Friday, March 28, 2008

Courageous Pilgrim

I am currently reading Pilgrim’s Progress. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe a Christian book lover didn’t get around to this book before now! I have a really nice hardback edition (in the original language, of course), with great illustrations and A Life of the Author (which I skipped but will go back to), and I realized I had put off reading this Christian classic for way too long.

Anyway, this book is deceptively simple; one of those stories that can be read on multiple levels. The more I read the more I can identify with Christian and his journey. What I read today struck me. Christian is now traveling with Faith, and Faith is telling about his encounter with Shame. Shame tries to put pilgrims to shame before men and make them ashamed of what is good.

Faith says this, “But at last I began to consider, that ‘that which is highly esteemed among men, is had in abomination with God.’ And I thought again, this Shame tells me what men are; but he tells me nothing what God or the Word of God is. And I thought, moreover, that at the day of doom, we shall not be doomed to death or life according to the hectoring spirits of the world, but according to the wisdom and law of the Highest.
Therefore, thought I, what God says is best, indeed is best, though all the men in the world are against it. Seeing, then, that God prefers his religion; seeing God prefers a tender conscience; seeing they that make themselves fools for the kingdom of heaven are wisest; and that the poor man that loveth Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates him; Shame, depart, thou art an enemy to my salvation! Shall I entertain thee agaist my sovereign Lord? How then shall I look him in the face at his coming? Should I now be ashamed of his ways and servants, how can I expect the blessing?”

And then he sings this song:

“The trials that those men do meet withal,
That are obedient to the heavenly call,
Are manifold, and suited to the flesh,
And come, and come, and come again afresh;
That now, or some time else, we by them may
Be taken, overcome, and cast away.
Oh, let the pilgrims, let the pilgrims, then
Be vigilant, and quit themselves like men.”
Yes, the trials do come, over and over and over. We must be aware of them, we must watch for them with vigilance. And we must fight with courage, standing up and acting like who we are, men and women of the Most High God. I do not want to be a cowardly Christian. And the only way to make it is to depend on God's strength and power.
Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Random Family Thoughts

I have been wanting to brag on my kids for a while, so I am going to do that this morning.

Hannah is going to be published! "Driver's License Goddess" will appear in a publication of Jim Reed, of Reed Books in Birmingham... some kind of arts and leisure magazine.

Sarah has received a scholarship from the Alabama Celtic Association to go to a Scottish Harp Camp in Ohio this summer! And she has received some gifts and saved up some other money to cover the travel expenses.

Always something going on here...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Christian, Part 3

Part 2
Part 1

Here we are again. What does it mean to be a Christian? Do you consider yourself to be a Christian?

You must read God’s Word to know what it means to be a Christian. You must know what He actually says about it; not just what you remember from your childhood and not just what your mom or your preacher say, not even just what I say. You gotta go read it and believe it and live it for yourself.

What God says is that only those who believe in Christ will be saved. It also says that on the last day many will say to Him, “Lord, we knew You, we did good things in Your name!”, but He will say He does not know them. Even Satan knows who Jesus Christ is, it’s not enough to just know that in your head; you have to live it in your heart.

So how do you know if you are a believer?
These are some indicators:

Do you have a personal relationship with Christ? Personal relationship means exactly what it says, communication on a personal level, spending time with Him on a personal level, knowing Him in a personal way.

Is there evidence of God working in your life? Do you more and more exhibit the character traits that God says believers have? Or do you live a life of continual sin? There is a difference between sinning in the everyday things and living a life characterized by sin. A life characterized by sin rather than characterized by godly traits is a huge red flag saying, “I don’t really believe, I’m just toying with this religious experience.”

Being a Christian is not just a religion. It is not just going to church, or just being an American or having parents who go to church. It is not just doing good things or not doing bad things. It is a real, living relationship with Almighty God, Creator of everything (including me). It is not a game or a thing I do, it is my very life. If what I’m saying doesn’t make sense to you, please evaluate your life and your beliefs. The consequences are FOREVER.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Life and Death

Last night I watched one of my favorite movies, The Last Samurai. This movie portrays several conflicting views of life and death. The main character begins the movie not caring about either one; he can’t live with himself and the things he has done, yet he won’t give up the fight. He seeks death in battle yet he fights so valiantly that he continues to survive. In the end he learns that there are truly some things worth dying for, and he fights a battle against any odds of winning, not just to throw himself into the battle and die, not in order to win the battle, but simply because the cause was worth dying for.

As I watched the movie I was reminded that I am not in this world to win. It doesn’t matter whether I win or even excel at anything I do, whether it be martial arts, writing, or teaching. I don’t have to come out on top; I don’t have to have anyone acknowledge my accomplishments; none of that matters at all. I must do what I do because it is right. I vote for a candidate because it is right, not because he has a chance to win. I spar my best no matter what the outcome of the match, because it is right, not because I might win. I teach because I am called to teach, whether my students are brilliant or not. I write because I must write, whether it ever gets published or not.

The end does not justify the means; the means are everything. This life is not about winning or losing, it’s about how and why you are playing. Life is not about living or dying, it’s about the purpose behind our living and our dying. There is something bigger than my own life going on here, and that is what I want to plug into. That is what I want to live for. That is what I want to die for.

Philippians 1:20-27 – I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body…Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…

Rebecca A Givens, 03/17/08

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Rooster and the Hen

Said the Little Red Rooster, “Believe me things are tough!
Seems the worms are getting scarcer and I cannot find enough.
What’s become of all those fat ones? It’s a mystery to me,
There were thousands through that rainy spell,
But now, where can they be?”

But the Old Black Hen who heard him didn’t grumble or complain,
She had lived through lots of dry spells;
She had lived through floods of rain.
She picked a new and undug spot, The ground was hard and firm,
“I must go to the worms, “ She said. “The worms won’t come to me.”

The Rooster vainly spent his day,
Through habit, by the ways
Where fat round worms had passed in squads back in the rainy days.
When nightfall found him supperless, he growled in accents rough,
“I’m hungry as a fowl can be, conditions sure are tough.”

But the Old Black Hen hopped to her perch
And dropped her eyes to sleep
And murmured in a drowsy tone, “Young man, hear this and weep.
I’m full of worms and happy
For I’ve eaten like a pig.
The worms were there as always
But, boy I had to dig!”

A depression era poem I read in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Workbook

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thoughts from today's Scripture - Deuteronomy

As I read today, these are some of the verses that stood out to me.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach... No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Living the Christian life is do-able.

Deut 30:8
The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
I don't have to be afraid because God will never leave me. Oh yeah, and don't get discouraged either.

Deut 31:19-21
... they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant... I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.
God knows that I am disposed toward sin; yet He loves me anyway. He saved me with full knowledge that I would continue to sin.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What does a Christian look like, Part 2

Have you been thinking about what it means to be a Christian?
I have.

The Bible is the Word of God, and I think if you want to know what it means to be a Christian you have to start with what God says about it.

The Bible says that none of us live up to the standard that God has set. None of us are good enough, so it seems that it doesn’t matter if we are not really bad. The fact is we just are not perfect and God requires perfection. And we are not judged on our heritage either. Or how much we go to church. Or which country we are from. We are judged strictly on what we have done or not done.

Oh, but wait. Remember in Sunday School, hearing about Jesus dying for our sins, and accepting Him into your heart? Do you understand what that means?

Here’s the deal. God is really sad that we are all bad; He really wants us to be with Him, because He created us and He loves us. Jesus is God’s Son, born as a man. He lived a perfectly good life, never did anything bad. He was judged in our place and found guilty, and He took our punishment for us. At the same time, He gave His own perfect goodness to us, so we are found perfect. Good trade for us! Jesus died and went to hell, we will go to heaven. But because He was God, He was able to get out of hell and come back. That’s what Easter is all about; Jesus was killed but on Easter morning He came back to life.

So, does that mean we all go to heaven? What’s the deal with “accepting Jesus”? Did you “walk down the aisle” of a church years ago? Is that all it takes? Keep thinking about it, and we’ll pick up the discussion again tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


It clings to me.
It permeates my nature
my mind
my emotions
my body.

God draws me to Himself,
it becomes where “I” am.
God uses my writing or my teaching,
it becomes what “I” did.
God blesses me,
it becomes “my” blessing.
God teaches me a truth from scripture,
it becomes what “I” know.
God gives me ability and success,
it becomes “my” success.
God answers my prayer,
it becomes pride in “my” prayer.
God gives me freedom to live outside the box,
I become proud of “my” individuality.

God has given me a heart for Him;
God has given me a passion to study and learn;
God has given me a mind that remembers;
Am I arrogant?
Do I put my hope in myself?

God, turn my pride and arrogance into
Humility in myself and
Confidence in You.

Take “me” out of myself, and
allow me to point to You,
consistently and constantly.

Rebecca A Givens, 3/08

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What does a Christian look like? Part 1

What does a “Christian” look like?
What is the first thing that comes to mind with that question? Maybe your first thought is a specific person. Your grandmother or your mom. Some good person that does all the right things and none of the wrong things. Maybe it’s America… a Christian nation. Maybe it’s people with all the rules and lists of things you aren’t supposed to do. Maybe it’s people who go to church.

Here in the South, most people call themselves Christians. We grew up with a Christian heritage. Our parents or grandparents went to church, we believe in God and the Bible, and even if we don’t obey all the rules of being good, we generally acknowledge that there is good and bad behavior, and we’re not really bad like murderers or thieves.

So does that make us Christians? Lip service to God and a gesture of not being too bad? How do we find out if that is enough? Is that going to get me to heaven rather than hell?

By definition, a Christian is a “Christ follower”. I want to spend the next few days talking about what it means to be a “Christ follower”.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thought for the Day

Dr. Robert Solomon: “The more we understand our destiny, the less we worry about our baggage.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I finally made it through Leviticus and have started Numbers. (If you are behind, don't quit, pick up where you left off!) Moses is recapping the history of Israel, and what is the main thing he says? "You did not believe God, and therefore you had to wander around in the desert for 40 years." But he says something different about 2 men; out of the thousands of Israelites who came out of Egypt, he says something good about only 2 of them. Caleb and Joshua. Read what Moses says about Caleb, "... he followed the Lord wholeheartedly." Throughout their wanderings many people did some good things. The priests and Levites did their jobs, the artists and builders built the Tabernacle. But when it came down to the end, the summation of this part of the story, Caleb was commended and rewarded and remembered. I pray that when I am gone people can say about me, about Becky Givens, "she followed the Lord wholeheartedly."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Compassionate Lord,

Thy mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day,

Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace,
increase in knowledge,
ripen for spiritual harvest.

Let me this day know thee as thou art,
love thee supremely,
serve thee wholly,
admire thee fully.

Through grace let my will respond to thee,
Knowing that power to obey is not in me, but
that thy free love alone enables me to serve thee.

Here then is my empty heart,
overflow it with thy choicest gifts;

Here is my blind understanding,
chase away its mists of ignorance.

O ever watchful Shepherd,
lead, guide, tend me this day;
Without thy restraining rod I err and stray;

Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure,
and drink its poisonous streams;

Direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan's secret snares,
nor fall into its traps.

Defend me from assailing foes,
from evil circumstances,
from myself.

My adversaries are part and parcel of my nature;
They cling to me as my very skin;
I cannot escape their contact.

In my rising up and sitting down they barnacle me;
They entice with constant baits;
My enemy is within the citadel;

Come with almighty power and cast him out, pierce him to death,
and abolish in me every particle of carnal life this day.

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

Monday, March 10, 2008

Missions Conference

Our church had a Mission's Conference this past weekend. What a wonderful 3 days!! My husband and I are both on the missions committee, and we have spent most of the last 3 days at the church... what an exhausting 3 days!

We got to spend time talking to and getting to know missionaries who get to serve God all over the world. As we talked to these wonderful men and women of God, I realized (or remembered), some important lessons.

Missionaries are people, just like us. They are not "Super-Saints". They struggle spiritually, in their homes and families, in their finances, in relationships with those they minister to and those they are ministering with. They are not "happy" all the time. They are not serious all the time. They live life just like Christians here do... one day at a time, doing what God calls them to do.

The other thing that hit me was that these missionaries don't just want money from our church, they want a relationship. They want us to know them so we can pray for them on a personal level. They want to share their struggles and their victories with us. They want us to love them, to care for them, to pray for them, and to communicate with them. They get discouraged and lonely, just like I do, and they need to hear that we care about them and haven't forgotten them.

God has been leading me over this past year to put much more emphasis on praying for others. In preparation for the missions conference, my prayer was that the missionaries would be encouraged and refreshed in the time they spent with us. As I saw that played out over the weekend, I really felt a burden to stay in contact with some of them, to continue not just praying for them, but communicating with them as well; sharing my life with them and allowing them to share theirs, and thereby being able to pray more specifically and with more passion and commitment.

LOL, We spent some time with Steve and Kyhee Taylor, who are heading for Japan this summer. As a martial artist the Asian nations always catch my attention. After talking to them I informed my husband that I am sure that God is leading me to be a missionary to the Kodokan... but I guess maybe that wasn't God calling me, probably it was training and sushi and saki calling me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Hurray, we are back online at home! A friend from church gave us an old computer that he wasn't using, and I have been setting it up for the last few days. So, I will be able to post more often again! Again, I am rebuilding my e-mail "becky's thoughts" devotional list. About once a week I send out something I have written. This e-mail devotional always ends up posted on the blog, so if you keep up with my blog you will read it anyway. But if you'd like to make sure you don't miss what I consider to be my best stuff, let me know and I'll put you on the e-mail list!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March Bible Reading List

1 Num. 14-15; Ps. 90 Bible Gateway
2 Num. 16-17 Bible Gateway
3 Num. 18-20 Bible Gateway
4 Num. 21-22 Bible Gateway
5 Num. 23-25 Bible Gateway
6 Num. 26-27 Bible Gateway
7 Num. 28-30 Bible Gateway
8 Num. 31-32 Bible Gateway
9 Num. 33-34 Bible Gateway
10 Num. 35-36 Bible Gateway
11 Deut. 1-2 Bible Gateway
12 Deut. 3-4 Bible Gateway
13 Deut. 5-7 Bible Gateway
14 Deut. 8-10 Bible Gateway
15 Deut. 11-13 Bible Gateway
16 Deut. 14-16 Bible Gateway
17 Deut. 17-20 Bible Gateway
18 Deut. 21-23 Bible Gateway
19 Deut. 24-27 Bible Gateway
20 Deut. 28-29 Bible Gateway
21 Deut. 30-31 Bible Gateway
22 Deut. 32-34; Ps. 91 Bible Gateway
23 Josh. 1-4 Bible Gateway
24 Josh. 5-8 Bible Gateway
25 Josh. 9-11 Bible Gateway
26 Josh. 12-15 Bible Gateway
27 Josh. 16-18 Bible Gateway
28 Josh. 19-21 Bible Gateway
29 Josh. 22-24 Bible Gateway
30 Judg. 1-2 Bible Gateway
31 Judg. 3-5 Bible Gateway