Sunday, August 31, 2008

Should Christians Watch Movies?

A while ago a friend of mine heard a sermon entitled "Should Christians Watch Movies?" (given by David Murray) and as he told me about it I was very convicted and decided to not watch movies/TV anymore. But I never realized how difficult it is to live in this world and say "no" to watching TV and movies. When friends come over, this is the typical thing to do. Or when you want to go for a night out, the common thing is to go to the cinema. It's hard to explain to people why you don't want to spend your night watching a film or TV show... especially when it's the most common thing to do.

I decided to re-listen to the sermon and write down detailed notes so that I can have these notes with me when I start to lose sight of just how important this issue is and remember why I've made this decision. I'm sure many people will look at the first line "Why Christians Should Not Watch Movies" and think it's backwards, old-fashioned, or legalistic in some way... but these notes outline just how normal this actually should be in a believer's life. I hope they challenge you as they have challenged me!


Eight Reasons Why Christians Should Not Watch Movies:

1. The Precedent of the Psalmist
2. The Power of the Eye
3. The Perverting of Behaviour
4. The Pollution of the Memory
5. The Protection of Others
6. The Passing of Time
7. The Puzzle of Separation
8. The Poverty of Excuses

(Keep in mind that watching of TV, playing certain computer games/video games also apply)

1 – The Precedent of the Psalmist
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” When it speaks of meditating on the Law of God, this includes the 7th commandment (“you shall not commit adultery”), and the sins forbidden in this commandment include all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto. Can we say we delight in the Law of God and then do what is forbidden by it?
Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth. I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked” (Psalm 26:2-5).
I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil” (Psalm 101:2-4).
Some say of these verses, “oh, that’s just Old Testament legalism,” yet Paul says in Philippians, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” If we claim to be followers of the Bible, this is the pattern to follow.

2 – The Power of the Eye
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:21-23)
Whatever has your eye, has you. It has your thought, your affection, your imagination, your time, your money, etc. When you watch movies and TV, what is pouring through your eyes? Light, or darkness?

3 – The Perverting of Behaviour
Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
We say or think, “I can watch that and be unaffected,” or “I can listen to that and be unaffected” or “I can read that and be unaffected”… yet here we are warned – “Do not be misled”! We’re fooling ourselves if we think we’ll be unaffected. If we watch ungodliness we will become ungodly; if we watch sensual scenes, we will become lustful; if we watch gratuitous violence, we will become hard-hearted… can we really say that after we watch things like that, that we find it easy to pray? No, because these things pervert us… they “corrupt good character.” How can it be right to look at things that are wrong to do?

4 – The Polluting of the Memory
With the latest technology and audio and visual equipment, scenes are set forth with the most incredible images and sounds. So much so, that after watched, the images linger. Can you watch such vivid things without vicariously living it yourself/putting yourself in that place? There is a powerful hold on the mind and with that kind of vividness of scene it makes us feel like we’re experiencing it ourselves.
With vivid visuals, the images stay in our memory. We remember scenes and images from years and years ago. They make a deep and lasting impression. When this is in our diet, other things like listening to a teacher or a preacher, etc, are suddenly boring because they’re not stimulating us in the same way that we’re used to through movies and entertainment.

5 – The Protection of Others
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall” (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
Example: One Christian says they can watch movies and not be affected, and then another Christian sees this and feels that if this one can do it, then so can they. But then along comes a young Christian and they are then lured in and affected deeply… it is because of the example of the first two that has led this one to sin. If someone will be affected and harmed by my actions, we must – as Paul did – give that up.

6 – The Passing of Time
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Romans 13: 11-12).
How are we spending our time? Time passes very quickly, and we are to spend it wisely… not waste it and just throw it away (as we basically do when we watch a movie or TV, etc).

7 – The Puzzle of Separation
What does “separation from the world” mean, if it doesn’t mean “separation from vile images, violent scenes, blasphemy and profanity”, etc?
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:15-16).
Romans 12:9 says, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Every Christian believes in separation from the world because it is commanded in Scripture. But what does that mean? It means: “I will not watch immorality. I will not choose to spend time and money listening to Christ’s name being taken in vain. I will not sit and watch murder and mayhem… etc.”

8 – The Poverty of Excuses
The excuses given to defend this behaviour do not stand. For example: “I’m just relaxing/winding down” – can you relax as a Christian in the presence of adultery? Or while people are being slashed and stabbed? It’s a confused heart that can relax and refresh by watching this. There are so many other ways to wind down and relax.
Or there is the excuse, “It doesn’t affect me.” This excuse is not only selfish (not caring about the impact on others), but is an utter lie. If it is true that it doesn’t affect, then it is reasonable to conclude that you are not converted… the Spirit is not in you. If He is in you, then He is there right with you as you watch these things, and the Bible says, “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
There is also the common excuse, “I go to the movies/watch these things so I can engage in counter-culture criticism.” These people are saying that we must try to understand the worldview so that we can criticize it and show the emptiness and hollowness of it. This doesn’t stand, because God has given us two sources where we can find the worldview of the unconverted – what makes them tick, etc. We find this in the Bible, and in our own hearts. We don’t need to add to this, or go to movies in order to find out what the world thinks.
There is the further excuse that we need to be wise in order to argue/discuss these things – but Paul says in Romans 16:19, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” There is a certain ignorance/simplicity which is desirable. Being wise and knowledgeable is filling your mind with what is good and right. We ought to prefer to be laughed at because we don’t know the latest movie or TV show.
This does not make us a “monk” and it does not mean we can’t reach the world just because we don’t know the latest in entertainment. Think rather, “what good is salt that has lost its saltiness?” Isn’t it better to be separate from these things and still witness, than to be immersed in them and lose your witness because of it? Again, we don’t have to go to the cinema or watch TV to learn about the world… we are surrounded by the world.
Another way to word this excuse of learning about the world is commonly, “We need to learn about Satan’s devices and not be ignorant of them”… yes, Paul said, “be not ignorant of Satan’s devices,” but he also said, “Therefore come out from them and be separate.” Being separate doesn’t make us ignorant of Satan’s devices; in fact, it’s just the opposite.

Surely there is sufficient biblical reason to say “enough is enough.” No excuses, no exceptions. When you make exceptions, you find yourself gradually lured into more… little by little. And you find excuses easier to make (“but there was only one swear word,” or “that scene was necessary for the storyline,” etc).

Can we start fresh? We will never be able to erase and remove images that we’ve already seen, but we can receive pardon. And we can look forward to heaven, when it will all be wiped clean and taken away, never to torment us again. Really and truly ask yourself how much you’ve been taken, poisoned and persuaded by movies. And pray, and choose to endure “no wicked thing before my eyes.” Come firmly and solidly out of this world… and as you choose to do this, start with the remote control.

Regeneration

On this Lord's Day I thought I'd share another prayer from the book of prayers The Valley of Vision... this one is called "Regeneration."

O God of the highest heaven
Occupy the throne of my heart,
take full possession and reign supreme,
lay low every rebel lust,
let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
manifest thy mighty power,
and make me thine for ever.
Thou art worthy to be
praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.
Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favoured, clothed, adorned me,
when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, solace, joy.
Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
of my hopes, and my vocation.
Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
hold converse with thee,
That henceforth I may be salt of the earth
and a blessing to all.

Amen!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lord of Lords

This song is from Hillsong's Saviour King... it's absolutely beautiful. :)

Lord of Lords

Beholding your beauty is all that I long for
To worship You Jesus is my soul's desire
For this very heart You have shaped for Your pleasure
The purpose: to lift Your name high

Here in surrender, in pure adoration
I enter Your courts with an offering of praise
I am Your servant come to bring You glory
As is fit for the work of Your hands

Now unto the Lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
All of creation resounds with the song
Worship and praise Him, the Lord of Lords

The Spirit now living and dwelling within me
Keep my eyes fixed ever on Jesus' face
Let not the things of this world ever sway me
I'll run 'till I finish the race

Singing unto the Lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
All of creation resounds with the song
Worship and praise the Lord

Now unto the Lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
All of eternity echoes the song
Worship and praise Him, the Lord of Lords

Holy Lord -
You are Holy
Jesus Christ is the Lord

Now unto the Lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
Call all the saints to join in the song
Worship and praise Him, the Lord of Lords

Friday, August 29, 2008

Nothing Is Lost

Here's another post of an excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot's A Lamp For My Feet...


Nothing is Lost

Paul was a man who suffered the loss of everything, according to his own claim. Yet any loss he counted pure gain. The key to this transforming of earthly losses into heavenly gains is love. What do we love? If our hearts are set on people and possessions and position, the loss of those will indeed be irreparable. To the man or woman whose heart is set on Christ no loss on earth can be irreparable.
It may shock us for the moment. We may feel hurt, outraged, desolate, helpless. That is our humanity. But the Lord can show us the "long view," the incalculable gain in spiritual and eternal terms, if we love Him above all. Everything that belongs to us belongs also to Him. Everything that belongs to Him belongs also to us. What, then, can we finally lose? If we lose not Christ Himself, we have finally lost nothing, for He is our treasure and He has our hearts.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Look For Truth First

The following is an excellent excerpt from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. If you haven't already read that book, I highly recommend that you do! It's full of great truths and is great especially for those new in the faith.


Look For Truth First

Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power - it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk. When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor. When you have realized that our position is nearly desperate you will begin to understand what the Christians are talking about. They offer an explanation of how we got into our present state of both hating goodness and loving it. They offer an explanation of how God can be this impersonal mind at the back of the Moral Law and yet also a Person. They tell you how the demands of this law, which you and I cannot meet, have been met on our behalf, how God Himself becomes a man to save man from the disapproval of God... I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in way and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth - only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.

Elisabeth Elliot

Here are two little excerpts from Elisabeth Elliot that I found to be very encouraging and assuring :)

  • Whatever the enemy of our souls can do to instil doubt about the real purpose of the Father of our souls, he will certainly try to do. "Hath God said?" was his question to Eve, and she trusted him, the enemy, and doubted God. Each time the suspicion arises that God is really "out to get us," that He is bent on making us miserable or thwarting any good we might seek, we are calling Him a liar. His secret purpose has been revealed to us, and it is to bring us finally, not to ruin, but to glory. That is precisely what the Bible tells us: "His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory" (1 Cor 2:7 NEB).
  • I know of no more steadying hope on which to focus my mind when circumstances tempt me to wonder why God doesn't "do something." He is always doing something--the very best thing, the thing we ourselves would certainly choose if we knew the end from the beginning. He is at work to bring us to our full glory.

The Beggar's Rags

The following is kind of a neat story:


The Beggar’s Rags

A beggar lived near the king's palace. One day he saw a proclamation posted outside the palace gate. The king was giving a great dinner. Anyone dressed in royal garments was invited to the party.
The beggar went on his way. He looked at the rags he was wearing and sighed. Surely only kings and their families wore royal robes, he thought. Slowly an idea crept into his mind. The audacity of it made him tremble. Would he dare?

He made his way back to the palace. He approached the guard at the gate. "Please, sire, I would like to speak to the king." "Wait here," the guard replied. In a few minutes, he was back. "His majesty will see you," he said, and led the beggar in.

"You wish to see me?" asked the king. "Yes, your majesty. I want so much to attend the banquet, but I have no royal robes to wear. Please, sir, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I, too, may come to the banquet?"

The beggar shook so hard that he could not see the faint smile that was on the king's face. "You have been wise in coming to me," the king said. He called to his son, the young prince. "Take this man to your room and array him in some of your clothes."

The prince did as he was told and soon the beggar was standing before a mirror, clothedin garments that he had never dared hope for. "You are now eligible to attend the king's banquet tomorrow night," said the prince. "But even more important, you will never need any other clothes. These garments will last forever." The beggar dropped to his knees. "Oh, thank you," he cried.

But as he started to leave, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor. He hesitated. What if the prince was wrong? What if he would need his old clothes again. Quickly he gathered them up.

The banquet was far greater than he had ever imagined, but he could not enjoy himself as he should. He had made a small bundle of his old rags and it kept falling off his lap. The food was passed quickly and the beggar missed some of the greatest delicacies.

Time proved that the prince was right. The clothes lasted forever. Still the poor beggar grew fonder and fonder of his old rags. As time passed people seemed to forget the royal robes he was wearing. They saw only the little bundle of filthy rags that he clung to wherever he went. They even spoke of him as the old man with the rags.

One day as he lay dying, the king visited him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king's face when he looked at the small bundle of rags by the bed. Suddenly the beggar remembered the prince's words and he realized that his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty. He wept bitterly at his folly. And the king wept with him.


We have all been invited into the royal family--the family of God. To feast at God's dinner table, all we have to do is shed our old rags and put on the "new clothes" of faith which is provided by God's Son, Jesus Christ.

But we cannot hold onto our old rags. When we put our faith in Christ, we must let go of the sin in our life, and our old ways of living. Those things must be discarded if we are to experience true royalty and abundant life in Christ.

What are you holding on to from your life before knowing Jesus? Whatever it is, get rid of it! God will give you everything you need... you don't need to rely on the world to satisfy you anymore!

The More I Seek You

My dear friend and sister Linds recently sent me a song to check out that she thought I'd like, called "The More I Seek You" by worship leader Kari Jobe. As soon as I heard the song I loved it. Not only is it a beautiful song musically, but it's beautiful lyrically as well. Actually, I think a good word to describe it is "intimate." I know people who live their faith in view of the King/servant image and neglect to live as their King's friend or child. That aspect is lost - and along with it any intimacy is lost also. In fact, some of the words of this song would make some uncomfortable. I wish that everyone could sing this song and mean it with all their heart and know the peace, rest and overwhelming love that is found in Him.
I also want to include Kari's words about "worship." I think that what she has to say about it is so right on. And in response, all I can say is "amen!"



The More I Seek You

The more I seek You,
The more I find You
The more I find You,
The more I love You.

I want to sit at Your feet
Drink from the cup in Your hand,
Lay back against You and breathe.
Hear your heart beat.
This love is so deep
It’s more than I can stand.
I melt in Your peace,
It’s overwhelming.



“When I hear or see the word ‘worship,’ I get flashbacks of my whole life. Worship to me is more than just songs and music, it is a lifestyle. The Greek meaning of worship is ‘worth ship’; you give worship to something when it is worth it. Who is more worthy than God? He is a King, Friend, Lover, Servant, Keeper of hearts, and Saviour of our souls. To me there will never be enough thanks, or words high or deep enough to give to the Lord. I don’t know how to give back to God what He deserves than to just worship with my life and every part of me. My desire in worship is to gaze so deeply into the face of God that I may experience His presence as much as I can here on earth. Then hopefully when I get to heaven, I might recognize His face.”

In Your Freedom

Today I have some lyrics to post again... another song from Hillsong's CD Saviour King:

In Your Freedom

I search for You God of strength
I bow to You in my brokenness
And no other King could have so humbly come
To save my soul and heal my heart

I have nothing more than all You offer me
There is nothing else that's of worth to me

And I love You Lord
You rescued me
You are all that I want
You're all that I need

I pray to You God of peace
I rest in You my cares released

I have nothing more than all You offer me
There is nothing else that's of worth to me

And I love You Lord
You rescued me
You are all that I want
You're all that I need

In Your freedom I will live
I offer devotion, I offer devotion

A Self-Reliant Psalm 23

The following is a short excerpt from a book by Max Lucado. I thought it was quite true when I read it!

A self-reliant Psalm 23 -

I am my own shepherd. I am always in need.
I stumble from mall to mall and shrink to shrink,
seeking relief but never finding it.
I creep through the valley of the shadow of death and
fall apart.
I fear everything from pesticides to power lines, and I’m
starting to act like my mother.
I go down to the weekly staff meeting and am
surrounded by enemies. I go home, and even my
goldfish scowls at me.
I anoint my headache with Extra-Strength Tylenol.
My Jack Daniels runneth over.
Surely misery and misfortune will follow me, and I will
live in self-doubt for the rest of my lonely life.
Why is it that the ones who most need a shepherd resist him so?

The Room

I still have a couple of Valley of Vision prayers I'd like to post, but I'm going to take a small break and first post this... it's a story from Joshua Harris' book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The story is called The Room and it has been a favourite of mine since I first read it. I hope you like it too!


The Room by Joshua Harris
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented. When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.

And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room.

There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

The Convicting Spirit

Here is another prayer, worded so beautifully!

The Convicting Spirit

Thou blessed spirit, author of all grace and comfort,
Come, work repentance in my soul;
Represent sin to me in its odious colours that I may hate it;
Melt my heart by the majesty and mercy of God;
Show me my ruined self and the help there is in him;
Teach me to behold my Creator,
his ability to save,
his arms outstretched,
his heart big for me.
May I confide in his power and love,
commit my soul to him without reserve,
bear his image, observe his laws,
pursue his service,
and be through time and eternity
a monument to the efficacy of his grace,
a trophy of his victory.
Make me willing to be saved in his way,
perceiving nothing in myself, but all in Jesus;
Help me not only to receive him but
to walk in him,
depend upon him,
commune with him,
be conformed to him,
follow him,
imperfect, but still pressing forward,
not complaining of labour, but valuing rest,
not murmuring under trials, but thankful for my state.
Give me that faith which is the means of salvation,
and the principle and medium of all godliness;
May I be saved by grace through faith,
live by faith,
feel the joy of faith,
do the work of faith.
Perceiving nothing in myself, may I find in Christ
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption.

Christ is All

As is quite obvious from many of my posts, I really love and appreciate The Valley of Vision - both the book of prayers, and the CD of songs based on the book. So, as I have previously posted many of the lyrics of songs based on the prayers, I have decided to now post a few of the actual prayers. The language is quite old - but the content is wonderful. I hope that these prayers come to mean something to you, as they do to me. :)


Christ Is All

O lover to the uttermost,
May I read the meltings of thy heart to me
in the manger of thy birth,
in the garden of thy agony,
in the cross of thy suffering,
in the tomb of thy resurrection,
in the heaven of thy intercession.
Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,
tread down his temptations,
resist his schemings,
renounce the world,
am valiant for truth.Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to thee,
as spiritual Bridegroom,
as Jehova’s Fellow,
as sinners’ Friend.
I think of thy glory and my vileness,
thy majesty and my meanness,
thy beauty and my deformity,
thy purity and my filth,
thy righteousness and my iniquity.
Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,
may I love thee as I am loved;
Thou hast given thyself for me,
may I give myself to thee;
Thou has died for me,
may I live to thee,
in every moment of my time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.
May I never dally with the world
and its allurements,
but walk by thy side,
listen to thy voice,
be clothed with thy graces,
and adorned with thy righteousness.

Hold Fast What Thou Hast

Another entry from Hercules Collins' writing:

Hold Fast What Thou Hast

To depart from God in a trying day, reflects upon his being and attributes. “What iniquity,” said God to his people of old, “have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me? (Jeremiah 2:5) Am I not the same as ever? Are not my promises the same? Have I failed in any one thing? Testify against me. Is not heaven and happiness the same as ever? Why do you leave the fountain of living water, and hew out to yourselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which will hold no water?”
Our Lord seems to speak mournfully in the sixth chapter of John, after many of his disciples had gone back, “Will you also go away, and walk no more with me, as the rest have done?” Simon Peter answered and said, “Lord, whither shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life…” (see John 6:60-69) We are for eternal life, and we know there is no life but in the Son. (see 1 John 4:9)
So Luther answered, when he had great offers made him to return to the Church of Rome. “Can you give me Christ,” said he, “and eternal life?”
As it was their great care not to lose the crown, so it should be ours, which if thou wouldest keep, take this advice: beg of God for a well-informed judgement, a good understanding, a spiritual enlightened mind, that thou mayest be found in God’s statutes. Cry with Holy David, “Lord, ‘open mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.’” (Psalm 119:18)
Whence is it, some call good evil, and evil good, darkness light, and light darkness, but from darkness in the understanding? (see Isaiah 5:20) As the Jews’ persecution and crucifixion of Christ was imputed to their ignorance of him, so the forsaking a good way in troublesome times argues great ignorance in the understanding, or else they would never prefer temporal before spiritual things and present pleasure before future glory.There must be divine light in the understanding, before there can be true obedience, and true grace in the will. For he that doth not know God as revealed, can never well-groundedly love him nor obey him.

The Christ-Finding Soul

A friend of mine recently reviewed a book called Devoted to the Service of the Temple: Piety, Persecution, and Ministry in the Writings of Hercules Collins. It is a book that is part of the "Profiles in Reformed Spirituality" series (also featuring books on the piety of Jonathan Edwards, Horatius Bonar, etc). I was so interested in reading this book, based on the review, and was curious to learn more about this man - Hercules Collins - whom I had never heard of. I got the book and have been enjoying it thoroughly. This whole series is a great one - each book has a brief biography of the man whom the book is about, and then features writings by that person. I have learned a lot about Hercules Collins and the impact he had in his time. Collins was born in 1646/7 and died in 1702... he was a pastor, an author of several works, and was persecuted for his faith. He was imprisoned in Newgate prison - the most notorious prison in seventeenth-century England (the novelist Henry Fielding sought to capture the horror of imprisonment in Newgate when he termed the English prison system a "prototype of hell"). He faced his imprisonment and persecution with such strength and never wavered in his faith, and he later became quite a leader in England. I have copied out a few sections of his writings that are found in this book that I want to share, that I found particularly inspiring and convicting. So the next few posts will be these selections. If you want to get a great overview of the book, please go on over to Michael Dewalt's blog and read his review. And I hope you enjoy these bits of Collins' writings!



The Christ-finding Soul

It is the Christ-finding soul which is the life-finding soul. Hold Christ, and thou holdest all good in him,… [for] “Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). He is all because all good is comprehended in him, he is all in all. All in the fullness of all, for if we have all earthly enjoyments, and have not him, we have nothing comparatively, nothing with a blessing, for “the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked” (Proverbs 3:33). For one to say, “I have these goods, these houses, these ships, this gold and silver, these dainties, this rich attire, this earthly honour,” but, I cannot say, “I have Christ, grace, holiness,” this may damp (that is, check or restrain) all. For riches deliver not from death nor wrath (see Proverbs 11:4). For to have our portion in this life, is a poor portion. But a holy soul can say, “Thou art my portion, O Lord, and though I have but little earthly good, having Christ, I have all equivalently and comprehensively”…
If we have but poor clothing, a poor house, poor furniture, poor fare, poor friends, yet if we can say, “This I have, and Christ, grace, and content with this condition, peace in my conscience,” I lie down upon my bed in sweet peace and communion with God…
Yea, life and death is yours. If you live, it is to God, or die, it is to God (see Romans 14:7-8). You shall be happy living and happy dying… Things present and things to come, all is yours, for godliness hath the “promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). All things in this life, all losses and crosses, shall work for their good in this life (Romans 8:28), in order to a fitting them for life eternal.
Hold fast this Christ which hath so much good joined with him, hold him fast with the spouse (see Song of Solomon 3:4), and as Jacob held fast the Angel and would not let him go until he blest him, so part not thou with this blessed Object, until he blesses thee with the blessings of heaven and the everlasting hills. Part with all before ye part with him…The mariner in a storm will cast all over-board to lighten his ship and save his life. Oh this world will sink you in an hour of temptation, if it lieth too near your hearts. Cast away all, shake off all, rather than lose a Christ, and an immortal soul, which once lost is irrecoverable (see Matthew 16:26).

Spurgeon Quote

Today I have a short quote from Spurgeon (out of the book Morning and Evening). I've turned to this quote many times, and to me, it's such a convicting truth. It reads:

“But inasmuch as sin never gave you what it promised to bestow but deluded you with lies, do not be snared by the old fowler: Be free, and let the memory of your enslavement prevent you from entering the net again! It is contrary to the designs of eternal love, which are all focused on your purity and holiness; therefore do not run counter to the purposes of your Lord.” - C.H. Spurgeon

Time For God

Here's a great reminder and encouragement from Elisabeth Elliot...


Time for God

It is a good and necessary thing to set aside time for God in each day. The busier the day, the more indispensable is this quiet period for prayer, Bible reading, and silent listening. It often happens, however, that I find my mind so full of earthly matters that it seems I have gotten up early in vain and have wasted three-fourths of the time so dearly bought (I do love my sleep!). But I have come to believe that the act of will required to arrange time for God may be an offering to Him. As such He accepts it, and what would otherwise be "loss" to me I count as "gain" for Christ.
Let us not be "weary in well-doing," or discouraged in the pursuit of holiness. Let us, like Moses, go to the Rock of Horeb--and God says to us what He said to him, "You will find me waiting for you there" (Ex 17:6 NEB).

All That I Need

Time for another song from The Valley of Vision! This one is called "All That I Need" and is based on the Valley of Vision prayer "Fullness."


In You is strength to sustain me
And wisdom enough to guide my hand
Mercy enough to forgive me
And power to finish what You began

All that I need is in You, Jesus
The fountain of grace that overflows
All that I need is in You, Jesus
You are my only hope
You are my only hope

In You is fullness of gladness
And fullness of grace for every need
Rest for the ones who are weary
And beauty surpassing all that we’ve seen

You satisfy my heart
You satisfy my soul
You satisfy my heart
O help me always know

All that I need is in You, Jesus
The fountain of grace that overflows
All that I need is in You, Jesus
You are my only hope

Discerning the Will of God

... An excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot's A Lamp For My Feet -


Discerning the Will of God

The primary condition for learning what God wants of us is putting ourselves wholly at his disposal. It is just here that we are often blocked. We hold certain reservations about how far we are willing to go, what we will or will not do, how much God can have of us or of what we treasure. Then we pray for guidance. It will not work. We must begin by laying it all down--ourselves, our treasures, our destiny. Then we are in a position to think with renewed minds and act with a transformed nature. The withholding of any part of ourselves is the same as saying, "Thy will be done up to a point, mine from there on."
Paul gives four important steps to discerning the will of God:

1. "Offer your very selves to Him,"
2. "Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world."
3. "Let your minds be remade."
4. "Your whole nature transformed." "Then you will be able to discern the will of God" (Rom 12:1,2 NEB).

Who Am I In Christ?

I came across this really great website not too long ago called Got Questions? and it is a site where Bible questions are answered. The questions/answers are organized into different topics such as God, Salvation, Church, End Times, Eternity, Life Decisions, False Doctrine, etc. It has been a fantastic resource and just very helpful all around. One question and answer that I really appreciated was "Who Am I In Christ?" It's a question that we, as Christians, get answered for us in many ways, but it was nice to read how this website answered it and laid it out for new believers.


Question: "Who am I in Christ?"

Answer: According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” There are two Greek words which are translated “new” in the Bible. The first, neos, refers to something that has just been made, but there are already many others in existence just like it. The word translated “new” in this verse is the word kainos, which means something just made which is unlike anything else in existence. In Christ, we are made an entirely new creation, just as God created the heavens and the earth originally—He made them out of nothing, and so He does with us. He does not merely clean up our old selves; He makes an entirely new self, and this new self is actually part of Christ Himself. When we are in Christ, we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 KJV). God Himself, in the person of His Holy Spirit, takes up residence in our hearts. We are in Christ, and He is in us.When we are in Christ and He in us, we are regenerated, renewed, and born again, and this new creation is spiritually minded, whereas the old nature is carnally minded. The new nature is in fellowship with God, obedient to His will and devoted to His service. These are things the old nature is incapable of doing or even desiring to do. The old nature is dead to the things of the spirit and cannot revive itself. It is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and can only be made alive by a supernatural quickening which happens when we come to Christ and are indwelt by Him. He gives us a completely new and holy nature and an incorruptible life. Our old life, previously dead to God because of sin, is buried, and we are raised “to walk in newness of life” with Him (Romans 6:4).In Christ, we are united to Him and no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:5-6); made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5); conformed to His image (Romans 8:29); free from condemnation and walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1); and part of the body of Christ with other believers (Romans 12:5). The believer now possesses a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) and has been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3).We might wonder why we so often don’t live in the manner described, even though we have given our lives to Christ and are sure of our salvation. This is because our new natures are residing in our old fleshly bodies, and these two are at war with one another. The old nature is dead, but the new nature still has to battle the old “tent” in which it dwells. Evil and sin are still present, but the believer now sees them in a new perspective, and they no longer control him as they once did. In Christ, we can now choose to resist sin, whereas the old nature could not. Now we have the choice whether to feed the new nature through the Word, prayer and obedience, or to feed the flesh by neglecting those things and engaging in sin.When we are in Christ, “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37) and can rejoice in our Savior, who makes all things possible! In Christ we are loved, forgiven, and promised salvation. In Christ we are adopted, justified, redeemed, reconciled, and chosen. In Christ we are victorious, filled with joy and peace, granted true meaning in life. What a wonderful Savior is Christ!

My Soul Rejoice and Sing

More lyrics today! This is yet another Red Mountain song :)


My Soul Rejoice and Sing

My soul rejoice and sing Thy Father’s glorious praise;
And let His precious love employ thee all thy days;
To save my soul from hell was His eternal will;
And bless His precious name, His purpose to fulfill.

He took the Lord, the great I AM
And as a nail He fastened Him.

When deep calls to deep, and sins like mountains rise,
And the old prince of hell says all the bible is lies,
This nail is fastened in my heart, Nor will it e’er from me depart.

My wicked heart has said again yea, and again,That Christ my soul will leave, to perish in my sin;

But though I feel as cold as clay,He will not, cannot, go away.

Blessed are the Meek

Today I am going to share a bit of a reading about the beatitude "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth"...


Meekness looks “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18)… whether we understand our immediate circumstances or not, He views our whole earthly pilgrimage through the eyes of eternity. He knows where we’re going. He knows how it all fits together. He knows how to extract maximum good and maximum glory out of every situation, no matter what.
…Meekness bows the knee and realizes that everything is permitted and used by God for our chastening, our purifying. Meekness says, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Meekness bows before the throne and realizes that the God who sits upon that throne is an all-wise God …meekness knows that the God who sits upon the throne of the universe is a good God. …God will see to it that even your heartbreak will work together for good. Because He is God, He will satisfy your thirsty soul. He will fill your hungry soul with what is good.

The Valley of Vision

Keeping with the Valley of Vision theme, this song is based on the prayer called "The Valley of Vision"...


When you lead me to the valley of visionI can see You in the heights
And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision
It’s here Your glory shines so bright
So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown
To be low is to be high
That the valley’s where You make me more like Christ
Let me find Your grace in the valleyLet me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You’re near with every breath
In the valley

In the daytime there are stars in the heavensBut they only shine at night
And the deeper that I go into darkness
The more I see their radiant light
So let me learn that my losses are my gain
To be broken is to heal
That the valley’s where Your power is revealed

Let me find Your grace in the valley
Let me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You’re near with every breath
In the valley

It Was Your Grace

My post for today is yet another song. It is from a group of musicians I've talked about before - Sovereign Grace - and the song is from the album Valley of Vision. This CD is full of songs inspired by the classic book of Puritan prayers of the same title. This particular song is called "It Was Your Grace" and is based on the Valley of Vision prayer "Grace in Trials."


It Was Your Grace

It was Your grace that drew me to the cross
It was Your grace that gave me faith
It was Your grace that reconciled me to Yourself
Though I had sinned in every way
You disarmed me of everything that I would lean on
So I would lean on You
And You stripped me of everything I would depend on
So I’d depend on You

In You alone my strength is found
In You alone my hope abounds
In You alone my strength is found
My life is bound up in You

And in my weakness give me still more grace
Grace to cast myself on You
In every trial let me find Your peace and joy
And grace to humbly walk with You
O disarm me of everything that I would lean on
So I will lean on You
Jesus, strip me of everything I would depend on
So I’ll depend on You

Give me more grace
Give me more grace
And new mercies every morning
Give me new mercies

Quotes

Today I just want to share a bunch of my favourite quotes... a lot are on the theme of the cross, and others are just random quotes I found here and there :)



"Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you."
C.H. Spurgeon


"No one who has walked in Christ’s presence will ever be allowed to strut."
Jamie Buckingham


“He who knows not the Christ of Calvary knows not God, and He who does not thus know, knows not anything that is worth knowing.”
R.E. March


“All His thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions were for us. He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ.”
C.H. Spurgeon


"Only one act of pure love, unsullied by any taint of ulterior motive has ever been performed in the history of the world, namely the self-giving of God in Christ on the cross of undeserving sinners. That is why, if we are looking for a definition of love, we should look not in a dictionary, but at Calvary." John R. Stott


“I see more and more that the one thing needed is to die to our own will and to enter into and live in God’s will… Our great difficulty is self-occupation; our cure is self-oblivion.”
Andrew Murray


“… Seek that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be writing in the sand but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be built of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established that all the blasts of hell and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you.”
C.H. Spurgeon

Help My Unbelief

Another favourite song, this one by Red Mountain Music. This song was originally written by John Newton (author of the hymn Amazing Grace)...

Help My Unbelief

I know the Lord is nigh,
And would but cannot pray,
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away; And frights my soul away.

I would but can’t repent,
Though I endeavour oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
Till Jesus makes it soft, Till Jesus makes it soft.

Help my unbelief,
Help my unbelief,
Help my unbelief,
My help must come from Thee.

I would but cannot love,
Though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have pow’r to move
A soul as base as mine, A soul so base as mine.

I would but cannot rest,
In God’s most holy will;
I know what He appoints is best,
And murmur at it still; I murmur at it still.

Help my unbelief,
Help my unbelief,
Help my unbelief,
My help must come from Thee

Humility

Yesterday at church I heard a sermon that made me think about humility. After the service, my friend and I were discussing humility and recognizing how easy it is to get prideful and think we're doing great on our own, etc. It's so easy to get caught up in thinking that we are doing good - as if we are doing it ourselves and earning God's favour. In my daily devotions, the past few days have been focusing on the Beatitudes - the first of which reminds us that we cannot do good on our own. I combined all that was said about the first Beatitude from the several readings, and am going to share that today. :)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
To be poor in spirit is to realize what state you are in before God. It is to be actively conscious of your total inability to walk with Him, please Him, or serve Him. To be poor in spirit is to abandon all pretense and to acknowledge your total dependence upon God for vindication from your sins. To be poor in spirit is to cry out with the apostle Paul, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Romans 7:18).
… Humanity truly is poor in spirit—poor beyond our reckoning. Until people see their utter poverty of spirit, they are not ready for the kingdom of heaven. …When we recognize that we are utterly powerless and completely destitute, and we throw ourselves on God’s mercy, He hears our prayers and transforms our lives.
… Poverty of spirit is not to be some passing emotional experience or a one-time event in the life of a child of God. Rather, it is a whole way of life, a life of total dependence upon Him. It is continually realizing that in and of yourself you could never please God. You could never meet His standards of righteousness. Only by God’s gift of His Spirit and by walking in the Spirit can you please Him. Can you identify influences or attitudes in your life that might be keeping you from seeing your true poverty of spirit? What are they? Wealth? Worldly wisdom? Strong natural abilities? Your own righteousness? … go before the Lord; tell Him you choose to surrender these attitudes or things to Him, and acknowledge your complete and utter dependence on Him.

Manga Bible?


I regularly read my friend's blog, Gospel-Centered Musings, which is full of great articles, videos, etc. This week as I was going through some posts, this one really jumped out at me - "Christ, The Samarai Stranger" - which was a post about a new Bible that's been printed... a Manga Bible. (Manga = Japanese comic) I am quite a comic book nerd, so of course I had to see what this was all about, and I was so struck by the overall disappointment and disgust I felt after reading the article about this Bible (I highly recommend reading the post/article!). It hit me just how much our society/culture is led and dependent on entertainment - and it's scary how much we see Christians buying in to it. To actually allow parts of the Bible to end up "on the cutting room floor" and to leave out such important sections such as The Sermon on the Mount because it's not "exciting enough" - I felt so disappointed to read those words and know that countless people see nothing at all wrong with that. It reminded me of yet another Kay Arthur reading from Lord, I Give You This Day, where she challenges us to examine our own lives and see what drives us and influences us, etc. I think this is something that is SO important to do, especially as we're being surrounded more and more by current society and its views and behaviours; and specifically as it is filtering into Christian bookstores/media in such a profound way. Pray that God will always keep you in pure and simple devotion to Him alone, and give you wisdom to discern what is acceptable in His eyes.



Will you pause for a moment and think with me about the standards of our day? Who sets them? Who determines what is right? Moral? Correct? Socially acceptable? Just? Fair? How we should dress, think, act, behave?
Let me challenge you to sit in front of your television for a couple of hours and listen with an analytical ear to what’s being said. Jot down what you see and what you hear. And as you do, bring each think up against the standard of God’s Word. What are the differences, the discrepancies? Or are there any?
Then take a good look at yourself. Where do you want to be? What do you admire? What do you want to imitate? What is your dream? Your desire? What gives you your sense of worth?
Where are you in this world? In the flow of our culture? Who sets the standard for you? Whose standard to you come closer to – God’s or the culture’s? How does that feel? Does it alarm you at all?
Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Is there any danger that possibly you’ve been “led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ”? If so, what will you do about it?

Every Day

A few months ago a friend of mine got me a CD by Sovereign Grace Music. Though I had never heard of Sovereign Grace, it sure didn't take long for the album - Come Weary Saints - to become a favourite. From the very first listen I knew I had a new favourite song: "Every Day." It speaks of trials and things we go through that we don't understand - but it reminds us that God ordains all things and we can thank Him even when times are hard; and also reminds us that ultimately everything is for God's praise. So, continuing with thoughts of trials and praising God through the storms, I want to share these lyrics...


Every Day

In Your grace, You know where I walk
You know when I fall
You know all my ways
In Your love, I know You allow
What I cannot grasp
To bring You praise

Thank You for the trials
For the fire, for the pain
Thank You for the strength
Knowing You have ordained
Every day

Your great power is shown when I’m weak
You help me to see
Your love in this place
Perfect peace is filling my mind
And drawing my heart
To praise You again

Thank You for the trials
For the fire, for the pain
Thank You for the strength
Knowing You have ordained
Every day

In my uncertainty, Your Word is all I need
To know You’re with me every day

Praise

I've been thinking about trials and suffering lately, and there are so many aspects to this topic. The thing that strikes me the most is reading about/knowing those who suffer or have suffered greatly, and yet continue to praise Jesus with such zeal. What an inspiration! I am always reminded of this whenever I get weekly persecution and prayer alerts from The Voice of the Martyrs. Though the sufferings are horrendous, the believers continue for Christ and rejoice in their suffering. I am constantly amazed by their testimonies. Today I was reading about two men in Ethiopia - Defa Guta (30) and Nuru Mulesa (45) - who were severely injured in an attack on their church. Both men lost their left hand when attacked by machetes. Defa is the sole provider for his 12 family members, and yet even in the face of this, he is encouraging others to put aside hatred and revenge and extend love and forgiveness... he says, "Jesus said we must still love those who attacked us. We are praying for them." Nuru must provide for his seven children, and yet in the midst of his sufferings he says he will continue spreading God's Word... "It is my prayer that the price we have paid will not be in vain but will be used by God to bring many to His kingdom."I greatly encourage you to pray for these men and their families; and also for all believers in Ethiopia who are under such persecution. Today's reading by Kay Arthur fit quite perfectly with all of these thoughts, so that is what I want to share:


Friend, have you discovered the vital importance of living daily with praise in your heart and on your lips?
Praise is the spark plug of faith. Praise gets faith airborne where it can soar above the gravitational forces of this world’s cares. The secret of faith is continual praise even when your inward parts tremble and your lips quiver. Faith frees you to rejoice in the midst of trouble as you declare, “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him” (Exodus 15:2).
When Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were taken to a concentration camp, they were ordered to strip naked and pass before the watching eyes of German soldiers. To these two godly women, this was a horrifying experience. Not only were they enduring great humiliation, there was also the terror of the unknown. They knew they were considered enemies.
How did they endure? How did they keep from losing their inner peace as they stood naked before eyes filled with curiosity, anger, or blatant lust? Betsy reminded Corrie that Jesus, too, had been stripped naked and exposed to the eyes of men at Calvary. She told her sister that they were going to rejoice in the fellowship of His sufferings.And rejoice they did- time and time again. Oh, humanly there was nothing to rejoice about, but there was Someone in whom they could rejoice! Their fear and doubt were conquered by a faith that enabled them to rejoice- no matter what their circumstances or their future.

The Word

This week was VBS at my church and I've been there helping out every day and just loving it. And one of my absolute favourite parts of VBS is always the singing/songs the kids learn. Talk about catchy little tunes! And it's pretty much an unarguable fact that the adults/leaders love the songs (and doing the actions) just as much as the kids do... if not more. Which is why most of us can still remember the words and actions to VBS songs from years ago, and why I'm certain all of the leaders from this year's specific program will be walking around singing "Wiki-Wiki" for years to come. Though the songs are "kids songs" and may seem like they're just for fun, they're actually much more than that. They are songs that speak of God's truth and His Son and His Word. And these songs stick with these kids, planting seeds about these truths. So I'm going to share a VBS song today! Today's main focus was the Bible, so this song is all about God's Word... and it may be a "kid's song" but the lyrics are ageless:


In the beginning was the Word
And it was with God and was God
Before an eye had seen or ear had heard
There was the Word

I know the Bible is God’s Word
His written promises to earth
It is the lamp unto the feet of those who believe
In His Word

The Word is perfect truth
The Word is what I cling to
Unbreakable, unshakeable Word of God
I love the Word of God

I know the Bible is God’s Word
His written promises to earth
It is the lamp unto the feet of those who believe
In His Word

The Word is perfect truth
The Word is what I cling to
Unbreakable, unshakeable Word of God
I love the Word

Page after page it teaches me
Day after day it speaks to me
And leads me in the ways of righteousness

The Word is perfect truth
The Word is what I cling to
Unbreakable, unshakeable Word of God
I love the Word I love the Word of God

Lead Me To The Cross

Here is one of my favourite songs by Hillsong, called Lead Me To The Cross...


Saviour I come - Quiet my soul
Remember redemption’s hill
Where Your blood was spilled for my ransom
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as loss

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

You were as I - Tempted and trialed
You are the Word became flesh
Bore my sin and death
Now You're risen
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as loss


...Lead me to your heart

The Desires of My Heart

I love how whenever I'm facing a certain trial, the devotions I do at that time are exactly what I need to read... it kind of feels like they were written for me, to be read at exactly that moment. The following was a reading from Elisabeth Elliot that came at a perfect time. :)


The Desires of My Heart

I had been praying for something I wanted very badly. It seemed a good thing to have, a thing that would make life even more pleasant than it is, and would not in any way hinder my work. God did not give it to me. Why? I do not know all of his reasons, of course. The God who orchestrates the universe has a good many things to consider that have not occurred to me, and it is well that I leave them to Him. But one thing I do understand: He offers me holiness at the price of relinquishing my own will.
'Do you honestly want to know Me?' He asks. I answer yes. 'Then do what I say,' He replies. 'Do it when you understand it; do it when you don't understand it. Take what I give you; be willing not to have what I do not give you. The very relinquishment of this thing that you so urgently desire is a true demonstration of the sincerity of your lifelong prayer: Thy will be done.’
So instead of hammering on heaven's door for something which it is now quite clear God does not want me to have, I make my desire an offering. The longed-for thing is material for sacrifice. Here, Lord, it's Yours. He will, I believe, accept the offering. He will transform it into something redemptive. He may perhaps give it back as He did Isaac to Abraham, but He will know that I fully intend to obey Him.

Before the Throne of God

On the Lord's Day, what better way to spend the day than to think of Him and what He's done for us, and praise Him for it! :)


Before The Throne of God (by Shane & Shane)

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Praise the One,
Risen Son of God!

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!

One in Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God

My God's Enough

The following is a song by Barlow Girl... it's one that I found so easy to relate to. It's very honest, and I think we all feel this way at times. The inspiration for the song is the 73rd Psalm, which I will also include. I always find it so amazing that something written so long ago feels like any of us could have written it today. The Bible is like that isn't it? People say it's outdated and doesn't apply to us today. Yet I find nothing more applicable and easy to relate to as the Scriptures - especially the Psalms. :)


Psalm 73 (My God’s Enough)

I've had enough of living life for only me
And reaching just for the things that keep destroying me
So sick of envying the lives of so many I see
Somehow believing that they have what I need

[Chorus:]My God's enough for me
This world has nothing I need
In this whole life I've seen
My God's enough, enough for me

I can't explain why I suffer though I live for You
Those who deny You they have it better than I do
Cover my eyes now so that my heart can finally see
That in the end only You mean anything

Who have I in heaven but You
Nothing I desire but You
My heart may fail but not You
You are mine forever



Psalm 73

1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, "How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?"
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.
13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.
15 If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.