Dwelling.

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I haven't done a very good job of updating my blog. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head for blog posts, but I never take the time to actually sit down and just get them out. I suppose it's a discipline just like everything else.


Today being Christmas, I did some reflecting on the Christmas story, but mainly over John 1:1-18. Having grown up in the church, the Christmas story becomes all too familiar over the years, and, I'll admit, loses some of its significance in my life.


But after doing an in-depth study on the Trinity this past semester in youth group, I have a greater awe and appreciation for what God did when he sent his One and Only Son to this earth in the form of a baby. 


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning...10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth...18No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only,[e][f]who is at the Father's side, has made him known. - John 1:1-2, 10-14, 18 NIV


It's so clear in this passage that Jesus, whom God sent, is God--God in human flesh. This is obviously very Trinitarian language. The part I've been focusing on is verse 14:


 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.


In the Old Testament, God dwelled outside Israel's camp in the Tent of Meeting. He was far too holy for the Israelites to live in his presence, so he lived near them, but away from them. The Hebrew word for dwell was "to tent." So literally, God tented himself outside the Israelite camp.


God so desperately wants to be in close relationship with us, that he decided to become one of us (The Word made flesh) and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be born on earth. Jesus was both fully man and fully God, a concept that can be so difficult for us to grasp. So now the Word "made his dwelling among us" [emphasis mine]. God no longer simply lived near us; now he was among us--one of us. That just makes Christmas all that more amazing when I think that God loved us so much that he became one of us just to be near us--that's some real love right there. Jesus was God born to die to reconcile us so that we could be blameless and perfect in God's sight--made holy so that we could be with Him. 


Then Jesus ascended into Heaven after his death and resurrection (something he had to do), so that the Father could send the Holy Spirit to dwell in each believer. It blows me away to see how God's amazing plan to draw us closer to him has been in action since the beginning of time. I just never realized it to this extent until recently. 


First, God dwelled near us. Then, God dwelled among us. Now, God dwells in us. 


Jesus' first coming was highly anticipated by the Old Testament believers (just look at all the prophecies). And now we are to be eagerly anticipating his second coming. That's what this Christmas season should be reminding us of--just how much the world anticipated the coming of this Christ-child. Our anticipation for his return should be at that same level, but oftentimes I think we forget about what we should be looking toward. God is dwelling in us right now so that we can carry on his work--his perfect plan--to bring all people to know him and to make him known. 


I'm excited that the passage for the Urbana Student Missions Conference next week is this John 1 passage as well. The theme is The Word Made Flesh. This has been like my theme for the year...or at least this second half of 2009. I still can't believe I never realized how the entire Bible fits together! I'll talk more about that later in another post where I can share how excited I am to be doing publicity for Phil Vischer (Creator of VeggieTales)'s new DVD series, What's In the Bible?


So recognizing that God is now dwelling in us and that we should live in anticipation of his return, does that change the way you're living today?

Thankful Tuesday

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Thanksgiving is two days away and it seems like the world is forgetting that fact. Christmas decorations went up right after Halloween and some radio stations are already playing Christmas music (I think that should be illegal to do before Thanksgiving). I know retailers are all into making the most of the shopping days before Christmas, but what about the part where we remember to give thanks?

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances." Well, let me show you some circumstances where we've been giving thanks.


Last Friday, our youth group, Salt 'N' Light (more affectionately known as SNL), had our annual Thanksgiving Potluck. I'm so grateful for all the parents who cooked and prepared food for us!! Their support of us in youth ministry is priceless. 





I'm also thankful for our student leadership team that faithfully attends Sunday afternoon meetings and volunteers their time and energy to serve others. Here's a picture of JLowe (that's his nickname) and Boyi serving drinks during the dinner.




I'm thankful for the teens that came & who attend our youth group. Without them, this ministry would be nothing!


During our program, we had a time of worship. We have to remember who the Giver is! Then we had an open mic time of sharing. Another thing I'm grateful for is the youth and parents who got up to share about God's goodness and provision in their lives.















I'm also very, VERY thankful for my fellow youth counselors: Pearson, Gerald, & Tiffany. We're a great team and I'm blessed by their wisdom, insight, and friendship. We don't actually have a picture of just the four of us, so sometime we'll have to take one!

Most of all, all the glory and praise goes to God for making any of this possible. He is the Giver of all good things and my life would be a complete mess without Him.

I'll post more things I'm thankful for during this Thanksgiving week. :)

December is the Month for Giving

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Obviously I haven't done a very good job of keeping this blog up so far! I plan on fixing that, but it's just been really busy lately. This post is going to be short.

December is just around the corner, and it's one of my favorite months. I love walking around downtown Chicago and seeing all the lights and decorations around the city. There are so many good memories associated with this time of year. My sister, Melissa, and I used to play a game where we would count how many houses we passed that had Christmas lights to see who could count the most. I love remembering how God became one of us through Jesus Christ, His Son. I love giving special gifts to people and seeing their responses.

But December is also my birth month! I don't usually go asking people to give me gifts, but since "gifts" is one of my love languages & since I know some people are wondering what to get me, I'm doing this for you. I don't expect people to give me everything on this list and I don't NEED any of it. The thing I love most is quality time with family & friends. :)

So, here's my Amazon wish list. I'd like a bike for my triathlon too, but they don't sell good bikes on Amazon. And that can wait for another day.

A Modern Correspondence Pauline-Style

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My brother Nathan was sick this past week and ended up getting sent home from college. Upon hearing of Nathan's illness, one of our friends from church, Pearson, took the time to write this letter (see below) to Nathan. Nathan's response to Pearson follows below. I thought you might enjoy reading this just for fun.

THE LETTER TO THE NATHAN
Pearson, called to be a disciple of the risen Lord Jesus Christ to whom all glory, power, and majesty, forever and ever.

To Nathan, my beloved brother among the saints: grace and peace be with you.
I have heard among the brethern of your unfortunate illness and that your work for the Lord is delayed by your return to your homeland. I think fondly of the faith that was made manifest through the kindness which you have displayed amid the congregation and am confident that the Lord will bring to completion the good work He began in you. My brother, though you are far from your work, the grace which dwelt in our Lord Jesus Christ now dwells in me as I long to see you. Epaphroditus and Tychius has also supplied me with a humidifing machine should you be interested.

Remain in the Lord my beloved brother - have confidence in the Lord who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light and dwells within you through His Spirit. Be sure to take a little wine for your illness.

Robert Lee sends you his greetings, as does Gerald Stroud and the rest of the saints. Grace be with you.
 
THE LETTER TO THE PEARSON
Nathan, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be a disciple and set apart for the gospel of God,

To Pearson, my true brother in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I send you my thanks for your genuine love and concern for my health. I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you and all the other saints who have kept me in their prayers. By His grace, I have nearly fully recovered from my illness and have promptly returned to my mission field. Praise the Lord for His quick healing hand upon my feeble body! Though my work may have been delayed, it is but temporary. And I have full confidence that through Christ's mercy and strength I will recover and regain the ground that I have lost. Thank Epaphroditus and Tychius for the offer, but I think my brethren and I can do without the humidifying machine. I will remember you in my prayers.

Send my greetings to Robert Lee and Gerald Stroud.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 

Xanga No More!

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If you're reading this and you've been following me on Twitter, you can see that I decided to start blogging again. Hopefully what I post up here will be more intentional and meaningful than the mundane, random happenings I used to post on my Xanga in high school.

The title of this blog, "Pressing on Toward the Goal," is taken from Philippians 3:12-14. Specifically, verses 13b-14:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Right now I still find myself in a transitional period of my life--in between college and the working world--still finding this new role for myself as a young professional and independent adult, but also currently living at home with my parents; in the midst of college friends all getting married and starting their new lives while being in a serious relationship for the past two years myself. A lot has changed in these past two and a half years since I graduated from Taylor University and I know my life will probably change dramatically in the next few years to come.

Despite all the good and bad things that have happened, these Philippians verses are a reminder to look toward the most worthy prize and to live each day pressing toward my future with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So I hope to chronicle some of those times here.

Thanks for joining the ride!
 
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