Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Know Who Goes Before Me.

This song has been ministering to me today and I hope you are blessed by it too. These words in particular stand out to me:

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side

God's promise to always be with us and go before us in every situation and circumstance is so encouraging! I know that even on bad days when everything seems to be going wrong, I have nothing to fear because God is fighting for me.

The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Love in Christ,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Commitment and Interests of Others.

Tonight I've got a lot on my mind, and the recurring thoughts seem to be centered on this: commitment. How committed are we to our friends and family members? Do we take time out of our busy schedules to listen to others or are we too tied up in our own interests to really pay attention to their needs, and much less, their interests that perhaps don't interest us at all?

I'll be honest, it's hard for me to take interest in the interests of others, especially when it doesn't relate to me. For example, my brother Christopher loves playing video games. He spends a good amount of his free time on his iPod and at the TV playing Nintendo games and other games that I don't have a clue what they are. When I come to talk to him, Christopher usually starts excitedly telling me about the latest level that he's just beat or he mentions a new game that he can't wait to buy at Game Stop. I find it difficult to pay attention and listen to what he's saying because it doesn't relate to me, and frankly, I'm lost when he gets into the little details, but as his older sister I ought to at least pay attention to him and try to understand because it shows that I care. Yes, I might come away still as clueless as before, but if I make an effort to listen then I'll feel better about the effort I made to show him I care.

The Bible says this about how we are to relate to the interests of others:

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. -Philippians 2:4

The next verse is even more convicting:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. -Philippians 2:5

There is so much that can be said about the above verse and I won't be able to cover all it entails here, but the most important thing to remember is that Christ humbled himself and took on the nature of a servant. If he had the attitude of a servant and we are called to have the same attitude that Christ had, then what should our attitudes look like? They should look resemble the attitudes of servants who love their master. Servants willingly do whatever their master asks of them and take an interest in the hobbies and interests of their master too. As servants of Christ, we ought to be interested in and care about the things that Christ cares about. How interested are you in the things that concern Jesus?

How committed are you to those God has placed in your life? Do you take the time to pray for a friend who's just lost a loved one to cancer? Are you intentional about responding to the needs of others, even when you'd rather not?

If we're going to live like Jesus and really carry out what it means to follow him daily, we're going to need to be concerned about what Jesus is concerned about. I'll give you a couple of hints about some people that Jesus specifically cares about: orphans, widows, the poor, those who are sick, the weak, the lost, etc. (Read the Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15 to see how much God cares about the lost.) I've only covered the lost that Jesus cares about, and yet there are many, many more groups of people that Jesus cares about. You can find multiple stories of God's loving kindness towards such people in the Bible.

How will you respond today? Is there someone that you need to write to and let them know you care? Let's show the world how committed we are to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by loving those he's placed in our care.

Love in Christ,

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fading Beauty.

Isaiah 40:7 reminds us that everything that is now alive on this earth will die one day, including us. Our days are but a breath, and we don't know how long each of us has. But if we have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior, then we have no need to fear death, because when we die we will taken up to be with our Savior in heaven where he is seated at the right hand of God. Isn't that such a wonderful promise? Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Not even death.

The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. -Isaiah 40:7

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
But the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

-1 Peter 1:23-35

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Highs and Lows.

Thank you for your heartfelt responses about how God has called you, including missions callings! They were so encouraging and helpful and I'll definitely be spending lots of time in prayer about going into missions. I was so blessed and encouraged when my mom sent me her call to missions. Thanks, Mom! The way God used Scripture to speak to her specifically about becoming a missionary in a foreign country was really neat. God doesn't waste opportunities to speak to us, but often we miss him speaking to us because we're consumed by our lives down here on earth or we're trying to block out his voice. I definitely don't want to do that because I want to live in obedience to him with every step I take so I'll be spending lots of prayer today and in the days to come. Any of you, if you didn't share your calling before and you still want to, you can either comment on this post or send an email to hazzelelponi54 at rocketmail dot com and I'll be sure to read and take to heart what you have to say.

Let me tell you, it's not easy to obey God. Take right now for example. I'm tired and bored of attending Cedarville University and I would much rather be spending the semester at home with my family, but God has made it clear that he wants me here at Cedarville for the time being. He used words of encouragement from friends at my home church Grace this past Sunday to push me in the right direction. I was about to break down and cry numerous times during the conversations I had because I was so emotional and yesterday afternoon I even broke down in tears driving back down to Cedarville with my family. My parents did their best to comfort and encourage me. It helped a bit, but no matter how hard I've tried, I just don't have a desire to be back at Cedarville. I felt better after I cried, but my upset feelings still haven't gone away today. It's been an emotional coaster ride day in and day out and I think it's going to be like this for a while since I believe the Enemy's attack has just begun, and he doesn't give up easily.

But I'm confident of this: God has a reason for placing me at Cedarville this year, and he has a reason for everything that he places in each of our paths. Therefore, in spite of my fickle emotions, I'm going to trust God and his plan for my life (which far exceeds anything I could ever imagine) and stay at Cedarville for now. I'm sensing a rocky road ahead, but as long as I've got Jesus by my side, the road will never be too treacherous to walk on.

Philippians 1:6 says it all:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Another passage of Scripture that has been a comfort to me in times of trouble is Psalm 46:1-3:

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

I'm so thankful that I have a God who comforts me when I need comforting; aren't you?

Love in Christ,

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Need Some Advice...Overseas Missions.

Following God's plan for our lives can be easy in theory but much more difficult in practice. I've told God multiple times, "Lord, here I am. Send me!" and I meant it 100%. In those moments, if God had told me to go to Zimbabwe or Iceland, or anywhere else on this planet, I would have gone, no strings attached. But now, in the moment when the rubber actually hits the road and I feel like I'm having to let go of things that are precious to me to cling to God's purpose for my life, overseas missions, my faith is quickly draining away and I'm finding myself questioning God's perfect plan for my life. I want to go overseas to do missions when I want, not when God wants me to, but if I do that, I'm not submitting to God like I ought to. Another thing is that I don't want to have to plan my life around becoming a missionary someday. I would like some "freedom" to choose what I want, (which sounds really self-centered when I think about it) but I feel like I have to plan that way since the choices I make today will have a lasting affect on the rest of my life. The hardest part is that there wasn't one special moment in my life when God told me, "Go into missions," but throughout the years God has made it somewhat clear in subtle ways. I just don't want to go off the deep end, convinced that God's going to send me far across the world to do missions and then find out later that he wants me to stay in the US and be a missionary to friends and colleagues here. Hmm, what do I do?

For anyone who has felt God's call to be a missionary early in life, how did you know that was God's will for your life? Once you were certain that God wanted you to be a missionary, how did that impact the choices you made? What struggles did you have and how did you overcome them? I would really appreciate hearing your stories and any advice you have.

You're welcome to comment here or if you would prefer to contact me privately, my email is hazzelelponi54 at rocketmail dot com. Thank you so much!

God bless,

Monday, August 6, 2012


I'm sure I could fill up pages and pages of how God worked this summer! He is so good. It was hard to find energy sometimes, but in the times when I found myself exhausted, I asked God for strength and surrendered my plans to him. I remember feeling completely exhausted the second to last Thursday night of the summer. It was right before worship time, which lead into Journeys. All of the counselors met during worship time to pray and seek God's will for Journeys, and the prayers that a few of the counselors prayed helped me redirect my focus away from my tired body back to God, where it should be.

Afterward, when we had gone back to our seats and everyone stood singing "How He Loves" I prayed, "God, please let tonight be all about you. Work through me. It's gonna have to be all You tonight because I have nothing left to give. Help me stay focused on You alone, and let the words I speak be straight from You. I pray that what the campers hear at Journeys would impact and change their lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen." And God answered my prayer, granting me the strength I needed and helping me stay focused on Him.

Now let me explain Journeys in greater depth. Journeys happened every Thursday night over the seven weeks of camp and it was a sort of "journey" that each cabin went on together from station to station. Each station was based on a part of Luke 9:23, which was the theme verse for this summer. We started at the basketball court, where the kids were asked to answer the questions, "What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?" and "How do we follow him and help others to follow Him?" After they finished writing down their answers, the cabin would walk over to the chapel.

Once they got to the chapel, the counselors picked up index cards that were sitting out and handed them out to the campers, who were asked to answer these questions: What parts of my life do I need to deny and give to Christ? What does it mean to deny yourself for Christ? What part of our lives do we keep hidden from God? Campers and staff alike spent time listening for God's voice and praying to Him as they thought about the questions and searched their hearts.

the chapel

From there, each cabin walked over to the poolside fire, where counselors shared the significance of the cross and explained why Christ died for us. Then the counselor would tell the campers that they were to put their index cards on the cross, which represented giving up our lives and taking up our cross. It was nothing less than surrendering our wills to God. When the counselor finished explaining, the campers took their index cards to a wooden cross that was set up near the fire and used push pins to put their cards on it.

The final station on the journey was the main campfire, where counselors would find a quiet spot to sit with their cabins to share their testimonies and how they follow after Christ. It was a time when the truth came out, broken lives were laid bare, and people were painfully honest with one another in order for God's love and healing to be known. The point wasn't to focus on ourselves and what we've accomplished. Instead, we shared our stories so that God would be glorified and so that people would be able to see God's faithfulness to us. After counselors shared our stories, we welcomed campers to share their own testimonies and offered to answer questions, too.

Journeys taught me a lot about relying on God for strength. When I'm at my weakest, God's power is made perfect in me, and that was shown as I poured out my heart to the precious girls in my cabin. Although my body and mind were weary from the busyness of the week, God gave me the strength I needed to make it through Journeys without thinking about sleep even once. I hope and pray that Journeys had a huge life-changing impact on every camper and counselor who participated in it, just like it did for me. As Paul said in Philippians 4:13, "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Part II // BEST Summer of my Life. Thank you, LORD.

Here's Part II of what God did in my life this past summer at PVM. He's awesome!

This summer God helped me to see people through his eyes, as human beings created in his image. I've struggled with valuing people for who they are rather than what they look like for years, even though I know that God commands us to value people regardless of their physical appearance or the way they act and speak. I don't know how it happened, but God worked in my heart and now I am less judgmental than I used to be. It's a process, and there are definitely still times where I only focus on the outer appearance of individuals, but overall, God is making it possible for me to love all people with his love and focus on their hearts, which is what really matters.

Also, this summer my heart has been burdened for the many people who suffer daily for their faith in Christ as I've played the game Underground Church each Wednesday evening at PVM. Underground Church is an opportunity for the campers to share their testimonies of how God has saved them and worked in their lives with staff members who are either Citizens (ordinary people who are not Christians) or ACC (political leaders who are opposed to Christianity). It is also an opportunity for the campers to experience persecution for their faith on a much lower level than it would be in reality for Christians in a country where Christianity is illegal. The game  provides excellent teaching opportunities and I've witnessed the impact it can have on hearts that are open and surrendered to God's will.

I myself have been changed because of Underground Church as I've played a Citizen in a few games and walked around with my cabin of Christians a couple of times. Watching young kids share the love of Jesus with Citizens and ACC alike and sharing their personal stories of what God has done for them is phenomenal. The vast majority of kids refuse to let the ACC make them declare that God isn't real, and they're willing to suffer for what they believe by laying on the ground or having their heads covered in shaving cream. Granted, the kids do complain about the "punishment", but that doesn't change their determination to stay true to Jesus and his Word.

Playing Underground Church eight times in the last nine weeks has given me greater confidence to tell others about Jesus and how much he loves them. God used the kids to teach me how to better know how to initiate conversations about him with unbelievers. Their eternities depend on whether they know him or not and I definitely don't want to waste any opportunities to share Jesus' love!

The past summer at PVM has been spectacular and God has taught me more than I ever could have dreamed or thought possible!

Let me end with a couple of Bible verses that God has laid on my heart recently:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. -2 Peter 1:3-11


"If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?" -Esther 4:14

Love in Christ,

Monday, July 30, 2012

Part I // BEST Summer of my Life. Thank you, LORD.

Without a doubt, this summer has been the best summer of my life. God worked in my life in so many ways and taught me a whole lot. He taught the other staff members and campers a lot, too. The theme for the summer was Wanted, so all of our nightly skits had a Western theme and the staff members were given cowboy hats to wear on Sundays to welcome the new campers as they arrived with their parents. The theme verse was Luke 9:23, and throughout the nine weeks that I was at Pleasant Vineyard Ministries Camp (PVM) God helped me understand what it really means to deny myself and take up my cross each and every day. For the staff, the recurring theme in our lives that God was working on in our hearts all summer was surrender. God taught me to surrender my family, all other relationships, my job, my plans, my expectations, etc.

When I arrived at PVM I didn't know anyone, other than my bosses Tom and Bryan, who I'd only met once before, so I was pretty shy (like I always am in new situations) and I struggled with homesickness, especially during the first couple of days before most of the staff arrived. I honestly wanted to leave at the beginning of the summer because I was lonely and afraid, but I had to learn to trust God that he had me at PVM for a reason. It took a few weeks, but over time God allowed me to form friendships with many of the staff members. Each and every one of them loved me like Christ loves me, and it was a blessing to work with them. I admire them greatly for their undying love for Jesus and willingness to continually pour out their lives as a living offering to God. As a staff, we planted a multitude of seeds this summer and I'm so excited to see what God does in the lives of the kids throughout the year and into next summer.

God helped me to surrender all of my relationships to him as I continued to grow closer to him these past nine weeks. I finally understand that God is the only One who can completely satisfy my deepest longings and desires, whereas before camp, I still thought that somehow another person would be able to do that for me. God brought me to place where I can honestly say that he's my only desire. I love everything that he's blessed me with, but they're the gifts, and he's the Giver, not vice versa.

When I was asked last minute to switch from being the camp photographer to being a counselor for the last two weeks of camp, God was teaching me to surrender my job. I thought that I would have the same job all summer long, and I was pretty excited about it since I love taking photos, but God had other plans. It was also a lesson in becoming more flexible and allowing God to work through me, rather than me working for God. You see, I was working for God all summer long, but I had to get the place where I was willing to let God have his way and use me where he wanted me, rather than where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do. And I'm so glad that God gave me the opportunity to be a counselor to two great groups of girls in grades 4-6th. He made it pretty clear to me these past two weeks that I'm supposed to work with kids as my life profession. I don't know where God's going to take me after I get out of college, or even what he's got planned for me in the next couple of years while I'm still at school, but I'm really excited to see God's plan unfold because it's going to be marvelous and so much better than I could ever imagine!

If life went the way I planned it, it would be pretty miserable, so I'm thankful for a God who knows me better than I know myself, who knows exactly what I need and when I need it. No matter where I go, I'm always leaving friends and having to say goodbyes, which I hate. If you're a missionary kid or pastor's kid or live any other kind of life that requires frequent moves, you'll understand. Saying goodbyes at the end of this summer was so difficult, and now I miss my PVM family, my Ukarumpa classmates, and my Cedarville classmates a great deal. I wish I could see all of them right now, in this very moment. I wish we weren't so far away from each other, and I really wish that I had a car and could drive places, but alas, I have no car and I don't even have a license at the moment. And yet, God has provided for all of my relational needs wherever I go, including this summer at PVM. He's just such a good and loving Father! Praise Him. Saying goodbyes wouldn't be painful if there wasn't any commitment or love, so I have realized that the pain is worth it, but of course I look forward to heaven when all believers will live in community together. What a day that will be, living with our King!

That's Part I of the amazing summer I had at PVM. The underlying theme that God laid on my heart was surrendering to him and his will, and as I let go of one thing after another, I fell more in love in God and was motivated to serve him more. James 2:14-17 comes to mind as I mull over all that God's taught me recently:

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

My faith grew and as it did, God worked through me to do many good deeds. I praise Him for everything!

Love in Christ,

Thursday, July 12, 2012

70 sextillion.

"70 sextillion known stars in the universe. That's 70 + 22 zeros. 70,000 million million million. And Jesus made them all & holds them all." -Stephen Miller

That's A LOT of stars. Take a moment to think about that and reflect on the amazing universe that God created. We serve a mighty God who loves and cares for each one of us more than we can imagine. I hope you feel wanted because God certainly wants you! :)

Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." -Luke 9:23

I never wanna leave.

I love this camp so much. God has taught me a whole lot while I've been at PVM, and the recurring theme has been and continues to be surrender. Surrendering to God isn't easy, but God has taught me to, "Surrender everything you are to the LORD and let Him lead you in accordance to his will. His blessings abound to surrendered hearts."

And I've certainly experienced God's blessings this summer at PVM. God has given me great relationships with people I only just met at the beginning of the summer. He's allowed me to share my testimony with a couple of friends and be an encouragement through words and time spent with others listening to what they have to say.

Some days are difficult and I struggle to control my life, but then I have to take a step back and say, "God, I surrender to your will. Be the LORD of my life today. I will go where you send me." Yesterday was one of those days where I was struggling with several situations in my life and I talked with God about them while taking a walk around camp. It was peaceful and I could freely share my frustration and misunderstandings with God. He understood and led me to 2 Corinthians 12 which talks about Paul's thorn in the flesh and how God's power works best in weakness. Verse 9 says: Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

I'm so encouraged that when I am weak, God is strong. My achievements may not amount to much, but  through Christ, I can do all things.

I'll end with a quote that I read in the book, "Surrender" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss earlier tonight. It speaks volumes about what has been on my heart lately. God wants you and I to be fully surrendered to  him and to live lives of obedient service to him.

Surrender isn't the surrender of the external life, but of the will; when that is done, all is done. There are very few crises in life; the great crisis is the surrender of the will. -Oswald Chambers

God bless you all!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

So in Love.

I just want to sit at my Father's house and listen to his voice. The LORD is my Savior and King! With every choice I make in obedience to his will, he is drawing me nearer and nearer to him. It's a process, and daily I have to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Christ.

The neat thing is that the verse where that comes from, Luke 9:23 is the theme verse at PVM Camp for this summer! I am so blessed to be here at PVM for summer 2012. It's certainly been a stretching experience, and I've only been through staff training, but God has taught me numerous lessons, my faith has been encouraged and strengthened, and the staff members already feel like family to me (that happened within the first week). All of the last school year, while I was at Cedarville University, I felt like God was pouring his love and truth over me, drenching me to the bone with goodness and mercy. I had an itch to get out and share his love in a real, authentic way, and I wanted to keep on using my talents and spiritual gifts to serve God's kingdom for the three months of summer vacation I have. Somehow, God knew that PVM is the best place for me to be at this time in my life, and so he lovingly placed me here, to serve him with my whole heart. I'm not completely sure what's ahead these next couple of months, but I know that no matter what happens, God loves me and he will give me the endurance, peace, patience, and joy I need to thrive at camp.

Today is the day that our first group of campers arrive, and I couldn't be more excited! This group of kids is coming in from the inner city, and I'm assuming that a good portion of them will come from families suffering from abuse in one form or another. These children are desperate for love, and I can't wait to help teach them just how much God loves them, and how much we love them, too, as their counselors and other staff members. Urban week is going to be a hard week, but I'm praying for lives to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and believing that God is going to do great things in and through everyone who sets foot on the PVM Camp property.

Please join me in praying for God's will to be done this summer. Pray that God would use the PVM Camp staff, despite our weaknesses, to bring glory to his name through our service and sacrifice of love to the precious children that he is entrusting us with.

Thank you so much! I plan to post regularly so that you can hear about the work that God is doing here and be encouraged along with me.

God bless!
In Christ,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Power of Confession.

I have a confession to make. For the past few months up until very recently, I had been struggling with doubts about my salvation. Part of the problem stemmed from my younger brother's rejection of God, which happened  about a year before that, although that realization didn't hit me for a long time. Although I wasn't quite sure what was causing it, I knew I was feeling distant from God and I needed to get back on track. 

God revealed to me through the words of friends and one of my professors that believing in Him and his sacrifice is a choice. My heart might tell me that God isn't real, that he doesn't exist, and that I've committed too many terrible sins to be a child of God, but that's not true! I'm not worthy on my own, but through Christ's death on the cross for my sins and resurrection on the third day, I've been given new life. 

Last Tuesday night I felt God compelling me to go to A Night of Worship with [re]Kindle, so I went and texted a few of my friends to invite them to go, too. Only Mia responded saying she could go because everyone else was too busy, so she met me in the room where it was held soon after the event started. The speaker spoke on the topic of suffering and then afterwards she asked us to pray together in small groups, confessing sins and struggles to one another and then lifting each other up in prayer. I confessed to Mia that I’d been struggling with believing that I was really saved, so she prayed for me to be assured of my salvation. Her words were simple, but they hit the spot, and really encouraged me. Since then, I haven’t had another doubt about my salvation, but rather a peace and trust that the Lord has saved me and a quiet conviction to do more for Christ.

God is always faithful, even when we are not, and choosing to believe in him no matter what our hearts tell us is taking a bold step of faith that pleases Him greatly. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Joy. {a gift from God}

Joy. Pure unadulterated joy.

How do we get it? Does it come from our friends' approval or getting the summer job you poured countless hours applying for?

No. Joy goes so much deeper, to the core of the soul. Joy and happiness are often confused for their similar qualities, but they are certainly not the same thing. If happiness is the tip of the iceberg, then joy is the whole entire iceberg. Happiness comes from circumstances, but joy comes from God.

Have you experienced such joy despite your circumstance that your heart leaped within you and nothing anyone told you could dampen your spirit? I have, in fact I experienced great joy yesterday. It is not that I do not experience joy every day, but I felt it at a deeper level yesterday. Although I was tired and struggling through homework, God gave me a joy that I could not explain apart from Him. I felt so blessed and encouraged.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! -Galatians 5:22-23

Have you experienced God-given joy? It's such an amazing experience that goes far beyond mere feelings.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I was hired!

I'm super excited to announce that I have a job for this coming summer! I'll be working at Pleasant Vineyard Ministries Camp as the Digital Media Director. The job includes taking photos and video footage, posting them online daily, and creating CDs and DVDs weekly. I'm slightly nervous about not being good enough, but I know that God will sustain me and it will be a great opportunity to grow as a Christian and photographer. Prayers would be much appreciated! Thanks! God is good.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Fiery Message of Truth.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. -John 15:4 (NLT)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Those were the days.

I can't tell you why, but there's just something refreshing about closing the internet browser, turning on a High School Musical CD, and opening a blank Word document. I think I love it so much because it reminds of a simpler life I lived in Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea. As much as I love the internet, and believe me, it's a great resource, there are times where I get burned out from looking at too many pretty pictures on Pinterest and clicking on blog post after blog post. It just never stops.

I used to hate it when we would have network outages on our centre because that meant no internet or email for an entire Saturday afternoon, but now I realize how refreshing they were. We couldn't sit at a computer all afternoon, but there was a whole ton of other amazing things we could do. We would drive around centre in our beat up, stick shift cars and dirt bikes or we would walk up and down the dusty roads, stopping to smell the beautiful pale purple flowers growing in clumps at the edge of the road.

Some of my friends owned their own horses and they would take them on rides off centre, through the beautiful fields in the surrounding valley. Sometimes we would go down to the river to swim and float on gummies (rubber inner tubes) downstream with the current. After going for a ways, we'd climb out onto the bank and stand there, cold and dripping, letting the warm Southern Hemisphere afternoon sunshine warm us up.

I often found myself grabbing the keys to my guinea pig cage and running outside to the cage. I would fling the door open wide, block the entrance to the outer part, and try to carefully pick up one of my darling piggies. If the attempt was successful, I'd set the guinea pig on my lap, stroke it for a minute or two, and then let it down into the cool grass. That's something I loved about my piggies - I could trust them to run around the yard and not run away. I just had to watch out for the many stray dogs, cats, and hawks who might happen to trot or run or fly by. And if I didn't catch a piggie on the first try, I would have to close the door, wait a few minutes until they want back inside the dark, dry area, and try again. :)

Those were the days. 

Light of the World.

"I am a Redeemer. I redeem all things. I make all things new. Whatever you've lost I will restore. It doesn't matter what you've done. It doesn't matter what's happened to you. I can take all the hurt, the pain, and the scars. Not only can I heal them, but I can make them count for something."
-God to Stormie Omartian

I shared this quote last May in my post about challenges, and the words make so much more sense now than they ever did before. God can and he wants to take all of the hurt, pain and scars. He wants to heal me and make those scars count for something. 

A past littered with failures and struggles can become an overcoming tide of pain and suffering. As the salt water stings your eyes, you gasp for breath, knowing that every second is a fight to hold on. Waves seem daunting when they're rushing towards us and yet, waves have another purpose, too. They wash us clean. As each of us plays along the beach, our legs kick up the sticky sand and it gets stuck in our wet swimming suits. When we're done building sand castles and burying ourselves in the sand, we scamper to the water's edge and keep moving until it's deep enough to swim, and then we take the plunge, letting our whole bodies be submerged under the salty surf.

Does this remind you of living the Christian life? It does in my mind. The sand reminds me of sin. We enjoy playing in sin for a while, thinking it will offer satisfaction, while all the while it is becoming a great burden. Just as sand gets 'stuck' in all the little pockets and tiny enclosed corners of a bathing suit, sin gets stuck in the most hidden parts of our heart, and so we think that no one will notice that it's there. Even though it's out of sight, others know it exists because we are all sinful, each of us from the time our mothers conceived us in their wombs (Psalm 51:5). And just as sand is composed of a great multitude of infinitesimal grains, so our lives are full of too many sins to count.

But the beauty of the waves washing over us signifies God's forgiveness, mercy and grace, as he removes the sand (sin) from our lives. If we will confess our sins, he'll forgive us and purify us in the waves of his mercy. What an amazing promise that is!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9 (NIV)

Waves can be daunting and scary and sometimes they can even kill a person if they become too strong. Although we may be at first terrified of the waves, they are the only way to be cleansed, so we must face them. Whether we are fearful or fearless, the waves will be there. It is better to trust and obey, because fear can cause us to take a step back onto the safety of the shore, where we will once again be made to face pains from the past. While death in and of itself is a horrible, no good thing, the death of one killed for spreading the Gospel brings about many new lives, and so God can bring good from even the most despairing times, even after a death.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels--a plentiful harvest of new lives. -John 12:24 (NLT)

Going back to what I first wrote...we all have hurt, pain and scars in our lives and God not only sets us free from them, but also brings good from them. Our past experiences with sin provide us with opportunities to share God's amazing love and forgiveness with others who may be suffering in the same way we have, and who may be desperately longing for encouragement. We can let our light stream through the curtains, dispelling the darkness with the powerful rays of light that God has given us.

Just as there is always another wave waiting to wash us clean of sand in our suits, there is in the same way, waves of God's forgiveness always available for us to swim out to and come clean. Sin entangles us and slows us down, but God's forgiveness sets us free and gives us endurance as we run the race, keeping our eyes on the prize (Hebrews 12:1).

The LORD is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected--even children in the third and fourth generations.' -Numbers 14:18 (NLT)

Let's not forget that as Christians, we are light in this dark, sin-filled world. Don't hide your light. Instead, shine it brightly for all to see, so that they will praise God.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” -Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

Stop and listen to this song, which has been on my heart and mind lately and also fits incredibly well with what I've just said.

Now go and be light to the world!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Gratefulness.

Have you experienced blessings so great and unexpected that you have to take a step back and just say, "Wow, God! I'm in awe of You and your ways." Today was one of the days for me. I took a step back and thought about everything that God has blessed me with. Which is a lot

God has blessed me with countless friends and a wonderful Christian community. I'm so thankful and grateful. My cup overflows.

The little things add up to make a huge difference. I had a splendid day yesterday and today is promising to be good, too. My classes were educational and really good. Intro to Lit ended early so I was able to go to chapel really early and say hi to Pastor Rohm on the way in. After my classes I ended, I trekked over to the SSC (Stevens Student Center) to work on homework, and while I was there, I made a new friend named Hannah. I also got to talk to Katie and Abigail for a while. 

Afterwards, I hurried to Zumba with Mia and even though I wasn't feeling very good, the exercises felt good. We left after half and hour and went to Chuck's (the cafeteria), joining the UCIS (Union of Cedarville International Students) people who were still eating dinner, after waiting in line for what seemed like forever (because the scanners were broken and the students who were working had to write down everyone's ID numbers by hand). Tonight was a special Valentine's Dinner so there was steak (it was Chuck's steak, mind you), raspberry chicken, and chicken strips. The cooks had also made green beans, rolls, and baked potatoes. All of the potatoes were gone when we got up to the line, so we waited for a few minutes and then just gave up since one of the student workers told us we'd to have 15 more minutes. I went to get a raspberry smoothie when I finished eating, which was delicious. Unfortunately, they ran out before Mia could get any. The raspberry smoothies were definitely a hit with Cedarville students!

Caleb arrived a few minutes before everyone but Mia and I left, so we stuck around to hang out with him, and ended up staying in Chucks until 8 pm. We chatted about life, our crazy friends, and food. Mia said that it reminded her of old times, like last spring semester, when Caleb, Mia and I would often eat lunch together and talk for hours on end. Those were good times spent with two wonderful friends. Seriously. God has used Mia and Caleb to teach and grow me beyond what I ever expected or imagined. If you read this, I really appreciate you guys!

Dinner ended, Caleb went off to work to clean up the mess that was left in Chucks and Mia and I headed out to do homework. Well, I didn't hardly get any homework done once I set foot in Willetts, (my dorm), but I did spend time on Facebook talking with several friends and won Valentine's Day cookies through a contest put on by Resound Radio's Monday Night Mayhem. Then to top it off, I received an email saying that my honeybun sent me a cinnabun, which I get to pick up tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention that my RA stuck a Valentine's card and a pack of fake tattoos on my door, Bethany sent me chocolates through the mail, and some angels made cupcakes for everyone in my hall? Wow. I feel so blessed and loved.

Thank you, Jesus. You have given me so much, and the best gift of all is your free gift of salvation! I love You and your Word.

How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. -Psalm 119:103

Monday, January 30, 2012

Psalm 15

Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the LORD,
and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest,
and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Testimony

I realized that I've never posted my Christian testimony, and since this is a journal of my life, I decided that it was time to share it with you. So here it is!

 I grew up in Papua New Guinea in a Christian home with Christian missionary parents who taught me about Christ from a very early age. When I was 3 years old, I asked my mom to help me pray the prayer of salvation and I initially accepted Christ, but I chose not to live for him until I was 11, when I committed to follow him.

As a young teenager, I delved into a couple of sins that I shouldn’t have and I struggled long and hard to overcome them. It was only when I cried out to Jesus to help me stop that I finally did because he was helping me. I had to surrender my everything to him, and when I did he set me free.

For the majority of my high school years I attended a weekly Bible study with girls from my class. From that Bible study, I gleaned much about Christ and how to live for him. We studied the book of James, Song of Solomon, and a series of different topics which encouraged me to continue deepening my relationship with Christ. I also went to Sunday School and youth group faithfully to be taught by spiritual leaders in the community.

Throughout my teenage years, I was involved in Christian service in several venues. Beginning in 7th grade, I started serving in the church nursery on a monthly basis, looking after babies and children under the age of 3. I also helped look after young children during mission conferences, which took place every other year. In 11th grade, I went with my youth group to do some painting and cleaning at another Christian camp.

When I was in 9th grade, I went on a spiritual retreat with my high school and the theme of the retreat was, "Making Jesus Lord of your Life". Before then, I had only ever thought of Jesus as my Savior and friend, never as the one in charge of my life, but during that retreat, I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life and my perspective changed. I learned that as a Christian, Christ is the one in authority, who I must  trust and obey.

In 11th grade my family took our year long furlough in the US, and the large number of obese people scared me. I was worried that I would become overweight and I struggled with my self worth so I started eating less and in about 5 months, in November, I had lost 10 lbs. My parents didn't realize how underweight I was until May and then they encouraged me to eat more. It was hard, but I started eating more and slowly over time gained the weight back. I hadn't really grasped that my worth is defined by God, who looks at my heart and loves me for who I am and not what I've done, instead of people, who value others based on appearance. It wasn't until I got to college that I really came to understand where true self worth comes from: God.

My first year at Cedarville University was a year of growing and learning how much Christ loves me. I had never really experienced the love of Christ expressed through good friends, but at Cedarville I made friends who loved and accepted me for who I was in Christ, not for what I looked like or could or couldn't do. In the past, I had had a fear of initiating conversations and a fear of not being accepted, but my college friends helped me overcome that with their overwhelming kindness towards me.

Christ also taught me to surrender everything - family, friends, jobs, etc. - to him. My family was halfway around the world in Papua New Guinea so I had to learn how to live without having daily conversations with them or going to them for quick advice to a question. God brought wonderful people into my life to provide for my needs and challenge me in my walk with Christ.

When I went back for my sophomore year, I continued to have an unnatural fear of initiating conversations and asking people some questions because I was afraid of what their response might be, but  I confessed that to Christ and asked him to take it away, which he did.

This past summer, I was a volunteer at my church for Kid Mo, the summer program in grades 1-4. The kids learned weekly Bible verses, watched a short video with a biblical lesson, and prayed together regularly with us leaders. I grew in leaps and bounds as I had to rely on Christ to help me lead and teach the students more about him and his qualities.

Just this year, I have joined a ministry called God's Girls, which reaches out to inner city girls ages 7-12 in a nearby city. We eat dinner with the girls, teach them a Bible lesson, and play games with them every Friday night. It's been a great experience and I'm so glad I can make a difference in the girls' lives! I'm excited to see what Christ has in store for me in regards to service, especially as I believe that God has called me to overseas missions in the near future.

The past several months I’ve been plagued by doubts as I let homework and other meaningless stuff fill my life instead of focusing on my Savior. I was only reading my Bible for a class and glancing at Scripture verses on Facebook but not taking the time to soak in the words of truth. At the end of the semester, I realized how far I had fallen so I confessed my sin to God and asked him to forgive me. God convicted me with his words in John 15:4, which says, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me." These days I take time to read my Bible, pray, and diligently seek what God has in store for me every day. In 2012, my heart's desire and sole ambition is to remain in Christ and serve him wholeheartedly.