Thursday, July 31, 2008

The "Do Hard Things" Conference--A Life Changing Experience!

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven't posted in a while...
Wow...there are not enough words to describe just how awesome the "Do Hard Things" Conference was. It was challenging, exciting, inspiring, convicting, encouraging, incredible, amazing, eye-opening...
I cannot remember attending an event that was so thought-provoking--ever! Brett and Alex Harris have such a gripping and motivating message to share, and their commitment to Christ and to spreading HIS glory is so refreshing. did this message change me personally?

Firstly, the phrase "Do Hard Things" now consistently runs through my mind. When I know in my head that I should choose the right thing over the easy thing, I am more aware than I ever was before that I need to choose the right thing. I DON'T ALWAYS SUCCEED, but I feel like I'm growing. PTL!

Secondly, I was challenged to think how our culture's low expectations are affecting me. I've grown up in a Christian, Bible-believing, supportive household. Both my parents love God and love their kids, and they are consistently guiding us on to maturity. I came to Christ when I was 3. It it very tempting to think that just because I am surrounded by godly people and encouraged to make good choices, I'm not as affected by the culture's low expectations. However, now that I think about it (which I am right now), I am affected. Maybe not in the so-called "drastic" ways that others are (drugs, alcohol, immorality, etc.), but in more subtle ways. For example, laziness comes into play when I don't consistently read God's Word. One of the points which the Harris brothers pointed out is that great danger lies in becoming complacent. It's so hard not to think, "well, I may flirt sometimes, but not nearly as blatantly as those other girls do..." when the truth is that any flirtation is wrong and should be cut out of my life. are the awesome pics I took...enjoy!

Praise and worship was amazing!

Alex and Brett Harris

I got my shirt signed by the Harris brothers! It was really neat to meet them!

Mom and me.

Arya, Christine, and their mom...

I am so grateful that I was able to attend this conference! If you want to see more pictures, click here.

To see a picture of ME getting my shirt signed, click HERE!

This young man accepted the Lord and was sitting behind us. It really impacted me to see a teen boy standing and crying, and not being ashamed! Click HERE!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Rebelution Conference

I'm re-posting (is that even a word??) this video, since my family and I are attending the conference TOMORROW!!! YAY!! I'll post and let you know how it goes!

Below is a portion of one of the Rebelution blog's latest posts:

In the book Worship Matters, Bob Kauflin writes that “each of us has a battle raging within us over what we love most — God or something else.” He’s right. Worship is crucial, because every day there is a battle raging for our hearts. The enemy wants us to find our joy in the pleasures of sin and the distractions of this world. It’s vital that we fight back, for God makes it clear in His Word that if He doesn’t have our hearts, our outward service is wasted energy (Matthew 15:8-9).

To read the rest of this here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot

I recently started reading Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot. Mrs. Elliot was the wife of Jim Elliot, the missionary who was killed by the Auca (Waodani) Indians in 1956. This book is the story of her relationship with Jim. Filled with snippets from her personal journals, as well as Bible verses, hymn lyrics, etc., it is the story of a young couple who greatly loved each other yet chose to wait. Not only did they maintain their purity, but they also made the difficult decision to hold off on marriage until they were certain of God's will for their lives. Neither one was certain that God wanted them to marry...ever. They both knew that going with their emotions and marrying outside of God's will would jeopardize their commitment to Christ and His glory. Though it was extremely difficult to rely on His perfect plan, which they realized could include singleness, they trusted God to make His will clear in His perfect timing. Below is an especially challenging portion of their story. It takes place right after they confessed their feelings for each other and committed, for the time being, to not become engaged.
E. Elliot says:

I began to learn to wait. Patient waiting does not come naturally to most of us, but a great deal is said about it in the Bible. It is an important discipline for anyone who wants to learn to trust....

[Journal entry from] June 9, 1948--....To wait on the Lord is to stand perfectly still....can [Jim and I] trust His words, "Is not the Lord your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side?..." (1 Chronicles 22:18)

....It was on the evening of the same day, June 9, that Jim and I walked out to a cemetery and sat down on a stone slab. I told him I did not think it would help us much in discerning God's direction if we started right in on a heavy correspondence. Wouldn't it make more sense to "cool it"? Not that we used that expression in those days, but it says what I meant. To allow for the perspective that both distance and silence could give might help us to see the whole thing with cool reason.
Jim thought that over for a few minutes. Then he spoke of the story he had read in his Bible study that morning--the story of Abraham's offering up of the most precious thing in his life: his son Isaac. "So I put you on the altar," he said.
Slowly we became aware that the moon, which had risen behind us, was casting the shadow of a stone cross on the slab between us.
We were silent for a very long time, pondering this undeniable sign. What Abraham did was the ancient prelude to the full revelation of the love of God. The readiness to give up his son and the rewards promised because of it--again, the central truth of the Cross was brought to us in a strange and mysterious manner. When the silence became heavy, Jim said, "And what is to be done with the ashes?" Time would show.

What a challenging story! Two people who were willing to give up what their flesh longed for the most in order to follow God's design and purpose for their lives! They were willing to keep Christ and the truth of the Cross at the center of their hearts.
Lord, I pray that You would plant within me a desire to follow You alone, and that I would be willing to give up what I want so that You might be glorified and honored through my life. Amen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Brother

OK, so I guess this is kind of a "Thankful Friday" post...because today I'm thankful for my brother! Caleb is 14 and a freshman in highschool. He loves soccer, Lego's (he currently owns a set that is comprised of over 3,000 pieces!), and computer games, and he also enjoys hanging out at the gymnasium where our dad works. He has a wonderful sense of humor; there is never a dull moment when he's around! He's wonderful with little kids and loves making people laugh. He has a sensitive heart that wants to do what is right, and we love him very much!
Here are some pics of my awesome bro...also known as "Ferd" (yes, there is a story behind that nickname... :-)!

The Goofy man himself.

Partners in Crime!

"Wow man...this is, like, a majorly big chair!"

A mama's boy...and proud of it, too!

Sis and Bro...

Bored in the car...

...very bored!

Love you, Caleb!! Thanks for being a great brother!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The PERFECT Friend!

I just read this awesome Psalm:


1 Hallelujah!
My soul, praise the Lord.
2 I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
3 Do not trust in nobles,
in man, who cannot save.
4 When his breath leaves him,
he returns to the ground;
on that day his plans die.
5 Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in them.
He remains faithful forever,
7 executing justice for the exploited
and giving food to the hungry.
The Lord frees prisoners.
8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord raises up the those who are oppressed.
The Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord protects foreigners
and helps the fatherless and the widow,
but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The Lord reigns forever;
Zion, your God reigns
for all generations.

Wow! How challenging! "Do not trust, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him...on that day his plans die." Ultimately, no friend or family member can totally satisfy or fulfill my every need.

Sometimes it seems like they can. I know that I will sometimes have high expectations of my friends, and then suddenly, those expectations will all come crashing down around my ears when my friends don't fulfill them.

Now don't get me wrong...God gave us friends and fellow believers to support and love us. And I'm not saying that all friends are disloyal jerks! However, this Psalm says that my primary strength and hope should come from God. He is the only One who never fails me...ever! I mean, look at that list in verses 5-10!

He is the Maker of all that is...He knows the details of every one of His individual creations!

He is eternally faithful...He'll never "dump" us when we need Him the most!

He defends the "exploited"...He knows and cares when we're mistreated!

He provides for our physical needs...including our need for nourishment!

He frees the imprisoned, blind, and oppressed...His truth sets us free!

He looks after the "outcasts" and those who "don't belong"...we all feel like foreigners at one time or another!

He "helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked." He is compassionate and loving towards those who need it the most. He is the ultimate Father!

He "reigns forever"...He'll never lose His authority!! amazing! Thank you, Lord, for your indescribable love!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Musical Monday

Be Thou My Vision
by Dallan Forgail

Be Thou my Vision,
O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me,
save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought,
by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping,
Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom,
and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee
and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father,
I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling,
and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield,
Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity,
Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter,
Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward,
O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not,
nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance,
now and always:
Thou and Thou only,
first in my heart,
High King of Heaven,
my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven,
my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys,
O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart,
whatever befall,
Still be my Vision,
O Ruler of all.


I love this hymn! God should be my main focus in everything I do and say. The 4th verse is especially challenging to me.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Water of Life

Last summer, my family and I went to visit my grandparents in PA. While we were there, we decided to visit a local event that was presented by Wycliffe Bible Translators and JAARS. There were food stands, book stands, and speakers. One of the speakers was the son of Nate Saint, the missionary pilot who was killed by the Waodani tribe in Ecuador. Steve Saint explained how, through his father's death, the Bibleless and unreached Waodani tribe was brought to Christ. This story emphasized the mission of Wycliffe Bible Translators, who seek to provide various people groups with the Bible in their own language.

While walking among the various tables at the event, my mom and I found one booth where you could fill out a card and commit to regularly praying for a specific Bibleless people group. I chose to pray for the Ukhwejo people of the Central African Republic. Although I have prayed for these people pretty regularly, I am ashamed to say that I really haven't taken the time to find out much about them. I have free literature which Wycliffe provided for me, but I just haven't "felt like" reading that literature too thoroughly.

This morning, I was sitting at a desk having my QT (I answer the phone for the college where my dad works, and since the phone doesn't ring that often, I have plenty of time to read, etc.). I decided to check my inbox and found an e-mail from Wycliffe, encouraging me to pray for those countries who don't have God's Word in their own language. I ended up surfing their website for a while, and in doing so, I realized, "Wow! I have a Bible in my language!" It struck me just how tragic it is that millions and millions of people all around the world can't sit down every morning and have their "QT"! As I stared down at Matthew 27 this morning, I was saddened, thinking how those millions can't read this amazingly life-changing "water of life" that, when taken to heart, provides hope and reason for living. Even though they may have heard the gospel, they don't have an easily accessible version to read for themselves. It is true that God knows no language barrier; PTL, He can reach anyone through any means! And yet, what an amazing blessing it would be if the whole world could read the very words of God on a regular basis!

While at the Wycliffe/JAARS festival, we saw this chart:

Those are all the countries and people groups that DON'T have God's Word in their language! Wow!

Isn't this a powerful reminder that we should never take God's Word for granted? And yet so many times, I know I do! I have, like, 15 Bibles at home, and too many times I "don't have time" or "I just don't feel like" reading them.

This is also a challenge to me to start praying more meaningfully for the Ukhwejo...and for the others who are "unreached."

If you would like to find out more about Wycliffe and JAARS, click on the links above.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Following At a Distance

In Matthew 26:33-35, we see Peter and the other disciples earnestly declaring that they will never desert their Lord. A short time later, Matthew says that "A large mob, with swords and clubs" descended upon the small group and arrested Jesus. This frightening scene would scare anyone, and the disciples were no exception. We read in verse 56 that they "deserted Him and ran away," despite their passionate "loyalty." What a turn-around!

In the very next verses, we watch Peter "following at a distance right to the high priest's courtyard." Peter, the first one to state his loyalty, followed Jesus at a distance.

As I read this passage, I started to wonder, "How do I 'follow at a distance'?" Well, I "follow at a distance" when I fail to seek after and follow Christ, either because I don't want to "get my hands dirty," or because I don't want to be known as "old-fashioned." This includes the times when I join my friends in watching a not-so-great movie, simply to avoid being labeled as "that conservative, sheltered kid." I also "follow at a distance" when I greet the unpopular girl at my church just enough to seem polite...and yet avoid showing a real interest in her life because I don't want to "put myself out." It includes the times when I grow lazy in Bible study and prayer because I don't "feel like it" (just like the disciples in verse 40). Wow...I really do "follow at a distance" sometimes! Yes, I'm guilty of all the aforementioned sins. And those sins make me guilty of denying Christ, just like Peter did.


Christ forgives! Several months ago, our pastor preached from Mark 16 about Christ's resurrection. He pointed out, with tears in his eyes, that when the angels talked to the women at the tomb, they said, "...go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.'" And Peter. Why did Jesus include those words in His message to the disciples? Peter was one of "the disciples." Jesus didn't need to name him specifically! He included those words, Pr. Gerry said, to express his forgiveness to Peter. Peter was intensely ashamed of his denial of Christ. Mark 14:72 says, "When he thought about it, he began to weep." Perhaps Peter was so ashamed that he felt as though he had lost his Lord's favor. Yet Christ specifically says, "tell [my] disciples and Peter." He wanted to reassure Peter of His love and forgiveness...Peter was still Christ's disciple and friend!

Isn't that so encouraging? Even when we are guilty of following Christ at a distance, He still loves us. He has payed our price, and He forgives and cleanses! We are permanent members of His family, no matter what we've done! Thank you Lord!

One more thought...despite Peter's denial, Judas' betrayal, and his disciples' disloyalty, Christ still died for them...and us! He didn't throw up His hands and say, "Father, why should I die for these losers?!?!?! They just betrayed me!" Instead, He loved...unconditionally. Wow. How amazing!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Today I am thankful for God's love, God's wisdom, and God's perfect plans.

My family and I have been facing some "unforeseen" and difficult changes lately, and these changes could lead to even more difficult ones in the near future. It's interesting because a couple of years ago, I would never have dreamed that these changes could possibly take place. They DO NOT coincide with my plans...and even though these changes aren't tragic or unbearable, they are still stressful.


It's been sooooo comforting to realize that God's got it all under control! Even though I never saw these events coming, He's known they were coming since before I or my parents were even born! When I focus on that concept, I feel so much better! BELIEVE ME, I have NOT controlled my mind perfectly. Yes...there have been times of hyperventilation!! But God's truth is still truth!!

Last week, our pastor spoke about Saul's conversion. He, as well as several of the men who shared, pointed out how Saul's/Paul's story was timed by God. For example, why didn't God appear to Saul before he had traveled 5 out of the 6 days it took to get to Damascus? In fact, why didn't God appear to Saul before He started arresting and killing all those Christians? The answer, Pr. Gerry pointed out, was that God had a plan. He works all things together so that He is glorified!! That means that the changes that my family is going through are for God's glory...He has it all figured out!! Thank you Lord!

I just read this Psalm, and even though plenty of people care about me (vs 4) and no one is hunting me down (vs 6), I can still take it's main message personally.

Psalm 142

1 I cry aloud to the Lord;
I plead aloud to the Lord for mercy.
2 I pour out my complaint before Him;
I reveal my trouble to Him.
3 Although my spirit is weak within me,
You know my way.

Along this path I travel
they have hidden a trap for me.
4 Look to the right and see;
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me.

5 I cry to You, Lord;
I say, "You are my shelter,
my portion in the land of the living."
6 Listen to my cry,
for I am very weak.
Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
7 Free me from prison
so that I can praise Your name.
The righteous will gather around me
because You deal generously with me.

Iris is our host...find more Thankful Thursdays by clicking here...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Was Tagged!

I got tagged by here it goes...

Who is your favorite author and why? Probably Elizabeth George. I've read several of her studies for teens, including "A Young Women After God's Own Heart," "A Young Women's Call to Prayer," and "A Young Women's Walk With God." I loved them all!! Not only are these books challenging, but they also talk about issues and concepts in a tactful, God-honoring way. As far as I can remember, they don't include any unnecessary or disturbing details (unfortunately, my mom and I have discovered that many Christian studies for teens do). If you want to check these books out, click here.

Who was your first favorite author and why? I really liked L.M Montgomery. I read several of the Anne of Green Gables book, as well as the Emily series, and I LOVED them all! Oh, and I loved Louisa May Alcott; I've read "Little Women", "Little Men", and...I think I read either "Old Fashioned Girl" or "Eight Cousins." I really liked Patricia Reilly Giff as well. She wrote "Pictures of Hollis Woods," "Nory Ryan's Song," "Maggie's Door," and many others. Her books are so interesting and are usually historical. "Nory Ryan's Song" and "Maggie's Door" took place during the Irish Potato famine and really fascinated me.

Oh yeah...I was supposed to list one author...

Who is the most recent addition to your favorite authors and why? Well, I haven't really read "Do Hard Things" yet, but I glanced through parts of it, and I already know that the Harris brothers are soon to be on my "Fave authors" list! They present such a powerful and unique message, both in their book (I've heard!) and on their blog.
OK, that was fun! Now...who shall be the next victims??? :-)

I tag Laney, Arya, Christine, Liz, and my mom.