Gospel Women

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated, and that’s because of various life changes like moving and attending a new college!

My recent meditation has been on living the life of a “gospel woman”. That’s a term from a documentary in which a Roman Catholic Sister describes her life as that of a “gospel woman”.

I found the documentary to be very respectful and convicting at the same time. The lives and testimonies of women who live according to Christ’s calling of poverty, chastity, obedience, taking up their crosses, dying to self… that’s a lot that I can identify with with regards to my own calling or “vocation”.

The tireless work of such sisters reminds me that all disciples are called to be gospel women, to live consecrated lives in obedience to Him.  My own belief is that this calling is on each and every one of us, that “religious life” and “vocations” are not for a select few but for every disciple. Some are called to live as mothers and wives, and some to serve in other capacities. But we are all called to serve and make a difference for Him.

Another thought-provoking concept is that of “contemplative” and “active” ministry. Contemplative vocations are prayerful, meditative, silent and cloistered, while active vocations mean working with the poor, the destitute, the needy and so forth. The prime example of this comes from the life of Jesus, who took time to be alone with the Father and to pray, and who also actively ministered and served.

This has got me thinking about my own life. There have been times when my relationship with God was very “contemplative” – studying the Bible and praying for hours and hours and days and days, almost religiously and with a great deal fevour. And then I felt I must move away from that and live out the life of a disciple practically, which in some ways I feel has resulted me in carnally neglecting to spend time praying, communing with God and studying Scripture. So I pray that a new stage in my life will begin when I will have a balance with both.

What does a consecrated life mean to me? Obedience, and freedom. Serving. I have my short-term calling, which at the present means training to be a teacher which I know God will use in some form or the other. I have a strong desire to serve in this capacity.

Then there is that other calling, which has been in my life for nearly ten years now. I do not know when or where God will bring me to live out this calling, recently confirmed again by yet another passage of Scripture. I feel that even if this is lived out in the ministry of prayer and intercession, it will never be a waste. I do not know why God is preparing me and calling me for this seemingly impossible and incredulous task. Sometimes I am filled with doubt as to whether I have this conviction of my own volition and imagination or is it truly from Him. I pray that He will reveal this in time, but for now, I must return to His Word and to Him.

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Homesteading for Beginners

Screenshot (13)Simple, do-it-yourself living skills are something that I feel is wise for a young lady to learn, and a worthy pursuit. The Bible speaks often of working with our hands as well as being diligent and resourceful. A plain, back-to-basics lifestyle can be one that is compatible with that of a disciple, especially since our increasingly wealth-obsessed and commercial world presents many temptations and dangers for Christians to stray from the narrow path.

As a long-time member of the online community, the Homestead Community Pos run by Mark and Erin Harrison, I have gotten to know them through the internet as well as learn from their homesteading DVDs. I always felt even through the long physical distance, that Mr. and Mrs. Harrison were incredibly sincere and committed believers with a great deal of wisdom, honesty, and down-to-earth humility. They choose to share simple joys, like their yearly garden harvests, on the internet, to encourage other fathers, mothers, families, Christians and homesteaders.

Recently, they started sharing their videos freely on Youtube, providing a marvelous resource to families interested in developing homestead skills. I am thoroughly enjoying each installment. Do check out Mrs. Harrison’s blog, Keeper of the Homestead, as well.

 

 

 

Peace in Death

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
(Matthew 6:25-34)

A month ago, I shared a bereavement testimony, a testimony through which I witnessed an amazingly peaceful  of a loved one from Stage IV cancer. Today, I came across an article about a devout Christian woman who is looking to assisted suicide.

Now I don’t know the woman, and have never walked in her shoes, so I’m not going to judge her or tell her what to do. The fact is that her article has brought up many relevant issues, that reminded of witnessing death firsthand two years ago.

I have learned something valuable after watching someone close to me who struggled over and over again with wanting to go, wanting an end to the suffering, and yet, who ultimately surrendered it into the Lord’s hands.

Time and time again,she spoke about wanted to pass away and be with the Lord. She longed for the long months of suffering to end, and yet, God preserved her and allowed many things in her life to be settled in her last months.

As  everything she loved and held on to in life was cruelly stripped from her, she grew closer to God and was filled with a heavenly joy and serenity despite all the suffering. The passing, fading treasures of this world faded in comparison to what was real, eternal, true and wonderful.

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.” – Corrie Ten Boom

I can tell you that her suffering was not easy – she lived through so much, for so long, situations that were unbearable to think of, and yet, overcame every trial with grace that came from God alone.

And when the time came, at the Lord’s appointed time, she died a dignified, peaceful and painless death.

If we desire a peaceful death, I truly believe that our Father in Heaven is more than able to grant our desire. Our Father in Heaven loves us dearly, and no suffering can separate us from Him! His way is ultimately the best way. The question is, when push comes to shove, can we trust Him, and put our lives into His hands? I don’t know what my future holds, but only that the safest place to be is in the centre of His will and in the palm of His hands.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)

Now, not every Christian dies in the same fashion – and yet we know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict or trouble, but especially in the midst of it – peace is internal.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
(Isaiah 26:3)

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
(John 14:27)

Some Christians truly horrific deaths (like in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs), and that does not mean that God is any less faithful. Their lives are truly testaments of God’s faithfulness!  Let us trust our Heavenly Father who knows what we can bear, who loves us.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom was a woman who survived the worst of conditions, and suffered great less. The concentration camp she and her sister lived in was like the gates of hell itself, and yet, she emerged victorious, a woman whose testimony changed many lives including my own.

Another awe-inspiring testimony is that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The SS doctor who oversaw his execution in Flossenburg later recalled that he was “devout . . . brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds . . . I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.” His last message to a friend was, “This is the end, for me the beginning of life.”

Thank God that our Christian faith is not only for the times of outward prosperity, but for all our lives. This is not something I can just claim, but can firmly depend upon because of God’s promises in His word and also because of the countless testimonies of the saints who have gone on before me.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
(Philippians 4:4)

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7)

I pray that you will be encouraged 🙂

 

 

My College Testimony

At some point or the other, each of us faces decisions. Some decisions are minor, and some are major. We can be very thankful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge that God’s will us for us is the best. It is the journey of discovery and obeying His will that is so amazing and challenging at the same time.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
(Romans 12:1-2)

When we surrender to God to live unto Him, He transforms us and reveals to us what is His perfect will.

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My firm belief is that every young person needs to learn a skill and have professional training and experience. That is part of the requirement of an education. That skill could be teaching, music, nursing, running a business, or doing accounts – but it’s important not to stop with “basic education” and literacy but to have marketable skills and job options. Jesus was a carpenter, Paul was a tentmaker. Even the woman in Bible times were highly skilled in various areas. Skills are important!

Life skills such as domestic skills are important, and we can’t do away with them, but doing laundry, cooking, and the like are what I would consider very basic life skills, akin to reading and writing. As someone who has been through college, I personally found that I was able to continue helping around the home, cooking, and continue developing practical domestic skills alongside my college education – in fact, many of these skills were amply useful.

As a teen, I was an avid reader and taught myself a great many things. In my mind, I saw college as a waste of money, something young people did to “have a good time”. I was ready to forge my own path, developing skills in unusual ways. Being in no hurry, I continued to study at home for awhile after my friends starting going to college.

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God had other plans. I’m convinced it was the Lord’s leading for me to suddenly decide at age 19 to get a school-leaving/college entrance certificate (which I would have needed to study in my country and overseas). After that, the day I got results, I told my mother I was interested in a particular course, and she took me at once to visit the college. Hesistant to sign on for the course and make this huge decision, my parents encouraged me!

However, after finishing the first stage, I faced a sudden realization that my plans were going to have to change. At one moment, I was really stressed, worried, and cried out to God for help and His leading, and He arranged things for me, opening the right doors – I’m excited for the next stage of His plan!

Here are some highlights that I would like to share with you:

  1.  Respecting my parents

While I felt it would be “godlier” to forgo a university education, my parents wanted me to have an undergraduate degree at least. After researching, praying and presenting them with my choice, they were delighted that I could make such a decision. I was able to honour them by being diligent and not wasting their investments!

2. It didn’t/doesn’t cost a lot

I don’t believe in spending a fortune to get into a “fancy university” with frills like a partying atmosphere and Apple stores. This college was perfect in that it was studious, simple and down-to-earth. The course that I ended up doing was very affordable indeed, the most affordable option. I’d encourage you to look into whatever affordable options you can, and spend within your means, living simply instead of extravagantly.

3. Everywhere I went, I felt that God granted me favour with all that I met. I was surrounded by the right people at every turn

This was the amazing part. Only after Everyone that I met was decent, studious, and not at all the “wild” kind of people I expected college students to be. My brother and I went on overnight college trips together as well and were perfectly safe.

4. New opportunities

The favour of God was with me, truly, and there were many opportunities to learn new things, explore new environments and gain new skills. Even the place where I had the internship  was so ideal (a solidly Christian environment unexpectedly arranged for me by the college) that I felt God preparing the way before me, teaching me that I needed Him beyond my own wits.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5)

5. Doing it together

Having someone to do things with made it better. If you have close friends and siblings, it’s much nicer to attend the same college together. My brother and I grew closer and I was happy to see him unexpectedly develop leadership and ministry skills!

 Conclusion

Don’t put God in a box. At the end of the day, it’s  not about going to college or not, but trusting Him to guide you.

Regarding polluting or corrupting influences, it’s important to understand that being sheltered or protected by human influence doesn’t really stop anyone from being wrongly influenced – the sin nature is within every one of us because of our forefather Adam’s sin (Romans 5).

Instead of being a Pharisee, concerned about maintaining “my personal holiness”, I learned to be more like Jesus, who found a company among tax collectors and sinners, who was a light in the midst of darkness. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to overcome, and we must trust Him!

According to my parents and my own experience, over-sheltering and disciplinarian parenting is what causes young people to go “out of control” once the parental boundaries are removed (ie. when their children go off to college). Whereas, if parents follow Proverbs 22:6, the idea is to bring up your children to willingly walk in God’s ways on their own, even when parents are no longer around. (More on that another time!)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6)

 

Whitewashed Tombs – An Appeal Against “Spiritual” Vanity

Something I have learned from my own mistakes is the ease by which we become “whitewashed tombs”.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
(Matthew 23:27)

As women, when we talk about modesty, purity, godliness and holiness, we must be honest with ourselves and vigilant against substituting true holiness with the appearance of it. This is something that all mankind is susceptible to.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
(Jeremiah 17:9)

There was a time in my life when I was obsessed with appearing godly and modest. In my heart, I became prideful and judgmental. I put on my “religious”, “pious” or “godly” garb and shunned those who did not look and behave like myself. Yet, there were many things in my heart that God had to deal with. I did not realize that the “leaven” Jesus described had taken root in my heart.

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
(Matthew 16:6)

And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
(Mark 8:15)

In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
(Luke 12:1)

We must be careful to not put on our headcoverings, our long dresses, our modest apparel, adopt our “Christianese speech” and take pride in these things, puffing up ourselves in vanity and pride, when there is selfishness, rebellion, bitterness, envy, and ugly things in our heart.

It is so easy to adopt modesty of dress. It is so easy to reject anything “worldly”. It is easy to make ourselves look and appear godly to others, but in our religiousity, forget about the things Jesus truly cared about, like loving our neighbours.

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
(1 Samuel 16:7)

 

I’m not disparaging modesty, prayer, giving to the poor, fasting, etc. Neither was Jesus in Matthew chapter 6.  All I’m saying is that we must not content ourselves at “playing” discipleship. We must not make our faith all about ourselves and our achievements and “sacrifices”.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
(Galatians 5:16-26)

One day, Our Messiah will return as King and Judge. Let us be sober and vigilant. Let us have our reckoning now, and not then.The real sacrifices are not the ones we like and decide to adopt, but the ones that the Holy Spirit convicts us of, that cause us to wrestle with great difficulty and sorrow.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20)

And yet, unlike the burdens of hypocrisy and legalism, Yeshua promises us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That is because He gives us grace.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:29-30)

 

Holding Her Hand – A Bereavement Testimony

Three years ago, we said goodbye.

It had been a long walk. Months and months of surgery, in and out of the hospital, getting better, and getting worse. It had been so long, and she had been through so much and we knew it was time.

At first, we looked forward to a full recovery, but towards the end she longed for suffering to end and we did for her sake. It took so long to let go.

nurse-holding-hand

Peace. Peace filled the hospital room, flooded it. We gathered as a family. She was no longer responding, but slipping away. One by one, friends came to say their farewell, but we remained.

Together, we watched her heart-rate drop, holding hands in a circle and singing  Today, I am filled with thanksgiving that it was so calm and painless – she simply slipped away, unconscious. No struggles, no strife.  No agony.

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I held her hand and stroked it to the last moment, avoiding the heart rate monitor clipped to her finger. In the face of death, I thank God for overwhelming assurance and a steadfastness of spirit. I had always wondered what death was like, and now I realized that there is no fear.

We sang, “He Lives” and I read John 11:25 out loud as she finally left us.

 

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25)

 

As we grieved, there was an abundance of hope, even joy.

Every one of us has to face the reality of death one day. For Christians, it is the hope of eternal life that fills us with joy. God’s grace is always with every one of us.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

For those who are facing death, we pray that you have peace, assurance and hope. For those who are grieving, we pray for healing. For those who have been through trauma, we pray for strength, for faith… Do not be afraid to go for counseling and seek help if you need it, and, ultimately, do not fail to put your trust in God as He will never fail us.

As believers, we need to bear one another’s burdens, loving and supporting and encouraging one another. It is the community of believers and the love which we have for one another that fills us with strength and gives us a testimony before the world.

To face losing someone we love is challenging for each and every one of us in different and individual ways, but we share a common hope that death is not the end.