Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Living By Prayer

O God of the Open Ear,

Teach me to live by prayer as well as by providence,
for myself, soul, body, children, family, church;

Give me a heart frameable to Thy will;
so might I live in prayer,
and honor Thee,
being kept from evil, known and unknown.

Help me to see the sin that accompanies all I do,
and the good I can distil from everything.

Let me know that the work of prayer is to bring my will to thine,
and that without this it is folly to pray;

When I try to bring Thy will to mine it is to command Christ,
to be above Him, and wiser that He;
this is my sin and pride.

I can only succeed when I pray
according to Thy precept and promise,
and to be done with as it pleases Thee,
according to Thy sovereign will.

When Thou commandest me to pray for pardon, peace, brokenness,
it is because thou wilt give me the thing promised,
for Thy glory, as well as for my good.

Help me not only to desire small things
but with holy boldness to desire great things
for Thy people, for myself,
that they and I might live to show Thy glory.

Teach me that it is wisdom for me to pray for all I have,
out of love, willingly, not of necessity;
that I may come to thee at any time,
to lay open my needs acceptably to Thee;
that my great sin lies in my not keeping the savour of Thy ways;
that the remembrance of this truth is one way
to the sense of Thy presence;
that there is no wrath like the wrath of being governed
by my own lusts for my own end.

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

Thursday, September 25, 2008


ok, I am very behind in my Bible reading; but I refuse to give up. I will still finish reading the whole Bible through sometime in February, and I am good with that.

I am reading through Jeremiah now... it is a bit depressing. God is pronouncing judgement on Judah because they are worshipping other gods. Even the priests, who are supposed to be set apart for God, are doing evil. Read what God says in Jer 8:8 - How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The teachers of the law claimed to follow God, but in reality they led the people astray. verse 11 says, They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Pease, peace, they say, when there is no peace."

I can't help but compare that to the modern church of today. So many churches have compromised the Word of God. They want to make people feel good so they don't preach about sin. They want people to feel loved so they don't condemn sinful behavior. This does not please God! Preach sin, preach against sinful behavior, so that you can then show the love of God and teach people to live to please Him because they love Him.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 - This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strenth or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in those I delight," declares the Lord.

Preachers and large churches take note. Your wisdom, strength, riches, and numbers are not what make God happy. Teaching your congregation to understand and know The Just and Righteous and Kind Lord Of All is what gives Him delight.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


There are different kinds of pain in this world.

There is angry pain, which shouts in its bitter resentment.
It seeks vengeance and finds fear.
It is tense and refuses to be comforted.
This pain leaves you broken - hard, unbending, and brittle.

But there is also a quiet pain.
It is pain that is accepted;
pain that is breathed in and absorbed;
pain that you settle into, relax into.
This is the pain that seeks and finds Comfort,
the pain that weeps and finds Consolation.
This pain finds rest in the voice of a friend, the arms of a lover, the love of a Savior.
This pain listens, and hears love.
The love is breathed in where it mingles with the pain;
as the breath goes out some pain goes with it,
leaving an ache, a memory, a quiet, calming peace.

The brokenness of this pain leaves you firm but supple;
aware of your own weakness,
yet strong in God’s strength.

May your pain lead you down this second path.

Rebecca A Givens, 09/08

Saturday, September 20, 2008


O God, Thou are very great,

My lot is to approach Thee with godly fear and humble confidence,
for Thy condescension equals Thy grandeur,
and Thy goodness is Thy glory.

I am unworthy, but Thou dost welcome;
guilty, but Thou art merciful;
indigent, but Thy riches are unsearchable.

Thou hast shown boundless compassion towards me
by not sparing Thy Son,
and by giving me freely all things in Him;

This is the foundation of my hope,
the refuge of my safety,
the new and living way to Thee,
the means of that conviction of sin,
brokenness of heart, and self-despair,
which will endear to me the gospel.

Happy are they who are Christ's,
in Him at peace with Thee,
justified from all things,
delivered from coming wrath,
made heirs of future glory;

Give me such deadness to the world,
such love to the Saviour,
such attachment to His house,
such devotedness to His service,
as proves me a subject of His salvation.

May every part of my character and conduct
make a serious and amiable impression on others,
and impel them to ask the way to the Master.

Let no incident of life, pleasing or painful,
injure the prosperity of my soul, but rather increase it.

Send me Thy help,
for Thine appointments are not meant to make me independent of Thee,
and the best means will be vain without super-added blessings.

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

Friday, September 19, 2008


God tells Jeremiah, "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you."

God does not tell him that they won't hurt him!! In fact, the very idea that Jeremiah will need to be rescued tells me that life is going to be difficult!

Just a reminder that God doesn't promise an easy life on this earth...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ray Boltz - another celebrity falls

With a sinking feeling in my gut, I read the article about Ray Boltz being gay a few days ago. I have long loved his music. (Even those of you who don't recognize his name would recognize his music, Thank you for giving to the Lord...) Here is the actual article that started the whole fuss if you want to read it: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2008/9-12/arts/feature/13258.cfm (The Washington Blade is a gay magazine.)

The article ends with the following quote: “This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”

What is sad is not that he has struggled with homosexuality his whole life. The gay lifestyle is perhaps no worse a sin than any other sin, although it's consequences do seem to be worse. And there is the Sodom and Gomorah incident in the Bible. But all that aside, I cannot fault him for struggling with homosexuality. What is so sad about this is that he has stopped struggling with it. He implies that he has found peace and feels closer to God, but the reality is that he has not made peace with God, he has made peace with his own sin nature. He no longer hates his own sin, he has embraced it.

A church that encourages its congregation to continue a sinful lifestyle, a lifestyle contrary to scripture, the Word of God... it makes me want to weep for those people.

Jeremiah 2:25 ... But you said, "It's no use! I love foreign gods and I must go after them."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bible Rant

We got to talking in my Sunday School class a few weeks ago about the times in scripture where crowds of people stood listening to a reading of the law... for hours at a time. And how a few hundred years ago people would listen to the reading of the Word for long periods of time. Why don't we do that today? Why does that sound so far fetched to us?

I have several thoughts about it.

We have the written scripture in our hands and homes. Back then the people didn't. That reading of the Word of God was the only access they had, and I imagine that they were hungry for it. We can read the Bible whenever we want... and I think perhaps that makes us take it for granted. There are several instances in scripture where the people listened to a reading of the law... that would have been at least the first 5 books of the Bible... how many Believers have read that on their own recently? Bibles are so common place that we take them for granted. How many Christians read their Bibles on a regular basis? How many have read it all the way through even once? How many actually study Scripture? I don't want to know the answers to those questions; I know the answers will be dismal.

Then you add in the bent toward entertainment in our culture, which is infiltrating our churches. It has to have flash and glitter and glitz to keep our attention. And our attention spans are so short. Today's society is ADD and a drug is not going to fix it. We have to learn to focus our attention on purpose, by ourselves; not wait for something on the outside to capture our attention. People, you have to take control of your own mind, your own attention. And we must teach this to our children. The winds of this world are going to blow us around like a hurricane if we don't.

Take control of your thoughts and focus your attention. It can be done. It must be done.

Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ Jesus...

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Missed Blessing

I wrote this last summer when I was in Ohio.

Today I missed a blessing. In fact I missed two blessings. I shouldn’t have missed either one, but I lacked the forethought and the courage to take advantage of the situations I saw.

I am camping in Ohio, by myself since I dropped Sarah off at Harp Camp last night. This morning as I walked back from the shower house I followed another woman the entire way. She had refused to make eye contact earlier, and I got the distinct impression that she was nervous and perhaps I scared her. So I tried to follow her without following her… and when I got to my tent I went about the business of getting dressed and getting breakfast. Somewhere in there I realized the other woman was also camping alone, and she was packing up her stuff. I continued on with my business and only when it was too late did I realize that I should have offered to help her with her tent. I was so busy trying not to intrude that I missed an awesome ministry opportunity. By then she was rolling up the tent and had done the hard part. She put the tent into her car, got in the car, and just sat there for the longest time. Eventually she got out and went back to the bathroom. I prayed for her, something did not feel right. But she came back and as she was getting into her car again she glanced my way. This time she did make eye contact, and smiled. I felt lousy. I could have helped her and perhaps talked to her about the Lord along the way; but I didn’t.

After that I visited a church. Not only because I needed to fill the time, but also because I just wanted to; I enjoy being with other believers. I had seen this small community church with the Angel Food signs out front… I am not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t really it. I think I tend to think of a Community Church as being contemporary… but this turned out to be a traditional church. The building was beautiful inside, with a lovely wood ceiling. Like the rest of the area, there was no air conditioning, which feels really weird to me. The congregation seemed to be primarily older. The pastor was warm and friendly, as were the people. In fact, they were very welcoming. They sang hymns and choruses, read prayers aloud, and the pastor preached from the scripture. He wore a black robe. The sermon was on marriage… he read the passage about marriage and the resurrection, and after spending a short time on what we will be like in heaven he spent the rest of his time on marriage. Kind of a tangent, but perhaps relevant to the times and he said nothing unscriptural. As we sang and I listened, I felt a melancholy slip over me. I missed Thomas and my own church. I missed Wesley and the kids. When the service was over I turned down the invitation of coffee and fellowship and left. Afterwards I kept being tempted to turn around and go back, but didn’t. There is nothing worse than being lonely in a crowd of people. But later, when it was too late to go back, I realized it was a mistake. I realized that had I spent time with those people, I would not have been alone. I might have found friends. I might not have eaten lunch alone, might have had help taking down my tent and setting up camp again, might have found an internet connection, might have had someone to call should I need help this week. I missed another blessing. Two in one morning.

The first time I missed being a blessing, the second time I missed receiving a blessing. Both times made me feel very much alone, and neither of them can occur again, the opportunities are lost forever. How many opportunities do I miss without ever realizing it? Lord, open my eyes and give me courage to step up to the opportunities You place in front of me!

©Rebecca A Givens, 7/2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Yesterday I kind of dissed a king of Judah that we usually remember as a good king. Today I want to commend a king that is remembered as evil.

Manasseh was 12 when he succeeded his father Hezekiah as king of Judah. He worshipped other gods, built high places to them, put foreign altars in God's temple, and even sacrificed his own sons. The people of Judah followed him in his sin.

God did not sit quietly; he sent Assyria to capture Jerusalem and take Manasseh prisoner to Babylon. And this is the good part... Manasseh repents. God conquered Manasseh, and he humbled himself greatly and sought the God of his fathers. God listened and brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem. There Manasseh continued to follow God; he got rid of the foreign gods, restored the temple and the temple sacrifice, and rebuilt his city.

What a great testimony of God changing a life! And perhaps a picture of how God calls a believer's wayward child back to himself. Manasseh had a Jewish heritage that he had forsaken, yet when things got tough, that's what he returned to, his heritage. I pray that we are leaving just such a heritage for our children. So that even if they forsake it now, when God conquers them they will return to Him in humility and submission rather than running in anger.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Today I read about Hezekiah. What an interesting story he has. God worked a remarkable miracle to save Hezekiah and the country of Judah from Assyria. Sennacherib, King of Assyria, was sweeping across the land conquering nation after nation. Hezekiah and the people of Judah prayed to God for help, and they reinforced their city to prepare for a seige. Sennacherib sent messages insulting the people of Judah and God... and God responded. God can defend His honor! He sent an angel who annihilated all the fighting men ahd the leaders and officers in the Assyrian camp. Can you imagine what that was like? There is no battle... just dead men everywhere. So Sennacherib withdrew "in disgrace"... he slunk back home, defeated and probably confused as to what happened. When he went into the temple of his own god, some of his sons killed him. Why do people defeated by God go back and worship something shown to be inferior? To see God's power and walk away from it... well, I guess the truth is in the submission and control. We can control false gods and we don't have to submit to them.

Anyway, Hezekiah saw a remarkable miracle here. Not only did God defeat Assyria but all the nations around had a new respect for Judah. Hezekiah became "Somebody" and it went to his head. He became proud. I wonder if he thought God saved him because he deserved it. He did a lot of good things, but he thought pretty highly of himself. In his later years he foolishly showed off all his treasures to the son of the king of Babylon... and that moment of bragging put a seed of lust in Babylon's heart to possess it all. Isaiah the prophet told Hezekiah how foolish he had been, and that one day his own descendants would be conquered by Babylon. Hezekiah's thoughts on this are so sad. "There will be peace and security in my lifetime" He showed no thought for the welfare of the future, of his own children and grandchildren. Indeed, a son born to him in his later years of life succeeded him as king, and he was very wicked. The miracle that established his kingdom at the beginning of Hezekiah's reign was forgotten by the end his life.

May we not forget what God has done for us. It is not for our own sakes that God saves us, it is for His.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Isaiah 66:2

Isaiah 66:2 - ... This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My Word.

I don't know about you, but to be "esteemed by God" is something I want. I want Him to think highly of me. Humility, showing sincere remorse, reading, studying and taking Scripture to heart - God values those things in us above all else that we might do. These are heart attitudes rather than good works. What is the attitude of your heart today?

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Voices

I have a confession to make. I hear voices. Please don’t send those nice young men in their clean white suits to take me away!

The Bible describes Satan as the Accuser. Who does he accuse? Believers. For me, Satan’s voice sounds like this, “You’re not good enough. You deserve the bad things that happen to you. You are a burden to God and to your family. You don’t deserve good things; you certainly don’t deserve to be loved. There is something wrong with you.” I have spent most of my life hearing that voice; hearing it, listening to it, living by it.

Satan is also described as a Liar. The best lies are the ones with an element of truth. This voice that I hear does actually speak the truth, because you see, I’m not good enough and I do deserve bad things. If perfection is what God required, then I’m not there. But Satan’s voice doesn’t tell the whole story.

Thirty years ago God called me to Himself and saved me – I remember being in awe of the fact that God loved me even though I was so unworthy. Another Voice entered my head at that time, the Voice that said, “God loves you so much that He gave His one and only Son for you, so that you would not perish, but have eternal life with Him.” But Satan the Deceiver’s voice was not silenced, and over the years I have often listened to that voice rather than the voice of the One who loves me.

As I have filled my mind and my heart with Scripture over the years I have found that I hear God’s voice rather than Satan’s. But every once in a while I find myself struggling, despairing over my sin, depressed with my circumstances, despondent because not only is this all there will ever be but this is all I deserve. I find that I have been listening to Satan’s lies without even realizing it. Somehow he snuck in while I wasn’t looking and started whispering half-truths in my ear. And I listened. I forgot that God loves me, that He delights in me, that my presence brings Him great joy. Imagine that, I bring joy to God!

I have a feeling that I am not the only one with this problem; if you are honest you will admit that you hear voices too. We all have voices in our heads; the question is which voice do we listen to? Which voice do we believe? Which voice do we live by?

Shut the mouths of the voices in my head,
speak Your Voice and Your Truth into my spirit.
Rule my heart and my mind,
my soul and my body.

Rebecca A Givens, 7/20/2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

On a Personal Note...

OK, I try not to do this too often, but every once in a while I have to brag on my kids... check out child #2 on the news!!! (she's the one doing algebra, not bad for a kid who says she can't do math!)


Monday, September 1, 2008

September Bible Reading List

1 Ezek. 18-19
2 Ezek. 20-21
3 Ezek. 22-23
4 Ezek. 24-27
5 Ezek. 28-31
6 Ezek. 32-34
7 Ezek. 35-37
8 Ezek. 38-39
9 Ezek. 40-41
10 Ezek. 42-43
11 Ezek. 44-45
12 Ezek. 46-48
13 Joel
14 Dan. 1-3
15 Dan. 4-6
16 Dan. 7-9
17 Dan. 10-12
18 Ezra 1-3
19 Ezra 4-6; Ps. 137
20 Haggai
21 Zech. 1-7
22 Zech. 8-14
23 Esther. 1-5
24 Esther. 6-10
25 Ezra 7-10
26 Neh. 1-5
27 Neh. 6-7
28 Neh. 8-10
29 Neh. 11-13; Ps. 126
30 Malachi