The Privilege of Prayer

It’s a privilege, Lord
To talk to You in prayer
You bend your ear
And listen there

My filthy soul
You see as clean
All because of
Christ in me


I know this is the third poem in a row, so if you don’t like poetry, sorry, haha.  If you do like poetry, then here’s a little background:

The first stanza was written in March 2016, and the second stanza over a month later. But I wrote them on the same piece of paper, so I read them together, and I quite liked it. So, this is a composite prayer-poem. I hope it touches you as much as it continues to touch me. 🙂

Sydney

The Shedding of Perfect Blood

“In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22 CJB

I often forget that it should have been my blood shed upon the cross.  But my blood couldn’t have atoned for my sin, because I am not a spotless lamb, I am a crippled one; I should have died without ever being restored to God and would have spent eternity in the flames of Sheol.

Jesus, Yeshua, our spotless Passover Lamb, sacrificed himself to Death so we could live.  Praise God!  Forever!  Seriously!

Sydney

 

 

Doubting Doubts Gives Us Faith

I just read a really, really, really good post called Faith and Doubt (and how they coexist) at Rethink.
You should go read it. Then you can read my thoughts on it.

It starts off with a great hook:

I’d bet that at some point every person has had some doubts about their faith. But despite the prevalence of doubt in our spiritual walks it’s rarely talked about or acknowledged. And when it is, often I hear doubt talked about negatively. You shouldn’t doubt. You can’t question that. You know what the Bible says is true. We downplay this pivotal piece of our faith journeys.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to read that first paragraph. It was so good to hear someone being honest about the onslaught of doubt that most serious, thinking Christians experience.

I’ve just been reading through Job as part of my yearly Bible plan, and this quote (from the abovementioned post) resonated so much inside my soul.

I screenshot parts of posts that I really like, and this was all just so good!

I left a really long comment/testimony on the post and then realized I should just turn it into a blog post, haha, so here goes:

I am a very analytical person, so I want to understand everything. This means that I put myself in the shoes (and the brains) of other people so that I understand their position. This can get me into trouble when I don’t have a good way to rebut their ideas. I also have a strong dislike of pursuing worthless ends and wasting time. Thus, I constantly analyze what I believe so that I know it’s the truth.

I went through an intense period of examining my faith about a year ago, coming up with what-if situations for Christianity like what if it’s actually a conspiracy, a fake, a lie that we’ve been indoctrinated into? It was really hard for me, despite having grown up having no doubts that God existed and that His Word was true. I struggled mightily for a long time, asking God to confirm His Truth to me in a way I couldn’t doubt.

It all culminated during a staff Bible study this past summer when the staff of Camp Gilead were reading through and praying Psalm 139. All the doubts I had pushed away or half-explained came pouring and pounding into my head, and I realized it was a make or break moment. Either I let the doubts destroy my faith by ignoring them (making me insecure in my faith), or I needed to follow the doubts to their logical end and destroy them once and for all.

I ended up crying a lot that night, but I didn’t shy away from the doubts. I followed them to their source and dared them to try their very best to destroy me.

They couldn’t.

Our God is so much greater than any of the doubts I could ever have, and no doubts make sense without the context of absolute Truth, so they automatically fail anyway.

I was set free that night from the overwhelming doubts that had plagued me for so long, and now I have a new unshakeable confidence in credulity of the Bible and in the God whom my faith rests in.
I still have to ward off the little doubts on occassion, but that comes with the territory of being right, I suppose, haha.

God is not scared of our doubts, so we shouldn’t be either. I listened to their sales pitch and then watched them self-destruct when confronted with Scripture, logic, and The Truth.

Recently, I stumbled onto a song that gave me the title of this post, Doubting Doubts by Citizens & Saints. I wanted to imbed it, but my YouTube app is acting up so you’re getting a link, haha. I absolutely love the musicality of this song, but also the authenticity of the lyrics, their raw vulnerability.

In another vein, our God is so great. I’ve been digging Joshua Aaron’s version (half in Hebrew, half in English) of How Great Is Our God.

Thanks for reading; I hope it encourages you as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Deus est Bonus! (God is Good!)

-Sydney

When Things Don’t Go As Planned…

Disclaimer: I originally wrote this sometime in late September, but apparently forgot about until now.  Enjoy!

Last year, when we went to Ohio, it was a rather mashed together, spontaneous, more-stressful-than-necessary trip.  

So, once we got home, my dad started immediately planning the next year’s (this year’s) trip.  We called up friends and got dates settled for us to see them, researched white-water rafting places, etc..  

When we started our trip in late August, however, things immediately began to fall apart.  

First, because of the beautifully chilly weather and because it started raining, our rafting trip was cancled.  Next, some friends who were going to host us got sick.  Then, Hurricane Irma made returning home on the planned day rather impossible.  

However, through all of it, God’s hand shone through:  

Instead of going rafting, we went to an American Ninja Warrior gym in Atlanta and saw ANW legend Ryan Stratis!  

When we realized we had no place to stay for the night when our friend had to cancel, we got the opportunity to spend the night at another good friend’s house.  That 24 hours was one of the funnest I’ve experienced in a long time, and it wasn’t even planned. 

Staying up in OH for an extra 4 days meant we could go to church (twice in one morning!) with our family, hear powerful sermons and great gospel worship, and reconnect with old friends.  It was a huge blessing that we would have otherwise missed out on had we left as planned on Saturday.  

My sister and I rather fond of our cousins (understatement of the year), but we were supposed to leave early Saturday, the one day our cousins didn’t have school.  We were very happy to not have to leave then!  We made a lot of fun memories in the extra days we had with them. 🙂 

Thank God that He always knows which plans should prosper and which shouldn’t! 

Squid

Physical Training

I am not a sports person. I run 20 feet and my chest is on fire and I’m sore for the next day.   

So, Paul’s admonition to Timothy on physical vs spiritual training never has had much meaning to me.  Of course I’m going to read my Bible more than train for sports!  I don’t do the latter at all! 

But, I realized today that I do have conflicting priorities sometimes when it comes to training.  

I recently joined a homeschool band and choir program (there’s also orchestra but lol nope) and am loving it immensely.  It’s been a childhood dream of mine to play/sing music in a big group like that, and it’s totally coming true!  However, it’s a huge time commitment, especially practicing.  

I practice simple snare drum exercises over and over so that I am completely comfortable playing them at any tempo.  I sing the same lines of my alto or second soprano part more times than I ever thought possible so that, when I sing in a group, I know my part and can sing it well.

See any parallels?

This whole thing came to mind because I had two things to do last Friday and the time for only one.  

  1. Practice drums for >30 mins (preferably)
  2. Watch 3 15-min videos on this week’s parsha (Torah portion) on AlephBeta.com.  

Aaannnddd since, by order of the Rabbi (my stepdad) I had to watch the vids by the Sabbath (sundown), I decided to do that instead of practicing, since I can practice anytime (sort of).  It put a whole new spin on godliness training vs physical training.

Just some thoughts… 🙂

Squid

Sh’nah Tovah!

This post was written during my stepdad’s sermon at our synagogue on Yom T’ruah, so it’s a mixture of convictions, insights, and sermon notes.  Please listen to the actual message too, which I’ve linked to twice now in the same paragraph.  You’re welcome.

Sh’nah Tovah! (Happy New Year!) The blessing of a new year is not to be understated.

A new year, one without the mistakes and regrets of the last. One without the choices that haunt me still, nearly a year later. What a blessing indeed! The past is behind me, Hallelu Et Adonai! (Praise to the Lord!)

Lev 23:24
Yom T’ruah is a holiday of remembering, a memorial.
Memorials exist so that we never forget the good in the pain.
We remember the selfless heroes who died defending our country with memorials erected in their honor.

I want to forget the pain, but
I want to remember the lessons.
I want to forget the sinful thoughts, but
I want to remember the way God brought me back.
I want to forget the mistakes, but
I want to remember the way my mom fought for me.
I want to forget the hurt I caused, but
I want to remember the ones who forgave me.

God is both holy and loving. He calls me to be set apart, to set my heart apart for Him. He, in His love, gives me a reset button: a new year, month, week, day. He forgives me the sin that I confess to Him and repent from.
I want to turn from the patterns of thought I fall into, I want to run as far away from what entices my heart away from Him.

Love is not truly love unless it’s communicated, verbally and through actions. God loves us, and He has shown it.  Have I shown my love for Him?

–Exodus 19:9, 16, 18-20
While in the darkness, you rely on what you can hear. God wanted His people to hear Him.
–Deuteronomy 4:10-11
“I will make them hear.”
–Genesis 1:2
“darkness of darkness” out of the darkness, God speaks.
–Psalm 33:6
“A breath from His mouth” is very similar to the Sinai shofar blast.
–Genesis 3:8
“evening breeze” could equal “breath of God”
–1 Kings 19:12
Mount Sinai again, and Elijah was afraid, just as the Israelites were afraid. In the darkness, chaos, destruction, fear reigned. But in the quiet voice of God, Elijah found his Adonai.
–Psalm 33:18, 20-22
God hovers over the darkness of our soul so that He can bring forth life from it. He announces His presence with the sound of a shofar.
–John 10:11, 14
“We know the voice, the still small voice, of our Savior.”

The shofar blast is our cry for help. But we don’t need a trumpet blast, we have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) interceding for us when we have simply wordless groans.

8 is symbolic for new beginnings.
Welcome, year 5778!

Holy Unto You (a song that makes me cry every time I sing/hear it 😊)

Happy New Year!!

Sydney

Don’t Fight It!

I worked as a Junior Counselor this summer at a Christian summer camp.

But I didn’t sign up to be a counselor.  I never would have signed up to be one.  

This winter/spring, my friends were trying to convince me to apply to CG.  I told them ‘nah’ over and over again until they finally sent me the job description for Media Assistant.  After realizing that fit it to a tee, I begrudgingly agreed to fill out the application and see what happened.  

As I filled in my crazy long application, I realized that it was something God was leading me to do, and I felt very strongly that I was going to be accepted, though I couldn’t have told you why.

Fast forward a couple months, and I got a call from the co-Director, Mrs. K.  I was super nervous, but she was very sweet and put me at ease. 🙂 She told me that they were removing the media positions, but that they still wanted me to work for them, so would I consider being a Junior Counselor?  I was so elated by the fact that they actually liked me that I said ‘Sure!’  

Later, I realized that I had valid reasons for not signing up to be a counselor in the first place.

  1. I don’t know how to talk to/handle little kids.  
  2. I’ve only been to camp once in my life, and that was for a teen week, which is always different than every other week.
  3. *most importantly* I didn’t know how to be a counselor!!

So, I was slightly panicking in the weeks after that phone call.  

However, the two weeks I worked (plus a week and a half of staff time) grew me in ways I could never have imagined.  

I went through an intense stretching process in that very short (yet extremely long) time. I almost had a nervous breakdown, took a couple of voluntary naps for the first time in my life (which helped stave off the previous point), and bonded with an amazing group of people who were just a bunch of scary strangers (#homeschoollife) a month or two before.  I wouldn’t have survived without God’s strength in me and without the support group (we’re called counselors for a reason!) that He generously provided.  

Our assistant director, D, and his girlfriend, the head counselor, Miss E, poured into us counselors as our spiritual “parents.”  They had prayed for a whole new summer staff, and we were their answer.  They genuinely loved us and expressed that verbally and practically as often as they could.  

Everyone knew that God had brought each of us there for a reason, and the full-time staff members made us feel appreciated and loved, individually and corporately.  

It was a summer beyond my wildest expectations.

And to think that I had fought it.  

We usually don’t know what’s good for us. However, God does.  If you let Him plan your life instead of you (not with), it pays off.  Believe me. God knows. 

Before you set your mind against something, pray about it and make sure that you aren’t about to miss God’s next right turn. 🙂

-Squid

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