act here. love now.

act here. love now. I love having friends and family who travel. I love to travel. I love hearing all about their experiences in foreign lands and…well, yes, it’s true, I love receiving cool mementos from their trips and time abroad. I have beautiful jewelry from all corners of the world and a beautiful carved jewelry box from Africa to store it in. I have watercolor prints and scarves and blankets, too. Anyway, Sarah brought me this book from Ireland. You really should check out the website….www.actherelovenow.com

The book is filled with the beautiful photos that 11 student photographers took in 38 different countries over the period of 1 year. It also contains their thoughts and musings on what they saw and heard and learned through serving in so many different places. It’s a beautiful and challenging book. Thanks, S!

thankful

Today I’m thankful for the Word of God. I want to hide it away in my heart. When waves of fear and doubt come crashing all around unexpectedly I want to stand firm on the unchanging Truth of the Word. I am also so thankful for my family. Dad, you are awesome. I love your sense of humor and gentle wisdom. Mom, you are simply amazing — you are strong, courageous, gentle and so much fun. Jackson, Anne and Mitch — you guys are hilarious and I love being with you all. I am thankful for my friends. Each of you have a very special place in my heart. I am thankful for fresh fruit. Mmmmm mmmm yum. I am thankful for sunshine and blue skies.

xoxo,

j

love

people who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.

obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. a person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth. as martin luther put it, “there are two days on my calendar: this day and that day” (luke 14:25-35; matt. 7:13-23; 8:18-22; rev. 3:1-6).

a person who is obsessed thinks about heaven frequently. obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them.

Crazy Love | Francis Chan

Sarah, Kathryn and I have been reading through Crazy Love together and we’ve all been really challenged. I love this line, “Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.” It is humbling and amazing to think about our holy God. It is awe inspiring to look at the beauty of his creation. The most high, sovereign creator of the universe, the one who holds EVERYTHING together, HE has drawn me to himself and brought me out of darkness and into his marvelous light! He sent his Son to die for me. He died so that I might live. God’s glory was displayed at calvary. We love because he first loved us. We obey out of love. So, yes, “because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.” It has to, doesn’t it?

Afraid?

I was cleaning out my inbox and came across this blog post from Challies that I had sent to a friend a while back. The poem is beautiful and I thought you might enjoy it.

xoxo,

j

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Last week I read a short biography of John and Betty Stam, missionary martyrs to China. Stay tuned for a review. In that book, written by Vance Christie, was a poem and the story that inspired it. I thought I’d share that today.

*****

The poem, titled “Afraid?” was written by Presbyterian missionary E.H. Hamilton following the recent martyrdom of one of his colleagues, J.W. Vinson, at the hands of rebel soldiers in northern China. A small Chinese girl who escaped from the bandits related the incident that provided the inspiration for Hamilton’s poem.

“Are you afraid?” the bandits asked Vinson as they menacingly waved a gun in front of him.

“No,” he replied with complete assurance. “If you shoot, I go straight to heaven.”

His decapitated body was found later.

Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Saviour’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace,
The glory gleam from wounds of grace,
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
A flash – a crash – a pierced heart;
Brief darkness – Light – O Heaven’s art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To enter into Heaven’s rest,
And yet to serve the Master blessed?
From service good to service best?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not –
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? Of that?

My Reading List

My time here in Brazil has been so wonderful in so many different ways — I’ve gotten to meet some amazing people, spend time with Cintia and get to know her family and have them become a part of my family. I’ve eaten lots of wonderful food, I’ve been to some beautiful places, learned about the culture and the language and last, but certainly not least, I’ve had lots of free time to read great books. The latter came as a big surprise, I knew that I would have some time alone, but I had now idea how much time I would have on my hands. It’s been hard sometimes, but overall, it’s been a huge blessing and I am thankful for the time. Who knows when I’ll have this kind of time to read, pray, think and study again?? Maybe never. Well, here’s a taste of what I’ve been doing with my spare time!

“When People Are Big And God Is Small,” by Ed Welch This is the first book I read after arriving in Brazil. I had already read it once over the summer, but it was a quick, cursory read and this time I got to take my time and really enjoy it. It’s an excellent book for anyone that has ever been influenced by peer-pressure, codependency or the fear of man. And that means everyone. It’s a practical and biblical book that looks at the fear of man and it’s one and only cure — learning the fear of the Lord. I highly recommend it. It’s really readable and so helpful.

“Jonathan Edwards: Lover of God,” This is the first of five small books on different aspects of Jonathan Edwards. This is a great introduction to Edwards. It makes him and his work so accessible. While I definitely enjoy reading his books and find that pushing through them has been so rewarding, sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down and discouraged reading his work.

Jonathan Edwards: Lover of God takes a close-up look at the life of Edwards, from his days as a young child at home to his early death from a smallpox vaccination. It contains samplings of Edwards’s philosophical contributions, his sermons, and his personal and theological musings, revealing his thoughts, mind and heart. Edwards wore many hates — philosopher, father, preacher, college president, theologian, husband — and yet, one of them stands out among them all, Edwards: Lover of God.”

“Spectacular Sins And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ,” by John Piper. Here’s what Matt Chandler, Pastor at the Village Church in Texas writes about the book, “The weighty truths about the sovereign wisdom and power of God unpacked in these pages created in me an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and ultimate safey. To be reminded of his might over everything is priceless, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to preach the same again.”

This is a little book, just eight small chapters, but it has a lot of truth packed in. It was encouraging to be reminded that God is sovereign over all, “God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil.” It’s lines like this one that make you think and then make you stand in awe of the greatness of the Sovereign One. Great book.

“North and South,” by Elizabeth Gaskell. I received this as a birthday present from a dear friend a couple of years ago after watching the BBC miniseries over New Year’s Eve. I LOVED the movie. And I read the book immediately after receiving it and I liked it. Well, I re-read it here and it’s safe to say that the second time around it made my favorites list. I don’t know why, but it was 100 times better the second time. I don’t want to give anything away, so all I’m going to say is that you need to read it. So GOOD!

“Conversations with Myself,” by Nelson Mandela I bought this book along with “Committed,” by author Liz Gilbert of “Eat Pray Love,” at a bookstore in Niterói after running out of my own books to read. There certainly were not an abundance of choices in English. It was this and “Committed,” along with a Justin Bieber biography and a Miley Cyrus biography and then a handful of Twilight books.

This book was interesting and I enjoyed it. It’s really just a compilation of lots of different notes, journal entries and letters from Mandela’s life organized into different sections. I think that Nelson Mandela is absolutely fascinating and what he did for his country is amazing, but his personal life was one disaster after another. In the end, no matter how great your accomplishments here on earth, none of it matters if you do not believe in Jesus.

“The Geography of Bliss,” by Eric Weiner

A friend gave me this right before I left to come to Brazil. It was a highly entertaining read about “one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world.” Basically this man travels all around the world going to the happiest places, as calculated by a happiness professor. It was interesting and I enjoyed reading about places that you typically don’t think about traveling to everyday.

This was a little bit disappointing for me. I loved the movie, “Eat Pray Love,” and was hoping that this would be a great book. It wasn’t. It was more a book about the history of marriage than about her own personal journey. I thought that she was unfair in her generalizations, her history was questionable in some places and her conclusions about marriage are completely contrary to what, I as a believer, think about the subject. Not really worth the time…

Well, I’m having internet issues, so you will just have to wait until later to see the rest of my reading list! Tchau, amigos!

JJ

Self-Esteem and Pride

Something to think about…here’s an excerpt from the book, “When People are Big and God is Small,” by Ed Welch.

That’s the paradox of self-esteem: Low self-esteem usually means that I think too highly of myself. I’m too self-involved, I feel I deserve better than what I have. The reason I feel bad about myself is that I aspire to something more. I want just a few of greatness. I am a peasant who wants to be king. When you are in the grips of low self-esteem, it’s painful, and it certainly doesn’t feel like pride. But I believe that this is the dark, quieter side of pride — thwarted pride.

Do Not Love the World

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” ~ 1 John 2:15-17

I have been thinking about the way all of the different forms of “the world” — ie internet, movies, music, tv, etc, infiltrate my heart and permeate my soul. Recently, I have noticed that my language is less than wholesome and that I have been desensitized to certain things that should be offensive to me. Today, I re-discovered an e-book from Sovereign Grace Ministries, called “Half A Poison Pill Won’t Kill Me: Thoughts on Worldliness and the Media that Promotes It.” It is a helpful little book that is encouraging, challenging and thought provoking. Joshua Harris talks about media and our culture this way; “Media rarely if ever attempts to reason with us and convince us to love the world. Instead it stirs up feelings and emotions that bypass our minds and grip our affections. The incredibly wicked power of media is that it can make something evil look good or exciting. It can make sin seem harmless and enjoyable. It can sway our hearts to think that we deserve that we crave, that what we see is all that matters.”

So, the question then is not “How much can I have without it affecting me,” but “Is this worthy? Is it honorable?” Here is how it’s put in this little book, “Trying to figure out how much sinful content from media you can handle and still be ‘okay’ is like a person who takes half a poison pill every day because ‘only half’ won’t kill you. When it comes to what we watch or read or listen to we shouldn’t ask how many halves of poison pills we can take. We need to examine the cumulative effect of our media habits on our attitude toward God and sin and the world.”

Here are some helpful questions from “Half a Poison Pill…”

1) Cravings of sinful man: Are my media habits encouraging me to want my own way? Is what I’m watching, reading or listening to whispering the lie that these desires are natural, good, harmless when God’s word says they will destroy my soul?

2) Lust of the eyes: Are my media habits stirring up a covetous desire for more of what this world offers? Is it making me want everything for myself — a beautiful companion, a beautiful home, a beautiful car? Is it leading me to feast my eyes on unlawful sights for the sake of sinful pleasure? Is it causing me to be captivated by the outward and visible with no regard to goodness and virtue?

3) Boasting of what he has and does: Are my media habits encouraging me to exalt myself because of material possessions, fame or athletic achievement? Does it make me want to appear important according to the world’s standards of importance?

This is an excellent resource that I highly recommend. You can find it here and download it for free.