If you have made decisions that you regret, and you feel impure, and you feel as though you had this gift that you gave away, I want you to know that when you come to the Lord and you give him your hurt and your wounds, his forgiveness and his grace makes it not about what you did with your body, but about what he did with his!
The time has come to tell you about my extraordinary plans for this fall. I will be studying abroad on mission in Jerusalem, Israel for four months. This is an exciting opportunity for me and I wanted to share some details with you. My study abroad program is through my university. However, I am partnering with Cru Study Abroad so I can live missionally while I’m in Israel.
The main reason I chose to study abroad in Israel is that I am minoring in Hebrew. Of course there are so many benefits to studying in Israel. It is the Holy Land, and I look forward to experiencing the land where Jesus walked and taught.
I recently received my Missions Toolbox from Cru Study Abroad, and I was thrilled by what was inside. I’m going to give you a peek inside to help you understand what I’ll be doing in Israel. If you are familiar with Cru, you know that they have a lot of resources for starting spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel. Among these are Soularium, Perspective Cards, Knowing God Personally, and Satisfied. (To learn more about these, visit crupress.com) I have had at least a little practice with all these tools, and I look forward to putting them to use in Israel.
Another tool in my Missions Toolbox is my Study Abroad Playbook. With help from my coach, I will be able to take advantage of all the information in it. My coach is going to lead me through the book and help me learn how to live on mission while abroad. They will be my sounding board, my encouragement, and my kick in the pants. As much as I want to share the gospel while I’m in Israel, I know it won’t be easy. I will need some accountability.
God has blessed me with the financial means necessary to live comfortably in Israel for 4 months. I would love it if you would consider supporting me prayerfully. Opportunites like these come with inherent risks and obstacles, so I can use all the prayer I can get.
I will try my best to keep up with this blog while I’m in Israel. I know I am going to have so many adventures and stories to tell, so stay tuned. I leave for Israel in about a month and a half, and there is still so much to do. I ask that you please start praying for me now. I trust that God will provide for me once I am in Israel, and that he will get me there safe and sound.
If you would like to talk with me about my trip, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Christ,
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, I start thinking of ways that I can get into the Christmas spirit. I love Christmas. Family, gifts, lights, music, it’s all so wonderful. Last year Christmas came so suddenly. I was so caught up in the stress of senior year that Christmas snuck up on me and, well, didn’t feel much like Christmas. This year, I told myself I wouldn’t let that happen again. So, despite the stress of freshman year, I started getting into the Christmas spirit when I returned to school after Thanksgiving break. I made a Christmas playlist on Spotify and participated in a Secret Santa and ornament decorating event on my dorm floor. I went to a Christmas party and watched Elf for the first time. There were Christmas decorations around campus that served as reminders that Christmas was on its way. I even paid $1.99 for She Reads Truth’s 2016 Advent devotions. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
At first, I thought I’d post on my blog whatever stood out to me in each day’s devotion. Then I decided to just write it down and keep it to myself. I wish I hadn’t because I came across some great stuff. Today, for example, I was reading about the foretelling of Jesus’ birth. Typically I’ll copy and paste a few phrases that strike me into the notes on my iPad and write them in my journal. But today, I found myself writing down half the devotion. Allow me to share some of it with you. An angel comes to Mary and tells her she is going to give birth to the Savior of the world. She says she doesn’t see how that’s possible since she’s a virgin.
“The angel’s response to Mary’s doubt points her to the answer: It’s not up to her. It’s not up to us. ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’ - Luke 1:35 Friends, all may not be calm or bright in our broken world, but all is His. May Christ overshadow our expectations and understanding with His presence. May we hear and receive the same good news delivered to Mary: Hope is born within us through Christ. Hallelujah.”
Good stuff, right? Nothing in there explicitly says “Don’t forget that Jesus is the true reason for Christmas,” yet that’s what I took from it. It’s easy to get caught up in the pretty lights and familiar songs and think that Christmas is about a cozy feeling that you get when you’re with your family opening presents. But that’s not what it’s about. In order to get into the Christmas spirit, you have to focus on the Spirit of Christmas: Jesus. The best gift any of us has ever received was given to us on Christmas Day thousands of years ago, and is a gift that keeps on giving. That is Jesus Christ, who wrapped His divinity in flesh and came to seek and to save the lost. He loved us while we were still sinners and was obedient even to death on a cross.
It’s not a bad thing to want that cozy feeling, but there’s a feeling that’s so much better: knowing that Jesus left Heaven because He didn’t want to be there if you weren’t. Christmas is a mere 5 days away, but I implore you to not forget its true meaning. You don’t have to buy a birthday cake for Jesus or set up a Nativity to show that you’ve received God’s gift to us. I simply ask you to keep Jesus at the front of your mind when you’re opening your gifts on Christmas morning. If you can, go to church and celebrate Jesus’ birth with fellow believers. Mix O Holy Night and Away in a Manger in with your playlist of Jingle Bells and White Christmas. Just don’t let yourself forget to keep the Christ in Christmas.