Saturday, May 29, 2010

Clouds on the Horizon: Plans to Prosper

Seemingly everyone knows what is perhaps the most famous passage from the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 29:11 says, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " Whenever a group of people is sharing what God is doing in their lives, there is undoubtably one whom this verse is speaking to in deep and profound ways.

This is a verse that has deep power and truth seeping off the page. The Lord's voice rumbles with strength and authority as He proclaims His intents for the people who would worship Him. However, there is an additional layer of meaning that gets left out the majority of the time this verse is referenced.

It bothers me when people consider this verse (and others) out of context. Yes, this verse is still powerful and meaningful separated from the surrounding chapter. But have you ever wondered WHY God needed to reassure His people with such a promise? What were they going through or facing that required such a strong promise from the Lord of Hosts?

While there is much too much context to even begin to properly identify in a few hundred words or so, one only needs to read the previous verse to begin to gain insight on this verse. Jeremiah 29:10 says, "This is what the Lord says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place."' " 

Immediately prior to promising that none of his plans are for their harm, God reveals that the people carried from Jerusalem in exile to Babylon will spend SEVENTY YEARS in CAPTIVITY. Think about that for a second. Seventy. YEARS. Most of the people that Jeremiah is speaking/writing to will be dead before God's deliverance is seen and His promise is fulfilled. Yet this is what God says is going to prosper the inhabitants of Jerusalem and not harm them. Verse 11 becomes then a reassurance that what seems hopeless is actually all part of God's plan.

It is easy to listen to the voices that say everything will be easy, simple, and ok-however, these voices are not always voices from God. In this chapter and others, Jeremiah is having to confront false prophets who are saying that God will immediately rescue the people of Jerusalem and not allow Babylon to take or keep them captive. Their false prophecies do nothing to change the fact that God is using Babylon as his instrument to teach His people a lesson they would not have learned otherwise and punish them in one fell swoop.

Can you call all of God's plans for you plans to prosper you and not to harm you? If God takes you through years of captivity, will this promise be enough to carry you through the darkest times? I know that for my part, God's honesty that there will be difficult times is just as comforting as his promises for good times. 

He knows that it will be tough, difficult, and hard to bear. But He will be there through it with us. There is a Hope. There is a Future for us. He gives Himself freely to us. All we need to do is accept and walk alongside Him.


(and for those of you wondering, NO, this is NOT my theme verse for the year. just something I've been pondering as I read through Jeremiah!) 

Posted via web from askillfulsong's posterous

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Summer Sends Its Love

Summer is finally here! Sorry I've been a bit remiss in updating the blog-I've had a few small things like graduating from college keeping my attention for the past few weeks ;).

But I'm back and have several entries that I have in the can-I've known what I've wanted to write and share with you all but just haven't had the time. So those will start to show up in the next few days. For now though, a preview of my summer starting today.

Week 1: home with the family. EDGE Summit Homework, Memorial Day weekend, Disneyland, catching up with friends, setting up some preliminary appointments for funding.

Week 2: NorCal camping with some Long Beach Navs! Basically the closest thing I'll have to a vacation this summer.

Weeks 3-4: EDGE Summit in Colorado Springs. Funding School and all that jazz.

Weeks 5-11: Fundraising, Fundraising, Fundraising. Diving headfirst into the labor that God has for me. Throw in my birthday and a few other things too.

That all leads up to August 15th: the day I go back to Long Beach. Miscellaneous things for the summer include finding somewhere to live in Long Beach next year and a list of personal goals about two dozen items long that I won't get into other than to say that I've got a lot on my plate.

I'm excited for this summer! The seasons of my life are changing and I'm eager to follow God into this next phase of my life. He's already given me a theme for this next year (!!) to follow up on the theme of hoping and waiting that pervaded and defined this past year. This new theme is something that I'll share in the future, but suffice to say that I'm already embracing it and soaking up the goodness and sweetness of knowing that God is for me and with me-nothing can stand against me!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Last Blast *Kaboom*

(photo credit: Ernest Lam)

Thank you, Long Beach Navs, for an amazing past two years as a student, friend, and brother involved in all your guys' lives! Thinking about the past two years makes me so excited for next year it's ridiculous! It's gonna be legen...wait for it....(and I hope you're not allergic because the next word is...)

DARY! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010


There's nothing quite like standing shoulder to shoulder with other men of God, engaging in battle with powers and authorities in Christ's name and on others' behalf, and emerging from battle victorious. I am blessed to have amazing men to stand together and call my brethren with and an awesome God to serve!

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places...With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints..."
-Ephesians 6:12, 18

"but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
-1 Corinthians 12:57

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Heading towards the EDGE

I've known since June 6, 2009 that God was calling me to do EDGE with the Navigators, inviting me to pursue Him out of the comfortable and into the unknown and trust him with everything. There's been a HUGE freedom in that knowledge and being able to rest securely in the knowledge that the path before me is laid out. In a lot of ways, that's been one of the major themes of these past two years: God knows where I'm going, so it's ok if I don't as long as I know HIM. He is worthy of my trust and has known before I was even conceived what I would be doing with my life.

However, knowing that I'm supposed to pursue doing EDGE does not equate to knowing everything about next year. There are still a million things that I just don't know the answer to, not even counting the ten million things that aren't even on my radar yet! Among those things that I didn't know was what campus I'd be serving at.

Another major theme for this season of my life has been waiting and hoping in God. Here, just as in other areas, God asked me to be content with not knowing. From a comment that my interviewer made I figured I'd find out where I'd be placed somewhere between mid-March to mid-April. March came and left. April came as well, and was well on its way to leaving and being replaced by May. Still no word.

Finally, during the last week of April that uncertainty changed: for about two weeks now I've known what campus I'll be serving at next year. I've told those of you who asked me directly about it what I know, but I haven't gone around shouting it to you whether you want to know or not :).
I feel that it's been long enough for me to process a bit about the decision to share it.

Next year I'll be on staff with the Navigators here at CSULB! I'm not ignorant of the fact that there are definitely pros and cons to being at ANY school, Long Beach included, but I can't help be anything but excited :). The best part is that it definitely fits into something I distinctly felt God tell me almost four years ago (which will either be in the next blog post or something that I share at Navnite on Tuesday...not sure which yet).

I'm excited for what God has planned for both me and those around me next year. As this season of my life comes to a close, the growth and fruitfulness that I see as I look back makes me just that much more excited about where He's taking me. My prayer for next year echoes Daniel's prayer just after God revealed the interpretation of the king's dream to him:

"Daniel said, 'Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
or wisdom and power belong to him.
It is he that changes the times and the epochs;
He removes and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men,
And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is he who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.
To You, O thou God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
For You have given me wisdom and power;
Even You have made known unto us the king's matter.' "
~Daniel 2:20-23

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Attributing It to the Wrong Source

Tonight at church Johnny Hughes, who was teaching, said something that I'd never considered before. The series that they're in right now at ROCKHARBOR is called "God is..." and the point is to re-examine what our conceptions about God are. The first week the message was "God is With Us," the second it was "God is Good."

This week it was "God is Angry." Wait, wha???

It was good to hear a message that so strongly emphasized God's wrath and its intrinsic ties to His love in the midst of our culture that so emphasizes a God of love, a buddy-buddy Jesus and a Father we treat more like "Pops" than "Dad." Now these things still reflect truth-God IS love, Jesus IS our friend, and we have an intimate relationship with the Father. However, it's all too easy to forget about God's wrath.

What struck me the most was Johnny's thoughts on God's attributes. He was in the middle of defining what God's wrath is NOT to better illustrate what it actually is. Some of his points included God's wrath is not like human wrath, not trivial or petty, not inconsistent, and not easily provoked. Each had excellent corresponding points, but the one that stuck out to me was one dealing with God's nature.

God's wrath is NOT an attribute of God, but rather a response. God's wrath is a behavior of his and not a part of his nature. It's in his nature to be wrathful, but not wrath itself. It's the difference between God being loving and God being LOVE. If God is just loving, He can choose to not love-it's a behavior. But if God is LOVE, well He can't choose to do anything but be that love, can He?

I know it might seem like a small difference, but it makes a WORLD of difference! God's wrath comes from the fact that He is Love and loves us so much that He cannot bear to see us defiled, unholy, and corrupted. His desire to destroy evil and save people, (i.e. his wrath) is the response of his love and our sinfulness.

God's wrath proceeds from His love. Thank God for his wrath-without God's wrath burning against sin and evil, where is our guarantee that He'll free us from bondage to them? God's wrath now is a marker or signpost pointing to a future that is free of pain and death thanks to the fusion of Obedience and Sacrifice, Justice and Mercy, and Love and Wrath on the Cross. For that reason, I am so very thankful for God's wrath.