Monday, December 29, 2008

Where shall we go?

In John 6:66-71, many of Jesus' followers are leaving Him. He had quite a crowd following Him thanks to the feeding of the 5000 and healing crowds of people, but when they realized He wasn't going to keep feeding Him most of them left. Jesus asks His disciples if they are going to leave too, and this is their answer:

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God."

They had gotten beyond the physical world and its desires. For them it was ok to not understand what Jesus was doing. They could accept what God had planned even if it did not fit their own plans.

I am sure that their thoughts were not as complete as what I have written, but the foundation was there. They stayed with Him to the end.

I pray that we would be as faithful.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Have you ever noticed how Jesus treated people? He wasn't just nice to everybody. He was very tender to some people, very harsh to others. Distant with some, open and close to others. To some He spoke plainly, to others in parables and stories that they could not understand.

He did not try to reconcile with everyone He spoke to. He did not go out of His way to draw them all. He did not try to explain Himself to all of them.

Just something to think about.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This is a paradox to me. I do not find the Christian life easy. I find myself in a constant struggle with my sin nature. I find myself at war with the world and with Satan. What is easy about that?

Perhaps I am putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. If I take this verse in the context of the entire Bible, the meaning changes. Jesus doesn’t actually say that living the Christian life is easy. He says He will give me rest. Elsewhere Christ promises trouble and hardship on this earth. But the burden and the work of living the Christian life is supposed to be on God, not on me. He promises to do the work, He promises to hang on to me, He promises He is in control. My job is to rest in His promises. My job is to let Him work through me. But that is the difficulty! I want to do the work myself! I don’t want to need Him! Believe me, living the Christian life on my own is anything but easy. My little puny self against my sin nature, the world, and Satan is not going to make it. But God the Creator and Ruler of all can handle whatever comes against Him; it’s easy for Him. That is rest and peace!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas morning

I sit surrounded by the faint sounds of Christmas music and the smells of Christmas baking. The Christmas story has been read and the presents have been opened. This was a great Christmas. My older kids are old enough to really get into the giving of Christmas. I loved watching them get exited as the gifts they gave were opened. They weren't just gifts from me with their names on them, they were thought out and bought themselves. And the gifts were great... lots of books! No electronics... a couple of great dvds though.

Christmas just feels like it is supposed to - an expression of love.

And BTW, my favorite gift was actually the tag on my teen daughter's gift to me. "I love you".

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the family! Last week I trapped them all and forced them to pose for a family picture... and you see their personalities come out under pressure!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Groove

I got an e-mail from a friend last week, wondering if I was ok since I hadn't sent out "becky's thoughts" in a couple of weeks.

I am ok, but I seem to have lost my "groove". Life has gotten busier and I haven't had time to sit and ponder things or pull my thoughts together. I can't seem to find a normal routine... yes I laugh as I say that! There is nothing normal about my life, never has been!

But a couple of things have thrown me off balance in the last 6 weeks. First was losing my Bible. No, I never found it. It should be an easy thing to just pick up another Bible (we have many in our house) and read... and actually I have done that. What has been difficult is putting my prayer life together without the lists and prompts I kept in my Bible. And it has been hard to take notes again, and even jotting down random thoughts is different. For one thing, I can never find a pen! I always kept pens in my Bible, and they were the ONLY pens that didn't get stolen off my desk. And then there is the problem of not being able to find passages in a different Bible. Yes the words are the same, but they are on different pages!

The other thing that has thrown me off is my new job. I am SO thankful for it and for my boss, but it has sucked 15 hours out of my week. Where is that going to come from? I still haven't figured that out yet.

But it is all coming together and life is adjusting. Hopefully by the end of January I will have found my routine with its new schedule and a different Bible, and will be back in my groove.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jesus Called

Mark 3:13
Jesus went up into the hills and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him.

Luke 6:46
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord', and do not do what I say?"

These 2 verses randomly caught my attention this morning as I read. I had not thought to connect them in any way until this minute, when I was typing them out.

Mark is recounting the calling and naming of the 12 apostles. Jesus picked them and called them, and they came. Even Judas. I have often wondered about that. What was Jesus thinking at that moment? Was He sad, disappointed, angry? Did He just not think about it yet? Anyway, on a personal note, I was thinking about God wanting me and calling me... how cool is that?

Luke is talking about a teaching of Jesus'. When I read that I immediately thought of people who call themselves Christians yet live in a pattern of sin, like adultery or pornography or some other addiction. Even some churches openly accept things that the Bible expressly forbids... the gay lifestyle for example. I know we all sin, because we are sinners by nature. But a child of God should not live in sin, a constant lifestyle of sin. If you are moving closer and closer to God, you are going to be leaving that stuff behind.

The connection is that God calls some and they come to Him. Others claim to know God, but they haven't really come to Him. Just something to think about.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Journey of the Magi, by T.S. Elliot

A favorite Christmas read aloud filled with Biblical allusions. Reputed to be a chronicle of T.S. Eliot's journey from agnosticism into faith.

The Journey of the Magi

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

-- T. S. Eliot

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christ on earth

As I continue reading through the gospels, I am still thinking about what it was like to meet Christ in the flesh. I have never read them from that perspective, I have always taken it for granted and just read for myself without thinking about what the people then didn't know about Him. It is a different way to look at things.

The religious leaders of the day were complicated. Jesus wasn't who they expected. They had studied their scripture, but seem to have skipped over some parts of it or focused only on what they wanted to believe. But it wasn't ignorance that pitted them against Him, it was pride and power. They were jealous of His influence and they saw Him taking away their own power over the people. Perhaps this is what blinded them to His divinity. How could they look at Him and not know who He was? How could they not just fall on their faces before Him?

Scripture says that people are blind until God opens their eyes. That He reveals Himself in His own time. That if we seek Him we will find Him. So I guess if we don't seek Christ and don't want Him, we are blind. And unless God intervenes we will stay that way.

Thank You Lord, for opening my eyes!

Friday, December 19, 2008



Creator stepped into His Creation,
Not as Ruler,
although He had that right
and indeed He does rule,
But He walked as a part of His creation;
As a baby, a child, a man.

An Infinite Creator
housed in a finite body.
King over all;
Living not in a palace
lording over His servants;
but walking the earth
with His subjects.

The heavens celebrated His coming
with a brilliant star.
John leapt with joy and welcome
from his mother’s womb.
The heavenly host filled the sky with
“Glory to God in the highest!”
The shepherds came in awe.
The Wise men brought kingly gifts
into His humble surroundings.

Simeon and Anna longed for His coming;
they knew Him and blessed Him,
proclaiming the redemption
of Israel,
and of the world.

In fear Herod sought His death.
In faith Mary and Joseph trusted God’s plan.

Christ our Lord walked this earth;
He lived and loved,
He laughed and wept,
He suffered and died.
He walked with us.
He was one of us.
He lived for us;
He died for us.
So we could live for Him,
and die for Him.


Rebecca A Givens 12/19/08

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Calling of the Disciples

Today I read about Jesus calling His disciples. Remember I was speculating what He must have been like? I'm still thinking about that. If you meet a man and He looks at you and tells you to follow Him... what would it take for you to drop everything and go? What did they see in His face? In His eyes? What made Him irresistable? Have you ever had someone you did not know well look into your eyes and see your soul? I met a man of God once who did that to me. It was irresistable. It was grace and love and understanding and it touched some deep part of me. I have experienced it a few times since then, but only with people I know well.

Whatever it was with Jesus, when they met Him and He called them, they came. I pray that I would be as quick to follow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008



more animals

I just spent 20 minutes looking at pictures here... if you are ever feeling low this will certainly cheer you up!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Temptation of Christ

Today I was reading in the gospels about the temptation of Christ. I had a few somewhat random thoughts.

Christ has just been baptized, the Spirit of God descended on Him visibly, people saw it. It's like He has now been publicly proclaimed to be the Son of God. Now He goes into the desert and fasts for 40 days, a very spiritual thing to do. What is His reward for this good spiritual committment to God? Severe temptation. Why are we so often surprised to find ourselves struggling while we are doing what we know is God's will? Perhaps that is Satan attacking us, trying to distract us from our mission,

Christ wasn't born on earth simply to die for our sins, but also to live. To live a sinless life. Often I tend to think it must have been easy for Him to live a sinless life. He is God! But think about this for a minute. He has now grown up on earth, an infinite being in a finite body. Was He ever hungry in heaven? No. Was He hungry on earth? He was a teenage boy at some point. Yes, He had to have been hungry. Now He has fasted for 40 days. Satan comes to Him and reminds Him of His own power as God; Christ can create food out of these rocks. It would have been easy for Him. It would have been within His rights as the Creator. I would have done it and justified it as a reward for fasting. But Jesus knew better; He knew this was not what God wanted.

Next Satan tempts Him to jump off the temple and let the angels catch Him. In Heaven was Jesus ever bound by the laws of gravity? Don't you think He could have flown if He had wanted to? He created gravity! Do you think He was tired of being bound to this earth? I would have been. I would have wanted to fly. But again, He knew He wasn't supposed to.

Last of all Satan offers Him the kingdoms of the earth if Jesus will bow down to Him. I don't fully understand this. Why should He even have to bow down to Satan to have the kingdoms of the earth? I know Satan has dominion here, but only because God gave it to him. For me, this particular temptation would not have been to bow to Satan, but to take back the kingdoms of the earth that were rightly mine to begin with and end Satan's power. But that was not God's plan. God had a different plan, not to simply remove Satan from power, but to redeem this fallen world. God's plan would cost Christ much more. More pain than hunger, more loss than coming to earth in a frail human body, more humility than seeing Satan rule in this world.

Jesus sends Satan away, defeated. At that point God's angels come and minister to Jesus. Perhaps they fed Him food from heaven, kept Him company as they had when He lived in heaven, worshipped Him as the rightful Son of God and Creator of all.

Perhaps if I could resist temptation myself I would see God's perfect provision for me at the end...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Birth of Christ

I have started reading through the gospels this week. (yes, I know how behind I am! The important thing is to not quit) As I have thought about Emmanuel, God with us, I began to wonder what Jesus was like as a child, or as an adult in person. Do you ever get a "feeling" about somebody that you meet? Maybe you feel a connection, or you feel that they can be trusted, or that they are pretty good folks. Or, you feel creepy or uneasy about somebody. What kind of feeling must Jesus have projected to those around Him? Could you sense God in the flesh?

Not only that, but when I imagine Christ being here on earth, in the flesh, I get this picture of nature rejoicing at the coming of its Creator. The whole earth is groaning under the curse, did the whole earth rejoice as Christ walked through it?

What would the enemies of God sense about this Man? That is unfathomable to me. When I think of seeing Christ face to face, I feel an irresistible pull, like gravity, drawing me to worship Him, and an unspeakable joy in His Presence. I suppose it is the mystical nature in me that wants to see nature drawn to Him that way as well. Did the trees get greener and grow taller? Were the flowers more beautiful? Did the birds sing to Him? Did the animals desire His attention and affection? We know the children did. I think they sensed His love for them. That amazing, untainted love. What would it be like to see that in His face, in the flesh?

I can't wait for Heaven.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Taw - A Hebrew Prayer

May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word.
May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

t Taw - Psalm 119:169-176

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I-Tunes and Podcasts

OK, I am so excited about what I just found, I have to share it with you all.

For some time I have been listening to podcasts, 2 Bible study podcasts in particular: R.C. Sproul and Ravi Zacharias. I have also been hearing about other free educational podcasts, and I finally sat down and searched it... and I am so excited by what I have found! University courses on languages, history, Bible study... from places like Covenant Theological Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary. There is enough stuff here to keep me from getting bored for the rest of my life! And you don't have to have an ipod to use it (although I love my ipod shuffle, and it was refurbished and really cheap), you can use any mp3 player or your computer to listen or to burn it onto cd.

Go to and click on the download i-tunes button. This will become your player and your storage center for everything you listen to. When you open i-tunes on your computer, click on the i-tunes store. On the left side of that screen you will see your options for music etc. Click i-tunes U. That's all the educational stuff. On that screen you will find indexes by school or by topic. Make sure you notice if you are looking at "featured" stuff or complete lists, or you might miss something you want to hear.

I found several other lists of free educational podcasts, as I sort through them I will let you know what I find.

Enjoy, and learn something! Keep those brain cells exercised!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sin and Shin - A Hebrew Prayer

Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word.
I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands.
I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.

S Sin and Shin - Psalm 119:161-168

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ezra and Nehemiah

I just finished the book of Ezra and started into Nehemiah. Again, the Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament (Zondervan Charts) is very helpful in getting the historical setting. I have some longer thoughts developing from the end of Ezra, but I just want to mention a verse out of Ezra and one out of Nehemiah that caught my attention.

Ezra 7:28 - ... Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Nehemiah 2:8 - ... And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.

The hand of my God upon me. What a powerful statement, and what a powerful affect that knowledge had on these 2 men. It gave them the courage to do what God wanted them to do, to face physical and political opposition that could easily have led to their deaths.

May the hand of my God be upon me, and on you!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Bible Reading List

December Passage

1 1 Cor. 9-11
2 1 Cor. 12-14
3 1 Cor. 15-16
4 2 Cor. 1-4
5 2 Cor. 5-9
6 2 Cor. 10-13
7 Acts 20:1-3; Rom. 1-3
8 Rom. 4-7
9 Rom. 8-10
10 Rom. 11-13
11 Rom. 14-16
12 Acts 20:4-23:35
13 Acts 24-26
14 Acts 27-28
15 Colossians; Philemon
16 Ephesians
17 Philippians
18 1 Timothy
19 Titus
20 1 Peter
21 Heb. 1-6
22 Heb. 7-10
23 Heb. 11-13
24 2 Timothy
25 2 Peter; Jude
26 1 John
27 2 John; 3 John
28 Rev. 1-5
29 Rev. 6-11
30 Rev. 12-18
31 Rev. 19-22