Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Faith is...the evidence of things not seen.
True faith drops its letter in the post office box, and lets it go. Distrust holds on to a corner of it, and wonders why the answer never comes. I have letters in my desk that have been written for weeks, but because of some slight uncertainty about the address or the contents, they are yet unmailed. They have not done me or anyone else any good, and they won’t -- until I let them go from my hands and trust them to the postman and the mail.
This is also the way with true faith. It hands its case over to God, and then He works. Psalm 37:5…'Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He worketh.'
But He only works when we fully commit.
Dr. Payson once said, "I have made this one test of my prayers: if after committing anything to God, I can like Hannah, come away and have my mind no longer sad, my heart no longer pained or anxious, I look upon it as proof that I have prayed in faith. But, if after praying I am still heavy with my burden, I conclude that faith was not in exercise."
Lord, how I desire this kind of faith…one that casts my cares and burdens upon You and then fully lets them go. Forgive me for the times I’ve held onto them in distrust. Help me to make no effort to reclaim that which I’ve given over to You, interfere in Your workings, or anguish over Your ways and means. Instead, may I fully and completely trust in Your Sovereign will and timetable, and may my faith in You be strengthened and evidenced in the waiting… In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The process begins several months before “play week,” when a particular play is chosen. The school holds try-outs and casts the parts. Scripts are sent from the Academy and students begin memorizing their lines and rehearsing. On the Sunday evening preceding the performance, the Academy of Arts team arrives on the scene with props, stage sets, costumes, make-up, theatrical lighting, professional sound system (and anything else you’d need for a top notch performance).
“Play Week” begins first thing Monday morning. For that one week, regular classes are suspended and the intensive work begins -- all day, each day, with a full dress rehearsal on Thursday evening. This culminates into a performance on Friday night and sometimes Saturday as well. Students are taught and utilized in every aspect of putting on the performance. Some of course, have parts in the play while others work to create or update props, work with costumes, lighting, makeup, etc.
This may sound like an easy week, but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, what often happens is a mini revival breaks out! That’s because the Academy is about so much more than putting on a play, or even putting on a Christian play. By the time they arrive, they have put an immense amount of planning, preparation and most importantly, prayer into each week-long seminar. They want to fully equip the kids who will play the parts, so that God will speak through them (and to them) in the process. Interwoven into all the preparations for the play are intensive devotional messages each day that impact and challenge the kids greatly. I can tell you firsthand The Academy has had a profound impact on the life of my son, and countless other students we know.
As they travel throughout the school year conducting seminars in various schools, they are also looking for potential summer drama team members. Interestingly, they aren’t seeking the “most talented” performers. Instead, they look for students who are standouts among their peers because of their faith, those with humble hearts and who love to serve. Out of thousands of kids they see throughout the year, only 40 are selected for their summer drama teams. These students give up their own summer plans to travel on a team and minister through drama.
They report to South Carolina the first week of June, and spend two intensive weeks in “training camp,” learning and rehearsing their play, building their sets, etc. Then, the tours begin. Three teams (Midwest, Eastern and Southern) then depart for their respective tours where they remain until the second week of August, when all the teams return. The teams (ranging in size from 10-15 members) spend every day together, traveling and performing, from one city to the next, all summer long. It is a humbling, challenging, faith-strengthening, character-building, yet completely amazing experience. I know this because my son has had the privilege of traveling with them three different summers. By the end of each tour, the teams have become a family, and leaving to return home is always very hard. The experience of traveling on summer drama teams -- ministering, helping to bring people to Christ, staying in host homes and experiencing the Lord’s protection and provision for their needs is life-changing. The relationships my son has with his former teammates run so deep, he cherishes any opportunity to get together with them, when they are ministering in the area, or even just traveling through in remotely close proximity.
It is for this reason it’s such a joy to host these kids when they’re in town, like a couple of weeks back when they were here conducting a seminar for my son’s former high school. As my son has adopted them as siblings, so too my husband and I have adopted them as our kids. They, and the Academy of Arts hold an enormous place in our hearts, and today I want to offer special thanks and praise to the Lord for them.
To see other Thankful Thursday posts, join us at Sting my Heart.
May this Thursday find you thankful…
P.S. If you’re interested in talking with the Academy about working with your school or home school group, or if your church would be interested in hosting a summer drama team performance, please see the website for contact information.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart,
In the company of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the LORD;
They are studied by all who delight in them.
Splendid and majestic is His work,
And His righteousness endures forever.
~Psalms 111:1-3 (NASB)
join us at 160 Acre Woods!
Monday, April 21, 2008
and all we are the work of Your hand.
~ Isaiah 64:8
Have you ever watched a potter work? He takes a dense mass of clay and first pounds and shapes it into a ball. He then places it firmly in the center of the potter’s wheel and begins the slow process of shaping. Initially, the clay is quite rigid and unyielding, so he continuously uses water to keep it workable. The potter’s job requires much patience. As the wheel spins, he continuously changes the position of his hands and fingers as he shapes the clay into what he wants it to be. More pressure here, a more delicate touch there, literally even squeezing in some places. He might even change the speed at which the wheel is turning. Once the clay takes on its initial shape, he begins using tools that trim away excess and further refine it into the desired form. By now, the piece looks finished, but must be placed in the kiln and subjected to intense heat before it is fully strengthened and usable to its fullest potential.
I’ve been thinking about our message yesterday which brought this question…
“How are you responding to God’s attempts to mold and shape your life?"
Have you first offered yourself to Him for use?
Are you allowing Him to pound, press, apply pressure and even squeeze where needed?
Are you soaking in the water of his Word in order that you might remain workable?
Have you given Him the ability to trim away those excess things in your life keeping you from a closer walk with Him?
Are you willing to be subjected to intense heat so that in the end you’ll be fully strengthened and more perfected?
Are you resisting being used at all?
Are you fighting his attempts to pound, press, apply pressure and even squeeze where needed?
Have you neglected soaking in the water from God’s Word and in doing so, become resistant, rigid and unyielding to change?
Are you trying to avoid (or asking God to take away) painful situations, rather than endure the work of His refining tools?
Do you give up in the midst of intense heat, before ever realizing the full strength you could gain in Him through the process?
In the end, I don't want to be a vessel whose shape bears no resemblance to the Potter's design; one that represents defiance and resistance to His workings. Instead, I want my final shape to be that which He lovingly intended and purposefully created because I surrendered to His hands. More than anything...I want to be a creation He can look upon with great joy.
Lord, I want to be used by you. Help me to allow you full access to every part of me. Do what is needed to shape me into who you want me to be. Help me stay saturated in your Word so that my heart is tender and workable. Take away those things that keep me from a closer walk with you. When I find myself in the midst of extreme discomfort, Lord remind me those trials are from you, specifically designed for me, that I may become fully strengthened and perfected in you. May it be so Lord Jesus…
I invite you to take a moment to listen to this beautiful prayer offered by Darlene Zschech & Hillsong.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Instead, today, I want to express thanks for my son. He has been blessed with the gift of expression his entire life -- in drama, in music and through his writing. It was around middle school that he began writing poetry and song lyrics. In the last couple of years, his writing has increased in frequency and taken various forms...thoughts, observations, poetry, screenplays and various ponderings, often raw and with stunning depth.
I'm quite a simple person. My "deep thoughts" aren't too incredibly deep, which is why I'm so blessed by the gift of my son's perspective. God continuously challenges me through his life, his observations and his passionate example.
He told me last night he started a blog called Paradox Ponderings. In his first post, he reflects on an awakening God gave him last year (January '07) at the Passion conference in Atlanta through a message by John Piper. He was half-way through his senior year at the time, just a couple of weeks shy of his 18th birthday. This was one of several encounters with God he was privileged to take part in that week. I remember when he came home, he could not stop talking about all he had learned and experienced. I was overwhelmed with praise and gratitude. Having seen (since then) the ways God continues to fuel, and shape and mold my son gives my heart reason to rejoice and thank Him all over again today. If time permits, please check out his blog. (Thanks!)
To see other Thankful Thursday posts, join us at Sting my Heart.
May this Thursday find you Thankful...
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
join us at 160 Acre Woods!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Haven’t we all had things we wanted (sometimes for a long time), but the cost was too high? We eventually let it go and move on, only to find it later, on sale, or through any manner of circumstances, maybe even falling into our lap…free?
A friend of mine recently asked me…"Hey, do you do much baking?" I told her, "At this time of year…not too much…why?" "Just wondering," she said "I have a Kitchen Aid mixer that I received as a gift a while back and I’ve never used it. It’s just taking up space and I’d love to find someone who might want it." I felt my stomach do a little flip. I said, "How much are you asking for it?" She said, "Nothing, it was a gift." I said, "Are you kidding me? Why not sell it?" She wouldn’t hear of it. I continued, "You could list it on e-bay…put it in a yard sale…sell it in the classifieds. Do you know how much that’s worth!?" She was well aware of its worth, but because it hadn’t cost her anything, she refused to sell it. Instead, she wanted to give it, and she was asking me! When I told her I didn’t feel comfortable accepting something so costly, she just laughed and said "Oh c’mon…don’t be silly! I’d love for you to have it." We hadn’t talked about it for a few days but sure enough, this afternoon our doorbell rang, and there she stood with that beautiful, nearly new, sparkling white Kitchen Aid mixer. As soon as she placed it in my arms, she was quickly on her way (no doubt in an effort to escape before I tried to pay her something for it). Unbelievable.
This isn’t the first time God has provided something I’ve long desired. He’s provided many, both great and small, and I never fail to marvel at the means by which he does it. It could be for this reason that I so enjoy giving gifts to others, even moreso when I know it’s something they really want. What a privilege God often gives us to be the bearers of His blessings! The joy I feel when God fulfills a secret longing of my heart, reminds me of the very personal nature of His love. And that never ceases to amaze me.
Now, when I use that mixer, instead of feeling guilty or indulgent for buying or asking for it, I’ll smile and think of Him and how He’s blessed me once again -- this time through the kindness of a friend. And like so many other "gifts" He’s provided to me, I’ll know…it was worth the wait.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. ~ James 1:17 (NASB)
Friday, April 11, 2008
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
For thousands of years, men have tried to understand the rules when dealing with women. Finally, this merit/demerit guide will help them understand just how it works. Remember, in the world of women, one single rule applies: Make the Woman Happy. Do something she likes, and you get points. Do something she dislikes and points are subtracted. It's important to note: You don't get any points for doing something she expects. Sorry, that's the way the game is played. Here is a guide to the points system:
You make the bed (+1)
You make the bed, but forget to add the decorative pillows (-1)
You throw the bedspread over rumpled sheets (-2)
You leave the toilet seat up (-5)
You replace the toilet paper roll when it is empty (0)
When the toilet paper roll is barren, you resort to Kleenex (-1)
When the Kleenex runs out you use the next bathroom (-2)
You go out to buy her extra light panty liners with wings (+5)
in the snow (+8)
but return with something else like snack food (-5)
and no liners (-25)
You check out a suspicious noise at night (+2)
You check out a suspicious noise and it is nothing (0)
You check out a suspicious noise and it is something (+5)
You pummel it with a six iron (+10)
It's the family pet (-40)
You remember her birthday (0)
You buy a card and flowers (0)
You take her out to dinner (0)
You take her out to dinner and it's not a sports bar (+1)
You take her out to dinner and it is a sports bar (-2)
And it's "all-you-can-eat wings" night (-3)
And your face is painted the colors of your favorite team (-10)
A NIGHT OUT WITH HER
You take her to a movie (+2)
You take her to a movie she likes (+4)
You take her to a movie you hate (+6)
You take her to a movie you like (-2)
It's called Death Cop III (-3)
Which features Cyborgs that eat humans (-9)
You lied and said it was a foreign film about orphans (-15)
When she wants to talk about a problem:
You listen, displaying a concerned expression (0)
You listen, for over 30 minutes (+5)
You relate to her problem and share a similar experience (+50)
Your mind wanders to sports and you suddenly hear
her saying "well, what do you think I should do?" (-100)
You have fallen asleep (-200)
IT'S THAT TIME OF THE MONTH
You talk (-100)
You don't talk (-150)
You spend time with her (-200)
You don't spend time with her (-500)
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
This is my first time participating in Thankful Thursday. What a great idea! This week, I have much to be thankful for…
♥ My precious hubby, Tom. In the ebb and flow of many years of marriage, we’re in an especially sweet season right now (despite many potential stress-factors) and I’m loving every moment of it. Thank you, Lord for the countless ways Tom shows his love for me. I'm incredibly blessed.
♥ God presented two huge opportunities for my son to share his faith this week on his college campus and praise God, he jumped at the chance! On Monday, after a lecture, he stayed after class to talk to his Biology professor about his faith. Yesterday, there was a large Pro-Life rally taking place. Not far from there, he noticed a small Pro-Choice display. He approached the person working there. He engaged in a conversation and was able to share and debate in a very kind, respectful way. Our prayer is that he gave that person some new insights to consider. Thank you Lord, for presenting these opportunities to my son, and for his courage and obedience to your promptings. (I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
~3 John 1:4)
♥ This week, we’re hosting three great guys in our home. They are serving nearby with the Academy of Arts, a ministry we love. Our son has taken summer-long mission trips with two of the three guys, and he loves them like brothers. We think the world of all of them and absolutely love having them here. Thank you Lord, for letting me experience “big family life” this week, and for seeing the joy their presence brings to my son.
♥ The inspiring beauty of Spring…everything is blooming! Thank you Lord, for this amazing season of renewal.
♥ Today is the last day of a very challenging project I've been on since late February (Can you hear that Hallelujah chorus in the background??) Thank you Lord, for humbling and strengthening me through this process.
♥ The safe return of a friend’s daughter from her deployment in Iraq. Thank you Lord, for your protection of this Mommy, daughter, sister & friend.
♥ For new friends I’m making in Blogworld! Thank you Lord, for the encouraging words and lessons learned through “sisters” I’ve never met face-to-face.
The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy…~ Psalm 126:3
May this Thursday find you blessed...