Thursday, May 9, 2013

...we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God.  We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy.  His majesty is sweetened by meekness.  In his equality with God he had a deep reverence for God.  Though he is worthy of all good, he is patient to suffer evil.  His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission.  He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children.  He could still the storm with a word, but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross.
-John Piper from his book, "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Probably my last post before I leave...

Well...the school year is almost over.  I've taken all but two of my final exams...those I'll be taking at 8AM (Systematic Theology IV) and 9:30AM (Biblical Hermeneutics) tomorrow.  I'm almost positive that I've passed all my classes...and depending on how my Greek Final went...I might even get the academic scholarship!

This Sunday is when I'll be leaving for North Africa!  It's so hard to believe that it's already this close at hand.  God has been so good to provide all the funds for it, and even providing much more than I needed!  I would like to request prayer that God would give me courage that overcomes fear.  I know my fears will always be there...but God can give me courage to overcome them.  I so easily fall into fear that causes me to not act when I should.

I would also like to pray for focus...focussing on the mission.  When I get home I'll be seeing a lot of my family, and I'm really excited about that...so I do not want to be so focused on that, that I'm not focussing on the mission.

I would finally like to request prayer for my pastoral internship I'll be doing in Illinois when I get back from North Africa.  I'll be working with the youth and with music ministries.

Well...this will probably be my last post before I leave...I probably won't be posting at all while I'm there.  I'll definitely do a post on it when I get back though!

What would I like to leave with you all?  Keep your eyes on Jesus.  Some of my readers are students...and even for those who aren't...summer is often a time for relaxation and fun...it can be a time where we take a break from God.  This doesn't make sense, though...does it?  I mean...we have more time to spend in the Word...why is it so hard?  I guess we feel like we don't need it...we're doing well, having fun...we don't need the Word as much as we need it when we're tired with classes and such...but this is of course not true at all!  We need Him at all times!  So...keep your eyes on Him...in the good times and the bad...

Take every opportunity you can to minister and love on both believers and unbelievers!

Have a blessed summer friends!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Moving...

Well...I found out a few weeks ago that my parents will be moving to Hornell, NY!  The reason they're moving there is because my sister and brother-in-law live there...and since my sister is having a baby in June, they'd like to be near them to help take care of little Emily Grace Hopkins.

Even though I'm 25, and I only really stay with them over Christmas break, this still means that my official place of residence will be moving as well.

Sorry to all my Ohio friends!  I love you all, and I'll try to visit when I can!

The end of Galatians

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Galatians 6:11-18

Well, it's been a while since I did a post on Galatians...I feel the need to do a quick recap.  This school year, at Northland, we've been going through a portion of the book of Galatians every week.  The reason Paul wrote this letter was because the churches that he established in the region of Galatia in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) had people known as the "Judaizers" who had infiltrated their churches.  They were teaching that in order to be in a right standing before God, a new Christian should be circumcised.  Paul rightly sees this as compromising the gospel...so he quickly writes this letter of rebuke to the churches.  He explains to them that they had been set free from the law...and that returning to the law would be to say that Jesus' death on the cross was not enough.

The portion of Galatians that I have posted above is of course the last passage of Galatians that we went through.  I would like to share some of what the speaker today said...it was a great blessing to me...

Vs. 12 gives us two purpose statements for why the Judaizers had told the Galatians that they needed to be circumcised.
1.  To make a good showing in the flesh.
     They wanted to promote themselves.
2.  To protect themselves.
     They knew that they would be persecuted by other Jews if they rejected the law...
     They did not want to face this persecution...
This led them to promote a false gospel...a gospel of works by trying to keep the law...

Vs. 13...this very law that they were trying to get the Galatians to follow...they had broken...they were hypocrites...

Vs. 14...how important is the gospel to me?
    The Judaizers were trying to promote themselves...whereas Paul promoted the cross...
    Why would he promote the cross?  The cross had been his (and our) saving...

Vs. 15
    External marks don't count in creation...what matters is whether we're in Christ...
    This is why Paul boasts in Christ...

Vss. 16-17
    There are marks that DO county though...and those are the marks of suffering...
    The very marks the Judaizers were trying to avoid...were the marks that counted...
    We should not be afraid to suffer for the cause of Christ...

Friday, May 3, 2013

You can have all this world...just give me Jesus...

The title of this post is the cry of my heart right now...many of you may have read or heard about what's going on at Northland right now.  There's so much turmoil and confusion.  I feel like this last week has been one giant nightmarish roller coaster ride.  There have been lots of tears...

There have been times of encouragement where God used a friend to encourage me with the Word...or we've had student body chapel and God used the focus of the service to turn my eyes to Him and His goodness.  There have been times like this morning, where a professor of mine had to leave class to go compose himself because he was crying...when he returned he said, "I'm crying not because I'm afraid, I'm crying because I love you students."  These words only made my heart break even more...

There have been times where a message from an individual in a public setting spoke great words of encouragement from the Word, and got our focus back on God.  There have been times where a speaker in a public venue used that opportunity to preach about more controversy...and thus push many into even more confusion.

You may ask, "Where are you on the issues?  Are you with the 'legalists' who want things to go back to the way they were, or are you with the 'licensers' who want things to stay the way they are right now?" (The title "legalism" and "license" are the titles given by both sides for the other side.  I'm not saying their accurate labels...just the labels that are often given) I would say I'm no the fence.  I've jumped back and forth from one side to the next, but I'd like to stay in the middle at this point.  There are people I love and respect on both sides.  Both sides have people who love God and want to serve him, and both sides have angry hurtful people who just want their agenda pushed forward.

My heart cries out, "Lord, I don't care about all this controversy.  Deliver me from it!  Please!"  And yet God's still small voice says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9)  These events...though they hurt...are pushing me to the feet of Jesus.  All I can do is fall at His feet and give it to Him...

Another word that I heart from one of the administrators here was about Philippians 4:8-9...in times like these...my flesh wants to wallow in self pity and and despair...but I need to think on what is true.  I need to "argue myself back to truth" as Dr. Olson says.  Lies creep into my mind and rob me of my joy in Christ...so I need to remind myself of what I know to be true of my God.

Please pray for Northland!  GOD has used Northland (I want to emphasize the fact that it is GOD who has used Northland) in my life to strengthen my relationship with Him.  He has worked amazing thing in my life for the past 2 years, and I know that I would hate to see Northland die amidst all this controversy...but I also know that God is sovereign, and He doesn't need Northland to accomplish His goals in the world.  So...I ask for pray that God would be glorified in all this...no matter what happens...