Thursday, November 4, 2010

Think You're Unqualified for Radicalism?



"Lukewarm [Christians] will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give." (Crazy Love 74, Francis Chan)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Not About You

I’ve been reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan and I’m really enjoying its insight and getting “shots in the arm” so to speak about my walk with Christ.

Here’s an excerpt from the very first chapter that really hit home for me. I hope you enjoy it.

“Why are we so quick to forget God? Who do we think we are?
I find myself relearning this lesson often. Even though I glimpse God’s holiness, I am still dumb enough to forget that life is all about God and not about me at all.
It goes sort of like this….
Suppose you are an extra in an upcoming movie. You will probably scrutinize that one scene where hundreds of people are milling around, just waiting for that two-fifths of a second when you can see the back of your head. Maybe your mom and your closest friend get excited about that two-fifths of a second with you… maybe. But no one else will realize it is you. Even if you tell them, they won’t care.
Let’s take it a step further. What if you rent out a theater on opening night and invite all your friends and family to come see the new movie about you? People will say, “You’re an idiot! How could you think this movie is about you?”
Many Christians are even more delusional than the person I’ve been describing. So many of us think and live like the movie of life is all about us.
Now consider the movie of life…
God creates the world. (Were you alive then? Was God talking to you when He proclaimed “It is good” about all He had just made?)
Then people rebel against God (who if you haven’t realized it yet, is the main character in this movie), and God floods the earth to rid it of the mess people made of it.
Several generations later, God singles out a ninety-nine-year-old man called Abram and makes him the father of a nation (did you have anything to do with this?).
Later, along came Joseph and Moses and many other ordinary and inadequate people that the movie is also not about. God is the one who picks them and directs them and works miracles through them.
In the next scene, God sends judges and prophets to his nation because the people can’t seem to give Him the one thing He asks of them (obedience).
And then, the climax: The Son of God is born among the people whom God still somehow loves. While in this world, the Son teaches His followers what true love looks like. Then the Son of God dies and is resurrected and goes back up to be with God.
And even though the movie isn’t quite finished yet, we know what the last scene holds. It’s the scene I already described in chapter 1: the throne room of God. Here every being worships God who sits on the throne, for He alone is worthy to be praised.
From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is it possible that we live as though it is about us? Our scenes in the movie, our brief lives, fall somewhere between the time Jesus ascends into heaven (Acts ) and when we will all worship God on His throne in heaven (Revelation).
We have only our two-fifths-of-a-second-long scene to live. I don’t know about you, but I want my two-fifths of a second to be about my making much of God. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That is what each of our two-fifths of a second is about.
So what does that mean for you?
Frankly, you need to get over yourself. If might sound harsh, but that seriously what it means.
Maybe life’s pretty good for you right now. God has given you this good stuff so that you can show the world a person who enjoys blessings, but who is still totally obsessed with God.
Or maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle. God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard. Like the psalmist who wrote, “I saw the prosperity of the wicked…. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure…. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God” (Ps. 73:3 ,13, 16-17). It is easy to become disillusioned with the circumstances of our lives compared to others’. But in the presence of God, He gives us a deeper peace and joy that transcends it all.
To be brutally honest, it doesn’t really matter what place you find yourself in right now. Your part is to bring Him glory—whether eating a sandwich on a lunch break, drinking coffee at 12:04 a.m. so you can stay awake to study, or watching your four-month-old take a nap.
The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift” (Crazy Love 42, 43, 45).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Close your eyes...


Ever thought about what the phrase, "Walk by faith and not by sight," means? I particularly like the part about "not by sight." I like to think about that literally for my spiritual life. Sometimes I'm so ready to plan my own life and the steps I will take that I forget to trust God. I am not perfect. So, my choices, if I'm making them apart from God, won't be perfect. Therefore, my steps won't be perfect and I'll fall. But Christ is perfect. If I let Him guide my steps in the path of righteousness, my ways will be perfect.

Have any of you done a ropes course or trust exercise (sometimes known as "team-building activity")? Well, sometimes, people have to pick you up and put you through spaces in tires or guide you along a wooded trail without touching you. I don't know about you, but it's hard to trust someone to take your life and well-being into their hands.

When I think about my spiritual life, I see how sometimes I can say that I'm trusting God, but I'm still watching what else I could be doing, and even though I am letting God direct my steps, I trip over other things like pride, hurt, hatred, frustration, etc. I wouldn't call it "blind faith," but I think that making sure I'm not comparing what I'm doing to what I could be doing is like closing my eyes. I want to live for God and I want to walk in the steps of righteousness, but I've noticed that if I'm allowing myself to be distracted by all the sin and temptations around me, I trip up.

So now I pray that God would take His hand
And cover my eyes and make me rest in Him.
I pray that He will direct my steps
So I will not stumble
And make the temptations dim;
So all I can see is His glory
Etched in His crucified palm.
And I'll be forced to reflect on His glory
And dwell on the things of above.

"A man's heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hopeful's Conversion (from Pilgrim's Progress)

Chr. Then Christian began and said, I will ask you a question: How came
you to think at first of doing as you do now?


Hope. Do you mean, how came I at first to look after the good of my soul?


Chr. Yes, that is my meaning.


Hope. I continued a great while in the delight of those things which were
seen and sold at our Fair; things which I believe now would have (had I
continued in them still) drowned me in perdition and destruction.


Chr. What things were they?


Hope. All the Treasures and Riches of the World. Also I delighted much in
Rioting, Revelling, Drinking, Swearing, Lying, Uncleanness, Sabbath -
breaking, and what not, that tended to destroy the Soul. But I found at last,
by hearing and considering of things that are Divine, which indeed I heard of
you, as also of beloved Faithful, that was put to death for his faith and good
living in Vanity Fair, That the end of these things is death. And that for
these things' sake the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.


Chr. And did you presently fall under the power of this conviction?


Hope. No, I was not willing presently to know the evil of sin, nor the
damnation that follows upon the commission of it; but endeavoured, when my
mind at first began to be shaken with the Word, to shut mine eyes against the
light thereof.


Chr. But what was the cause of your carrying of it thus to the first
workings of God's blessed Spirit upon you?


Hope. The causes were, 1. I was ignorant that this was the work of God
upon me. I never thought that by awakenings for sin God at first begins the
conversion of a sinner. 2. Sin was yet very sweet to my flesh, and I was loth
to leave it. 3. I could not tell how to part with mine old Companions, their
presence and actions were so desirable unto me. 4. The hours in which
convictions were upon me, were such troublesome and such heart-affrighting
hours, that I could not bear, no not so much as the remembrance of them upon
my heart.


Chr. Then as it seems, sometimes you got rid of your trouble.


Hope. Yes verily, but it would come into my mind again, and then I should
be as bad, nay worse, than I was before.


Chr. Why, what was it that brought your sins to mind again?


Hope. Many things; as


1. If I did but meet a good man in the Streets; or,


2. If I have heard any read in the Bible; or,


3. If mine Head did begin to ake; or,


4. If I were told that some of my Neighbors were sick; or,


5. If I heard the Bell toll for some that were dead; or,


6. If I thought of Dying myself; or,


7. If I heard that sudden Death happened to others;


8. But especially, when I thought of myself, that I must quickly come to
Judgment.


Chr. And could you at any time with ease get off the guilt of sin, when
by any of these ways it came upon you?


Hope. No, not latterly, for then they got faster hold of my conscience;
and then, if I did but think of going back to sin, (though my mind was turned
against it) it would be double torment to me.


Chr. And how did you do then?


Hope. I thought I must endeavour to mend my life; for else, thought I, I
am sure to be damned.


Chr. And did you endeavour to mend?


Hope. Yes, and fled from not only my sins, but sinful Company too; and
betook me to religious duties, as Prayer, Reading, Weeping for Sin, speaking
Truth to my Neighbors, &c. These things did I, with many others, too much here
to relate.


Chr. And did you think yourself well then?


Hope. Yes, for a while; but at the last my trouble came tumbling upon me
again, and that over the neck of all my reformations.


Chr. How came that about, since you were now reformed?


Hope. There were several things brought it upon me, especially such
sayings as these: All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. By the works of
the Law no man shall be justified. When you have done all things, says, We are
unprofitable: with many more such like. From whence I began to reason with
myself thus: If all my righteousnesses are filthy rags, if by the deeds of the
Law, no man can be justified; and if, when we have done all, we are yet
unprofitable, then 'tis but a folly to think of Heaven by the Law. I further
thought thus: If a man runs i001. into the Shop-keeper's debt, and after
that shall pay for all that he shall fetch; yet his old debt stands still in
the Book uncrossed, for the which the Shop-keeper may sue him, and cast him
into Prison till he shall pay the debt.


Chr. Well, and how did you apply this to yourself?


Hope. Why, I thought thus with myself: I have by my sins run a great way
into God's Book, and that my now reforming will not pay off that score;
therefore I should think still under all my present amendments, But how shall
I be freed from that damnation that I have brought myself in danger of by my
former transgressions?


Chr. A very good application: but pray go on.


Hope. Another thing that hath troubled me, even since my late amendments,
is, that if I look narrowly into the best of what I do now, I still see sin,
new sin, mixing itself with the best of that I do; so that now I am forced to
conclude, that notwithstanding my former fond conceits of myself and duties, I
have committed sin enough in one duty to send me to Hell, though my former
life had been faultless.


Chr. And what did you do then?


Hope. Do! I could not tell what to do, till I brake my mind to Faithful,
for he and I were well acquainted. And he told me, that unless I could obtain
the righteousness of a man that never had sinned, neither mine own, nor all
the righteousness of the world could save me.


Chr. And did you think he spake true?


Hope. Had he told me so when I was pleased and satisfied with mine own
amendments, I had called him Fool for his pains: but now, since I see mine own
infirmity, and the sin that cleaves to my best performance, I have been forced
to be of his opinion.


Chr. But did you think, when at first he suggested it to you, that there
was such a man to be found, of whom it might justly be said. That he never
committed sin?


Hope. I must confess the words at first sounded strangely; but after a
little more talk and company with him, I had full conviction about it.


Chr. And did you ask him what man this was, and how you must be justified
by him?


Hope. Yes, and he told me it was the Lord Jesus, that dwelleth on the
right hand of the Most High. And thus, said he, you must be justified by him,
even by trusting to what he hath done by himself in the days of his flesh, and
suffered when he did hang on the Tree. I asked him further, How that man's
righteousness could be of that efficacy to justify another before God? And he
told me he was the mighty God, and did what he did, and died the death also,
not for himself, but for me; to whom his doings; and the worthiness of them
should be imputed, if I believed on him.


Chr. And what did you do then?


Hope. I made my objections against my believing, for that I thought he
was not willing to save me.


Chr. And what said Faithful to you then?


Hope. He bid me go to him and see: then I said it was presumption: but he
said, No, for I was invited to come. Then he gave me a Book of Jesus his
inditing, to encourage me the more freely to come; and he said concerning that
Book, that every jot and tittle thereof stood firmer than Heaven and Earth.
Then I asked him, What I must do when I came? and he told me, I must entreat
upon my knees with all my heart and soul, the Father to reveal him to me. Then
I asked him further, How I must make my supplication to him? And he said, Go,
and thou shalt find him upon a mercy-seat, where he sits all the year long,
to give pardon and forgiveness to them that come. I told him that I knew not
what to say when I came. And he bid me say to this effect: God be merciful to
me a sinner, and make me to know and believe in Jesus Christ; for I see that
if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness.
I am utterly cast away: Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and
hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Saviour of the world;
and moreover, that thou art willing to bestow him upon such a poor sinner as I
am, (and I am a sinner indeed) Lord, take therefore this opportunity, and
magnify thy grace in the Salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ.
Amen.


Chr. And did you do as you were bidden?


Hope. Yes, over and over and over.


Chr. And did the Father reveal his Son to you?


Hope. Not at the first, nor second, nor third, nor fourth, nor fifth, no
nor at the sixth time neither.


Chr. What did you do then?


Hope. What! why I could not tell what to do.


Chr. Had you not thought of leaving off praying?


Hope. Yes, an hundred times twice told.


Chr. And what was the reason you did not?


Hope. I believed that that was true which had been told me, to wit, that
without the righteousness of this Christ all the world could not save me; and
therefore thought I with myself, If I leave off, I die, and can but die at the
Throne of Grace. And withal, this came into my mind, If it tarry, wait for it,
because it will surely come, it will not tarry. So I continued praying until
the Father shewed me his Son.


Chr. And how was he revealed unto you?


Hope. I did not see him with my bodily eyes, but with the eyes of mine
understanding; and thus it was: One day I was very sad, I think sadder than at
any one time in my life, and this sadness was through a fresh sight of the
greatness and vileness of my sins: and as I was then looking for nothing but
Hell, and the everlasting damnation of my Soul, suddenly, as I thought, I saw
the Lord Jesus look down from Heaven upon me, and saying, Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.


But I replied, Lord, I am a great, a very great sinner. And he answered
My grace is sufficient for thee. Then I said, But Lord, what is believing? And
then I saw from that saying, He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he
that believeth on me shall never thirst, that believing and coming was all
one; and that he that came, that, is, ran out in his heart and affections
after salvation by Christ, he indeed believed in Christ. Then the water stood
in mine eyes, and I asked further, But Lord, may such a great sinner as I am
be indeed accepted of thee, and be saved by thee? And I heard him say, And him
that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Then I said, But how, Lord, must
I consider of thee in my coming to thee, that my faith may be placed aright
upon thee? Then he said, Christ Jesus came into the World to save sinners. He
is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believes. He died
for our sins, and rose again for our justification. He loved us and washed us
from our sins in his own blood. He is Mediator between God and us. He ever
liveth to make intercession for us. From all which I gathered, that I must
look for Righteousness in his Person, and for Satisfaction for my sins by his
Blood; that what he did in obedience to his Father's Law, and in submitting to
the penalty thereof, was not for himself, but for him that will accept it for
his Salvation, and be thankful. And now was my heart full of joy, mine eyes
full of tears, and mine affections running over with love to the Name, People,
and Ways of Jesus Christ.


Chr. this was revelation of Christ to your soul indeed; but tell me
particularly what effect this had upon your spirit.


Hope. It made me see that all the World, notwithstanding all the
righteousness thereof, is in a state of condemnation. It made me see that God
the Father, though he be just, can justly justify the coming sinner. It made
me greatly ashamed of the vileness of my former life, and confounded me with
the sense of mine own ignorance; for there never came thought into my heart
before now, that shewed me so the beauty of Jesus Christ. It made me love a
holy life, and long to do something for the Honour and Glory of the Name of
the Lord Jesus yea, I thought that had I now a thousand gallons of blood in my
body, I could spill it all for the sake of the Lord Jesus.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Bless me, Lord!"



"Lord, that you would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory;
That your hand would be with me.
And you would keep my heart from evil, Amen."


Last night, my youth group and I sang this song arranged by Paul Baloche together. I had heard it a few days before and dropped all other music options so that I could share this with them. It touched my heart and I loved it: the sounds of so many voices from many different lives, and in different situations all singing this one prayer, this prayer of Jabez.



Now, if you don't know who Jabez is, that's ok. He's tucked away in a lonely little chapter in 1 Chronicles. In a line of sons and fathers and "begats," there is an interruption for this man saying, "Jabez was more honorable than his brothers... call[ing] upon the God of Israel... And God granted what he asked." Why would there be this slightly random man in the middle of all of this genealogy? Like Tabitha from Acts (see previous posts), I think that although there are so few verses for this individual, their testimonies are the most important.


Jabez was just an average man; he was probably a farmer with herds of sheep and goats. He was probably a landowner with fields of grain or corn. Jabez called upon the name of the Lord and asked that He would bless him and enlarge his territory and keep him from evil. God did all these things for him.


Why would I choose this song for my youth group to sing? And how does it apply to our daily lives?


First, when Jabez asks God to bless him, he's not being selfish. The word "bless" in this context means supernatural favor. Jabez is asking for God's favor, not the "blessings" we think of as general pleasures. In the book, The Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson, he says, "When we seek God's blessing as the ultimate calue in life, we are throwing ourselves entirely into the river of His will and power and purposes for us." That's what Jabez was doing. He was throwing himself into the favor of God.


But why should we plead for "territory?" Here is a request of God to enlarge your life so that you can make a greater impact for Him. Every day, we need to ask for more opportunities to bring Him glory--whatever that may mean.


"That your hand would be with me." This is acknowledging that you are dependent upon God. "The second you're not feeling dependent is the sencond you've backed away from truly living by faith," said a Bible teacher to Wilkinson. It's true! We need God's hand upon us to sustain and continue the great things that God does in our lives.


"That you would keep my heart from evil," is the last part to this simple prayer. Jabez prays that God would protect him from Satan's proven power to make him gloat over blessing. So easily, we can become prideful when God blesses us-- sometimes He then takes those blessings away, but sometimes He leaves them with us. We need the grace and protection from that evil. Note that Jabez doesn't ask to not be tempted to evil. Why wouldn't he ask that? Well, if we are not being tempted to evil, then Satan is not really worried about us anymore. We're not engaging in the spiritual warfare that we should as Christians. Rather, we should pray for strength to endure the temptations and for victory over the attacks!


And God granted what Jabez asked for. Why? Because this is the prayer that God wants to hear. I would encourage all of you to get and read "The Prayer of Jabez." It's a small book and I think you can get them from CBD for about $1 each. If you don't get this, read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.


"How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God; and all will see how great, how GREAT is our God."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Getting the full view...

I love reading Dr. Wile's blog (http://blog.drwile.com/) and this post was just too good to pass up posting here. Thank you, Dr. Wile, for your great insight on this topic, among many others :)


Some Perspective on the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

The disaster at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was horrendous. Let’s make no mistake about that. Because not enough attention was paid to safety and environmental concerns before the explosion, an estimated total of 4.9 million barrels of oil (210 million gallons)1 were dumped into the ocean. The oil killed wildlife and will probably negatively affect parts of the environment for years to come. With that said, however, I want to look at the disaster from a scientific perspective. If nothing else, such a perspective will give you a deeper appreciation for the wonderful creation God has given us.


The first thing you need to realize is how much oil seeps into the Gulf of Mexico naturally. Probably the best estimate done to date was published by the National Academies Press. It indicates that about 140,000 tons of oil (about a million barrels) leak into the Gulf of Mexico each year due to natural oil seeps.2 So the Deepwater Horizon disaster dumped as much oil as 5 years’ worth of natural seepage.

Now, of course, there are some big differences between the way the Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled oil into the gulf and the way the natural seeps do it. First, the natural seeps release oil into the gulf much more slowly. Second, they release oil into the gulf over a wider area so it is not as concentrated. Third, since no one is trying to stop them, there isn’t all the pollution associated with engineers doing everything they can to stop a leak. As a result, the natural oil seeps do not produce the environmental devastation that the Deepwater Horizon disaster did.

However, because oil seeps naturally into the ocean, you would expect that the ocean has a way to deal with it, and indeed it does. What we have seen already as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster tells us just how well the oceans have been designed to deal with oil pollution.


A recent study published online by the journal Science3 examined the dispersed plume of oil that came from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and the authors note that the ocean’s “natural cleanup crew” is already working to reduce the effects of the disaster.

What is the ocean’s “natural cleanup crew?” Well, when it comes to oil, it is a host of bacteria that love to feed on oil. Remember, oil seeps into the ocean naturally, and that oil needs to be cleaned up. The Designer of this planet understood this, of course, so among the plethora of bacteria He created are those that can digest oil so that it doesn’t build up in the oceans.

When the scientists involved in this study looked at the oil plume, they found all sorts of these bacteria busy digesting away the oil. As the authors state in the abstract:

Here, we report that the dispersed hydrocarbon plume stimulated deep-sea indigenous γ-proteobacteria that are closely related to known petroleum-degraders.

So when they looked at the bacteria in the oil plume, they found ones that are very similar to other bacteria that are known to degrade petroleum. In the end, they say that the oil plume stimulated these bacteria. Of course, this makes sense. Give the bacteria more of what they want to eat, and their population will increase.

The details of the report are even more fascinating. They analyzed the genes of the bacteria found in different parts of the oil plume, and they found that those genes varied depending on the specific hydrocarbons that were in that area of the plume. Remember, oil is a mixture of chemicals that contain hydrogen and carbon (hydrocarbons), and the molecules range from very small to very large. Thus, you might worry that these bacteria are good at degrading specific hydrocarbons but will leave others untouched. That’s not what the researchers found. Instead, they found that different bacteria tend to be better at degrading different hydrocarbons, and each type is found where the hydrocarbons they are good at degrading can be found.

So the researchers conclude:

These results indicated that a variety of hydrocarbon-degrading populations exist in the deep-sea plume and that the microbial communities appear to be undergoing rapid dynamic adaptation in response to oil contamination.

So the “cleanup crew” that was designed to take care of the oceans seems to be doing its job and doing it very well. Indeed, it seems that the “cleanup crew” was even designed to adapt to the specific mixture of hydrocarbons they encounter, so that no matter what type of oil is spilled, it can be taken care of! The paper ends on a very hopeful note:

These results also imply that there exists a potential for intrinsic bioremediation of oil contaminants in the deep-sea, and that oil-degrading communities could play a significant role in controlling the ultimate fates of hydrocarbons in the Gulf.

So at least based on this study, there is a good chance that a large amount of the ecological damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster will be mitigated by the incredible design of the ocean and its inhabitants. Does that let BP off the hook? Of course not! Does that mean we shouldn’t work to keep this kind of disaster from ever happening again? Of course not!

What data like these tell us is that the oceans were made for us, and even when we mess up royally, there are safeguards in place that will mitigate the effects of our mistakes. Let’s be thankful that God has designed our world so well, and let’s do everything in our power to make sure we don’t have to “test” His awesome design again!

REFERENCES
1. Campbell Robertson and Clifford Krauss, “Gulf Spill Is the Largest of Its Kind, Scientists Say,” New York Times, August 2, 2010. available online
Return to Text

2. Committee on Oil in the Sea, Oil in the Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects , National Academies Press, 2003, p. 70 available online
Return to Text

3. Terry C. Hazen, et. al., “Deep-Sea Oil Plume Enriches Indigenous Oil-Degrading Bacteria,” Science DOI: 10.1126, 2010, available online with subscription
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

This one's for the ladies! (the guys can read too:)

"Sometimes the barn needs to be painted every now and then," my mom commented while she and I were putting our makeup on for an event. In my family, the girls get makeup for their fifteenth birthday. My sister just turned fifteen and I now have the job of teaching her how to put eyeliner on correctly and which color eyeshadow flatters her. It's fun, sometimes, to get to play with her look and she is learning very quickly and well!

My mom's comment (^^) made me think a little bit. Now picture yourself driving down a road in your car. In a field, there is a barn painted with lots of bright colors and funny pictures of people with big heads and little bodies. It seems like a tourist attraction, so your whole family gets out of the car and walks over to inspect every side of it. Your mom pulls out the camera and you all pose for funny pictures in front of the barn. Your sister decides that it's a great place for a photoshoot, so you have pictures of you peeking around the corner, pretending to hug the picture of the bear on the side, and leaning against it looking off into the distance. Then you all get back in the car and start back on your roadtrip. There are a bunch of barns that you pass: brown ones, red ones, white ones, and some that don't seem painted. They seem a bit abandoned, but they've all served their purpose at one place in time. But you don't really notice them. They are everywhere, so it's a habit to just let them blend with the trees passing by.

Think of a woman's body as a barn. The barn that is obnoxiously painted and loud with drawings is like a woman who puts on too much makeup (more than what's attractive) and draws too much attention to herself. She has no mission except to look very good and get attention. The barns that you passed on your way home: they are like women who put on attractive amounts of makeup... or none at all, but don't try to get attention from passerbys. They do their duties and work well and efficiently.

Which barn are you?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Proverbs 23:17-18


/my photography/

Are you hoping for something? Are you trusting God, or praying that you would, for something in your life? I am. I hope for things. My strongest desire, the thing with which I have the hardest time trusting God, is to get married. Why is it so hard? Because I see some of my friends getting close to guys and striking up relationships with them at 16... and I know that I wouldn't have to wait too long if I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I was doing my devos last night and I read my "daily Proverb". Proverbs 23:17-18 brought tears to my eyes...


17Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the LORD all
the day.
18Surely there is a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.



I realized that I'd been jealous of my friends and the general world... the world that I was striving so hard not to be part of. This verse didn't just tell me where I was wrong, but also what to do to fix it. I have to continue to trust God all day: from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. I love verse 18 too. Just because it feels bleak now... or a long way off... there IS a future, and my hope will not be cut off. It doesn't mean that I'll definitely-no-doubt-about-it walk down the aisle on my daddy's arm someday... it doesn't mean I'll be chasing my little ones around the playground ten years from now... It just means that my hope and my desire will not be just dashed to pieces. God will bless me because I am His daughter. So why should I be worried? I just have to give up the deepest desires of my heart to Him... learn to want only Him, and I will be satisfied.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do Not Grow Weary

I have such amazing girl friends! My friend, Abby, started an email group with a bunch of girls (myself included) and every day, someone writes to remind everyone to do their devotions. Then the rest of the girls write back and affirm or deny the action. Yesterday, she wrote a little note to all of us to check out Hebrews 12: 1-3. I did and verse 3 really stood out to me; verse 4 went along with it:

"3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

Do you live with people who don't encourage you? Do you find yourself trapped in the company of those who don't build you up? Do you feel discouraged or worried? Are you sometimes tired with the trials and the temptations that God puts you through? Do you find that you are always working on something: faults, habits, convictions?

Every time you feel this way, think of this: Christ went through so much more. And He went through it so that you could be strong and courageous. You haven't had to shed your blood to live a Christian life. He had to because He's perfect and God's will is perfect.

Another Scripture that I'm planning to put to memory and enter to my letter box is Proverbs 3:11-12:

"11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights."

If you are learning, and God is teaching you, He loves you! Isn't that encouragement enough to make you joyful when you feel weary?

One of my church's former pastors (http://cafebiblia.com/?page_id=2) came to speak at my church this past Sunday. He spoke on redemption, using Ephesians 1. It reminded me of a study he did a few years ago on Philippians. Chapter 2:12 says,

"12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..."

What does is mean to work out your own salvation and make sure you are really saved? This past Sunday, my pastor said some things that really made me understand this. He asked a question: How do we know we are sealed with redemption? He told us to reflect on our lives: do we enjoy spending time in the word? Do we find ourselves wanting to sing and talk about Christ and His gospel all the time? Do we feel the urge to pray all the time? When we read our Bibles, do we really understand it? Are we convicted when we read His word? Do we see ourselves needing to constantly work on our sinful nature and we find we need to be so dependent upon Him? If the answers are yes to all those questions, you can be sure that you are sealed. And if the answers are yes to all those questions, you may have felt weary or fainthearted. But don't be weary, because these trials and temptations come only to those who have been redeemed!

Lastly, my pastor gave us a list of things to remember:

1. Be amazed that God would care this much for you.
2. Take time to take note of the Spirit's work in you life.
3. Rejoice that your redemption is permanent.
4. Be thankful and hopeful in the face of trials.
5. Don't give up and let down your guard in the face of persistent sin.
6. Long for your full redemption and possession of heaven!

Thank you Pastor Craig, and Abby! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Letter Box

For Christmas last year, someone, a very dear elderly lady, gave me a beautiful box. There was nothing in it, but it was a perfect size for anything. At first I put little odds and ends, papers and receipts that I'd need later. Then I had a need for something in which to keep my cross-stitching supplies. Then, this summer, I started using it for my letters and stationary and pens.

I've been writing to a few friends every few days: a friend in Washington, a friend in Virginia, and a friend at West Point. Just little notes about life and new songs I was learning and books I was reading. I kept the letters I needed to reply to in the box with my envelopes and paper and purple stamps. I'd keep something that smells especially good (like a candle) in there to make the paper scented (I've always enjoyed a letter that has a faint scent to it).

But now I have been adding new things to my letter box: things that help me to think. Every time I open my box, I not only get a pleasant aroma from the candle or little bottle of lotion I've left in there, but I see the verse cards that mean a lot to me.

I've had a new project come to my mind. Things that I write down, or little trifles that remind me of something Jesus said (like a little bottle of mustard seeds), I put in my letter box. You may think this clutter or a bunch of junk that could be thrown away, but I'm going to keep these things. I'll add them slowly, but surely, and eventually, when I have a daughter, I just might show her my box, and then buy her one to start for herself. Whenever I need to be reminded of what God has taught me through the years, I'll go through my letter box and be rekindled or re-reproached.

I've heard of young ladies keeping a "Hope Chest" for their future home someday, and I've always wanted to do that. But, if any of you have seen my room, I have absolutely *no* room for a hope chest. My letter box will be sort of like my hope chest for now. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Patience, Love, Forgiveness...

It's harsh to hear that your best friends have gone behind your back and started rumors or assumed things they shouldn't. I know. It's happened to me before. I'm the type of person that hates to know that anyone is on bad terms with me. I like to be friends with everyone and know that there is nothing between us. When I hear that someone is not on good terms with me, and that they have to work through something, I have to take a deep breath. Then, all these questions flood through my mind: "What did I do? What did I say? Did I do something wrong? Why?" My patience is at my wit's end waiting for the confrontation. It's hard for me to trust and rest. I find myself over and over, praying, "God, I'm impatient, and worried, and wanting to know what is going on. Make me trust you." Sometimes I find it being put first in my mind, before God and before everything else important so that I find myself praying, "God, I'm making this an idol. My relationship with so and so is being put above you right now. Help me to put you before this worry and impatience." As the days go by, I get upset that this person is taking so long. I say to myself, "Why is this taking forever? Don't they know that I am nervous and itching to know how to fix this? Do they think that I did whatever I did maliciously?" Whoa, back to prayer, I must go: "God, make me to love this person. I value our friendship with which you have gifted me. Please help me to be thankful that this person is bringing whatever of my faults to my attention so I can work on them."

Then, the day finally comes when my fears are relieved and the confrontation or the confession of my friend is expressed. If it is a confrontation, it makes me thankful. I have a friend who was not afraid to tell me what they thought and saw, even if it meant their relationship with me. If it is a confession of something they did to me or behind my back, I have a whole new set of things to think about. First, forgiveness. Usually, it is not hard for me to be forgiving. I just want things to go back to normal again and life to go on and nothing to be in between us. But then I struggle with pride. I get puffed up in my mind saying, "Yes, they sinned against me and they really don't deserve the forgiveness I've given them." Guess what? Yup, prayer time again. "God, you know I am thankful for these friends and their willingness to bring to my attention something they did against me. I thank you that I'm ready to forgive them. Now, Lord, when I'm tempted to be prideful about my giving them forgiveness, help me to remember the undeserving forgiveness with which you've forgiven my sins. Help me to be humble."

Then, while I'm working on all these things, I think that the friendship should go back to normal. Ah, we're back to the beginning. Patience again is what I need.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry." (Psalm 40:1)

The Lost Ornament of Society


I've been getting ready for my much anticipated AP English class this year by reading as many books as I can possibly manage. Many of you know my endearing love for Jane Austen and her works. As I write I slowly draw close to the end of Mansfield Park which has delighted me more than I could possibly imagine reading a book after the movie. For those of you who have read Jane Austen books, you know how long and wordy and sometimes tedious they can be, so I find that in order to finish these books before the start of the class, I have to use every spare moment to read a paragraph or a chapter. Every day I've been thinking about what Miss Fanny Price would have to do next and what turmoil or delight would be stirring in her mind. I think about how graceful and patient she was when treated condescendingly. I couldn't help but laugh to myself when Edmund and her discussed with appalled attitudes the character of Mr. and Miss Crawford and how their scruples would have no affect on our acceptance of them today.

My mind would continue to wander, as it often does, on how lost this perception of a lady has become with the increasing years. The loss of the sensitivity and gentleness of a woman's character has deprived the world of it's grace and beauty. Today it is not proper for a woman to be submissive to father, brother, and husband, and no distinguishable difference is made between a mother and daughter. No quietness of spirit and no thoughtfulness of mind is acceptable to the women of today. We must have glory and importance, equality with men and their ambitions. I am not saying that God did not create man and woman equal. He made them equal in that they are both His explicit creation, and no mistreatment of one or the other is to be withstood. But He did create them different: the woman to be submissive to authority, and the man to be a good master, leading others, and loving his Savior, wife, and family (1 Peter 3). But it is all lost! A young woman's goal is not to be married, keep a home and raise children, and submit to her husband. No, she is ready to take on the world and as soon as her father gives her freedom (if he ever had assumed any restraint on that point), she runs off to make as much money as possible and find as many men to indulge her. Now, am I saying that it is wrong to go off into the world, go to college, and learn how to make good money? Absolutely not! The Proverbs 31 woman was a businesswoman in some respects. She considered a field and bought it in which to plant a vineyard. With that vineyard, she either sold the wine and grapes or used them in her own household to save a few pennies. She made linen garments and sashes and sold these to the local merchant as well. No, having an education and making money is not wrong at all. The point I try to make is that there is no meekness in gaining wealth by a woman's hands. There is indelicacy in the way she goes about it. She is very prominent and speaks loudly to be heard by all. And then, when she and some man finally decide to end a period of dating, marriage is just an alliance with someone of the opposite gender where bank accounts are jointed and cars are shared and rings are worn. The woman cannot bare to think that just because she where's a ring on her finger and has set off her veil, she should forsake all those years of work and accomplishment in her line of business. So, she continues to work and comes home when her husband does. Then she remembers that children would just hinder all of this, and so the proper arrangements are made to prevent any such occasion to upset the bliss of success.

Does this mean I think that women are to stay at home, wear long dresses, not pursue a job, and to have ten children? No! But consider the women of God, and think: Was any of this necessary to make a woman true, perfect, acceptable, and successful? Do you really think that God designed women to be as strong and qualified as men? Do you think that maybe God had a delicate flower in mind when He created woman: one who was beautiful to look at, serves its proper purpose, and brings forth seeds with which to populate the Earth?

Danny Boy

My sisters and I love to learn new songs that we can harmonize. This is our first video! We are singing "Danny Boy." I hope you all enjoy :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pUc0pb5j7k



(Sorry it's a little cut off)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Recipe of Mercy


Think about your favorite food. Mmm, it's so hard to choose! There's the yummy, creamy macaroni and cheese or the rich beef roast that only your mother can master. But maybe you have a sweet tooth. Maybe you find a nice bowl of pudding sufficient to make any night the best. Or perhaps you like that special apple pie that your friend's mother makes for you. But then again, your sister's pumpkin cheesecake really does the trick. Why is she torturing us with all this food!? you might be thinking. Sorry, not trying to torture ya'll, but you might want to grab a snack or something because this whole post is going to be about food.

In our kitchen, we have a nice cutting board that someone gave to us. It has Psalm 34:8 on it: "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good." I was waiting for my lunch to heat up in the microwave (gotta love leftovers :)) and started to think about what that verse meant.

Now that I just got you to think about all the good foods that you love to eat, think about what t would be like if all of those foods had no taste or a metallic flavor to it. Everything tasted the same; herbs had no essence and spices had no savor. What pleasure would there be in eating? None, unless you are like my little brothers and had contests over who could take the biggest bite. I thought, "Wow, God found it pleasing to Him to please us with the different special flavors of different foods. He designed our tongues in such a way so that we could taste them and enjoy them, or in some cases, not enjoy them."

But wait a minute, we don't deserve even the grace to live each day. And God gave us this pleasure? Such a small gift compared to His salvation, but we don't even notice it. Thinking of that makes me remember all of these other blessings: music for our ears, pictures for our eyes, smells for our noses... the list could go on for miles and miles.

"Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky." (The Love of God, Frederick M. Lehman)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tabitha: A Woman of God

Last night, I went to my Wednesday night Bible study. We are going through Acts right now, and it's really fascinating and stirring. Acts 9:36-43 was one of the sections we went over. For some reason, I hadn't heard about Tabitha (aka Dorcas) as one of the leading women of God in the Bible. When I think women of God, I think of Deborah and Esther, Rachel and Sarah, Mary and Mary Magdalene. They all did important acts and outstanding deeds. But this woman Tabitha I have hardly even heard of. She doesn't have a book written about her, or even a whole chapter for that matter. A few verses in chapter 9 of Acts are hers, but even in so few words, a shining character comes forth.

"36Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, "Please come to us without delay." 39So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner."

Now, reading this at first may draw attention to the miracles of Peter. But I like to look at the least important and see their worth. First, it says that Tabitha was a disciple. That doesn't mean she was a pastor or a deacon. She was merely a follower of God out to evangelize. How did she evangelize? Through "good works and charity." Again, she didn't have to have a pulpit or a standing before hundreds of people. In verse 39, after Tabitha had died, the ladies that she associated with were heartbroken and were showing each other and Peter all of the tunics and other garments that she made for them. Tabitha's ministry was weaving and sewing. She used a talent that she had, as a woman, to minister to the women around her.

What did I take away from this? To be a disciple of Christ, you don't have to be miraculous or outstanding in worldly terms. You don't have to be named as a winner. You don't have to be known for miles around. But simple things like making clothes can reach the hearts of people far quicker than a loud sermon or an altar call.

"She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands... She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle." (Proverbs 31: 13, 19)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Intense Workout


I don’t know about you, but I’m not a sports fanatic. I don’t do sports or watch sports; I know hardly anything about them. The most sports I watch is an occasional football game and the Superbowl. One day I was thinking, though, about the work that goes into being a good athlete. It takes practice and precision, endurance and patience to get the game right and to keep going through the physical or mental pain and discomfort. Christians are sort of like athletes: not like the ones who are merely on a junior team, but like the Olympic athletes. They train for the biggest and hardest games of the year against other skilled athletes of the world. First let’s take into account the work it takes to qualify for those games. An Olympic athlete has to put in at least 6 hours of practice a day to be even barely acceptable for the competition. This means studying, preparing, seeking others’ advice, and doing the actual game many times.

When I think about it, Christians tend to think that an hour a day is a long time to be spent as a devotion to God in prayer and searching His Word. We think that an hour a day must be enough time with God to prepare us for the spiritual competition in which we engage every day. If every Christian put in 6 hours of prayer and searching the word every day, then we would be even more prepared to face the battle against sin and temptation. An athlete would never be able to enter the Olympics if he or she only entered 15 minutes of practice a day. Thank God that His mercy fights for us when we are not prepared to! There is no way that we can carefully take care of the responsibilities that God has given us and pray and read the Bible for 6 hours of our day. Only by the grace of God can we conquer the day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lessons from the Ropes


Doing teen service at CGN this year, I got to meet a lot of new people. I also got to strengthen already standing relationships. Our leaders decided, on the second day of our being there, to use our free time in doing ropes course. Imagine this: first off, we hardly know each other. Second off, we are going to now be lifting each other and carrying each other. Third, we are going to be catching each other when they either purposely fall, or lose their balance. That's crazy. No one knows anyone's strong points or strength.

The first thing we learned was who were the cautious and scared ones and who were the daring and courageous. Slowly, as we tackled the various obstacles, we learned who were the leaders and who were the back-up plan people and who were the followers. You might think that straight off, the daring and courageous were the leaders. To my surprise, one of the less daring stepped up and led the group and was ready to think out how to overcome every course. The sweat was abundant and the physical pain sometimes great, but that's when we learned more about each other. We learned who were the compassionate ones and who were those ready to care for the hurting. Later we saw who had the most physical endurance and to our surprise the strongest people of our group were the smallest.

Later that day, we talked about how it all went. Our leaders mentioned how doing the ropes course is just like going through the Christian life. It's challenging (believe me, it's wayy harder than it looks). It gets hard. But you cannot do it alone. There is no way for you to walk out on a tight rope without someone else to keep your balance (unless you are really special). You can't get over a smooth 15-foot wall without someone to lift you over or hoist you up. And you always need someone to make sure you don't fall and to encourage you to reach for that rope you feel like you can't grab. In the Christian life, we need other believers around us to hold us accountable so that we don't fall and to encourage you along the way. That was really cool and I just thought I'd share that :D

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Sisters

This is an excerpt from "Daughters of Destiny" by Noelle Wheeler. I thought it was very good and a reminder to me to be a sister that my brothers (and sisters) can look up to and confide in. I hope it encourages you ladies out there. :)

The Brother's Confidant

A good sister's love always holds a cherished place in the grateful memory of the brother! Many men have found a sister's love their ready and cheering resource. His confidence is set in her counsel and he is satisfied with the assurance that it will be uprightly and considerately given. How intimate is the friendship of such sisters! What a reliance for warning, excitement, and sympathy has each secured in each! How many are the brothers to whom, when thrown into circumstances of temptation, the thought of a sister's love has been a constant, holy presence, rebuking every wayward thought!

The relation of brothers and sisters forms another important element in the happy influences of home. A boisterous or a selfish boy may try to domineer of the weaker or more dependent girl, but generally the latter exerts a softening, sweetening charm. The brother animates and heartens; the sister mollifies, tames, refines. The vine-tree and its sustaining elm are the emblems of such a relation-- and by such agencies our "sons may become like plants grown up in their youth, and our daughters like cornerstones polished after the similitude of a temple."

Sisters scarcely know the influence they have over their brothers. A young man once testified that the greatest proof to the truth of Christian religion was his sister's life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Healthy Heart

When I was working at CGN this year, my youth pastor (also the camp staff pastor) preached on the heart. Here is a great little list that he made using Matthew 5 that determines what a healthy heart is. Thought I'd share it with ya'll :)

a. Poor in spirit (I need God)
b. Mournful over sin (I am not good on my own)
c. Meek (I am willing to do what God wants)
d. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness (I long to do what is right)
e. Merciful (I want to help those in need)
f. Pure (I will not tolerate inconsistency)
g. Peacemaking (I will not tolerate contention)
h. Sacrificial (I am willing to do what is right even if I suffer)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What the Heavens Declare

How many times have you sat outside and looked up at the stars or poked your head out the window of the car to stare up at the moon? You admire a sunset or (for those early birds) a sunrise. You can't very well look up at the sky and not believe that this all could not have happened by chance. It's all so perfect and beautifully put together; there must be and intelligent design behind its face. But it gets really crazy when you go farther out than your eyes can see. When you go to other galaxies and see the different make up of each, and that God has named every one of them and knows their place in the universe, you get this picture of how big God's knowledge is. When you see how big those things are and see how small earth is in accordance with the rest of the universe, you wonder what the psalmist wondered: "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"

I don't know about you, but I was astonished when I saw this on Louie Giglio's "Indescribable." This is the Whirlpool Galaxy.
Pretty beautiful, huh? In reality, all those pinkish clusters are scary star incubators that are producing stars every second. The Hubble telescope decided to aim their telescope in the middle of this galaxy. This is what they saw:
I don't know about you, but that looks pretty close to a cross to me. Can you believe it? The heavens are there and they are declaring everyday that God is here, God is real, God is powerful, and He's loving. His promises are everywhere. Those stars up there aren't doing anything incredibly important except giving God all the glory. He knows all of the millions and billions of stars and galaxies by name and He knows yours too and cares about you right now. We have such a big God and He still wants to have a personal relationship with us. That's an amazing God right there.
Look up Louie Giglio's "Indescribable" if you ever get the chance. It's on youtube.com. It's not that long, but you will be blown away by what you will see and hear.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just a Blurb on Love


It took a lot of love to leave a glory beyond all else to come down here to Earth- to dwell with sin and man and accept a human body and the life of a person. It took strength to walk on a vulgar land and understand temptation and pain. If you were God and had all splendor and glory and power in your right hand, would you have stepped down to save the sin of mankind?

Ah, but there is something missing here. Yes, He is glorious and powerful and terrible. But He is also love. He doesn't just love- as an action- but He is love in its entirety. We can't possibly understand that truly. We can love- we can even love with Christ's love- but we can never be love.

What does love mean? 1 Cor. 13:4-8a is the most commonly referenced passage when it comes to defining love. "Love is patient." Are we always patient? I'm not. "Love is kind." I'm not always kind either. "Love does not envy or boast." I certainly can think of times when I've envied others and boasted about myself. "It is not arrogant or rude." Most of the time when you see arrogance in a person and they are rude to you, do you think that they are loving you at the same time? I've been arrogant and rude before... something I definitely regret. "It does not insist on its own way." I don't always give preference to another's opinions or choices. "It is not irritable or resentful." I can think of more than half a dozen things that I hold against others and resent. "It does not rejoice with wrongdoing." This sort of ties in with the previous phase. When I resent someone or hold something against them, I like to see them fail because it makes me feel better than them. "But love rejoices with the truth." I know many times when I hated the truth and I didn't want to hear or accept it. "Love bears all things." Do I endure everything with the people around me? The hurt, the trials, the hardships, the failures, as well as the bliss, the triumphs, the easy roads, and the times of succeeding? "Love believes all things." Do I doubt those people around me? Not only what they might be saying, but also their capabilities? "Love hopes all things." Do I easily give up hope and forget to trust God? "Love endures all things." (I already went over that.)

Now, I just went through that passage accepting "love" as a verb- an action. I certainly am not love. I am not consistent in any of those aspects of love.

One thing that I thought was really cool while thinking about this was what the passage sounds like when you replace "love" with "Jesus". After all, Jesus=God and God=Love, so Jesus=Love. See the difference:

"Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on His own way [Luke 22:42]; He is not irritable or resentful; He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never ends."

How perfectly does that fit? I'd say it's pretty perfect: it's perfect love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Speck in an Ocean of Grace



A few days ago, I was reading in 2 Corinthians 12 for my devotions. I don't have much to say today (haven't had much time to think because of school tests and closing out), but I did want to post this for ya'll to think about. Paul is so clear here, it almost blows my mind. Have a look:

"So, to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." There fore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (12:7-10)

This spoke very clearly to me. I get very excited when everything is going well and the glory of God is so apparent to me. But then sometimes a thorn gets put in my side and I'm reminded about my weaknesses because I fall or make a mistake. Like Paul, I plead with the Lord to take those weaknesses away. But He says "My grace is sufficient for you;" in other words, "rest in my grace, it is enough." And "for my power is made perfect in weakness." This passage really reminded me to be content with all weaknesses and hardships, calamities, insults, and persecution. I may be a speck in the ocean, but if that ocean is God's grace, then I am content... or, at least, I should be.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What will it be like?


Try to imagine what it'll be like when Jesus comes. Will you be excited? What will be your reaction? Will you feel like dancing? You know your own personality. What will you feel like doing? Will you fall down in amazement, with your head to the ground in reverent worship? Will tears fill up your eyes and you run to meet Him? Will your heart beat faster than it has ever beat? Or will it stop in complete and utter disbelief? He is coming. There's no doubt about it.

"He who testifies to these things says, "Surely, I am coming soon." Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20)

Will you jump for joy, like a child? Will you sigh in relief because you've waited and watched for so long, and He's finally here?

When I imagine it, I think that when I heard those trumpets sound, my heart would jump like I had just gone over a big hill on a roller coaster. Then, I think I would jump up and down like a crazy person shouting, "Yes! YES!" At the same time, tears may just come to my eyes because I know that all this imperfection in me is over. The race is done. Then, I'd have a thought in my head- that one of my lifelong hopes was to never experience death and instead witness the coming of Christ from an earthly view (although, anything that God has for me is good ;)). Then, I'd sing "Great is Thy Faithfulness," if I could find my voice. And at the same time, I'd run as fast as I could to feel God's embrace. I've always wanted a big hug from God- to feel completely surrounded by His power. I think that I'd love to take Jesus by the hand and show Him everything He's told me, just a like a little child takes his mother by the hand to show her all the new toys that she bought him. He knows all the things, because, after all, He showed them to me. But to repeat them back to Him would make my heart so glad (if it could get anymore glad than it already was). Then, like an impatient 4-year-old, I'd wait to see heaven and spend the rest of eternity (Eternity- think of that. Infinity- can you fathom it? And then pair that with God- can you understand or appreciate that enough?).

What about you? What's your story? There's also the possibility that you don't know how you would react. Or, there's the possibility that you do know, and it's terrible. You know that at that time, you'll shirk away in fear and shame, knowing that your heart is not covered by Christ's blood. If that's so, don't wait!! Jesus could come anytime. He could come before I publish this post. At any moment, He could come again. Are you ready?

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great god and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2:11-14)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"My son, do not despise Me"


Have you ever felt worn out and wearied from your walk with God? The temptations come without yield and no matter how hard you try, you seem to just fall flat on your face all the time. I have periods in my life like that. Every once in a while, when God is teaching me something major, I feel like all I can do is fail and conquering sin, even with God, seems impossible.

Last night, I opened my Bible before bed to read the "daily Proverb," as I like to call it. Proverbs 3:11-12 was like God speaking to me. It says, "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." After I read that, I entered this in my journal:

"You totally just said something to me, God. I've been resentful, not thankful for the trials and temptations that you've been putting me through. I've been upset about falling flat on my face so many times. Sure, I should be mournful about my sin. But not about what you teach me through it."

I recall certain phrases that I may have said, and most likely thought, like, "I wish I didn't have to learn so much," or "Sometimes I wish I'd just learn it and be over with it." But with this verse, I'm changing my perspective. I'm going to purpose to thank God every time I fall on my face. It hurts sometimes, and definitely can be uncomfortable and disappointing, but I can learn more about God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness through it.

Just my little blurb for today :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Highlights




I posted some pictures below (and if you haven't already, you should check them out). I want to post a few things that God really showed me while I was in Honduras.

- God doesn't hear our voices or our language, He hears our hearts. He really touched my heart with this when my team and I were at a church singing a song that we all knew: two different languages, two different types of people, but worshiping the same God, with the same song and words. That hit me incredibly hard.

- God can speak very clearly to you if you just listen and watch. Our leader, Mr. Williams, touched on the fact that we were "unplugging" from our normal routines and iPods (although a few people did bring those ;)) and tvs. We were out with nature, exchanging the blaring of sirens and car horns for the blaring of cicadas and obnoxiousness of chickens (yes, they were very unpleasant at 2 in the morning). But with that unplugging came a plugging into God. The distractions gone, you could see how God wanted to use you and what things God wanted you to work on in your life.

- That life is not about how much you have or when you get it, but how you live it, and the relationships that you have with each other and God. Working at the village and on the mountain, I got to see the apparent poverty in which they lived. Indeed, it was very clear. Most people didn't have a bed. They cooked on a clay formation with fire inside of it. Most don't have latrines (causing a lot of sicknesses). Once, I went to a family's house that had no walls. It was a roof with tarps to make some sort of boundary between their living space and the outside world. I take for granted the "too small big house" that I have and all the food possibilities I could make with just a stove and an oven. Having an indoor bathroom and clean running water never seemed so delightful to me. Without all these things, though, these Hondurans are so very hospitable and want to spend time with you. They aren't in a hurry to get things "done". The village leaders even stopped building latrines, just so they could finish them with us. They are more concerned about the work that goes into friendships than the work that makes their lives easier. I see where I fail this in my life. I get so worried and boggled down by all my "responsibilities" that I let my friendships and relationships go. Sometimes, it's better to let the paperwork slide to have that 10 minute talk with my sisters or brothers. There is a time and a place for everything, but the focus and goal always need to be the same.

- Joy should be found in little things. We had the privilege to give to each child at the village a blessing bag that was filled with little toys, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, and other little gadgets. The joy that each child had in their eyes when we gave them that little Ziploc bag full of things we would easily push away said a million words. We also got to give almost everyone in the village a Bible of their very own. The men on our team gave the men of the village each a Bible one day. A man named "Don Juan" immediately took his Bible to a tree sat down, and opened it, devouring each word. Later, he told us that he had had a dream many years ago that someone would come to his village and give him a Bible. He had been waiting for that day.
I also got to know a young lady in the village. I never learned how to say her name right, but I know it started like "Tani," so I'll just call her that. Anyways, she was 13 years old- graduated from school (only goes to 6th grade there) and had come to the school to visit our team. She and I befriended each other and, with our broken Spanglish, played games together and took pictures. At one point during that morning, I had the urge to ask her if she had a Bible. She looked at me with a sort of disappointment in her eyes and said "No." I really wanted to give her a Bible but I knew that we only had so many. I went to our leader, Mr. Williams, and asked him if I could give her one. He said yes. When I put that Bible of her very own in Tani's hands, her face was priceless. She immediately wanted me to come with her to her home and put it safely away. (That was actually my favorite moment of the entire trip.)

- Just because we are from different countries doesn't mean we don't go through the same things. Sure, our physical lives are as different as it gets. But in our spiritual lives, we all struggle with honoring God and His commandments, forming commitments and keeping standards, and following God and loving His word.

There are so many more things that I could share. But time only permits me this: that with all that physical hurt and sickness that I dealt with there, I would, in a heartbeat, jump a plane and be there tomorrow to do it all over again. I have such a love for Honduras and the people I met there and the work that needs to be done. Sure, the weather is a LOT different from what I'm used to, and the food is hard on my stomach, and the ants bite like crazy, and sleeping is almost impossible with the noise of cicadas and dogs and chickens. But, hey! Everyone gets used to that eventually. I'd deal with it all again, just to be with those people... and those amazing mountains.
^^Don Juan^^

Monday, April 26, 2010

Back from Honduras

I am finally back from my missions trip to Honduras. We had a wonderful time, and saw God working in many people's lives. He was very graceful with us and merciful in that everything went as planned. Here are a few highlighting pictures :)







Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Woman Named Hannah


God does these little things for me. I went to a friend's house last night to babysit their daughter while they went to a concert. When I babysit, I usually bring a few books from my house that might interest them (because I know that when I was little, I loved new things!). Anyway, one of the books I brought was a Bible story about Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Most people know who Samuel is in the Bible: the priest who anointed the first king of Israel, Saul. But a lot of people don't know about his mother, Hannah, who plays a great example in the Bible.

I had read a few other books to this little girl and then, when she was eating her bedtime snack, she asked if I could read this story to her. I started to read this child's version, and I realized how much I needed to hear that story. I've heard that book many many times since I was a little kid, but yesterday, I just really needed to hear it.

Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah, a good man living in the land of Israel. The other wife had many children, and was very blessed. Hannah really had the desire to have children of her own, but she wasn't able to conceive. She went into a depression and didn't eat; she cried all the time. Her husband felt very sorry for her, because he loved her more than anyone in his family.

Every year, the family went to a town called Shiloh to worship God in the temple. One day, Hannah went into the temple alone to pray to God. She was really upset, and asked God to give her children. And if He granted her wish, she would give her firstborn back to God to serve Him. After she prayed, she was very much relieved and was able to eat again.

What do you know? She eventually had a baby boy and named him Samuel, which means "asked of God." A few years later, after she had weaned him, she remembered her promise to the Lord, and brought him back to Shiloh to live with the priest there. He grew up to be a man of God, and did tremendous works for the Lord. Hannah had other children, and visited Samuel every year at the temple.

How did this really hit me? I realized that every problem and distress that I have, I need to go to God first. I usually go to my parents or a friend first, and there is nothing wrong with that because God gave us those people for those things. But I realized that there is nothing that a human could do in comparison with what God can do. If Hannah had gone to the priest to tell her problems to, then she wouldn't have gotten anywhere. The priest couldn't open her womb! But God could.

This makes me also marvel at how personal God is. He *hears* our prayers. He doesn't have a mail service that delivers our request; there are no priests that have to be trained to make known our requests to God. We don't have to travel to a church or monastery in order to pray. (I suspect that Hannah went to the temple so that she would have some peace and quiet in which to talk to God.) Anywhere we are, no matter what we are doing, no matter how we say it: God hears us.

He answers us too. Sometimes He says yes, other times He says no, but still other times He says wait. We have to trust Him, that He knows how to take care of us, and how to best care for our needs.

Along with trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman, ladies, let's endeavor to be a Hannah-woman. Let's make every effort to make our requests known to God and to rest peacefully and happily in Him knowing that He holds our future in His perfect Hands.