Monday, December 31, 2007

Forgive Me


Forgive me.

I have been lonely and sought the company of Satan, my enemy,
rather than that of Christ, my Friend.

I have been bored and sought the entertainment of the world,
rather than the work of the Kingdom.

I have let my mind wander down paths of vain imaginings,
rather than taking my thoughts captive for Your sake.

I have taken advantage of Your mercy,
rather than loving You through my obedience.

I have not loved You,
I have not shown Your love to those around me,
I have only loved myself, have only served myself.

Forgive me.

There is no joy in this selfish state,
only fleeting and momentary pleasure.

Give me strength to turn from it,
to seek the eternal rather than the temporal,
to repent quickly,
to run after You,
to prove my love with my obedience,
to accept Your grace and mercy,
to allow Your spirit and Your love to flow through me to those around me.

Forgive me and accept me.
Thank You.

Rebecca A Givens, 12/31/07

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Beginnings

I love beginnings - new weeks, new months, new years. It’s a chance to start again, to find a better plan, to change something for the better, to set goals. Not exactly New Year’s Resolutions, but similar perhaps. I’d like to share a few ideas and maybe get you to think about setting some goals for yourself. Not just about being a better person, or losing weight, but practical and objective things to get closer to God.

This year I am planning to read the Bible all the way through, chronologically. I want to get an overall big picture of God’s Word. Yes, this will take some time and effort, but it is a do-able task. I have found a web site that will plan it out for me, even link me to an on-line Bible, and I am posting this information here on my blog each week in the hope of making it easy for some of you to do this with me! I am really excited about this. If it seems like too much, take it slower, just start at the beginning of the Bible and take it one chapter at a time until you finish. Even if it takes you several years you will have accomplished so much!

I would also like to encourage you to do some devotional reading. There are a number of good devotional books with short daily readings and stories that bring scripture to life. I have been reading through The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, and will continue in this for the coming year. I have no planned date to finish, because I sometimes spend several days on one page of this book. Whenever I do finish, I plan to start reading out of a hymn book. I suppose this may sound strange, but have you ever really read the words to those old hymns? Some are odd, I admit, but most are quite profound, especially if you read about the authors and the stories behind their songs. In the past I have gotten a lot out of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today's Language, which has devotions by date (I actually prefer the original, not the today's language one), and The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, which has nice short sections, easily read as a devotional. You can find click on the links to buy these books from Amazon. You could also use my blog as devotional material, but these other things I have mentioned are much deeper than what I write.

So, I have devotional reading and Biblical overview reading, that just leaves more intensive Bible Study. At this point in your spiritual life you may not need this; the Sunday sermon and the overview of the Bible may be enough for you, and that’s ok, please just make sure you are doing at least that. But if you find yourself hungry for more, go for it! Start out with going deeper into your Sunday School lessons and sermons. Take notes. Read the Bible passages in context (what comes before and after it). Pick key passages or verses to memorize (you really should be doing this anyway). Go to a Bible Study at your church and do the above suggestions. Or if there is a particular book in the Bible that you really want to learn better, spend a lot of time reading that book slowly. Look for commentaries or other books written about that book. There are some good studies on tape too. Study the author of the book, the setting, the culture. I believe that Bible study and memorization make you smarter, not just about Biblical or spiritual things, but in all of life.

You must realize from the outset that you will fail sometimes. You will miss a day, or a week or more, of Bible reading. Life happens. Don’t let yourself get discouraged and quit; pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue on. Getting knocked down is no excuse for staying on the floor. Falling down is not failure, failure is quitting. If you start doing these things to get to know God and His Word better, He will honor that. Of course, Satan will also try to keep you from it, so don’t give in to Satan by quitting. Stay the course!

Rebecca A Givens, 12/2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


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 gall,
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 willfully, 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.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, 2007!!

When December began, I knew there was no way we would be able to make it through the month. We are still in the hole from a financially difficult summer, and December has 2 1/2 weeks of unpaid "vacation"... my husband's students don't seem to want to take guitar lessons over holidays! So I toyed with the idea of getting a part-time temporary job just to get us through. But God seemed to be saying don't do it, and my husband definately preferred me not to, so I didn't. I did continue to pray.

Now, on Christmas Eve, I have to say that I have never been happier or more content than I am right now. I have never felt more loved or cared for. God has provided for our needs and even for our wants this month. We have presents under the tree, food in the kitchen and the freezer, the bills are paid. We have our family, our extended family, our church family, and I even have karate family, not to mention other friends. This season I have felt the love of God and of my friends and family like never before; maybe I am just more sensitive to it. I have also felt love for my family and friends like never before. Perhaps I am more able to love as well as being more aware of its presence.

This year, more than any year previous, I am aware that it is God who is Provider. One of God's descriptive names in the Old Testament is Jehovah Jirah, the Lord who provides. Truly this season I have seen Jehovah Jirah! He has even provided things I did not ask for, things I did not know to ask for, things I did not have the faith to ask for. God knows my needs before I do, and plans for them in advance. And not just material needs, but emotional and spiritual as well. He has provided my husband and children, my pastor and church, my sensei and karate brothers and sisters.

As we cook and eat, watch Christmas movies, bake cookies and make ornaments, give and receive gifts, read and reflect on the Christmas Story, play games and spend time with family and friends, I will continue to thank God, Jehovah Jirah, for all of it. The gift of His Son, the babe in the manger who grew up and went to the Cross, is so much more than I deserve. Yet God did not stop there; He has continued to provide material and spiritual blessings, heaped up, running over.

O Lord,
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Quotes on Worship

"Let us remember therefore this lesson: That to worship our God sincerely we must evermore begin by hearkening to His voice, and by giving ear to what He commands us. For if every man goes after his own way, we shall wander. We may well run, but we shall never be a whit nearer to the right way, but rather farther away from it." John Calvin

"Nothing should be done or sung or said in church which does not aim directly or indirectly at glorifying God or edifying the people or both." C.S. Lewis

"Unless men see a beauty and delight in the worship of God, they will not do it willingly." John Owen

"Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God as misers do in gold, and kings in scepters, you can never enjoy the world." Thomas Traherne

"I may worship in a different building from you, I may worship in a different style, but all we hold dear is God’s gift in Christ Jesus, who is our Unity. In Him we have all and lack nothing." Michael J Davis

"God is not moved or impressed with our worship until our hearts are moved and impressed by Him." Kelly Sparks

"Many a professing Christian is a stumbling-block because his worship is divided. On Sunday he worships God; on week days God has little or no place in his thoughts." D.L. Moody

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Life as a Dishcloth

I have been learning to knit. I have crocheted all my life; my grandmother taught me when I was small. But knitting has always eluded me. A lot of years ago I knitted one house-shoe; just one because it took me so long and took so much work that I couldn’t bear to do it all again on its mate. But for the past year my daughter has been knitting, and the texture drew me. So I made a few things on a Knifty Knitter Loom. That was so much fun that I picked up some needles and started knitting. Now I am knitting dishcloths. They are relatively small projects with an infinite variety of patterns, and I have enjoyed it immensely.

Right now I am working on a cloth that requires a bit of thinking to keep up with the pattern. I still have to think to knit anyway, so this one has been a challenge. Last night I sat down to knit and watch a movie. I got to the end of the 3rd row of the night, and found a mistake at the beginning of the row, 3 rows back. Ugh. So I pulled it out, one stitch at a time, all the way to the mistake. Started again. Did another 2 rows. Found another mistake. Pulled out a row and a half. This continued for 2 ½ hours. Knit, find a mistake, pull out, start again. At the end of my time, I was exactly 4 rows further along than when I started. Sigh. That’s really not a good return on my time investment! The first evening I started this cloth I got several rows in and had to unravel the whole thing, because I couldn’t figure out how to pick up my stitches as I pulled it out. So that night I had absolutely nothing to show for all the time I had spent. This has been a bit frustrating, but I do want the finished product. It looks really pretty, and I want to make it, so I keep working at it even though it would be easier to quit.

I can’t help but think that my own life is like that cloth. It seems to be going along just fine, and then a mistake shows up down the road. God unravels me to pull it out and start again. At the beginning, when He first saved me, He had to pull it all out and start over. God still has to pull out my mistakes on a regular basis, far too often. But He does so with infinite patience. Over and over again He works on my life, pulling out the fabric, changing the pattern, starting completely over in some areas. Why? Why is He so patient with me? Why does He keep working on me? Because He loves me. Because He knows what the finished product will look like, and that’s what He wants me to be. And He will never give up on me. How cool is that?

Psalm 139:13-16 – For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was sewn together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

Rebecca A Givens, 12/12/07

Monday, December 17, 2007

Faithful Christian

"Christians are promised participation in the exaltation of Christ, but not without participation in the humiliation of Christ… A faithful Christian is not the Christian who stays in his closet in prayer, but who dies in the sand in the coliseum." RC Sproul, Revelation tape series

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paul Washer message

Several weeks ago I posted a sermon video, with the promise of my own comments soon. For those of you who did not see it, I am re-posting both the video and the link where you can download the mp3; the sermon is 1 hour long and I personally am not likely to sit and watch something that long in front of the computer. But I do listen as I drive. Here's the link where you can do that:

If you are curious, you can read more about this man's ministry on his web site here:

Paul Washer passionately puts into words some things that I have been thinking a lot about over the past year. I am not going to try to outline his sermon, I really want you to listen to it. But scroll down below the video where I will try to articulate my own thoughts.

It is way too easy to call yourself a Christian in America today. It costs us nothing. Everyone claims to be a Christian, particularly here in the Bible Belt. Is everyone who claims to be a Christian really a Christian? What is a Christian? Someone who believes in God? Someone raised in a home with Christian values? An American? If everyone who claims to be a Christian is not one, how do I know I am a Christian?

The definition of a true believer is very narrow. I am a sinner, God loves me anyway, the penalty for my sin is death, Christ paid that penalty for me, and I become a child of God through faith and trust in Christ for my salvation. When I put my faith and trust in Christ, something fundamentally changes in me. I don’t have to fix myself and be perfect, but my life will begin to reflect my encounter with God. My life will change, what is important will change, my behavior will change, my focus will change. Life will no longer be about me, it will be about God. Not so that He will love me, but because He loves me and I love Him back. I have entered into a relationship with God, a living, breathing, intimate relationship. He is not just an example that I must follow, it is as if He lets me come alongside of Him while He works; because it is He that is working through me.

If I am living a life of habitual immoral behavior, then I must question my own salvation, because I obviously do not love God. If I am God’s child, He will discipline me and keep pushing me back in line; He will not let me continue to live a life characterized by sin. If I love Him, I will obey Him out of love, I will seek Him through studying His Word the Bible, and in prayer, I will seek fellowship with other believers. Without those things there is no relationship.

These are very hard teachings here in America, where the definition of a Christian has changed so much. But God impresses them on me more and more, and I find myself unable to not write and post this. I pray that you will look into your own life, and see if there is any evidence of God working, of a personal relationship that extends beyond attending church or repeating a bedtime prayer. I pray that you will seek Him, because if you do, He promises that you will find Him. But don’t take it for granted that you are a Christian just because you prayed a prayer once, or because you have a Christian family. Because Jesus also says that many will come before Him at the Judgment and claim to know Him, but He will not recognize them.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Keep Me

Thank You God, for who You have made me to be.

You have given me strength of character
The will to fight
The determination to not give up
The intelligence to learn
A love of learning
The ability to think
The ability to imitate
A desire for You
A hunger and thirst for Your Word
Good leaders to follow
Spiritual sensitivity
Tolerance of other’s weakness
A love for words
The ability to love
The ability to trust

Lord, keep reminding me of my own sin
Of my selfishness
Of my weakness
Of my fear
Of my failure
Of my pride
Of my lack of discipline
Of my loneliness
Of my need
Of my self-sufficient tendencies
Of my anger
Of my distrust

God, keep finishing me, don’t let me finish myself.
Keep teaching me.
Keep drawing me to Yourself.
Keep holding me close.
Keep me.

Rebecca A Givens, 12/14/07

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kime and Worship

This morning I was reading a prayer from the book, Puritan Prayers. I have found these prayers to be quite deep, and they require much from me as I read them. I often make them first person and use them to start my own conversations with God. Here is the one I read today:


Glorious God,
It is the flame of my life to worship You
And heavenly pleasure to approach You.
Give me power by Your Spirit to help me worship now,
That I may forget the world, be brought unto the fullness of life,
And be refreshed, comforted, and blessed.
Give me Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God,
That I may be drawn near with Your love.
Let me live wholly to my Savior,
Free from distractions and hindrances.
I am pardoned through Jesus’ blood –
Give me a new sense of it
That I may worship You in spirit and truth.

The words of this prayer remind me of the Japanese idea of kime. As in most martial arts terms, this one short word conveys a broad thought, attitude, and experience that requires a long description. Kime means focus. More than that, it is single-minded focus, where nothing else exists to you except that which you are focusing on. It may be a board, a technique, a kata, or an opponent.

My first experience with kime came as a surprise to me. I don’t think I had ever even heard the term or the concept at that point. Seven or eight months after I started training in karate I was testing for 7th kyu. Throughout this test is was as if my world was slowly contracting, first down to the gym, then down to the dojo floor, and finally at the end down to a circle on the floor around myself and sensei. He was holding a board for me to break and I had never done that before. Sensei spoke quietly, coaching and encouraging me. In that moment, there was nothing else in the world but his voice, my knee, and that board. And then I heard the board break. It was an incredible experience. Since then kime has come to me many times. Once I realized what it was I began to look for it, to cultivate it, to bring my mind to that state on purpose rather than just waiting for it to happen.

As I read the prayer on worship, I realized that kime is what is required for true worship; to forget everything else so that the only thing that exists is God. I have been in worship services that swept me away, that called me out of everything else and focused all of me on God alone. These are wonderful experiences, and now that I know what worship looks like and feels like, I can look for it, cultivate it, and bring my mind to that state on purpose, rather than just waiting for the right combination of emotions and music to take me there. It becomes something I can practice, not something that I just wait to happen to me.

Rebecca A Givens, 11/2006

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Knitting, Pass It Forward!

OK, today I am going to post something that some of you will find odd... but remember that I am such an odd person anyway you shouldn't be surprised! I have been learning to knit. My daughter got me started on it and I have had so much fun knitting... dishcloths. Yes, I hate doing dishes , but dishcloths are such quick projects and come in such a variety of patterns! Anyway, I am on a dishcloth yahoo group (which I will put a link to when I get a chance), and the talk there has been all about a PIF. That's a Pass It Forward.

It works like this. The first 3 people who respond to this post will get a hand made gift from me sometime in the next 365 days. No promises as to what the gift will be, or when! They agree to put a post on their own blog with the same offer. I signed up on (which looks very interesting, BTW). So, who wants to participate?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Psalm 18:30-36

Psalm 18:30-36
As for God – His way is perfect;
The Word of Jehovah is tried;
He is a shield to all who find refuge in Him.
For who is God but Jehovah,
And who is a rock save our God?
The God who girdeth me with strength,
And maketh my way perfect;
Who maketh my feet like hind’s feet,
And setteth me on my high places;
Who traineth my hands for war,
So that mine arms can bend a bow of brass.
And Thou hast given me the shield of Thy salvation,
And Thy right hand hath holden me up,
And Thy graciousness hath made me great.
Thou hast made room for my footsteps under me,
That mine ankles have not slipped.

God’s way, His path, is perfect. Read down a few verses, and we see that the outcome of this is that He makes my way and my path perfect. I can trust the way that lies before me because I can know that it is God who lays out the path. His Word is where the path is laid out and made known to us. Jehovah’s Word is tried; it has been shown to be pure and true, perfect and flawless. God doesn’t stop there; He not only sets our path under our feet, but He protects us as a shield. A shield is a defensive weapon. You hide behind it, letting it take the blows for you. Jehovah plans the way we should go and then protects us as we walk the path. What other God can do that? What other God can stand and not be moved? He is as immovable and unbreakable as a great rock that withstands the march of time.

Who is this God? Who is this rock? David testifies that this is the God who arms him with strength, who makes his way perfect, who gives him the quickness and sure-footedness of a deer, who puts him in a position of military strength that allows him possession of the whole country, who gives him the skill and the strength of Ulysses to bend a bow of bronze that no one else can use. God gave David the ultimate protection, the shield of salvation, and the ultimate sustaining power, His own. God stooped down to David’s level, and lifted him up high. God even kept him from stumbling on the difficult path.

I am no David, but David wrote this not just for himself, but for us too. All of scripture is for us as well as the people in the day that it was written. I am a child of God, just as David was, and this is for me. Go back and read this passage, with the knowledge that God has done these things for you. God will continue to do these things for you; pray that you will see it.

©Rebecca A Givens, 12/07/07

Sunday, December 9, 2007

My karate weekend

I am exhausted, bruised, sore, humbled, challenged, encouraged, and inspired; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I just got home from a karate clinic in Montgomery. Well, actually I went straight from Montgomery to Hoover this morning to get to church (maybe more on this morning’s service later, it was awesome), and then home to take a nap. So technically I just woke up, and some of the exhaustion is relieved. Anyway, it was a great clinic.

Some of what I learned and re-learned:
MOVE – don’t stand there with a big target painted on your face! Get out of the way!
No unnecessary motion
Use my hips to generate power to block, punch, throw, whatever
Use angles
Sushi is good
I am part of a great martial arts family, I love them dearly, and I thank God for them!

Those of you who were there, I hope your various bruises and injuries heal quickly! We spent a lot of time fighting… and as a result there were a few black eyes, 3 stitches, a broken hand, and a lot of bruises. Everything but the bruises was upper ranks. And not me . Yes, I am crazy, it was great fun. Beaten on the outside, but not on the inside.

I love kata, more than anything else, and the blackbelts got to spend some time doing kata. We also learned a new kata from Jim Davenport Sensei. Wow, training with him is always an awesome thing. I love to watch him move. His gi snaps with every movement he makes in kata. He moves so effortlessly. He throws people around without ever seeming to exert any effort or power on them. And then there was Bill Stockey Sensei, also awesome. He seems to cause pain, but not harm , effortlessly. And Doshu, of course, who breaks down and teaches us such wonderful self-defense. To spend time with all 3 of these men is an opportunity not to be passed up. And the numerous other shihans, including my own teacher, as well.

This post seems rather pointless to the non-karate type folks out there... I apologize. I think you all know me well enough to know that this is my passion, if you give me a chance to talk about it I tend to get carried away...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Overflowing Hope

After yesterday's discouragement post, allow me to continue on in Romans 15...

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

I don't know about you, but joy, peace, and overflowing hope sound pretty good to me!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I have to admit that today I am discouraged. I see the way Satan is successfully attacking Christian families. I see the way he is attacking my church. I see my own sin nature. I see the worldliness of the Christian church in America, and it is no great shock to see the downward spiral of our country. If the professing Christians will not maintain high moral character, how can we expect the rest of the world to? I wonder what kind of world my children will have to live in in the coming years. Persecution makes the true believers stand strong and weeds out those who only profess with their mouths, but is persecution what I want for our country and my children?

These are the thoughts that plague me today.

As if God knew ahead of time what my thoughts would be, which He did BTW, my meditations this week have been in Romans chapter 15. Today this caught my eye. "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."

Endurance and encouragement come from the Scripture and from God. And unity with other believers comes as we accept one another. And it is all to bring praise to God. As I have prayed over the last months, increasingly I have come back to unity among believers and unity in our church. Being accepted was what drew me to my church. Endurance and encouragement is what will hold me there. And a commitment to the Word and to prayer. We must be united in these beliefs, we must stand together and we must pray together. Does no one else hear this call? The call to unite, the call to pray, the call to stand firm and not give ground to Satan?

Oh yeah, God promises there will always be a remnant, doesn't He. Where will you stand? Will you stand with the small remnant, or will you stand with the crowd in the worldly American Church?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


"The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience." Oswald Chambers

"You may as well quit reading and hearing the Word of God, and give it to the devil, if you do not desire to live according to it." Martin Luther

"When God gives a command or a vision of truth, it is never a question of what he will do, but what we will do." Henrietta Meers

"Character is what you are in the dark." D.L. Moody

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Dark Guest

O Lord,

Bend my hands and cut them off,
for I have often struck thee with a wayward will,
when these fingers should embrace thee by faith.

I am not yet weaned from all created glory,
honour, wisdom, and esteem of others,
for I have a secret motive to eye my name in all I do.

Let me not only speak the word sin, but see the thing itself.

Give me to view a discovered sinfulness,
to know that though my sins are crucified
they are never wholly mortified.

Hatred, malice, ill-will,
vain-glory that hungers for and hunts after
man's approval and applause,
all are crucified, forgiven,
but they rise again in my sinful heart.

O my crucified but never wholly mortified sinfulness!
O my life-long damage and daily shame!
O my indwelling and besetting sins!
O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart!

Destroy, O God, the dark guest within
whose hidden presence makes my life a hell.

Yet thou has not left me here without grace;
The cross still stands and meets my needs
in the deepest straits of the soul.

I thank thee that my remembrance of it
is like David's sight of Goliath's sword
which preached forth thy deliverance.

The memory of my great sins, my many temptations, my falls,
bring afresh into my mind the remembrance
of thy great help, of thy support from heaven,
of the great grace that saved such a wretch as I am.

There is no treasure so wonderful
as that continuous experience of thy grace toward me
which alone can subdue the risings of sin within:
Give me more of it.

taken from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions