Please click the pictures to visit my other blogs:
Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The organic God.

Recently, I have discovered a danger in religion, that I will settle for a secondhand faith, one that appears to be polished on the outside but artificial.
This next week at camp I am only going to focus on developing an organic relationship with God. Organic in essence meaning natural, pure and essential; stripped of all pollutants and additives of this world. I am desiring to discover God in a healthy, refreshing new way so that I cannot help but fall in love all over again.
There is a fine line between how to be there and really be present and affect the world. In order to affect it and really be there, you have to be immersed in it. It is definitely a balancing act and something that is a challenge for me, how to really be in both worlds at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in this submerging progression. Now I am in the process of trying to figure out how to do both, how to be in the world, but not of the world. I am also, though more diligently, on a personal search for truth. I am taking in and being open to what I am taught, yet I must let doubt confirm my own beliefs.
We know a lot about God, just like we know a lot about Brad Pitt or George W. Bush, without truly knowing Him. There are no short-cuts or substitutes for knowing God ourselves. It is a pursuit that must always begin in the Word.
Through scriptures I have discovered a big-hearted and deeply mysterious God. In Him we find our identity. The Bible is a huge invitation into conformity to Christ. I admit it is usually the heavy-handed "why" questions that bottleneck my faith, but there comes a time when we have to move forward(!!!) with all of our questions, baggage and uncertainties to experience God.
I will never have God in the palm of my hands. There are aspects of God I will never know but, it is someone I can pursue my whole life and never grow exhausted.
I must shed potential familiarity and begin with a simple and purist agenda to know God, organically, through his word.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What is my focus?

God made me for a purpose - to have a relationship with Christ. It is the same purpose for which He has made each of us. Yet, He has also called each one of us. My purpose and my calling are different. I truely believe my calling is to lead others into fulfilling their purpose, by guiding them into a strong and faithful relationship with Christ. Others, the poverty stricken and destitute, into a relationship with hope and purpose.
Right now I am struggling with the idea of running track in college. I had a meeting early this morning with my high school track coach and the IWU track coach to discuss purpose and expectations and what-not. I have already had the priviledge of practicing alongside many IWU track athletes, so I have a good taste of what it may be like. It will be alot of work, alot, but he made it sound good, so good; though I am not yet convinced to participate or not participate.
I do not want this to just be something else I do. It is a huge commitment! We're talking daily practices September through May. Whoa, intense!! It would be a good thing to do. Many days I would enjoy it, many I would hate it. Despite coach's efforts to persuade me into believe this is one of my gifts, I am not yet "brainwashed". I have spiritual gifts and I have talents. I, maybe more than others, feel a strong conviction to use every part of who I am, even those worldly talents, in worship and admiration of God. If I were gifted artistically, my pieces would be used to glorify God, by possibly attaching scripture and theology into each work.
I must decide if I can choose to truly honor God in my running and throwing. Would my team, practices and meets be suitable as encouragers or as discouragers to run the true and final race?
Pray that purpose and my calling are the central focus in my every decision making in the next four years and in the entirety of my life.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who are you going to bless?

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

There is a popular bumper sticker that reads “God Bless America,” but has not America already been blessed? It is so easy for us to fall into a mindset of viewing “our” world as “the” world, because it is all we generally see. We are constantly bombarded with images of the latest styles and models of everything, and it can easily leave us feeling like what we have is not enough because we see people that have even more than us. But how does what we have compare to what most people in the world have? I can tell you that what we have is enough; it is more than enough. God has blessed us with everything we have so we can bless and give to others. God bless America? America bless Niger. America bless Sudan. America bless Haiti. America, bless! God bless America should not mean doom everyone else. Serving is sacrifice. Take a hold of the life that is true life! Step in to your divine responsibility to give and to give abundantly.

Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.

30,000 children die each day due to poverty. They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.

Number of children in the world: 2.2 billion
Number of children in poverty: 1 billion


Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.

1. I feel blessed to have plenty more than enough.
2. I feel blessed to be called to minister to those who have nothing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A self-sacrifice that costs eternity

So there are these verses in the Bible..

Romans 9:2,3; 10:1; 11:13,14
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers... Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved... Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
Paul, the writer of these passages, is willing to be accursed to facilitate the salvation his companions. Paul would give up his position in Heaven, so as to allow his friends into Heaven.
What have I given up to save a lost soul? A weekend? A favorite television show? Lunch with my friends? What would be the kicker, "Oh God, anything but that!" You cannot sacrifice what costs nothing. Be conscientious and continual.

Christianity is not an attachment to our lives, it IS our lives. Would the church grow if Peyton Manning, Lebron James, or Oprah were there? Jesus is there.

Also, for your viewing pleasure:

A video of the Zambian Orphan choir, ministry of World Hope International.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The realization of an opportunity lost

I have finally graduated from high school. On May 26th I accomplished a nearly a thirteen-year goal; of course there were additional academic and various goals in the previous years. I am proud of my accomplishments; proud of my legacy; and proud of what I became, especially in the past four years. Naturally there are things I wish I had done differently.

One particular acquaintance comes to mind; in all probability, one I may never see again. We have had just one clas
s together, and I recall only two or three collective conversations. Sure “Mach” believes in God, but he wants nothing to do with Him. I remember one occasion late this year “Mach” and another underclassman, “Jake”, were debating the true purpose of life. I was so proud of “Jake” in his attempts to convince “Mach”, his superior, that he was doing it all wrong. “Mach” claimed to want nothing more from life than to have fun (women, money, speed, sex, and hangovers). “If I end up in Hell, well... at least I had a good time here; and I know all my sinning friends will be there with me.” I knew if I joined in the discussion “Mach” would have not only NOT listened to me, but perhaps stopped listening to “Jake”. Here I sit with the realization that I may never have another opportunity to witness to “Mach” and to numerous others I know are rootless and moving in the wrong direction. I feel I have lost my chances with those I have “left behind”, but I pray God will send one who will take advantage of the opening that I missed.

Friday, June 01, 2007

As time goes on and things change..

Thursday was the 7 month anniversary of Ryan's death. As expected, it was a difficult day. No one ever anticipates losing a friend; you just always assume they will be there.

Eldine D. Landis. He was the man I always thought would be around. He was like a rock, conquered by nothing and defeated in the end only by tragic accident. But God took a man who was ready to go. He is smiling big now. I loved his smile, his unmistakable laugh. Eldine meant alot to many people, he meant alot to the Lord, and the Lord meant alot to him. I never told him how much he meant to me (you think I would have learned by now), but he always told me how special I was, how proud he is of me. "Jesus loves ya Jewel, I love ya. Stay strong." Now he is watching over me, and I hope that I can still make him proud. I want to be strong for him. He was like my Grandpa. I will miss those big strong arms who always reach so perfectly around me. It is still hard to believe. We share a pew every Sunday. When I go to church and he isn't there, and it's just me and Jessie.. then it will be reality.

Although my loved ones will depart, my Lord will always be beside me and for that I praise His name. My God is amazing. He is miraculous. He is awe-inspiring. He is tremendous. My God is indeed great. I have found him to be my rock and shelter. In Him I find strength, joy, peace. He is always there. He is faithful. My God is my everthing.

Psalm 121 ~ I lift my eyes up to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.