Monday, December 19, 2011

Joyeux Noel!

I love Christmas music- always have and always will. Some people say they don't , and I understand not loving songs about snow people, flying reindeer, or hippos (but i still think it's fun!). However, a good bit of Christmas music is definitely some amazing worship songs. 
Christmas songs are worship, exultation to God because of who He is and what He's done. They tell not just the goodness but also the greatness, the divinity of our God.
My favorite Christmas song is O come, O come Emmanuel. This is a perfect example of a Christmas song of worship.
The meaning of the song reads better if you  read it in sentence versus score and measure.

O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to the, O Israel!

There are many more verses, but they essentially all share and tell of the same story. The song itself has a sound of both desperation and joy. It reflects upon the history of the Jews- they had been hard pressed, in exile, forced out of their own land, and forced to stop their own religious practices, traditions, and habits in a foreign land, in terrible circumstances. Emmanuel means "God with us". The Jews were looking for the man that will give them back their land, their culture, their religious freedom.
They needed Emmanuel- God to be with them. They needed a saviour.They needed to know and be reassured of the fact that rescue is coming,
 They were probably at this point thinking something like- 
"Where is this saviour that God promised would take us out of captivity? where is the man that was promised to come and help and save us? It's been too long, I don't know how much longer I trust how much I believe this anymore.. But God you tell me to hold on, because He's coming.. O come, O come saviour, God be with us in these trials.."
So the song lyrics read that way-
" O come, come to us and God be with us and save us from this terrible state of captivity and trial. We have been in this captivity, in these trying times for far too long and need our saviour.  We are waiting For the Son of God to come down and save us."
probably at this point, it is hard to hold on to hope. But oh, imagine the celebration to be had when the Saviour did come! Imagine what a relief  it would be to sing 
"Rejoice! Rejoice! GOD IS WITH US! He's come to us-Israel!" 
This is the hope they'd been waiting for!God is Good, God is Great- God keeps His promises!

So you may not be held in captivity, but everyone has hard situations in life, so your song of worship could be similar to the Israelites'. 
"O come and be with me God as I go through this treatment;split;move;death of a loved one;depression;sickness. There's-a lot riding on this;so much pain;mourning;strife;anxiety- but God, I am waiting for you."
and depending on the chorus you are singing at the time, be it "shall come to thee", or "has come to thee"..
"I Thank you, Lord in advanced, for I know you will have your will in this situation, and come through. You have never failed me, and I trust in you, that You are Lord over this situation."
"Thank you, Lord! I rejoice in the miracle, for you answer my prayers! You are great and I thank you for working in my situation!"

So very merry Christmas to you, and I hope we all remember to worship God in everything-in word,deed, or song this Christmas season. :)
Joyeux Noel!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Break blog

Christmas Break update:
So I’m home for Christmas break! I’ve been home about a week and a half now. It’s been great so far! It’s so strange being back in the states though. I would have never guessed there’d be a culture shock in coming back to where you’re from, but when you’re in an entirely different culture for a while and come back to something/ anything completely different- it does throw you off a bit! 
So yes, I’m back in the states, where there is heaps of fast food and easy, cheap things! Where you can drive around on the right side of the road and drive thru restaurants; where denominations matter a whole lot and churches are on every corner. I sort of did miss seeing churches everywhere, come to think of it. I never realized how unchurched Australia was when moving there, but compared to the states, it is so obviously different in every sense. But, my Heart for the country is that others will realize it’s still a mission field even though it’s not a 2nd or 3rd world country. 1st world countries need Jesus just as much as the rest of the world. 
The difference is how witnessing and ministry is gone about.
In the south, practically every person, if not everyone, has heard about Jesus and knows or recognizes a bible story or two. So ministry here, in my opinion, is tweaking people’s views on God, Jesus, the church, and Christians so that we share the True view and true points about our God and what we believe, hoping our actions line up with the preaching they've heard. It most likely looks like helping people-reaching out for the people that need to be drawn to God through community and sharing love.
In places where Jesus is more unheard of, it’s about basic simplicity of sharing the Gospel in understandable language; for the unchurched people in a society where talking about God, Jesus, or bible stories isn't as common don’t need big, religious words they haven’t heard of or know the meaning. They need Jesus and they need to know why they need Jesus. 

Oh dear, don’t know what exactly what started that bit, but I guess through this Journey I’ve been finding my passions, more about the world, and being more aware about knowing  the culture/people/society/issues of the environment you are currently in. No matter where you are, it is important to question: what is the most I can do here, how can I get involved, and how can I help?

 For West Monroe, I’d say 3 things are quite important: 
1. With the incredibly heart wrenching number of suicides in the parish just during 2011, it is vital to help be the change in this “trend”-more like epidemic.  Since there’s no one thing to pin point suicides to, God is our only answer, and prayer should be our first response. 

2. Bringing the body of Christ together as a whole and looking past denominational differences is a major goal that should be worked towards so that WE as God’s church, together as one, have no dissension among ourselves. We should love our friends and family despite any differences on how we “do church” or worship, for our love for God should be enough to continue to lift up each other despite any personal preferences or convictions. Who wants to be part of a religion that fights among itself? What kind of body is that?

3.I don’t know if I feel so strongly about this subject because I’m occasionally (when I lived here) involved in helping the homeless, but it’s SO OBVIOUS to anyone even going through the Ouachita parish area that there is a relatively large number of homeless people. Anyone driving for more than 5 minutes is sure to see someone either sitting on the corner of the street asking for a lift, money, a job, or food. There is just about always people walking around with large backpacks or things (or sometimes nothing at all) that is the entirety of their belongings, walking from place to place-to either get to work or just wandering.  If you have any spare change to your name at all, you are considered to be in the top 8% of the wealthiest people in the world. You just bought a $9 meal at chick-fil-a, and then say you don’t have a dollar to give to the man and wife walking right beside your car starving? (now of course, I know good judgment should be used before giving someone a ride or something like that, especially if you’re female-that’s common sense, but there are so many things you can do to help out besides that- volunteer at a shelter, a soup kitchen, under the bridge ministries, etc.) 

Anyways, basically, there’s always more that can be done. 
You can talk less trash,gossip, negative comments to your church friends about “oh them Baptists… oh those pentacostals… the ___(insert any denomination here)”… other people that aren’t Christians hear it.They do. 
And there are always prayers to be prayed for the friends and family that are permanently left with the aftermath of a suicide. Praying that there are no more certainly helps, but I personally pray more for peace of mind and heart of the friends and family of the person.  
And there’s always a little bit extra you can do to give to or help the homeless and needy in the area. 

Your mission field is not only whatever location God has put on your heart to do missions abroad, but as a Christian, your mission field is anywhere you are standing. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aussie update from LAX

Aussie Update from America:

So I left Sydney Wednesday afternoon, my flight took off at about 3:25. Before I got on the plane, there were a few random little fiascos, but nothing too bad. First of all- I highly recommend anyone to weigh every bit of luggage before going to the airport. I wish I would have had a scale! I was definitely shocked when I found my one checked luggage was 7 kilos overweight! So, Andrew (He escorted me off to the airport) and I pulled over to the side because I was going to see what all I could take out of my luggage and he just take back to my flat when I leave. So, as we are sorting, a woman on the bench beside us mentions that we could get large bags to carry things in from a store in the airport. So Andrew treks off to find one, then she mentions that you can just get a big cardboard box from the Post and count that as a checked bag (I was allowed 2 bags, but only wanted to carry one to make things a bit easier.) So, we get the cardboard box, stuff about 8 kg of stuff in it, take it up to the counter and they take it! What a relief! That random woman from Idaho is a legend. Haha. This was the first time flying by myself! It wasn’t terrible, but when it’s with people it’s always more fun. Actually, saw my friends from College, Joel and Brian at the gates, and Joel and I were on the same flight so that worked out nicely.
The flight was a little less than 13 hours. I had a window seat towards the back of the plane. It wasn’t too shabby I’d say. . I was blessed to have nice seat neighbors. On the aisle seat was a sweet, older, Canadian woman, and the girl beside me was a student at UNSW! She was nice to talk to-and quite impressive I must say: Triple Major! I didn’t know it was humanly possible to do that, but she apparently does. Food-not too bad for airplane food, but as a college student, I’ve found I’ll eat next to anything given to me.
 LAX airport is huge! Oh my goodness, I was quite turned around at first, but then I found my gate with relative ease. I’m currently sitting in the Starbucks outside of my gate while I have about another 40 minutes until my plane starts boarding.  At this moment, I REALLY wish I had my American phone! Because Vodafone does not work at all here apparently. Noooo service=noooo contact to the world.
 I am NOT looking forward to the plane flight to Dallas, the plane is going to be so small compared to all the international flying I’ve been doing! Yikes! I don’t enjoy flying. Take off is the worst part for sure. Thankfully, I had taken a Dramamine about 20 minutes before I got on the plane so I fell asleep RIGHT before take-off, and slept for about another two hours after that. I’m hoping for the same thing to happen on the way to Dallas! Lol.
You know that moment when you look around at all the people in your gate and are like “oh man, screaming child-or-the woman that’s drooling in her sleep right now- I hope they aren’t beside me on the flight!” I’ve pretty much been doing that all day. I’ve seriously prayed for favor regarding seatmates for days now! So far all is well! Shall update again after Dallas. I can’t wait to land in Texas, see mom and dad again finally! And also get some steak n’ shake or chickfila!
G’day (x2 since I get to do Wednesday twice!) mates!