Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Would I? Could I?

Would I be willing to die for Christ? Could I leave everything I love behind and go into hiding? Those are some of the questions I asked myself when I read about "Diana" - a young Pakistani Christian who is in hiding for her faith in Christ.
A Pakistani teen who embraced Christianity has escaped death at the hands of her family, who unsuccessfully demanded she recant her faith, an international ministry group says. Voice of the Martyrs said the girl, identified only as Diana, now is in hiding for her life. She grew up in a strict Islamic family in Pakistan, the group said, and her life was "typical" until she met a girl named Mary who was a Christian, and Diana decided to embrace the faith.
After her parents found out she converted to Christianity, she was beaten and threatened with death if she didn't convert back to Islam. Miraculously, she escaped and is now in hiding.

There are many people in the world who suffer for Christ. Their stories are inspiring and make me grateful for the religious freedoms here in America. Please keep Diana and others who are persecuted for their faith in your prayers.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:10

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Like Broken Bread

“When the Galilean boy brought his bread to the Lord, what did the Lord do with it? He broke it. God will always break what is offered to Him. He breaks what He takes, but after breaking it He blesses and uses it to meet the needs of others. After you give yourself to the Lord, He begins to break what was offered to Him. Everything seems to go wrong, and you protest and find fault with the ways of God. But to stay there is to be no more than just a broken vessel—no good for the world because you have gone too far for the world to use you, and no good for God either because you have not gone far enough from Him to use you. You are out of gear with the world, and you have a controversy with God. This is the tragedy of many a Christian.

My giving of myself to the Lord must be an initial fundamental act. Then, day by day, I must go on giving to Him, not finding fault with His use of me, but accepting with praise even what the flesh finds hard. That ways lies true enrichment.

I am the Lord’s and now no longer reckon myself to be on my own, but acknowledge in everything His ownership and authority. That is the attitude God delights in, and to maintain it is true consecration. I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher; I consecrate myself to God to do His will where I am, be it in school, office or kitchen or wherever He may, in His wisdom, send me. Whatever He ordains for me is sure to be the very best, for nothing but good can come to those who are wholly His. May we always be possessed by the consciousness that we are not our own.”

-Watchman Nee, from his book, The Normal Christian Life, Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Copyright 1977, pages 106-107

Labels:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Take a Look....


There's a new kid on the block....or is there? The Rebelution has a not only a new makeover, but several additions to its website, including conference tour listings and a discussion forum. I have it on good authority that girls who read Beauty from the Heart might also find the "Girls Only" section of The Rebelution Forum interesting. Head over and check it out!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Perfect Pearl


Hey Girls! I read this wonderful devotion this morning and was so very touched by it! I hope it blesses you too!


"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7


"Knowing God and having Him reside within you is a treasure of infinite value to that of a perfect pearl. The collector would readily sell everything he had in order to possess this one matchless pearl. Your relationship with God places an immeasurable value on your life. The treasures of God's wisdom and knowledge are available to you through Christ. His love now fills you. His incomprehensible peace surrounds your heart and mind. When Jesus dwells in your life, everything available to Christ dwells within you.

Paul was comparing our lives with the clay pots commonly used in his day. The contents of earthen vessels, not the containers themselves, were of great value. The jars would become chipped and broken and would deteriorate over time, but nobody thought of the jar-they were interested in its contents. Paul noted that our great possession is that which God has placed within us. When people focus on us they see a frail, imperfect, and deteriorating vessel. Nothing that comes from our flesh is worthy of praise. Our bodies are aging and losing strength. Only as we allow God to fill us and renew our inner self will people see a treasure of immeasurable worth.

Don't focus on outward appearances and physical strength, for these deteriorate. Rather, allow the Holy Spirit to convince you of the infinite treasure that is within you because of God's presence."

--Devotion taken from, Experiencing God, written by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Prayer Request and Update

Some of you may be familiar with Kimmy Harris, blogger at Non-Conformist. Kimmy is 34 weeks pregnant with a baby girl and went into early labor a few days ago. Thankfully, they've been able to stop labor and Kimmy is now on bedrest. Her brother-in-laws, Alex and Brett Harris, have been providing updates. Please lift up Baby Elena, Kimmy, her husband Joel as well as the entire Harris family during this time of stress and uncertainty.

And lastly, many of you probably remember that I had been having medical problems of my own. The doctors were finally able to pin down what was wrong with me and put me on the proper medication. However, after a few days, I had an allergic reaction to the medicine. Because of this, even more problems have risen to the surface. I have been undergoing a series of tests these last couple of days that have proved trying, but by God's sustaining grace, I've been doing tolerably well. I humbly ask you to continue to keep me in your prayers that the doctors would find the problem.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. ~Psalm 1:4

Friday, August 18, 2006

One Man on George Street


How many people does it take to impact the world? One thousand? One hundred? Fifty? Ten?

One, if God blesses his labor.




I listened today to an audio message about an elderly man from Sydney, Australia. He made the commitment to witness to ten people per day, and for forty years he did not see one person come to Christ. Yet this dedicated man was used by God to impact the world for generations!

Click to hear the story of the "Man on George Street."
It's less than ten minutes long, and well worth the time.

(If you cannot load the link, click here to download it directly from The Way of the Master website. The message is titled "I Got Off At George Street.")

Thursday, August 17, 2006

God Speaks Chinese

Never before had I felt so much like an infant. An announcement sounded over the airplane speakers, an unintelligible string of Chinese. I understood two words from the entire broadcast, and it was a discomforting reminder of how little of my surroundings I understood. If the sky was falling, I’d have no way of knowing.

I shifted in my seat as the rest of the passengers continued boarding the plane, fully conscious of the hundred eyes watching me. I could hardly blame them. Foreigners were rare in that part of China and tall Americans have a hard time blending in anywhere. Not only was I a clueless infant in this foreign country; I was also a freak.

The last time I boarded a Chinese domestic flight, there had been a delay and a problem with the airplane’s air conditioning. Several passengers had stood in their seats, waving their hands in frustration and engaging themselves in a energetic yelling contest with the flight attendant. It was chaos and anarchy. And worst of all, since I have little knowledge of the Chinese language, there was nothing I could do. I felt helpless.

I desperately wished to shrink to the size of an insect or even a bacterium. Could I ever feel comfortable in these alien surroundings? Could I depend on God to take care of every detail?

In Proverbs 30: 2-5, Agur mourned over his ignorance and vulnerability as well:

“‘I am the most ignorant of men;
I do not have a man's understanding.

I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of His hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in His cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and the name of His Son?
Tell me if you know!

‘Every word of God is flawless;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

God’s competence in controlling situations is a great deal more than our own; yet maybe you are like me, and still tremble at the thought of handing Him the reins. We gave Him our life, but we struggle to handle individual, daily situations alone.

One of my favorite authors and speakers, John Piper, wrote, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” When we satisfy ourselves with the knowledge that He is in control, He is glorified. His strength is most visible when we have no chance to succeed on our own. When we are incapable, and feel like infants, we should rejoice at the opportunity to lean on Him and make His power known. Paul explained this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

As I waited for take off, I heard a soft, familiar melody. Strangely out of place, it sounded like Heaven playing over the airplane speaker. The song was instrumental, but I knew the words from church:

Mercy, mercy
Goodness and kindness,
Love and forgiveness.
Mercy, mercy.
It’s been mercy all the way.

A comforting song in Communist China? Yes, God does speak Chinese.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Spurgeon: Meditating on God

Here is another wonderful passage by Charles Spurgeon (via The Spurgeon Archive)
"Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide."—Genesis 24:63

Very admirable was his occupation. If those who spend so many hours in idle company, light reading, and useless pastimes, could learn wisdom, they would find more profitable society and more interesting engagements in meditation than in the vanities which now have such charms for them. We should all know more, live nearer to God, and grow in grace, if we were more alone. Meditation chews the cud and extracts the real nutriment from the mental food gathered elsewhere. When Jesus is the theme, meditation is sweet indeed. Isaac found Rebecca while engaged in private musings; many others have found their best beloved there.

Very admirable was the choice of place. In the field we have a study hung round with texts for thought. From the cedar to the hyssop, from the soaring eagle down to the chirping grasshopper, from the blue expanse of heaven to a drop of dew, all things are full of teaching, and when the eye is divinely opened, that teaching flashes upon the mind far more vividly than from written books. Our little rooms are neither so healthy, so suggestive, so agreeable, or so inspiring as the fields. Let us count nothing common or unclean, but feel that all created things point to their Maker, and the field will at once be hallowed.

Very admirable was the season. The season of sunset as it draws a veil over the day, befits that repose of the soul when earthborn cares yield to the joys of heavenly communion. The glory of the setting sun excites our wonder, and the solemnity of approaching night awakens our awe. If the business of this day will permit it, it will be well, dear reader, if you can spare an hour to walk in the field at eventide, but if not, the Lord is in the town too, and will meet with thee in thy chamber or in the crowded street. Let thy heart go forth to meet Him.

Monday, August 14, 2006

IRL: Martha

It was no surprise that I was exhausted by the time the Teacher arrived. I had risen far before the sun, and had been hard at work with the preparations since. By evening, my entire body was screaming for rest, but rest was impossible. I walked briskly into our small, but functional, kitchen, and contemplated the situation at hand. The evening meal was ready, thanks to hours of my work beforehand. Now Jesus would be served...

Lazarus’ hearty laugh interrupted my thoughts, and I scowled. Why can’t he keep the noise down? I caught myself, and released a long sigh. I was irritable—probably in part from sheer exhaustion—and I knew it. And yet, simply knowing my problem did nothing to ease it. In fact, I thought as I exited the kitchen, It is only making me grow more irked. My eyes wandered towards Mary and Lazarus, and a frown creased my forehead. Unfortunately, Mary wasn’t helping the situation.

From the moment that Jesus arrived, she had been doing absolutely nothing. While I worked, she sat on the floor, leisurely listening to the Teacher speak! I slowed my quick steps for a moment to watch her, and my frustration with her laziness quickly turned to anger. Jesus was laughing, and Mary was smiling widely! My lips tightened into a thin grimace.

How could she do this to me? Especially today. I reached up to push away a stray curl, and glared in her direction. She didn’t see me, and her upturned face was glowing as she listened to the Teacher talk. Somehow, seeing her like that made everything worse. A hot flash of anger surged through me again. There I was—utterly exhausted, but serving the Teacher willingly—and Mary just sat at His feet, listening! It was completely unfair. It was wrong. After everything Jesus had been teaching about becoming servants, I could scarcely believe that Mary was behaving so inconsiderately. I chewed on my lip to keep the angry, hurt words from spilling out. And suddenly, a thought struck me. Jesus will understand.

In spite of myself, I smiled. I couldn’t even help it. For I realized, just then, that the Teacher would see how well I was serving Him. And then—I smiled again—He would see how Mary was failing! I would be praised, and she would be reproved. In my mind’s eye, I imagined how the scene would play out, and my smile widened a little. My anger was replaced with a kind of self-righteous satisfaction, as I walked towards Jesus and Mary.

"Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" I felt like adding something about how lazy Mary was, but decided that my point was clear enough. And then Jesus’ eyes were looking into mine—gentle, kind, and… sorrowful? "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." I stood there, motionless, staring into His eyes. I was stunned. Speechless, guilt washed over me.

Then Jesus took my hand, and gently led me to His feet.

More to come soon, when Mary gives her side of the story in Part 2....

Labels:

Friday, August 11, 2006

Green and Golden-Brown

In the golden days of summer, we frequently have a lack of rain here in Michigan. Our grass begins to wither and it turns a dusty shade of golden brown. It is imperative that the grass gets watered so it can be green and lush again.

Last year, we had quite a "drought" (which probably isn't considered a drought for those of you in Texas) and the thought struck me so abruptly like a sudden rainstorm (how coincidental).

Without God, we can be the same way. We can be reading His Word and we are lush, green grass. But without it, we are golden-brown and all dried up. Now, I don't control the weather department so I can't make the rain come pouring down, but I can read the Bible and become lush plants again. Psalms 1:3-4 illustrates my point:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. ~Psalm 1:3

This Scripture goes along great and so does the following verse:

Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

It's easy as Christians to become like dry grass. We read our Bibles here and there, we attend services weekly just to maintain our "Christian" status, but in essence, we're all dried up. I sure don't want to be blown away by the wind. I can envision myself as a large oak tree that's been here for ages, next to a stream flowing quietly in the countryside. Now that's what I want to be.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Your Epidermis is Showing!

(Part 2)


"Ten minutes until we leave for church, everyone!" Emma Jones heard the voice of her dad down the hallway from her bedroom. She heaved a sigh as she held up a skirt to the mirror. It was her favorite blue skirt, but she had not worn it since last summer. She had been delighted to find it in the back of the closet that morning, but disappointed when she tried it on.

Emma had grown several inches taller since she had last worn the skirt, making the skirt several inches above her knee. Standing up, it still appeared to be modest, but sitting down, she knew that it showed too much.

Still, she fought with the idea of not wearing it. Short skirts were in style, and this one was particularly flattering. Besides, she would be seeing Nathan Davis at church. His family had recently joined Emma's church, and ever since he came the girls had been flocking around him. Every time Emma was around the group, she felt painfully "un-cool."

Staring into the mirror, Emma asked herself aloud, "Why not?"

____________

As I hope I established in my last post, immodesty is rampant among young women of the world. This is not unexpected. After all, John 15:19 clearly states that the world hates things of God, and will act contrary to His teachings: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Unfortunately, many Christians have chosen to be like the rest of the world in their opinions on modesty. I remember when a professing Christian woman said, upon being confronted concerning her and her daughter's clothing choices, "We just don't do the modesty thing." But as young ladies who are daughters of the Most High King, we have been called to something greater than the world. We have been called to be set apart as the pure and blameless Bride of Christ. We are called "to dress modestly, with decency and propriety." (1 Timothy 2:9) We have been called to "do the modesty thing."

Some argue that modesty is a prudish behavior adopted only by legalistic Christians and conflicts with the liberty found in Christ. But Christian liberty is clearly not a viable excuse for leading others into temptation. As it says in 1 Corinthians 8:9, "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak."

Dressing provocatively does just what the word suggests--it provokes sexual temptation and lust. For Christian men who are dedicated to pleasing Christ, immodest clothing is an assault on the eyes. Although it is the responsibility of Christian men to guard their eyes from temptation, we, as Christian ladies should not make it difficult for them. If we love our brothers in Christ the way that Philippians tells us to love, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, and looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3,4) then would we dress immodestly? Would we dress in a way that might lead our brothers in Christ into temptation, and in lure them to draw away from Christ? If our goal is to please Christ, we should dress in a way that is considerate of others, even at the expense of being in style.

You may have wondered what Emma Jones chose to wear to church, but I am not sure. You see, Emma Jones is not only a made-up character. She is every one of us, faced with the choice of what to wear. We can each shrug off the decision as "what everyone is doing" or we can choose to honor our Savior with quiet obedience.

The choice is yours.

Labels:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Being an Elizabeth in a Lydia World


(Part 1)

I am not a shopper. Unlike certain friends and family members who relish every opportunity to scrutinize products and price tags, I was never given the NSA (Natural Shopping Ability) at birth. In spite of my natural aversion to shopping, I recently broke with the precedent and went on one of those rare trips to the mall with a friend.

My observations at the end of the day were depressing, to say the least. Skirts as transparent as windows and shirts with sleeves that were nonexistent summarize the “selection” of the women’s clothing departments that my friend and I visited. This caused me to wonder, has modesty become a lost virtue? Has our culture forgotten what modesty is? Have Christians forgotten the definition of modesty and how it should be applied?

Modesty is the special combination of unpretentiousness and discretion; it is a desire not to draw undue attention to one’s self. Originating from an inward humility, the term “modesty” can not only be applied to a person’s choice of clothing, but the way they behave. Webster’s 1828 has a good deal to say concerning modesty:

“…modesty springs no less from principle than from feeling, and is manifested by retiring, unobtrusive manners, assuming less to itself than others are willing to yield, and conceding to others are all due honor and respect, or even more than they expect or require….In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle.”

A clear contrast between modesty and immodesty can be found in the timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice: Lydia Bennett is the youngest of the Bennett daughters, and is also the shame of her family. At only sixteen years of age, she attends balls and parties along with her adult sisters. Lydia makes a reputation for herself by loud boisterousness and flirtatious behavior around all the young men in her proximity. Is Lydia admirable example of modesty? I think not.

Her elder sister, Elizabeth, on the other hand, is characterized by her wisdom and propriety. Although Elizabeth has many faults, immodesty is not one of them. She prefers courteous conversation to her sister’s boisterousness, and feels a sense of shame at Lydia’s conduct. If modesty was important to Elizabeth Bennett and the real-life women of her time, how much more should it be important to women of our day who profess to know Christ!

These are only my initial thoughts. Part 2 is coming soon. Until then, I’ll leave these questions for discussion. (And guys, although Beauty from the Heart is essentially for girls, we do know that you have opinions on this topic too. You are welcome to join in this discussion, if you wish.)

  • In your opinion, is modesty a “lost virtue” in the world today? Why/why not?
  • Is modesty important to you?
  • If modesty has not always been important to you, what caused your opinion about it to change?

Labels:

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Reflections in the Mirror

Look into a mirror. What do you see? You, of course!

Have someone else look at you. What do they see ? They see you, that much is obvious. But that's not what I'm getting at. Who do they really see? Do they see Christ?

As Christian young ladies, we should reflect our King - Jesus Christ. Does our clothing, hairstyle, jewelry reflect God's glory? Do our actions, words and attitudes reflect God's heart? In a culture where most young ladies trash themselves both inwardly and outwardly, we are called to be set apart for Christ and to be a witness to them. That doesn't mean conforming to their ways in order to reach them.

If it were possible for us to step outside ourselves and catch a glimpse for another perspective, what message would you get? Would you be attracted to Christ or distracted by the glitz and glamor of the latest styles and trends?

It's not just the outward dress, it's the inward person of the heart. Have we spent as much time "preparing" our heart to meet the public as we have our physical appearance? It's easy to leave the house in a hurry, with a bad attitude. Perhaps we're more interested in getting our errands done before traffic gets heavy or the stores start to get crowded. I too have fallen guilty of this before! While it seem ridiculous at times, I have ardently tried to leave the house with a cheerful attitude and countenance because the way I look will reflect on who I am. Sure I can say I'm a Christian, but my attitude may say something quite the opposite.

In the same way, we reflect Christ we are also a reflection of our earthly fathers. Have you ever said something disrespectful or had a sour attitude towards your own father? Regret usually follows, but unlike computers there is no handy "undo" button to just delete the wrong until we confess and seek reconciliation.

We are daughters of Christ - we are His ambassadors to the world! Just like we bear the family name, whether it be Smith, Jones or Braun (yes, even me!), we also bear Christ's name - and we should care deeply about how we reflect our Heavenly Father and our earthly father.

What is your reflection in the mirror?

On another note, Regenerate Our Culture has come out with Issue 10 - with a theme on writing. There are several articles on this topic, including an interview by yours truly which I had fun putting together. But aside from that, make sure you check out the entire issue!