words :: books :: ideas

Monday, November 06, 2006

On my Inability to Save Myself

In The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn and his daughters Angela and Karina, the demon Prince Ishbane writes to his underling Foulgrin about tempting one of the protagonists.
Create a labyrinth of self-righteousness. Keep her wandering in the maze of self. Consume her with what she has to offer the Tyrant [God] rather than what He offers her. She believes her new life began by grace? Make her imagine it must be maintained by rule keeping. Make her motto, "God helps those who help themselves." Don't let her see that He helps those who realize they can't (p. 74).

Isaiah 61:5 says that "we need to be saved."
Over the past several weeks I've been realizing my depravity as a sinner. I am continuously finding myself doing things I shouldn't. Even my "righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).
I cannot keep all the rules. I cannot stop sinning. I cannot help myself. I cannot save myself.
We are saved, "not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Timothy 1:9).
It is God that saves.
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD. My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness..." (Isaiah 61:10 emphasis added).
oh, praise the One
who paid my debt...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Patriot Day

Memorial Bridge


Pentagon Flag

Arlington Eagle

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Study in Selflessness

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

-Philippians 2:3-8

- Esteem Others Better Than Yourself -

In Luke 10:38-42, we read the well-known story of Mary and Martha. Martha knew that Jesus deserved the best, so she worked hard to serve Him. While she served, her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus' feet, listening to His words. "[D]istracted with much serving," Martha wanted Mary to help her, rather than viewing this as an opportunity to serve her sister as well.
Sometimes I behave like Martha. I am willing and ready to serve someone who I consider above me; but, when it comes to a younger sibling, I feel that they should be serving me.
This attitude is wrong. "Let no one seek his own," says Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:24, "but each one the other's well-being."

- Taking the Form of a Bondservant -

Instead of doing as Martha did--complaining when others don't help--I need to do as Jesus did--look for ways to serve others. Chapter 13 of the gospel of John gives an account of Jesus doing a strange thing. After supper, He gets down and begins to wash His disciples' feet.
In my opinion, washing someone else's feet is gross. Especially if they've been outside barefoot. There are a few grosser tasks, but not many. It certainly isn't the job you'd expect a King to do.
"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:14-15).
Considering who Jesus is, you'd think that all of these men would be down on their knees, serving Him, not the other way around.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25-28).

- Obedient to the Point of Death -

Jesus didn't seek to please only Himself. He was truly selfless.
Matthew 26:39 tells of when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, directly before His betrayal. 'He went a little father and He fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."'
Jesus was willing to sacrifice His very life--in a brutal form of death--in obedience to the Father.
In this act, He displayed His great love for us. Love "...does not seek its own..." (1 Corinthians 13:5). His love for my life was greater than His love for His own life. Right before Jesus said, "Great love has no one that this, than to lay down one's life for his friends," (which Jesus did) He said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:13, 12). I too, need to put others before myself--loving them more than myself, and valuing them and their happiness more than my own.

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another" (Romans 12:10).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Every Kingdom Work

"Every kingdom work, whether publicly performed or privately endeavoured, partakes of the kingdom's imperishable character. Every honest intention, every stumbling word of witness, every resistance of temptation, every motion of repentance, every gesture of concern, every routine engagement, every motion of worship, every struggle towards obedience, every mumbled prayer, everything, literally, which flows out of our faith-relationship with the Ever-Living One, will find its place in the ever-living heavenly order which will dawn at his coming."
-Bruce Milne quoted Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Monday, July 31, 2006

According to Psalms

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name... [105:1]
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory... [115:1]
From the rising of the sun to its gonig down The LORD's name is to be praised. [113:3]
Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me bless His holy name. [103:1]
And blessed be His glorious name forever! ... [72:19]
What is this name above all names, you ask? -a continuation of
a study began in Bible class at AWANA Scholarship Camp last

  • King of glory - 24:10
  • LORD of hosts - 24:10
  • great King over all the earth - 47:2
  • help of my countenance - 43:5
  • the living God - 42:2
  • God-Who-Forgives - 99:8
  • strength of my heart - 73:26
  • my portion - 73:26
  • the God of Jacob - 75:9
  • stregth - 118:14
  • song - 118:14
  • salvation - 118:14
  • my Rock -144:1
  • lovingkindness - 144:2
  • my fortress - 144:2
  • my high tower - 144:2
  • my deliverer - 144:2
  • my shield - 144:2
  • the One in whom I take refuge - 144:2
  • our help - 124:8
  • O Mighty One - 45:3
  • very present help in trouble - 46:1
  • O Most High - 92:1
  • Rock of our salvation - 95:1
  • the great God - 95:3
  • great King above all gods - 95:3
  • our Maker - 95:6
  • mightier than the noise of many waters - 93:4
  • sun - 84:11
  • Most High over all the earth - 83:18
  • just judge - 7:11
  • my glory - 3:3
  • the One who lifts up my head - 3:3
  • refuge for the oppressed - 9:9
  • refuge in times of trouble - 9:9
  • the LORD, who dwells in Zion - 9:11
  • King forever and ever - 10:16
  • horn of my salvation - 18:2
  • my Redeemer - 19:14
  • God of my salvation - 18:46
  • my light - 27:1
  • mighty in battle - 24:8
  • strength of my life - 27:1
  • saving refuge of His annointed - 28:8
  • holy - 30:4
  • our guide - 48:14
  • builder - 127:1
  • healer - 30:2
  • my helper - 54:4
  • hope - 39:7
  • preserver - 37:28
  • my exceeding joy - 44:4
  • knows the secrets of the heart - 44:21
  • generous Spirit - 51:12
  • defense - 59:16
  • God of mercy - 59:17
  • awesome in His doing toward the sons of men - 66:5
  • YAH - 68:4
  • father of the fatherless - 68:5
  • defender of widows - 68:5
  • my trust from my youth - 71:5
  • hears the poor - 69:33
  • only does wondrous things - 72:18
  • glorious name - 72:18
  • good - 86:5
  • ready to forgive - 86:5
  • abundant in mercy to all who call upon You - 86:5
  • alone God - 86:10
  • Holy One of Israel - 89:18
  • Almighty - 91:1
  • dwelling place 91:9

Oh magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. - 34:3
-all verses taken from Psalms-

Monday, July 17, 2006


"...And what kind of salad dressing would you like with that, ma'am?" the waitress asks.
"Um...I don't know," replies Isabel, "How about Thousand Island...No, Ranch."
"Ranch it is." The waitress scribbles it down and turns to go.
"Actually, could I change that to Italian?"
"Do you think Italian sounds good," Isabel asks her friend, "or should I go for Caesar? Well, maybe I want Balsamic Vinaigrette...or Shawano...or perhaps just a little lemon juice..."
This week, I've been studying God's attribute of immutabilitiy. Unlike Indecisive Isabel, He never changes.
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You will endure;
Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will have no end.
-Psalm 102:25-27
God does not change from day to day. What was true of Him yesterday is no different today. Nothing I, or anyone else, can do will change who He is. He is unalterable. He is God, "...with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
Yesterday, today, and forever
You are the same, You never change.
Yesterday, today, and forever
You are faithful and I will trust in You.
Can you imagine what it would be like if God were always changing--like Indecisive Isabel? We couldn't be assured of anything. Laws like gravity and mathematics could vanish. His mercy might not endure forever. Truth would be meaningless. We could never be certain of salvation. Other attributes of God could change as well: He might no longer be loving, or patient, or omnipotent, or even good.
"A little reflection like this," writes Wayne Grudem in his book, Systematic Theology, "shows how absolutely important the doctrine of God's unchangeableness is. If God is not unchanging, then the whole basis of our faith begins to fall apart, and our understanding of the universe begins to unravel. This is because our faith and hope and knowledge are ultimately depend on a person who is infinitely worthy of trust--because he is absolutely and eternally unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises."
"For I am the LORD, I do not change..." (Malachi 3:6)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Learnings from an Essay: A Question in Ethics

Although my entire essay was rewritten again and again several times, I had the most trouble with the introduction and conclusion. First, I used a quote from Hitler as an opening, but when I found that he probably never had said that, I found a different quote from him to use. Soon my editors and I decided that Nazi Germany wasn't the best example for my essay. I moved the quote I had formerly ended with to the beginning. That Monday night, after trying to find the original source for the quote, my dad and I discovered that George Washington had most likely never said it.
As I was going to print the final version of the essay to send the next day, this discovery was rather frustrating. I had a dilemma on my hands. Either I could leave the quote--knowing I had a proper source, and hoping my readers didn't research it--or I could desperately search for something else to use.
I went to bed that night--or rather, morning--an angry girl. My thoughts went something like this: Why would anyone fabricate something like that? Don't they know a little girl could be hurt by it? I hate lying. I despise lying. I loathe lying. Why would anyone lie to anyone? It's so dumb. It's unethical.
Revelation 21:8 lists eight types of people ending with "and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
It was very difficult, but I determined not to use the quote, even though it was very good. I didn't think my conscience could handle it.
The next morning I woke up not wanting to work on my essay. I changed the quote to another by George Mason. It didn't really fit that well, but it would have to do if I couldn't find anything else. It was a struggle, but I knew I had to do it. I cried in anger at all lies. I cried from frustration. I cried because I was sick of introductions. It made me look forward to heaven though--a place where there will be no more lying.
That afternoon my dad helped me find a better quote. One by James Madison. No, it was far from the caliber of Washington's false quote, but it would do.
To encourage myself about what I did, I read a number of verses in Proverbs about lies and truth. There are quite a few. "Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight" (Prov. 12:22).

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Picture in your minds the Greek nobleman/scholar Pericles in his simple Athenian robe and cloak of white. The year is 431 B.C. Upon an elevated platform, the renowned general stands in the midst of the magnificent works of art and architecture which have been created under his leadership in the city-state of Athens that he so loves. On the Acropolis, as a backdrop for his audience, are the visible memorials of the glory that the Athenians have achieved: the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena and more.
In the face of the first losses of a long and difficult war, Pericles, described as having thunder and lightning on his tongue, marshals all his oratorical powers to remind the Athenians what they have achieved and what they must defend. This great statesman and orator is about to begin his panegyric, or extolment of those who have fallen in battle. He needs to convince the Athenians to think upon the greatness of their city; once they are completely in love with her, they must reflect that their empire was made great because the soldiers knew their duty and had the courage to do it.
Pericles Funeral Oration

Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors', but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private business we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes. While we are thus unconstrained in our private business, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws, having a particular regard to those which are ordained for the protection of the injured.
Then, again, our military training is in many respects superior to that of our adversaries. Our city is thrown open to the world, and we never expel a foreigner. We rely not upon management or trickery, but upon our own hearts and hands.
If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart, with a courage which is gained by habit and not enforced by law, are we not greatly the better for it? Since we do not anticipate the pain, we can be as brave as those who never allow themselves to rest; thus our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. We are lovers of the beautiful in our tastes, and our strength lies, not in deliberation, but [in] that knowledge which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting, too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection. They are surely to be esteemed the bravest spirits who, having the clearest sense both of the pains and pleasures of life, do not shrink from danger. In doing good, we are unlike others; We alone do good to our neighbors not upon a calculation of interest, but in the confidence of freedom and in a frank and fearless spirit. To sum up: in the hour of trial Athens alone among her contemporaries is superior to the report of her. No enemy who comes against her is indignant; no subject complains that his masters are unworthy of him. We shall assuredly not be without witnesses; there are mighty monuments of our power which will make us the wonder of this and of succeeding ages. We have compelled every land and every sea to open a path for our valor, and have everywhere planted eternal memorials of our friendship and of our enmity. Such is the city for whose sake [our] men nobly fought and died; they could not bear the thought that she might be taken from them; and every one of us who survive should gladly toil on her behalf.
I have dwelt upon the greatness of Athens because I want to show that we are contending for a higher prize, and to establish by manifest proof the merit of these men whom I am now commemorating. In magnifying the city I have magnified them, and men like them whose virtues made her glorious. None of these men were [enamored] by wealth or hesitated to resign the pleasures of life; But, deeming that the punishment of their enemies was sweeter than any of these things, and that they could fall in no nobler cause, they determined at the hazard of their lives to be honorably avenged, and to leave the rest. They resigned their chance of happiness; but in the face of death they resolved to rely upon themselves alone. And when the moment came they were minded to resist and suffer, rather than to fly and save their lives; on the battlefield their feet stood fast, and in an instant, at the height of their fortune, they passed away from the scene, not of their fear, but of their glory.
Such was the end of these men; they were worthy of Athens, and the living needn’t desire to have a more heroic spirit, although they may pray for a less fatal issue. The value of such a spirit is not to be expressed in words. Any one can discourse to you forever about the advantages of a brave defense. But instead of listening to him I would have you fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it, and freely gave their lives to her as the fairest offering which they could present at her feast. The sacrifice which they collectively made was individually repaid to them; for they received a praise which grows not old, and the noblest of all tombs, I speak not of that in which their remains are laid, but of that in which their glory survives, and is proclaimed always and on every fitting occasion both in word and deed. For the whole earth is the tomb of famous men; not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men. Make them your examples. To a man of spirit, cowardice and disaster coming together are far more bitter than death striking him at a time when he is full of courage and animated by the general hope.
And now, when you have duly lamented, every one his own dead, you may depart.

This oration by Pericles, given soon after the first battles of the Peloponnesian War, has great significance to the United States of America: a country which also fought a major war from 1861-1865. The Civil War brought forth with grim poignancy the question of what made America great, and cost the lives of many men.
On November 19, 1863 Abraham Lincoln delivered an oration to commemorate the fallen in battle and to revive the patriotism of those discouraged by war.
This oration, the famous Gettysburg Address, was modeled after another oration that served the same purpose—the funeral oration of Pericles.
In each of these speeches, the dead are honored by praising the democracy for which they gave their lives. The living are encouraged to make these men, whose bravery will always be remembered, their examples. As President Lincoln said, “…we [should] take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Lewis on Friendship

I found a perfectly lovely book at the library last week. It's called The Quotable Lewis: An encyclopedic selection of quotes from the complete published works of C.S. Lewis. 1565 quotes from C.S. Lewis.
Here's one on Friendship that I found as I flipped through the pages. Entry 536; from The Four Loves, chap. 4, para. 61, pp. 126-127.
For a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." That Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Learnings from an Essay: A Merry Heart

"As cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a far country," says Proverbs 25:25. Do you think that Virginia is far enough away to count, even if it isn't a different country? I certainly received some good news.
When I got home from biology last Thursday there was an envelope waiting for me. An envelope from the NRA. A large one. The first sentence consisted of one word: Congratulations!
"The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy" (Prov. 15:30). [Funny--we were talking about bones at biology that day.]
Before that lovely letter, I kept thinking, 'What if I don't win? How will I react?' I know I would have been disappointed, and doubtlessly I would not have enjoyed telling the people who knew about the contest that I didn't win. I'm glad that God wanted to teach me about winning this time. I'll most likely have many more opportunities to learn about losing.
In June I'm going to Washington D.C. My first time out of this time zone. When I think about it, my stomach flips, part of me goes numb, and my heart beats faster.
"A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance..." and "...he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast" (Prov. 15:13, 15). I suppose that accounts for the grin, although I'm thinking dinner should come soon.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Learnings from an Essay: Hope and Patience

Currently, I'm learning hope and patience from my essay. If I win this competition, I'll get a trip to Washington D.C.--a place where I would very much like to go.
"And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You." said David in Psalm 39:7. I want to make this my own prayer. This contest and this trip are not essential. Yes, it's hard for me to write that and believe it. I do have a great desire to go. But my hope must be in God.
No one whose hope is in You
Will ever be put to shame
That's why my eyes are on You
Oh, Lord

Whether I go on this trip or not, God is ultimately in control. Whatever He chooses is best. "For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God." -Psalm 38:15
I probably won't know how I placed until May. This is a good opportunity to practice waiting patiently. "Steal the Bacon" has always been one of my least favorite games because of the suspenseful waiting. I never know if my number will be called next.
In verses like 1 Timothy 6:11 and Galatians 5:22-23 patience is counted among many other virtues, so it must be considered pretty highly. Psalm 37:7-8 says, "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him...Do not fret--it only causes harm."
I echo the final words in The Count of Monte Cristo: "Wait and hope!"

Monday, April 03, 2006

Learnings from an Essay: Do Hard Things

On October 26, I downloaded the application for an essay contest. For the past several months I've been researching, writing, editing, and starting over again.
I really began in earnest last month. On Wednesday, I had it bound and mailed to Virginia.
Throughout the whole process, I've been learning. The overlying theme of what I've learned: Do Hard Things.
To be honest, writing this essay was a bit rough. I like writing, but it doesn't always come easy.
My friends over at The Rebelution gave me a challenge. They told me to "Do Hard Things." I cannot recount the numerous times I repeated those three words to myself. I put quite a few hours into my essay, many of which I'd have rather spent reading a book. But then I'd remember what they'd said and--gritting my teeth--get back to work.
The Rebelution also encouraged me to settle for okay, but to do my best. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..."
I'm sure that if I read it again, I'd find more things to fix in my paper [I haven't read it since Wednesday for that precise reason], but I'm satisfied that I worked hard and sent my essay on time.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Autumn Leaves and Daffodils

Last week [Tuesday to be exact] I was reading Randy Alcorn's book Lord Foulgrin's Letters. Directly as I came to this paragraph then heard an odd sound, as if paper were being crinkled.
"The Enemy is a romantic and notoriously sneaky. He can woo them through the colors of autumn leaves, the sound of a waterfall, ocean mist on their faces, the sight of stars at night."
I turned to find the source of the sound and discovered a daffodil had escaped from its sepals. It was the only other living thing in the room. And the only thing that could have possibly made the sound.
God's wooing is beautiful.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bed of Illness

The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed.
- Psalm 41:3

Good verse for a sick girl.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Exceedingly Glad

"Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven..."
-Matthew 5:12a

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Things Above

Last night I finished reading Ted Dekker's book The Slumber of Christianity. It has to be my favourite of his works.
The subtitle is: Awakening a Passion for Heaven on Earth. That's what is did for me. Now my mind is screaming, "AGH! I want to go there!"
Heaven is our home
Where we'll live together
Shining like the sun
With our King forever
Heaven is our home
Heaven is our home
I can hardly wait to get there. Home. With Jesus. Forever.
That's one of the things I can't get my mind around. Eternity. The last couple of nights I've lain awake in bed pondering it. Everything I know has an end. All the good books I've ever read ended. All the times I've enjoyed with friends ended. Someday, my life will have ended. But heaven doesn't end. Never. Never. Never. It makes me want to laugh. With Him forever.
Oh, just imagine it.
"I say with Paul, fix your mind on heaven. Fascinate your mind with Christ, and fan into flames a vision of the afterlife.
Obsess after the bliss that awaits you as a joint heir with Christ in heaven." (The Slumber of Christianity)
Come quickly, Lord!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

On Job

As I was reading Job the beginning of Job the other day, three verses stood out to me.
In Job 1:21, just after learning that all his valuable possessions- from camels, to sheep, to children- are destroyed Job says, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Then, while covered head to foot with boils his wife says that Job is still "hold[ing] fast to [his] integrity" (Job 2:9).
In verse 10, Job responds to his wife's suggestion to "Curse God and die" with "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?"
When I look at Job's troubles mine seem comparatively insignificant. Yet do I hold fast to my integrity, blessing the Lord and submitting to His will when those trials come?

You give and take away,
You give and take away,
My heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be Your name

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Troughs and Peaks

"...in His effort to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more that on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.
...He leaves the creature to stand up on its legs--to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be...He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never in more danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every taste of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

-The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Grace, Burdens, and Joy

“…God has given me grace for each day, and He has given much of happiness, too. He never makes the burden too heavy, and He has taught me the meaning of real joy. It is something that goes deep into the heart and has nothing to do with outside circumstances.”

- Not My Will by Francena H. Arnold

Three points for consideration
1 – God gives grace for each day
2 – He never makes the burden too heavy
3 – Real joy has nothing to do with outside circumstances

1 – God gives grace for each day

The apostle Paul writes that his “thorn in the flesh” was given to him that he should not be exalted and God’s grace should be manifested
2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God provides grace to the upright
Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and a shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

2 – He never makes the burden too heavy

God sustains those who cast their burden on Him

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

To those who have a heavy burden, He promises rest
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

3 – Real joy has nothing to do with outside circumstances

We are told to be joyful at all times
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice!

True joy does not depend on what happens
Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful,
But in the day of adversity consider:
Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other,
So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.

Our Father not only supplies grace, but He offers sustenance and rest to those carrying a heavy burden. It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives, we can always have authentic joy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Waiting For Heaven

"Are you breathlessly yearning for the day you step beyond this life into that life prepared for you after death? Does the hope you have for heaven raise the hair on the back of your neck or make your belly float? Are you obsessed with eternity? Does it preoccupy you, so that all the gifts on this earth pale by comparison?
Are you, like the overeager bride about to be wed, so excited about your final union with God that nothing around you seems to matter anymore?
Do you regularly, as did the apostle Paul, honestly crave to die and be with Christ, because departing to be with him is better by far than living to serve him?"

- The Slumber of Christianity by Ted Dekker

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Meditate and Declare

I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
- Psalm 145:5-6

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

New Years

I echo this prayer.
As I look ahead to another year of life, I am reminded that I may not spend another year here on this earth. Within that space, You may call me to heaven, or the Lord Jesus may return for His Bride. 'Teach [me] to number [my] days and recognize how few they are; help [me] to spend them as [I] should' (Psalm 90:12).
Help me to live whatever days I have remaining in light of eternity. I humbly seek Your blessing and Your favor, for having them I lack nothing. I would seek to please You rather than men. This year I ask...
  • to know and love You in ever-increasing intimacy
  • for the protection of Your Spirit over my hear, my mind, and my affections
  • that You would be faithful in fulfilling the ministry You have entrusted to me--faithful in small tasks as well as large, in secret and obscurity as well as in public
  • for a heart full of love for others
  • that You might make me fruitful
  • that every day might be lived to the fullest and in the constant, conscious awareness of Your presence
  • that I might walk in the light before You and others, without guile or pretense
  • that I might be holy and humble before You and others
These things I ask in Jesus' Name and for the sake of Your Kingdom. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth--and in this grateful heart--as it is in heaven. Amen.
- A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss