Wonderfully Made

A while ago I burned my finger while washing a hot frying pan. I’ve come very close several times in the past, but this time around I did actually burn my finger. After the initial “That’s hot!” and the resulting “Wow! My finger smarts!” I started looking at the blister that was rising on my finger.

First there was the interesting factor that the tip of my finger was half again it’s normal size. That was fun, especially for typing. But more seriously was the realization that the blister was there for a reason. It was a shield; protecting the smarting and sensitive skin underneath while my body healed. It was a sterile environment where my body could focus entirely on building a new patch of skin and not have to station extra security details in order to prevent germs and dirt from getting into my body. Granted that it was a burn and not a gaping wound; that would have been a completely different situation.

As I was thinking over these things, and having fun with peoples reactions to my oversized finger (Please pop it!, What is that on your finger?, That’s gross!) it also gave me a new sense of how much genius (the word doesn’t go nearly far enough) that God put into creating my body.

Then I moved on to some other injuries. Broken bones knit together, cuts heal over, food poisoning washes itself out of your digestive system, pretty much anything that doesn’t kill you will heal after a fashion. Doctors or surgeons may be required to make sure that your bones are straight after a broken leg, or to stitch a nastier than usual cut. But God has built our body to fix itself in a marvelous manner.

Psa 139:14 NKJV – 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well.

Church Roots

1 Peter 1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”  We are bought by the blood of Christ and the blood of the saints are the seed of the Church. If you would have asked me a few months ago what my church roots are or anything about church history I’d have only been able to tell you a very little bit. The Lord directed me to come for a second year of the GFA Discipleship Program and in this year I’ve been learning about Church History, which is proving to be very beneficial.

I’m in awe of what the death of Christ has done for me in making me a part of the Bride of Christ. The Apostle’s passion to see the nations reached with the love of Christ compelled them to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the extent that it cost them their lives. Those that came after them paid a heavy price of martyrdom, passing on the tradition and the Apostles Creed onto the next generations. Saints like Polycarp, Ignatius Tertullian and a host of others that would not back down on what they were taught and believed; they gave their lives for Christ in unimaginable ways. If it had not been for them we would not hold a Bible in our hands, have the structure and order in our worship services that we do today.

As I’ve been learning about the lives of the saints the verse in Psalm 116 starts to make more sense. When reading it before I wondered why the death of saints would be precious in the eyes of the Lord. Psalms 116:15 says. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Couple this verse with a quote from Tertullian an early church father. “The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.” This gives a glimpse of why the death of Christians might be precious to the Lord.  I don’t fully understand the verse or the meaning behind it but I’m grateful for what others have gone through to give us the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In studying books like “Tried by Fire,” “Early Church History Made Easy” and a few others on early Church History I see that the Church has gone through very dark times. I was reminded in our last lectures that in the middle of all the darkness God is still working and keeping the Church alive, the Bride of Christ and preparing her for Jesus. Just like a seed when it is planted in the dirt, we don’t see what is happening but we trust that the seed dies, germinates and then brings forth life; so God kept His Church and will keep it until Jesus returns. We are one body with many different members and together we are the Church of Jesus Christ bought with His precious blood.

As I’m learning about what the Universal Church is and how it is one body which is being prepared for Christ return, I get excited because I am part of the whole Church. I, as a blood bought child of God, am part of the universal church. It is not about this Christian life being just Jesus and me; it’s much more than that. Every born again believer is part of the Body regardless of what church they go to. This realization makes me grateful to live in a community of like minded believers. We may be different and come from diverse backgrounds, but we are one in Christ.

 

God at Work in History

One of the things I have been learning through my study of Church History this year is that God is always at work in the lives of His people. Even during the times of darkness and chaos when it looked as if God wasn’t even in the picture, He was at work behind the scenes using each circumstance for the good of His people and to bring glory to His name.

All throughout history the Church has been faced with hardships from within and without, but the Middle Ages was an especially dark time for God’s people. We recently read about some of the struggles they faced during that time including: wars from invading barbarians, the destruction and violence of the crusades,  leadership corrupted by greed, the  division of the church between East and West,  and the devastation of plagues and sickness.

Yet in the midst of all of this there is evidence that God had not abandoned His people. Even during this dark time we can see that God was at work bringing forth His purpose through it all. He raised up missionaries, like Boniface and Lioba who dedicated their lives to  reaching Germany with the Gospel, Reformers, such as the monks, who called people to a life of holiness and a deeper love for God, and the Mendicants, mobile preachers who travelled from town to town preaching the Gospel to all who would listen. During this time the Gospel was taken to many unreached peoples such as the English, Irish, French, and Moravians (modern-day Czech Republic). God was working through the lives of His faithful followers who were willing to give their lives in order to be obedient to God’s calling upon them.

In one of the lectures we watched the speaker made a comment that really stood out to me. He said “God is like a field teeming with life below the surface.” On top it may look like nothing is happening at all, but underground, within the soil, the seeds are very much alive and change is taking place. Soon the seed will sprout and push its way out of the soil.  Then what has been taking place below the surface will become visible to all as we see the evidence of a new life.

Many situations in my own life are much like that field. On the surface I don’t see anything happening and assume that what I can or cannot see in the natural must be all that is taking place. I am so quick to focus only on what is right in front of me and grow discouraged because it appears that God is not at work. In the midst of difficult circumstances I don’t see any way that God can be using it to bring about  His purpose. I am unaware of what is taking place just below the surface and that out of the trials and struggles God is creating something new and beautiful.

God has been reminding me that just as He was at work behind the scenes in some of the darkest times of history so He is at work in the difficult moments of my life. I can trust that in the same way He raised up His faithful followers to bring about His purpose during a dark time in the Church, so He will use each circumstance in my life to ultimately show His faithfulness and unfailing love to the world around me.

My desire is to choose each day not to focus on the apparently lifeless soil above ground but to remember that underground, where I cannot see, change is taking place. What I can see in the natural is only momentary in light of all that God has in store for eternity.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“Be still”

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Silence is void of noise, movement or action. To be still is to turn off the noise, stop the movement and do nothing.

“But Lord, there’s a dying world out there?!”
God: “Be still and know that I am God…”
Me: “But how will they know that you love them if I sit still?”
God: “I will be exalted among the nations…”
Me: “Okay Lord, I will be still and know you are God.”
God: “I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:11 “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah”

It’s been difficult for me to be still and unmoved by all that is and could be going on . The restless “Jacob” in me says I need to be out there doing things and making a visible impact in the world and in the lives of people NOW. Circumstances around me shift like waves in the ocean, yet God is the Creator of the oceans saying “be still”. To my soul He also says “be still”. It’s a sobering reminder that God is in control and very active as I am still before Him who keeps the universe in place. Yes, there is a time to be active myself but there is a time to be still.

Having a mentor to help guide my steps through this year has been challenging in ways because I’m used to running my own show and set my pace. Having to concentrate my time and energy into a set time (one year) for a specific purpose has been hard to do. Especially dying to self has become less attractive when it’s actual dying to self, the flesh. It seemed that in order for me to be still before the Lord, and to realize that He is in control, that I needed to hit the wall. First, by being gently nudged by my mentor to “settle down”, I realized that she was right, though I didn’t want to admit it. I did and still do need to settle down more, not run around here, there and every where, but rather to be intentional in this unique setting God has placed me in this year. It’s easy for me to be busy with many “good” things but I’ve been reminded that the “good” isn’t always the best and right now the best is DP.  It seems that when I still don’t quite get it, along comes the blessing of a seasonal virus. Everything continues as normal even when I’m sick and in bed. All this helps me to learn a single lesson, realizing that I can be still for God is still God. I am learning what it means to be still and let God be God because things go best when I’m yielded to Him.

Not Meant to Walk Alone

This past weekend we took some time to bless one of our staff families by helping them with Spring Cleaning. We had a great time and were able to finish in record time as we all worked together. The fun conversations, smiling faces and good food that we enjoyed made the work not seem like work at all! (The tiredness that I felt after we were finished though was a strong reminder that we had indeed worked hard.)

Since coming to the GFA Discipleship Program I have learned to appreciate living in a close knit community. Not only do we get to help each other with house cleaning or other projects that need many helping hands but we also get to help and encourage each other in our walk with the Lord. It is not always easy and many times I would rather run and hide than open up to someone about the things I struggle with. Having the opportunity to share with a sister in Christ who is my mentor and have them pray for me has been such a blessing! I don’t have to feel like I am alone in my struggle. I don’t always take advantage of the opportunity to go to her about what I am struggling with and it seems that the enemy has so much more control over my emotions to make me feel alone, unloved, and helpless to overcome.

My personality is more of an introvert, I like being on my own and don’t really like being surrounded by people for too long. I often use this as an excuse when I am struggling with discouragement or sin in my life. If God made me this way then maybe He will also help me to overcome on my own as well. Through many failed attempts in this I can assure you that this never helps! God didn’t make us as His children to walk alone, He created us to need others and help each other.

Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

I have really come to appreciate the three girls that I get to be a part of in the Discipleship Program. I have been blessed and also challenged by each one and their desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord. In our times of praying for one another we take some time to share any personal requests that we may have so that we know how to pray for each other better. I am often tempted to share something that is impersonal or very broad, not really share what I am struggling with personally. Many times I struggle with doubts and insecurities that I think Satan likes to use to get me not to open up so that I will continue to struggle on my own. The honesty and openness that I have seen from the other girls has helped me to also be more open and honest.

As the return of Christ is drawing near and the war against the power of darkness becomes more difficult, I am thankful for the Body of Christ. Together we are able to stand much stronger than if we had to stand on our own.

Romans 15:5-7 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

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