Journey 11-17-06

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,…Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19a,22a,23

This section of verses in my Bible has been titled “A Call to Persevere.” It captured my attention this week. Because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us we can draw near to God in FULL ASSURANCE. What a blessing to not have to hover in the doorway of the throne room wondering if we will be invited in. Because of the blood of Jesus we are not only accepted, but we are welcomed. And because we have this assurance, because we have this great salvation, we should hold to the hope we have with perseverance. We should unswervingly hope. Why? Because the one who has promised, the one who has redeemed, the one who loves us – He is faithful.

Zwieback Anyone?

zwieback

Tonight we had a baby shower for Angelika at our English Home Fellowship group and I made Zwieback for the occasion. The thing that amazed me was that three people came up to me right away and said “Wow, Zwieback!” Then they asked what my Mennonite connections were.

It was kind of fun for me to realize the many ways in which we have things in common with others. Since moving to Hungary I have met people who have lived in places that I have lived, know people that I know and even recognize Zwieback when they see it.

It’s a small world after all. 🙂

Why I Don’t Like Going to School

smoking

What are the common reasons for not wanting to attend class? I have better things to do. I don’t feel like it. I’ll never use that material. It’s too hard. It’s too nice of a day to be inside. The list goes on and on. But I think my reason is fairly unique. I hate coming home reeking of smoke!

Of course they don’t smoke in the classroom, but the whole morning there is someone, usually several people, standing in the hallway just outside the classroom door smoking. It’s winter now, all the windows are closed and the CLOUD of smoke makes it’s way into the classroom where it attaches itself to my clothes, adds it scent to my hair and makes my eyes water.

I love my class and learning. And I’ve gotten used to the fact that smoking is the norm here but when the smoke lingering in the room is thick enough to be easily visable then I find myself wishing they would take their smoking to the inner courtyard instead of the hallway by my classroom. I’d even take the cold from an open window. It is kind of comical that no one in my class smokes and we have attempted to open the window but since they are running the heat it can’t stay open long. Oh well. It’s a new reason to add to the list of excuses of why not to go to school.

Favorite restaurant?

food

Today after church I went with a couple of friends to one of my favorite restaurants. It has great food and is really inexpensive. The problem is, we got there and the restaurant was closed, boards on the windows and one of the two signs has been taken down. It was always busy, not sure what’s up with that. I am hoping it is just for remodeling (hope springs eternal, right?). Seriously, it is so sad. When I’m thinking about my budget I have a hard time trying a place and spending money, wondering if I’ll like the food. I like to try new places but I like having someplace tried and true that I know will be worth the expense. Oh well. We ended up at another restaurant that was really good, but wasn’t as wonderfully priced. How about you, do you have a favorite restaurant?

Journey 11-10-06

Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles….When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. Acts 13:46b,48

I’ve been reading from Acts this week and paused over these verses. The thing that jumped out at me was that when the Jews addressed here rejected the Gospel, Paul and Barnabas told them that they didn’t consider themselves worthy. I wonder if this was the case because they still felt they had to earn God’s favor through works, not believing that God could really be offering them a free gift? Sometimes I also feel like I am “not worthy” because really, I’m not. That is the beauty of the Gospel of grace. I can never be worthy. That is why Jesus came and died. I can’t earn favor with God. My part is to be glad, to honor the word of the Lord and to believe.

The Problem with Loving Fall

leaves

Fall is my favorite season but this year it could hardly even be called a season at all. It was still quite hot until mid-September. Then we had six weeks of beautiful weather and now winter has arrived.

This morning as I was waiting for the bus it began to snow. Just a light flurry of small flakes, but definitely snow. I guess that is just the problem of loving Fall: it is way too short.

PS – the pictures, of the horse on my last post and the leaves on this post, were both taken at our team retreat at Szepalma.

Journey 11-1-06

Szepalma

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10a

This was one of the verses from our Team Retreat last week. I have so many reasons to delight in my Lord! His giving me such a precious salvation and covering all my sins and flaws with His blood, His righteousness are only the beginning!

Journey 10-19-06

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14

On Wednesday nights our church is going through the book of Hebrews. It is such an encouragement for me to read and remember how Jesus is better that all who we could compare Him to. He is higher than the angels and better than Moses, for He is both apostle and high priest (3:1). He represents God to us (apostle) and us to God (High Priest). What a blessing and a privilege, that the very Son of God gave His life so that we could know God and be known by Him.

I re-read the sermon “The Weight of Glory” by CS Lewis this week and commented on it in my blog. Another section of this sermon that I didn’t comment on, is about being known by God and how that includes welcome, a reception into his presence. Christ humbled himself unto the cross and now acts as our bridge, our High Priest that allows us to be known and received by God. What an amazing and humbling thought. As the writer of Hebrews states, it is motivation for us to hold firmly to our faith!

Nostalgia, Beauty and Longing

Nostalgia

The last couple of weeks I have been quite melancholy. It isn’t too surprising. Being introspective is very much a part of who God made me to be. And one of the things that I frequently reflect on is longing, that desire for something that lies just beyond your reach.

There are longings that are unhelpful at the least. I can’t say that I never get trapped by these, but there is another type of longing that is within every man. We were not created for this fallen world. God has placed eternity in our hearts and there are twinges of this truth within us.

This afternoon I was reading a sermon by C.S. Lewis called “The Weight of Glory.” It is a wonderful piece of writing and I would recommend that you read it. I could quote the whole of it as it gives so much to think about, but for now I would like to share a couple of excerpts from quotes that encouraged me today in regard to my longings.

“I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you – the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence…the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books and music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.”

“Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”

“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door….But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”

“Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point.”

Journey 10-10-06

Harvest

“Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying, ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. John 4:35-37

I’ve been thinking about seasons lately. As fall unfolds my thoughts have turned to the harvest. In the physical world around us it is easy to see when it is time for harvesting a crop. We can plan, four months until the harvest, for we know the growing cycles of our crops. In the spiritual realm it is a little different. Jesus was pointing out to the disciples that they had missed all the signs. The prophets had pointed to that very moment. The seeds had been sown, Jesus was center stage and there was a harvest waiting. The season of the harvest began with the advent of Jesus Christ and the final harvest waits for His return. In the time in-between there are many fields growing at different rates.

Here in my adopted country I long to see the time of the harvest. But right now seeds are still being planted and the crop is still growing. Some grow quickly and are harvested for eternal life, but with the patience of a farmer the seeds must continue to be sown and the fields tended until the day when the Lord makes the greater field ripe for harvest.