Monday, January 24, 2011

Home Sweet Home

There's just something about being home...after a long day at school, it really feels good to be home .

But, just now, I'm not only thinking about the place where I'm sitting right now, typing up this blog post. I'm thinking of a another place that has been home to me since I was seven years old.....

...for ten and a half years. I still remember my first time coming here for church. We had just moved to the area, and after one Sabbath of visiting this church, my sisters and I had decided that this was our church.

It wasn't about a fancy building. It was definitely was not big or elaborate, but what seven year old cares about that? It wasn't about there being a  bunch of kids to play with after church (although there is plenty of them now!). No, it was because we came to know love- church family love- here. 

Our sabbath school teachers were awesome! I still remember so many of the things that we learned and did in kindergarten. It's funny how most of what I learned back then can still apply now, and how I am reminded of that stuff all the time. My Sabbath school teachers put time and effort into what they taught us. They still do. In fact, my six year old brother and sister have one of those same teachers now. (They love Sabbath school, too!)

Church, for us, never ended after the sermon though many of those were so vivid that I still remember them now. There always was hiking, singing at the nursing home, picnics ,  popcorn and worship at someone's house or just a long hour or more of talking in the parking lot ( the church foyer was too small to hold  half the crowd). 

My church has nurtured me as I've grown up in so many ways. People cared about me. They taught me. They challenged me. They gave me opportunities. I enjoyed working in the community service building with the church ladies when I was nine. I started playing the piano for church when I was about thirteen (they always only encouraged even though I sometimes blundered through the hymns). About the same time they let me start helping with the janitor work.They helped me go on several mission trips to both Tanzania and Mexico. They gave me opportunities to learn to lead song service, to do special music, to help with sabbath school  superintendent remarks, and teach the cradle roll lesson. What other church would give the amazing experience of leading VBS to a 15 year old? 

I love being involved with my church. It's energizing! 

My church is a place where people carry one anther's burdens.When we're having a bad week, people are praying for us. When we have to bring one of the kids to church in pajamas because they have got many hard lessons to learn, people understand. They smile, but they only encourage us. Prayer request time is never dry or boring, everyone feels welcome to share.  When someone's struggling people are there for them. It's wonderful! 

Our big problem was: our building was to small. We did not have enough room for visitors, and growing is one of our reasons for existing. So....we decided to update our building. I don't think any of us really understood what that really meant back at the beginning of last year because the project was supposed to take about six to eight weeks. That time stretched to more like eight months! We thought we were being sarcastic when we, in late summer , said that we might not be back in the church until thanksgiving,  but now Sabbath, January 21st, we finally are back, and it's well worth the wait!

It's far from completed but the entry and the sanctuary are beautiful. The warm rich colors match the atmosphere of our church. There were several work bees to prepare to get back in there, but most of the work, besides that of our hired workers, was done by our building committee which worked extremely hard through this whole process but especially the last couple weeks.There was much rejoicing this Sabbath. The music was better than ever with flutes and violins and probably angels. Plus, the acoustics have improved! 

Our pastor who fell of the ladder while working on the church had his first sermon since the accident last month. Although he is still using a cane, it was amazing to see him even up front. He used the verse from Psalms where it says, " I was glad when they said unto me let us go unto the house of the Lord", but he also pointed us to our final home. That is the purpose of our church. It's to prepare for when we can go and have church in heaven with Jesus in person! That will be a day for rejoicing....The day when we are really, finally home at last!

So, where's home for you?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Known and Read of all Men

A few months ago, I listened to a sermon that Elder Wilson preached at one of the general conference meetings. It was entitled, "Remember Your Name". What name? Seventh-day Adventist. He said, "You preach a sermon every time you say, I am a Seventh-day Adventist." The sermon was inspiring, but I don't think I really 'got it' then.

I've heard, even read in the Bible, that our lives as Christians are supposed to represent Christ. It has made sense to me, mostly. Obviously, we don't do everything that the world does because we have something so much greater to live for.

I read the good book this summer, Do Hard Things. One thing that has really stuck with me is that I shouldn't be known for what I don't do but rather, by what I do.

This last fall was my first experience in "real school". I was pretty nervous- cause it was college. I started out kind of shy even though I really don't think of myself as shy. I wanted to witness for the Lord, but I really didn't know what was allowed or what would be accepted in that kind of public setting. I didn't really have a clue how to practically share Jesus with my teachers and classmates.

Fast forward a little bit. I was sitting in my English class. The teacher had just announced that the next assignment was supposed to be about an argument against someone's idea that we did not agree with. Right away I thought about mission trips. I had an acquaintance that had suggested that short term mission trips were not a  worth while endeavor (taking in consideration the expenses ect.) I felt differently about this because of how mission trips had affected my life (I'll save this for another post). I actually didn't want to use this topic for my paper because I would have to express a lot about how God had worked with me and stuff like that. I didn't think my teacher would really understand, and at first when she heard what I was going to argue against, she didn't get it. Anyway, I couldn't think of anything else to write, so I wrote about mission trips. As I explained why I felt that they were so important she started to see them from my perspective. Somehow, through this paper my teacher and I started talking after class about missions, extra. We became really good friends. I started to just be who I was at school. I began to write papers that weren't so blah to me because I was writing about what I was passionate about: God and missions.

Okay, now I'm starting my second quarter in college. I know a few people. I've learned to be more out going, and I'm even more determined to live for Jesus no matter what.

First day of school was Wednesday. Our first assignment for communications class was to ask someone in the class a list of pre-assigned personal questions, answer the same questions for that person, and then get up and introduce each other. The last question was kind of icky: "What would you want people to say about you in your eulogy?" I found it interesting though that almost 50% of the people said they would want to be remembered as "nice". Umm... I guess that's better than mean, but I really hope that's not all my life would stand for.One or two people said that they would want to be remembered as fun or hard working, and pretty much everyone with children said that they wanted to be remembered as a good parent.  I wanted to be honest, but I really felt intimidated by telling everyone what I would want my eulogy to say. I  said that I would want  to be remembered as a true Christian- someone who knew Jesus. It might seem silly, but I was nervous to be the only "different"one, and I was.

Day two of school: Thursday. I was sitting in my English 203 class -shaking in my shoes a little bit again.(note: I have a different English teacher now)  The assignment wasn't going to be graded, but our teacher just wanted us to write a paper in class that would give her some idea of where we were in our writing/grammar skills. The writing prompt was: "If you had a hundred days with unlimited resources to change the world, what would you do? How would you do it? What the world look like in the end?" My first thought was: teach everyone to truly know God, help them to understand His great gift to humanity, and then give them a vision of missions, of service, of a life of giving. These are really the only things that could and will someday (when this world is made new) change the world for good, so that's what I wrote about.

Today, I was standing outside my classroom for communications waiting for the door to be opened. I was shuffling through my backpack looking for something when a guy from the class says hello. I said," hi" and turned back to what I was doing. Then he said, "So, do you go to a church around here locally? This was not what I was expecting to hear right then. I was like, "Ahhh what?"
"Do you go to a local church?" he repeated.
Oh, I go to the Cashm*r* Seventh-day Adventist church. The guy looked at me and said, "that old little church there? I said, "Yea, well, we're rebuilding right now." Then he said, "That's where I met..." I didn't hear the last thing he said. "You what?" I asked. "That's where I met God." I must of just stared at him funny because he began telling me that he had been there years ago when he was eight years old ( he looked over 30). He said that the pastor was having a big long sermon, but in the middle of it, he had stopped and said, I just feel really impressed to tell you the simple steps to salvation right now, so he did. The guy said, 'That was for me." I said,"Praise the Lord!" Then I asked him if he had visited since. He said he hadn't it was a time when his family was struggling that they had come. I invited him to come visit again. The conversation was cut short as the door to our classroom was opened and we walked in, but the exciting thing is I have a whole quarter  in the same class. Could this be a divine appointment?

I'm learning to trust the Lord. I'm learning what it means to live wholly and unashamedly His. I'm in awe that God could use even me. I'm realizing what my name really means: I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I am learning that living the Christian life is not about what I don't do. It's about what I do. It's about what I do because of what Jesus has done for me. I am learning that my life is an epistle know and read of all men. (2 Cor. 3:2)

This is a long blog post, but I'm just so excited to see how God is working in my life and in the lives of those around me. He is giving me new opportunities everyday. I'm so excited!

Generation of Youth for Christ Convention

Well, Its been a week since I arrived back home from GYC dead tired but on fire. It was a long exhausting trip since our flight, on the way there, was canceled leaving us in the airport for six hours until 5:30 for an all night flight. We also traveled all night coming back home, so I still feel like I'm kind of recovering. The trip was priceless though. I learned so much, had so much fun meeting my old friends again, and just really appreciated the strong spiritual atmosphere. I especially enjoyed spending time with Daniella who I miss so much since she left to Bible work in another state. I wrote just a little snippet of what GYC is all about for our church paper. This is it:

GYC. The name really captures what this movement is all about. It truly is a generation of Youth for Christ.

About 5000 young people from about 41 countries attended the convention in Baltimore this past week. It was really an inspiring privilege to be apart of it-not because of its big numbers but because of the dedication and commitment to Jesus that so heavily permeated the atmosphere. We met so many young people serving the Lord in many diverse ways. Some were working at an Adventist hospital in Ethiopia; many were Bible workers that my friend Daniella***Pusic had trained with; some were involved with evangelism programs such as ASI Youth for Jesus, and some were just living ordinary life like me-going to school, working at home, and trying to live for Christ where they were. Many of the speakers were young, but their messages were urgent, practical –what our generation needs not only to hear but to live today. The main theme was No Turning Back…I have decided to follow Jesus…No Turning Back.

The most exciting thing to me was that as this army of youth had come together to become more inspired and equipped to serve God. The leaders of our church were there right behind us, supporting us, discussing with us, teaching us, and just being apart. Our general conference president Elder Ted Wilson had the sermon on Sabbath. He called for us to be more committed to Christ and His church, to be more involved with ministry in our churches because if we truly believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is the end time movement and that Jesus is coming soon, then we can do nothing but be involved working with all our hearts to prepare for that day. The young president of GYC, told us that on Christmas Eve, Elder Wilson had called him and said he was praying right then for GYC and for the young people that would come. Before he hung up, he said, “Save me a seat on the bus for outreach.” So, in the 72 buses that brought people to go door to door were leaders, true leaders of our church. One girl shared on Sabbath night that she had had a partner with a little bit of experience. It was Mark Finaly. She found it funny to walk up to a door, introduce herself and then say,..”and this is my friend Mark.”

Next year, GYC will be held in Texas, and I hope that more of us will be able to go. The theme is on the Holy Spirit- “Fill Me, Our Earnest Plea”. It’s time. We need the Holy Spirit in our personal lives. The charge given to all of us was to begin praying now.

I just want to tell everyone this great news: the year after next, GYC will be held in Seattle. I’m elated. We all can go!!!! Plan ahead. You will be blessed!!

When asked how Generation of Youth for Christ would be described in one word or what kind of legacy we would want it to leave for others (if Jesus has not yet come), the president of the conference answered, “Faithfulness”- Faithfulness to Jesus, Faithfulness to truth, Faithfulness till He comes. The convention is inspiring, but thankfully we can be apart of this group even if we can’t attend the conference. Faithfulness is something you and I must live out for God because of His faithfulness to us. Let’s be faithful with no turning back!