I recently read this quote, it's really transformed my way of thinking.
"Wherever you are be all there. Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God." - Jim Elliot
I cannot pretend that I know the feelings of the residents of the gulf coast today, August 29. It was two years ago that hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast and left the lives of many in shambles. Every home here in Lakeshore took on water, many of them were removed from their foundations or sucked out into the gulf.
I reflect back on that day, I was in my fifth year of college in Platteville, WI. Most of what I remember reading on the news was taking place in New Orleans because of the levees that had broke and the water that was filling the city. A few other times I saw pictures of casinos in Gulfport and Biloxi that had been tossed to and fro. I don't ever remember specifically seeing anything on Waveland or Bay St. Louis, though I may have, but nothing on the place called Lakeshore.
I knew Katrina had left massive devastation on the coast, but at that point, I felt, there was not much I could do. It was November of 2005 when I was presented with the idea from my Pastor to take a trip to the Mississippi gulf coast. He said he'd heard through a friend about a place called Lakeshore Baptist Church. So we began planning to head south. My pastor gave me the website address of the church and the pastor's blog and I began reading about Lakeshore Baptist Church – a place I'd never heard of, but eventually would fall in love with and spend a couple years serving
I was watching the local news last night, hearing them talk about the storm brought on some weird feelings. Feelings that in no way, I imagine, match the residents of the gulf coast. Feelings I cannot totally describe. There is a feeling of awe – watching the images of the storm come ashore makes me stand in awe of the power of our God. A power that I cannot fathom. I believe he is able to hold the storm in the palm of his hand and this storm was huge and powerful, but God's much bigger and much more powerful. There is an encouraging feeling as I continue to take phone calls and receive emails from people all over the nation that are planning trips to Lakeshore Baptist Church. I'm sure it's a different encouraging feeling – it's not my community or home that they are coming to rebuild. Yet there's still something about folks from all over coming to help and getting to see and meet them that is encouraging.
Though there's still a bit of sadness that grieves for the community. It has been two years and many in the area are still living in FEMA campers. Daily I see people come into the office that are looking for help. Some have started and need assistance with doing things they are unable to do. Others have no money and have nothing started and really don't know where to turn. Some are at their wits end and have lost hope. I pray for this community that they will continue to be encouraged and that those who feel like there is no hope and they have no place to turn, will turn to Christ, our only hope. God who became man, to live a life that we cannot live, to die for us, so that, those who'd believe would not face eternal judgment. The only One who can really give hope.
I cannot begin to communicate the feelings of the folks in the area, but I've been given the opportunity to be here and serve a community that hurting and to get to know the people affected by the storm. This has been an amazing experience. I've learn much about myself, but more importantly I've grown in the knowledge of God. His providence, His will, His provision, His sustaining grace, His mercy, His wrath, His glory.
Pastor Don also wrote a post today on the rebuildlakeshore website about the storm, his first blog post after the storm, the progress that has been made, and the fact that there is still a long road ahead of us.
This week has been pretty great. I've had a significant amount of time to sit a reflect on a lot of things that have been running through my mind the last several months and begin to correct some things that need correcting.
I got my first chance to change a flat tire, with some help from JoEll and Don. I will say I'd rather change a tire in the spring time in Wisconsin than southern Mississippi in the middle of August. But it was a great learning experience...last time I got a flat Greg and Don graciously came and changed it for me, since I had no idea what I was to do. I guess now I know.
Things around the church have been a bit slower this week, as we have no volunteers, but we have been able to catch up on a few things (at least I have) and get prepared for this fall. So that we'll be able to hit the ground running when the volunteers return in September.
As I got a chance to relax and spend time in the word and preparing for tomorrow's worship service, I listened to a sermon today delivered by CJ Mahaney. It was titled “A Biblical Understanding of Sleep”. In his sermon he addressed reasons why Christians may not be sleeping well, aside from the obvious late night coffees and ice cream, but those reasons give a great deal to consider about why we sleep and why we need it. Sleep being under the big umbrella of God's glory, that we should desire to sleep for the glory of God... “Do all things for the glory of God.”
1. Sleep is a daily Gift from God. God created and provided sleep. Psalm 127:2 “...for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
2. Sleep is a daily Reminder of our need for God. We are dependent on God. We are creatures. Have we acknowledged this? Psalm 3 - David slept at a time he was being pursed by enemies because he was dependent on God and he trusted God. We must trust God. Sleep is humbling because it is intended to be a daily reminder. We are vulnerable while asleep, but it is an opportunity to express our dependence upon God and trust God to protect and sustain.
3. Sleep is a daily occasion to examine our hearts before God. Psalm 4:4 “...ponder on your own hearts in your beds and be silent.” "Experience transforming grace resulting in refreshing sleep." Usually this is the first time we are able to examine ourselves and give close attention to our heart since our morning devotions.
Well I had great intentions of reading a few books this summer that I have been desiring to read for some time. Though...I only got to one of those (The Holiness of God by RC Sproul). This summer, however, was not all wasted to time on facebook, pacman, and reading blogs. Several other books were either brought to my attention or just looked interesting so I read them instead. This summer included A Taste of Heaven by RC Sproul, The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steve Lawson, The Truth of the Cross by RC Sproul, The Purity Principle by Randy Alcorn, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye by Carolyn McCulley, Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris, The Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin, Family Worship by Don Whitney, Life As a Vapor by John Piper, and Come Back Barbara by C. John Miller.
From this list I cannot pick a favorite, however, Feminine Appeal was a great book and probably has the biggest effect on me. It helped to make me think more about becoming a godly woman and while it was directed more toward a married woman it was a great discipleship tool. Having been away from Wisconsin and the women who have spent nearly 6 years investing in and discipling me it was a great tool for me to continue to learn characteristics of being a godly woman.
So while I failed at completing the books on my summer reading list, it's been great to be immersed in doctrinally sound and challenging books even if they weren't on my summer reading list. I recommend all these books for reading, even The Dangerous Journey – yes I know it's a children's book...but it's a great overview of John Buyan's Pilgrim's Progress...which I intend to read at some point in the near future.
I'm sure there is more lessons to be learned about the gospel and there will be other times that the gospel is made evident in preaching or in books. But starting now it is my plan to think about the gospel, preach it to myself, unbelievers and believers and pray God and the gospel would shape me into a godly women who forever desires to grow in godliness and Christ-likeness.