Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Definition of Faith

     As I was continuing to read The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee, I came across this section in the chapter, The Path of Progress: Reckoning, that really made an impression on me. So up until this point, what had been presented were the awesome Divine facts about Christ's death and how His Blood and the Cross dealt not only with the sins that we commit but also with our very nature as sinners. So what happens after we believe these facts to be true but we still experience old desires and temptations?

     What really impressed me in this section was the choice presented: Are we to believe in the intangible Divine facts of the spiritual realm... or in the tangible facts of the natural realm? A good point mentioned is that there is no mention in the Bible of sin being removed from man or eradicated. So naturally, sin will be something that man will have to deal with his entire natural life. So how can we make real in our experience what is true in Divine fact?

     "Now faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) To substantiate is to make a substance real in experience. Just as sight and hearing are faculties that make colors and sounds real to us, faith is the manner in which intangible Divine facts are made real in our experience. But what exactly is an experience? It mentions that God does not give individuals, individual experiences. Rather, all spiritual experiences are just us entering into what God has already accomplished through the process Christ went through. This may seem very deep and abstract, and it is! But it's really cool! Our spiritual experiences don't come from our own effort or something we need to do, but they are in Christ! God has done everything in Christ and we too are in Him! So to experience the Lord is to realize in time the eternal things. Wow!

 Please feel free to expound on this point! I feel like it is so enjoyable, but I can't fully explain it. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Normal Christian Life

     So I've started reading this book called The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. I've always heard that this was a really good book, but after reading the first two chapters myself, I am convinced that this will, in fact, be a truly amazing book! The first two chapters, entitled The Blood of Christ and The Cross of Christ literally blew me away.

     Something that really impressed me was seeing that the Blood and the Cross dealt with two different aspects. The Blood dealt with the issue of the forgiveness of our sins and justifying us in the sight of God. When man fell in the garden of Eden, the nature of sin entered into man and created a separation between man and God. The Blood, therefore, was needed to redeem us and bring us back into the fellowship with God. I never realized how important the Blood was, not only for man, but also in the eyes of God and toward Satan. Toward God, the Blood is primarily for the atonement in our standing before God and wholly satisfies God. Toward man, the Blood cleanses his conscience. Toward Satan, the Blood puts God on man's side, and in favor of man, against the accusations of Satan.

     So while the Blood deals with the sins that we commit, the Cross deals with the fact that we are sinners by nature. A good point that was made was that we aren't sinners because we sin, rather we sin because we are sinners. The Blood, then, deals with what we have done, while the Cross deals with what we are. This verse, "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19), was referenced to show that "in Adam" we became sinners, but "in Christ" we were made righteous. What it means to be "in Christ" was illustrated with a piece of paper in a book. The piece of paper is separate from the book and has its own identity, however, when placed into the book, it goes where the book goes. In like manner, if we are "in Christ," His death, is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection.  The verse, "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus." (1 Corinthians 1:30), shows us that God placed us "in Christ," and not anything we, ourselves, did. God transferred us from Adam into Christ!

Wow! I can't wait to continue reading and see more of what is means to live a normal Christian life! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

No Longer a Freshmen...

I'm slowly coming to the realization that I am no longer a freshmen anymore. This thought has recently dawned on me while I've been helping out during the freshmen orientations at UT Austin. I've been participating in an internship with the Christians on campus group which has proven to be quite exciting and enjoyable.

The orientations are only Monday through Wednesday morning, but there are a plethora of events that are offered to let the freshmen know what types of activities we have available throughout the semester and to help make their first impression of UT as enjoyable as possible. There's everything from Milkshakes and Majors Monday afternoon, Bible studies Tuesday morning and afternoon, a Welcome Dinner Tuesday evening and Banana splits and Board Games Tuesday night! ( Christians on campus website :) ) After only two weeks of orientations, I've already met a number awesome freshmen who are excited about coming to UT and want to find a group of believers with whom they can have fellowship, which is exactly what they can find with Christian Students on campus.

Though it's been weeks since my last exam as an official freshmen at UT, I still am having trouble mentally making the switch from a freshmen to a sophomore. Whenever I go to introduce myself to someone, I always catch myself wanting to say, "Hi, I'm Danielle and I'm a freshmen here at UT!" Though freshmen year had its bright moments and wonderful experiences, I think I'm ready to confidently identify myself as a sophomore. So goodbye freshmen year, I've enjoyed you immensely, but its time to move on. I've heard sophomore year is the best year of college so I'm excited to find what this year holds for me :)

I can't believe I've already been here a year!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What to do in West Texas

     I got to visit my sister this past week in Odessa and discovered what there is to do in west Texas. My first impression of west Texas was the not so scenic view on the drive there. There was actual tumble weed blowing around in the wind and huge wind mills along the highway. When we arrived to my sister's house, it was in the middle of the afternoon, and their air condition had been off since they left.  So when I entered into the house, a wave of heat hit me like a ton of bricks. The sun in Odessa is very hot during the day, but in the morning and at night it is surprisingly cool and feels really nice. I guess that's how the temperature works when you're living in the desert. A good remedy for the intense heat was to take a cold shower which made me feel a thousand times better.

maybe it didn't look exactly like this... but it was close

     A typical day for me during my visit was to wake up to the theme song of Elmo's world which indicated that it was time to get ready for a walk around the "neighborhood." After the show was over, we got my niece into her stroller and packed along her favorite books and snacks as distractions for when she got antsy. I really enjoyed the morning walks with my sister during which we would spend a little time getting into a morning devotion book together as well as catch up with each other. After our walk, if my niece hadn't already fallen asleep, my sister would usually put her down for her nap. Then there was time to relax. My sister would usually make me some of her trademark delicious dishes like her homemade salsa or stove-top popped corn. She also made me some new recipes like an awesome homemade pizza cooked on a pizza stone. We both love veggies so she loaded our pizza up with them. :) In the meantime my niece would be engaged in various activities such as playing in her new blow-up pool or having books read to her multiple times while stopping on every page to point to every object and ask "What's that?" 

my niece and me :)

     All in all, I really enjoyed my visit in Odessa. One night, we went over to a family's house who my sister knows through church and it was a really sweet time. They welcomed me as if I was family and had delicious tostadas and fruit for dinner! (a true west Texan meal) It's always so touching to meet believers in another part of the country and still feel like you are at home with them.

a little cowgirl in training

What I found to do in West Texas:
1) walk around the block in the mornings or night while it's cool
2) have dinner and spend time with sweet families
3) catch up with members of your own family
4) enjoy delicious food
5) take cold showers to beat the heat
6) identify every possible object for your niece :)