Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2006

NOTE: This is part one from the series “Discerning God’s Will: My Struggle with College”. It has been re-posted here because it had been deleted.

2006-10-h-011.JPG

“No, you need to live on campus. If not, how will you get the college experience?”

“I wanted all my children to live on campus so that they could learn independence. It’s the best practice for marriage!”

“Yeah… if you go to college close to home, I’ve heard you need to cut yourself off from your friends and family here to get the true college experience.”

I am now going to tell you the story of my struggle with college. I am not telling this story to convince you to go to college or not to. Rather, I want to share with you how God guided me through this decision. It is applicable to all the decisions that we make. As I look back and see God’s hand in this area of my life, I am reminded again of His goodness.

I had always thought that I would go to college. That’s what you are supposed to do. Time and time again from the media, from friends, and even from some family members I was reminded that I cannot amount to much if I do not go to college. Besides, I was fine with this decision; I could no more change it than I could change my parents. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

My first three years of high-school flew by! During this time, I decided on a college to go to. It was a truly excellent Christian college that was near my home. However, I was not quite sure that it would be good to go to college close to home. I mean, isn’t college all about branching out, about new experiences, about becoming an adult? And from all corners of my life, I received a resounding “Yes!”
Except, my parents said that I could not live on campus unless I paid for it. In addition, part of me knew that I would rather live at home.
To my shame, instead of completely listening to my parents, he pressure convinced me that living on campus was the only way to go.

I went to my Christian friends to talk this over. Only one or two listened without giving me much of an opinion. They would listen and nod at the “pros” and the “cons”. I appreciated this, and it gave me a place to work out my own questions about the whole thing. On the other hand, the vast majority gave me comments similar to the ones at the beginning of this post. Even adults who I respect and who have taught me so much about the Christian faith stated decidedly that I should live on campus.

If you are laughing as you read this, I understand. “To live on campus, or not to live on campus… that is the question.” Sounds rather silly! To me, though, it was a huge decision, and God revealed Himself to me throughout, turning my thoughts and mind to Himself. I only wish that I had gone to Him sincerely first, not other people. But we do serve a faithful God.

I eventually decided that it would all work out. My parents would come around; maybe they would see that I need to live on campus or I will be one of those people who never leave home. Lurking in the back of my mind was the idea that maybe my parents were right. Still, I tend to be a little too attached to the home anyway; I would have to learn to stretch my wings and be a normal person. I was doubtful, but people assured me that living on campus was the only way to go. I listened. I began to pray that God’s will would be done, and I hoped that my parents would come around.

What I did not realize at the time was that all along, I wanted my parents to be right; I wanted to follow them! But I couldn’t because then I would never learn to fly…

To be continued

Part II/Part III/Part IV/Conclusion

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

dsc06927.JPG 

I might as well confess: I am fascinated by the way people do their quiet times with the Lord (aka: devotions). I love to hear new ideas, quotes, and how and when and where people do their quiet times.

In fourth and fifth grade, my Sunday School teacher encouraged her students to do “devotions” every day. She wanted us to read and think about at least one verse. It seemed like homework to me then, and I loved it. Nonetheless, the habit became more than a habit as I grew older. Now, I truly treasure my times with the Lord. He has used them to convict me, to teach me, to encourage me, but mostly, to show me His love. He has shown me my sin and His mercy. He has taught me how to better love others.

I am not perfect. These times have not made me into some super-incredible being. However, He has used them, more than almost anything else, to grow me in my faith.
So I want to offer some hints and things that have helped me, as well as quotes that may inspire you. Also, there will be links to other articles that have helped me tremendously. I pray that you will be blessed through this humble series.

Part I: Some Logistics

1. Place- You have probably heard this before, but you need a place that is quiet and peaceful. It helps to have the same place everyday, so that even sitting in the particular chair prepares your heart. However, there may be extenuating circumstances, or you may want to go outside occasionally. Do not get so tied down to the place that you cannot have a quiet time if you do not have that particular place. However, you do need a place where you are free to worship and pray without being disturbed or feeling self-conscious

2. Length of time- I recommend that you have a block of time large enough so that you may worship without hurry. If you rush through this time in a hurried manner, you’ll miss out on some of the benefits. You need time to be still before God, time to read and meditate on His Word, time to pray, time to sing. If you have not done this before, or if you have not done it in a while, start with a smaller chunk of time (i.e. 10-15 minutes). I usually have around an hour of time blocked out, but I do not always use the whole hour. I block off an hour so that if I need to find one of my books, if I accidentally oversleep, or if I want to spend more time, I will be able to. However, quality is much more important than quantity. Also, although you may usually spend thirty minutes in the Word, there may come a day when you only have ten minutes available (for various reasons). Please do not neglect your quiet time simply because you cannot do “the full routine”. I have several books of the Bible that I read systematically and journal about during my normal quiet time. However, I also usually have another book of the Bible (my “go-to” book) that I am reading, which I will read at night and whenever I cannot have a full quiet time. Have a back-up plan, especially when it comes to time! These times with the Lord are to give you freedom and refreshment, not bondage.

3. Time of Day- I strongly recommend the morning. And if you are tempted to roll your eyes and pull out your list of excuses for not doing it then, you are not alone. I used to have my own list. I do not think that it has to be in the morning. However, it is wonderful for numerous reasons.

Several months ago, I began having quiet times in the morning skeptically. I had tried it numerous times and always failed. I thought this time would fail, too. But it did not! First, I had prayed and felt like God wanted me to spend time with Him in the morning. At night, I was always tired and rushed if I stayed out too late babysitting or something. So, I began to have this time in the morning. On early mornings (mornings when I must leave earlier for class), I wake up at 5:30. I am usually not happy to be up; I pray as I am lying in bed for the Lord to give me the strength to get out of bed. And He is so faithful. I have felt His power working in me as He lifts my weary body out of bed.

I like to have a quiet time before seeing anyone else. However, sometimes, for various reasons, I will have it right after breakfast. I find that after you have been in contact with other people, it takes more effort to quiet and still your heart. I do not always do my quiet times in the morning; sometimes, I schedule a time later in the day. The main thing is, please do not save your quiet time for last, simply fitting it in. Schedule time for it. That’s the only way you will succeed in having consistent quiet times! When it comes to time, I am always convicted when I am reminded that we make time for the things we truly value.

4. Tools- You will definitely need a Bible (and maybe a couple of different translations!). You may want a concordance and/or Bible dictionary. You will want pens and a blank book (or you could use a computer) to write down verses, to journal, etc. You may want a hymn-book and maybe worship song. There may be other books you need, as well. For example, The Valley of Vision has challenged my prayer life tremendously; it is a wonderful collection of Puritan prayers that have taught me so much about prayer, my sins, and God’s grace.

I encourage you to let your main focus be on the Bible during this time, as opposed to an “ordinary” book. Using a devotional or Bible study book to help you can be wonderful. Just make sure that you spend time in the Word, praying that the Spirit will help you interpret it. There is no substitute for the Living Word of God!

Please do not let the lack of any of these four things (place, length of time, time of day, or tools) keep you from having a quiet time. If you do not have your normal place, find a new one! If you only have five minutes, do a shorter quiet time and pray throughout the day, or re-schedule. If you do not have your Bible, pray and meditate on a specific Scipture (this is where memorizing comes in!). Ideally, you would have a Bible, but if for some reason you do not, that does not mean you cannot spend time with God!

I am not encouraging quiet times simply because I have heard that they are good or “the thing to do.” I have felt it! I have seen how God has worked (and is at work) in me through these times. Progress may be slow and seem insignificant, but God is always working for His plan and glory. There are so many things that will help you grow as a Christian. However, time alone with the Lord is one of the most incredible ways to grow spiritually. We must learn to abide in Him daily. I encourage you to “make your soul happy in God” by spending time with Him!

Read the Introductory Quotes

Read Full Post »

“I have found that these quiet hours with God, these times when I have come as it were into His presence, have been the strength of my Christian life, and I know they are what every young Christian needs.” –Mabel Hale

“Having a quiet time with the Lord every day is absolutely essential if you expect to grow spiritually.” –Elisabeth Elliot

“The young believer must understand that he has no power of his own to maintain his spiritual life. No, he needs each day to receive new grace from Heaven through fellowship with the Lord Jesus. This cannot be obtained by a hasty prayer, or a superficial reading of a few verses from God’s Word. He must take time quietly and deliberately to come into God’s presence…” –Andrew Murray

“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished . . . I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.” -George Mueller

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it… Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” -J.I. Packer

“Even on days when every cinder in our soul feels cold, if we crawl to the Word of God and cry out for ears to hear, the cold ashes will be lifted and the tiny spark of life will be fanned. For ‘the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.’” -John Piper

Read Part I

Read Full Post »

Here’s the application for my struggle with college. First, though, I want you to understand that my struggle is not over. Outside of my immediate family, very few people agree that I should not live on campus. In fact, this will probably pose more problems as it gets closer to the beginning of the college semester. However, I continually pray that God will guide me, give me peace, and give me strength to hold to the decision that He led me to. And He is so faithful!

Here are the things I have learned about God’s guidance:

1. It will not contradict Scripture; God does not contradict Himself! Faithfully read His Word, pay attention to sermons, and apply all these things.

2. You MUST take it to Him first. Pray about it. I highly recommend writing it in a journal to the Lord. That is one way He showed me His will for this decision regarding college. My thoughts became clear as I wrote it out; the truth blaringly came through my journal entry. And remind yourself of His faithfulness and His perfect plan that works to your good and His glory.

3. Listen to other people who you respect, but listen to God first. He alone is fully trustworthy and knows all things. I think it may be helpful to talk about things with godly friends; ask if they will pray for you and encourage you with Scripture. But remember, we are all fallible, as humans!

4. Pay attention to your parents’ wishes. Obey them! Listen to those God has placed in authority over you.

Here is what Elisabeth Elliot says on this topic in her book, Keep a Quiet Heart.

Three questions to ask yourself:
1. Have I made up my mind to do what He says, despite the cost?
2. Am I faithfully reading His Word and praying?
3. Am I obedient in what I know today of His will?

These are all three so important. First, we must be willing to do whatever He asks of us, no matter what! It will not work if you do not give God your all- everything. Second, you must read His Word and spend time with Him on a daily basis. Third, no matter what decision you are making, be sure that you are obedient in what you know of His will right now. If He has given you a job, be thorough in your duties. In school, diligently do your best. Know that the future is in the hands of your loving Heavenly Father. Do not be afraid!

“Let me hear in the morning of your
steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
For to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
For you are the God of my salvation;
For you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

Be patient; wait upon the Lord to make His will and plans clear to you. Trust in His goodness and unfailing love.

Part I/Part II/Part III/Part IV

Read Full Post »

Delay

dsc06915.JPG

I’m sorry that I did not post the conclusion to the college series on Friday as I said I would. My family and I were out of town. The good news is that I brought back many pictures of the beautiful fall colors. I love the richness of autumn. It reminds me again of the majesty and creativity of our Creator!

dsc06969.JPG

dsc06958.JPG

Read Full Post »

Almost everyone encouraged me to go to college. This helped with the decision. To have godly men and women give me their stories and advice was a huge help.

There was a problem running underneath the whole time. It was the question of whether or not to live on campus in the dorms. The college I will be attending is only a couple of minutes from my home. However, almost all my friends’ parents (and that is not exaggeration!) have forced them to live on campus. Since I wanted to live on campus at first, everything worked out just fine.

My parents, however, did not want me to live on campus; it costs thousands of dollars per school-year. However, they told me that if I could pay for it, I could live on campus.

Everyone told me to live on campus, except my parents. People who work for the college told me to, people in our church told me to, my friends told me to, and my friends’ parents told me to. They all expounded on the benefits of learning to be independent. They talked about the fun I would have. However, ultimately, they told me that I needed it. I needed to learn independence so that I would not be stuck at home forever.

I became very confused; I decided that I must live on campus. I had to. If not, I would never become a mature adult. Many told me that living in a dorm with a roommate is the best preparation for marriage (I heartily disagree, but at the time, I bought it). My friends convinced me that I should get away from home through their own desires to leave home. Many of my friends are intentionally not going to this college because “it is too close to home”. Sadly, I believed all of them. I was convinced that they were right. I only knew two people who did not live on campus; one was a girl who never got along with her roommates and did not like to live at home, and the other was my friend’s brother who lived at home for practical reasons (studying, money, and family).

I was so “brain-washed”! I worried a lot. Finally, I decided to pray. I prayed that if God wanted me to live on campus (and, oh, how I hoped He did), that He would provide a way. I prayed that if I was not to live on campus, He would give me peace about living at home.

Not only did I receive peace; I received joy. I saw how much better it was for me, as a daughter, to live at home, to love and serve my family. God placed me in my family first; they are my first priority. I realized that I had did not want to get away from home. I am a daughter; I need protection (yes, no feminism here!). I do not think that God intended for daughters to be shoved out into the world and placed in an “independent” environment. In addition, the best preparation for marriage is at home. Finally, if my parents are paying for college, I should put my very best into it, and I do not think I can do that as well if I am living on campus with a bunch of other talkative girls. ☺

God began to help me appreciate little things about living at home- truly investing in my siblings’ lives, helping my parents, a quiet place to study and sleep, solitary showers (yes, that was a top priority! ☺ ). Basically, the Lord showed my the selfishness and errors in my thinking.

So, my closing advice today is: do not follow or trust the opinions of other Christians without seeking God. It is so easy for us to hear the opinions of those we respect and think that those ideas are good and right. They may be; and we must take other ideas into consideration. But lean more fully upon your parents’ decisions and mostly, upon God’s will. Look to Him; He guides our steps.

Lastly, if you are considering college and reading all the “enticing” brochures and information, please do not be drawn into thinking that you have to go. You don’t. Please do not think that the “college experience” is of utmost importance. That was the trap I fell into. I thought that if I did not live on campus, I would miss out on the college experience. It may not be beneficial to you! Please do not let any decision be one made without the Lord.

Tomorrow, this series will be concluded. I know that it has been a lot to read and confusing. However, I hope that it will encourage you to seek the Lord. Know that He will guide you! In tomorrow’s writing, I will briefly sum this all up and show some specifics that I have learned about God’s will (not college!). And not all topics on Created to Be a Help will be this long!

Part I/Part II/Part III/Conclusion

Read Full Post »

Comments

dsc06610.JPG

Your comments are more than welcome provided that they are edifying and clean. Feel free to supplement the article with quotes, personal stories, links, Bible verses! Feel free to correct me if you think that I am wrong! Feel free to ask questions or for clarifications! Of course, you do not have to comment. If you have something that you want to say, though, you are more than welcome to.

And, as always, thanks for reading!

Blessings,
Ella

“And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in rightousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:19-20

What wonderful love the Lord has for us that we should know Him!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »