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Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

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I stepped onto the U1 train for the first time in 2020 to head to school this morning. Amazingly, it was quite empty, so I took the first open seat to my right. As soon as I sat down, I noticed the strong odor coming from the man across from me. As I looked his way, I saw that he had a huge wine bottle hidden in his jacket from which he took a swig every once in a while. My initial thought was to move. But, my mind immediately went to the lyrics of a song that have been on my mind lately: “Break my heart for what breaks yours.” I stayed put.

Our eyes met, and he looked down at the bag that contained my lunch and a new pair of boots. I looked away and positioned myself so that I could see out the window. The beautiful pink and purple sky came into view. Then we crossed over the Danube. I looked at the birds and the ice. My thoughts were interrupted when his reflection came into focus in the window. He sat quietly and still, only moving when he wanted another long gulp of liquor. I blew my nose with a tissue I had in my pocket. He looked my way.

I wondered if he knew how badly he smelled. I wondered if he were hungry. Did he have a place to live? Had he spent the night riding the train? Was there something that I needed to do? I sat there in silence, looking outside and inside at the same time.

We reached the stop for the UN. I didn’t think I could take the smell anymore. “Breathe through your mouth,” I told myself. God kept telling me that this person needed to be treated with respect. Don’t move. I wondered if others had openly shown him contempt and disgust, treating him as less than a person. “Hang in there,” God said. Just two more stops. I noticed the bright lights of Donauzentrum. “Vapiano. Vapiano. Vapiano.” He took another long drink and pushed the bottle further inside his jacket. He zipped it up higher.

“Rennbahnweg.” I stood to go. He was still there as I exited the train. Where was he going? Would he ride the train all day? Would others stay as far away as possible?

When Jesus was on this earth, he said that “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus was criticized for the people that he hung out with – the poor, the sick, the woman caught in adultery, the tax collectors, the Samaritans, the outcasts. He told his disciples and those that confronted him, “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9) 

The stench is still lingering on my clothing, and he is still on my mind. My prayer is that this one small act of treating him as a human being worthy of riding the u-bahn with me meant something. Or maybe, just maybe, God put him in that train for my benefit. 

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon C. Brobst, EdD
Director

You can hear “Hosanna” sung by Hillsong here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht5QvAMDMzE

One of Us

One of Us

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Every Friday morning, the staff gets together for a time of worship and devotions. Last week, Mr. Reynolds led us in a song that I had never heard before. It was called “Baby Son,” written by John Mark McMillan. The song explains why so many in Jesus’ day did not recognize Him as the Savior of the World. He did not come as a mighty soldier or as a politician. Instead, He came as a commoner, born in a stable, “not ashamed to be one of us.” That last phrase really caught my attention. I don’t think that I can fully grasp just what a huge sacrifice it was for Jesus to leave behind Heaven and His rightful place at the right hand of God the Father. He left all of this to become a helpless baby, completely reliant on a young girl to take care of Him. He humbled Himself to become a human being, complete with all of our physical weaknesses. Why? Because He loved us! That love must be so much greater than any human love could ever be. He didn’t just give up His human life for us; He gave up His rightful place as God. The Almighty God! The Creator of the Universe! My puny mind just can’t fully grasp the meaning of this!

This year, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I encourage you to focus on the incredible sacrifice that Jesus made to come to earth so He could dwell among us. Ask God to reveal Himself through the Christmas carols that we sing and the Bible verses that we hear. 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus), so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Because of His Faithfulness,

Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.

Below are the lyrics to the song, “Baby Son,” by John Mark McMillan, with a link to it being sung on YouTube.

Baby Son
We thought You’d come with a crown of gold
A string of pearls and a cashmere robe
We thought You’d clinch an iron fist
And rain like fire on the politics

But without a sword, no armored guard
But common born in mother’s arms
The government now rests upon
The shoulders of this Baby Son

Have you no room inside your heart
The inn is full, the out is dark
But upon profane shines sacred sun
Not ashamed to be one of us

But without a sword, no armored guard
But common born in mother’s arms
The government now rests upon
The shoulders of this Baby Son

Gloria, Allelu
Christ the Lord
We’ve longed for You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xy6s1BSD_4

One Chance in a Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion

One Chance in a Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion, Trillion

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Every Monday I have the privilege of attending Elementary Chapel. We have been singing beautiful Christmas carols for the last couple of weeks, and Ms. Fitcher has been sharing about Jesus, the coming Messiah. You see, this month is when Christians celebrate Advent. There are many different ideas for what the specific meanings are for the candles, etc., but all Christians would agree that advent is a time to prepare us as we look ahead to the birth of Jesus Christ and also to think about His second coming.

Two weeks ago, Ms. Fitcher shared with the students about the probability that anyone could fulfill as many prophecies as were written in the Bible about Jesus’ birth and life. There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus mentioned in the Bible. These were written between 500 and 1000 years before Jesus was even born. The mathematical chances that any one person could fulfill all of them is one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion! And Jesus had to fulfill every single one, or He was not the Messiah at all!

Let’s look at just eight of them. The probability that someone could fulfill just eight of these prophecies is one in 100,000,000,000,000,000! 

Old Testament Prophecy

New Testament Fulfillment

The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2

Written 700 B.C.

John 7:42 – “For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 

Fulfilled 27 A.D.

The Messiah will be born of a virgin.

Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7

Written 735 B.C.

Matthew 1:20-23 –’The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and He will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us).’”

Fulfilled 30 A.D.

The Messiah would be from the lineage of King David.
Jeremiah 23:5
Written 600 B.C.

“Jesus … the son of David …”
Luke 3:23, 31
Fulfilled 
30 A.D.

The Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
Zechariah 11:13
Written 487 B.C.

 “They gave him thirty pieces of silver.”
Matthew 26:15
Fulfilled 
30 A.D.

 The Messiah would have his hands and feet pierced.
Psalm 22:16
Written 1000 B.C.

“They came to a place called The Skull. All three were crucified there-Jesus on the center cross, and the two criminals on either side.”
Luke 23:33
Fulfilled 
30 A.D.

People would cast lots for the Messiah’s clothing.
Psalm 22:18
Written 1000 B.C.

“The soldiers … took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said, ‘Let’s not tear it but throw dice to see who gets it.’ ”
John 19:23-24
Fulfilled 
30 A.D.

The Messiah would appear riding on a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9
Written 500 B.C.

“They brought the animals to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.”
Matthew 21:7
Fulfilled 
30 A,D.

A messenger would be sent to herald the Messiah.
Malachi 3:1
Written 500 B.C.

John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not know.”
John 1:26
Fulfilled 
 27 A.D.

If you are interested in this topic, an easy-to-read article by Rev. Billy Graham can be found by clicking here.

As we prepare ourselves for remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, let us enter into this season with awe at how Jesus was revealed to us so long ago, and how He fulfilled what the prophets foretold about Him. Truly, He is the Son of God!

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.

Meaning in the Journey

Meaning in the Journey

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There is meaning in every journey unknown to the traveller.

The more time I spend in the ISCV community, the more these words of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer become a reality to me. I love being able to talk with students daily about life, faith, God, etc., and in doing so I am continually reminded of the fact that every single person I encounter is on a journey. We seek truth, chase after happiness, long for peace, and are eager for answers to many of life’s biggest questions. It doesn’t matter where we have come from or where we are going. The journey is the same for each of us. ICSV is proof of this – students and staff from over 65 nations, holding to different worldviews and belief systems, all longing for the same things. And for some reason, God has brought us all together in this place at this time on our journeys.

Our desire is to create a safe place for our students, your kids, to wrestle with the ultimate questions and move further along on their search for truth, peace, and happiness. We firmly believe that the answers we all long for are found in a relationship with God, and while we are clear about this with our students, we want to see them pursue truth and come to conclusions on their own. In order to do this, we offer students many opportunities to think, reflect, learn, and respond. One such opportunity is through Spiritual Emphasis Week. In secondary, these take place twice a year and are a way for students to be challenged to grow in their faith and to consider what God might be doing in their lives.

I believe that God is working in the lives of many of our students and staff members at ICSV, and last week’s SEW only served to confirm that. The team that came from Georgia spent most of their time in our daily chapel services sharing personal experiences of how God has worked in their lives. Thursday night we hosted a “Praise Night,” and were thrilled to see over 100 people come out. During our time together, students were given an opportunity to share about what God is doing in their lives. It’s really exciting to see the different ways that God is working in the hearts of teachers and students. It is my prayer that, as we move forward as a community, we would continue to see God draw our hearts toward Him, that we would find everything we are longing for in Him, and that He would bring us a peace and a hope that we’ve never quite experienced before.

Maybe you’re not sure about faith, God, Christianity, or whatever else. Perhaps you can’t figure out why things are going the way they are in your life. You might have more questions than answers, and that’s okay. Just remember, “There is meaning in every journey unknown to the traveller.”

Tim Totten, Spiritual Formation Coordinator

Grumpy, and Proud of It

Grumpy, and Proud of It

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As I mentioned last week, I took 11 flights in less than three weeks while on my trip to the US. This week, I’ve taken two more flights, as I’ve spent the week in Albania leading an ACSI Accreditation visit to one of our sister schools there. Flying isn’t exactly my favorite thing. I love the excitement of the comings and going in airports because they remind me that people are going places and seeing people that they haven’t seen in a while. The reason I don’t like flying is because I tend to get motion sickness, so landing is especially hard on me. I always make sure there is an airsickness bag in my seat pocket and I turn the little air vent up as high as it will go in order to get me through it.

Even so, if I want to be able to visit people and places, then I just have to endure the relatively short period of nausea that comes with air travel. During one of my many times of waiting in an airport lounge on this past trip, I noticed this woman with her daughter waiting in line. I just had to take a picture of them. The mother’s tee-shirt said, “Grumpy, and Proud of It.” After I noticed the shirt’s message I looked up at her face. She had one of the most grumpy looks that I have ever seen! She was even borderline angry! If I remember correctly, nothing was wrong with the timing of this flight. It wasn’t like we had waited there for hours or anything. Everything was normal for the process of boarding a plane. It was all that I could do not to laugh aloud at her and the appropriate message on her shirt!

It got me thinking about how I was handling the stress of so much travel. I think it was while I was going through security for my next flight that the man checking my passport with my boarding pass took a while looking at my picture and then looking back at me. It has been eight years since my passport was issued, and that was during a time when I had tried to grow my hair longer and had a perm. I can be honest and say that the picture really doesn’t look anything like me. So I said to the serious-looking security officer, “I’ve aged since that picture. But I do think my short hair makes me look younger.” I smiled at him and waited for a response. He surprised me when he smiled and said, “I agree. It does make you look younger.” ☺ I laughed and thanked him. Then off I went to have my bags and body screened for explosives.

We will oftentimes go through times that are stressful or frustrating or even that make us physically sick. We can react like Miss Grumpy Face did and make everyone around know that we are not happy, or we can make the best of the situation. We can even use it to encourage others who may be even more upset or bored or angry than we are. People are watching and we can make a difference just by our attitude.

I think I’ll save the story of the 50 veterans, 25 of which were traveling in wheelchairs, that were on my flight from Baltimore to Dallas for another time. All I’ll say is that I actually did laugh aloud that time. Can you imagine the look on the faces of the security officers who had to scan that many people in metal chairs! All I could say was “Thank you for your service.”

Because of his Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.

Living a Full Life

Living a Full Life

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I have just returned from a wonderful trip to the US, during which time I visited three large Christian universities to look for potential teachers, spoke at my home church, spent time with my children and sister, and celebrated my good friend’s 60th birthday. After 11 flights in less than three weeks, I’m now back in Vienna.

Wherever I go, I am always struck by things that I see or comments that I hear. For some reason, they connect with each other, producing a theme that usually ties in with a quote that is on my wall or by a thought that prompts me to do some online research about the topic. The theme for this trip ended up being “living a full life.”

During my time in the States, I had planned to visit a pillar of my childhood church; however, he died less than two weeks before I got there. He was in his 90s. Then, the day before I arrived at my last stop to celebrate my friend’s milestone birthday, she had been to the funeral of a lifelong friend who had died at the age of 60. Here she was celebrating being 60 and all that she was looking forward to in the future, while George, who was the same age, had come to the end of his life. Her eight-year-old grandson asked why some people don’t get to live their whole life, while others do. She asked him what he thought was a “whole life,” and he explained that he thought that those who had died in their 80s or so had gotten the chance to live their whole life. Those who died when they were younger, hadn’t.

I have a quote by Jim Elliot hanging on my wall. “When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.” Elliot died when he was only 29. He was killed while trying to share the Good News of salvation with the Huaorani people of Ecuador. Did Elliot live a “whole life?” Jim Elliot also said, “I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.” Is there a difference between “a whole life” and “a full life”? Had Jim accomplished all that God wanted him to do? Did he have a chance to do everything that he wanted? What about what he was called to do?

A long life does not necessarily constitute a full life. The life of a believer who gives his all in order to share the joy of a life well-lived has indeed lived a full life. In the book of Psalms, we are told that God has ordained all the days of our life well in advance. It is God who determines how long we will live.

While visiting my friend, we took a day to drive up to New Hampshire to visit the grave of my parents, as I had not been back there in over 15 years. On their tombstone, in addition to their names and dates of birth and death, is the phrase, “God’s gift is eternal life.” Flying out of Boston and heading back home to Vienna, I thought about when my time on this earth is over. I do not want to have regrets about what I wish I had done or not done. I want to be sure that I lived “my whole life” as a “full life” that leads to “eternal life.” How about you?

Because of his Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.