When a Rock Sunk Slowly-Jon Bloom

Hello everyone !

Yesterday, as I was browsing Desiringgod.org online book library, I came across Jon Bloom’s book whose title “Not by Sight” caught my eye. This book is in fact a series of meditations on the topic of faith, beautifully articulated around a part of the scriptures narrated in the form of a vividly described story. The way it is written actually make you feel as if you were a spectator of the story, which I love. I thought I would share one of these meditations with you.

Like lots of other books on Desiring God, you can find it for free online.

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“The day had been another mind-blower for the disciples.

As they rowed toward Capernaum it was hard to stop talking about what they had seen. Five thousand men, plus women and children, and Jesus had fed them all ! With one boy’s lunch! The power Jesus commanded both thrilled and unnerved them.

And they had felt the heady momentum of surging public support when the massive picnic turned into a “Jesus for king” rally. The people had begun to understand! The Messiah had arrived! The kingdom was beginning to emerge right before their eyes.

And then it had all ended so strangely. Surprisingly, Jesus was visibly disturbed by the crowd’s enthusiasm and he moved quickly to douse it with hard, confusing words. The people’s support soured to disillusionment.

Jesus could be so hard to figure out.

And why had he been in such a hurry for them to get to Capernaum that he had them row by night? And why were they to leave without him? They had taken the last boat on the shore. If Jesus intended to join them in Capernaum by morning, it was going to be one whale of a walk.

Then the wind picked up and the waves grew stronger, pushing against every pull of the oars. This was going to add hours to the trip. Adrenaline-fueled discussion was replaced by fatigue-fueled irritability. One of them commented that at this speed, Jesus would probably beat them there on foot.

Just then another shouted, “What’s that?” All eyes strained sternward. A form was approaching in the murky dark. Peter stood up on the small rear deck and looked hard. It could not possibly be what it looked like. But soon it was unmistakable. Someone — or something — was walking toward them across the water! An unearthly fear seized the men. One spoke in a hushed panic: “It is a ghost!” The rowers found new energy.

But a familiar voice called to them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Jesus? It sounded like Jesus. But he was walking on top the water! Maybe a spirit could do that, but not a human! Peter motioned to the rowers to stop. It was Jesus. Mouths hung open but no one had words.

Except Peter. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Every astonished face turned to Peter. No one else had even thought of that yet. Jesus responded, “Come.”

So Peter sat on the gunwale, swung his legs over the side, and carefully put his weight on what should have engulfed him. Then stood up. There was a collective gasp from the boat. One degree of surreal to another. Then he began to take tentative steps toward Jesus. The others held their breath.

Suddenly Peter froze. He looked down at the waves drenching his legs. There was panic in his eyes. Then he began to sink, as if into mud. He reached out toward Jesus and cried, “Lord, save me!” Jesus stepped forward, reached out, grabbed his arm, and pulled him up. Peter, looking intensely at Jesus, was breathing hard.

Jesus said to him with affectionate firmness said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”


Peter showed remarkable faith in asking to follow Jesus out on to the water. No one else did.

But when he began walking, what held him up? We might quickly assume it was his faith. But that’s not accurate. Peter’s faith wasn’t keeping him afloat. Jesus was. Peter knew that. That’s why he didn’t just leap out of the boat on his own. He asked Jesus to command him to come. What Jesus did was honor Peter’s faith by commanding the water to bear his weight.

Lesson #1: faith is not faith in our faith in Jesus, it’s faith in the power of Jesus’ word.

But once Peter was outside the safety of the boat, on uncharted waters, everything started feeling precarious. Why? Well, because people don’t actually walk on water. We may be so familiar to the story that the ridiculousness of walking on water doesn’t strike us. But it struck Peter at that moment.

And he started to sink.

But have you ever noticed that Peter the Rock didn’t sink like a rock? The last time you jumped into a pool, how gradually did you sink? There’s something profound going on here.

Peter began to sink when his faith shifted from the firmness of Jesus’ word to the instability of his circumstance. And when he did, it was Jesus letting him sink — slowly. And for Peter that was a grace.

Why? Because Peter’s sinking produced his cry to Jesus. It quickly got Peter to stop looking to the world or himself as the source of truth and salvation and got his focus back on his Savior. When he did that Jesus pulled him back up.

Lesson #2: Jesus’ word is truer and stronger than what we see or feel, and when we doubt that, sometimes he graciously lets us sink to help us refocus.

Trusting in Jesus and his word over our perceptions is difficult to learn. That’s why the Lord takes us through so many different faith-testing, faith-building experiences.

And when he does, it is never for just our own benefit. He’s displaying his power so others’ faith will be strengthened too. And, like the rest of the disciples, once Jesus and Peter were back in the boat, we end up saying to the Lord, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).”

 

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“Satan’s defeat is sure”- John Piper

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1 John 3:8: “The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.”

Revelation 12:10 says, “I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.’” Satan’s defeat is sure. But his accusations haven’t ceased.

It is the same with us as it was with Job. Satan says to God about us, They don’t really love you; they love your benefits. “Stretch out your hand and touch all that [they have], and [they] will curse you to your face” (Job 1:11). Their faith isn’t real. Satan accuses us before God, as he did Job. But it is a glorious thing that followers of Jesus have an advocate who “always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

John Piper, Satan’s Ten Strategies Against You

Kicking off the day with Oswald Chambers:

“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord”;…  The Highest Good—The Pilgrim’s Song Book”

O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want-Psalm 34:9

We need not be afraid to come

He declares himself to be a fountain of living water; yet why is he a fountain but that we may come unto him, and drink? He tells us, “I am the bread which came down from heaven;” but why does he speak of himself as bread, whereof if a man eat, he shall never hunger? Why, because he wants us to partake of him! You need not, therefore, be afraid that he will refuse you when you come to him. If a man praises his wares, it is that he may sell them. If a doctor advertises his cures, it is that other sick folk may be induced to try his medicine; and when our Lord Jesus Christ praises himself, it is a kind of holy advertisement by which he would tempt us to “come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” If he praises himself, it is that we may fall in love with him; and we need not be afraid to come and lay our poor hearts at his feet, and ask him to accept us, for he would not have wooed us by unveiling his beauties if he had meant, after all, to trample on our hearts, and say, “I care nothing for such poor love as yours.” -Charles Spurgeon

Held as in a vise

Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is small. Sanctification is simply the wonderful expression or evidence of the forgiveness of sins in a human life. But the thing that awakens the deepest fountain of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven his sin. Paul never got away from this. Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.

Oswald Chambers

The blind men and the elephant

Tonight, I am sharing an interesting paragraph of Timothy Keller’s book, “The Reason for God”

Elephant with large teeth approaching - Addo National Park
Elephant with large teeth approaching – Addo National Park

 

“Each religion sees part of spiritual truth, but none can see the whole truth”.

Sometimes this point is illustrated with the story of the blind man and the elephant. Several blind men were walking along and came upon an elephant that allowed them to touch and feel it. “This creature is long and flexible  like a snake”, said the first blind man, holding the elephant’s trunk. “Not at all- it is thick and round like a tree trunk”, said the second blind man, feeling the elphant’s leg. “No, it’s large and flat”, said the third blind man, touching the elphant’s side. Each blind man could feel only part of the elephant- non could envisage the entire elephant. In the same way, it is argued, the religions of the world each have a grasp on part of the truth about spiritual reality, but none can see the whole elephant or claim to have a comprehensive vision of the truth.

This illustration backfires on its users. The story is told from the point of view of someone who is not blind. How could you know that each blind man only sees part of the elphant unless you claim to be able to see the whole elephant ?

There is an appearance of humility in the protestation that the truth is much greater than any one of us can grasp, but if this is used to invalidate all claims to discern the truth it is in fact an arrogant claim to a kind of knowledge which is superior to (all others)… We have to ask: “What is the (absolute) vantage ground from which you claim to be able to relativize all the absolutes claims these differents scriptures make” ( quote from Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society)

How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have ?

Self-realization vs knowing Jesus-Christ ?

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…that I may know Him… —Philippians 3:10

 

A saint is not to take the initiative toward self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ. A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him. The Holy Spirit is determined that we will have the realization of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives, and He will bring us back to the same point over and over again until we do. Self-realization only leads to the glorification of good works, whereas a saint of God glorifies Jesus Christ through his good works. Whatever we may be doing— even eating, drinking, or washing disciples’ feet— we have to take the initiative of realizing and recognizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized His relationship to the Father even in the most menial task. “Jesus, knowing…that He had come from God and was going to God,…took a towel…and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” (John 13:3-5).

The aim of a spiritually vigorous saint is “that I may know Him…” Do I know Him where I am today? If not, I am failing Him. I am not here for self-realization, but to know Jesus Christ. In Christian work our initiative and motivation are too often simply the result of realizing that there is work to be done and that we must do it. Yet that is never the attitude of a spiritually vigorous saint. His aim is to achieve the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances. -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

How to pray

At a Christian Conference I attended this summer, my mom bought me a bunch of books on various topics, and among them, she picked “How to Pray” by R.A Torrey

 

how to pray

So far I had read books on nearly everything, theologically speaking but strangely never on prayer. 

Reading this short book has been a tremendous encouragement to me and makes me want to spend more time in prayer. For a long time, prayer has been one of the areas in which I had most of my spiritual struggles, and this little book, short and really based on the Scriptures, is definitely renewing my vision of prayer.

I wanted to share a quote that really spoke to me and guess what; I copy/pasted it. Because it is available online ! As I said, it’s a really short book and it’s totally worth reading !

“Oftentimes when we come to God in prayer, we do not feel like praying. What shall one do in such a case? cease praying until he does feel like it? Not at all. When we feel least like praying is the time when we most need to pray. We should wait quietly before God and tell Him how cold and prayerless our hearts are, and look up to Him and trust Him and expect Him to send the Holy Spirit to warm our hearts and draw them out in prayer. It will not be long before the glow of the Spirit’s presence will fill our hearts, and we will begin to pray with freedom, directness, earnestness and power. Many of the most blessed seasons of prayer I have ever known have begun with a feeling of utter deadness and prayerlessness, but in my helplessness and coldness I have cast myself upon God, and looked to Him to send His Holy Spirit to teach me to pray, and He has done it.”

Back to the good ol’times: handwritten letters ! #1

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Hi readers ! It’s been a long time already and God willing I will maybe write a post or two on some reflections I had this summer. We were privileged to spend three beautiful weeks in USA, two at my aunt’s in Florida and another in Pennsylvania. Lots of happenings there led me to go back to my “first love”, writing. For years, I kept a diary, and every day after school, since the age of 16, I would let my thoughts ripe on the paper. Really, paper is my second brain and during the 4th year of universtiy, it happened for some reason I don’t quite remember that I stopped writing and it was a bad idea. A bad one. I thrive on writing.

During my stay in the USA, I talked to a relative and other girlfriends and realized something: we are in an age of rush. Of social media, of things-to-do lists. Some will be leaving for college and leave their parents behind, and sometimes, it can be quite overwhelming. They won’t always have the time for phone calls and answering emails and will be heavily disturbed when WhatsApp/Snapchat sends a “Ding !” while they are studying for their next quizz/test. Yet they need some presence. The warmth of those they love.

I wanted to stay in touch with these girls. Some of them cousins, some of them friends, sisters in Christ, older women at times. And yet, I, too, am getting crazy with the social media tornado that dominate our lives: you either choose to be an active member of it or, you socially die, forgotten of everyone !

It was upon these considerations that I have decided to buy a good, thick block of paper, a stash of envelopes and while decreasing my time on social media, to take the habit to write a letter once a day (while I am on vacations) but to have, at least, a special time, every week, to sit down with my tea on my little round table and to pen a few words.

The art of handwritten letters brings unique things…

The one who writes will see his/her thoughts unfold on the paper in a way that writing them on a computer won’t -there is no erase button after all… and it’s such a pleasure to go to the post office and print stamps to send your thick stash of letters. It’s usually hard to get me out of my appartment unless for shopping for groceries. My parents keep telling me, “Go out for a walk”- but this time I think going out on the Rue Nationale will be a much awaited time of the week !

The one who receives the letter will have the surprise of receiving something personal- all handwritings are different- and you get to have something that is specifically written for one person. And, unlike notifications, you get to have something that you can read at any time and requires your attention, yet is not as interrupting as those !

What’s not to love ? As I was sending an email a few minutes ago, I found, on my mom’s desk, a small adress book.*This is a siiiignnnn*. I just can’t wait ! And since I’m taking the train every Monday and Friday, I hope to, when I don’t want to study, to make it a tradition to write in the train.

Post #2 to follow !

Do you still write, or am I the only squealing Jane Austenish gal out there?

 

 

An interview with the former Victoria Secret model Kylie Bisutti

Note: This short interview was published in 2013 on my former blog, and was translated to French. Three years after deleting my blog, I just rediscovered this interview with the former Victoria Secret’s model Kylie Bisutti, who left her career to follow Christ. She is such a humble, kind mom of two and I enjoy following her on social media, and seeing her grow more and more spiritually. I hope you enjoy this (short) interview and if you are interested in knowing Kylie’s story-more in depth this time, I’ve read her book and I think it would be a great, great encouragement and testimony for young teens… and older ladies.
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1) Hi Kylie ! Thank you for having accepted this interview. First, can you describe your family and faith backround, before you became a model ?

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home so I was not a believer when I started modeling at the age of 14. The first time I attended church was when I was almost 16 and then I got baptized shortly after that!

 2) What really motivated you to get into the modeling industry, at 14 ? What was your parents stance on this ?

My parents were very open to letting me pursue my dream of becoming a model. I was motivated by worldly things though. I wanted attention. Fame. Acceptance. Value. I thought that modeling would fulfill me… I wanted to prove to people that I was worthy. God showed me though that there is no happiness in trying to find value in worldly things. He is the only way to true happiness and a fulfilled life.

3) How was your relationship with the Lord, what did you knew about Him at this time ?

I didn’t know anything about The Lord when I started modeling. Even after I started going to church I didn’t have the right view of Christ and what it means to live for Him. I just believed that his desire for me was to have health wealth and prosperity and that he was here to bless me with it. He has changed my view of him and my heart so much though from the vain place it used to be!

 4) The pinnacle of your career was when, of course, you became a VS model. How did it all happened ?

When I was 19 I auditioned for the Victoria’s Secret 2009 runway angel competition along with 10000 other girls. I ended up being a top ten finalist to compete for the spot and ended up being voted the winner by America!

 5) Thousands of girls are looking at VS runaways and wondering, how does it feel to be a model of that level. How does it really feel ?

Lonely. Empty. Vain. Truly insecure. The night I was named the vs runway angel was one of the most insecure nights of my life. It’s the opposite of what most girls think and I talk about all of the details and emotions in my book, I’m No Angel.

 

6) When you got married, what was your husband stance on your job as a model ?

He didn’t really know much about the modeling industry. He had no clue who Heidi Klum was and what the VS fashion show was. So in the beginning he didn’t think much of it. He didn’t really become aware of it all until I started working for VS.

 7) One day, you announced that you were leaving VS. What happened, in your life so after having worked all your life to reach such a coveted position in the modeling world ?

God changed my heart. He showed me that I was on a downward spiral of insecurity and loneliness. He showed me that I wasn’t honoring my marriage by posing in provocative lingerie. He showed me that I wasn’t promoting a healthy body image to young girls and most importantly he showed me that I was not living my life for Him.

8) Looking at your Twitter, I was greatly encouraged by your walk with the Lord Jesus, and so are a lot of people, the way you seek to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Can you describe us how’s your relationship with the Lord ? How he changed your life ?
 

I am so much closer with The Lord now. I no longer look at him as a “magic genie” who desires to bless me with money and prosperity but as a gracious savior who died for my sins and who longs to give me love and promises to guide my life for His purposes. I am way more secure and confident now and so much more fulfilled in my life!

 9) You recently launched your book, “I’m no angel”, in which you tell your story, your past insecurities. A lot of girls feel so insecure because of what they see in the modeling industry, what would you say to them ?

Please read the book! I was insecure too. Super insecure. But I found hope and I found confidence and I talk about that in the entire book!!

  10) Do you have a word to say to the male readers who might read this interview ? 

The pictures you see in magazines are FAKE. They are airbrushed, photoshopped, and look way different than the model who came in to the shoot with no makeup, hair extensions, and a magic computer program that can give her a smaller waist, a bigger bust, and perfect lips.