'Watson's Hill.' ... A crude Road in front of it, scarcely more than a wagon track, became known as 'the way to the new meeting house.' Later it was called 'the way to the Judson's house'; still later, "Judson Street"; and today, 'Pleasant Street.' The house still stands, Number 17 Pleasant Street."   (page 27)

    It was a great little excursion. It was so amazing to be able to see all these places up close, places where people lived out hard decisions, decisions that cost some of them their lives as they set sail to unknown lands.  The Salem Tabernacle church even had a specific room full of all sorts of historical artifacts relating to Adoniram Judson and similar people like the Newells, Samuel Worcester, etc. I recommend this day trip to anyone with an interest of church history. 

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Here, There, and Everywhere!

    The past month or so, Ive been here, there, and everywhere!

    New York City
    Janelle, Casey, Bryan, Sung, Billy, and I all met up in New York City. It was a great adventure that FINALLY happened after years of planning.  (We have literally been talking about this for years, havent we Casey..?) They drove down from Medina, Lockport, and Houghton, NY,  Sung took the train in from Long Island, and I took a bus in from Providence. I cant express how great it was to see everyone!! After a crazy adventure with Sung to find our super ghetto "hotel" in Jersey, we met up with everyone in a Korean restaurant and basked in the Kimchi glory! Everyone was so tired and we went to bed right away!
    The next day we got lost, I mean, wandered around the American Museum of Natural history, China town, Little Italy, Soho, around Ground Zero and over by the Staten Island Ferry. We fed squirrels at Washington Square Park, and ended up topping the night off with a glorious Korean/Japanese dinner (I just don't even know)! More Kimchi with Udon Noodles, all sorts of other things, and Saki! I love my friends. Sunday we tried going to church but after not finding parking, we decided to get food at a little Irish pub, wander around Time Square and Central Park, and then it was time for me to head back. A quick jaunt, but a glorious one! We walked so much (and I wore the wrong shoes) that I was literally debilitated by the blisters for days afterward. haha. And dont forget our friend Tsquirrel.

    Fusion: New England Collegiate Conference
    Fusion is a fall conference for all Baptist Collegiate ministries located in New England and North East Canada. We gather together in Hull, Massachusetts for a few days of retreat, with David Platt (of Radical fame) as our speaker. His message is all about really truly living a radically gospel centered life. It was really challenging as he encouraged us to take a look at how Jesus calls us to live and what kind of implications the gospel has for us. A lot of what he said is very contradictory to the "American Dream," and its a good thing to hear. All of our JWU Christian Student Fellowship students who went were very challenged by it, in a good way.
    We are all given a few hours of free time on Saturday and a bunch of us decided to visit Fort Revere out on the Hull peninsula. It was the most beautiful place I have seen in a long time. Wow. The New England beauty just blazed a path in my brain and I could not stop being amazed. You can see for miles, as the fort is up on a hill, and it is surrounded by water, little islands, lighthouses, cottages, fall foliage... Just go there. Now.

    Sandwich, MA

    You know whats great? Having friends that also desire to satisfy those 1am road trip cravings! (Me to Hannah: "If getting married means that I cant do this anymore, Id rather not." haha) Hannah, Niki, Jake and I decided to go on a road trip. At first we were going to go to Salem (a la witch trials) but then decided we wanted to get some sleep eventually. Pfft who works on Saturday mornings. After creating a soundtrack for the trip, we departed at 1am. None of us having been on the Cape, decided that was a worthy destination! Using my map assessing skills we trekked North East! Crossing the Bourne bridge and the Cape Cod Canal and finally ending up in a little town called Sandwich, the oldest town on Cape Cod! We did not discover much, but a cool tree was right in the town square, so we climbed it. Aside from the beautiful old church buildings and making Jake run and dive in the car, we essentially drove to the Cape to climb a tree. Haha. It's great to be young, and I was glad that I was free to do this! Next time we are hoping to actually get more than one mile onto the cape, maybe even during the day too!

    So those have been my adventures as of late. Stay tuned for more! 

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Titus 2: But Where's My Older woman?

    In her Radical Womanhood blog post- "Where's My Older Woman," Carolyn McCulley talks about how many times she has read the Titus 2 passage, where God is exhorting older women to train-up the younger women in godliness:

    Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-4

    And after reading said, "Ok God, where is my older women to mentor and disciple me? I'm not seeing her." All the while expecting that some "elusive, grandmotherly type" would come and take her under her wing and teach her everything about being a godly woman, just like her. But then she realized she had never asked God, "Lord, who is my younger woman to disciple?"

    Wow. Ouch. How challenging. 

    I honestly spent a lot of time this summer in a needy, selfish mindset, complaining to God that there weren't any older women in our church who could disciple me, while hardly even looking for a younger person who I could disciple!  I love how Carolyn says:  
    Yes, you are a sinner, but Jesus has redeemed you
    Yes, you need to grow and mature, but God has also given you a tremendous amount of wisdom and insight. True, you will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t by God’s grace be a loving, caring older woman to a younger woman."  

    She goes on, pointing to 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
    Paul explains that we are one body united by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. As a body we are to care for individual members, using the gifts and abilities God has given us. We don’t have to wait for the Christian Martha Stewart to come along and make us just like her. We have been adopted by God the Father through his Son, Jesus, and are now being made more like him (Ephesians 4:22-24).
    Who knows, maybe if we all took that more seriously, your older woman would come along, too. But if not, what joy you will have in training your younger woman! Let’s not allow Jesus’ sanctification, the gifts for life and godliness that we each possess, end with us, ladies. Pray for God to put younger women in your life, who you can pursue and help point to Jesus.
    I am only 21, and maybe you are only 25, or 31. But lets really take the time to ask:

      "Ladies, who is your younger woman?" 

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Sudden Sight

    Sudden Sight
    by Alissa

    the longings of my heart
    a blatant picture of what I hold worthy
    how Ive spent my time, attention, love, money
    at best, a sad picture daily

    my heart is a deceitful liar
    that must be shod with redemption
    it is an idol factory
    that must cease production

    let the desire of my heart
    be my delight in Christ
    let my delight in Christ
    be the desire of my heart

    Until Ive spent it all for the cross
    giving my existence to what is worthy
    I must cling to salvation
    God, point me there daily.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Beyond Words

    Beyond Words
    by Alissa

    Toska, a sick pining for which nothing will satisfy
    vague restlessness, no answer
    we gaze.
    and it happens again and again.
    But nothing ever happens.
    a jayus, we cannot help but to laugh
    despite the lack of humor.
    the reality breaks through.
    litost. tears.      toska.
    Луна поцеловала наши лицас
    его сияющим мягким
    жаромчерез темноту это сияло
    we cannot plimplamppletteren. like old.
    just empty skipping syllables.
    refrain. dont tingo what I have in my heart,
    slowly, unknowingly it could happen.
    it is diaphanous, cant you see? but full.
    I've heard,
    there is a remedy. opposing toska. opposing poshlust.
    Mellifluous, cadence- susurrus, from above.
    we need to try.
    Cant you hear it?

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    His Choice? His Best.

    "God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him." -Jim Elliot

    Truth. He is God. We are not. Therefore any of our choices are lacking omnipotence and omniscience.

    Paul Tripp said it this way, "Service of your Savior King is rooted in the admission that his plans for you are profoundly better than any plans you have for yourself."

    I also want to clarify that God is sovereign and that our selfish choices, or our refusal to trust in God, are not taking the situation out of God's hands. There are various accounts in the bible where God will give people what they want as a means of judgement or discipline. Kind of like letting us learn things the hard way. Of course He is still there loving us, forgiving us, mercifully NOT giving us what we deserve (but giving us MORE than we would ever deserve.) 

    I need to stop fretting that things aren't going the way that I would want them too. I need to stop trying (key word there) to control every situation and not giving it up in trust to God. He is wonderful. He is kind. He is not withholding good things from me.
    Lord, please forgive me for my lack of faith in You.