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 It's not that long, but you will be blown away by what you will see and hear.