Saturday, December 23, 2006

Love is Nails

They say that pictures speak a thousand words. It's true. There's a photo on our countertop of a foreign pastor and his family. His little children stare at the camera, unsure whether to smile or be frightened. The pastor himself does not satisfy the popular image of a pastor. He does not pose, but merely grips his Bible solemnly. He emanates no suave charisma or toothy grin. In reading about him, I find that this pastor's teeth were knocked out by persecutors in his village, who wanted him to leave and take his Christ with him.

Such are the Christ followers—those who bear Christ's image on their hearts. A few, such as the pastor, bear His image outwardly as well. The village pastor's face reminds me of Him who was also beaten and lived His life in humble circumstances as well.


Not many children born in barns are likely to be voted 'Most Likely to Succeed' or are on the 'Fortune 500' list. Yet His birth in the stable will never be forgotten. He entered life surrounded by a cloud of suspicion and disgrace—the son of an unmarried woman. Yet His coming was heralded by the stars. He was openly criticized, hated, and betrayed by a friend's kiss. Then He was crucified, beaten until so bloody that He no longer appeared human.


God's Son took the likeness of Man, and in His death even that likeness was torn away from Him. He became "one from whom men hide their face." (Isaiah 53:3) For what purpose was the One who was called the "Morning Star" and "Prince of Peace" beaten to a pulp?


1 John 4:9:

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."


Because He loves you.


The foreign pastor was beaten brutally for the sake of the gospel. He suffered insults, disgrace, and great physical pain. And yet, he and his family have chosen to remain in his village, despite the persecution that they must face. Right now, they live in constant danger. No obligation ties this pastor to the tribe, and no one would ever blame him if he decided to immigrate to a safer location with his family. After all, how could anyone possibly expect him to love the ones who had cruelly assaulted him?


There can be but one explanation for his decision to stay. This pastor became a missionary because God placed a great love in his heart for the people of his country, and this love has not faded, despite mistreatment at their hands. In a small way, this pastor’s story is a reflection of what God has done for us. The very Son of God suffered so much more. His actions were confusing—even a paradox. The All Powerful God surrendered Himself into the violent hands of those whom He came to save. Such is the love of God.


God loves the world with an intense, passionate love—a love so deep and so pure that we can hardly begin to fathom it. On the day of Jesus' birth, God Himself entered the world—to die. And He did it out of love for you.


C.S. Lewis penned a poem, marveling at this as well:

Love's as hard as nails, Love is nails

Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His.


by Hannah and Lindsey

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Etc.

As my family unwraps Christmas ornaments and tinsel, brushing off eleven-and-a-half months of dust, it becomes time for unwrapping Christmas traditions as well. From my grandma's corn soufflé to the days devoted entirely to making tamales, I've noticed that most of our traditions have something to do with food. Perhaps this has something to do with the great talent for cooking that runs in my family...but probably not. We simply love to eat.

One recipe (that I hope will become a Christmas tradition) has made my mom almost famous this December. Numbers of people have asked for the recipe, but it's actually ridiculously easy. You can try it for yourself:

Mom's De-Classified Chocolate Chip Meringue Recipe

Ingredients

3 eggs
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Whip the three egg whites in a mixing bowl on "high" for about five minutes or until it has the consistency of shaving cream. If you are the type that is brilliant at improvising and improving recipes, do not improvise or add anything to the recipe just yet! It is very necessary for the egg whites to be thoroughly whipped without any other ingredients.

After your egg whites resemble a bowl of shaving cream, add the sugar and vanilla. This is where it gets fun. Dig through your cupboard and add about a cup of anything you wish. From crumbled up peppermint pieces to pecan chunks--all will taste good in these meringues. Personally, I prefer chocolate chips or M&M;'s* because any food tastes better with chocolate.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place dollops of meringue batter on a tray of aluminum foil (I don't recommend a greased cookie sheet, but the very adventurous can try it.) Turn off your oven before baking the meringues or else they will burn. Set the meringues in the warm oven for about 2 hours or until they resemble lightly browned, hardened shaving cream.

The recipe is so easy it's almost embarrassing to post, but believe me, it's delicious.


*This is not a paid advertisement for M&M's. Beauty from the Heart does not endorse M&M's or any of it's affiliates, but we are open to the idea of endorsing them if they pay in chocolate.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Having a Quiet Heart

There was the frantic clanking of pots and pans, the harsh sound of broom bristles against dirt floors and the sweet aroma of hot vegetable stew. The roughness of dirt residing on skin and beads of sweat collecting on one’s brow was visibly apparent. Jesus was here to visit! There was so much to do, in so little time!

In all the chaos of the preparations, there was but one heart that yearned to catch every word that slipped from the Master’s tongue. Determinedly, she fixed her eyes on His gentle face. His countenance was soft, yet strong. Were these eyes truly able to see inside the windows of her soul? His heart, was it able to know every motive behind every action? His hands, were they the same hands that knit and formed her in her mother’s womb? His voice, was it the same voice that spoke worlds into existence and spun stars into the expanse? How could her mind wrap itself around such a revelation of undeniable truth and unfathomable depth? She was left in awe...

Luke 10:38-42As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “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.”

As we can see from this passage, Mary was captivated by her Savior. She was enraptured by His love for her and she yearned to prove her affection in a tangible way. In scripture, it states, “He who has been forgiven much, loves much.” Mary, in an earlier chapter, came to Christ with her alabaster jar. She anointed his feet with her tears of repentance and wiped them with her hair. Since she had been forgiven by her Savior for so many things, she was then able in turn to love more than others who were not forgiven as much.

It has been assumed, by many others, that Mary’s alabaster jar was her dowry. A dowry was something she would give her husband if she were ever to be married. In addition, Jewish women in those days never let their hair down in public. Only on their wedding nights did they show themselves in that manner. Truly, Mary unashamedly exposed herself in the presence of her Lord. She desired Him to understand the genuineness of her adoration. In Mary’s eyes, Christ was the only thing on earth that mattered most to her.

Psalms 73:25-26: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My heart and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forevermore."

Psalms 27:4: "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."

Psalms 16:11: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

Now, on the other hand, Martha was not all wrong in her service to the Lord. Often, life calls us to be busy with responsibilities and to carry out specific duties, whether it is school or work. But scripture clearly states that Martha was “distracted”. How many distractions are set up as pit falls this time of year, with it almost being Christmas? Repeatedly, we fill up our calendars with a considerable amount of “good things” but end up distracting ourselves from what really matters most to the Father, which is a heart ultimately after Him.

Girls, together, let’s learn to keep a quiet heart before the Lord, honoring Him and worshiping Him with reverence and joy in everything we do! What can we do in our own personal lives this Christmas season to pour our love on Jesus?

Alabaster Jar
~Zach Neese
This alabaster jar, is all I have of worth
I break it at you feet Lord, it’s less than you deserve
You’re far more beautiful, more precious than the oil
The sum of my desires, and the fullness of my joy
Like you spilled your blood, I spill my heart
As an offering to my King

Here I am, take me
As an offering
Here I am, giving
Every heartbeat
For your glory
Take me

This time that I have left, is all I have of worth
I lay it at your feet Lord, it’s less than you deserve
And though I’ve little strength, and though my days are few
You gave your life for me, so I will live my life for you
Like you spilled your blood, I spill my heart,
As an offering to my King

Worthy, worthy, you are worthy
Worthy is the Lord

Post writtten by: Stephanie Carrillo and Melanie Smith

*Check out Stephanie's personal blog: www.isaiahgeneration.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Race Update

As of 11:53 CST, Michael Bérubé and Spunkyhomeschool are tied for first place in the Wizbang Blog Awards. Let's try to help her take the lead...

UPDATE: It was a tight race and unofficial results show that Spunky lost by a very narrow margin. Thank you for your participation!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Vote for Spunky!

Many of you may have already heard that my mom, Spunky Homeschool has retired her blog. While this news has been sudden and somewhat disappointing, I think my mom made a good decision. However, just after announcing her retirement, she found out that she was a finalist in the Education blog category in the Wizbang Blog Awards (think the Oscars for blogs). I think the we should send her off with a "bang" by voting for her.

Her two top contenders are very strong supporters of elite education and look down upon the "commoners" who homeschool. IvyGate is a gossip blog of the elite Ivy League Colleges, and the other is a college professor at Penn State. Here's the comment by the Professor on the Ivy Gates blog,

"The important thing is that IvyGate and I crush the homeschoolers."

(There were others, but none were worth repeating.)

This isn't a about a "win" for Spunky Homeschool, but a win for homeschooling and particularly stay-at-home moms. For all these reasons, I'd like to encourage all of our readers, particularly you homeschoolers, to vote for my mom, SpunkyHomeschool. You, your family, friends, e-loops, and message board buddies are allowed to vote once a day until 11:59PM (EST) on December 15th.

To vote for Spunky Homeschool, click here.

Banner courtesy of The Rebelution.

We've been experiencing technical difficulties here at BftH and have been working to fix them (with our limited HTML knowledge.) Things should be okay now--thanks for bearing with us! If you see any problems with the site, break the news to us gently, please, in the form of an email.

UPDATE: The race is getting closer and closer. Be sure to keep voting for Spunky!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Holding Hands - Important or Trivial?

Several Sundays ago, I was peacefully sipping my coffee in Starbucks. The mood was calm and I was looking forward to relaxing...and people watching. I struck luck and before my fifth sip, my ears perked up. A young lady and young man at another table were conversing quite loudly. It was obvious the two were not boyfriend-girlfriend, but mutual friends animatedly discussing relationships. Evidently, this young lady had a boyfriend she liked, but recently he had been doing some things that annoyed her. She didn't know what to do, and naturally, she was gossiping about it to another friend who offered her "advice" in return. But the lady still looked troubled.

She is not alone in her dilemma. All too many young men and women are looking for love and answers in all the wrong places. I'm no expert, but I do know that the only answer is found in Christ and in His Word.

Questions I have found that most young people ask are; "How far is too far?" or "Is kissing before the wedding day bad?" or "is holding hands appropriate?” etc. I don't claim to be a marriage expert, but I have developed some thoughts on these areas from studying what God's Word says. I also check my own findings with my parents, and other authors who have written on the subject. Scripture says, "There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors." This is one area that wise counselors are definitely an asset.

At some point while listening to the friends talk, two thoughts popped into my head. First, I was very thankful that I had handed over my future desires of marriage to the Lord. I never hope be so distraught over a relationship like she was. And secondly, a blog post on
Boundless that caught my eye sometime ago (leave it to me to blog it much later than normal) popped back into my head.

The article itself doesn't have to do with relationships or whether dating or courtship is the way to go; the topic is something small, perhaps trivial to some, but important to me. The topic - holding hands.

Motte Brown, a contributor to Boundless Line, says in
his article regarding this subject,

Though certain kinds of intimate expressions may fall within Paul's instruction to young men in 1 Timothy 5:2 to treat "younger women as sisters, with absolute purity," dating couples should also be concerned about what these expressions mean -- to each other and to those around them.
In a follow up article to this, Ted Slater also shares his thoughts,

She [Ted's then-finace] and I both knew the truth that Motte spoke of -- that holding hands "send[s] the message to a sister that reads, 'You're mine.'" The thing is, Ashleigh and I were courting -- merely exploring whether or not it was the Lord's will for us to be married -- and so she was in fact not yet "mine." And so I felt it inappropriate to communicate that to her by holding her hand.

While I do not plan on dating, I believe that this same principle applies to those who may believe in courtship. While many people may consider Ted a bit off his rocker, I have to agree with him. Holding hands sounds so trivial in our culture, even in the Christian culture. We talk of physically saving ourselves for marriage, we talk of saving our first kiss, but this is just as important. I may sound radical to most, however, I don't plan on holding hands until I'm engaged.

Why?

When one is in a courtship, they are not bound to the other person. Like Ted states, holding hands indicates something. It sends a message to those around me that "he is mine and I am his". The question I have to ask is: do I want to communicate this during courtship? Furthermore, if both the young man and woman feel marriage to each other isn't possible, why would one want to communicate this? Another question one should ask is, "if my future spouse were standing here, would he/she like to see me holding hands with this person?”

Personally, I don't want to do so.

Obviously, I still haven't come to any firm conclusions. My conclusions on such matters have not been refined because I have yet to experience them. However, I do set certain standards that I will abide by. One of which is the fact that I will not hold hands before engagement. Others may disagree with my decision, but I feel that it's worth it.

…And in case you're really wondering, I also plan on saving my first kiss for the marriage altar. But that's a post for another day!

For Discussion:
Do you feel it's appropriate to hold hands during courtship or after engagement?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Embracing Your Field of Singleness

I would like you to be free from concern. For an unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.
1 Corinthians 7:32a, 34

Personally, I am going through a season of struggle. During this time, I had a dream. A dream that in reality opened my eyes to what I had been denying myself of doing.

In my dream, I saw myself standing in front of a young man who was asking me to dance. Our surroundings seemed unfamiliar. The only thing that separated me from grasping his hand was that I was tightly holding onto a basket filled with many different unusual items, things that I can’t seem to remember. Consequently, I was not at the place to allow him to lead me. I had to make a decision. Let go of my basket...or hold onto it. Ultimately, I made the choice to let go and cling to my dance partner.

After I awoke, I wasn’t completely sure of its meaning. It was during one of my quiet times with the Lord that He revealed its meaning to me. I was flipping through the Psalms trying to find one to read when my eyes fell on this sentence: “Their hands were set free from the basket.” This is what I read that morning...I was so amazed at the significance of my dream!

The Lord says,

“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Marimba. Hear, O my people, and I will warn you-if you would but listen to me, O Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god. I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

I was bewildered! The Lord was telling me that He wanted to dance with me. But my problem was that I had an idol in my life--a basket I was tightly holding onto. It was at that moment that I chose to let go of my “foreign god” that I was able to allow the Lord to lead me and take me places where I never dreamed of going.

Thus, I’m now in the process of releasing myself from the tight grip of my basket and making the choice to cling solely to Christ. For me, marriage was my idol. Now I’m coming to realize the blessing of embracing my singleness. I’m learning what it means to marry contentment. Now I know that He has me in this “field” (season of my life) for a reason.

When I think of the “fields” God has each of us in, I think of David. Where did David go after he was anointed King of Israel by Samuel the Prophet? He went back into his field. He chose to remain where God wanted him until the time was right to receive the promise God had whispered to Him.

Girls, the same with us, our focus should not be on the promise of marriage, but ultimately on embracing the field, the mission, the call God has for each of us at present. We are being issued to go out and make a difference! We truly need to learn to find true satisfaction and fulfillment in Christ alone. Girls that is when God will be able to move us from a field to a throne, all in His perfect timing...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Rebelution's Modesty Survey

Introducing: The Rebelution's Modesty Survey

TheRebelution.com has begun a new project: The Modesty Survey. Girls, this survey is your opportunity to anonymously submit questions regarding modesty, and recieve anonymous answers from Christian guys. The following instructions are directly from The Rebelution's post.
GIRLS: How To Submit Your Questions

If you are a girl and would like to submit your question(s) for inclusion in the survey, please email them to the Female Survey Coordinator, Katrina Rowe: jesusfreakatrina[at]yahoo[dot]com. They must be received by Friday, December 15th, to be considered for inclusion in the survey.

You really may submit any question provided that it relates to the topic of modesty. Through the the forum we have already received over one hundred questions ranging from glitter lotion and painted nails to swimsuits and skirt slits.

While not necessary, we also recommend that you register on the forum and join The Attic, our Girls Only area. This will allow you to be directly involved in any discussions which take place in the process of conducting the survey.

GUYS: How To Get Involved

If you are guy and would like to help respond to the girl’s questions please begin by signing up for the forum and joining our Guys Only area: The Garage. The Garage will serve as “brainstorm central” for the male side of The Modesty Survey.

This is an opportunity for you to serve your sisters in Christ. Many girls are without fathers or brothers to advise them in this area. They need input from godly men regarding what is appropriate and what is not. It is not unlikely that this survey will go on to be widely read and carefully referenced.

On the other hand, as Christian young men in a highly sexualized society, this is an opportunity for us to educate Christian women regarding our inner-battle so that they won’t unwittingly contribute to our struggle. If you have ever wanted to tell a girl to go put on a sweater, this is your chance to do so — anonymously.