The Arrival

I have arrived in Estonia safe and sound. And although I do not at all feel rested enough, I am happy I am here. I’m not excited nor am I ready to face this year quite yet. Why, you may ask? Because (1) I am not settled in, (2) there are FAR too many unknowns, and (3) I still have to go to school.

I’m scared. That’s the best way to put it. Nothing about this trip is comfortable to me, and that’s probably a good thing for me even if I don’t want to admit it. GAH! That’s how I feel. You made it through the airports and plane rides so shouldn’t you feel more at ease? That’s what I thought too since that was one of the bigger fears of mine. But no, I don’t at all feel any more at ease.

To change the topic and make this a less depressing of a post, let’s talk about my first day in Estonia! For one thing, I don’t think I will have any problem with guys and dating if I am even interested in dealing with that. Within four hours of being here, I already had a guy approach and follow me. His name is Stranger Boy (that’s what Beth and I have agreed to call him anyway) and he bluntly checked me out while I was with her. Stopping to look over your shoulder is okay once but seven or eight times is EXTREMELY weird. And I guess I shouldn’t have made eye contact with him because he approached us and wanted to talk to us. And he talked and talked and talked and asked questions and talked some more until he got bored of us. That was after walking at least three blocks beside us. Strangest encounter ever. And not once did he ask for our names nor did he tell us his.

Other than that, Beth kept me walking and busy until late at night so that I wouldn’t fall asleep.

Photo Board

Jasmine and I started a photo challenge right after she left to go back to Thailand for the summer. In this challenge, we are to share, at most, 5 photos describing our day and 1 selfie (even though we both hate selfies) on Photostream through our iPhones. To continue this challenge, I will be taking photos daily throughout Estonia and wherever else I end up being. And instead of plastering Facebook with hundreds of photos that people will skip over, I will simply post a link to my Flickr board for those of you that would like to see my daily adventures. Not to mention, if I know that other people are interested in viewing the photos, it will encourage me to continue photographing my days, even when I really don’t feel like it.

So, without further ado, there is a new category for you to click on! Nested under News Updates and Estonia is the new location for the Photo Journal. Along with that, there is a link directly to the albums on my Flickr account on the left side of the screen. Click away, my friends! And please don’t be shy to write comments; I truly do enjoy reading them.

Planning my own funeral

I feel like I’m about to write my own obituary. It’s not that I think I’m about to die but metaphorically, it seems that way. It’s as if I am the only one that knows that I have a limited number of days left but everyone else around me has no knowledge of the fact. And they continue on with their busy lives saying that they want to spend time with me but don’t want to sacrifice any of their time to do so. I sound incredibly selfish, I know. 

It gets old, people. Saying one thing is different than actually making the arrangements and committing to that thing. Dear people of Oklahoma who claim I am your friend, this is a rant directed toward you. 

There’s also the other side of it, waiting until the last minute to plan anything. I have been here for the ENTIRE summer and you are just now saying you want to say bye? Whhhhhhhhy?! I can’t be in multiple places at one time; I only have so much time I can spend driving to other towns to say farewell. Plus, who honestly believes that I want to drive to YOUR town to see YOU? Sometimes it is nice to have visitors here too. 

The rant is done. Now to plan how in the world to fit all these house visits in, plus packing, plus daily stuff, plus paperwork, plus whatever else I need to finalise into my schedule for the next 3 days. 

Keith Kenniff

I haven’t forgotten, I haven’t had the time/motivation to write something. As for T&T Tunes, it seems to be abandoned at this point. Not because I don’t listen to music anymore but because I can’t decide what to share with you.

I have a handful of favourites at the moment, each for different moods. Just so that I can close the tabs on my computer, I’ll start with mellow me: Keith Kenneth, aka Helios aka Goldmund aka half of the band Mint Julep.

Yes, you’ve got that right, he’s three entities at one time. I’ll give you examples of each version of him beginning with Helios (the whole reason I started to listen to him).

And here’s a sample of Goldmund, a more classical style of music.

And lastly, Mint Julep (good luck finding much on them), an indie rock group of two. WARNING: VIDEO MAY CAUSE MOTION SICKNESS!

The Source of Abundant Joy

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Rom. 8:37

Paul was speaking here on the things that might seem likely to separate a saint from the love of God. But the remarkable thing is that nothing can come between the love of God and a saint. The things Paul mentioned in this passage can and do disrupt the close fellowship of our soul with God and separate our natural life from Him. But non of them is able to come between the love of God and the soul of a saint on the spiritual level. The underlying foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, limitless miracle of the love of God that was exhibited on the Cross of Calvary; a love that is not earned and can never be. Paul said this is the reason that “in all these things we are more than conquerors”. We are super-victors with a joy that comes from experiencing the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.

Huge waves that would frighten an ordinary swimmer produce a tremendous thrill for the surfer who has ridden them. Let’s apply that to our own circumstances. The things we try to avoid and fight against — tribulation, suffering, and persecution — are the very things that produce abundant joy in us. “We are more than conquerors through Him ” “in all these things”; not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. A saint doesn’t know the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it. Paul said, “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation”.

The undiminished radiance, which is the result of abundant joy, is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can change. And the experiences of life, whether they are everyday events or terrifying ones, are powerless to “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).

Lord, I praise You for the joy of my life here — for the love of wife and child, for the students, for the favours of the Holy Spirit. What a wonder of joy and radiant blessing this place has been!

Taking the Next Step

In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.

2 Cor. 6:4

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.

Every Christian must experience the essence of the incarnation by bringing the next step down into flesh-and-blood reality and by working it out with his hands. We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our everyday life with its trivial tasks. The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your sporty open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you. Never allow yourself to think that some tasks are beneath your dignity or too insignificant for you to do, and remind yourself of the example of Christ in John 13:1-17.

O Lord, save us from the murmuring spirit, which is harmful, hurting the bloom of the spiritual communion.

Is he really my lord?

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus — the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Acts 20:24

Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfilment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do. And He says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Have you received a ministry from the Lord? If so, you must be faithful to it — consider your life valuable only for the purpose of fulfilling that ministry. Knowing that you have done what Jesus sent you to do, think how satisfying it will be to hear Him say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21). We each have to find a niche in life, and spiritually we find it when we receive a ministry from the Lord. To do this we must have close fellowship with Jesus and must know Him as more than our personal Saviour. And we must be willing to experience the full impact of Acts 9:16 — “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake”.

“Do you love Me?” Then, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). He is not offering us a choice of how we can serve Him; He is asking for absolute loyalty to His commission, a faithfulness to what we discern when we are in the closest possible fellowship with God. If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is not the same as the call — the need is the opportunity to exercise the call. The call is to be faithful to the ministry you received when you were in true fellowship with Him. This does not imply that there is a whole series of differing ministries marked out for you. It does mean that you must be sensitive to what God has called you to do, and this may sometimes require ignoring demands for service in other areas.

O Lord, I beseech You for sustaining strength and simple joy. Keep me humble-minded in motive and design that nothing of the superior person may be mine.

Is this true of Me?

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus — the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Acts 20:24

It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what He requires. Common sense, covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes your guide. You may be more prosperous and successful from the world’s perspective, and will have more leisure time, if you never acknowledge the call of God. But once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will always be there to prod you on to do His will. You will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.

What do I count in my life as “dear to myself?” If I have not been seized by Jesus Christ and have not surrendered myself to Him, I will consider the time I decided to give God and my own ideas of service as dear. I will also consider my own life as “dear to myself”. But Paul said he considered his life clear so that he might fulfil the ministry he had received, and he refused to use his energy on anything else. This verse shows an almost noble annoyance by Paul at being asked to consider himself. He was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Our ordinary and reasonable service to God may actually compete against our total surrender to Him. Our reasonable work is based on the following argument which we say to ourselves, “Remember how useful you are here, and think how much value you would be in that particular type of work”. That attitude chooses our own judgement, instead of Jesus christ, to be our guide as to where we should go and where we could be used the most. Never consider whether or not you are of use — but always consider that”you are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19). You are His.

O Lord, by Your grace open my vision to You and Your infinite horizons, and take me into Your counsels regarding Your work in this place.

His Commission to Us

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

John 21:17

This is love in the making. The love of God is not created — it is His nature. When we receive the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, He unites us with God so that His love is demonstrated in us. The goal of the indwelling Holy Spirit is not just to unite us with God, but to do it in such a way that we will be one with the Father in exactly the same way Jesus was. And what kind of oneness did Jesus Christ have with the Father? He had such a oneness with the Father that He was obedient when His Father sent Him down here to be poured out for us. And he says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

Peter now realises that he does love Him, due to the revelation that came with the Lord’s piercing question. The Lord’s next point is — “Pour yourself out. Don’t testify about how much you love Me and don’t talk about the wonderful revelation you have had, just ‘Feed My sheep.'” Jesus has some extraordinarily peculiar sheep: some that are unkempt and dirty, some that are awkward or pushy, and some that have gone astray! But it is impossible to exhaust God’s love, and it is impossible to exhaust my love if it flows from the Spirit of God within me. The love of God pays no attention to my prejudices caused by my natural individuality. If I love my Lord, I have no business being guided by natural emotions — I have to feed His sheep. We will not be delivered or released from His commission to us. Beware of counterfeiting the love of God by following your own natural human emotions, sympathies, or understandings. That will only serve to revile and abuse the true love of God.

I would, O Lord, have all my thoughts and emotions and words redolent with love, perfect love to You, and through that to others.

A blog comprised of adventures and thoughts from a university student from Oklahoma.

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