Remembering…

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.–psalm 42 (nasb)

@RickyAlcantar: 9/11 reminds us that the world is profoundly broken. 9/11 reminds us that only Jesus can fix it: “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Note from the proprietor:

Confession, I am horrible at keeping up with blogs. The other blogs I have started, I have not maintained them. I get really excited about them, write a couple of thought-provoking pieces, but never finish them.

Since my last blog entry, or in all truthfulness, in the last four weeks of my life, the following has taken place:

-I was informed that my teaching position was only for the summer and I have been looking for a new job.

-I ended up experiencing two of the most powerful concerts ever. I saw Seryn perform at a bar and Doug Burr at a church; if you haven’t listened to their music, you need to.

-I’ve been rethinking and redesigning this blog. Stay tuned.

-One of my friends before leaving to a be missionary overseas contacted me about buying her 95 geo prisim, which I ended up buying. I flew to St. Louis, MO, got lunch with one of my best friends, rented a car and drove to Kansas City, MO, spent the weekend with her and some of our friends, drove the car back to Dallas two days later. Oh, it was also the first time in ten years I had driven a stick shift car, which I am very thankful for my friends’ patience in helping me relearn the ropes. It has been a humbling experience, lots of middle fingers and laughter given to me, but God is very kind. I think I only stalled twice today. 🙂

-I went back to Arizona for a week of catching up with friends and family, but also had some meetings discussing my aspirations and future goals. God also used that trip to bring external confirmation on the calling on my life. He used the trip in many ways to give me a glimpse of what is ahead in my life, which I have a blog entry in the works about that time.

Upon return to the Republic of Texas (yes, I own boots and say y’all, but refuse to cheer for Texas football teams and wear a big ass buckle), the following has happening since my return on Sept 3:

  • I went to the ER twice, once for finding blood in my stool, and doc referring me to a GI doctor, but then in the following days feeling very weak physically and a strong weariness that would not depart. I checked myself back in three days later and insisted on more tests being done, they complied and I ended up finding out that there is currently a virus romping around in myself. Don’t worry, I’m not contagious, but very weak physically. I have strict orders to rest, drink more water and not to engage in stressful activities. Clearly, my doctor is not a Texan, because every day driving is almost like entering into a battle zone. Texans are crazy drivers (this one included). However, during both hospital trips, I ended up sharing the gospel and the love of Christ with my fellow patients and medical personnel; one of them said he felt like God directed him to me and he wanted to talk more about Jesus. Others have simply expressed their thanks for praying. However, my nurses and some people I encouraged weren’t too thrilled, but I’m slowly learning how to use tact and to think before speaking/texting others. 🙂
  • I resumed my seminary studies, which now I have a full time class load. I’m taking four courses: Intro to Systematic Theology, General Introduction to The New Testament, Orientation to Ministry, and Parenting and Family Counseling. I have also begun to build relationships with faculty, students and even our security guard. God is using my big mouth and bigger heart to encourage and exhort his children through intercession and just listening to them.
  • I have begun to disciple two young men. One, a drummer for an amazing band. I used to say that I listened to all kinds of music, which is a lie. I primarily listen to bluegrass/folk and classical music, but this music is amazing. A couple of years ago, it would not have been something I’d listen to, but hearing his passion and hearing their genius come through with each chord and beat of the drum makes me in awe of the Lord who gives men and women creativity. The second is a young man who we providently ran into each other, ended up chatting about tablets (yes, I’m a technology nerd. Snort.) and the topic of Jesus came up into our discussion. I ended up sharing the gospel with him and he wanted to hear more. The second time we met, he unloaded on me the trials he’s going through and ended up hearing the gospel again. I gave him my bible and told him to start reading the gospel of John, this morning I got this instant message from him:
I’m doin good. But how are you?? Are u feeling any better? I just got back from Church, for the first time in a long long time, and I’m happy I went. I felt God speaking to me. All these things are happening to me (like meeting you) all at once that I know it cant be a coincidence. I feel His presence like never before, and I’m trying to open my life to this new experience.
  • I got baptized and ended up baptizing the man who baptized me, as we are both men who aspire to plant churches. What an amazing experience of remembering I once was dead but have been made alive in Christ.
There are more stories, like having a woman from Ethophia ask me explain the scriptures to her, getting offered a job by a complete stranger, feeding a homeless man and more. I’m still compiling them into a blog entry which should (lord willing and no hospital visits and depending on how much homework I get done) go online soon.
All of this said, God is wrecking my life. I’m not judging him–I am praising him for allowing me to go through these trials because they are helping me obtain joy and the ability to comfort others who suffer, because ultimately, God is good and working all of my circumstances for my good and the glory of His name. It’s been a wild ride, but I am confident that he is the one doing this, because there is nothing within me that is causing this to take place.
It’s been interesting seeing how people are responding to remembering the events of 9/11, Christian and non-Christian-alike. Many are saying God less America, remember the fallen, etc and etc. Honestly, I really don’t like how things are becoming more political (If you’ve been tracking my writing for some time, you’ll remember, I loathe the 4th of July and things America) and people are becoming more proud as they declare their allegiance to a country that is simply that, a country. As someone who struggles with pride too, it’s easy to use a time like today to remember what happened ten years ago. However, my question is at the end of the day, why are we only using one day to remember? We have 364 other days in the year, remembering what happened is important but we should be in a constant state of remberance. More importantly, let’s us not forget that God is still good, that even though things may appear hopeless, he is still in control over everything, seasons of trial and bliss, he is still holding all things together. He is bigger than any threat of terroism, because ultimately Jesus is making all things new. His life was a glimpse of what we were supposed to be like, his death paid the wages of our sins and his resurrection from the dead, crushed satan, sin and death, and he will come again and everything will be made new.
When I woke up this morning, feeling more ragged than the night before, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually very strong, this was my prayer before heading out to church and remains in my heart and mind as I reflect upon the events of 9/11:
Father, forgive us for thinking the sins of others are greater than ours. Forgive us, for the anger that has caused us to murder others in our hearts.
Forgive us, for hating our enemy instead of loving them.
Thank you for Jesus, who bore your wrath that my sins deserved, thank you for rising him from the tomb and is ultimately making all things new.
Thank you for those who serve us to help keep us safe, but ultimately, thank you for your promise that you are bigger than the threats of terrorism.
May we remember, You are good and in control, even in the midst of chaos.
You are our bulwark, a well proven help in times of trouble, though we fear, you are going to one day, dismiss all of these fears and wipe all our tears from our faces.
Come quickly Lord Jesus.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
amen.
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