Sunday, July 31, 2011

...Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

since I haven't yet written a post on my own, Olivia suggested I do so. I'm not sure i have much to say, at least maybe not directly pertaining to Israel and the time we've had here, but I think I do have much to say ( warned about the length of this post) about the TIMING of being here and the God Who wisely and sovereignly orchestrated it. as most of you know, my brother(-in-law) was called home a month and about 5 days ago, and we left a little over a week after it. i've mulled over this decision many times, wondering if this was right, if it really was the best decision, and the nights where i feel most grief I think maybe not. but its a very good thing that my feelings don't dictate truth and they don't always even indicate it. God dictates truth. so while I often feel maybe it would be nice to be home, I know that this was the will of God for me to be here, because it happened and God is sovereign, so nothing I do can happen unless He says it can happen (maybe you missed it, in Job 1:6-12, but God tells Satan to test Job and then He gives the permission for it to happen. if God has power even over the actions of His enemy, why would we think any differently about His sovereignty over ours?). now, in my room in israel, i'm thinking over the past few weeks so far. they've been filled with much exploring, cleaning, organizing, cd-making, book-selling...and falafel. we've had little opportunity (well, there's people everywhere so i don't know if i can really say that) to share the Gospel, though we have been aiding in the ministry's sharing of the Gospel.

however, in this time, with the lack of speaking the Gospel to others, I think I have fallen into the habit of also lacking in speaking it to myself. i can't lie, my heart lately has felt burdened and tired, like maybe this faith in me is not true after all or maybe my initial joy and peace really was (as i've feared people thinking when they find out my hurting) just me not accepting the facts that one i love very very dearly and looked up to so much would no longer be available for conversation, advice, Bible-interpretation, laughs, brotherly love and companionship, or more importantly, headship for my sister. and yes, that does hurt...however! he has attained the goal for which he was running- the salvation of his soul- and those of us still here, though now for a little while are grieved by this and other various trials, which test the genuineness of our faith in order to bring praise, glory, and honor to God at the revelation of Jesus Christ, rejoice in the future hope of our departure to be with Christ as well. in this time and the many times to follow, may i never forget the atoning blood that flows out of even deeper pain, but equal sovereignty. This blood that redeemed my life, that bought Jacob his innocent verdict and a warm welcome as he stood before our Creator and Judge. May i never forget Your goodness and worth! There is much pain in the night, but joy comes in the LORD, not just the morning!

I was talking, well...typing, with my sister the other day (yes, she's as encouraging, or even more so, in private conversation as she is in public) and talking about how wise God is, how foolish we are...thinking so often that Jake's death disrupted our plans for our future, when they were just that- our plans. not God's. His plans remain firmly in place and have been since the beginning of time. and though we think now the future is so silly! for when did we ever know our future? we know as much now as we did before, its just that the plans of our heart had different circumstances to work with at the time. but these have been God's plans from the beginning, and they are GOOD! may our faith be found genuine, our trust be found in Christ! by grace alone can we continue to stand in our great weakness!

I feel much more acquainted with this weakness lately. much more than I'd like to...but i think that is a great lesson from this- my weakness, my utter helplessness without His power and grace and joy and peace. i've taken to forgetting recently that Philippians 4 says that while im making my prayer and supplication in everything, I am also commanded to come with thanksgiving! thanksgiving? you may ask. thanksgiving! for what?..for isaiah 55:8-9. for Philippians 2:13. for Ephesians 1:13-14. for genesis 1:1. for john 19:30. for everything God is, does, says, wills. there, in fact, is nothing that we shouldn't thank God for! romans 8:28, ALL things He works together for our good. just the good and happy things? nope. I don't see that anywhere in the Bible. in fact, I see "all things", which, im sure if you look in the greek, look at the context and cross-references, they will all come to one conclusion: ALL things. everything. happy and heart-wrenching alike. do you doubt this? sometimes my actions confirm that I doubt. then the Holy Spirit confirms that its sin with conviction. and in that time, i must seek His face and heart and will in repentance, submission, and rejoicing, thanking Him that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways and thoughts higher than mine and that, because He is perfect in wisdom and power, He doesn't allow my faulty plans to happen. when i doubt, i'm doubting not only the Holy Bible, but also the Holy God Who wrote it. Job 2:10- "shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" Job 1:21- "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord." is that always a natural reaction? heck no. does that make it any less required? well, did "i'm only human" ever save someone from hell the day they stood before the Lord our Righteousness in judgement? assuredly, no! "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

so...while I am still in mourning, I am being taught (in a more concentrated manner, as we are always being taught this) to be in a time of constant rejoicing and contentment in Christ. when Jake was born, Who ordained it? when Jake met and married my sister and became a part of my family, Who brought it together? when Jake died, Who ordered it to be so? God. He is always on the throne in Heaven, may He be always on the throne in my heart, soul, mind and strength! oh how i've been learning the dissatisfaction of this world and the value of Christ! though i've been feeling home-sick, i've been wanting to be with my family, my sister, my friends, my church...even more than that He's creating in me a Home-sickness that is centered around His Heaven, my true Home, His presence forever! oh how psalm 73:25 has become my cry! though perhaps I do not feel as close to my Creator, my Sustainer, my Salvation, my Comforter, my Joy and my Strength, as I would like to and as most people seem to in grief, I know His character, I know His Word, and I know that both of those confirm that He is here, He is working, He is healing and He is sanctifying- all of which are very very pleasant, but often painful...but still pleasant because we know the end result- 1 John 3:2-3, which tells us we shall be made like Him for we shall see Him as He is. so the end result? glorification, conformation to the image of the Son! no more sin. no more desire to sin. no more flesh. Christ. to die is gain!!! "my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better"!

"He can do all things and no purpose of His can be stopped. He is our God. And because He is our God even when we don't have our questions answered, even when we don't know the purpose, we can have hope and we can have rest and we can even have joy because He is Who He is and we belong to the heart of it is knowing Who God is and knowing Who is God. He is God and because He is God, that is enough."

my mind knows much truth, and I must continue to tell myself these Truths and "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Him" in order that my faulty flesh will follow my corrected thoughts and knowledge. please pray that I would not allow my feelings to dictate my feelings, but that truth would dictate my feelings!

anyways...back to the actual events of Israel....God is wise. He is moving. He will not yield His glory to another. He is sovereign over salvation. He will not yield His glory to another. His plans are right, good, exciting. He's perfect, atoning, alive. He is Messiah, His Word incorruptible, His body unable to be contained in the grave. His Kingdom advancing. His Gospel proclaiming. His plans succeeding. He will not yield His glory to another.

“Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!...Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."



  1. Alyssa, thank you for sharing your heart and your wisdom through Him. First, the fact that you did continue on after Jake's celebration of life speaks volumes as to our purpose here as His witnesses... His will must prevail and your continuance in the trip that He obviously orchestrated long before Jake's home-going is truly testimony to what it is to live here on this sod, for Him. And I'm betting Jake would have had it no other way. :)

    I loved your statement -- 'However, in this time, with the lack of speaking the Gospel to others, I think I have fallen into the habit of also lacking in speaking it to myself.' Many times we can be a comfort to others through sharing the Word in times of need, but we can completely neglect to wash ourselves with it as well... Thank you --- those worlds of yours were an encouragement, reminder, and even admonition to me.

    And on another note... I loved the way you wrapped up the summation of your activities so far there with ... "and much felafel..." Awesome. ;)

    I'm so proud of you both -- and again, as for the timing of and your decision to continue on with your trip... for me it was the ultimate picture of the Lord's work carrying on (as it should) no matter what our earthly circumstances. That seemingly small decision says so much about the bigger picture.

    You are loved!


  2. I love you so much. God is so good. I cannot wait to talk about things like this with you in person!


  3. Alyssa, I'm so encouraged by your theological understanding of God's sovereignty that allows you to remember that truth when your the deceitfulness of our hearts try to make us believe our feeling about God over the facts about God.
    You are right where the Lord would have you to be. You cannot do otherwise. The Lord may be testing you, not so He can know how you will do, but so that you will, and you're doing fine, beloved.
    I wanted to share this with you; The Lord used Jacob's passing to allow me to preach the gospel at my mothers funeral. I won't go into detail (I can do that when you get back), but I began the message with the topic of mortality saying "Today you are attending a memorial service for someone you love, but tomorrow someone you love may be attending your own" and then used Jacob's (& Solomon's)deaths at such early ages to prove that we do not know when we will die and stand before God.
    God is not only sovereign, He is wise, much wiser than us. Most of my family that was at the funeral where not believers, and some are antagonistic towards the gospel. I can think of no other way that I would have been able to preach the gospel to my family if not for my mother dying and preaching at her funeral, and I can think of no better way to sober up people regarding their own mortality than sharing a story of two young men dying that same month within days of each other. The Lord knows what He's doing. May the deaths of Jacob, Solomon, and my mother, and the gospel proclaimed, be the seeds planted into the hearts of those at the funeral, and may those seeds be watered until the Lord brings about the fruit that leads to repentance.
    Be encourages Sis!
    Your servant in Christ,
    Jim Phinney

  4. Hey sis-i gotta tell u that I am so frustrated at this moment only because I have attempted to write u so many times & each time I tried I guess it didn't go through because I was not properly signed in. Its been almost three years since I used this blog site. I use tumblr now so I was trying so hard to remember my old password. Well I wanted to tell u how encouraged I am to read all that you wrote, your transparency, your meekness in person is something I hope & pray that all around you will mimic. All women have a voice but its knowing when to speak & when to be silent that really bears the mark of one truly growing in biblical womanhood. In the little time that I have known you I have seen you live that out (even though I joke around a lot) I am just that way...I love to laugh & joke. I have not been through the extent of heartbreak as Diana or you have faced, but I can tell you that I am no stranger to suffering, in fact I am still facing much suffering right now. Some days I wake up weeping uncontrollably. I have to really catch my breath & then recite the scripts to really find ease and comfort in the midst of the most agonizing pain. But I am reminded that in the testing of my faith, in seeing how authentic it really is, I must face suffering, for blessed is the one who endures & remains steadfast in the midst of suffering, for he SHALL receive the crown of life which was promised to us our Lord. This momentary suffering cannot compare to the glory that is to be revealed to us! Romans 8:18 so even though it hurts so bad, I know to God this life, In His eyes is but a vapor...and soon we will be in glory. It is a reminder I have to tell myself daily. I weep even as I write this...regardless of how theological you make a post..the end result is this "count it all joy when u meet trials of various, for you know that it is a testing of your faith, and it will produce steadfastness". James tells us that. A promise that if we do not lose hope or grow weary, but just count it all joy to have been chosen to suffer as Christ suffered, our reward is with Him in heaven, not here. I am so big on sisterhood because so many are suffering & better to have sisters who can cry with you & laugh with you & carry you through, then no one at all. Trust me, suffering alone is agonizing. So I want you & Diana to know that I avail my self to serve in anyway that I can to not take away your pain by masking it, but to that load with you. That is my duty as a child of God & a sister to you! I love you! Dinah

  5. I wrote this post from my phone so I noticed some words that were missing. Lol but I'm hoping u knew what I was saying or where I was getting at! I am fervently praying for you my sister! It is no coincidence the ppl God puts in our life-whether for just a season & then they're gone or for a lifetime- but for whatever reason God has placed me in your life while I am here, I pray that I can serve you as an older sister & friend! Christ alone!