Sunday, September 30, 2007

Visiting Graceland

Most people who know me know that I really enjoy visiting the unusual places. If it is the first, the biggest or famous for some reason, I like to visit and learn about it's story. Graceland seemed to be right up my alley. We found that Graceland had a campground directly next to the mansion. It sounded like a great place to check out.

When we got off the exit, we found that the pavement is in particularly rough condition. Upon arrival to the campground there were no spaces available. Finally, the entrance fee to Graceland was $30+. It was more than I wanted to spend for an oddity. I will leave Graceland to all the Elvis lovers.

We later found a campground just south of Memphis that had space, was a little further out of the city and has internet so that I can update you on our progress. Sorry I don't have pictures of Graceland for you, but I will find some even more interesting places to photograph for you!

Casey Jones Railway Museum

Our first notable stop on our trip to Albuquerque was Casey Jones Railway Museum. I had vaguely known about the song of Casey Jones, but was glad to get the history refresher.

Casey Jones was an engineer for a passenger train that ran between New Orleans and Chicago. He was noted for maintaining a strict schedule.

He was at the helm in April of 1900 when he encountered another train on a switch that was not able to get off the tracks for his passing. He attempted to stop but was unable. The resulting crash caused his death, but he was able to spare his passengers.

We were able to tour through a train replica and the restored family home furnished as it would have been at the turn of the century.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Testing of Faith

"Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict." My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers)

Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation.

How strange to think that something stained, tainted and imperfect could achieve purity and perfection. We start with the pure; we don't become pure. If I add salt to water, can I then remove it? If I contaminate my air with a pollutant, can I ever restore it to purity?

God's ways are so much different than our ways. In my examples I started with the pure and added a contaminant. God starts with man who is sinful from birth. His nature is to be sinful, selfish, rebellious and God changes our nature so we can become pure.

The conflict is ever present in this verse. Christ's followers shine like stars. We are to stand pure and blameless in contrast to this crooked and depraved generation. We must stand firm, hold our ground but do not give way to methods the world uses like arguing and complaining. By doing that, we appeal to the nature of the depraved; expecting to change their ways through reason. The ways of the depraved are not changed through reason and we must not fight the battle on their turf with their weapons. The weapons available to the Christian are far superior to anything the world has at their disposal.

If we are to become pure and blameless, we must look to our Father and hold his hand tightly. Study to learn his ways that we might look less like the world and more like him. To grow into his pure and holy character, we must know more of him. Appropriate more of his qualities of faith. Let our faith be tried and tested.

This world is our testing ground. The more we endure trials of faith successfully the more we become like our Lord. What a mighty God we serve!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

BSF Again

I have been waiting all through the summer for fall to begin again. I know students usually dread going back into the structured days of classroom again, but I have been looking forward to beginning my studies anew.

Bible Study Fellowship has provided me the best opportunity for solid Bible Study. We don't have a particular teacher apart from the Holy Spirit who teaches us everything we need for witnessing. Our textbook is the Bible itself. No commentaries, no opinions of others; just the Bible and the Spirits teaching.

We are accountable for daily Bible Study and the passages studied for the week are broken down into daily lessons. We answer questions about the meaning of the passages and personal applications we see. After going through the lessons independent from other classmates and other teachers, we share our answers together in a small group and then listen to a lecture on that passage. Following the lecture, we receive a handout of notes on the passage that explain how the passage has been traditionally interpreted. Each week we review the same passage in for different ways so that the lessons we learned alone in study are reinforced by the group, the lecture and the notes we receive.

This year we are beginning a wonderful study in the book of Matthew. We will be learning how Christ fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament and the many examples from the Old Testament in the law and history that pointed to Christ's coming. We will study about how only Jesus could have fulfilled all the prophesies. I am hoping that from this study I will be a stronger witness for the Lord and will know more about how the Old Testament and New are tightly interwoven into one great story!

If you have a Bible Study Fellowship in your area, I would encourage you to find a class and join. What a wonderful way to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Check this website for a class near you!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Enduring Persecution

Sometimes when I am called to submit to and endure unpleasant circumstances, I think of the great self sacrifice required of me and how I must have grace to bear my tremendous load. I praise God when I am able to respond in kindness toward someone who has been unkind toward me (whether presently or in the past). I think I am leaning hard on my faith to carry me through my trials so that God may have his full work in my character, but then this morning I read an entry on a blog from Voice of the Martyrs, an organization dedicated to praying for and encouraging the persecuted believer:

Praise Christ if fanatics kill me and pray that He helps me to die like him.On Tue. Aug 28 2007 at 05:37 AM stephen g wrote: All must know I have yarned for Christ like death from the day of my baptism 50 years ago. So if I get it, Christ be praised. Already there were three known attempts on my life. But time was not ripe I think. I know that I can’t take Christ like body and mind torture in my own power. I am sure to fail then. But I am assured by the example of the martyrs who succeeded by the grace of Christ to withstand with love and forgiveness.Not that I want to escape worldly labors and troubles. Rather I want to be reenergized to bear heavier loads by cross-training. As Christ is carryingn heavier loads now than in his life time, I shall join him to greater responsibility of teaching love and repentance to the lost humanity.

This blog entry makes my "self-sacrifice" look so petty. I have difficulty enduring an insult and this dear believer is prepared to endure torture if it would promote God's program here on earth. I should check my spirit; clearly a dose of humility has been handed to me. I pray that I might drink it in and allow it to purge the pride from my attitudes. Please God, help me by the power of the Spirit you have given me to fight the good fight and to finish my race well. In Jesus' name I pray.