Friday, September 12, 2008

Lesser Words

As I sit outside looking at a sky that is finally blue again, enjoying the gentle breeze, my mind wanders, and my affection for words overtakes me. I feel consumed by my love for words. I search desperately for the right ones. In reality though, I find that I am truly consumed, not by my love for words, but by my love for the Word, the Word that was God and is God and lives within me. I can do nothing with this consuming love for the Word, except allow it to manifest itself in lesser words. Lesser words. They are all lesser words. Even the deepest and most beautiful crafting of words is shallow when compared to the grandeur of creation, let alone the grandeur of the Creator. I am struck by how temporary it all is. How lacking. It breaks my heart. And yet, even as I ponder how my words fall short of anything my soul longs to express, and I struggle to find something that might even scratch the surface, I am interrupted by one phrase: bring God glory. Yes, all my words fall pitifully short of the glory of God, and my life is only a vapor, yet I know that everything on earth will soon fade away, not just me. Even still scripture says that the earth declares God’s glory. So do I. God values the temporal. God takes pleasure in the temporal. God is glorified in the temporal. We were created for eternity, yes, but there is value in the here and now. How crucial it is that we live in grace and love to bring God glory! Without that purpose, there is no hope. We will all simply fade. Why live? Bring God glory. That is the abundant life that Jesus talks about in John 10:10. That is our “Promised Land.” To bring God glory.


I can say the sky is blue
I can say the clouds are white
I can say the trees are green
I can say the breeze is light
Or I can reach for greater beauty
Search for words profound and deep
The breeze is like God’s life-breath
The clouds dust from His feet
I suppose that brings more pleasure
But it still does not fulfill
This stirring deep within me
To find something that will…

Bring God glory!

I sit here pen in hand
Not knowing what to say
Words contain such wonder
And yet mine fade away
Spoken they ride upon the breeze
Never heard again
Written they last a moment
Then they’re washed off in the rain
Still there is this stirring
That I cannot contain
The need for deep expression
From which I can’t refrain…

Bring God glory!

Even as I sit here
This one resounding phrase
Consumes my very being
And fills my heart with praise
The earth declares God’s glory
The sky, the trees, the birds
Still all these will fade
Like all my crafted words
And yet they bring God pleasure
That He would choose to live among
In the lives of all His people
Who walk in grace and love…

Bring God glory!

Stephanie M. Frakes
(September 11, 2008)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Starlight and Daisies

So... I thought I'd write a simple update about what's going on in my life right now. Surprisingly enough, this is much harder than some of the more profound things I've written. Life's pretty awesome right now. College is work. I can't say I like that, but I'm willing to accept it. I had a good weekend. Friday I went with a group of friends to the West Texas Fair and Rodeo. That was fun! Then we stayed out and played Catch Phrase at the Den (the coffee shop on campus). That was a blast. Saturday I slept in until about 12:30. I'm learning this about college. You go a week on 5 to 6 hours of sleep and then catch up on the weekend. haha. Then I had lunch and worked on a bibliography for my Honors class until dinner (yes... four hours or more!). That night I went to a play on campus ("Moonlight and Magnolias"... it was amazing!). I can't remember if I did any more work after that. Yestersday was church and a ton of homework (two papers and a bunch of reading). I did get to go to the first meeting of ACU's swing dancing club. That was really fun. Today I go back to classes and what not.

Honestly... people wonder why I don't write about things going on in my life! haha. Truly, it isn't quite extraordinary, but I'm having a good time. This Saturday I think we'll start our girls' Bible study over Believing God, the book that changed my life. That should be amazing. Oh and last week I got to play accompanist for University Chorale. That was an experience, I must say. It did make me really happy though and got me playing piano again. Wow... this has been quite the scattered collection of thoughts. Hopefully you feel a little more up to date on my life here in Abilene. Nothing spectacular, but I can see God at work and inviting me to join with Him every day. By the way, sorry I don't mention starlight or daisies anywhere in this post... it was a spin on "Moonlight and Magnolias." Yeah.... Blessings all!

Always smiling,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Holy, Surrendered

If my life theme for my senior year of high school was grace, then I think my life theme for my freshman year of college may be surrender. I am amazed at the affection for writing He is stirring in me, but more than that, I am amazed as I watch God teach me what it is to surrender in obediance and put time in His presence first. This will be a long post, but I wanted to share with you all the latest project God is leading me into. Enjoy!

Wholly surrendered,

Holy, Surrendered
By: Stephanie M. Frakes
August 27, 2008

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21

Looking back 1,975 years ago. I place myself in the most pivotal scene in history (albeit that statement may be debatable). The crowd murmurs. I can sense their indifference in the atmosphere. It pains me. Imagine frost-bite in Israel! Yet that’s what it feels like, an eerie sense of numbness and pain, as if part of me is dying and I can do nothing to stop it. I cannot escape. To them it is nothing, or more than that, it is justice. Three criminals, tried and found guilty, now hang on three crosses in payment for their sin. I sink slowly to my knees, weak, and look up at my Lord who hangs in the middle. Tears run down my cheeks, for I know the truth. I know Jesus has no sin. I know He is all He says He is. I know He is God, and I see Him. Blood streams from His wounds. His eyes are swollen; His body broken. The thorns forming a crude coronet on His head are grossly ironic; their mockery disgusts me. His arms are spread wide and nailed there leaving His heart exposed. As He proclaims with His final breath, “It is finished,” it occurs to me: here is Holy surrendered, for Jesus Christ is the embodiment of holiness.

We often speak (even sing) in our Christian circles of being wholly surrendered. The more I think about it, however, the more I wonder whether or not we as Christ followers really understand the true implications of this phrase, or how crucial it is to us as we live to walk in freedom with Christ. I genuinely believe that we should seek to be wholly surrendered to our Lord Jesus, and His death certainly portrays that. Now, in my affection for language and belief that our Father takes joy in us as we take joy in His Truth, I wish to play with the homonym of this phrase (holy surrendered) in hopes that we (I) might come to a new understanding of its profundity and value in our lives as Christians.

Let us begin with a look at the first part of 2 Corinthians 5:21: God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us. Who was Jesus the day He died on the cross? He was Holy surrendered. God in the flesh, the One who had no sin, took on our sin and died a criminal’s death. One day, we as the redeemed will kneel before Christ as He sits at the right hand of the Father and cry, “Holy!” What a wonder it is that the very One whom we worship as holy is also the very one who was surrendered to death, “even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) Hallelujah! Holy surrendered.

In regards to our everyday lives, however, the phrase bears a very different meaning to me. Centuries from the time Holy surrendered, we as Christ followers find ourselves in a world governed by our enemy. We are foreigners forced to stand in a hostile land, and frankly, each day here is a battle. It seems to me the farther we come from Christ’s death and resurrection, the more difficult the battle gets, and the more we see holy surrendered. Once again we look at 2 Corinthians 5:21, this time as a whole, but with particular emphasis on the second part. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We are saints made holy by the blood of Christ, yet so many times in the heat of battle, rather than standing in His power as “the righteousness of God” and clinging to His freedom, we surrender our holiness and unwittingly allow the enemy to take us captive. Oh how it breaks my heart to look around me (and to look in the mirror) and see the holy surrendered, after the Holy surrendered to set us free! We were, after all, called to live in victory, to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) My question then is this: What is it that causes us (me) to forget all Christ accomplished on the cross and surrender all hope of living a life of holiness, walking in defeat rather than the victory of the Spirit Who lives in us (me)? I believe we face many obstacles in our day to day lives. We all experience the effects of fear, pride, doubt, faithlessness, busyness, and so much more in our lives, which sap us of our strength and lead us into surrender. So how do we escape the pull of these hindrances?

Here is where we come full circle. What often keeps us from standing in holiness is the fact that we as Christians are not wholly surrendered. We can sing about it. We can say that we are, but have we really given every part of our lives to Him? Are we actually wholly surrendered? I know there are many areas in my life that I tend to hold back, and the fact is that each one of those things makes me more vulnerable and more inclined to surrender my hope of holiness. Now, I can’t say I know exactly how to become wholly surrendered to our Lord, but I do know that the more I look back and see the Holy surrendered on the cross, the more being wholly surrendered to Him becomes my deepest desire. And in that I find my answer: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) Our Savior was Holy surrendered. We’ve all experienced the danger of seeing the holy surrendered. So my prayer is that we would make being wholly surrendered the deepest desire of our hearts and delight ourselves in the Lord, thereby allowing Him to accomplish in us what we cannot do on our own, so that we see “His grace to [us] was not without effect” (1 Corinthians 5:10) and we might truly live lives that are righteous and holy as He intended. Lord, I am yours!

Soon, I will begin to explore what God is revealing to me about what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord.” I believe He is calling me to look at concepts such as losing yourself in praise and His glory, seeking His countenance and walking in that light, and living with your heart exposed before Him. We will see where this journey takes us.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Around Campus

Well, the first cold front of the season blew in last night and it is a gorgeous morning. As I walked outside I think I truly understood the concept of God's mercy being new every morning and the motif of a new song. There's just something about that fresh morning air just after sunrise that makes me smile, despite that fact that I'm awake just after sunrise. haha. Anyway, I thought now would be a good time to share a couple of pictures from my favorite places around campus. I'll get some more later. Enjoy!

Singing a new song,

Jacob's Dream at Sunset - This is my favorite place on campus!

The Bible Building

Jacob's Dream - This is the gate. Neat illusion.

Williams Performing Arts Center - I spend a lot of time there.

Hardin Administration Building - Honors Program Headquarters

McDonald Hall - Dorm Sweet Dorm