December 18, 2010 math

Well as most of you know, many colleges have been finishing up with this semester by giving their students final exams. Even though I don't physically go to a university for class, I too had a final yesterday. (I do take my tests at several universities in MO and KS.) My final test for 2010. =) It was Social Science and History.........basically I had to study everything about, well, everything. It covered Western Civilization 1 & 2, United States History 1 & 2, Psychology, Sociology, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and much more. It was kinda nerve racking because I had taken this test in May but had not passed. Thankfully though, after many more hours of study, I was able to pass yesterday! =)

So you are probably wondering what the numbers above mean. Well, because I passed my test I now have 105 credits! =) 120 credits is what I'm aiming for, which means I only have 15 credits left before I graduate with a Bachelors in Liberal Studies! I only have 5 more tests. I'm so very excited! This was an amazing early Christmas party!!!!! =)

Have a very Merry Christmas!!! =)

December 6, 2010

JP: Sports, Finally

JP writes:

If you know me you know I love sports. And finally, God comes through with a sports blog! I was flipping stations on the truck radio as I was heading to the missions base when I landed on a sports talk program. Of course, I just had to stop and listen for a minute. The KC area sports teams generally are at the bottom of the standings regardless of the sport (reminds me of Atlanta's teams when I was growing up in the 70's.) Their fans must be conditioned to complain because that's all they did despite the fact that the KC Chiefs football team is 8-4 and in first place for the first time since I was growing up in Atlanta. Yes Tuffy, that's a long time ago. "The quarterback is not good (just named the Player of the Month for November) , they need to settle on using just one running back rather than two (this despite the fact that they lead the league in running the ball), why didn't they tell us one of the coaches was having knee surgery during the off week, blah, blah, blah..." People, they are in first place! Give them a break and enjoy it.

Then I started thinking. God must be thinking the same thing about us, the body of Christ in the USA. Just like the KC sports fans, we've been conditioned to complain. We're not satisfied. Our churches are big and beautiful with amazing state of the art audio/visual technology, but we still find something to complain about. We don't like the music, the sermon's too offensive, the sanctuary is too warm/cold, the coffee doesn't taste good enough. The same thing goes for our houses and cars. Someone else always has a bigger, nicer one. Our cell phones and ipods are "so yesterday". We wring our hands a complain because right now we can't afford to stop at Starbucks on a daily basis. We are constantly comparing ourselves to those who have more rather than those who have less than we do. Instead of stopping and giving thanks to God for how He has provided, we complain because we want more. It seems like we as a society are never satisfied.

Now imagine what the tribe of Levi must have thought when God divided out the promised land among the Tribes of Israel. The story can be found in the book of Joshua. God first told Moses and now reminds Joshua in detail how to divide the land. Nine of the tribes inherited land on the west side of the Jordan: Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, and Ephraim, plus half the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 13:7). The tribes of Reuben, Gad, plus the other half of Manasseh, took their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan (Joshua 13:8). And I'm sure people were complaining because they didn't get river front property or didn't have mountains in which to build their weekend retreat. I'm sure that they wanted what the others had received.

But what about the tribe of Levi. Weren't they left out. In fact, it was as if God had said "Sorry, no land for you." However, he did provide them with an inheritance. "But to the tribe of Levi, Moses has given no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance. (Joshua 13:33, Numbers 18:20).

What? No land? I imagine many from every tribe thought that the Levites had received a raw deal. After all land was and still is a sign of wealth and a means to more wealth. Ahh, but God knew that true wealth was found in spending time with Him.

The Levites had inherited the privilege of coming into the Lord's presence on a daily basis and serving Him. They had to learn to be satisfied with just the Lord and nothing else.

And that's the question that the Lord poses to us today - In the world today, if all we had was the Lord, would we be satisfied?

AP: Heart Matters

AP Writes:

Hello all!!!!

I apologize for not writing sooner! My life has been super busy this past couple of months with preparation for the Mystery of Christmas. (We performed this past weekend. It went really well and was so much fun! I'm kind of sad it is over, but relieved to be able to sleep again!) Recently over the past couple of months God has really been highlighting to me the state at which I hold my heart. I often find myself in the prayer room just flipping through different parts of the Bible when verses I've never noticed before will jump out at me, all of them dealing with issues of the heart. I've even had conversations with different close friends about how our hearts are doing.

I was struggling in October/November with really trying to understand my heart and feeling kind of disappointed that I wasn't able to control the emotions of my heart well. I found a verse in Jeremiah that said "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9) I was reminded that my heart was human, and that if I followed what my heart was 'feeling' then I was following things that were untrue. I found the verse that said, "Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God." (1Chron. 22:19) I realized that we are supposed to give ourselves in our day to day business. Even though our hearts are wicked, God still really wants them!

He even knows the secrets of our hearts. Which, honestly, could be a little scary for most of us if we stop and think about it. God knowing everything we think........everything. It makes you not want to think! =) "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." That would probably be my prayer right now. That in everything, through everything, that my gaze would be such that I would depend on God to sustain my heart. He should be the strength of my heart......He's the one who created me. I have nothing that I could give Him in return for His sacrifice for me. He deserves every second of every day.

It also says in Matt. 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Doesn't that make you want to go get your heart in check? I mean, who wouldn't want to see God? I love how blunt the Bible is. It tells you what to do in order to get desired results. Only, they aren't things we can do on our own......we have to depend on His guidance. =) Colossians 3:1 is also encouraging because it says, "Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." God wants us to meditate on Him. How cool is that? Our job is to think about Jesus. =) I also like Phil. 4:7 which says that the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. The thought that God's peace will guard our hearts is so comforting to me because that means I don't have to be in control! He leads my heart!

One day during this past week, I was putting my makeup on for the show and Uncle Matt came up while fixing his suit/costume and asked me a few questions. I love it when he asks me questions because it always makes me think. He wants to know what's going on deep in the heart, not just the surface. I love that about him! =) He was asking me about my heart and how my life was going. Through our conversation I was reminded that the matters of the heart are so extremely important! We should hide ourselves in Christ. (Col 3:3)

I also really like this quote. It would be so cool if this were the case of the guy I end up marrying! =)

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her."
Max Lucado

Hope to write more later!
Ashton =)