Choosing Gratitude 8

James 4

30 days of thanksgiving:

71. The fact that God’s Word so accurately describes the human condition and daily struggles

72. The apparent work of the Holy Spirit in guiding what passage of Scripture I end up reading on a given day, as it often ends up being exactly what I needed at that time

73. The fact that God’s Word describes not only the problem but the glorious solution

74. Bible-study aids that help to dig deep into the meaning of the passage

75. Those who have diligently studied God as revealed through His Word and written down their findings to be of benefit to others

76. Space-heater

77. Regular job at a local bookstore

78. New spiritual eyes

79. Glasses to improve my physical sight

80. Being required to learn ten-finger typing during my school days, a great benefit to me now

Choosing Gratitude 7

Luke 17: 11-15

Lessons from the grateful healed leper: (pgs. 180-181)

1. He came loudly to thank Jesus – May our giving of thanks be as obvious and expressive as our sharing of needs!

2. He came close to thank Jesus – We never get any closer to Jesus than when we come with humble gratitude.

30 days of thanksgiving:

61. The reality that God stooped very low to rescue me from sin

62. The reality that God lifted me up to live in Him and not die in my sin

63. The reality that God will complete the work He has begun in me

64. Faithful brothers and sisters laboring for the Lord in faraway lands

65. Fellowship with brothers and sisters from Africa and Asia who come to Tulsa in the summertime

66. Hospitable hearts expressed in invitations to faraway lands

67. Comradery for the sake of the Gospel

68. Long skirts

69. Scented candles

70. 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner

Choosing Gratitude 6

Romans 11:36
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever, Amen.

“See if like Robertson McQuilkin you find your heart for God renewed by what he called ‘the reflex action of thanksgiving. My love flamed up from the dying embers, and my spirit soared. I discovered that ingratitude impoverishes–but that a heavy heart lifts on the wings of praise.'” pg. 178

30 days of thanksgiving:

51. Opposition to the Gospel, for it demonstrates that the truth is not of this world

52. Opposition to believers’ proclamation of truth, for though the world disapproves, God approves

53. Disbelief, demonstrating that the truth is not determined by how many believe it, but by Who declares it

54. Sufficient atonement to cover the sins of all who will turn to Christ alone

55. The protection of the Lord around His children

56. The lifting up out of despair that the Lord affects in the lives of His children

57. The listening and hearing ear of the Lord – His attention to our cries

58. The Lord’s sustaining power demonstrated vividly as we accomplish tasks beyond our strength

59. Sleep – ordained by God to replenish our energy for living the lives He has ordained for us

60. Courage – a gift from God for facing the circumstances He brings us into

(These came to mind as I read Psalm 3 today.)

Choosing Gratitude 5

Ephesians 5:15-17

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Question: How should this verse be lived out practically, in light of the preceding verses that speak of the change from darkness to light that God affected in our lives and in light of the following verses that speak of giving thanks to God for all things?

30 days of thanksgiving:

41. Laundry washing machine

42. Laundry dryer

43. Plenty of clothing

44. The Lord’s sovereign guidance, often through circumstances

45. Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s ministry

46. The opportunity every summer to spend time with people from all over the world

47. CreativeLIVE classroom where I can learn more about photography

48. My dad’s enthusiastic picture-taking when I was young

49. Men who study God’s Word to expound it well

50. Elders who keep close watch on the flock of God

Choosing Gratitude 4

Personalization of Psalm 103:1-5:

O my soul, speak well of the Lord. Exalt Him. Magnify Him. Give Him the place of honor He deserves. All that is within me, pay Him respect. Cherish Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let no part of my life rob Him of glory. May all that is within me proclaim that He is holy!

O my soul, do not forget all that the Lord has done. Remember the many undeserved mercies He freely showers upon me. Remember the many times He helped through some hardship. Remember the many provisions He has bestowed upon me. Never have I suffered want. Never have I needed what He has not provided.

30 days of thanksgiving:

31. Dew in the morning

32. Hydrangeas

33. Times at the ocean

34. The little children whose parents ask me to spend time with them

35. Last summer, wherein God gave me the strength to complete my undergraduate studies

36. Special times at the Japanese Park

37. Capable dentists

38. Hearing that gunshot/s in our street (vivid reminder that my God protects)

39. Seeing those burning tires in the streets (vivid reminder that my God protects)

40. Dear homeschooling comrades many years ago in a faraway land

Choosing Gratitude 3

30 days of thanksgiving:

21. Opportunity to work at a Christian ministry every week

22. Opportunity to work at a Christian bookstore every week

23. The ability to drive

24. The ability to read

25. The ability to think

26. Coffee

27. Tea

28. A powerful laptop

29. A powerful camera

30. Picture editing software

Choosing Gratitude 2

30 days of thanksgiving:

11. God’s grace, which I don’t just not deserve, but the opposite of which I do deserve.

12. A caring church family

13. Sunshine

14. Summertime warmth

15. A backyard perfect for tanning walks

16. Kindle books to read while walking

17. A friend’s wedding coming up in a month

18. Shelves to maintain order

19. A working oven to experiment with recipes for baked treats

20. Bilingualism

Choosing Gratitude 1

It really shouldn’t be so hard to spend time with the Lover of my soul, but it is. Perhaps it is meant to be so that I will realize it is only by His enabling that I will want Him more than my pitiful momentary pleasures.

Recently, I added Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy to my library. In the back of the book, it contains a 30-day devotional series. I’m doing it for the next 30 days, and plan to blog short meditations daily to keep on track with this much-needed study.

So, here goes:

—–

Poem from the front of the book:

Gratefulnesse

Thou that has given so much to me, Give me one thing more–a grateful heart….

…I cry, and cry again;

And in no quiet canst Thou be,

Till I a thankful heart obtain

Of Thee.

Not thankful when it pleases me,

As if Thy blessings had spare days;

But such a heart, whose pulse may be

Thy praise.

George Herbert (1593-1633)

—–

Colossians 3:12-17

Verse 17: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

It seems that thankfulness is largely shown by how I spend my time. If I truly am grateful to the Lord for His mercy to me, and I realize that He could have thrown me in the pit of hell long ago, I will have no greater desire to please Him with the time He has allotted me here on earth. I am fully and only His because He has purchased me at such a great price. I owe Him my all. Lord, remind of this because I forget all the time!

30 days of thanksgiving:

1. Mercy of my God

2. God’s keeping of me when I repeatedly go my own way

3. Truth-proclaiming songs

4. Exhortation by other believers to remember the goodness of our God

5. Diverse styles of worship to the glory of a creative Creator

6. People all around me who demonstrate unconditional love

7. Opportunities to explore God’s wonderful creation

8. Parents who help me walk in the way God has planned out for me

9. Brothers who spend time with me despite my many faults

10. The time God has ordained for me on this earth to give back to Him

Bound for Southern

Journal entry on April 22:
Well, I have decided about next year. I will be staying here until January. Lord willing, I will have saved up enough money to take a full load of classes then. In the meantime, I may be able to take a couple of online classes. There are a lot of benefits with staying here another semester. Interestingly, in the days that followed my decision on April 10th, I at times tried to make myself worked up again and upset about staying here. I couldn’t do it. I really believe that God did a miracle in my heart. I believe that He changed my desires. He has made me happy about this change of plans.

Update: All has changed. Again. My parents and I drove up to visit The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at the end of April. I had mentioned a few times that maybe we shouldn’t because of the expense and since I was only going to move up there in January, it wasn’t really necessary to attend the April Preview Day. But, we did, and I’m glad we did. Here’s the story:

We arrived at about 5:15 in the evening on April 28th at the beautiful campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and checked into our accommodations for two nights — the Legacy Hotel on campus. That evening, Phil Wickham was presenting a concert in the chapel. I decided to buy a ticket since I liked some of his music that I’d heard and this place was, after all, going to be my home in the immediate future. I might as well take the chance to experience a program on campus. In the lobby of the Legacy Hotel, I purchased a ticket for the concert. Then, I took the car to run an errand.

The really noteworthy part of my short excursion in town was that for most of my drive, I was heading straight into a huge and brilliant rainbow. Never had I seen one that because of it’s sheer size appeared so close. It was as though God displayed it just for me to communicate that He is faithful. Everything would work out. He has everything under control. These truths that the rainbow communicated to me came at the perfect time. I was exploring the path that my life would be taking for the next two years, and there were uncertainties associated with it. I thank God for the rainbow to remind me of His character.

the chapel

Upon arriving back at the campus, I had a hard time finding a parking spot because many people had arrived for the concert. I finally found a place to park, and tried to evade the raindrops as I hurried to the hotel room. And no, I did not have an umbrella in my possession. What? People actually carry umbrellas? I prefer just getting wet momentarily. 🙂

In the room, I drank some Earl Grey tea before braving the rain in the short walk to the chapel. My parents were doing their own exploring of part of the campus. I slipped into an aisle by myself in the chapel. I knew no one. The concert was loud. Eventually my ears did get used to it, but nevertheless I was glad that the words to almost all the songs were displayed on a screen. I appreciated the solidness of the lyrics. The overall theme was the fact that God’s greatness and worth are displayed in creation and it was enhanced by the light effects.

The next morning…although I was already majorly sleep deprived, it didn’t interfere with my excitement for the day. We went to sign in for the Preview Day and then were directed to the venue where breakfast (and all other meals) would be served. Every place at the tables in the hall was adorned with a book by Al Mohler, signifying the great value that the school places on reading edifying materials. During breakfast, Russell Moore gave a short sermon on Jesus casting out demons. What I gleaned from it was that in order to be effective warriors against principalities and powers, we must have God’s Word dwelling in us because authority comes not from ourselves but from the Lord. The authority of His Word is the only authority we can bring to counseling situations. This means that we must know it and know it well. Southern aims to equip students with the Word of God to go out and fight well in this dark world. A couple of times throughout the day, I overheard a little of conversation going on among guys. They were discussing theology! Imagine being in an environment where that is the norm. How encouraging (and challenging) it would be!

Next, we stopped by the Women at Southern office. The ladies there were very kind, and one of them said she would like to introduce me to a girl who would be graduating with a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. From her, I could get information about the program I would be doing. Next, we attended a lecture by Donald Whitney, author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. He started out by getting the names and locations of the more than 50 prospective students in the room, thus showing himself to be very personable. Dr. Whitney’s teaching was excellent. I especially appreciated his method of writing on the board—a mind-map.

Don Whitney teaching

After Dr. Whitney’s session, we spoke with a prospective student from Ukraine. It turned out that he is quite familiar with a ministry that our church supports. What a small world! Lunch was provided by Chick-Fil-A. We were among the very last to enter the dining hall, so had to search for a table with enough seats. We found one with just enough, and it “just happened” to be the table where the lady from the women’s office was sitting. At the same table were the girl who did the Biblical Counseling program, and a girl and her dad from Oklahoma! I’ve seen God work out little details in the past, but it was nevertheless special to experience Him direct my path to meet up with specific people. It was good to be able to speak with someone who had experienced the MABC program first-hand. During part of lunchtime, three student representatives made up a panel to answer questions, and it was a very beneficial informative time.

student panel during lunch time

After lunch, we went on the campus tour. It “just happened” that the girl who is graduating with a MABC led the tour for single girls. On the tour, we learned that the campus is basically situated around a large square lawn. On every side are buildings: one is the library, one contains lecture halls and faculty offices, one hosts the gym, pool, bookstore, and other offices. On the fourth side are the dorms. The campus is its own precinct, and therefore has 24/7 city security and its own post office! One of the interesting things housed in the library is Spurgeon’s Bible. Yes, you read that right. Though I only saw from outside the room it was in, I didn’t notice a case around it. Can you imagine being able to thumb through Spurgeon’s Bible? I’m looking forward to finding out if it’s possible.

the library

the ladies' dorm

As a graduate-level student, I will have my own room in the dorm. The room contains a sink, closet, bed, desk, dresser, and chair. I’m hoping that a small bookshelf and a fridge will fit without making it too crowded. When I asked if it’s possible to request a room without a bed, I got interesting looks. I sleep on a pillow chair extended on the floor, that’s all. Seriously. It’s much better for my back, and I feel it. Unfortunately, the furniture has to stay in the room, and no brought-from-home upholstered furniture is allowed. Either I’ll get camping mats so I can continue sleeping on the floor or take my heavy 1-inch board to place on top of the mattress, put a bit of padding on top, and sleep on that. I know I’m strange. I’m okay with it. 🙂

the lawn

Following the tour which made me fall in love with the campus itself, we attended a session on financial aid. It was informative, and then at the information fair I got even more information that applies directly to my situation. In short, I found out that financially I could start school in August, and I am even eligible to apply for a scholarship! Now, I can start school on campus in August!

the entrance to Southern Seminary

Meagan, a friend I graduated from home-school high school with in 2005 met me in the afternoon after the information fair and walked around campus with me while I took pictures. She did the MABC program, so had good tips for me. I am grateful to know Meagan, and look forward to spending more time with her soon. As we waited for my parents outside the dining hall where the dinner with faculty was about to start, she introduced me to a couple of professors who walked by, including one who speaks German and Dr. Stuart Scott!

My parents came, and we bid farewell to Meagan before entering the dining hall. My parents sat with the lady we met at the Women’s office, whose husband speaks German, and I sat with April at the same table as Dr. Scott and his wife. It was a delicious dinner accompanied by conversation about the school and April was gracious to answer every question asked. Dr. Scott remembered two students who I mentioned, including one of the elders at my church. I am very excited about being in his classes on Biblical Counseling!

Q+A with Mohler and Moore

After dinner, a Q+A session was held in the Legacy Hotel with Dr. Al Mohler and Dr. Russell Moore. Rather than questions about the school itself, most inquiries were concerning theology. It was great to hear such questions being asked by prospective students! The only lady who asked a question asked how she could be a good seminary wife. That stumped the panel at first. 🙂 They responded grateful for such a humble inquiry, and gave some good advice.

The day ended with dessert at President Al Moher’s home, just down the street from the campus. He and his wife, Mary, greeted every person who entered their home. It was a privilege to explore Dr. Mohler’s huge library in the basement. I would find it difficult to describe, so will just link to a tour of it here.

So, that was my experience. I am so grateful for the program put together by Southern to introduce prospective students to the school, and am excited beyond words about starting my studies there in August. 3 months from now, my first week of class will already be over. A mere 8 months ago, I did not imagine that I would be taking this step. But I see that God has been preparing me for it. Both my interest in counseling/discipleship for at least the past 10 years and His enabling to finish my undergraduate studies last summer have been part of the path that has led me to this place. I’m bound for Southern Seminary!

Can you imagine studying here?!