So Good to Me!

God is SO good to me! Over the past semester, He has been faithfully leading me, guiding me into something that I never expected or thought possible. When He first put the thought into my mind, I told Him, “No way!! I don’t want to yet! I’m scared and not ready for what You’re asking me to do.” But my God had other plans, of course.
Looking back at that moment, and looking at myself now as I step forward to obey Him, I see myself looking a lot like many people in Scripture. Moses, for example, said, “LORD, who am I to speak eloquently in front of Pharaoh, the most prominent figure in all of the world as we know it? How can I do Your work?” Or what about Abraham, who obeyed God and took Isaac to sacrifice him? I’m sure so many thoughts were running through his head as they made the treck up to make an altar. Things like: “Really LORD? How can my son be the fulfillment of the promise if You ask me to sacrifice him? How can I possibly obey this? How do I obey You, God?” Or how about Peter in the New Testament: “Jesus, I will NEVER deny You!” and then he does. He doubts he can ever obey again, knowing that he is sinful and bound to fail. BUT Jesus brings him back his calling and reminds him that he can only do it through the power of the Almighty One who called him in the first place.
This is where the LORD brought me to last week and today. He said, “Andrea, I would never ask you to do something if I could not do it through you and in you. You have to trust me. You are always ready when I am with you.”
And so I say, YES LORD. I trust You. I will obey, even if I am scared and afraid, not knowing how to do what You’ve asked of me. In fact, when I bring my worries or anxieties to You, You can turn it into thrilled excitement and passion for what You’ve called me to do. LORD, thank You for Your faithfulness! You are SO good to me!! ❤

Most This AMAZING Day

“i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any – lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)”

– e.e. cummings


I absolutely love this poem — the creativity it inspires in me and the imagery it conjures up in my mind. I referenced it in a conversation with a friend a few days ago and haven’t been able to forget about it since then. Then a different friend posted it on Facebook today! As I’ve been mulling over it the past few days, I’ve thought about writing a choral work with this text. I have many ideas for it and many directions in which I could take it, and I’m sure it would be a difficult task. BUT I am up for the challenge. Should I take it? 🙂

Another reason why I love it, particularly today, is because of this most amazing day in history. There’s a reason why today is called Good Friday. NOT because it was full of smiles and sunshine and lollipops. NOT because it was happy or playful or full of blue skies. No, this day is called Good because of the wonderful, unimaginable, indescribable, sacrificial, anguishing, painful, agonizing, highest LOVE that was shown on this day by the greatest Man, the most perfect, holy, gracious, merciful, just, beautiful, and righteous Man to walk this Earth. This Man was also God — Jesus, Immanuel. On this day over 2000 years ago, though, He was not Immanuel for long. He was no longer with us, that He might accomplish for us what we could never do for ourselves. For 3 torturous days He separated Himself from us and from His Father, that we might never be separate from God again. That’s not the end of the story, though, or I would definitely not find this poem very inspiring. No, our Jesus is ALIVE today, reigning with the Father at this moment! He conquered death so that we might LIVE with Him. How marvelous is our Savior’s love for us who KNOW Him!! 😀

So this is why I love this poem. And why I want to write a beautiful, moving piece of choral music for a great choir to sing, that it might be a blessing to others and bring glory to Abba. ❤ Maybe I’m too ambitious… or maybe I have a Great God Who is within me, Whose creativity can outshine my own in a heartbeat.

First Two Weeks at NWC!

Hola! I’ve been so busy I could hardly think these past two weeks… but I think I’ve finally figured out somewhat how to manage my time well and get all the papers, readings, and assignments done! It has been such a blast getting started with classes, meeting SO many new people, and learning from amazing professors.
I have met many music majors and had some very fun conversations with some of them! I am in Counterpoint this semester. Counterpoint is an upper-level music theory course in which you learn how to analyze and write independent melodic lines that work together to also create vertical progressions. I am in a small class (6 total students) and everyone else knows each other already, but I have known the answers to questions and been able to answer a couple that I knew I had correct. My professor, Dr. Danek, has a crazy memory. He plays in class many excerpts from inventions and fugues while we are learning the concepts and tells us important things to remember about each of them.
I have been able to unofficially tutor a music theory I student already this semester, too! I am going to talk to the Alpha Center about tutoring because it’s a wonderful program: students get tutoring free and the tutors are paid by NWC! COOL deal. 🙂
I am in 3 honors classes: Public Speaking, Old Testament History and Literature, and History of Western Civilization. Speech is fairly straight-forward; Rhetoric with Mr. H prepared me well last year. 🙂 OT will be lots of paper-writing, but I think I will be very satisfied with the results at the end of the semester. West. Civ. will be SO much reading. We have a huge course packet filled with articles, plus 6 additional small books to read this semester. Good thing I’ve read some of these already with Mr. D and Mr. Phillips! It will be much easier to skim and remember rather than learn brand new material. In honors classes professors don’t give tests or quizzes, so we just do big projects and write many papers. I personally think this is pretty nice! It will certainly make finals week MUCH easier.
I have visited 2 different churches so far and will visit another new one this week. I really liked Bethlehem Baptist the first week; I would like to go back and visit again maybe next weekend. I was very convicted by Pastor John Piper’s sermon on the end of 2 Timothy 4. For worship they took hymns and “modernized” them (for lack of a better term). I enjoyed that immensely! Last week I went to Real Life Church. It was their Youth Sunday, so their youth praise team led worship and the youth pastor spoke about impacting youth. It was very interesting listening to a sermon like that from this side of high school; every time that I remember, I was IN middle or high school when hearing sermons like that. It was a strange feeling to realize that I am not one of them any longer and I now have a different role to play in impacting youth. I have the same role to play in college life that I used to in high school, but it looks different. That is something I have been thinking about and praying about a lot this week: what does it look like to impact college students? High schoolers? Middle Schoolers?? Wow… that requires some more thought.
Please be in prayer for a new friend of mine, Wade Weeldryer. I have not talked to him very much, but he is in two of my classes. His mother just died on Thursday evening from battling a very painful cancer. While his family is rejoicing that she is no longer in pain and that she is with her Savior, they are still grieving her loss.
You can also pray for the spiritual life of the students on this campus. I have seen some on FIRE for our LORD, but I have also seen some who need Him so badly…. it breaks my heart to see them searching for fulfillment in the wrong places. I want to be a light here; I don’t know what that looks like or how God might use me, but I trust that He can and He will, if I let Him. And I WANT Him to use me, even if I’m not “popular”…. I’ve never been popular, so no worries there. 🙂 God has given me an urgency for this campus; may He bring this to action here at Northwestern College. Go Eagles! Go Jesus!! 😀 Thank You for LIFE.

NWC, Here I Come! ONE Week Left!!

I only have one week left until I move into my dorm room and start college life. I am SO excited to get there and make new friends, learn lots of music and other stuff, and (most importantly) grow closer to God and learn more about His purpose for me.
I am so enthusiastic to meet my roommates, too! We have bought pretty much everything we’re going to need, though we’ll probably find that we need a few other things too, but we officially get to meet one another a week from today! Lauren and Rachel, I can’t wait to meet you!!
My prayer for this next week, Father, is that You might teach me what You want me to know going into this exciting freshman year. Mold my heart and mind into Your likeness. Shape my motivations, attitude, thought patterns, ALL of me into who You want me to be. Rain Your grace in my life. Whisper Your truth in my heart as I go experience many new things and meet so many new people all at once. Guide me to guard my heart and mind with everything that I have, but at the same time to be open and selfless to showing Your love to others as they need. Thank You for being who You are, God! I am constantly in AWE of all You are and I can’t wait to grow in knowing You and being known by You! May this be a year dedicated to You. I give You this school year, Father. It’s for You! It’s all for You!! ❤
Northwestern, I’m ready!! Boy, am I in for an adventure! 😀

Questions, Questions… “Make College Count” Reflections #3

Question #3: What do you believe? OR What questions of faith do you wrestle with right now?
(I’ll answer the second one. I am pretty well-grounded in the first one, though I am always refining it!)

  • the relationship of anxiety & peace (and what they mean)
  • God’s will –> for me as an individual, not His general will for Humankind. I understand THAT pretty well! 🙂
  • What does loving others look like for each person? (and asking Abba that continually)
  • Hearing Abba when I’m listening –> and I want to always be listening!
  • Continually discovering the LIFE of the gospel
  • What does true Christian community look like?
  • Correct and balanced longings/dreams/desires

Beatitudes: the Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

~Matthew 5:3

Jesus here is encouraging those who are poor, and not just any poor, but the poor in spirit. What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Is it to be lacking the Holy Spirit? Is it to be weak in spirit? Is it to be troubled in spirit?

Poor in spirit — it’s an interesting phrase. It can be confusing to try and understand what this means, but I think separating the two words will help. Poor. Being poor means lacking something. It could mean lacking material things, though I don’t think Jesus meant this. It could also mean being weak, such as if I was a poor soccer player. This may be more what Jesus was after. Thinking about the kinds of people Jesus hung out with and sought, this seems more accurate. Spirit. This one can be more confusing, depending on how you look at it. Spirit usually is related to the heart or the will. This means that it is very connected to volition, or the will to do things. Volition involves both freedom and creativity. Our volition is how we organize our life — around God or not.

Putting these two words together, I see a beautiful picture of what Jesus probably had in mind. He wants those of us who are weak and cannot do it on our own (ALL of us!), those of us who are poor in the area of volition — we don’t do what we want to do and we do what we don’t want to do! — to come to Him. Once we recognize that we ARE indeed poor in spirit (everyone is, but most try to deny that they are), we are blessed, for it is then that we seek His purposes and His kingdom first. That is why Jesus says that the poor in spirit have the kingdom of heaven — because they submit their own will to Christ’s and do His work.

Giving And Taking Away

Tonight while worshipping the Great Creator, we sang Blessed Be the Name of the LORD. This week has been such a blessing from Abba; I have been filled with His peace and stillness in my soul and He has abundantly given me joy to reside with the sorrow in my heart. He has given me joy in the midst of pain, and I am SO grateful. As we sang “You give and take away” I was pondering how true that is. He IS blessed and great and WORTHY to be praised no matter what I’m going through. He is AWEsome no matter what trials and joys I encounter. He gives me great blessings, gifts, talents, and community, but He also takes away those very things. He gives me passions, desires, and dreams, but He also sometimes takes away those opportunities to remind me that He is the One who gave me those dreams, passions, gifts, desires, and the community in the first place! It’s ALL His, and He uses this giving and taking away to remind me that He is in control and that He is doing what is BEST for me. That may not be what I want, but it IS what I need. My prayer tonight is that you and I may trust Abba to know what He’s doing, to have faith that He gives and takes away for His own purposes to make us into the people after His heart that He desires. My prayer is that we all may grow more and more like Him, that we may know Him better and be known by Him better. My prayer is that He may fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts, for it is then that we find joy and fulfillment in whatever circumstances we face. We find purpose in all things — the giving AND the taking away — as part of His perfect plan.

The Passion of Jesus Christ

Last night I watched “The Passion of the Christ”. It was definitely harder to watch this year than it was last year, probably because I KNOW my Savior and my Abba so much more intimately. I was particularly struck by a couple of things:

1) Jesus’ eyes — every time He encountered someone, He looked deeply into their eyes. Those people, in that moment, knew there was something different about Christ. Every person either turned away, refusing to look Him in the eye, or they couldn’t stop looking into His penetrating gaze. The four people who didn’t look away were John, Veronica, Simon, and Mary. These four knew Christ. They maybe didn’t know Him right away, but the power and irresistibility of His look, peering into their very souls, drew them to Him because they found truth and love there. They found their Messiah in Him in those moments. Everyone else, however, looked away because they couldn’t bear to face the truth. They saw the truth, but they couldn’t let themselves believe it or let it penetrate them because if they did, they would see just how horrifying their deeds were, how sinful they were.

So into which category do YOU fall? Are you looking away, refusing to see the truth and believe what is found there? Or are you gazing longingly, full of sorrow and love, into His eyes, finding truth, finding forgiveness, finding the greatest love that anyone could ever give there? It’s your choice — there is no passivity. Both turning away and staying require action. Which will you choose this day, every day?

2) How could they DO that to Him?! He never did anything wrong; the accusations they brought against Him were all false. They were made-up lies! And not only that, but how could they bear to torture someone through all that flogging and mocking… and then put them through the agony of crucifixion? How could they bear to do that to ANYONE, let alone an innocent man? Let alone Christ, God and Man?

My whole being was absolutely appalled at what they did to Him… but then I realized that I also do that to Him. No, I don’t physically whip Him or spit in His face, but the reason that He went through all of that pain was for me — for all of us. He didn’t only go through excruciating physical pain — He went through unbearable emotional and mental pain in the moments leading up to His arrest. He experienced the worst spiritual pain, the worst kind of rejection possible — His Father, God of the Universe, forsaking Him. Abba abandoned Him on that cross — for you and for me. Christ went through all that willingly — for us. He kept getting up again to carry that cross, so broken and exhausted and bleeding, because He knew that He was doing it for us. Not only that, but the guilt and pain of ALL of the WORLD’s sins He carried. That means that He bore the weight of EVERY SINGLE sin I have ever done or thought or said. So really, I did all of that to Him, too. He suffered willingly, but I also participated in handing Him over and killing Him. This realization was so heart-breaking, so moving, that I see SO much more significance for every moment of my life. With my life I have the ability to honor and glorify Him or to add another weight, another sin, to the millions that He bore. I have a choice — for good or for evil. With all that is in me I pray that God might give me the strength to honor my Suffering King by choosing good, by taking up my own cross and following Him, by living every moment obedient to His calling.

Again, there is no room for passivity here. Every action we do, every thought we meditate upon, and every word we say is for good or for evil. Which will you choose? Will you honor your Christ — your King? Or will you continue to participate in crucifying Him? It’s a daily choice, a moment-by-moment choice.

Reflections — Ezekiel 36:26

This afternoon I attended the Crossroads Chorale’s home concert of their choir tour! They made beautiful music while worshipping our Great Creator through each unique and special song. One song in particular, sung by the men of Chorale, touched my heart: “My Savior, Lest Your Mercy Free” (text and music by Brian Dunbar).
Here’s the first stanza:
My Savior, lest Your mercy free
Be trampled under foot by me
Bring to my mind Your wounds, Your pain
Which heal my own, my heart of stone.
This reminded me of a verse in Ezekiel (chapter 36 verse 26, to be exact) where God tells His people, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” This has been a continuous prayer of mine which just took on a deeper meaning over the last few days as I’ve read the book “Revolution of Character” by Dallas Willard. In his book, Willard discusses what the nature of the heart is. He states that the heart is the seat of volition and will (the power to select what we think about) in a human being, the dimension which organizes our life (when rightly, around God). The heart is the source of our self-determination.
Meditating on this verse, I came to realize what this might mean. When God says that He will “give you a tender, responsive heart,” He is saying that He will mold our will and volition to listen to Him and to resemble His own. When we allow Him, He will remove our sinful, fallen will which is often divided, contradictory, and destructive. He will then begin to reform our character to become more like Him. This process involves surrender to His will in thought and intention (decision), abandonment to His will in action (all circumstances), and contentment with His will. This will lead to our participation in accomplishing His will, which is the most fulfilling step! By doing this we can experience peace, joy, and love unlike any we have ever known previously.
Only God can begin this transformation in us. He is the Healer and Perfect Physician, capable of performing even the most complicated heart transplants in the most difficult human being, as long as they allow Him access. The final stanza sums this up beautifully:
My Savior, lest Your mercy free
Be trampled under foot by me
Take my heart, so vile, so poor
And mend it to resemble Yours
This is my fervent prayer tonight, LORD Jesus. ♥

November 11, 2011

I think I’m finally understanding
how this earth actually runs,
or more accurately how You plan and
Hold my life in the light of the Son.
I see Your presence in the world
and feel Your impact in my thoughts.
I stubbornly repeat the truth
so lies cannot take root in my heart.
When I feel low and painfully lonely
I no longer turn to fleshly things,
but only to the Saving One
who comforts me: my Shepherd-King!
Even if I do not feel
His presence constantly here,
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that
Jesus never leaves; I have NO reason to fear!

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