holding fast to God's heart.

May 10, 2014

to make us long for Home.

This week has been such a whirlwind! Weirdly enough, it’s not even because of finals (with the exception of the online classes. Sometimes, you just need “those classes” to make the other ones that much better!), or about papers, or about how STRESSFUL discipleship homework is! I find it so very ironic that, with online Life-on-Life discipleship (which I do not recommend), we haven’t been told to go actually do things with people. It’s more about the philosophy of discipleship. This week, we’re filling out a massive chart about verses and exercises that we can do with people for different topics. 

One day, we’ll see the purpose. But for right now, oy vey!

I’m actually stressed about moving. We are literally packing up our things and moving to the building right next to Houghton. It shouldn’t be a project. But it feels like it! There was lots of regret as I put some things in a box for storage - realizing that between gifts and things I’ve bought, I have too much. I’ve been sick enough that I have medicine for every. single. ailment. Mono, stomach bug, dizziness, colds, coughs….and even topical medications for infections. My toe’s infected for the fifth time and I am ready to break it off. Thankfully, I’m not pain tolerant in the least and will never muster the courage to do that…

So, I called my great-grandma. She’s moved around a LOT in her lifetime, from Pennsylvania to her husband’s naval training base to Japan for a little while, back to Pennsylvania and then to Ohio. (And I might be missing some pieces, haha!) A couple weeks ago, she moved from the double room at her assisted living place to a single room. It is so hard for her, especially now that Pop Pop has died. They were married for seventy-two years. When you’ve lived life for that long with someone, it’s like they’re a part of you. 

I can’t imagine going through a transition like that.

Anyways. We talked about her new “MUCH smaller” apartment for a while, and she told me, with joy in her voice, “Michelle, this is the LAST time I have to move! The next time, it’ll be through the clouds, and I don’t have to take any of this stuff with me! Thank the LORD!”

She’s so adorable. 

But it got me thinking. And wondering. And wishing. And longing, longing so much, for Home. 

We’ll never be satisfied here; we were made for another world. 

It was interesting to think about that at the beach, though. Because the beach is my very favorite place to be, just breathing in the sweet air and listening to waves and seeing the birds and feeling the sand and soaking in sunshine…

image

And sometimes, when I’m there, I don’t want to leave. 

Sometimes, when I think about medical school, I don’t want to leave. 

When things are going well - like recently, being so encouraged by my Hebrews professor and one of my education professors, I don’t want to leave.

But then, hard things happen.

Then, I go to the beach and process life and pray and can only begin to realize how MUCH I need God. 

Then, I start packing for (yet another) move. 

And realize that, after wandering and after all the reminders in God’s gifts of pain that we were not made for this world, that there is something so much better coming, the best thing on this earth pales in comparison to how wonderful and amazing eternity will be. 

The reason for this world, is to make us long for home. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swKPS9q7rMU)

May 6, 2014

"God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that his high above me, for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy. I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings."

—Psalm 61:1-4, HCSB

May 3, 2014

it’s a beautiful life we live.

I’m staying.

I’m staying at Moody, staying an education major, staying to graduate, to teach. 

For now, anyway.

Is it giving up a dream?

Kinda. More like putting it on hold.

Is it the easy way out?

Maybe. There’s no chemistry class here. Life in the Moody bubble is easier, more peaceful, very unified. And, frankly, it’s WAY academically easier. 

There are no scalpels here. No situations where I will get to say, “Ten blade. Now.” or intubate or suture someone up. And it makes me sad. 

But for now….for now I’m going to rest. Just rest, in God’s arms. Take Greek and Hebrew and too many classes because, well, when you’re chasing a dream you chase it fully. You run hard, even when it doesn’t quite make sense, because you know what you’re chasing. 

In this case, I can’t see the end. I just know I’m running with Jesus. He knows where He’s going. So….I keep running. And following. And drowning in books and foreign alphabets and theology because I know, just know, that wherever He is taking me is going to be so beautiful

Maybe there will be scalpels and people for me to intubate. Maybe not.

But it will be beautiful. And I’ll still be running with Him, holding His hand. 

And praying hard, because you never know - maybe, instead of patients, there will be high school students sitting at desks in front of me in a few short years. And maybe I’ll teach them Greek. Or Hebrew. Or Systematic Theology. Only God knows. 

But….it’s gonna be good. 

May 3, 2014

Individual Brain Activity Predicts Tendency to Succumb to Daily Temptations

neurosciencestuff:

Activity in areas of the brain related to reward and self-control may offer neural markers that predict whether people are likely to resist or give in to temptations, like food, in daily life, according to research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological…

May 1, 2014

the end. what now?

Doing my second-to-last set of Greek Grammar II homework.

Starting to think through what will be my final integration essay for my worldview class.

Wondering what I will do with only two more lectures by the professor whom I just stopped being overly intimidated by.

Already missing saying that I live on Houghton 5 North.

I’m not going to miss the online classes. My profs are great, but really. Not going to miss late Monday and Tuesday nights writing and memorizing until my head falls off.

Missing my messy roommate.

Missing saying “I am a sophomore.”

But…

Next semester, I get to take Greek Exegesis

I get to take “Foundations of Christian Education” with my favorite professor, too! (Maybe even Adolescent Psych with Demanding but Amazing Prof Whom Everyone Loves)

I’m going to have an even harder class with Dr. Intimidating Professor. Pentateuch 101. Woohoo!

I’m going to live on 3 North. Translation? I’ll be taking the stairs more. It’s really a healthier option, living further down in the building. And the RA down there? An absolute angel. :)

I’m still not going to miss online classes.

My next roommate? A self-proclaimed “Perfectionst to a T!” And I love her dearly! We’ll both be in our own respective Hebrew Grammar and Greek Exegesis classes. Brilliant mind, meet brilliant mind.

And, I will have the great privilege of saying “I AM A FREAKING JUNIOR!”

Oh, and did I mention… I will finally be an adult?!

This is real. God, thank you for Moody Bible Institute!

Apr 26, 2014

an exegesis adventure.

I was reading through Proverbs this morning and this verse popped out to me:

A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back ( NKJV, 29:11).

And I totally freaked. This is my life, being an extrovert, venting my feelings. And it was like, I didn’t know I was an extrovert until eight months ago. And now I’m not supposed to share all my feelings?

I’m a Bible student, and I’m determined to exegete this correctly.

Time for the Moody Bible Commentary.

(This was the night my dad bought me my copy. Please note, I did not use Hosea for this; I am just very excited about the Hosea commentary because my favorite prof wrote it.)

Dr. Finkbeiner, whom I’ve heard is brilliant, wrote the commentary on Proverbs. Before we get into his section, though, let’s look at the NASB, which is what the profs use in the commentary:

A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back.

Alright, people, what does the Hebrew ACTUALLY say? I won’t know till next semester, I guess. Adjunct prof, please be good. 

But perhaps we can conclude from this that whatever the Hebrew does say, it has something to do with venting anger. Not just feelings, necessarily? 

Here’s what Dr. Finkbeiner has to say:

The fool lacks self-control, so he always loses his temper. He differs dramatically from the wise man, described as one who holds it back, although the precise meaning of the line is disputed. If the word “be’achor” (translated “back” in the NASB’s translation of the phrase holds it back) means “in the end,” or “afterwards” (so Koehler et al., HALOT, 31; Waltke, Book of Proverbs 15-31, 439), it would suggest that the wise man is able eventually to quiet the turmoil generted by the raging fool (cf v 8). More likely, however, “be’achor” means simply “back”, suggesting that a wise man holds … back or controls his own temper.

(The Moody Bible Commentary, p. 962). 

Thank the Lord Jesus for commentaries. :) 

So, there we go…ignore my little spurt of panic at the beginning…the NKJV gets some translations great, but others….oh dear. 

So, friends, let’s be resolved to be wise: to not express every element of frustration. Sometimes, it’s holy and noble to correct people, to reprimand when something isn’t godly or wise. But seriously. Don’t go around and criticize every. human. being. and everyone based on their political views. You don’t have to agree. But God has called us to love. Read 1 John. And John 13-15. Love isn’t a question, an option. 

It’s a command. 

Love.

Apr 19, 2014

he is risen. he is risen, indeed.

Easter is my very, very favorite holiday. For lots of reasons - a big one being, that when Easter comes, the weather is getting warmer! In Chicago today, it’s about 50 degrees. So it’s not quite summer, but I enjoy pretending that it is. :)

I have let stress take over so much of my mind and my body. And there are always plenty of things to be worried about. But this Easter season, I’m more aware of how much I do NOT have to worry about… Like my salvation. That’s done, and paid for. I have an eternity of REJOICING ahead of me. Why worry, right?

God is with me, always. Jesus always lives to intercede for me. Always. That isn’t a word used very often today, is it? So much is changing and unstable. Our health, relationships, the weather, finances, etc… 

But one thing is for sure, and that one thing cost Jesus His life. The most painful experience, far more painful than anything we have ever been through.

But now He’s alive. ALWAYS alive. Forever alive.

And when I think about that….I realize that where I’ll be living this summer isn’t the biggest thing. Where I go to school next semester isn’t the biggest thing. My future degree and career aren’t the biggest things, either. They pale in comparison to eternity.

You know that feeling you get when you wake up one morning and something really, really special is happening? A wedding, a holiday, a vacation?

We have a hope that is way better, more exciting, and MUCH more permanent than those things. “Rejoice always!”, Paul tells the Philippians. 

Rejoice always. And let that joy bubble over. Tell other people…just like you would about a vacation. Share the love, the joy. That Jesus is alive and we have forever hope and forever celebration because of Him! :)

Mar 27, 2014

why goodbye?

Why do we make all these great connections, just to have to have them broken?

What is the point, of meeting people and growing close with them, if only to have to say goodbye later?

Why goodbye?

Why, did God lead me here, just to lead me away?

Why, did God give me so many wonderful friends here, just to move me somewhere else?

Maybe it was to teach trust.

Maybe it was to remind me what a Christian is supposed to be, what a Christian can be. To not become disillusioned so quickly by the definition of “godliness” in medical training.

Maybe to teach me to laugh about being underage. “the youngling.”

Maybe to teach me how awesome living in a city is. 

Maybe to figure out what those words mean… you know, the words you don’t learn being sheltered. Like turd. 

Maybe to learn how to prioritize exercise, and balance college life with mono. 

{Because, once you’ve had mono, anything is possible, right?}

Maybe to be even less afraid of the ghetto.

Or maybe to begin to live more fully the adult life that I’ve been trained for my whole life. 

But still, the pain in my heart, the fear of the coming goodbye, maybes me wince and cry and feel so sad inside.

Why goodbye?

Feb 11, 2014

it’s funny…until you’ve done it.

There is so much growth that I need to go through in the humor department. {That, friends, is a massive understatement.} My roommate calls me, very rightly so, “Michelletered” {as in Michelle+sheltered}…I am so thankful to be closer to the world and learning a great deal more about what jokes sound brutal but actually are funny, what never to say, etc…. Thank God for patient souls here!

{One quick note…..on the theology of sarcasm, my brain hasn’t yet worked past the fact that we get that word from the Greek meaning “flesh”. Fleshly, not of the Spirit…. So how can we use sarcasm to glorify God? I’m learning there are ways to do this, and it makes me so excited. But where’s the line between funny and very hurtful? Oh…Moody, you’ve taught me to think through the theology of EVERYTHING! Hallelujah.}

We can use silliness to be a huge blessing to others. We can use it to minister to people in incredible ways…I am in no way denying that. 

But what about the times, unbeknownst to us, where it goes wrong, very wrong?

I heard some friends joking once, about a murder plot. {You really have to know these people to understand that it was done in love…}. I tried very hard to embrace it and smile as they excitedly became more elaborate. 

But then they said it. 

It. 

The dreaded it that took the smile away from my face, the it that tore back a piece of my heart and made it bleed.  

They said it. 

"And then, we’ll leave a suicide note! And no one will EVER know!”

Had I been in a slightly angrier and more vulnerable mood, I would have verbalized something like this, which I am led to believe is better left in writing…

Dearest friend. This {I GUESS. I still don’t fully grasp how it was amusing} is all interesting and well, the whole idea of staging a murder as a suicide. You’re borrowing this plot from a countless number of directors in Hollywood, from numerous criminals in history. It has worked so well on the camera. It is clever, creative, suspense-building, mystical, etc., and left people so excited and entertained. For comedy’s sake, and for suspense/mystery’s sake, well done. 

However, as your sister in Christ, let me encourage you in love to think of this from another vantage point. Because, as the body of Christ, every word we say is to be encouraging, uplifting. 

Is joking about suicide funny, when you’ve been there? When you’ve held the bottle of pills in your hand and been so ready to swallow, drink the poison that will peacefully end your life and take away the person who your parents have verbally beaten, called an idiot, tried to control every move and every interaction?

Because you are so scared, terrified of living?

Is it funny, when through a blur of tears you’ve written that suicide note, hand shaking and crying and screaming and weeping and wishing, just wishing, your life was over?

Is it funny when you have LIVED this sickening moment in history and suddenly it is only a phone call by God’s divine intervention that saves your life?

And is it funny when the ones who claim to love you most start yelling at you for being so ridiculous, immature, how could you POSSIBLY think about ending your life?

Is it funny when every day after that is a hellish nightmare? When you’re taken to a swarm of shrinks who try to tell you, and who encourage you to seek help from the emergency room at times like that and then you’re forbidden from calling, from going, by the ones who took you to the shrinks to begin with?

Weeping, brother and sister, I plead with you. 

Don’t joke about death. Don’t joke about suicide

You’re preparing for ministry. Here, we all are. And you will, undoubtedly, work with people who have been through far more tragic circumstances than that. And I promise, if they did not have Christ and heard you joking about their struggle, they would be so turned off to the gospel. Their destiny, our destiny without Christ, is bleak. 

I know you meant to entertain yourselves. But I don’t believe for a second, despite all your convincing, that joking about suicide and murder is funny. I believe from Scripture that it is sinful, deadly. 

Is it worth wasting your breath to mock a fallen humanity who needs Jesus?

Feb 3, 2014

Moody Bible Commentary

Hey, friends!

I just wanted to share exciting news with y’all - the Moody Bible Commentary has been published! YES! :) It’s edited by two incredible Moody professors, and I would highly, highly recommend you check it out. I struggled with reading commentaries at first…okay, I still do….but I appreciate so deeply how they help enhance my understanding of God’s word as I read them alongside Scripture. 

Here’s the link: http://moodybiblecommentary.com/romans

Enjoy! :)

Jan 17, 2014

last semester of moody.

I am so, so thankful for my classes this semester. I’ll have a bit more work than last semester, but I know that’s just more incentive to be focused, and so much more to learn and grow from… Lots of encouragement and processing helped me realize that I needed practical ministry classes this semester, and fewer of the bible/theology classes. They destroyed me last semester. And the practical ones are going much better. :)

But as I was thinking today of how this is my final semester at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago as a student, and how quickly the last semester went by, I got kinda sad. And really discouraged.

Because I’ve been taught here, how important community is. And been given an incredible one to be a part of. 

And I’ve also been taught here, about how so many people wish they had my spot as a student. But God gave it to me. 

And so I’ve felt guilty, about being here and not loving it. 

Guilty, about being here and cringing when I hear someone tell me they are a theology major. Because, I think, it’s the stuck-up people who drown in theology and are lacking in love who hurt people - believers and non - and make me, make them, wonder at Christianity.

Thankful, that a professor told me that my personality doesn’t mesh well with the educational system in place in America. That affirming note that I am not meant to be a teacher, still to teach, but not in a classroom. 

But guilty.

Isn’t full-time ministry the highest calling? And weren’t Moodys supposed to be the spiritual giants of society, and shouldn’t being at Moody be every Christian’s aspiration?

Uh, no. Heck no. Thank God no. 

And in this body of Christ (σομα χριστου) theology majors, Bible majors, whatever-the-heck “apologetic philosophical theology” is supposed to mean majors, aren’t superior to a believer who feels God is calling them to full-time ministry in a hospital, sweeping floors and cleaning up urine-stained sheets and comforting a mama whose baby was birthed stillborn, blood-covered and gray. Lifeless. Not better than the respiratory therapist who cleans mucus off of a CF patient, than the occupational therapist who teaches someone to use the bathroom again, than the trauma surgeon who has to resort to CPR and prayers daily, when bodies are broken and hope is lost and medicine fails. 

No. 

I believe that God is calling me to be a medical professional. Perhaps a doctor of physical therapy, perhaps an ER doctor, perhaps an OB. He hasn’t shown me specifically yet, but He’s surely lighting the way.

I am not called to be a Bible major. But I am called to be a student of the Bible. 

I am not called to be a teacher. But I am to teach by example and by love the grace of God to a sick and dying world. 

I am not better than a Bible major. But I am not less. 

Brothers and sisters, as the body of Christ, I challenge you - and myself - to remember that each part of the body is critical. Vital. We desperately need each other. No part is better, no part is lesser. 

One goal. One purpose. One calling. 

And so many ways of loving the world. 

Nov 6, 2013

αποθνησκω…

The Greek above translates to “I am dying”. Don’t get ready to give me a lecture because I am really too morbid at this point, that I have really lost it…

…because, friends, we are all dying. Physically dying, and (hopefully) dying to self. 

Lately, I have been reminded of the physical aspect of dying more than anything else. My body is wasting away on me. Older people will laugh and say “You’re only seventeen…you’re not GETTING OLD!”

(Well, not technically. Sadly, seventeen is that unfortunate age at which you’re too old to go, as a new patient living away from home, to a children’s doctor, and too young to go to an adult general practice doctor. Leaving you absolutely no options except for urgent care, the ER, and some specialty doctors. Who knew…? Always an adventure.)

But anyways. Death. θανατος. Friends, if we are believers, our eternity is secure in the all-powerful hands of the Lord. In the meantime, though, our bodies are slowly (or more quickly, for some) wasting away…we are constantly having to surrender our wills to the Lord’s. Dying to self. 

Though I am still fighting desperately for the joy in being sick, I know that the physical brokenness is reminding me of my great need to be surrendering every part of myself to my Father. αποθνησκειν. And to find that in dying, I truly live. 

Oct 15, 2013

moody bible institute - thoughts pre-missions conference

Wow. It’s time for my first Moody Missions conference! I can’t believe it’s actually now, that we’re gearing up to talk about one of the hardest topics ever - human trafficking. The theme for this conference is “Into the Darkness”, and I already know it will be a rough, rough week for so many of us. Tonight is the opening ceremony, and with it the opening musical - one that discusses the life of a prostitute and how a missionary couple is able to reach out to her.

So my thoughts? I am nervous. It’s going to be beyond heart-breaking and saddening and crippling. It will make me mad at the pimps who treat people like objects to be sold around and played with…sickened by the horrors they subject people to.

But, I am finding so much strength in knowing that God is ever-passionate about these issues, even more so than myself. He loves the trafficked - and the traffickers - more than I will ever be able to.

We do not go into this conference alone, but rather with a God who overcomes and will see all of this to completion!