Showers: Helping you figure your life out since always

“So Anna, what are you going to do with your life?”

“Anna, what’s your passion?”

“Anna, what are you going to study in college?”

“Anna, what are your plans for the future?”

These questions used to terrify me and irritate me to no end. Every day, someone asks what I’m up to or what my plans are, and up until about 35 minutes ago in the shower, my response ranged from “Well, I think I’ll go out for running back in the Dallas Cowboys*” to “Let’s be honest, I’m going to die alone with 74 cats and nobody will notice until 3 weeks later.” It was a sad, unfulfilling existence with no real direction or passion. And then I realized what has been in front of me this whole time.

The world.

All of it.

The whole thing.

I want to see it. 

If you don’t believe me, check my travel board on Pinterest.

Allow me to expound a little.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

-Hebrews 13:14 NLT

If you’ve grown up in church, or even attended church for any length of time, you’ve either heard this verse or some iteration of its message. We are sojourners and pilgrims in this world. We have no permanent residence here, we are simply passing through. One might even venture to say that we are merely guests here, passing through on our way to the Home that Christ is preparing for us in Heaven (John 14:1-4).

Fair warning, this could get a little eisegesis-y, but bear with me.

So we’re guests of the world. It’s an interesting thought. This place is not our home, we are just stopping through on our way Home. And what does a proper guest do for their host? I believe Miss Manners (yes, I just did make that ancient reference.) would say that a gift is in order. Do you see where I’m going with this? Flip back to John 15, if you have your Bible available (and if you don’t, open another tab and google it. The internet is a magical thing.) and check out vs 18-27. This is the part where Jesus is briefing His disciples on everything that is going to happen after He ascends into Heaven. Jesus wasn’t just going to leave us to our own devices when He went to prepare a place for us, He planned ahead and left us the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a gift. When we receive salvation, it is said that we receive the ‘gift of salvation’ or the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit.’ A gift. Are you tracking with me? Guests give their hosts gifts, the Holy Spirit is a Gift, and the logical conclusion is…

Obviously to buy the world a novelty corkscrew and a nice bottle of wine to say thanks for letting us stay for a bit.

Ok no really though.

When Jesus was training the disciples, He frequently commanded them to spread the gospel wherever they went.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

-Acts 1:8 NKJV

And since the Holy Spirit is now within us, our job is to be witnesses wherever we are. Consider it a thank-you gift to the world for putting us up as we pass through. But above all, we are following a direct command from God. 

This is the part where my wanderlust comes in.

I’ve always loved to explore. I love to see new places, try new things, go on adventures. I can distinctly remember being approximately 7 years old, going out for a date with my daddy in his work car, telling him I wanted to go to India. I had no idea where India was or what was there, but I wanted to go there. And then I got older and Tanzania sounded cool. And now I’m looking at going to Bible college in Italy. This dream of traveling the world is becoming more of a reality as time goes by. It is now that I realize that the world is my passion. I want to see the as much of it as I possibly can. I want to meet new people, and hug them, and tell them about Jesus. Geez I sound like a starry eyed traveler. But it’s all becoming clear to me now, this is what I want to do with my life. Not necessarily be a missionary, but rather be a sojourner. I realize now that I have this incredible gift, the gift of salvation, of the Holy Spirit, and I want to share it, share Him, wherever I land.

That’s what I want to do with my life now.

Fact of Life: If you listen long enough, Jesus will tell you what to do. And if it’s really His idea, He’ll provide the means to make it happen, too.

 

*Note: After a few offers from the Cowboys, I’ve had to stop telling people that’s what I wanted to do. They didn’t seem to understand the joke.

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Stuff I learned

I know. I’m sorry. It’s been TOO LONG! But I finally have something worth posting, so here you go. 🙂

In the beginning of this semester, God showed me something rather profound. Before God gives man a blessing or the fulfillment of a promise, He first gives man a task. Take, for example, the accounts of Adam, Noah, and Abram. God promised each of them great and perfect blessings, but first they had to complete the task God gave them. Adam had to name all the animals before God created Eve to be his helper. God promised to save Noah and his family from a flood, but first Noah had to construct an ark. Abraham was promised a son when he was 75 years old, but he did not have the child God promised until he was 99 (Abraham fathered a child when he was 86, but God made that child into a nation that still seeks to wipe out Israel, all because of Abraham’s disobedience.) When God gives us a promise of something to come in the future, we can almost always be certain that God will give us a task to keep us busy from the time the promise is given to the time the promise will be fulfilled. Sometimes that task is simply to wait patiently (which is more difficult than it sounds!), but God is faithful to keep His promises.

First, let’s take a look at Genesis 2:15-25. At this point, God has just created the Garden of Eden, and placed man in it with all the animals. Here’s verses 18-20, pay close attention, “And the Lord God said, ‘it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.” Before God brought the animals to Adam to name, He declared that it was not good for man to be alone. Yet instead of immediately forming Eve, God brought all the animals to Adam to name. All of the animals. Can you imagine how long that would take? Every single type of animal that God created? Can you imagine what must have been going through Adam’s head during this whole time? “Hey, all of these animals have mates. Same kind of animal, but they were made for each other. How come I don’t have one of those?” But God is faithful; He did not leave man alone without a suitable helper. After Adam completed the task God had given him, God blessed Adam with Eve.

A few chapters later in the book of Genesis, we see this same concept at work. In Genesis 6:12-22, we see God, fed up with the wickedness in the world, speaking to Noah, the one righteous man who obeyed God. In this account, God tells Noah to build an ark. How did Noah know what an ark was? Beats me. But God provided, and that’s the important thing. Later on, in Genesis 7:5-6, there’s a bit of a time lapse. That ark wasn’t built in a day! God gave Noah the instructions about the ark 120 years before the flood even happened. One hundred and twenty years, during which time God did not speak a word to Noah. What was Noah thinking that whole time? “Well, this is cool. Just building this giant… thing. For a flood, whatever that is. It’s been a while since God said anything, but I guess if He had changed His mind, He would’ve told me.” And God was faithful, indeed. After 120 years of silence, the time finally came for Noah, his family, and the animals to board the ark. God kept His promise, but only after Noah had obeyed God’s command. That’s not to say that God’s promises are always conditional upon our obedience, but rather sometimes God gives us things to do before He fulfills His promises to us.

However, sometimes the hardest task of all is to wait patiently for God to act. Take, for example, the account of Abraham. Genesis 13:16 shows God promising Abraham descendants as innumerable as the dust of the earth, but his wife remains childless. At this point, Abraham is approximately 75 years old. If we jump down to chapter 16, we see Sarah ten years later, still childless, getting uneasy and taking matters into her own hands. By circumventing God’s plan, Abraham bore a son when he was 86 years old, but that son ended up causing all manner of trouble for the entire nation of Israel later on down the road. Finally, in chapter 17, Abraham is 99 years old and still no sign of descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth, or any descendants as promised by God. That is the part where God came in and reminded Abraham that He had not forgotten His promise, and would in fact give them a son. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was finally born, 25 years after God had originally promised descendants to Abraham. Waiting indefinitely is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult things to do. Did God forget? No. He is faithful, and He is teaching us to sit still long enough to let Him work it out in His own time.

I can most relate to Abraham at this point in my life. God has promised me all manner of good things, but I must wait in order to receive them. How long? I don’t know. I do know, however, that the Lord has had my life planned out since before He created the world. My life is in good hands, and now all I need to do is trust Him and wait on Him, and He will fulfill His promise when the time is right.

 

Stereotypes

Here is a (semi) complete, (semi) accurate list of stereotypes for orchestral instruments. Oh yeah.

  • Banjo: You’re probably Honey Boo-Boo’s third cousin removed four times or something. Stay away from the rest of us.
  • Bassoon: You try to be different, and are probably socially awkward. Odds are you don’t talk much, and when you do you say the wrong things.
  • Bass Clarinet: You’re awkward and obsessive.
  • Baritone: Identity unknown. You are a mystery, a Pandora’s box.
  • Cello: Underneath the band uniform you have a set of rock hard abs and the body of a god or goddess. You have a smile to kill for but are also painfully shy.
  • Clarinet: You like to turn up your nose at other people in your section and complain about them behind their backs. You’re a harsh critic.
  • Double Bass: You’re extremely intelligent and shy but your thoughts are scattered and random. You probably have dark hair.
  • Flute: If you’re good you’re probably a jerk to other people in your section. Even if you aren’t, people talk about you no matter what. You complain a lot and while you’re emotionally capable of handling yourself, you probably wouldn’t survive for too long out in the middle of the woods. Odds are you would also kill other flautists to get a higher chair.
  • French Horn: You know, you’re pretty hot. If you practice. If you don’t…uh…
  • Guitar: You’re obsessed with your preferred gender and like to talk about cars
  • Harp: You live the high life because let’s face it those things are EXPENSIVE. You have a Ferrari in your garage, don’t you?
  • Mandolin: You’re a few centuries off. You run around in tights and play ballads to heroes of war to other peasants on the streets.
  • Oboe: You’re extremely awkward and nobody gets your sense of humor. You also probably have plans of mass destruction hidden away in your instrument case.
  • Organ: You live in a church.
  • Percussion: You don’t like interacting with other sections and keep to yourselves. You are very competitive and like fast food.
  • Piccolo: Annoying and never shuts up. Ever. Also slightly self centered.
  • Piano: You probably have no room in your house to walk because of all the music books hidden around your house. You probably also have an affinity for cats.
  • Recorder: You’re a third grader or someone who was bored enough to actually learn the thing on the side.
  • Saxophone: You’re extremely competitive but fall over your words when you try and speak coherent sentences.
  • Trombone: You’re tall and skinny and very quiet. But we all know you’re just planning your next murder.
  • Trumpet: Ego. Ego ego ego ego ego. It grows and it grows and it consumes the entire universe.
  • Tuba: You like pizza and have a deep voice. Odds are you have a funny walk.
  • Ukulele: You’re a surfer and you live in Hawaii. No exceptions
  • Viola: You hate violinists and are very calm, and not extraordinarily competitive. You are a simple folk.
  • Violin: You are the most competitive instrument that there is. It’s bothering you right now, knowing your instrument was last on this list. Try not to stab anyone.

 

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Eh…why not?

Well I thought it over, and I think for now I’ll still add links to my sermon notes on this blog. That way I don’t completely abandon it. Here’s this week’s notes http://manwiththecello.tumblr.com/post/33128414882/sermon-notes-galatians-3-26-29

 

Oh Noes!!!

Ruh-roh!!! I made a tumblr!! What’s going to happen to this blog?? Don’t worry! I’ll still be writing here, but the sermon notes will go up on tumblr. Which means this blog gets reserved for more interesting tidbits. At least that’s my excuse.

Check it out here (hint: click on the word!)

And check the tumblr! Follow me if you’re on tumblr!

 

Galatians 3:15-25 (SN)

Galatians 3:15-25 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Trading My Sorrows – Darrell Evans
Let’s Worship – Terry Clark
Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? – Delirious?
Once Again – Matt Redman
10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman
Blessed Assurance – Traditional

So as we’ve seen, the Law is obviously inferior to Grace. There’s nothing that we can gain by being bound under it, and there’s joy in knowing that we are free. But why is it inferior? In this passage, Paul addresses that question. Basically, there’s three reasons that Grace is supreme.

1) Grace came first

God gave Abraham the promise way before he gave Moses the law. When someone makes a covenant, a third party cannot come in later and make a new covenant that overrides the first one. Even when the Mosaic law was in effect, God still operated by grace. He never changes, and his nature has always been the same. The means did not yet exist to free sinners, but salvation in the OT was still based on looking forward to the promised Messiah, and the justification that He would bring.

2) The Law came through a Mediator; Grace came directly

When God first established His covenant with Abraham, He did it directly. No third party, nothing. He even took Abraham out of the mix by doing it while Abraham slept. By contrast, He had to go through a mediator to give the law to Moses. According to Paul,

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
(Galatians 3:19-20 ESV)

God felt that it was important enough to go to Abraham directly. He wanted all humanity to know that OUR WORKS DON’T MATTER!!! Goodness this theme comes up quite often in Galatians!

3) The Law is obsolete

Have you ever read those books of crazy laws? They’re filled with laws that are still on the books, but due to years of neglect and the changing culture have become completely irrelevant. The Mosaic law is sort of the same way. Due to Jesus’ work on the cross, we don’t have to be bound up by all of those restrictive rules and regulations (alliteration ftw!). We are free in Christ to live as He would please. It’s awesome!

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1 Samuel 4 (SN)

1 Samuel 4 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Desert Song – Hillsong
Give Us Clean Hands – Charlie Hall
Refiner’s Fire – Brian Doerksen
From The Inside Out – Hillsong
It Is Well – Traditional

This chapter is one of the saddest chapters in 1 Samuel. The Philistines encamped against Israel, and Israel decided to go to battle without first seeking the Lord. That was their first mistake. In this first military encounter, they are thoroughly routed by the Philistines. You would think that they learned their lesson from the first battle, but they didn’t. They go back home, and get the ingenious idea to bring out the Ark of the Covenant. They figured that since it had worked in the past to defeat enemies, it would work again. This thinking was false, and in addition to being crushed again, the ark was captured.

The biggest thing we can learn from this mistake is that God can never be put into a box. The Israelites figured that they could just take their magic genie with them and it would all work out in the end. They had superstition in God, not faith in God. The thing is, God really doesn’t like to do things our way. In fact, He delights in doing things the opposite of our way. He can’t be put into a box either. They learned this the hard way.

But really how different are we? What’s the difference between what they did, and confining God to church? God does not exist to be a last resort when things get rough for us. True, He is an ever-present help in trouble, but He should always be on the forefront of our minds. I know that I’m often guilty of only resorting to prayer for “big” things, but God wants to be in constant communication.

The point: God is not a lucky charm; He’s God.

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John 4:43-54 (SN)

I know. I KNOW. I haven’t posted in like 2 weeks. I’M SORRY! There’s not really a decent excuse, besides that I’ve been busy going to class and doing homework and sleeping and generally being a college kid. I’ve had free time, kinda. And I know, I should’ve posted these right when I got them. I’m sorry. But here they are now, so at least you have them.

So this week we come to the story of the nobleman whose son was healed by Jesus. Pretty interesting stuff to look at here. This whole section revolves around faith, both the lack of it and the abundance of it.

In verses 43-45, we see a distinct lack of faith.

Vs 44 – For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in His own country.

Kinda reminds me of a child taking advice from his parents. He won’t listen when his parents say something, but if someone else comes along and says the SAME THING, all of a sudden it’s a brand new revelation! Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly guilty of this too. My mom’s reading this and laughing right now. She knows.

The thing is, when we lack faith, we dishonor and disrespect Jesus Christ. That sounds really heavy, but think about it. He said He is the son of God. He more than proved it. To lack faith in Him is tantamount to calling Him a liar. Eesh. So the question we must ask ourselves is, where is our faith? Do I put my faith in myself, or Christ?

Then we see Jesus entering Galilee, and everybody’s super happy to see Him and they welcome Him in gladly. But the thing is, they only received Him because they saw His first miracle. They did not receive Him as Lord, but rather a show. They believed with their eyes, but they had no faith. Seeing is the opposite of faith (See Heb. 11:1).

Moving on to verses 46-54, we see the blessings that come from having faith.

Ok so now we see this nobleman from Capernaum coming to Jesus. His son is pert near dead, and this guy is desperate. He was out of options, and finally decided to come to Jesus. Isn’t that almost always how it goes? We get into a tough spot and we try to do everything we can on our own to fix it, and when all else fails, we pray. Why is it that Jesus ends up on the “last resort” list? (Ouch, I know.)

But at last he came to Jesus and implored Him, begged Him desperately to heal his son. He didn’t give up. Check this out, this guy knew that Jesus was capable of healing his son, and he continued asking Him for help. This was a demonstration of the guy’s faith. Now check out verse 50, Jesus is like “It’s cool, your kid’s fine. Go on home now.” and the guy just leaves. He didn’t need Jesus to physically come back to the house to heal his son, he was able to take Jesus at His word. The thing is, it’s not about the signs and wonders, it’s about believing. This man obeyed by faith, and his faith was manifested in his actions.

James 2:14, 17 – What does it profit, my brethren, if someone has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? …Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

At the end of the day, our faith isn’t about what we say, it’s about what we do.

Now after this incident, the man didn’t run back to see if his son was really ok. He trusted Jesus. So much so, in fact, that he stayed the night and didn’t go home until the next morning. He had received total peace from Jesus. But here’s the thing, it’s not important how much faith we have, but rather where we put our faith. Faith the size of a mustard seed can still move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

The object of our faith is manifested in our conduct. If you truly believe that Jesus is Lord, shouldn’t your life reflect it?

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1 Samuel 3 (SN)

1 Samuel 3 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

All Who Are Thirsty – Vineyard UK
10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman
The Stand – Hillsong United
I Surrender All – Traditional
10,000 Reasons (Reprise)

In this chapter, God calls Samuel to be His prophet, and teaches us some pretty cool things along the way. Since this is so late, I’ll keep it short and sweet.

First off, we see that God calls Samuel while he’s sleeping. Lesson to learn here: God calls us on His timing, not ours.

Next, we see that at first Samuel doesn’t recognize God’s voice; he thinks that it’s his surrogate father Eli’s voice. There’s a few things here. First, Samuel was raised in “church”. His whole life was devoted to the service of God. Somehow, he didn’t recognize God’s voice. Just because a person is “churched” does not mean that they know God. It is not until God calls a person that they can hear Him.

Finally, Eli figures out what’s up and tells Samuel to go back to bed and tell God, “Speak, for your servant hears”. Samuel hears God’s voice a third time, and responds. This goes to show that ultimately, man still has the responsibility to listen to God. We have to let God speak to us before He can work.

What did I take home? Take the time to listen to God. He wants to speak, I just need to listen.

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Galatians 3:1-3 (SN)

Galatians 3:1-5 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship

All For You – Paul Baloche
Hosanna – Hillsong
Because of Your Love – Phil Wickham
Mighty to Save – Hillsong
Overcome – Jeremy Camp
Glorious – Paul Baloche

It seems like this grace thing is a recurring theme in Galatians. Oh wait that’s because it is!! Today we had three short verses to cover. Short, but jam-packed with great stuff.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

(Galatians 3:1-3 ESV)

Paul is rebuking the Galatians for trying to please God on their own. Because quite frankly, that’s completely impossible. The Galatians were trying to please God and earn His blessing by their works. They were trying to buy something that wasn’t for sale. God’s grace is a free gift, given by His Spirit. There’s nothing we can do to earn it.

Now that’s all stuff we’ve heard before, I’m sure. Here’s the part that I’d never really thought about before: when I feel guilty over failing to walk in the Spirit, that’s my flesh rearing up. It’s prideful. To regret failure implies that I think I could have done better. In reality, to succeed at all in any area of life is purely the work of God through His Spirit. Scripture is pretty clear here:

We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

“Polluted garment” is putting it nicely. I’m just going to leave it at that. Anyways, if even my righteousness is so awful, why do I flip out when I screw up? There’s grace for that! God doesn’t want me to wallow in self-pity; He wants me to get up and trust Him to work in me. He’s the only One capable of changing me, period.

I say it again: God is the only One capable of changing me. Everything good in me comes from Him. This is what the Galatians failed to understand. I don’t want to make the same error; I want to live by the Spirit and not the flesh.

Soli Deo Gloria!

P.S. if your mind isn’t completely blown by that, go back and listen to that whole teaching, because my dad did a much better job of explaining it than I did. It’s not that long, and it’s totally worth every second.

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