February 15, 2016

Finished Reading the Bible!

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes tagged , , , at 12:00 am by sanguinemare

After reading the Bible (almost) every day for the last ~7 years, I’ve finally done it, as of a couple days ago!  This is a pretty huge milestone for me, since I’ve always wanted to actually have read through all of the Word to know what it actually says.  There are definitely some books that confuse me (not sure why Song of Songs is in there, for example, and still not fully resolved with how I feel about Job or Revelations), but I feel a little better about understanding the history of God’s people and how we are to live life, as well as to recognize when someone is taking Biblical words out of context, or claiming something is in the Bible when it’s not.  While I obviously cannot remember everything in the Bible, I do think it is important for all who profess to be Christians to take the time and try to read through it all at some point in their lives, just to have a better grasp of who God is and what’s going on.

Anyway, just wanted to share that milestone, and to encourage people that yes it can be done!  Even if it takes years to accomplish!  (Some days, I literally only read 1 verse to write about, because I was just too exhausted and/or that was it in the section).  Good luck!

February 14, 2016

Quotes from Today’s Service

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes, Sunday school/service tagged , , , , , , at 7:12 pm by sanguinemare

Here were some quotes that really hit me from today’s service (and one from a previous week) – underlined parts are just my own emphasis:

“Men will never worship God with a sincere heart… until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy.” – John Calvin

“Legalistic remorse says, ‘I broke God’s rules,’ while real repentance says, ‘I broke God’s heart.‘” – Tim Keller

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” – Ezekiel 18:32

Reflecting on these, I think the common theme is men’s hearts, or more specifically, the state of my own heart.  I’ve been on a bit of a spiritual low lately, and these were a good reminder to reflect how cold my heart has become, and that maybe part of that is in not fully appreciating God’s Mercy and Grace to us.  Which perhaps is also why I often find myself on the legalistic side of Tim Keller’s quote, where I feel bad about breaking God’s rules, but maybe not to the level of understanding that it’s deeper than that.  Breaking God’s rules is not just something a naughty kid has done to a parent, but rather, something that breaks God’s heart because He knows that this path is one that will be of heartache to me, and I am doing it of my own volition.  Sin is breaking us both from the potential that He has given us to be, and the ability to draw near to Him, and both of those break His heart.

The last quote I think is helpful encouragement, in light of all this.  It’s a reminder that God is not simply the wrathful God that people so easily brush Him off to be, in the Old Testament especially – the one who just wants to see people burn and die – but rather he is a loving God who wants people to repent of their sins, to turn to him, and thus, to truly live.

May 14, 2015

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes at 5:27 am by sanguinemare

Revelation of the day through growth group discussion: If it is true that God knows all and plans all, including the Fall, one might ask what the purpose of it all is. if He made a perfect creation to begin with, what is the point in orchestrating the Fall and Redemption of Man, back to the same point it started – of perfect creation?  The only answer I found was that perhaps it is precisely because he knows our nature – the nature of mankind – and knows that without first experiencing pain, suffering, and loss, we cannot truly appreciate what it means to be in perfect creation and harmony with Him.

February 8, 2015

The Church at Brook Hills and David Platt

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes tagged , , , , , , , at 3:54 am by sanguinemare

This of course, is a very belated post, since all of this happened basically last September.  But I’ve been meaning to post about it, and since I finally am fed up with all the tabs open on things I’d like to post on (lol), I’ve decided to finally get this on here.

I had many mixed feelings when I first heard the announcement that David Platt would move on from being the Senior Pastor at Brook Hills, to becoming the president of the International Mission Board (IMB).  Not because I had particularly known him at all… in fact, that was one of the reasons I was so full of mixed feelings.  You see, David Platt was a name that came up many many times in my church, a name that people spoke with reverence and respect.  And little wonder – my church happens to be somewhat of a church plant from Brook Hills, so many of the people there had spent the last few years under his tutelage.  From all their words of praise, I’ve always wanted to go to the church someday and listen to him preach, but it’s about 30 minutes away, which for someone like me is relatively far to travel.  However, I had just heard of Secret Church last Easter, which he hosted every year apparently, so I had been planning to check it out this Easter.  Little did I know that the chance to hear him preach in person would be lost much sooner than I imagined.

On the other hand, I am very happy for him in this new position.  It sounds like the position will give him the ability to do something that’s long been on his heart in a more effective way than he could have before, and it sounds like a lot of thought and prayer went into this decision.  I’m excited that the IMB has him as their new president, and I’m sure he’s going to do great things for them in God’s name.  While I did not have the chance to ever hear him in person, I have seen a couple of his sermons online, and I can tell that he is very passionate about spreading the Gospel to all people and all nations.  If you need an example of his earnestness here’s a link to his message to the Church at Brook Hills after he made his decision to take the new position he was offered.  And here is a follow-up article about his last Sunday as Senior Pastor at Brook Hills.

March 25, 2012

Conviction: New Bible Study Group

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes tagged , , , , at 6:53 pm by sanguinemare

Today, I went to a United Methodist Church near school with a friend (I had been trying to get him to go to church for a while and since that’s the denomination he was used to going to growing up, we went to check it out this week).  We went to the Traditional service, since that’s what he’s used to, and while the organ was cool, and the hymnal singing was good, and the message was pretty good, all the standing, sitting, singing, reading of short phrases and saying stuff at the end of each segment as a congregation back to the pastor, took a little getting used to for me.  It was an interesting experience though, and something I DID get out of the service was coming away with a stronger conviction that I should start a bible study group for people my age at school (of which there are currently none, as far as I can tell.)

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, since near the beginning of the year when I couldn’t find anybible study groups for people around my age at all in the med school (much less any good ones).  This is very striking to me, especially since I am now living smack in the middle of what is known as the Bible Belt.  A couple friends and I have talked once or twice about getting together to study the Bible, but so far it’s only been a nebulous idea and we’re all so busy with school that we haven’t had time to put anything together, and everyone’s kind of just found their own fellowships with their church/community/etc.  But just yesterday, a friend messaged me on facebook about the friday night fellowship we have at my church, saying she’s been meaning to ask me about it and go check it out.  Much as I’d like to have her join, I sat there thinking “Well… it’s mostly a bunch of middle school and high schoolers, so I don’t know how much she’s going to get out of that.” 

Which is not to say youth don’t have great ideas and that you can’t learn from them… because I definitely have learned a lot from them and can see them maturing by the day.  It’s pretty awesome actually.  But at the same time, the issues they struggle with, and the literary depth of interpretation at the sessions, are not going to be the same ones we struggle with, as young adults in medical school. 

Between my friend’s message and the sermon today talking about wanting to be like the Greeks in John 12:20 who “wish to see Jesus,” I’ve become more and more convicted, both about my own lack of drive to seek Jesus since coming here, and about the need to have a study group for something other than school here – for something much more important.  So I have decided.  I’m going to do it.  I want to start a Bible study group at my school, one that is based on apologetics, epistemology, and taking a strong, intellectually-based look at the Bible and its teachings, going deep into its roots (including the original translation and possible interpretations if necessary). 

Any suggestions on a good study guide/book to start with?

August 28, 2011

Music and involvement in a new church

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes at 6:20 am by sanguinemare

I am so blessed with music.  I’m certainly not the best at it, and for how long I’ve taken lessons, I’m definitely not as good as I should be.  But I thank God that my mom gave me the opportunity to learn music at such a young age, and that I was able to appreciate it from very early on.  Music is such a joyful, expressive thing, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

I’ve discovered I especially love music when I’m using it for worship.  I love being on worship team – it just makes me feel so connected to God, and so thankful for whatever talents he has given me.  Since being on worship team as a violinist a couple years ago, I’ve wanted to keep it up.  But the year after graduating college, I moved home and didn’t really have a home church, so besides just playing around for fun occasionally, that was it.  The next year, (last year), I’d wanted to do more on worship team, and prayed about it, but circumstances were such that I couldn’t really do much about it.  This year however, that prayer has definitely been answered, as far as I can tell:

Today, I went to worship team practice for the first time at this new church.  To give a little background, since I have recently moved (within the last 2 months or so), I have only just started going to this church for about a month.  When I first went, I was pretty impressed by the worship team, in the sense that all of the members were really young (8th-9th grade), and yet they played their instruments quite well.  They had a pretty full band too: acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard, vocals, and even drums.  However, I could also see areas where they could use a lot of guidance – the songs lacked energy, there were intonation problems, improv could improve, the endings were abrupt, etc.  So I asked around about how I would go about joining the worship team, and was told to come to practice on Saturday night at 7:30pm.

Today, after a long day of studying at school, I drove the ~20 minutes to church.  I was pretty drained for the day, but I still wanted to help out if I could.  So the drummer’s dad (who helps set up stuff for the youth group) gave me a brief introduction to what they usually do, and told me I would be  just observing today, since the high schoolers could “run on their own.”  I was a little disappointed, and wondering whether it would be rude of me to make suggestions during their practice if I was just observing…

Since they were still waiting for people, I asked if I could use the piano nearby, and started playing some of the songs for fun, because I hadn’t played piano in a while.  After a bit, the team “leader” (of sorts), a 9th grader, came up to me to ask if I could fill in as singer, since one of them couldn’t make it.  I was amazed – it was the perfect in.

So we picked out some songs – some that were new to some of the members, and went through them.  These kids are a talented bunch.  They caught on really quickly to each new song/suggestion, and for their age, I was impressed at how organized they were.  Yes, they would get distracted and talk about other stuff sometimes, but overall, they were quite disciplined and could easily be diverted back on track if they were called to.  Musically, they are very strong, and could modulate or change tempos and sections with ease.  They just need someone to guide them.  I told them to keep up the speed in one area so we could keep the energy level up, and they did it wonderfully… until the end where they cut it off abruptly as usual.  After I mentioned that, they tried it a couple different was and it came out amazing.  I could see the smiles on their faces – the exhilaration as they really got into it and saw how cool it could be.

Afterwards, I was talking to the drummer, who actually plays piano seriously and has gotten awards for it.  He/they had all taught themselves how to drum, which is pretty amazing.  Anyway, he can play amazing classical piano, and could even name each chord he was playing as he was playing it… yet he kept saying how he didn’t know how to improv.  I figured anyone who actually knew all the chords they were playing should be able to just improv based on given chords, so I asked me to show me what he usually did on worship team.  He was kind of self-conscious, but he did it – and it was just single chords at each chord change.  So I showed him some things he could do, and then he and the team leader both just started jamming away on the piano, and the other girl vocalist joined them by singing, and then went to grab her guitar and jammed away with them.  They picked it up so quick, and they just kept at it for fun, laughing at the random sounds they were making – which actually sounded pretty good by the way.  Clearly, these three love music.  I can already tell they are going to be way better than me by the end of this school year, if not by the end of this calendar year.

I have found my purpose, at least right now in this church.   That joy of discovery – of realizing you can do something you didn’t realize you could do before – is so great.  And to see a group of young people so passionate about music… it’s just really awesome.  I really want to see them grow, and to be more confident about themselves and their abilities.  And also to help them grow as Christians – to be awed and humbled by the talents God has given them, and to be able to use them to worship Him more.

I’ve been feeling a little lost myself these days – not as anchored as I’d like to be.  But this has given me a purpose and a stronger commitment, to this church, and to my promise to God to help His people.  Unlike many situations with people that leave me feeling really tired and exhausted, I felt energized, which is something I noticed about being with church people last year too.  🙂  Praise the Lord 🙂

At the end, the leader called everyone for an announcement. “[crimsonstallion] is going to be singing every week with us from now on.  All in favor say aye!” A unified chorus greeted my stunned expression.