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Archive for the ‘Church life’ Category

winter retreat

This past weekend we were with some students from the Christians on Campus club at UC Berkeley for a weekend retreat in Sacramento. We have this retreat every winter as a way to kick off and prepare for the new semester. We went over some messages on the book of Exodus and I so enjoyed our times of eating the word together. As we prayed over the verses, the Lord was really faithful to speak to and through each person there.

I particularly enjoyed two verses concerning the manna, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.

Then Jehovah said to Moses, I will now rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day… (Exodus 16:4)

This is the bread which came down out of heaven, not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread shall live forever. (John 6:58)

In the book of Exodus, God performed many miracles for the children of Israel, but only one miracle lasted 40 years. For 40 years while they were in the wilderness, God rained down bread from heaven for them to eat. Can you imagine that? Every morning little pieces of bread rained down from heaven and this was the only food that sustained them for 40 years! In the gospel of John, the Lord Jesus is referring to Himself when He says, “this is the bread which came down out of heaven…” He is the real manna and He came down out of heaven not as a king to rule us outwardly, but as little pieces of bread to feed us inwardly. If we eat of Him as this bread, we will also live because of Him (John 6:57).

Just as the children of Israel, we believers today have the opportunity to experience this long term miracle every day. Every morning there is living bread raining down upon us, but we have to be faithful to gather our portion for that day. To do that, it’s as simple as reading a few verses a day and really chewing on them and taking them in as our spiritual food. As we do this, God has the way to change our diet and reconstitute our being.

The forecast for today and the day after and the day after is manna. Don’t forget to go out and gather your day’s portion everday!

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The prompt for this week is…

Visit

GO

We moved in almost 6 months ago and there are still unpacked boxes stacked haphazardly in our bedroom. Just last week I finally decided to do something about it, so I stacked some of them neatly in the closet of the kids’ room so I wouldn’t have to look at them. The curtains I had envisioned for the house never happened…or hasn’t happened yet. Picture frames are propped up against walls screaming to be hung up. Every weekend we say we’ll do something but then before we know it another weekend has gone and past and everything is still in the same place.

If it was up to me I’d probably never have anyone over until the house was pinterest worthy, just the way I want it. But thankfully, it’s not up to me. The Lord gave us this tent not to be pinned, but to be flung open to visitors. Which is exactly why we haven’t gotten around to unpacking boxes and hanging pictures yet. Weekends have come and gone and we’ve been too busy caring for all the visitors, some for an hour or two, some for a week or two. I’m reminded of the story of Zacchaeus, how the Lord told him as he was up in the tree that he was going to his house today. What if Zacchaeus (or his wife) had said, “But Lord, the place is a mess, and the curtains aren’t up yet, etc.” What a visit he would have missed out on. The Lord doesn’t wait for our house or our hearts to be perfect, He wants to visit us today. And sometimes His visitation comes in the form of hungry college students or neighbors who just want to stop by.

A new semester started this week and tonight our tent door will again be open to whosoever will. As I welcome these students into my imperfect home, somehow they also get into my imperfect heart. Maybe I’ll make time to hang at least one picture on the wall this weekend though.

STOP

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“And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle.” – Revelation 1:13-14

In the very first chapter of Revelation, which was written by the aged apostle while in exile, John describes the vision of the Christ he saw. He saw the Son of Man walking in the midst of the seven lampstands and He was clothed with priestly garments. In the Old Testament it was the job of the high priest to keep the fire of the lampstand burning all the time since it was the only source of light in the tabernacle. This job involved mainly two things – trimming the charred wicks to reduce the smoking and adding fresh oil to keep the fire burning. This is what it meant to dress the lamps.

I’ve been enjoying lately that this is exactly what the Lord is doing today in the church. In Revelation 1 the seven lampstands are symbols of the seven churches that eventually were the recipients for this epistle. As lampstands, their function was to shine in the dark age they were in. What an encouragement it must have been to them that Christ was the one walking in their midst, caring for their condition, and fulfilling His priestly duty of keeping the fire burning. What an encouragement that He does the same for us in the churches today, especially considering that the age today is surely much darker than that of apostle John’s time and the need for us to shine is so much more intensified.

It might be a strange prayer, but for the past few mornings I’ve been asking the Lord to trim my wick and add more oil. If a candle or lantern has any charred parts, though it might be burning, what it gives off is more smoke than light. If we’re honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that there are many charred parts in us – all our opinions, concepts, natural preferences, basically anything in us that is not Christ. So even though we may be very active in pursuing the Lord and serving in the church, because those things have not been “trimmed,” we can give off unpleasant smoke which makes us and everyone around us uncomfortable. If we are open to Him and allow Him, the Lord as the real High Priest has the way to deal with those things in us by applying the cross to our being. He doesn’t quench a smoking flax, but He does care for it so that it shines again. Then when the negative things are dealt with, He comes in and adds the fresh oil which is simply a fresh supply of the Spirit. The Spirit is our fuel and supply for living the Christian life and the church life and is what sustains us to keep burning and shining.

If we would allow the Lord to “dress our lamps” in this way everyday, how pleasant the church life would be and what a bright testimony we would give to those in the world! I’d like people to sense light when they’re around me and not be made uncomfortable by my “smoke.” Which would you rather be, someone who’s “smoking” or someone who’s shining?

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The prompt for this week is…

Last

GO

This is our last precious week of summer before everyone goes back to school next week. Okay so technically only CC is going back to school (half day preschool, that is), but since my husband works with college students, I feel like we perpetually operate on the University schedule. Next week will be official back to school week for all of us.

I’ve been wanting to blog about our last summer hurrah but just haven’t gotten around to it, so I’m going to be lazy and combine it with my FMF post for the week. Last weekend we had to attend a wedding down in the Santa Cruz area so a few families we knew who were also attending the wedding decided to get together and rent a vacation house for the weekend. Four couples, six children under 3 (and a baby on the way), two nights and two beach cottages. Doesn’t that sound like a load of fun? Sure, it was chaotic but all worth it. We’ve never vacationed with other families like this before and I’m hoping this won’t be the last time. It was fun, cost effective (vacation rentals are way cheaper than hotels and we made all our own food), and so convenient that we could walk down to the beach and come home for naps whenever we needed to. And it was great for the kids to have friends to play with and for me to have much needed bonding time with other moms.


familypicbeach

meandCC

meandCC2

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kids

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But that epic trip was not the last hurrah for us. We got home from Santa Cruz, did some laundry, slept in our beds for one night, repacked and left for a camping trip with about 30 college students. I guess technically this was a work trip for my husband and me and kids just tagged along. I was kind of hesitant about going camping after such a great but tiring weekend, but I’m so glad we did. The boys had so much fun running and crawling around and they slept better that first night in the tent than they normally would at home. It was also nice to have so many willing babysitters around so it was actually a nice break for me.

As this last week of summer draws to a close, I’m glad we made time to do some fun things as a family. Having made these memories, I feel like I can now be ready for the school year to start. I’m actually looking forward to having more structure in my days and finally unpacking the boxes piled up in our new bedroom.

What will you remember from this summer?

STOP

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This past Sunday afternoon I got to participate in an epic event, the annual Run with Jess, a 5K/10K around Lake Merritt in Oakland organized by my friend Jessica for the people in our church and any friends we wanted to invite. The weather was perfect and there was a great turnout as people of all ages came out to run, the youngest one to finish the 5K was 8 months old! (Okay, I guess technically he didn’t run since he was pushed in a stroller). It was great to see families running together. A soon to be married couple ran together, a couple married a little over a year ran together, a couple with one child ran a relay so they could take turns watching their daughter, another couple ran with their 4th grade daughter, and another couple ran with their two kids in two jogging strollers. (In case you were wondering, that couple wasn’t us. I ran with another mom while our husbands watched the kids.)

This was my second time doing the 5K, the first time was the very first Run with Jess, which was five years ago. I’m proud to report that my run time this time around was better than my time five years ago, pre-kids. I guess birthing two boys and having to carry and chase them around has made me stronger and faster. I normally don’t enjoy running, but it was a lovely Sunday afternoon at the lake, and with so many of my favorite people running with me and waiting at the finish line, it was hard not to enjoy it. It also helped that I knew there would be the reward of yummy food and goodie bags at the end. What a great way for all of us to stay healthy and remind one another to run with endurance the real race that is set before us and to flee and pursue with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).

Sadly, this will probably be the last Run with Jess that we’ll have here in Berkeley since she and her family will be moving to Cambridge, UK this summer. They will be sorely missed (haha, no pun intended). Maybe next year it’ll be Run with Jess along the Cam river?

Starting out on the 5K

Starting out on the 5K

Our youngest runner

Our youngest runner

Coming in for the finish

Coming in for the finish

My running buddy

My running buddy

CC with his 10K cookie medal

CC with his 10K cookie medal

Running mamas

Running mamas

 

Thank you, Jess! We'll miss you!
Thank you, Jess! We’ll miss you!

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Christians on Campus | Christian Student Fellowship @ UC Berkeley.

This video encapsulates why Larry and I are living in Berkeley. It’s because of these awesome students whose love and pursuit of the Lord never fail to encourage me and refresh my own consecration to the Lord. We’re so blessed to have them in our home on an almost daily basis and to have the opportunity to fellowship with them. So yes, I would consider myself a member of Christians on Campus, even though my college days are far far behind me. What I would have given to have been involved in a group like this when I was in college!

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Growing up in a Christian family (or as a “church kid,” as some would say), really does affect your childhood experiences. Instead of playing house or school like his fellow 3-year-olds, my son likes to play “church” or “home meeting.” We will often find him “baptizing” his cups, rubber duckies, or sometimes even himself while taking a bath. While eating out at a Mexican restaurant one night, he proceeded to “break the bread” by crushing the tortilla chips on the plate and passed it around. Sometimes he’ll grab a book and sit in my rocking chair and tell me he’s having “morning revival” (actually he thinks it’s called morning re-Bible, but close enough). When he sings and prays, he does it with such fervor and zeal, it makes me wonder if maybe he really does understand what he’s saying.

Of course, CC is just learning by imitation. He prays and calls on the Lord because that’s what he hears us doing. I’m pretty sure he’s not regenerated and has not yet touched the reality behind the practices that he imitates so well. At least I don’t think he has.

During our most recent road trip back from So Cal, I had my first experience of “praying” with my son. I was driving the last leg and both Larry and Turner were asleep. CC was awake and bored and so to keep him entertained, I asked if he wanted to sing together. After singing a few of his favorite songs, spontaneously he started to pray from the words of the songs, probably because he’s heard us doing that in the meetings so many times. But his prayers were so genuine and heartfelt that it immediately ushered me into my spirit and I couldn’t help but join in. His prayers went something like this:

O Lord! Keep my heart! Keep my heart while I’m young. Keep it all the day. Keep my heart soft to you.

(After another song) O Lord Jesus! Always rejoice! Unceasingly pray! In everything give thanks! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, Lord! We love You! Praise You, Lord! Praise the Lord!

(After yet another song) Thank You, Lord for my spirit! Thank You, we can pray. Lord, we love to sing to You. Thank You, Lord for everything! Thank You for everything!

In the middle of his prayers, I had interjected amens and my own prayers. We went on like that for at least 20-30 minutes. At the end of it, I was so refreshed and my spirit so watered. CC was also noticeably more well-behaved and cooperative for the rest of our trip. I don’t know if CC really understood what he was praying…but I sure did. And I learned from my son that night how to pray and sing my heart out to the Lord.

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