Monday, June 28, 2010

Surrendered In Love

A rough draft excerpt from the book I'm writing,
Falling In Love With Jesus

...For so long, I’ve had a somewhat distorted vision of what “God’s will” really is.
I seemed to have fallen for the idea that it consisted of what I wanted to do,
but fitting in some type of Christianity,
and slapping the label of “God’s will” on it.
Oh sure, I was still making ‘sacrifices’,
(such as letting go of things that were ‘really bad’)

but all in all I was still happy; therefore God must be happy, right?
From my own outlook, I was pleasing the Lord and was ‘in His will’;
but in reality, I was following what my flesh wanted
and missing out on what God really planned for me.
He really brought that home to me when I read the verse in Romans 8…
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Thankfully this is not a hopeless case meaning that
anyone with human bodies has no chance of pleasing God.
It simply holds up to the fact that the spirit and flesh war against each other.
And when we are just doing what our flesh enjoys,
we are continually feeding our flesh, therefore living in the flesh;
and any efforts to try and throw in ‘spiritual things’
here and there
are not pleasing to the Lord.

Perhaps they are ‘for the Lord’ and are very good things,
but we’re ‘doing good’ for Him in our own strength.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…”
Our ‘righteousness’ and ‘good works’ are as filthy rags
when done in our flesh and in our strength.
We’re only laying up wood, hay, & stubble.

So what is God’s will?
Well, I have no idea what His will is for my friend, siblings, or anyone else;
but it is my duty to find out His will for me.

Now as I mentioned above, it’s not about what ‘feels’ right or makes me happy;
but rather what the Lord,
who has allowed me to live on this earth, planned for me.
I came to some interesting realizations while searching for the Lord’s will…
if He truly wanted to,
He could surely take me Home in an instant.
Of course I subconsciously knew this, but somehow I started
consciously knowing this concept
and actually came to grips with it.
In all reality, I surely never deserve the next day He gives me,
so what am I really here for today anyway?
The fact is, He put me here and keeps me here because He has a purpose.
A plan from before I was even born,
and He’s waiting to use me in that perfect way.

How longsuffering He is with us when day after day we refuse
to surrender to His plan and yet He gives us another day!

It was under these realizations that I truly came to know
that I was not my own!
Life isn’t about doing what I want, even if it’s a ‘good thing’.
Maybe I want to be a teacher, but is it what God wants for me?
Perhaps I want to be a doctor and help people that way,
but is it what God made me to be?
Maybe I dream of being a foreign missionary doing the Lord’s work,
but is that the Lord’s work for me?
So many times, we tend to settle for something good, or maybe even really good,
but we don’t bother pushing for God’s best for lives.
Now, I’m in no way saying that the Lord has planned for me to do something
I absolutely hate and
I’ll have to miss out on everything I do like.
He is not a mean God who sits back thinking,
“OK, Ally dislikes this, and that’s what I want her to do
to be a living sacrifice,
or else she doesn’t get my blessings.”
Quite the contrary, actually.
here comes great joy when doing the Lord’s will.
And He has taken care to plant every little thing about me…
He knows my interests, my likes, my desires;
and He wishes to use those things for His own will.

But when I’m in my flesh, I cannot properly balance such things,
and can easily be swayed into doing things off of how it feels to me.
He wishes to help us, to strengthen us with His own strength,
so that we may accomplish what we were created to do.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Paul wasn’t boasting,
“I can do a lot on my own ‘cuz I’m a pretty strong and spiritual man”.
He actually worded quite well the dilemma of every Christian when humbly saying,
“For the good that I would I do not:
but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
He doesn’t end with this hopeless statement, but rather contrasts it:
So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;
but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Indeed, as our Lord put it in the garden of Gethsemane,
“…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Our flesh is very weak indeed, and thus cannot do anything in it
pleasing to the Lord, even if our mind is ‘in the right place’.

So many times we can easily fall into the mindset of
“It’s for the Lord, after all. Anything will do.”

We cannot use such excuses to justify our sin.

Look at King Saul, for instance.
In 1 Samuel 15, Saul was told by the prophet
Samuel that the Lord commanded that the Amalekites were to be completely wiped out.
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy ALL that they have,
and SPARE THEM NOT; But slay both man and woman, infant and suckling,
ox and sheep, camel and ass.” Verse 3 states.
So Saul went and killed off the Amalekites in verse 7.
However, he takes a wrong turn in verse 9,
“But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep,
and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, And the lambs,
and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them;
but everything that was vile and refuse, that they did destroy.”
Now seeing this from where we are, we see this as flat-out disobedience.
But in Saul’s point of view, he really thought He was pleasing the Lord.
After all, He did still do what the Lord told him to do… the Amalekites were dead.
In fact, when Samuel came to him again, he proudly proclaimed,
“I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”
Did he really?
Is that what the Lord wanted?
Seems to me the Lord wasn’t very pleased.
Oh, but he did have a pretty good mindset, for he claimed,
“(I) have… spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen,
to sacrifice to the Lord thy God…”
Saul thought he could do it his own way.
Saul thought it would be good to sacrifice to the Lord.
Saul thought he was in the ‘will of God’.
Saul was ‘doing it for the Lord’.
Saul thought the Lord was pleased.
Because he was placing his own reasoning
and logic before the Lord,
he was doing it in his flesh.
The Lord was not pleased.

Samuel readily rebuked him by saying, “Behold, to obey is better
than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
He was readily punished as well,
“Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD,
he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Now isn’t that like us sometimes?

We use our own thinking, our own logic (our flesh!), and throw in some
commandment of the Lord in the middle
and boast we’re “in the will of God”.
Oh, but we’re doing it “for the Lord”; “I’m happy so He must be happy too.”
Obedience is better than sacrifice.
I can give up everything I want in this world
and do what I think is an ultimate sacrifice,
but if isn’t what God told me to do,
than it’s still disobedience and He is not pleased.
Imagine the wonderful blessings that Saul
could have had
if he had wholly obeyed the Lord.
Imagine the wonderful blessing we may be missing
out on when we’re not in the perfect will of God...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our Long Journey West: TX-CA

... in continuation of my last post...

From Texas to New Mexico:
After traveling through the long state of Texas for 4 days,
we finally got a change of scenery in New Mexico.
We just took the day to drive through, without stopping.
The terrain fascinated me, as it was more of a red dirt rock:

Driving through Roswell was amusing, seeing all the alien things,
including a few alien museums and research centers:

It was in New Mexico that I witnessed my first dirt devils:

They're so cute to watch form, spin around, and dissipate.
I discovered that they are the only tornadoes that I like. Ü

From New Mexico to Arizona:
Arizona was, for the most part, very much like New Mexico.
Very rocky, desert-ish, and plenty of cactus to go around!

On our way to Flagstaff, where we camped,
we drove through the Petrified Forrest and Painted Desert...

It was a lovely drive and very beautiful.
It literally looked like God took a paint brush
and painted the desert!

The next day, we traveled to the Grand Canyon.
On our way there, we passed beautiful mountains:

The Grand Canyon was absolutely amazing!
We all enjoyed standing in front of one of the look-outs...

I enjoyed sitting on the edge and just admiring
God's amazing creation of such a huge wonder...

Dad may have gotten just a little too close, though ;-)

I'd have to say, the Grand Canyon was one
of my favorite parts of the whole trip.
It was such a reminder of what a big and great God I serve!
Another wonderful thing about Arizona, was the beautiful sunsets
they have when going through the mountains...

From Arizona to California:
Finally, after many days of traveling,
we arrived in our new home state!!
I found it interesting looking at the border of Mexico.
(when I lived in MI, I was only about 15 mins from Canada,
now it's funny being about that far from Mexico!)

I was just so fascinated with the desert we passed through!
I felt like I was in Saudi Arabia or something!
It was gorgeous...

After going through 2 border patrol stops,
we arrived at Devil's Canyon...

It was a rather creepy feeling having to drive
through the huge piles of rocks...

After driving for a while, we arrived at our campsite,
where we stayed for 3 weeks waiting to move into our new home.
We also had fun looking around our new hometown =)
(I'm just loving the big city!)

The campsite we stayed at was a very
nice place with lots of nature to explore.
One time I took my dog on a walk, she jumped
into the river chasing after the ducks!!

After being wet then rolling in dirt, she was terribly muddy!!

I was so pleased to be able to get very close to
the ducks and get good pictures of them...

The Lord blessed us with a new home very quickly,
in which we are now settled in (save a few more boxes Ü).

I must admit, when it was first mentioned to me that I was
going to be crammed into a small camper with my whole family
for over a month, I wasn't too excited about not having "my space".
But I have to say, that during our long time of camping and traveling,
we built great memories together of grill-outs, walks, family games,
kayaking, special talks, and just hanging out & growing closer.
I wouldn't trade anything in the world for all that time we shared!
As glad as I am to be back in a house,
with my own room and personal space,
I must say that a part of me misses that closeness we
all shared by living in that 29 foot camper.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for giving us all a wonderful experience
I know that we will treasure the rest of our lives.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our Long Journey West: NC-TX

After over 40 days of traveling, we have finally arrived
at our new home in California!
We are all praising the LORD for a safe, fun, & productive journey.
We made a lot of stops and visits along the way,
so I'm trying to shorten the details and choose from over 1,000 pics!
There's still a lot to post about, so I'll divide it up into 2 posts.

From North Carolina to Georgia-

We stopped in Georgia to visit our uncle,
as well as some old friends we knew since we lived in SC.
(sorry, we actually didn't really take any pics here!)

From Georgia to Alabama-

We stopped in Alabama to visit our grandparents on my dad's side.
We also enjoyed stopping at a natural Artesian well to fill our water bottles!

From Alabama to Arkansas-

We stopped in Arkansas for 2 weeks to visit our grandparents on my Mom's side.
We had a wonderful time spending time together;
including fishing, bonfires, having more relatives over for supper,
chatting an afternoon away on the swing, swimming,
and attending a Mother-daughter banquet with Gramma for Mother's Day...

I learned that in the country, it's very quiet and peaceful,

and the days seem to go by slower.
I was able to enjoy my quiet time with the Lord outside
in the crisp, cool air of the morning.
It is, as my papa calls it, "God's country" Ü.
I miss everyone there so much already.

From Arkansas to Texas-

Texas was the farthest west we had ever been...

Our first stop (after camping), we went to a Creation Evidence Museum.
I found really interesting that there was a
human footprint inside of a dinosaur footprint!

I was also fascinated to see ancient biblical scrolls...

It was great blessing to see museum ancient artifacts
with a creationist point of view, instead of having to
ignore the "billions of years" statements. lol

After that, we went over to the Dinosaur World.
There was a "dino walk" where lots of life-sized
were on the side of the path!

I sure wouldn't want to be attacked by one of these in real life! ;-)

We also went to a Wildlife preserve with lots of foreign animals.
It was a 3 hour safari drive, and we were able to feed and pet
the animals that were roaming around freely.

The giraffes were so cute sticking their heads down in our sunroof =)

The next day, we traveled to San Antonio to see the Alamo...

I thought it interesting that a historic building was
in the middle of a really big city. Ü
I really enjoyed walking through the big city of San Antonio.
And Dad blessed us with a yummy treat of ice cream on the way back:

On our way out of Texas, we ran right into a path of 2 tornadoes.

We were headed straight for them without knowing it,
but Dad had some instinct to pull-over into a certain RV camp.
We thank God that He put the idea into Dad!
We prayed for a while, and I read Psalm 91 aloud, a passage the LORD
has led me to in the past during frightening situations.
And the Lord really kept His hand of protection

over us and allowed the tornadoes to go around us and dissipate.
We stood in awe as we watched Him literally "roll" the storm clouds away
with heavy winds that we could see blowing the clouds the other way!!
We were very thankful He allowed us to get out of Texas safely!

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under that shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in Him will I trust... For He shall give His angels
charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways..."
Psalms 91:1,2,&11

To Be Continued...


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