Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's crunch time!

Time is feeling extremely short when it comes to finals and project deadlines. I interviewed a financial counselor at school today for a systems analysis group project today. I was actually surprised at how fun it was. She was very helpful, and I think I got all the information that I need. After I told her that we really aren't planning on implementing changes, but rather simulating what we would do if we were planning on it, she said something like, "If you want a job doing this stuff after you graduate, come back!" haha I know that she isn't the one that hires, but I appreciated the comment all the same. I am looking forward to being done with finals, but I have so much to do before then that I really don't want finals to come as soon as they are. Oh well. I read in Judges 14 today where Samson likes this girl, and goes way beyond what he should to have a relationship with her (even outside his parents will). It is such a mess! It's a great reminder to me that parents are such an important part of the authority in my life. God has placed them there, and my job is to obey completely... and immediately. Yes, I am assuming they are within the bounds of scripture, but that is a pretty good assumption. ;) I love the fact that I can talk straight with my parents and they openly give me their honest opinions of things. They are such a blessing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eating humble pie... without ice cream.

School went fairly well today. I am definitely a bit concerned that they haven't got the server back up since it has a lot of my project stuff on it. God is in control though. I got home and someone went out and got the mail shortly afterwards. In the mail was this thing called... a traffic violation notice. A photo enforced one actually. It was kind of cool in that it had a video online and everything... and yes, in reviewing it... I definitely did run the signal making a right turn. The photo shows me looking to my left as I was making the turn. Anyway, it is definitely humbling... and it ought to be. I was confused when reading the paper they sent me, so I started googling around, and found that it is not an official ticket, but rather a third party company that wants you to identify the driver (which is what I will probably do) so they can send it to the police and then bill the police $89 for getting your information. It also says, "Official Government Business" on the envelope, which is definitely untrue. They are a private company! After looking some more, it sounds like it may not be an official ticket, but rather a bluff to get the info they need. It is very hard to know how trust-worthy this information is... everyone wants to justify their ticket or get out of paying it. I really don't know. I'm going to talk to some people that would know better and see for sure before I do anything. Obviously, I am completely 100% guilty and deserve a ticket; however, I don't want to be stupid about it either. Lots of people online are saying that you can just ignore it if it has certain key features such as no address of the courthouse (mine fits all of these features)... again, hard to know if that is true. If you would pray for wisdom in this situation, that would be great. I know that if I need to pay it, it will serve as a healthy reminder to me... although it isn't pleasant, I am fine with that (I deserve it). I was reading in Judges 13:19-23 today. It really goes along with the "fear of the Lord" study that we are doing at church.

So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. Now the angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. So Manoah said to his wife, "We will surely die, for we have seen God." But his wife said to him, "If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time."

This was right after the angel came to Samson's parents and told them that they would have this baby boy that would deliver Israel from the 40 years of being controlled by the Philistines because of their disobedience. Monoah (Samson's father) had an inappropriate fear of God. His wife pretty much came back with the common sense idea... which I would say is based on a big view of God. She obviously trusted the angel completely which is pretty amazing considering she had no idea who he was and had never had a child.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In need of prayer!

It is late and I really don't have time to post much, but I just heard from a friend that I hadn't heard from in probably over a year. I won't go into any details, but His life is pretty much completely messed up. He needs the Lord! I might be picking him up next week for church... if you would pray that God would prepare his heart and give me wisdom, that would be great.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When obedience seems impossible

Work went well this morning. I have to fix a bunch of printable forms (XML documents). It is extremely tedious and not a whole lot of fun. It's close to being correct which means it is really hard to find the problems... and the problems don't exactly jump out at you until you have run several tests. Oh well... it needs to be done. :) School went well... although the server which contains pretty much all of my work and notes went down yesterday and isn't back up yet. I really hope they get it fixed. I read Judges 11 today. I had forgotten about this passage (verses 30-36)... it was quite shocking.

Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering." So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD gave them into his hand. He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel. When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot take it back." So she said to him, "My father, you have given your word to the LORD; do to me as you have said, since the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon."

What an incredible example of faith and obedience. I think of Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac... but in this case, Jephthah really did follow through with his word. His daughter's faith is what really stands out to me though. This shows that she has a huge view of who God is... and is obedient to the point of death even though it wasn't her fault. It's a great reminder to me that I have absolutely no excuses for not being completely obedient to Him.

Monday, May 19, 2008

When God gives up?

I was able to get quite a bit of work done today... which made up (to some extent) for a weekend full of non-school. I am really starting to feel the pressure of all the projects that are coming my way. As much as I want June 12 (the day I finish finals) to be here already, I have so much to do before than that I really don't want it to come as soon as it is coming. I read in Judges 10 this evening about how Israel keeps going back and forth between serving God and Baal. When I really think about it, serving God for twenty years actually is a long time considering that I am only twenty... and seeing how many times I have chosen to go my own way. I am so thankful for a God that doesn't give up on me. Take a look at this sobering passage (Judges 10:10-13).

Then the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals." The LORD said to the sons of Israel, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? "Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. "Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you.

Can we get to the point where God gives up? This passage may strike you that way, but I would argue that God is not giving up on them, but rather allowing them to understand the consequences that come with sin. I think if we were always bailed out whenever we ran into trouble, we would never learn to appreciate who God is. It is important for us to hate sin... and there would be no reason to hate sin if it didn't have consequences. The reality is that Jesus has taken the punishment that we deserve (eternal death)... so the consequences of sin that we face don't even compare to what we really deserve. I am so thankful for His grace in saving us from what we have rightfully earned (eternal life in hell). May we have hearts so tender to His ways that we need not experience much of the consequences of sin in order for us to turn fully to Him once again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The weekly blog...

This is starting to become a once per week event. I really should start blogging more... so much lost information. :D Anyway, it's been a very busy week (a couple exams and projects). I didn't do well on one of them (database design), but God is in control. One of the guys said... "that was the hardest exam I have taken in my life." I wouldn't go quite that far, but it was definitely a hard exam. Hardness isn't really a good excuse for doing poorly on an exam... if I would have known it inside and out, I could have done well on it (I think). The one thing that I know to be true is that if I had studied more, I wouldn't have been studying the right things. At church, pastor Tim talked about how understanding the seriousness of sin, God's perfect righteousness, and the judgement that we all would face without Christ should drive us to a proper fear of the Lord. I was thinking about the humility of Paul and how he claimed to be the chief of all sinners... I think my sin must go off of the sin scale (not that there is a sin scale). It really is amazing that God chooses to love and forgive me after all that I have done that offends Him deeply. I can't even imagine how much I have hurt Him after the infinite love that He has shown me. I want a godly fear of Him that comes from a clear understanding of who He really is... which comes from reading the Word and being obedient. I can't put into words how thankful I am for His grace, but so often, I am directly disobedient to Him which shows the utmost ungratefulness for what He has done for me. I need Him to help me be completely obedient.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Motherless Mother's Day

Well, it is Mother's Day--a day to honor those that are constantly serving us in more ways than we can even think of. I think not having mom for a few days definitely helps me appreciate her more. She really is the kind of woman that I want to marry some day. I'm not saying that she is completely perfect and that I never have disagreements with her (though they are very very rare). The reality is that we will have conflicts even to a small degree (as with my mom) with any relationship. It isn't so much a matter of not having conflicts that makes a relationship work, but rather how we deal with the conflicts that come our way. Mom is a wonderful example to me of resolution. She has a strong will and uses it for His glory. I tend to not be strong willed, so she offers great balance to me in making decisions. I was reflecting about something she did a week ago at Jonathan's soccer game... there was a college age guy there that she struck up a conversation with. She asked him what he was majoring in and he said he wanted to major in theology. He is obviously unsaved and un-churched. She started taking him through the faults in relativism and what theology really means. I can't even really describe how she did it. She is so good at getting down to the serious matters with someone that she knows very little about. I am thankful for a mom that does crazy things for the sake of the gospel. She definitely has the spiritual gift of evangelism. She has taught me so much over the years, and I could never be thankful enough to God for blessing me with her as a mom. She is currently in Wisconsin with her brother who broke his neck and cracked his skull. Talk about an example of complete unselfishness... even on mother's day. I love you mom!

Church was great today, we talked about holding the keys of the kingdom today (Matthew 16:19). In Catholicism, they talk about Peter being the first pope. Pastor Tim pointed us to passages like Matthew 23:13 where it says that even the Pharisees hold the keys to the kingdom and do not allow people to go in. The keys to the kingdom really comes down to preaching the gospel message. I had the opportunity to teach children's church again today. I actually got the entire service today because they didn't do children's choir time. This was an unexpected blessing. I actually finished all of the lesson and memory verse. :) We talked about Jesus' death and resurrection. I think it struck me more than ever how amazing that really is. It doesn't even make sense! Jesus should not have died. Why would anyone want to release Barabbas? I mean really... did Jesus not heal people? It doesn't make any sense... except that it was the will of the Father. Like 14:45-48 really caught my attention as I was teaching today... I love when the spirit guides me in what I should say.

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

Jesus had told them about his death and resurrection, and yet they obviously didn't expect him to rise again. I wonder how often I should be expecting Him to do something because of what He promises in His Word, and yet I am completely caught up in my own life that I miss it completely. I need Him to open my mind to understand the scripture just like he did for his disciples. Jesus said right there that the gospel (repentance and forgiveness of sins) would be proclaimed to us (all nations)! That right there is incredible. It wasn't like he was talking in front of the United Nations or something... he is talking to a small group of people. Just the reality of His death and resurrection should completely drive us to share it with others. At the end, I got to talk about how they could apply this to their lives. It was such a blessing to see their eager responses to sharing the gospel with friends at school and stuff. I needed that reminder of child-like faith and obedience. I think I learned more than they did. :)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Our conscience

School was definitely on the long end today. I spent a lot of time working on projects today. It went fairly well, but definitely tiring. Last night, we watched a couple session of the Introduction to Biblical Counseling with Dr. Jim Burg. There was a lot that I found very useful not only for the possibility of helping others in the future, but for my own good. One thing that really hit me is that our conscience both discerns our actions (right or wrong), and afflicts us when they are wrong. I was thinking about how my conscience afflicts me when I do wrong. Sometimes it is painful to the point that I try to blot it out. This is extremely unhealthy! We feel the most strongly about sin right after we do it... so that is the time to take care of it. The shame that comes with sin is a healthy thing that reminds us not to sin again. Our conscience is hurt by repeated sinning and ignoring that "moment-after-effect" when it hurts the most, but it is fine-tuned by repeated obedience. It is so important that we are living as obedient children. The little bits of obedience now will make such a huge difference in the future.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Actions speak louder than words

I was assigned administrator duties today on the Rebelution forums. It looks like it is going to be quite a bit of work... but definitely worth it. I am in the process of learning phpBB3 forum stuff. I am also learning regular php as a directed study at school. It is definitely a blessing to work with a bunch of other young people that are seeking to please God. I'm not saying that this organization is perfect or anything. There are definitely things that I disagree with at times, but overall, the whole idea of pursuing excellence and not wasting those teen years is something that this generation really needs. I was reading Judges 8 today. It was really sobering. The people of Israel want Gideon to be their ruler after they took out Median. You'd think that Gideon would be all for that, but he does the wise thing... he says no, God will lead Israel. That is a great example of humility, but right after that, Gideon asks for gold earrings from the people, and then what does he do? He goes and makes an idol! The people turn away from the Lord, and that is that. I don't get it! God just delivered the people of Israel, and now they turn away from Him. I guess we must be reminded that we are never so good that we can't fall away from God. We must be committed to Him both in our words and our actions. Gideon was humble with his words, but chose to do things his own way. Let's do things God's way!