Monday, January 30, 2012

Katie Sloop

This is for my dear Sloopy. So many treasured memories...

Working, playing, teasing,
Sighing, crying, laughing,
Telling the truth the way it is,
Yet still loving.

Running, climbing, hurting,
Limping, walking, just being
There for you,
Because so many times
You've been there for me.

Grasping, squeezing, clenching,
Holding on tight,
To this friendship that will last
Because He is holding
Tight to both of us.

Agnes Gretarsdottir

This is a short poem that I wrote for one of my dear dorm-mates. I'm so privileged to have such sweet friends!

I'm so glad you're here!
Everywhere you go
You let God's love show.

Our dorm's never been the same
Since the day that you came.
You've brought laughter and smiles,
Been there for me through trials.

Each time your eye twinkles
And your little nose crinkles,
God's love shines through you.
Remember, I love you too!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Psalm 144

I read this after my English 12 exam this morning and found it very applicable and encouraging. Praise the Lord for His ever-present help and interest in my life, even though I am an undeserving sinner. God is so good!
A Song to the LORD Who Preserves and Prospers His People
A Psalm of David.

1 Blessed be the LORD my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle—
2 My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me.

3 LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
4 Man is like a breath;
His days are like a passing shadow.

5 Bow down Your heavens, O LORD, and come down;
Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
6 Flash forth lightning and scatter them;
Shoot out Your arrows and destroy them.
7 Stretch out Your hand from above;
Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters,
From the hand of foreigners,
8 Whose mouth speaks lying words,
And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

9 I will sing a new song to You, O God;
On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You,
10 The One who gives salvation to kings,
Who delivers David His servant
From the deadly sword.

11 Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners,
Whose mouth speaks lying words,
And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood—
12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
That our daughters may be as pillars,
Sculptured in palace style;
13 That our barns may be full,
Supplying all kinds of produce;
That our sheep may bring forth thousands
And ten thousands in our fields;
14 That our oxen may be well laden;
That there be no breaking in or going out;
That there be no outcry in our streets.
15 Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why I read my Bible...

Whoosh! Off flew the sheets. Pat, pat, pat, crack, creek, crack, my little feet scampered across the wood floor. With a bang my door flew open as I escaped into the hall and rounded the corner into my parent’s room. A flying leap and a burst of giggles and I was sitting on top of my mom, wiggling my head under the book she was reading to look her in the face. The book she was reading was her Bible. These are my first memories of morning devotions. When I crawled into bed with mom each morning, she would teach me lessons from the Bible, often while she was having her own devotions. Reading the Bible everyday was what my entire family always did, so for me, I started reading my Bible everyday because I was led by example.
The first time I can remember having my own personal devotions is when I was about seven or eight. I had a kids’ Bible that was in chronological order and meant to be read through in a year. I felt so grown up to read my Bible on my own, to pray by myself in my own thoughts. I read my Bible everyday because I honestly wanted to, and as a good little SDA girl it was the right thing to do anyway.
Now, however, I read for different reasons. I read because through the years of reading my Bible out of habit and ritual I have come to know a Savior who longs to have a personal relationship with me. When I wake up in the morning, the first voice I hear is His, calling me to spend time getting to know Him better. When I pick up my Bible and study its pages with an open mind, I can hear God’s voice speaking to me. The truths that I learn and the encouragement and guidance that I find there are so vital to my Christian experience, and even my life, that not reading my Bible isn’t an option. If I want to grow, if I even want to just hold my ground, Bible study must be a daily habit, and this is a truth that has been implanted in my heart and soul for as long as I remember. I read my Bible because it is a habit, an intentional habit full of purpose and meaning, one that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Watch Yourself Go By

Just stand aside and watch yourself go by;
Think of yourself as “he” instead of “I.”
Note, closely as in other men you note
The bag-kneed trousers and the seedy coat.
Pick flaws; find fault; forget the man is you,
And strive to make your estimate ring true.
Confront yourself and look you in the eye-
Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.

Interpret all your motives just as though
You looked on one whose aims you did not know.
Let undisguised contempt surge through you when
You see you shirk, O commonest of men!
Despise your cowardice; condemn whate’er
You note of falseness in you anywhere.
Defend not one defect that shames your eye-
Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.

And then, with eyes unveiled to what you loathe,
To sins that with sweet charity you’d clothe,
Back to your self-walled tenement you’ll go
With tolerance for all who dwell below.
The faults of others then will dwarf and shrink,
Love’s chain grows stronger by one mighty link,
When you, with “he” as substituted for “I,”
Have stood aside and watched yourself go by.

- Strickland Gillilan

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jacob's Trouble

Jacob, the patriarch, was finally on his way home. Home for him, however, was a bit different than home is for you and me. He had left home because his brother wanted to kill him, and as far as he knew, his brother’s feelings hadn’t changed. Knowing that his only hope was in God, Jacob stopped to pray. While he was praying, a strong hand took hold of him. Thinking that he was being attacked, he began to fight with the person who had touched him. Look at how Ellen White describes his struggle:

“While he was thus battling for his life, the sense of his guilt pressed upon his soul; his sins rose up before him, to shut him out from God. But in his terrible extremity he remembered God's promises, and his whole heart went out in entreaty for His mercy….All penitent and broken, he clung to the Angel; "he wept, and made supplication" (Hosea 12:4), pleading for a blessing. He must have the assurance that his sin was pardoned. Physical pain was not sufficient to divert his mind from this object. His determination grew stronger, his faith more earnest and persevering, until the very last” (PP 196.3).

Now look at the connection she makes: “Such will be the experience of God's people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God's mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." {PP 202.1}

To me, this looks like a severe mental struggle. The time of trouble that takes place before the second coming of Christ (called the time of Jacob’s trouble in Jeremiah 30:7) will be a time of physical trial (running into the wilderness, etc.), but I think that far greater than that, it will be a time of mental and emotional anguish. The devil is going around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), and how better to hurt us than to cause us emotional and mental pain? Even E. White describes this time as filled with “scenes of affliction and distress” (DD 41.1).

You may be thinking, “But I already have enough stress! How can I handle more?” When people I love are hurt, when I see my own wickedness, when the devil presses upon me his feelings of hopelessness and guilt, it is easy for me to feel like Jacob and try to fight for my life. I go through the day with my defenses up, on guard, struggling through every difficulty in hand to hand combat. But, just like it was when Jacob clung to his Lord that he won the fight, when I cling to my Lord, He will give me the victory over the discouragements that the devil throws my way.

The trials we have today are strengthening us for the ones to come. Each time you remember God’s promises, the greatness of His mercy, and cling to Him in faith (even when it looks like He isn’t answering your prayers), you are building muscles that will enable you to hold tightly to the strength of God in the future. Jacob could tell God, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me," because his past relationship with God gave him the strength to hold on. Today is an opportunity for you to build your clinging muscles, to rely on the strength of God through your trials; all you have to do is hold on.

Monday, January 16, 2012


It’s the weirdest thing. Someone could come up behind you and tap you on the shoulder and you wouldn’t even know it. Almost all your toes are gone, because you never know when you stub them. Just this morning you found a festering sore on your wrist. You never noticed it before, but it’s obviously been there for quite a while.

You’re a leper. Living outside the city was an adjustment at first, but now you’re part of a leper family. You never really look at each other because your disease is so disfiguring that you are ashamed to lift your head, but it’s still nice to have a group of sympathizing friends. Over time, you’ve almost gotten used to this outsider’s life, but you still miss your real family, your old friends, and especially the feeling of touch. If only it were possible for a leper to be healed!

Today there is hope. You and your nine other leper friends wake up while it’s still dark and hurry toward a certain village. Normally you are a noisy bunch, always yelling out “Unclean!” and making your presence known, but today is different. There’s a sort of hushed excitement pulling your group along. The whispered name of Jesus floats from one side of your huddle to the other, a path of grotesque, disfigured smiles follow wherever it is said.

Finally, you reach the village. It’s morning now, and normal people are starting to go out and about. You wait on the outskirts, hoping that you won’t be sent away before He gets there.

And then you see Him. A shout rises from one of your desperate friends, and soon you are all calling out in unison. “Jesus! Master! Have mercy on us!”

He draws near. “Go show yourselves unto the priests.” You stumble over one another, running, shuffling, tearing off the bandages that hold you back and restrict your movement.

Wham! Pain surges through your knees and hands as you slam into the gravel road. Pain! Did you really feel that? The palms of your hands pulse as they start to bleed. Tears come to your eyes: tears of joy. You can feel!

Turning, you run back to Jesus and fall again, this time at His feet.

Often, when I read this story, it makes me wonder what the lepers felt like after they were healed. Being healed from leprosy is a strange sort of healing. Normally you know you are healed when the pain has gone away, but for a leper, it is when they feel the pain that they know they are on the path to recovery.

As strange as this may sound, I think that is how it is when one becomes a Christian. While in the world, we are calloused, hardened, and unfeeling, but when Christ comes into our hearts, He makes us tender and compassionate. Before we meet Christ, we are numb to the reality of sin in our lives. Everyone else has the same problems that we have, so to ourselves, we appear normal. When we come in contact with Christ, our senses are awakened and we see ourselves in the light of His perfection and holiness – wholeness.

This is painful. To realize that there is something wrong with you where you thought you were just fine, to see how far you have to go to be made well, to feel the pain of sin that was so long masked by the deceptions of the devil. Each and every step that we take toward His all-consuming presence burns away more of our carnal selves, scorches our selfish nerves, and more mortally wounds our heart of flesh. That hurts, but it is a pain that we must embrace if we want to be rid of the disease of sin that so permeates our body.

At first the task seems daunting, and at this point many turn away. Countless numbers decide to turn off their spiritual pain receptors, rather than draw close to their healing, cleansing maker. They run away from the pain, and at the same time run away from its only true relief. The only way to get rid of the pain in our lives is to let Jesus take our sin, the cause of our pain. Of ourselves, you and I can do nothing but run to Jesus and fall at His feet. He has already paid the medical bills to have your sin-cancer removed; all you can do is surrender to Him as your surgeon.

So, what will you do with your pain? Will you fall at His feet and praise Him, or will you, like so many others, run away? Try embracing today’s pain as a sign of the work of healing and awakening that Christ is doing in your life.