May 31, 2007

My apologies

Since I publicly rebuked someone, intending it to be for their own good, I must also apologize publicly since it did not come off in a way of love. So Sillie Lizzie, I am sorry. Honestly, I am. I didn't think I would make you so angry. So I'm going to try again, in love, to comprehend to you what I was meaning by my comment:

My comment (which now I see has been erased) was in reference to this picture and caption:

"Finally, I have found the perfect WANTED poster for the "gay marriage" between the ENEMY WITHIN and the ENEMY WITHOUT. May they live unhappily ever after, or repent of their political,moral, and spiritual idolatry."

While I think it's a very witty and funny comment, it seems very...cruel. At least, from my stand point. However true it may be, it is not a loving way to convict another person of their sin. Homosexuality is sinful. It is wrong. But imagine as a gay man or woman, to see another Christian who supposedly possesses Christ in their hearts, walking around with that picture on a sign. What sort of light does that show of Christ? How do they see that they need to repent of homosexuality by being mocked?

It seems to me, that very often we forget our former state. We were once lying, murdering, stealing, adulterous filthy whores in the sight of God. The only reason we didn't drop into hell as we deserved was because of His awesome grace and mercy....that reason being Christ.

We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of worldly mocking, as well as hypocritical judgments. This picture of Rosie should not make us hate her, or hate homosexuals, laugh at her or other homosexuals, nor should we feel angry toward her or other homosexuals. Her sins should cause us to desperately pray that Christ reveals Himself to her, for the sake of His glory and excellence. It should cause us to pity her, remembering what we've been saved from. If anything, it should bring us closer to the cross.

If you still think I am being unloving Sillie Lizzie, then I at least pray you'll forgive my inadequacy to display the correct love of Christ to you. Hey, at least I linked you. That's another 3 views from my page :)


Samantha (Ephesians 4:29)

May 30, 2007

An illustration

An interesting parallel, isn't it? This is something our Pastor illustrated to us on Sunday. (The passage on the cross is Exodus 34:6-7)

We know that God is Just, yet we know He is forgiving, merciful, patient, kind, loving.....

He cannot overlook our sins, which is why He so graciously sent His Son to us to die in our place.
Romans 5:8 "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly."

May 29, 2007

All other ground is sinking sand

I have felt undeserving of God's mercy these past two weeks. Why would God want to hear my pleas, when I've been sinning against Him so grievously? Trying to repent of lust and greed and could I possibly think that God would allow me to approach His mercy seat?

I didn't want to read my bible. I didn't want to pray. I didn't want to go to church or try this "Christianity" thing any longer. "It's just too hard!" I thought. I looked at other Christians and thought, "I'm not like them. I don't have the strength to fight these sins any longer."

And just as I was ready to give up, I heard Sunday's sermon, where God shattered my heart. The Gospel. The Gospel! How easily I forgot. I remembered that I couldn't do anything to make myself right with God. That was the work of Christ on the cross. I couldn't be perfect, that is why Christ had to come. My righteousness was filthy and ragged, which is why I needed Christ's righteousness applied to mine.

It is so easy to be deceived, isn't it? We say we do not believe in works-righteousness, but we walk around feeling guilty when we feel like we've sinned more than we usually do. Should we not feel just as wretched by telling one lie, than telling four? Our understanding of sin needs to be cross-centered. The realities of it is that every single sin is against Christ. When we sin, it reminds us of why we need a Savior. And while it may be easy to feel guilty and mope around, we need to remember that when we are saved, every sin....past, present and future has been forgiven. We now have the ability to live for Him! We can immediately confess our sins and turn back to Him! We are now always forgiven, always accepted....not by our own doing, but by His!

Isn't that amazing?

Always Forgiven: JonRyan

I don’t deserve to be Your servant
And how much less to be Your child
Anger and wrath, sure condemnation
Should be my portion, my just reward
Never have seen it, never will know it
Your loving kindness enfolds my life

All You have shown me is
Grace, love and mercy
Now and forever I am Your child
Freely You pour out
Your loving kindness
Father of grace
You welcome me in

All of the sin I have committed
Was placed upon Your righteous Son
And now You see me through His perfection
As if I’d never done any wrong
Always forgiven, always accepted
No fear of judgment before Your throne

May 23, 2007

I have a confession

I've been struggling with lust. The trouble with this sin is that it is one that has haunted me for some time, and it deceives me more than any other sin I've faced. I remember when I was first converted, I would barely drive up to the church and suddenly my thoughts would become great iniquities. I try to "take captive" these thoughts, but I'm not really sure what that even means. I wish I could just physically grab them and burn them in unquenchable fire for all eternity.

All of our sins are deceitful. The flesh cries out for them. My flesh enjoys lusting, but my nature in Christ hates it. The only comfort is knowing that I am battling the temptations to lust, rather than sit and enjoy my thoughts.
Remember that part in the last movie of Lord of the Rings, when Frodo is about to throw the ring into the fire, but then the temptation to keep it starts to overcome him? We wonder, "After all he's been through, how could fail now?" And I wonder that same thought myself. After all that Christ has redeemed me for, how can I so easily fall? How can I so easily decide to desire my sin more than Christ?

The only thing that is getting me through this trial is constant confession. But I'm starting to feel that overcoming this sin is hopeless. I'm opening my comments back up for any insight on how to battle this sin. Of course, I've been praying about it, but I know that God has a way of answering prayers through the brethren. So if you have any wisdom, please do share.

May 22, 2007

Rejoice in Him even when you don’t feel like it

We are called to pray to God.

"Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; lift up your hands to Him.” Lamentations 2:18-20

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thess 5:16-18)

Rejoice in Him even when you don’t feel like it.

Prayer is our response to God as He communicates to us in His Word and in our circumstances. Just as talking and sharing things with a close friend is key to deepening the friendship, so is talking to God in prayer. It is the divine vehicle for communing with the living God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8)
Prayer is our opportunity to pour our hearts out to God. Go through yesterday’s conversations and occurrences. We know that God orchestrates every detail, event, conversation. Things don’t just accidentally happen to you. The Lord is always working on our behalf. And what He is working out? He is designing everything in our day to transform us to look more and more like Himself and to bring about His fame.

Prayer expresses a spirit of neediness for God. But in His wisdom, there are times when He sends humbling circumstances due to our spirit of independence. He knows what we need to be humbled and what we need to be made aware of our independent spirit. A spirit that acts independently of Him doesn’t see the need to pray and call out to God. This spirit of independence is something the Lord hates. We see this in Psalm 53:4, “Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge, who eat up My people as though they ate bread and have not called upon God?” These people who have “not called upon God” are called “workers of wickedness.” This is also seen in Psalm 52:7, “Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and was strong in his evil desire." This kind of independent spirit says, “I don’t need you God. I don’t need you to be my refuge. I can handle this on my own. I don’t want to need you. I want to be self sufficient. Praying about everything, though, is the opposite of an independent spirit. It says, “I need you God. I am not complete in myself. You have the power to change things.”

Lay it all before Him in prayer

We can rejoice that God has perfect knowledge of each of us already. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Even if try to pretend that something isn’t bothering us or avoid the discussion of a painful topic, our hearts are already laid bare before Him. Hebrews 4:12-13 says that, “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Since He already knows us, we ought to lay it all before Him in our prayers. Talk to Him about everything throughout your day. Did you think a terrible thought? Don’t stop at telling yourself, “don’t think that horrid thing!” Talk about it with the Lord. “Father, what are you showing me about what is in my heart? I feel awful that those kinds of thoughts are even in my heart. Thank you for showing me how wicked I really am. You only are my good. I am prone to wander from You. Please rescue me from my own ugliness and cleanse me.” You might think, why should I bother saying it to the Lord if He already knows what I’m thinking? Well it helps you as you verbalize it to the Lord. Just like He already knows if our hearts are praising Him but He commands us to declare His wonders, to tell and speak His praises. We see this in Psalm 9:1, “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.”

Talk to the Lord about the circumstances that took place today or yesterday. “Lord what are you showing me about myself through the painful conversation. Or that disappointing scenario? I know You are sovereign over every detail. You wanted me to have to go through that. What do I need to see? In the book of Exodus, the Lord reveals His purpose for His people in allowing them to struggle--that they would know what is in their hearts. As you live your life talking to the Lord about everything and ask Him to communicate with you through the events that He orchestrates in your life, You will experience a real friendship with the Lord.

“Pouring out my heart to God in prayer is like taking the garbage out. I can pour all my disappointments and concerns and hopes into Him and leave no stone unturned, no opportunity for some unnoticed sin to fester. As we pour out our hearts to God, we need to stay there until we sincerely and genuinely make ourselves known to God. He already knows it all, but He calls us to come to Him with everything as a child.
This is what the psalmists did. Consider Psalm 88. There is no hope proclaimed at the close of the prayer. It is just an honest outpouring of the heart. God lets us do this. Though we shouldn’t stay angry and discontented, we need to keep praying prayers of surrender, begging Him to change our hearts, telling Him our honest responses. The Puritans said it this way: “Pray until you pray.” Stay there in prayer until you have really prayed.” (The Battle for Joy. Glenn, Gayle p 22)

Our adultery, God's faithfulness

Ezekiel 36

Again the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.

"And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.

"When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.

"But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you--I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey--you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord GOD. And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them? And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.

"And after all your wickedness (woe, woe to you! declares the Lord GOD), you built yourself a vaulted chamber and made yourself a lofty place in every square. At the head of every street you built your lofty place and made your beauty an abomination, offering yourself to any passerby and multiplying your whoring. You also played the whore with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your whoring, to provoke me to anger. Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you and diminished your allotted portion and delivered you to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied. You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied.

"How lovesick is your heart, declares the Lord GOD, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.

"Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. And they shall burn your houses and execute judgments upon you in the sight of many women. I will make you stop playing the whore, and you shall also give payment no more. So will I satisfy my wrath on you, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no more be angry. Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord GOD. "Have you not committed lewdness in addition to all your abominations?

"Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you: 'Like mother, like daughter.' You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and her children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. And your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed. Bear your disgrace, you also, for you have intervened on behalf of your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamed, you also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

"I will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes in their midst, that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them. As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state. Was not your sister Sodom a byword in your mouth in the day of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered? Now you have become an object of reproach for the daughters of Syria and all those around her, and for the daughters of the Philistines, those all around who despise you. You bear the penalty of your lewdness and your abominations, declares the LORD.

The LORD's Everlasting Covenant

"For thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD."

May 21, 2007

They poured out a prayer

(Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")

The greatest antidote against all the troubles of
this life, is fervent prayer.

"Lord, in trouble have they visited you; they
poured out a prayer
when Your chastening
was upon them." Isaiah 26:16

"They poured out a prayer." Before, they would
a prayer--but now, they poured out a prayer.

Saints never visit God more with their prayers
--than when He visits them most with His rod.
Saints never pray with . . .
that seriousness,
that spiritualness,
that heavenliness,
that humbleness,
that brokenness,
that fervency,
that frequency--as they do, when they are
under the mighty chastening hand of God!

A sincere Christian never prays so sweetly--as
when under God's rod. When a Christian is in
trouble--then prayer is his food and drink.

Oh, what a spirit of prayer was . . .
upon Jonah--when he was in the whale's belly; and
upon Daniel--when he was among the lions; and
upon David--when fleeing in the wilderness; and
upon the dying thief--when he was on the cross; and
upon Jacob--when his brother Esau came to meet him
with four hundred bloody cut-throats at his heels!

When a Christian is under great troubles, deep distresses,
and most extreme dangers; he should pray . . .
more for the sanctification of affliction--than its removal;
more to get off his sins--than to get off his chains;
more to get good by the rod--than to get free from the rod;
that his afflictions may be a purifying and refining fire,
that his heart may be low and his graces high,
that he may be more weaned from this world,
that he be more ripe for eternal glory.

May 20, 2007

"We cannot attain to the understanding of Scripture either by study or by the intellect. Your first duty is to begin by prayer. Entreat the Lord to grant you, of His great mercy, the true understanding of His Word. There is no other interpreter of the Word of God than the Author of this Word, as He Himself has said, "They shall be all taught of God" (John 6:45). Hope for nothing from your own labors, from your own understanding: trust solely in God, and in the influence of His Spirit. Believe this on the word of a man who has experience."

Martin Luther (1483 - 1546)

May 18, 2007

The fool who forgets what he looks like

James 1:22-25
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

How often do you look into the mirror, walk away, and forgot what you look like? Seems foolish, doesn't it?

Now, how often do you read scripture and meditate on the Gospel, and then still try and work for your salvation? Or consider yourself more righteous on certain days that the LORD has granted you victory in some sins?

Every single day, I am that idiot who looks into the mirror of the Law, walks away, and forgets the grace and mercy of my salvation in Christ. I start to act prideful, doubtful, self-sufficient, faithless, foolish...I constantly need reminding of who I am in Christ.

Thankfully, the LORD has provided many brothers and sisters in Christ who have reminded me what I really look like. And I must say, it is humbling!

May 17, 2007

Simplicity of life: Jelly filled hearts

Michael's mom

This is a poem by my husband. I love reading it because it reminds me how lovely it is to have the heart of a child. Don't take the time correct grammar mistakes (for example, I know funnest is not a word, but who cares? :D), instead, let this poem remind you that despite the difficulties of life, we can remember that we are children of God, and striving to enjoy the simple parts of life that God has given us is glorifying to Him! Spending an hour watching the birds fly, watching the ants scurry, eating a popsicle and not worrying about the calories...but in everything, glorifying God...that is life. Isn't it?

The most funnest, important, crazy, heart wrenching, warming,
and awesome responsibility in the whole entire world

Is to fill even the smallest spot in the heart of a little boy or girl.
And maybe in that venture we'll find something God intended
Motives that are pure in faith not tweaked, twisted or bended
Prick your ears up to the echoed laughter in neighborhood corners
And gaze into the bliss of dancing that exact emotion and anywhere you like
Enjoy a jump in a puddle, a teddy bear cuddle then fly a homemade kite and even wheelies on your bike.
Blindly parade your busy-bee life into a jar of honey
and lets not forget life's intricate treasures like feeding a carrot to a bunny
Lets reminisce of caught memories that were monstrous in a moment and forgotten in a wisp of mom's cooking tugging at your jelly filled heart; and deliberate why we couldn't stop laughing when grandma let out a fart
What about cool rocks and mud layered socks, reckless shooting stars and empty cookie jars.
Those playful pet frogs and 20 foot dogs, a mudpuddle sea and a bike rides' scraped knee
Why can't our lives still be:
G.I. Joe, that royal front seat, hugs after a stubbed toe, and a DQ treat
Remember when:
Sister Did it, Brother Hid it, Dog ate it and the squirm of Hooks Baited
The calm of picnic shade and warmth of cookies made, playing catch and dogs to fetch
I consider we leave time afar for no allotted time and let your troubles blur for just long enough
to listen to the glisten of the wonder of what could be
If you could simplify your life into the mystery of that crazy bird perched up on that tree
Dreams build steam in a ray moonbeam
and Gigantor Esteems has lead me astray from a fairy tale theme
Fearlessly setting sail allegiance on seas of trust
Then come bullies in the schoolyard and at the back of the bus
Something missing in one hurting another's fun
King's and Queen's of the Sandbox drop their faded crowns
Tears only temporarily remedied with the wit of life's clowns
We hope that when they are older their wrinkles reflect...
will reflect their smiles and not their frowns
Near perfect acts of popular excellence may bring crowds into a dome
But the faith of a child will always lead you home
If one thing I believed was true in everything I've learned thus far
This same dilemma we find in playgrounds may find our thoughts today
So look for little versions of us and still I nobly say,
The most funnest, important, crazy, heart wrenching, warming, and awesome responsibility in the whole entire world
Is the fill even the smallest spot in the heart of a little boy or girl.

~by Michael - Inspired by the departure his Mother

May 16, 2007

Flea's can jump 130 times higher than their own height. In human terms this is equal to a 6ft. person jumping 780 ft. into the air.

The blue whale can produce sounds up to 188 decibels. This is the loudest sound produced by a living animal and has been detected as far away as 530 miles.

The longest living cells in the body are brain cells which can live an entire lifetime.

The Atlantic Giant Squid's eye can be as large as 15.75 inches (40 centimeters) wide.

The ears of a cricket are located on the front legs, just below the knee.

The female Tarantula Hawk wasp paralyzes a large spider with her sting. She then lays her eggs on the motionless body so that her developing young have a fresh supply of spider meat to feed on.

Starfish don't have brains.

Shrimp's hearts are in their heads.

Porcupines float in water.

An iguana can stay under water for twenty-eight minutes.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

Hummingbirds are the only animals able to fly backwards.

Armadillos can walk underwater.

The human brain is 80% water.

There are more living organisms on the skin of a single human being than there are human beings on the surface of the earth. (CRAZY!!)

Moths have no stomach.

A starfish can turn its stomach inside out.

Sharks are immune to cancer.

Cheetah's can accelerate from 0 to 70 km/h in 3 seconds.

Shark's teeth are literally as hard as steel.

Elephants have been known to remain standing after they die.

Ants do not sleep.

"It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me." -Jeremiah 27:5

May 15, 2007

This is the very knife which cut the throat of your child!

This is the very knife which cut the throat of your child!

(Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

"Suppose a man should come to his dinner table, and there
should be a knife laid down, and it should be told him, "This
is the very knife which cut the throat of your child!" If
the man would use this knife as a common knife, would not
everyone say, "Surely this man had but very little love to his
child, who can use this bloody knife as a common knife!"

Just so, when you meet with any temptation to sin, oh, then
say, "This is the very knife which cut the throat of Jesus,
and pierced His sides! This very knife was the cause of His
sufferings, and made Christ to be a curse!" Ah, how should
Christians look upon sin as that accursed thing, which made
Christ a curse--and accordingly to abhor it! Oh, with what
detestation should every Christian fling away his sins! "Sin,
you have slain my Lord--and poured out His heart's blood!
You have been the only cause of the death of my Savior!"

Look upon the cross on which Christ was crucified, and the
pains He suffered thereon--and the seeming sweetness which
is in sin will quickly vanish. When you are solicited to sin,
cast your eye upon Christ's cross; remember His astonishing
sufferings for your sin, and sin will soon grow distasteful to
your soul. How can sin not be hateful to us--if we seriously
consider how hurtful it was to Jesus Christ?"

Grace Gems (choice electronic books, sermons & quotes)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice printed books)

May 14, 2007

Esther Burr

I heard an awesome sermon this weekend by Piper, "Holy women who hoped in God." The LORD has been ministering to me by the lives of so many godly women. So this week my hope is to share my study with you.

"There are countless women to serve as examples for us, both in the Scriptures and since those days. Esther was the second daughter of Jonathan Edwards—he had eight! She married Aaron Burr, who became President of Princeton College. She had learned her father's piety and put her hope in God, not man.

Her journals were just published in 1984 and you can read there about her fight of faith. For example, in 1754 she gave birth to a little girl named Sarah and discovered that she had what they called a "crooked neck." Esther humbled herself before God and wrote, "Perhaps God foresaw that we should be too proud of her, and so has sent this calamity to mortify us and her."

Three years later on September 24, 1757, Esther's husband died in the pursuit of his duties at the College. She does not gloss over her pain. She calls it a "deep wound." And says that "God only can know and to him alone would I carry my complaint." But then within two weeks she writes to her mother,

"God has seemed sensibly near, in such a supporting and comfortable manner that I think I have never experienced the like . . . Request earnestly of the Lord that I may never . . . faint under this his severe stroke . . . O I am afraid I shall conduct myself so as to bring dishonour on . . . the religion which I profess."

What is the one thing that a woman who hopes in God fears? She fears bringing dishonor on God. She fears that she may fail to glorify God under the rod of his hard providence. And how does she quiet her heart in the midst of that fear? She preaches herself a sermon about the character of God. Esther Burr wrote,

At night when retired felt calmed with the thought that God would be Glorified . . . The ever blessed God will lose none of his glory, let men or Devils do their worst."

Holy women who hoped in God: John Piper

May 11, 2007

Run that you may obtain the prize

I am starting a new blog here. If you are bored, send me some encouragement while I train for the Twin Cities marathon alone! :D

May 9, 2007

Romans 8:28

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

I remember in 10th grade when Mike, my best friend, was killed in a car accident, I took one look at Christ and hate welled up in my heart. People told me to "seek comfort in the arms of Christ." What foolishness had gotten a hold of these people? How dare they bring up God , when it was Him who took my friend away?

At that time, I was certainly not saved. So Romans 8:28 did not apply to me whatsoever. However, what was so awesome is how Christ transformed me by Mike's death. About a year after he died, his parents decided to adopt 3 children from Albania. And even my unregenerate heart was humbled. As I spoke blasphemies at Christ, He showered love on Mike's family and those 3 kids; He showered love on me. He showed me that out of deep pain, love could still win. Without Mike's death, 3 little kids would be without a home. Without Mike's death, I wouldn't have seen now how Romans 8:28 is indeed true!

And more importantly, the most sanctified part of my life has been remembering my great sin in hating God, and knowing that that very sin is one that has been washed away by His blood. While I was sinning, Christ died for me. While I blasphemed His Name, He gave up His life for me. He loved me, not because I loved Him, but because He chose to love me despite my sins....because of the righteousness of Christ.

That is marvelous indeed. Isn't it?

May 8, 2007

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer's;
He makes me tread on my high places."

(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

May 4, 2007

The Excellent Wife

"God's will for every Christian wife is that her most important ministry be to her husband (Genesis 2:18). After a wife's own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing else should have a greater priority. Her husband should be the primary benefactor of his wife's time and energy, not the recipient of what may be left over at the end of the day. Whether her husband is a faithful Christian man, or an unbeliever, God wants every Christian woman to be a godly wife-an excellent wife." -Martha Peace

May 3, 2007

A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna

Links: Voice of the Sheep
ASSIST News Service

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

SMYRNA, TURKEY (ANS) -- Smyrna is an ancient city (today known as Izmir in Turkey) that was founded at a very early period at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

It was the second city to receive a letter from the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Acts 19:10 suggests that the church there was founded during Paul’s third missionary journey. Due to the fact that the port city of Izmir houses the second largest population in Turkey today, the site of ancient Smyrna has been little excavated. Excepting the agora, theater, and sections of the Roman aqueduct, little remains of the ancient city.

But there is a protestant church in there that calls itself "The Protestant Church of Smyrna" and it has issued the following letter to the Global Church which was sent to ANS.

Here it is in its entirety:

Dear friends,

This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”

Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.

On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.” No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.

The young men got guns, bread knives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock.

They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*

[Details of the torture--
* Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.]

Neighbors in workplaces near the print house said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.

Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound.

He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.

Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive.

Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.

Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.

To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.

After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targeted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.

From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.

In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”

It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “He will serve time for Allah.”

The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.

The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.

When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard.

Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiancé watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for.

Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.

Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use. The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir.

Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”

The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)

When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverance,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.

The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.

This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the un-subduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.

But we pray-- and urge you to pray-- that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.

Time may change me, but I can't change time

I have to confess, I often spend too much time editing, rewriting and reviewing my blog. No, this is not necessarily a sin, but the time I spend doing it is while I am at work. That is a sin.

SO. My plan is to stop blogging, and to only publish the things that have edified me. I tend to read a lot and very often can't remember where I read it. So I'll publish it here for your benefit as well.

So I'll still be around, just not writing as much. That doesn't mean you can't stop by and say "hi" though!

So this is the last change (template) I'll download for awhile (hopefully). I just wanted something that could show the links easily. :D

1 Peter 1:3-9
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

May 2, 2007

Not again!

Yes. I changed my template again. What can I say? I'm crazy!

Purification (from Valley of Vision)

Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for Thee and not for self, to copy Thy words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Thy likeness, to be consecrated wholly to Thee, to live entirely to Thy glory.

Deliver me from attachment to things unclean, from wrong associations, from the predominance of evil passions, from the sugar of sin as well as its gap; that with self-loathing, deep contrition, earnest heart searching I may come to Thee, cast myself on Thee, trust in Thee, cry to Thee, be delivered by Thee.

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that all things are shadows, but Thou art substance, all things are quicksands, but Thou art mountain, all things are shifting, but Thou art anchor, all things are ignorance, but Thou art wisdom.

If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat, so be it, but do Thou sit at the furnace mouth to watch the ore that nothing be lost. If I sin wilfully, grievously, tormentedly, in grace take away my mourning and give me music; remove my sackcloth and clothe me with beauty; still my sighs and fill my mouth with song, then give me summer weather as a Christian.

May 1, 2007

The importance of confession

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Somehow, I missed the confession part of the Gospel. Every time I'd sin, the first thing I'd do is feel sad and guilt-stricken, thinking, "Well, God's mercy is new every morning." I haven't the slightest idea how I missed that while God's mercy is indeed new every morning, it's also available at every moment.

From the time of God's saving grace in my life, I've been forgiven for every single sin I've committed and will commit. And forgetting to confess it is another sin covered by His blood.
But even though my sins have been covered by Jesus' sacrifice, that does not null the importance of confession.

I'd been having the hardest time falling asleep because of anxiety issues. This has been an ongoing problem for more than year (of course, the problem that I'm highly addicted to caffeine doesn't help either). A couple weeks ago, I shared with a sister in Christ this problem, and she said, "Samantha, have you been confessing your anxiety?"

Really. What an idiot I can be. I had not realized it was a sin at all. In fact, I would sit and cry all night wondering why God wouldn't take away my anxiety. I would pray and pray and pray, but never actually confessing that my fear was actually a lack of trust in Christ.

I love how the LORD works. Even though it took a year to find this out, it taught me a great lesson. And the amazing thing is that that night I confessed my fear to Him, I fell asleep without the aide of sleeping medicine. And He also healed my anxiety.

So now, I'm a confessing machine. That stupid comment I said? I confess it. My road rage? I confess it. My OCD problems? I confess it. Confession! Ah, what a breath of fresh air! The LORD transforms us in all these situations and the best way to learn is to actually be put through trials. That is where we grow. That is where we see the Hand of the LORD. And I am glad to be in His fold. Praise the LORD.