Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No Greater Love

Tonight at worship night we were singing the song that goes “You have won my heart…” and one of the singers pointed out that often we focus on “have we given God our hearts, etc. etc.”, but do we ask “has God won my heart?”

I think of all the things guys do (can do) that would/do sweep me off my feet, win my heart, or at least make me notice them.  The little gifts they make for us, the time they spend doing something special with or for us.  Not even big things and us girls fall like crazy for them.   

All this time there’s someone else competing - striving, working so hard!, to try and win our hearts – God.

He took me to 70 feet (21m) under the sea and with a sweep of his arm said, “I created all this beauty that not many see… all of this! - for my own great pleasure, and for you to enjoy.”  Then he took me up to the top of the mountain where the air was fresh and the breeze blew my hair; I laughed and sang and ran, and nearly burst from the shear richness of LIFE!  (Who made it rich?  Who gave it to me in the first place?)  Then we looked down over the city below.  “Do you enjoy this world I made for you to live in?  I made if for you.” All for me!  Just me and him!  Because I’m special to him!  And when I was out to sea where you can see no land no matter how far you look, he declared his undying love; “as wide as the ocean stretches, you can never be separated from my love!”  He has stuck with me through thick and thin, good days and bad, a strong support to lean on when I’m hurting, someone to gently guide me through pain. He is a prince – not prince charming, but Prince of Peace – riding on a white horse with a castle in the sky and a kingdom that will last forever.     

So much God has done, so much he has given us, is it not enough?  Yet we brush it aside as if it were nothing, and turn around and allow ourselves to be swept off our feet by pathetically little.  Heart breaking, He’s crying out, “Have I won your heart?!”

When my face falls because somehow yet I am unsatisfied, he says, as with every other time I have offended him in our relationship, “It does not matter.  So far as the east is from the west, so much have I forgiven you.”

Near exasperation He shakes his head.  “What more can I do?  How can I show you--?  My love for you is so great…” and we walked together up the hill.  “I love you this much,” he said, and stretched out his arms... and gave up his life for me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Deckie 'Thought of the Day'

It's all too easy to look around at how others are living and compared to them... we're doing o.k.  We're not the best kids in class, the idolized examples - teacher's pets, but we're not the worst either - the ones always testing their limits and getting into trouble.  Just somewhere in between.  It's comfortable here in the middle.  People aren't watching you, pointing and saying, "See?  Be more like her" or watching waiting to catch you in your next defiant act as "the bad boy."  People don't really notice you.  You can blend in.  Go with the flow...  Everyone is five (or 10 or 15) minutes late; it's just ship culture.  So I'll be five minutes late too!

Bummer I read this verse:

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.
1 Tim. 4:12

"SET AN EXAMPLE???!"  But that means I have to stand out!  That means I have to stand up, and live to this higher standard-!  Let's look at the five aspects we're to set an example in.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Eph. 4:29

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:9, 11-12

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
2 Tim. 3:12

He didn't say it would be easy.

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
2 Tim. 2:22-24

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive, as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Eph. 5:1-2

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16

Dictionary definition of holy:  Holy: morally or spiritually excellent

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or course joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Eph. 5:3-4

Look at the words I've put in bold; 'any'... 'only'... 'SUCH good lives'... 'not even a hint'.  Doesn't leave much room for a grey area.

Finally, brothers we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.  Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.  The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.  
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thess. 4:1, 3-8

God has called us to live to a higher standard than the world.  Everyone is five minutes late.  Make it, everyone is five minute late, except one - YOU.  Dare to be different.  Dare to model the life that most of us truly desire to have.  Be five minutes early.  Don't be satisfied with a life that's just ok... there is NO LIMIT to the high standard we can strive for.

Go ahead!  Sit in the front!  Don't wear that right-on-the-edge low cut top.  Walk out on that movie.  God has given us the power in his Holy Spirit; why settle for less?!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

DAY 3 (final day) - Home for Christmas

AMAZING day!!!  Today it was overcast, so not so blisteringly hot-like-you're-in-an-oven, which was beautiful.  It even rained once or twice!

Lots more shoveling, lots more sand.  I even got to do the wheelbarrow on the precarious wooden plank ramps!

But my special story of the day is about a little boy.  I say little because he was extremely small for his age and very skinny.  Dark skinned, looking Indian/African origin... you can never quite tell the mix - that's Guyana.  As well as I could understand, his name was Paw-Paw and he said he was eleven years old.  He was watching us at the building site with no shoes and no shirt; all alone from wherever he had come from.  He said his house was "just over there" and pointed in a very vague direction.  When it started to rain, he scurried under the nearest house on stilts for shelter.  I think God made that rain just for me because then I had an extra 10 min. break to go and sit with him and share some of my lunch (well before lunchtime) - a tactful way of making sure he got something to eat today.  I wonder if he gets even one good meal a day...  The rain stopped and I went back to work and he soon started down the now-muddy dirt road.  The wide sky above was the only other one who saw the empty, open space, a few shanties on stilts dotting the grassy overgrown landscape and one lone boy walking away; no shirt, no shoes and a smile.  He looked back and waved.   

We finished early, at noon, because the Habitat guys wanted to take us around to see a bit of the city.  We drove through the squatters' "houses" made of corrugated steel, tarps, wood scraps, and whatever else was at hand at the time.  They were packed together so tightly... our driver and guides were discussing whether the whole area would flood again this year...  We saw the statue dedicated to the slaves, another mark of their pain and the long road it's taken to get to the place of having a free nation.  And finally we went to "the end of Guyana," the Atlantic ocean (as if we'd never seen the Atlantic before - only 14 days crossing it! :P) and watched as the tide came in. 

So that was my my first Help Challenge Team.

...Dear Mommy, I might not be home for Christmas, but I helped build a house so that someone else will HAVE a home for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009



Today we worked to fill the foundation in with sand to ready it for the poured cement floor.  373 wheelbarrows full to be exact, the boys counted!   

Personally, I struggled this morning to see the purpose in what I was doing, since I worked all day "landscaping" while others worked on the sand.  Smoothing out piles of dirt by hand which could have been done by machine so quickly and effortlessly without really seeing the need to do it in the first place...  *mental reminder: This is the third world - manual labour!!!*  The part that frustrated me was we didn't even have the proper tools to do it by hand.  I certainly understand the curse on the ground of painful toil and the sweat of our brow! :P  (But the day did get better!)

One neat thing today was we got to meet the new owners of the house, an elderly couple (he's deaf) and their son will be living with them as well.

We had a lot of fun today as a team.  Just please don't mention sand!

The pictures aren't uploading because the internet isn't a fast enough connection for them tonight.  Sorry! :(

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

DAY 1!

We piled into a van in the sweltering heat; no seat belts, windows open, dust blowing in, bouncing around down the dirt roads to the build site.  Expectant.  Hopeful.

We built the foundation.  It was my first time to lay blocks and try to mimic how the professional bricklayers I intriguingly watched when I was a child used their trowel so effortlessly.  I learned the difference between cement and concrete - would have thought I would have known that before!  Learned in the best way possible for a kinesthetic learner; mixing it by hand!  The sun was pretty scorching, but I did my best not to get burned (i.e. I took a LOT of teasing for my long sleeves!).

The contractor as well as the Habitat for Humanity overseer are Christians, but the other workers are not.

All in all it was a good day, though a bit tiring from the sun, but of course I still had enough energy to swing dance tonight! :)

There will be pictures soon!