Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Fear!

2 Timothy 1:7: "For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment."

Such a familiar, simple, yet profound statement. "God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness."

Think about that...we have no reason to fear anything: not temptation, not trials, not the high cost of standing alone. When we're faced with a tough decision, we don't have to freak out and and make a rushed choice. We can make a choice based on "sound judgement." God gives wisdom. Hallelujah!

I'm starting school next Tuesday, and I've already started pre-season volleyball workouts. I know I will be faced with tough choices (in fact, I already have). I don't have to shy away from righteousness because I'm scared of what people might think or because it's just plain easier to NOT do the "hard thing." The same power that "raised Christ from the dead" resides in me. I have been given a spirit of power. God gives strength. Hallelujah!

Just some thoughts...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Musical Monday

As I get ready to start college, I'm trying to prepare myself, both mentally and spiritually, for the challenges that are ahead. I'm trying to memorize verses that will help me as I face temptation and overwhelming circumstance. I've also discovered how listening to music with powerful lyrics can encourage me to walk with God...and I've discovered a new CD that contains just such music: "Come Weary Saints", by Sovereign Grace Music. The song below (one of the tracks from the CD) is especially beautiful.

Every Day
by Todd Twining and Joel Sczebel

In Your grace, You know where I walk
You know when I fall
You know all my ways
In Your love, I know You allow
What I cannot grasp
To bring You praise

Thank You for the trials
For the fire, for the pain
Thank You for the strength
Knowing You have ordained
Every day

Your great power is shown when I’m weak
You help me to see
Your love in this place
Perfect peace is filling my mind
And drawing my heart
To praise You again

In my uncertainty, Your Word is all I need
To know You’re with me every day


Absolutely beautiful! What an incredibly challenging and encouraging song!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Check Out This Oh-So-Challenging Article...

No Little People
by...or should I say "through"...Tim Sweetman
I found this link through the Rebelution website.
Here's a peek...

"'s not about who we are in the public eye. It's about who God is. He works through us, and it's His grace alone that allows us to do anything, that brings meaning to the mundane. It was none of Moses' work that saved the Israelites. God received all the credit. I've found that when I put too much credit in 'big' people or 'small' people, I take away from God's fame and glory. "'God so used a stick of wood' can be a banner cry for each of us," wrote Francis Schaeffer. 'Though we are limited in talent, physical energy, and psychological strength, we are not less than a stick of wood. But as the rod of Moses had to become the rod of God, so that which is me must become the me of God. Then I can become useful in God's hands.'
I want to be a stick of wood. His stick of wood..."

To read the rest of this article, click on the link above...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cleaning Off the Shelves

In preparation for my first semester of college, which starts on the 25th, I've been cleaning out my room. I want to have plenty of room for BOOKS, and I also want to start the year in an organized fashion.

So today I cleaned off my bookshelves and re-organized my closet. I threw out some junk, and packed away lots of old books...Nancy Drew, Elsie Dinsmore, Boxcar Children, Little House...:-( It's almost hilarious how much shelf space I had after putting those books away! Aren't my shelves beautiful?!?!

All that cleaning reminds me of how I need to ask God to clean out the junk that's in my heart. I know that I must not become complacent in my spiritual walk; if I want to stay close to God and bring glory to Him, I must allow God to scrape out all of the "gunk." I've seen a lot of "gunk" and "junk" in my heart lately. Even though I can become overwhelmed by all the stuff I need to work on, I'm also grateful for this evidence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I'm grateful that He's shown me my faults, and that I know what I need to work on.

Just like cleaning off my shelves enabled me to use the space more efficiently, allowing God to clean out my sin-filled heart allows me to be more powerfully used by God. Isn't that so cool?

Psalm 139:23-24~"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Spreading the Word...

Lately I've been thinking about my responsibility to share the Gospel. I recently read the following passage from Matthew (the Great Commission):

"Then Jesus came near and said to them, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'"
Now, like most of you, I've heard those verses over, and over, and over, and over...but they usually just bounce in one ear and out the other! The last time I read them, however, I read my Bible's footnote about those verses. It said:

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. This is the meaning of the statement 'Jesus is Lord.' Since there is no power greater than His (Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:15-20) there is no other loyalty to which His disciples can give their absolute allegiance."

I looked up the above mentioned verses; here they are:
Romans 8:38-39: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!"
Philippians 2:9-11: "For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him
the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every
knee should bow--of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the
earth--and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to
the glory of God the Father."

Colossians 1:15-20: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross--whether things on earth or things in heaven."

Christ is supreme. He is Ruler of all. No circumstances, earthly rulers, physical health conditions...nothing has the power to separate us from His love! Not only that, but God the Father Himself exalted Christ to a position that is higher than any other in the universe. Whoa! I owe Him all of my worship and allegiance and awe! That last passage is especially amazing. It states that Christ is "the image" of God, the "firstborn over all creation." This passage also says that "all things have been created through Him and for Him."

I have been created "for Him." My whole goal in life should be to direct glory and attention to Him. I should live life with Him as my central focus.
Like the footnote in my Bible said, His absolute power and authority demand my complete allegiance...this includes the commitment to spread His glory to everyone and anyone that I can. One way I spread the Gospel is through my personal testimony; sometimes actions speak more loudly than words. But I shouldn't shy away from spreading the Gospel verbally, either. Personally, I am not good in this area. I have no excuse; I know I have had opportunities come my way.

Last summer, I worked for my dad during the summer sports camps that he runs; I was his "administrative assistant." :-) I also helped set up lunch every morning, along with several other junior counselors who were around my age. Several of these kids were Catholic in name, but they obviously did not understand who Christ was. This was evident by the questions they asked me about my faith. I remember one day when one of the young girls asked me, "So, what do you believe?" I proceeded to explain that I believed Christ had died on the cross, thereby redeeming us from sin, and then rose again on the third day. I kind of laughed to myself when, as another junior counselor walked in, this young lady told him cheerfully, "I've been finding out about her religion!" It was strange to have someone call Christianity a "religion," even though I know that's the way the world sees faith in Christ's redemption. Isn't is it tragic that this young girl, and millions like her, see this incredible personal relationship with Christ as "just another religion"?

Unfortunately, I did not let this feeling drive me to fearlessly share why my faith was not just another religion. I shared what I believed, but I "tippy-toed" in sharing...I didn't want to freak them out!Even though I shared the gospel, I could feel myself (then and throughout the week) shying away from being really bold in proclaiming the gospel. I didn't want to offend them. I didn't want them to think I was "weird" or "super conservative."

It's kind of funny, but when I'm out of that kind of that situation, I come up with the eloquent speeches and responses that I will give when someone asks me about my faith. I seem to think that it's sometimes "easy" to share the gospel. But it's not...for me! I don't like to initiate those kinds of conversations!

But after my QT the other day, I realized that I don't have any reason not to share the gospel! In fact, I owe it to Christ to share His glory! He is all-powerful...and yet so often I dare to ignore that power, shrugging off the responsibility to witness!

Something else I've been challenged with lately is that I can "witness" to other believers. I can and should be an example to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Like my story above demonstrates, I struggle with being a "people-pleaser" rather than a "God-pleaser." I'm like a chameleon at times; I try to blend into the crowd around me, even if "blending in" equals "compromising." But Christ expects more out of me...His child for whom He gave His life. The child who He loves with a love which cannot be weakened. Ever. I must strive to live up to His expectations, not the expectations of those around me.

Another thing: Christ experienced many, many "uncomfortable situations"...and He persevered through the most uncomfortable of them all: excruciating death on a cross. He also suffered betrayal by close friends, mockery...I mean, for crying out loud, He was spit on!! If He went through all that "uncomfortableness" for me, shouldn't I be willing to experience discomfort for His sake, so that I can in some way repay Him for all that He's done for me?

I just came across a video on Kaysie's blog, "Cross-Eyed", that happened to deal with how to share Christ despite our fears. I encourage you to check it out.

OK, so I've typed my head off and shared all this I've got to go out and practice it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for my parents. Yesterday was their 20th wedding anniversary! They love each other so much; they are committed to each other and to God, and they continually work to build both of those relationships. I also appreciate the fact that they clearly demonstrate their love for each other. They don't hide it...that's for sure! :-) Mom and Dad are also wonderful parents. They've homeschooled my brother and I for 13 years now and have proven to be excellent teachers!! I'm so grateful for them and for their wisdom and guidance.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! I love you so much!

Iris is our host. Click here to visit her blog and to see other people's Thankful Thursdays!

P.S. I'm also thankful for my beautiful new blog design! Isn't it awesome? Thanks to Ms. Judi from Doodlebug Designs for creating it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Musical Monday

God of Justice (We Must Go)
by Tim Hughes

God of Justice, Saviour to all,
Came to rescue the weak and the poor,
Chose to serve and not be served.

Jesus, You have called us.
Freely we've received,
Now freely we will give.

We must go, live to feed the hungry,
Stand beside the broken,
We must go.
Stepping forward, keep us from just singing,
Move us into action,
We must go.

To act justly everyday,
Loving mercy in every way,
Walking humbly before You God,

You have shown us, what You require.
Freely we've received,
Now freely we will give.

Fill us up and send us out,
Fill us up and send us out,
Fill us up and send us out Lord.

We sang this song at the "Do Hard Things" Conference last Saturday. Isn't it so challenging? I love the lines, "Stepping forward, keep us from just singing, move us into action, we must go." Amen! What a kick to the ol' spiritual funny bone...the conscience, that is! It is so easy to forget those "moments of enlightenment." So often, I'll be strongly convicted concerning an area in which I am lacking...and then I'll move on with life...acting as if that conviction means nothing.

Father, "stepping forward, keep me from just blogging, move me into action, I must go!!"