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Monday, November 10, 2014

Hello peoples! I have been very bad at posting anything on here for the last several months. My bad! Anyway, I thought I would give a recap on some of my older (and more recent) posts.

A while back I wrote a little "essay" titled  "A Wake-up Call." I wrote it because I saw within my own life a lack of Christ-likeness in my relationship with my sister and for the purpose of encouraging older siblings to love and to be an example for their younger siblings. You can read this post here: http://sarahspage17.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-wake-up-call.html

"The Teenage Trap" was what started this whole blogging thing. In it I wanted to communicate the importance of kids and teens respecting their parents. I believe my generation has demonstrated our absence of "the fear of the Lord" by neglecting His commandment to honor our fathers and mothers. You can read "The Teenage Trap" here: http://sarahspage17.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-teenage-trap.html Also check out "The Parent Project" where you can find multiple responses from teenagers to their parents (Some of these responses were from people I didn't even know). http://livingforthewaygll.wordpress.com/the-parent-project/

In one of my more recent posts, "What Is My Ministry," I shared my struggles about finding God's plan for my life and how His plans are not always our plans. But rest assured, His plans are ALWAYS best. http://sarahspage17.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-is-my-ministry.html

Here are a few more:
http://sarahspage17.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-if.html

http://sarahspage17.blogspot.com/2014/05/part-1-life-without-love.html

http://sarahspage17.blogspot.com/2014/05/part-2-love-manifested.html

http://sarahspage17.blogspot.com/2014/05/part-3-living-out-love.html

One last note... If you have a comment, please leave it! I value your opinion, and want to learn from you!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Am Mediocre (Therebelution.com

So good.... From Therebelution.com


I’m not a big fan of the word “mediocre.”

It’s not a term that’s been applied to me very much. When teachers write report cards, they usually put something along the lines of “hard worker” or “attentive student.” Not mediocre.

Another aspect of my un-mediocrity is the fact that people have been calling me “smart” for ages. Why? I usually get A’s and B’s on all my tests and quizzes. I’m used to it.

Or I was.

That little streak was shattered when I recently received a 78 on my math test.

That’s a C. Or a C+, if it’s any consolation to my battered pride.

I think I’m headed down a bad path.

Seriously, for real. When I was doing the test, part of my subconscious mentality was Oh, I’ll do good like I always do. It’s just a thing that’s programmed into my brain. I’ll get a high B or above, and everything will go just the way I like it.

When my teacher told the class that we did kind of bad, I was all, Heh-heh, except for moi. When she handed back the tests, shaking her head, I was all, Heh-heh, except for–WHAT?????

I was supposed to be the good girl! I was supposed to be the one who got a good grade when everybody else did bad! I was supposed to be the girl who made a difference, who was different, who actually did her homework and studied for the test!

To find that underneath all that, you’re not all that different, that you’re actually human *sarcastic gasp* is a real shocker.

And this kind of relates to the bigger picture of what has happened to me.

About a week ago, I worked in the local Little League Snack Shack. I almost clogged a nacho heater full of fluorescent cheese, I spilled a slushie, and I had to be corrected with my change. I had no idea what to do there. My mom offered to help, but I said no, claiming I was too busy. I wanted to be independent.

In a post on my blog about it, I laughed my pathetic mistakes off and said something like “God’s grace abounds.” I thought I was being so spiritual.

The Snack Shack itself wasn’t a big deal — the nacho heater wasn’t maimed permanently, and the people in charge weren’t mad at me or anything — but when I didn’t ask my mom for help during rush hour? I thought I was being “independent.”

My parents didn’t see it that way.

They saw it as pride.

Now that that problem has become more aware to me, I see my pride everywhere. With how I react to people, how I view people, how I see myself.

For a long time, I’ve been telling myself that I’m secure in the knowledge that I’m a writer, I’m a Christian, I’m a good girl. I thought that I was confident in who I am as a person, and just because other people might think that I’m annoying, weird, or socially awkward didn’t mean that I have to pay attention to them.

Get my drift: I look down on people who annoy me, bother me, or think I’m annoying.

Granted, I can’t care too much about what other people think of me — that’s what the social media, celebrities, whositwhatsits are telling everybody: be yourself, no matter what happens or who cares.

But honestly, what I learned? Just because you shouldn’t let other people get you down doesn’t mean you should look down on all human beings that criticize you and mentally call them bozos. Just because you think they’re immature and whatnot doesn’t mean you look down on them.

Because in the end, we’re all sinners. I’m not better than people who tease me and annoy me and think I’m annoying. I’m worse, because I think of them as lower than I am.

In the end, we’re all human. I have flesh and bone and skin and a heart and a head. I am human. Which means I inherit all the qualities of a — i.e., our inherent depravity.

In the end, we all need Jesus. I need Jesus. We all need Him. He’s the only One who can do anything. He’s the only One who can save me.

And without Him, guess what?

I am mediocre.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” — Proverbs 16:18

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The film "Oblivious" is officially out! Check it out and please spread the word!!

http://obliviousfilm.com/

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Quote

No matter what you do, never take yourself too seriously. ~Paul Smith

The Question ( from TheRebelution.com)

http://therebelution.com/blog/2014/06/the-question-what-are-you-going-to-do-when-you-grow-up/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rebelution+%28The+Rebelution%29

"I shift uncomfortably in the back seat as all eyes in the car suddenly turn to me. A quiet giggle lingers on my lips as I play with my hands, struggling for the right words for The Question. Ah yes, The Question.

That Question.

“So Rachel, what would you like to do?”

Every teenager in the car has answered it flawlessly so far, as if they have stood in front of the mirror rehearsing it a dozen times. Of course, there’s the noble and intelligent Doctor. Then there’s the sophisticated and witty Lawyer. And let’s not forget that charming and charismatic Politician-in-the-making.

What do I want to do? What do I want to be? Where do I want to go? I don’t know.

Not only do I not know, I don’t have the slightest idea.

I used to be terrified of The Question. Why couldn’t I be one of the people who seems to “just know,” you know? The idea of that impending unknown slowly catching up to me with every passing day, the concept of The Future, used to paralyze me with fear. I didn’t want to choose, because choosing means committing, and committing means agreeing to the risk of failure.

No, I do not know what I want to be when I grow up, but there are some things I do know. I know that there is a God who knitted me together (Psalm 139:13), knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and for now, asks me to lean not on my own understanding, but rather lean on Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I may not know the exact occupation I want to hold when I grow up, but I know that I want people to know Jesus Christ, the Savior of my soul, and extend to them the love that He has lavished upon me.

A man named Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (imagine having to write that on your papers at school!) once said: “I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.”

My grandmother told me this: “You will be great at whatever you do, but you will be best at what God is calling you to do.”

And right now, God is calling me to love those around me. He is calling me to be the Salt and Light of the earth. He is asking me to seek Him, above school and fun and guys and all of the things that the world portrays as the most important.

To tell you the truth, it is kind of fun not to know. I could be a writer, or an FBI agent, or a missionary. I could be anything. And though that may be a little scary, a lot of the time fear is only being scared of the extraordinary things God can do through ordinary people like us.

So embrace not knowing. Embrace the awkwardness. Embrace The Question. Embrace living in the here and the now.

Trust isn’t built in good weather, but in the storms and the crashing waves. So trust. Trust that you can lean on Christ and that the path will be straight (Proverbs 3:6). He will not lead you to a dead end. Simply put one foot

in front of the other and walk in obedience.

Okay, where was I? Oh, yes, in the car.

So there I sit, among the future Doctors, Lawyers, and Politicians.

And then there’s me, fumbling for words like I am new to the English language. Only three words escape my lips, an unsure yet absolutely certain whisper, “I don’t know.” And as these words saturate the air around me, I can’t help but smile a little. I don’t know, but God does. And that is enough for now."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Is My Ministry?

For all my friends out there who are seeking God's will for their life, I hope this video encourages you as much as it did me. As young people, we want to do something BIG for God. We want to have purpose and meaning. But sometimes we forget that the little things we do for someone else, whether it's doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, sharing an encouraging word with a friend, giving that little hug, or even just listening to someone share their joys or sorrows with you, may have the biggest impact in a person's life. 
For a while now, I have been hoping that God would reveal to me what my BIG purpose is. Is it going overseas on a mission trip? Is it organizing a special group to distribute tracts at different places? Is it organizing or participating in a children's Bible study? If so, when? where? how?! What I didn't think about was what if God wasn't wanting me to be on the "front lines"? What if what God has for me is doing my best, by His strength, to find ways to serve the people that God has placed in my life. It might not be anything that I see the results of here on earth or anything others view as important, but maybe I can make a difference one person at a time. I am learning that sometimes my plans for my life are not necessarily the plans God has for my life. His plan for my life might not be "big" in our terms of BIG, but we can be sure that His plan is the best!
Friends, don't give up! Keep seeking to serve the Lord in all you do! Trust in Him and He will lead you. "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:9-10. Look for ways to bless others today!
 
In case the video doesn't show up, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0Liu6PgHFw#t=191 
 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Joshua Project: Unreached

If you have an iPod or IPhone, check out this app. It shares a little bit about a certain unreached people group each day and how you can pray for them. It also refers you to sites that can help you get involved in getting the Gospel to these people. 

Oh, and it is FREE!!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/unreached-of-the-day/id543797457?mt=8

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Extraordinary Power Of Now

From Therebelution http://therebelution.com/blog/2014/06/the-extraordinary-power-of-now/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rebelution+%28The+Rebelution%29


Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up, and just wonder, “What am I doing with my life”? You sit and wonder if your life matters, and who would miss you if you were gone. You have this big sense of restlessness within you. “Is there more to life than what I am currently living?” “When will my big moment come?” “Will I ever amount to anything?” There has got to be more to life! Right?

This may or may not be you, but I know I have had far too many of these mornings. Despite all of my efforts to have that perfect life I imagine, I am often left wanting more. We can seemingly have everything in our lives that we could ever want and still we will often wonder “IS THIS ALL??”

We wonder, “God, what is my purpose? When will I finally be living it out?” Well, I am not about to try explaining the purpose of life, but I think it is essential for us to gain a new perspective on our NOW — and this is what I want to dive into today.

There are many biblical stories we could reference as we adjust our perspective, but I decided I wanted to use King David as our example. Although none of us will ever be trying to lead a nation as a King, I believe many of us aspire to be something that matters “one day.” We want more for our life, but we’re stuck in a routine that (we feel) is getting us nowhere closer to our potential. We feel that what we are doing today is nowhere in line with what we are supposed to be doing and will leave no impact.

This is where this story comes into play. David is one of the most popular characters in the Bible. We can easily see in history the number of ways that God used David for HUGE things, but we miss the really important parts so often. We miss the diligence and effort He had to put in behind the scene before any of the glory. That’s just it, we marvel at the glory, but we forget about the story.

David had to realize the power of his present situation to ever be prepared for his greater challenges! David wouldn’t have been prepared for Goliath if he hadn’t been faithful with his father’s sheep (FYI, shepherding was looked at as the lowliest of jobs in this time). David would not have been prepared for a king’s court if he hadn’t been faithful in playing his harp for Saul. David would never have been prepared for fighting for his nation if he hadn’t learned to be strategic protecting himself in his many years of hiding.

David had to endure the process of making progress towards his potential. Yet each time one of these challenges arose, he maximized the potential he had which set him up for greater potential for his future.

So you want to be great? That starts today. It starts NOW. And it comes in two forms.

1) Maximize the moments

This starts when we realize that from the moment we wake up to the moment we are asleep, we have thousands of opportunities to be great. These are the little opportunities no one looks at as greatness. It’s the hug you give, the dishes you put away, the bathroom you clean, the friend you write a note to, the homework you complete well, the practice you give everything at, etc.

So I need you to get this. We miss that greatness lies in the little moments of life! We look for a grand magical purpose in our future and miss everything that is truly great in our life. We miss that our potential is found in the process of making progress. This is our issue! We strive for our grand purpose of our potential but overlook the impact of the process of progress. This is one of the essentials of being great.

2) Invest in your deposit

You have gifts, talents, and abilities. You have these for a reason. Invest in them. Do you play an instrument, play a sport, or perform? Are you a good listener, good with finances, or great with kids? God gave you these things as a deposit, so invest in them! Maximize them!

We must realize something about being great. It is the things that no one sees that produce the results everyone wants. The people who inspire us to be great did not just appear over night. They had to develop their deposit with diligence. They learned to steward their gifts in the “NOW” — completely changing the trajectory of their potential. Their greatness came from their daily grind.

The world needs people who can take what they’ve been given and maximize that deposit through investing in it. Be YOUR best. This will make you great.

These are both things you can do right now! And that is why NOW is so critical.

You can keep sitting and waiting on that new opportunity to arrive, or for your dream to come true. But if you aren’t maximizing NOW your deposit will be scarce when the doors do open. Your deposit won’t be stimulated enough from your investments to be able to carry you into your bigger opportunities to come.

You may not see the actual purpose of your current situation, but if you see that it HAS a purpose, you will keep from selling yourself short of your potential.

Don’t overlook the power of now.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Listen up!

Teens can be the most energetic, the most passionate, the most powerful people group in the Body of Christ.
And Satan knows it...

I’m done watching kids go over the edge. I’m done watching hearts break. I’m done playing tea party in a war zone. Parents, pray for your kids! The Enemy is after them, not just so he can get to them, but so he can get to you!
When I was little one of my favorite movies was Pixar’s “The Incredibles.” It’s still one of the best animated films of all time in my mind. There is a line in that movie that hits home with me. As Mrs. Incredible is describing the enemy to her kids she warns them, “He won’t exercise restraint because you’re children. He will kill you if he gets the chance. Do not give him that chance.”
Let me tell you something. You are powerful. You are not destined for mediocrity. You have all that you need for life and godliness. You were meant to change the world. You were meant for so much! Don’t be deceived. Don’t let this culture lie and tell you that people are fine one day and snap the next. That’s not how it works. It’s a choice. It’s a decision. And it starts right now.
Read the rest at http://therebelution.com/blog/2014/06/teenagers-are-pathetic/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rebelution+%28The+Rebelution%29
 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

THE TRUTH ABOUT IDOLATRY

By Leslie Ludy

"I used to believe that all idols were golden statues in ornate temples and that as long as I wasn’t bowing to them, I didn’t have idolatry in my life.  But as I’ve studied Scripture and grown deeper in my relationship with Christ, I’ve realized that an idol is not just a statute. Rather, an idol is anything or anyone that takes a higher position than Jesus Christ in my heart and life; anything that claims more of my devotion and affection than Him. Our God is a jealous God, and He wants our entire heart - not just part of it. (See Ex 20:5)  He says, “I am the Lord, that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols (Ex 42:8) and, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only” (Luke 4:8).

Idolatry divides our heart from Christ.  Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other…” When we have idolatry in our life, we may say (or even believe) that Jesus Christ has our whole heart, but in reality we place our hopes and affections around pursuits outside of Him  (i.e. health, money, romance, etc). Scripture is very clear - when we become slaves to our appetites, our financial goals, our romantic pursuits, our popularity, our comforts, or anything else, we cannot be the servants of Christ.

How often do we stand in a worship service and sing songs like, “You are my All in All” while our minds are consumed with thoughts of a relationship or a career opportunity? How often is our identity far more wrapped up in our popularity, achievements, or possessions than in the simple, glorious reality that we are daughters of the King? How often do we think, “If I could only (get married, make more money, lose weight, have more friends, do something exciting, etc) THEN I would be happy, and I would make Jesus my number one focus!” So we spend our prayer times asking God to give us the desires of our heart, all the while forgetting that He should always be the chief desire of our heart.

Idolatry can sneak into our lives in a variety of ways. When the gaze of our soul does not remain singularly fixed upon Jesus Christ, good desires (such as taking care of our bodies, waiting for a godly spouse, or cultivating friendships) can morph into unhealthy preoccupations before we even realize what has happened. A simple intention to eat right can turn into a fixation with health; a God-given longing for marriage can become an obsessive need to find a guy; and a healthy desire for friendship can become a fettish for approval and popularity. Often, the biggest threats to seeking Christ with an undivided heart are not obviously sinful things, but good and God-given desires that subtly start to claim too much of our focus and affection.

So can you know when something has become an idol in your life?  Here are some of the most common warning signs:

1)  You can’t imagine giving it up (i.e. “if I don’t eat health food, I’ll surely die an early death!” or “if I can’t listen to my favorite music everyday, I’ll be miserable and depressed!” or “if I don’t get married, life won’t be worth living!”)

2)  You spend more time and energy on that area than you do on Jesus Christ. For instance, maybe you spend eight hours each week on movies or social media, but only ten minutes in prayer or in studying God’s Word. Or maybe you invest the majority of your time and energy into a relationship (or the pursuit of one) and have very little left over to spend time seeking Christ or sharing Him with others. As much as we don’t like to admit it, the areas that claim the majority of our spare time are usually the areas that have the biggest hold upon our hearts.

3)  You find more delight and happiness in that area of your life than you do in your relationship with Christ. Remember, it’s not wrong if earthly things bring us comfort or happiness at a certain level, but Jesus must always remain our source of deepest satisfaction. A great way to determine whether you are truly finding your fulfillment in Christ is to ask yourself the question, “if this  area of my life (relationship, pursuit, money, possession, etc) was suddenly stripped away from me, would Jesus be enough?”

Countless Christians through the ages (and today in persecuted countries around the world) have made astounding personal sacrifices, even giving up their very lives, in order to put Jesus first. If these men and women are willing to give up everything in order to serve only one Master - Jesus Christ - can we not do the same? If we are not cultivating an undivided heart toward Christright now in areas such as food, money, and romance, how can we expect to keep our gaze fixed upon Him when greater trials and sufferings come?

Let us echo the prayer of the Psalmist who prayed,“Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Truly, He is worthy of our whole heart!" 

http://setapartgirl.com/devotional/05-7-14/truth-about-idolatry

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Part 3: Living Out Love

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11


As Jesus was on the cross, people continued to mock Him saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, 'I am the Son of God." (Matthew 27:42-43) But Jesus, after they crucified Him, prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) Are we this quick to forgive those who have wronged us?

Technically, we were among those who cried out "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" We might never have said those exact words, but how many times do we deny Christ by our actions, thoughts, and motives each day? But God did the unthinkable for us: Romans 5:6-8 says, "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 

So how can we as sinners saved by the grace and mercy of God continue to live as though we have not? When someone ridicules us or treats us unfairly, what do we do? We do unto them as they did unto us. People, I am pretty sure that what Jesus went through was not at all fair. That should have been you and me on that cross! Yet we can whine and moan and complain because someone else was treated with more respect or given more than we were?!

How different does this say we are from the world? Didn't Jesus say that people will know that we are His disciples by how we love one another? Are we not to love with the same love which Jesus has lavished upon us (John 13:34-35)?  G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “It is crucified man that can preach the cross.  Said Thomas ‘except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails…I will not believe.’…what Thomas said of Christ, the world is saying about the church.  And the world is also saying to every preacher:  Unless I see in your hands the print of the nails, I will not believe.  It is true.  It is the man…who has died with Christ…that can preach the cross of Christ.” People are watching us. What are we saying through our lives- through how we love? Are we being true witnesses of the Gospel or are we giving a wrong impression?

Peter gives an excellent explanation of how and why our lives ought to follow the example of Christ in 1 Peter 2:18-25. "Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." 

Brothers and sisters, I am not saying that it is easy to love others the way Christ loved us. And I by no means have even come close to understanding and applying this to my own life, BUT this is what we should strive for. We have been given too much to neglect it, and I believe that if we focus on the greatness of Christ's love for us that He will graciously empower us to love like Him.

Christ-like love is unfading. That kind of love NEVER fails, because it is not about how good we are today or how bad we are tomorrow. I don't know about you, but I want to love like that.

Lord, help us to understand the magnitude of Your love for us so that we may love others in the same way in order to give them the hope of the Greatest Love Story Of All Time.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Part 2: Love Manifested

Our solution to this problem is in Jesus Christ - God's love manifested. God stepped down from Heaven and became a man, the Man Jesus Christ. He was born in a humble manger (a feeding trough). He lived a selfless life of service and compassion. He loved God the Father with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength, fulfilling all the law and standards of God. Once the appointed time had come, Jesus was beaten, flogged, ridiculed, and crucified. He took our sin upon Himself. This caused God the Father to turn His face away from Jesus and pour out all His wrath on Him because of our sin. For the first time, Jesus felt what it was like for His fellowship with the Creator to be broken, and it was excruciating. Yet, Jesus did this willingly because of His great love for us. The Bible says, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. We can now be legally justified and forgiven because our sin has been paid for by the blood of Christ. He is our substitute!

That is not the end though... Three days after Jesus died, God raised Him from the dead! Now He sits at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us. And one day He will come back to take us to Heaven where we will worship Him forever!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Part 1: Life Without Love

What you are about to read may shock some of you, but it is essential if we are to understand the magnitude of what is truly the Greatest Love Story Of All Time. 

Right after God created the heavens and the earth, He created man in His own image. God put Adam and Eve (the first man and woman) in the garden of Eden, and He gave them access to every tree in the garden of Eden except for one tree: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now up to this point in time, Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with the Creator of the universe. But one day, the devil came disguised as a serpent and deceived Eve. She took the fruit of the forbidden tree and ate it. She also gave some to Adam who ate it as well. Then God came to them and talked with them about what they had done. As a result of their disobedience He made them leave the garden and their perfect relationship with their Creator was broken.

You might be wondering why such harsh punishment for eating some fruit? What is the big deal? But you see, it is not just about them eating the fruit. There was a deeper heart issue behind their disobedience. When they ate that fruit, they were rebelling against their Creator. Apparently the mere satisfaction of a moment was more appealing to them than perfect fellowship with God, the One who created them. 

I heard a preacher once who described disobedience as the creation pointing his or her finger at the Creator and saying, "No, I will not obey You!" So, it doesn't matter how small we view the sin; all types of sin are a direct disobedience to the Creator of the universe and that is the highest offense!

All of us as human beings are from Adam. Therefore we have inherited the sinful nature that came from him. The Bible says that we were born into sin and that we come out of the womb as sinners. Psalm 51:5. It is our nature to sin. We are full of envy, murder (see Matthew 5), strife, deceit, malice, idolatry, and all kinds of selfishness (just to name a few). And the wages of sin is death, hell, and eternal separation from God. (Rom. 6:23, Matt. 5:29, Isaiah 59:2)

Maybe you understand that you have sinned against God, but "Hey, that's ok because God will just forgive you, right?" Wrong. Not only is God a forgiving God, but He is also a holy and just God. Therefore He cannot let sin slide or He wouldn't be just anymore. And because He is holy, He cannot even look upon sin, much less condone it (Habakkuk 1:13). Sin has to be punished!

This is a serious problem for all of us!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Greatest Love Story Of All Time

 
Join me this weekend in a three part series on The Greatest Love Story Of All Time. The first part of this series sets the stage for the other two parts. In the second part, we will see the love manifested. And finally, the third part will hopefully leave us with a challenge in how we are to live out what is truly The Greatest Love Story Of All Time.
 
 

Friday, May 9, 2014

What if?

I try to read my Bible every day but if I were honest, I would have to say that there are times they are just words on a page. Sure, here and there a verse might capture my attention, bringing conviction, encouragement, or joy. But I read so much to retain so little.

I was listening to a pastor by the name of Dr. Elias Medeiros last night. During his sermon he went on to tell the story of Joseph in his own words. As he started to report the story to us, he interrupted himself and said, "I am just going to read it so that you may be convicted!" That statement made me think: What if every time we read the Scriptures there was conviction - whether conviction for repentance or a renewed passion for Christ?

In one of my recent posts, I shared the Scripture about the generation that seeks God. What if all of us would truly let God speak to us when we read His Word? What if every time we came away from God's Word we had a renewed passion for Him and acted upon it? If we did this, I believe that Christ, through us, would turn our communities upside down. But that starts with me. That starts with you. 

I would encourage you all to read this blog post by Mitchell Bontrager. In it, Mitchell talks about how "hungering and thirsting for righteousness" doesn't come over night. We have to develop an appetite for it. http://mitchellbontrager.blogspot.com/2014/05/why-be-faithful-reason-1.html?m=1

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Let's Be That Generation

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah ~ Psalm 24:3-6

Let's be that generation!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

John Paton And His Father

“My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. For the last half mile or so we walked on together in almost unbroken silence - my father, as was often his custom, carrying hat in hand, while his long flowing yellow hair (then yellow, but in later years white as snow) streamed like a girl's down his shoulders. His lips kept moving in silent prayers for me; and his tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain! We halted on reaching the appointed parting place; he grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly and affectionately said: "God bless you, my son! Your father's God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!"
Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted. I ran off as fast as I could; and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him - gazing after me. Waving my hat in adieu, I rounded the corner and out of sight in instant. But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for time. Then, rising up cautiously, I climbed the dike to see if he yet stood where I had left him; and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dike and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he gazed eagerly in my direction for a while he got down, set his face toward home, and began to return - his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me. I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as he had given me.” ~ John Paton (Pages 25-26) 

Check out more at
http://kevinivy.blogspot.com/2014/05/quotes-and-notes-from-autobiography-of.html?m=1

The Cheerleader

The Cheerleader

I’ve never really been afraid of tornadoes. You see, I’m an Arkansas girl, born and raised. I remember the thrilling nights as a kid when my mother pulled us from our beds and we’d spend what seemed like all night giggling under a mattress in the hall with flashlights and teddy bears. It was fun.
And I’ve seen the aftermath, the piles of rubble, the death counts on the news. But you see, I’m an optimist. And all these things I have seen from an emotional distance. So the prevailing theme to them all is the hope that humans are able to cling to, the stories of survival. So I’ve never really been afraid of tornadoes.
So on Sunday, April 27, when the weather man said the forecast was a mix for disaster, we decided we’d go ahead with our move to Vilonia anyway. We already had the UHaul. The house was in boxes. The helping hands had signed up. Our new house has a concrete basement. We’ll be safe, we thought.
We were.
While 20 people ate hot dogs and potato salad in the basement, the wall cloud blew over our mountain to the valley beyond it. The TV showed the eye of the storm directly over Cody Ln. And I stood on the front porch and saw the sucking black sky twirl in the distance. And for the first time that day, a fear swelled up because I knew that street. Because I’d traveled over the mountain just days before to that street. I’d stood in a house with a red door with my precious friend April, while our sons played in the yard. I’d marveled at her garden patch and seedlings and thought how much I loved her when she’d showed me her Hobby Lobby project, letters that spelled “Smith” above the door jam. “I spaced them out,” she said, “because I didn’t want to copy you.”
I couldn’t reach her. The storm had moved on but she wasn’t answering. We prayed for them as the minutes passed. Five, then ten, then the rain stopped and the sky stilled. But she didn’t answer my calls. “Call Daniel,” I told Miah. But he grabbed the keys instead. He and Jud got in the truck and left. I don’t know….I think he knew somehow. The way he was praying…it was different. He wasn’t asking for safety but for peace and I found it odd. I was afraid.
Time passed. He should have been there but the phone kept reaching voicemail. She wasn’t answering and now he wasn’t either. The group of guys that had been unloading our Uhaul left to go help. My texts to him grew in desperation.
Did it hit them?
Are they ok?
Honey, are they ok?
Please tell me if it hit them.
Please tell me they are ok.
Are they hurt?
Are they alive?
Miah, please tell me they are alive.
And then he responded. “I can’t.”
A blur. Calls to our pastor’s wife. Praying. Crying. And then another message “April and Daniel are alive right now but the boys are gone, honey”.
I don’t know what else happened for a while. My face was on the floor and my sister was there hugging me. Stephanie and I, both mothers, both friends of April, wailed. And only one prayer, a prayer more desperate than any I have ever prayed in my life, left my lips. “God, please, not this for her.”
It’s been a long couple of days. Little sleep. Lots of calls and messages. A group of men from the church went to the site and gathered what they could of the Smiths’ belongings. The house is completely gone.



Back in the fall, April and Daniel were still living in Sherwood. They received a 30 day notice that they needed to move so the owner of their home could sell it. She started to worry but in true April-fashion, she said “I know God will provide”. Just a week or so later she told me about the house they had found in Vilonia, about how perfect it was. The owners wanted to work with them to get them in it. It was just. so. perfect. It even had the red front door she had always wanted.
So, you see, I was angry. Because I knew God put them in that house. And it was no act of violence or human mistake that took their sons’ lives. It was an EF4 tornado, a mile wide, and it sucked everything that seemed so perfect off the foundation that God had given. I was SO angry.
I’ve always called her the cheerleader. Because she was one once, in a pom poms and pyramids sense, but because she still is now, in a bible and faith sense. She is who I call when my faith is stretched. And every time I hang up the phone, I’ve been reminded of how big and how good and how strong my God is.
I spent these angry couple of days questioning why God would take those boys and why he would take the best cheerleader he had. Because who could still cheer for their God after this?
The thing is though, my faith is not April’s faith. It never has been.
Last night, we walked in the hospital room to see her. While Jeremiah and I held her hands and kissed her face, she wept. She had questions about that night. She had heard that Jeremiah found the boys and she told him she was comforted it was him because she knew he would have prayed over them. We all cried. A wise, young friend of ours sent us a message of encouragement yesterday that we were able to share with April.

She shared the following scriptures:

Isaiah 55: 8-11
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavensand stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Jeremiah shared with her what a comfort it was for him to think that everyone is here for a purpose, for God’s purpose not for our own fulfillment. And when their purpose is reached, they GET to go home. He repeated Taylor’s words to her, “How incredible it was that Tyler and Cameron were able to serve their purpose in such a short time, when it takes some people 100 years”. I told her how angry I had been, grappling with the truth that this was allowed, arranged even.
And my beautiful friend, my cheerleader, laid in the hospital bed with her broken legs and battered, beautiful face and held my hands and told me not to be angry because her God is good. She knew that her sons had fulfilled their purpose in life and that they were with the father now. Tyler has always talked about heaven. About how he can’t wait to get there. She said she thought it was because he heard them saying how wonderful it would be…some day. But he looked at her Sunday afternoon, before the storm, and told her he was ready to go to heaven. “Will you miss me?” he asked her. “Well yes,” she said, “but let’s not talk like that now.” “How long will you miss me?” he persisted. And she just smiled and said, “I guess until I see you again.”
“I have peace,” she told me last night through her tears, “I know I have more pain to go through that I probably can understand. But I have supernatural peace. I don’t know what God has for me and my husband that our boys couldn’t be here for, but I do know that He is good. His plan is good.”
I don’t understand this kind of faith. Because I think every parent who has heard this story since Sunday has wondered, “How do you live through that?”
For those of you who have been worried about April and Daniel, worried that they would not be the same, that they could not carry on past this loss, please don’t worry any more. I have seen her hope. It is anchored in eternity. It is the kind of hope that saves people. And that’s not just the optimist in me talking. For those of you wondering how a mother could serve a God that might allow this, understand that Tyler and Cameron knew Jesus. Just a couple of weeks ago, they led a friend to Christ. They aren’t over. Their story hasn’t reached the end. They aren’t even really gone. They’ve just moved for now. And we will miss them. Like April told Tyler on his last day on earth, we will miss them until we see them again, April and Daniel more than any of us.
While none of us understand it, we must take up her lead and know that even still, God is good. And we must understand that while we may love these boys, God loves them infinitely more. He loves them perfectly. And with his knowledge of the lives and futures of the Smiths, God took them home.
But he left their mom and dad. Somehow, though every bit of that house was ripped from the foundation, April and Daniel will live. They will tell this story and honor Tyler and Cameron’s lives. Masses of people will know Jesus because of this story. Because we cannot fathom this strength.
When I left the hospital last night, I just cried and thought “She is so strong. She is so faithful. She is so selfless. She is so beautiful”. And it hit me. April is all of these things because she allows herself, even in the midst of this tragedy, to be a reflection of our strong, faithful, selfless, beautiful Savior.
They are greatly broken. But they will mend. They haven’t fulfilled what God has for them yet. But they will. Because while she could be angry, and she may be at some point, she is holding tight to the only thing she has left:
The truth that GOD IS GOOD. ALL THE TIME.

I asked her if I could take her photo, so she could have it later when she told her story.
She told me to show you all now. And to tell you… her God can overcome even this. 

My friend. Who remains the most beautiful woman I know.
April, the cheerleader.

http://thehodgepodgedarling.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-cheerleader.html?m=1

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Praise The Lord

Let these words just sink in...

"I come broken to be mended. I come wounded to be healed. I come desperate to be rescued. I come empty to be filled. I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb. And I'm welcomed with open arms, praise God, just as I am." ~ Just As I Am ( I Come Broken)

Praise The Lord that we don't have to have it "all together"! Praise The Lord that  "at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Are You Born Again?

Are You Born Again? 

by J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)


Are you born again? This is one of life's most important questions. Jesus Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

It is not enough to reply, "I belong to the church; I suppose I'm a Christian." Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us—many listed in the First Epistle of John.

First of all, John wrote: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (I John 3:9). "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not" (5:18).

A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it even a matter of indifference to him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.

If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (I John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appealing in both his words and his actions. He knows that "in many things we offend all" (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Second, John wrote: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (I John 5:1).

A man who is born again, or regenerated, believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon his soul, that He is the divine person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and beside Him there is no Saviour at all. In himself he sees nothing but unworthiness. But he has full confidence in Christ, and trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven. He believes that, because he has accepted Christ's finished work and death on the cross, he is considered righteous in God's sight, and he may look forward to death and judgment without alarm.

He may have fears and doubts. He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all. But ask him if he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say. Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness, his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church, and listen to his reply. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Third, John wrote: "Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him" (I John 2:29).

The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God's will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example as well as his Saviour and to prove himself to be Christ's friend by doing whatever He commands. He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence.

Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether or not he is a Christian at all, he will be able to say with John Newton, "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am." What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fourth, John wrote: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (I John 3:14).

A man who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Saviour, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company.

He feels they are all members of the same family. They are his fellow soldiers, fighting against the same enemy. They are his fellow travelers, journeying along the same road. He understands them, and they understand him. They may be very different from himself in many ways—in rank, in station and in wealth. But that does not matter. They are his Father's sons and daughters and he cannot help loving them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fifth, John wrote: "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (I John 5:4).

A man who is born again does not use the world's opinion as his standard of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the world's ways, ideas and customs. What men think or say no longer concerns him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which seem to bring happiness to most people. To him they seem foolish and unworthy of an immortal being.

He loves God's praise more than man's praise. He fears offending God more than offending man. It is unimportant to him whether he is blamed or praised; his first aim is to please God. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Sixth, John wrote: "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself' (I John 5:18).

A man who is born again is careful of his own soul. He tries not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He knows that evil communications corrupt the heart and that evil is more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitable.

He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy country—to wear his armor continually and to be prepared for temptation. He is diligent to be watchful, humble, prayerful man. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

These are the six great marks of a born again Christian.

There is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks in different people. In some they are faint and hardly noticeable. In others they are bold, plain and unmistakable, so anyone may read them. Some of these marks are more visible than others in each individual. Seldom are all equally evident in any one person.

But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted six marks of being born of God.

How should we react to these things? We can logically come to only one conclusion—only those who are born again have these six characteristics, and those who do not have these marks are not born again. This seems to be the conclusion to which the apostle intended us to come. Do you have these characteristics? Are you born again? 

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "J. C. Ryle Collection" by:

Tony Capoccia

Bible Bulletin Board 

Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Our websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com 
Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986

Monday, April 21, 2014

No Ordinary Holiday Reminder

Hey, hey! Check out this awesome blog post! http://branchlimb.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-challenge.html?showComment=1398130549577&m=1

Friday, April 11, 2014

The New Pastor

"Pastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured above) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to his newly assigned church where he was to be introduced as the head pastor that morning.

He walked around this larger church for about 30 minutes while it was filling with people forSunday morning service... Only 3 people said hello to him. 

He asked people for change to buy food... NOT ONE person gave him change. They turned away or said that they didn’t have any change… even though they had more than enough change for the coffee donation bucket.

He went into the sanctuary where he sat down in the front of the church. Shortly thereafter two ushers approached him and asked that he move to the back of the sanctuary. He obeyed, and as he walked to the back row, he quietly said hello with a warm smile to the people also sitting in the sanctuary. The greeting returned was stares and dirty looks. He felt that uncomfortable feeling of people looking down on him and judging him. As he sat in the back of the church, the service began. He listened to the church announcements and such. 

When all that was done, the elders walked to the front alter... They were excited to introduce the new pastor. They were advised that the new pastor would be sitting with the congregation.The only elder who was in on this experiment announced, "We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek!” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up… he began walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him as he walked the altar. The elder who knew what was going on handed the microphone to the new Pastor. 

While holding the microphone, the Pastor looked down as he paused for a moment. Then he looked up and quietly recited, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’… he paused as he looked over the congregation. 

The Pastor continued, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Members were shocked, some began to cry… many heads were bowed in shame. He continued by stating, “Today I see a gathering of people, but I do not see a church that represents the teachings of Jesus Christ. The world has more than enough people. We need more Christian disciples. My question to you this morning, when will YOU decide to become a disciple?” He then dismissed the service. 

Far too many people do NOT understand that being a Christian is so much more than something you claim... It’s something you live by… it's compassion... it’s something you kindly share with others."