Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Love

O your love oh Lord, is so vast and so wide,
Freely given to all who believe.
It soars above the highest height,
And it floods the deepest sea.
It moved your heart to send your only son,
To die on Calvary’s tree.
And now your love has pardoned my soul,
That it’s waters may flow through me.

O Lord I come to you with great shame,
For I feel my work is in vain.
I am moved by the sound of man’s empty praise,
When I serve other’s in your name.
If I give my wealth as a gift to the poor,
Or my body to the flames of the fire,
Still all will be lost when I stand in your sight,
If my motives are not love inspired.

O Lord how I long to be filled with your love.
I lift up my dry thirsty soul.
Overcome this love that I have for myself,
As I yield to the spirits control.
May the love of Christ in my heart,
And my knowledge of Him ever grow,
So the service I give to my King above,
Will reflect the love that He’s shown.

…will reflect the love that He’s shown.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How can He love me?

Many of us have probably asked this exact question. I often wonder how the Lord could love me so much, when all I ever do is fail Him. I make mistakes left and right...I fall into sin constantly...and yet He loves me? This is so hard for me to understand at times...

Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
John 13:1

He loved them to the end...wow. I can't help but think of Christ on the cross...with the people bellow mocking Him...He still loved them. The nails have pierced His hands, and feet...he hangs there in more anguish than we can imagine...and yet he loved those who had put him up on that tree. The depth of that love...I cannot even fathom it.

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:39

Nothing can separate us from that Love. I often wonder...in my imperfect human mind...if there would ever come a point where I had sinned so much, that God would just turn away. It is verses like this that give me comfort. Even in my sin, Christ loved me.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
II Thessalonians 2:15-17

And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
I Timothy 1:14 & 15

...And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:5 & 6

Wow...I can't talk enough about Christ's love. It never ceases to amaze me. If you haven't noticed already...I've been struggling lately. But I guess...when will the struggle ever stop? Not until I'm with the Lord in heaven...until then the tests will continue to come.

Lord...help me to rest in your love. Help me to see that this is all a part of your master plan...you will use my pitfalls to turn me into the pastor you want me to be in the future. Help me to see that, and to rest in it. And as I've already said...that I would rest in your love. Amen.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Power of Prayer

Well, it's a Sunday morning, and I'm on duty. I was hoping to be able to go with a friend to a church up near Tokyo this morning, but that was before I realized I had duty. Anyways...for my Sunday service, I listened to one of my Northland Podcasts. The sermon I listened to was from their Heart Conference 2010 which took place back in February. The particular sermon was being preached by an older man named David Atkinson. The Heart Conference is mainly for Pastors, but God can use these messages to speak to anyone.

This particular message was on prayer, and how we need to pray more specifically for people. One of the points he made which really hit home for me was this one...I will quote what he said: "If I'm not praying, I have an inflated view of man, and a deflated view of God." Just as I have blogged about before...I don't know about you...but I know that people will fail me. I don't want to put my trust in man to get the job done properly...I need to trust God! I need to come before the Lord, in earnest supplication, asking Him to give me wisdom, asking Him to lead me down the right path, asking Him to heal a loved one, or asking Him to heal someone I don't even know. Whatever the case may be, we need to be more about going before the Lord and earnestly praying.

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
Acts 12 : 4-17

In this very passage we see an example of people earnestly praying for some one. It says in this passage "...but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him." We see in the end what their prayer brought forth...Peter was freed! Do we do this so much? I can probably count the number of times I have honestly and earnestly prayed for something with that much vigor...on probably one hand. The first time I can recall was when my Dad attempted suicide and I was praying that he would survive, and I the second one I can recall is when I was in boot camp, and I was worried I wasn't going to make it through. I can say that there were plenty of other times in my life when I should have been praying earnestly, and honestly before the Lord with sincerity. So often my prayers are filled with a feeling of duty...the thought in my head will be something like..."Oooooo, haven't talked to the Lord in a while...I really need to do that." Then I'll proceed with some wrote prayer...using a format I always use for prayer. We need to pray with earnestness...with a trust that God will answer!

If you'll notice in the passage above, when we pray as a church "without ceasing"...God can do things we thought impossible! We need to put more faith in God that He will take care of it...that He's in control! I see so much action by man to do what we believe is right in churches today. Why not ask God? Why not let Him lead us? He's the one who's supposed to lead us!

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16

Well, I think I've said everything I felt led to say. My hope and even my prayer is that we would be a people of prayer. That we as Christians would go before the Lord more often, and give to him our cares, and that we would pray to Him in earnestness, and sincerity trusting Him that He can answer it.

I pray that what God spoke to me about today might be a blessing to you all. And that maybe God would use this post, to speak to you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring Deployment 2010

Alright, so...we're finally back from our deployment. It was a fairly interesting adventure. I know I already posted pictures from Hong Kong, so I will not post those ones again, so I will start with Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Malaysia is split up between a bunch of islands. Kota Kinabalu is on the island of Borneo. All of the pictures I took are actually of my trip up Mt. Kinabalu. I hope you enjoy the pictures!


Random picture of the rainforest.


I thought this tree looked cool. This one was pretty close to the summit.


The way back down the mountain.


Looking all tired and sweaty...and this was only about a quarter of the way up!


Alright, so this is a picture of Mt. Kinabalu. I really wanted to make it to the top, but after I got to this one point where we had to grab a rope and climb up a steep rock face...I decided it would be safer to turn back...especially since I was by myself. If you want to see the video I took near the top, you can check out my youtube page. I'll be posting the link for it at the end of this blog.

So, this is the beach in Pattaya, Thailand...beautiful isn't it?


Another view of the Beach.


So this creepy building in the background is "the Santuary of Truth." It's supposed to be a place where people go to "rediscover" religion. The idea behind the place is that the man who decided to build it believed that the problems in society all go back to our turn from religion. So he built this temple. Kind of scary looking isn't it? That's why I'm making the "this place is creepy" face in this picture.


Sunset in Pattaya, Thailand.


This is a banner on the street in Thailand of the Thai King. He no longer holds any real power, although he is still held in high regard.

The next group of pictures are from Vladivostok, Russia. Fukuoka, Japan was actually our port visit after Thailand, but I didn't really take many good pictures there, so I figured I would skip on to Russia.


Statues.


This really good Chicken Garlic soup I had.


Russian Orthodox Church. I was actually able to find a vendor who was selling stuff at one of the church's, and I bought I Russian Bible from her...kind of cool huh?


The USS Blue Ridge, moored in Vladivostok, Russia.


While we were in Vladivostok, there were celebrating what they call "Victory Day." It's when the celebrate their victory over the Germans in WWII. They have a big parade, which is nothing more than a military force demonstration. Our sailors were invited to join in the parade, as of course we helped defeat the Germans. You'll notice I was actually trying to take a picture of the Blue Ridge sailors in this picture. Unfortunately the road was so packed, I couldn't get close enough to get a good picture...so this is the best I could come up with.

Alright, well, that's all the pictures I'm going to post from this past deployment. I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Oh yeah...forgot to post the link for my youtube channel. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/user/jsnhnsckr.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Be Still My Soul

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repayFrom
His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's day musings...

Alright...so it would be a big mistake if I were not to take the time today to talk about my mom. All of us would like to say that we have the best mom in the world...but if we all looked at it in reality...we all had imperfect moms who just did the best they could to raise us. I know things have not always been perfect in my family...my mom has inspired me to do great things, but I must admit there were even times where I saw what my mom did, and it was example of what not to do. Granted that wasn't that often...only for a short period of my childhood did I ever have that kind of outlook on my mom. But anyways...enough of that...I would like to briefly talk about what makes my mom special, and what makes me so thankful to have her.

My mom was raised in an unsaved home. She was the middle child of 5 kids. She had an abusive father, and a mom who was just trying to survive, and keep her kids alive as well. When she was young...I'm not sure what her age was exactly...she started going to a local church through their bus ministry. Her and most of her siblings would go to church almost every Sunday. Sometimes I think for them it might have just been an excuse to get out of the house. Anyways...again, I'm not so sure what age she was, but she eventually accepted Christ as her Savior, and I'm sure she would say that her life wasn't the same after that. She continued to go to church on up into her teens. Her dream growing up was that she would become a teacher, but her mom wanted her to go into nursing because she said she would never be able to afford it. So my mom went to a local tech school to become an LPN. After she graduated she started working at a nursing home in the area. When she was about 20 years old she met my dad while going to Bible Baptist Church in Saybrook, Ohio. He was working there as music director. On March 28th 1980 my parents were married.

A year later they had my older brother, and soon after that moved to Philadelphia, PA. And in the years to follow while still living in Philly they had my two older sisters. Finally when they moved to Lansdale, PA they had me. While living there we went to Calvary Baptist Church where Mom pursued a diploma in counseling from Calvary Baptist Seminary, and finally got it...not so sure what year it was though. In September of ’95 my dad lost his leg, and we saw why the Lord had seen fit for my mom to become a nurse. Because of her skills she had learned, she was able to care for my dad, and we did not need to have a nurse come to the house everyday while he recovered. God works in mysterious ways doesn’t He? Anyways...don't want this to get boring. We lived in PA for 14 years after I was born, and finally moved back to Ohio so my mom could take care of her mother whose health was failing. We first moved to Geneva, Ohio, because my mom couldn't handle living with her mother down in Rome. If you knew my grandma while she was still alive, you would know what I mean. She was not exactly the nicest lady in the world. My mom was actually eventually able to lead her mother to Christ...we had pretty much been praying for her salvation for as long as I could remember. In spite her salvation she still could be quite a...shall I say...pill. Anyways...as Grandmas health continued to get worse...it became evident that we were going to have to move in with her. So in my sophomore year of high school my family made the move down to Rome. The next two years were some of the hardest years of my life. My grandma...I hate to say this...made life extremely difficult. And yet even through all of it, my mom continued to stay strong. She cared for my grandma in spite of how hard life was there.

In February (2007) my grandma passed away. She was actually put on a breathing tube because she couldn't breathe on her own, but according to her will she didn't want any "heroics." So my mom had to make the decision and tell the doctors to pull the life supports. Mom struggled with this...but she did what her mom wanted. I think if she were honest, she still struggles with it even to this day.

Another moment where my mom continued to amaze me, was when I told her I wanted to join the Navy. You know how you always picture the mom being the one who is upset when their child wants to join the military? Well...that wasn't the case with my mom. I told her I wanted to join the Navy, and she looked me in the eye...reached out and touched my hand and said..."I kind of figured this was coming. If this is what you believe God wants to you do, I'll support you all the way." My dad on the other hand, was the reluctant one...he eventually came around...but that's a story for father's day. Anyways...my mom has always told me that even if I wanted to be a garbage man, as long as it was what God wanted me to do, she would support me all the way.

I thank the Lord so much for my mom, and I would never trade her for another mother in the entire world. She is a Godly woman, and I can't wait to get married and provide her with grandchildren, because she is going to make an awesome Grandma.

Alright, so I must write briefly about what's going with me while I'm in a blogging mode. We're nearing the end of our deployment. We should be back in Japan by the end of this week. I'm pretty excited to be getting back. I should be posting an overview of all the ports we visited when we get back. To all of my followers, I hope you all told your moms how much you love them, and appreciate them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I'm sure many of us if we were honest have asked this question of the Lord at some point in our lives. We see someone we care about going through hard times that never seem to end, and we wonder why God allows it to happen.

This question has been on my mind lately. I recently had and "Acquaintance" (I call this person by this title, because I do not want to reveal their identity) who has become an Agnostic, and even questions the existence of God because he does not understand something that happened recently to someone he knows. I do not want to go into detail because what happened is that horrific, but just take my word for it...it was really bad. It is at times where I hear stories such as this that I even begin to wonder how God could allow such things to happen. But it is at times like these where I must turn to God for the answer...and this is what I have learned.

There are evil forces at work in the world that are bent on trying to see us turn away from God. These evil forces will do anything they can to destroy our lives.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
I Peter 5:8

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12

At this time we may ask the question...well isn't God in control? If God is in control, why would a loving God allow things like this to happen? I can honestly say that I do not have a solid answer to this question. I can presume to know His plan in what happens, but I do not know for sure. So I will attempt to explain it in the best way that I can.

I believe that God allows things like this to happen. I don't believe this means He wants it to happen, but He allows it to happen. For what reason, again I can only presume. Perhaps it is at times an attempt to get our attention. Perhaps these things happen as a test, just as they happened to Job. God allows them to happen to us in order to test our faith...to see if we will trust Him that He is in control, or will we "Curse God and die"...as Job's wife so eloquently proposes to her husband. Will we come through the trial stronger and closer to God, or will we turn from him? I believe that often how the Lord reveals Himself to us in the trial...this is where the most poignant answer lies. I've often noticed for me that when the trials come, and I pray to God to help me through it, it is at that time that I feel His tender arms around me as He carries me through. Just like the well known poem "Footprints in the Sand," the only thing we can do in a time of trial, where we don't understand the Lords plan...is to simply rest in God's arms and trust Him that he is in control. Is that always easy to do at times? No...it is often in these trials, and these times where we may lose someone that we love, that we don't want to talk to God. But we should...He is the only one who can comfort us. He is the only one who can comfort us...because you know what? He sees the end of the trial...He sees the end, and He sees how in the end, in spite of all the pain and suffering we may endure...if we trust in Him, we will come forth on the other side stronger than when we went through.

I have often found this to be true in my life. I don't know if I have ever explained this on my blog...but as it is a part of "My Life...", it is applicable to this blog. Anyways...when I was 11 years old my Dad attempted suicide. He was later diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and is now stable and on medication...but let me tell you, after that event, I really struggled with my faith. I did not understand how God could allow something like that to happen to my family. I was angry with God. But I've realized over the years, that God was able to use it to make me stronger. Were it not for that event, I'm pretty sure the testings that I would endure in the Navy, would have probably broken me at some point. But because I had been through that event, and many more before the Navy, that I (with God's help of course) was able to stand against the temptations that I would endure in the Navy. Can I take the credit for this? Absolutely not...it was God that brought me through them, and it was the Lord who strengthened me through it.

Anyways...getting back to the point at hand. There are bad things that happen in this world...and we might not understand it...and we may get angry at God. Being angry at God is a natural human emotion when we go through a trial. But is God in control? Yes! Do we see the evidence of that? Yes...at least I know I do! I know if He weren't in control...things would be a whole lot worse in this world! Do we need to trust Him that He's in control? Yes...because I know He's always come through for me in the past.

Well...I really hope that this blog was an encouragement to you all. I really hope and pray that this blog may touch someone's heart who might be going through a trial right now...or maybe it would be a comfort to someone who has lost someone they love recently.