Saturday, December 26, 2009

Random Thoughts on Phillipians

Phillipians appears to have been written to me... these are some random thoughts I have had while going through Hans Beyers course:

We have a common enemy
Don't run, hold still
If we fight each other, we will both sink
Natural tendency is to take sides
Do not pursue my own desires
Realize my need
I am not strong in my own virtue
I don't have it together
Work together against each partners' weaknesses
Pray together
Associate together
Focus on those things that tear us down
Don't wait for the other to move 1st
Take the 1st step
It's not 50/50

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

“Truly emancipated souls are not in bondage to their emancipation.”

FF Bruce, Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free

Monday, December 14, 2009

Freedom in Christ

This morning I read Psalm 119:32:

I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.

I was reminded of a concept I got from Dr. Hans Bayer in the Life and Letters of Paul class I am taking via podcast.

God's will for me is what He intends to do in me, not what He expects me to do by myself.

I struggle with a stubborn rebellious spirit that does not like to submit. Quite often I know exactly the right thing to do, and I even want it, but something inside still fights against God. As I read in this Psalm this morning, I felt a great sense of comfort. I am free to obey God. I do not have to obey that old sin nature, because God, in all His Power and Strength, is working in my heart. He has set my heart free to run in the path of His commands.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Thoughts from Ephesians

The unity of the church

Not uniformity
Not organizational

But maturity under the headship of Christ

We cannot have unity if we do not all recogize Christ as head... that must be the starting point

Unity under the headship of Christ

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo survived!

Today is the last day of November, the end of NaBloPoMo. Thank God. I did manage to post something every day, but it felt forced and I didn't like it. I have to wonder if it was worth it. What was the point? I guess the point was to force yourself to write something; I suppose that was a good thing. We'll see. At the moment it is just a relief to not have to think of something to post tomorrow!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thoughts on Ephesians

Paul is in prison, yet he preaches spiritual freedom.... very cool.

Indicative/ Imperative

Somehow we are conditioned to say, "Tell me what to do'". We want the list of do and do not. This is the imperative. But Paul doesn't start there, he starts with who we are in Christ. That is the indicative. What we do must flow out of who we are. Starting with what to do results in a works based salvation, a works based religion. What God and Christ and the Holy Spirit have done and continue to do for us has nothing to do with what we do, but with who we are.

I am a child of God, bought with the price of Christ's death, living in the power of the Holy Spirit, looking forward to an eternity in Heaven. Because of what He has already done and who I am, I serve Him with my actions, I seek to please Him, I do good things.

That is the freedom of Christ. Not freedom to do whatever I want, but freedom to be able to to love Him, to please Him, to obey Him. He saved me. I had nothing to do with it.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Missed Glory

Today I went to a live performance of Handel’s Messiah. I was disappointed. Not in the piece of music or the performance of it; it is a fabulous story straight out of scripture, set to fabulous music. The performance was good as well; while not professionals, they were talented musicians with beautiful voices. No, what was disappointing was something else. I walked in with a desire to worship God, to be carried away by the music, but I found myself distracted.

I got there late and didn’t get to sit in the sanctuary. I was sitting in a chair on the back row of the foyer. The place was packed. The outside doors were right behind me, and I was cold. The overhead lights were bright, making it harder to focus on the performance itself. I was looking through a small window able to see only a few of the performers, listening through the open sanctuary doors. People were moving around me, in and out. A child knocked a large, obviously unbreakable ornament off a Christmas tree, and the ball went bouncing across the tile floor with metallic dings while the embarrassed parent tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. We in the foyer laughed a bit; it was funny after all. An ancient old man in front of me informed his daughter that when he was a young man he sang this. The disappointment set in as I sat with all these distractions going on around me. My thoughts began to wander… I wondered when I could find a couple of hours to listen to it by myself, to sit and meditate and worship without distraction. I almost left.

Suddenly the place was filled with music! Somehow we had reached the climax without my awareness. How did it sneak up on me like that? And then I was swept up in the glory of the resurrection; it was fabulous. It was everything I hoped it would be. If I had given up and left during the wait and the disappointment and the frustration, I would have missed the glory of that moment; in fact the glory may have even been greater because of the contrast.

How many glorious things have I missed in moments of impatience and rush?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Band, Karate, and Sanctification

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12

Have you ever worked on anything with fear and trembling? What does it mean?

First, we must take this verse in context. It isn’t talking about working for our salvation, but what happens after salvation. We do not work for our salvation at all, that is a gift from God. This is the work after salvation, the work of sanctification, of becoming like Christ. This works out from the point of my salvation. Even then it is something I rely on God to do in me. Anyway… fear and trembling.

When I was in High school I was part of a really good award winning band. We practiced every day from 2:30 (last period in school) until about 5:00. We worked hard in those hours, and that doesn’t include time spent practicing on our own. Yes, we were scared of our band director, but nobody forced us to enroll or stay in band; we were proud to be part of something so good. Our goal for each football game and each competition was simple – perfection. If you messed up your part you felt absolutely horrible, because you had made the whole band and the director look bad. We worked with fear and trembling.

In more recent history I approached my black belt tests with this same attitude. I trained many, many hours in preparation for the test; the pressure was immense. It was very important to me to do well for a number of reasons. I wanted to reflect well on my teacher, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I definitely trained with fear and trembling for both of those tests.

What if I approached my sanctification with that kind of dedication and drive? What if pleasing God with my life was so important to me that I was willing to sacrifice that same kind of time and effort and work to it? What would that look like?

May you work out your sanctification with fear and trembling.

Rebecca A Givens, 11/24/09

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, it's almost 10am and I haven't seen any of my family yet. I had a wonderful extended time alone with God this morning. What a perfect way to start a day set aside to Thank Him for all He has given us.

Which brings me to this post. Thanksgiving is not a time to thank people for stuff, and not a time to just be generally thankful. It is a time to thank God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, for what He has done for me in a personal way. He has provided

food (literally, the turkey that we are having today, someone anonomously put our name in to win a cajun fried turkey, or maybe they just paid for it and the store came up with a good story for them),
a roof over our heads (again, the back half of the house doesn't leak because God sent us shingles, one pack at a time from various sources),
cars to drive (gift from parents),
health (even though getting old is not fun),
our family is all here together,
we have great kids (I love spending time with all my kids),
my husband loves God, me, and our kids (what a gift in today's society),
we have a great church family that loves and accepts us,
and most significantly, Before the foundation of the world, God so loved me that He gave His one and only Son to pay the penalty for my sin, so that I could spend eternity with Him. He rescued me because He delighted in me, before I ever even dreamed of doing anything for Him. And He still enjoys my presence. That's just cool.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Lists

I want my spiritual life to be the best it can be.
I want to make the best use of my time.
I want to remember everything.
I want to get things done.
So I organize and I plan and I make lists: Reading lists, prayer lists, to-do lists.
Then I tend to do things just so I can check them off my list,
But that is not what I want.
I want it to mean something,
I want it to be real,
I want it to come from my heart, not from my list.
I don't want a list, I want a relationship.
Maybe that is the answer:
The motive
The focus
The purpose
Is it the prayer list
or the Person I am praying to
and the person I am concerned about?
Is it the reading list
or the Person I am reading and learning about?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Goals - 2010

Yes, you read the title correctly. I am already thinking about what I want to do in 2010... not New Year's resolutions exactly, more of a To-Do list I guess. Here is my preliminary list:

Continue with the Covenant podcast classes
Continue studying history
Listen to the entire Bible (which means I need to get this for Christmas!)
Study Escrima

Of course there are all kinds of things I need to improve in my life... cook, clean, work, pay off debt... but the stuff above is what I really want in my middle age life.

Start thinking about your own "study goals" for 2010. As a Christian you should want to know God better. That comes through studying His Word and the world He created and the history He acts in.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Scripture Prayers

For years I have been increasingly drawn to praying through scripture. It just seems logical to me that God's own Words are the perfect prayers for us. I am now studying in the book of Ephesians, and it is full of prayers. This was from today's reading. I suggest you pray it for yourself, for your family, and for your believing friends (feel free to pray for me as well!).

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New International Version)
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What It Feels Like by FFH

I heard this song this morning... it describes so much of my life!

So this is what if feels like to walk the wilderness
and this is what if feels like to come undone
So this is what if feels like to loose my confidence
unsure of anything or anyone
So this is what if feels like to walk the desert sand
and this is what if feels like to hear my name
and to be scared to death cause I'm all alone
but feel love and peace just the same

And this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
And I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now

So this is what if feels like to be led
So this is what if feels like to have it fall apart
to be totally unglued
and find out if I accept my brokenness
I get more of me, I get all of you
If this is what if feels like to be on shaky ground
Careful of every step I take
Realizing as I stop to look around
I look around and see everything a different way

and this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
cause I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now

So this is what if feels like to be led
and this is what if feels like to be led
So this is what if feels like to just walk away
from everything I thought kept me safe
to depend just on you for every meal
and find it's better this way
oh it's better this way

And this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
And I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now
like i do right now

And this may not be the road I would choose for me
but it still feels right somehow
And I have never felt you as close to me as I do right now

And this is what if feels like to be led
And this is what if feels like to be led
And this is what if feels like

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ask a Ninja

This is too funny...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

We went on a field trip to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve on Tuesday. (find them on facebook here) It is up in Pinson, north of Birmingham. What a beautiful place! I will try to find the web site of the guys who did the programs for us. We had a program on organic gardening, and one on edible wild plants. A short nature hike, and lots of time for the kids to play on the rocks and in the surrounding woods. I am anxious to try out some edible plants... I'll let you know how it turns out!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Romans, the Big Picture

I have spent a lot of time in the book of Romans in the last... well, off and on for 8 or 9 years now that I think about it. Last year I read the Bible through in 1 year for the first time (which I highly recommend), and really enjoyed the Big Picture that I got. Well, going through Romans in the Life and Letters of Paul class, I finally just got the big picture of Romans. It should have been as simple as looking at an outline of the book... but for some reason the meaning behind it didn't come through for me until now. The whole thing centers around righteousness.

The first part of the book states the human condition. All men are completely fallen, and can do nothing to be right by themselves. We will face judgement.

Next Paul covers how we can be justified... through faith in God, given by God. Not through anything we do. The true meaning of this grace can only come after seeing the horror of our condition.

Then Paul talks about sancification. We can't just fix up the old self, we must become renewed. And this comes through yielding to the discipline of God. This is the victory part of the book... but again, you can't get here without understanding our fallen condition.

Then comes a brief explanation about God's plan for Israel.

And lastly come the instructions for living, the "does and don'ts" of life. But you can't take these in isolation, because they don't stand alone. These are not rules that we have to obey (or more acurately, are able to obey), because we are still needy at this point and must depend on God for them to happen. These are statements of God's intent for our lives, and they happen as we move from faith to faith.

Well, reading over what I have written, I realize that it doesn't really convey what struck me so strongly as I realized this progression. But I have no other words, only impressions and realizations of God's amazing love for me, of how I do not deserve it, yet He seems to have a plan for me. Of how it doesn't depend on me at all. This utter dependence on God is fabulous, because I know there is no way I can do this Christian life. God's grace takes me from beginning to end, it is all there is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

How Deep is The Father's Love

We sang this song by Hazel Dean in church yesterday, and it has been stuck in my head ever since...

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Judo Trick

This is very cool. I love that the little guy outmanuevers the big guy...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thoughts on Facebook

Well, not long ago I was finally forced into the world of Facebook.
Oh my.

I obediently put in my school information.
Oh my.

I was suddenly swamped with friend requests from aqaintances from High School. These were people that I knew barely more than their names 25 years ago... we never hung out or talked or really knew each other. And now they want to be my friend? How strange is that?

Of course there were others, and I did find some people that truely were my friends back then... but the fact is it's been 25 years and we have gone different directions in that length of time. I feel awkward there.

But then there is another catagory of friend. I did have some good friends 25-30 years ago that I had lost touch with. People I spent a lot of time with, and people who had a profound impact on my life. Those have brought back some wonderful memories, and a few regrets as well. I hate that I lost touch, and even deliberately walked away from some of them. But now there is a chance to renew those contacts. That's cool.

But I wonder about this blog/facebook/texting community in general. It's a great way to keep up long distance, and a great way to find old friends... but it's not enough. I see kids texting conversations... why not talk? What about body language and tones of voice? What about handshakes and hugs? What about a shared meal or a cup of coffee? What about focusing on the person you are with and eye contact? We are physical people, and we need physical contact... does the next generation realize that?

Friday, November 13, 2009


A couple of weeks ago I was teaching a self-defense class to some teenage girls at a local church. As the morning flew by I became aware of a wonderful sense of “rightness”. I had the girls’ attention. Some moms sitting off to the side asked good questions; the words were effortless; I felt a connection with my students. But these were really only the results of the “rightness”, not the cause of it. At the end I had the feeling that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing in that moment in time, even that it was the very reason for my existence; it was what God created me to do. It was very profound.

As I thought about and enjoyed this feeling of “rightness” later in the day, I was reminded of other times I had felt this way. Often there are fleeting glimpses of the experience I am talking about, but only a few times in my life has it been this profound. I remembered giving my testimony at a Ladies’ Luncheon, and I remembered my first degree Black Belt test. I would not have been able to do either of those without that feeling of absolute rightness from God. And then I remembered a particular time alone with God several years ago. I had been going through some pretty major emotional upheaval, dealing with some very painful things from my past. One evening I was walking and praying, as was my habit, and I realized that every day for 3 months I had felt God’s presence and He had spoken to me in some way. It was a glorious realization, and I found myself telling God how wonderful this relationship with Him was, and if it took those painful events of the past to get me there, it was worth it. I was shocked at my own words to God, but when I stopped and thought about it, I realized it was totally true. It was worth anything to know God in that way.

I was feeling pretty good as I remembered these experiences of “rightness” with God. These were moments when I not only knew in my head that I was where God wanted me to be, but I felt it in my heart as well. I believe in a Sovereign God who holds my whole life in His hands, who has a plan for me and will carry it out for His glory and my good. In those moments I could feel His glory and my good in a very profound way.

And then God spoke to me. “So, are you going to walk away from that just because you are disappointed with your life? Are you going to give up this relationship we have simply because you don’t have enough money to pay the bills?”

Oh. O God. No.

For the past few years we have struggled financially, and I had let anger and bitterness over our situation creep in - anger with myself, with my husband, and with God (who is, after all, in control). That bitterness had come between me and my husband, and between me and God. I knew it was there, I had talked to God about it, but I couldn’t seem to root it out. In this moment of reflection on God’s good providence, He pointed out the stark contrast of what was really in my heart; a bitterness about my current circumstances and about where I happen to be in His plan right now.

In God’s grace and mercy He didn’t leave me lying on the floor in my misery. God wasn’t beating me over the head with my own attitude; rather, He changed it in an instant. I cannot explain it, but suddenly a joy and peace filled my heart, along with the realization that where I am right now is a good place. It’s not just good in hind sight, after you walk out the other side of your trouble; it is good now, in the midst of it. I am right where God planned for me to be, and His plan brings Him glory and me good, not just in the future somewhere, but right now in the middle of it.

©Rebecca A Givens, 11/11/2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cool Tool: Verse Card Maker

ok, this is just too cool. Go to the website above, type in a Bible reference, and it will print out the verse in a front/back flashcard type format. Can't get any easier than this!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Psalm 18:46-50

Jehovah liveth, and blessed is my Rock,
And exalted the God of my salvation;
(Even) the God who giveth me vengeance,
And (who) subdued peoples under me.
Thou art He that deliverest me from mine enemies;
Yea, Thou liftest me up above those that rise against me;
Thou hast delivered me from men of violence.
Therefore will I give thanks unto Thee, O Jehovah, among the nations;
And to Thy Name will I sing praises:
Who giveth great deliverance to His King;
And showeth loving-kindness to His Anointed,
To David and his seed for evermore.

David wraps up this wonderful psalm with a summary of what God has done for him. I find it interesting that here and in the previous passage he talks about foreign nations and aliens. They bow before him and he proclaims the name of Jehovah to them. He also refers to his seed, the everlasting Anointed One who would rule after him; this can only refer to the coming Christ. Here at the end David looks into the future and sees his own nation, he sees Christ, and he sees the gospel coming to the Gentiles. That means me! What a glorious thing!

This is the last section of a series of my own thoughts on Psalm 18. Click here for Part 1 I used The Book of Psalms by Perowne.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Educational (and fun) Listening

Over the past few years I have enjoyed listening to educational stuff. It really makes traffic and housework tolerable. I love The Teaching Company courses, my older kids and I have loved everything we have listened to. They do, of course, cost money (unless you can borrow them from a friend like I do, or check them out at the library, Hoover used to have a lot of them). The library also has lots of books on tape.

Podcasts provide a great FREE resource on almost any subject you can think of. My favorites are Ravi Zacharias and R.C. Sproul. You can search for these, and many other Bible teachers, on itunes. Pretty much any radio show now has a podcast.

Below are links to pages with many links to educational courses, as well as free audio books:

Covenant Theological Seminary

Westminster Shorter Catachism

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Psalm 18:37-45

(I started this series on Psalm 18 2 years ago... and just found the last 2 sections of it in my works-in-progress file. This section was complete, the last one nearly so. I can't believe I never posted them or sent them out.... guess I got distracted by something else!)

I pursued mine enemies and overtook them,
Neither did I turn again, until they were consumed.
I have smitten them, that they were not able to rise,
They are fallen under my feet.
For Thou hast girded me with strength to the battle;
Thou hast bowed down under me those that rose up against me,
Mine enemies also Thou hast made to turn their backs before me,
So that I destroyed them that hate me.
They cried, - but there was none to save them, -
Even unto Jehovah, but He answered them not.
And I beat them small as the dust before the wind,
Like the mire of the streets I emptied them out.
Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people;
Thou hast made me Head over the nations:
A people that I know not, serve me.
At the hearing of the ear, they obeyed me,
The sons of the alien came crouching unto me.
The sons of the alien faded away,
They came trembling out of their fortresses.

Earlier David told us how God delivered him from his peril, now he tells of God giving him victory over his enemies. He was not only victorious, but he totally destroyed those who fought against him. His enemies are gone completely. One day God will completely do away with the enemies of His children. We have three enemies: 1) our own sin nature, 2) Satan, 3) the world. In Heaven none of these will be able to affect us anymore!

Friday, November 6, 2009


ok, this piece is definately depressing, and as I told my e-mail list, I hesitated to send it out. There is no resolution at the end, but sometimes life is just like that. So read it but don't stop there, go back and read Forever, and How He Loves Us. Those are much better places to end!

Darkness descends;
What do I do with it?

I don’t care
I don’t think
I don’t fight.

I feel
I sink
I hurt.

I can’t see
I can’t breath
I can’t move

The dark cloud covers all
It fills all
outside, and inside.

Where is truth?
Truth that I can breath
and see
and feel?
Truth that blows away the darkness?

© Rebecca A Givens, 09/16/09

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Thousand Gifts

holy experience

A long time ago I first posted and linked to The Thousand Gifts. The beginning of November, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, seems the perfect time to talk about this again.

The concept is simple. Start a list of things you thank God for. Big things, small things, everyday things, special things. And add to it until reach 1000... but I have to warn you, this is addictive and when you get to 1000 you won't be able to stop! My current list is almost 500, but when I lost my Bible last year I had to start over because my list was in it.

This list truly changed my attitude on many occasions. Looking back over it reminds me of what God has given me. And I find myself looking for things to thank Him for.

I encourage you to go over to Holy Experience and read her original post, she has quite a way with words and pictures.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

David Crowder : How He Loves

This song has been stuck in my head all week. It so reminds me of what I posted last week, Forever.
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…
He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
Well, I thought about You the day Stephen died,
And You met me between my breaking.
I know that I still love You, God, despite the agony. ...
They want to tell me You're cruel,
But if Stephen could sing, he'd say it's not true, cause...
Cause He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Have we forgotten?

Have we forgotten God's Greatness in focusing only on His Goodness?
Have we forgotten His Justice in focusing only on His Grace?
Have we forgotten that the source of our Faith is entirely and only in God Himself?
Have we forgotten the Fear of God, the awe of Him, in focusing only on the brotherhood of Christ?
Have we forgotten the Power of God in focusing only on His Gentleness?
Who is God?
He is not made in our image.
He is Higher, Bigger, more Powerful, more Righteous, more Holy than we can imagine.
That He stoops to speak to me at all amazes me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Well, here it is, November again, and time for the National Blog Posting Month. The challenge is to post something every single day for 1 month. I managed it the last 2 years (yeah!), we'll see if my busy self and my tired brain can come up with something to write each day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Random Thoughts from 2 Corinthians

Wow, I just finished 2 Corinthians, and I am amazed at all the bits that caught my eye:

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (say that one at my funeral!)

Make room for us in your hearts...

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have devine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness... that is why I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Josh Harris is eaten by a bean bag

Another great message from Josh Harris...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughts from my Pastor on Prayer

I have been reading a book loaned to me by a friend which explored what is wrong in the present-day church. It was an interesting read. As with every book I read, some things I agreed with and some things I did not, but the author brought out some interesting points and asked some thoughtful questions. I enjoyed the time I spent reading it. But it got me to thinking in particular about one question asked by the author. She said one of the biggest reasons people have difficulty with the modern-day church is because of the failure of the church to address the issue of “unanswered prayer”. So I would like to address that very issue right here and now.

The author never delineated between prayers that were not answered and prayers that were not answered in the manner the “pray-er” desired. I suspect she never made that distinction in her interviews, nor did those she talked with make or even think of the difference. Although my memory is shot-through in many instances, I do remember as a boy asking my parents (as every child does) for things that I wanted. Now upon occasion I actually got what I asked for, but most times I did not. Surprised? I learned that I would get an occasional “yes”, or a more frequent “no” or a less frequent “perhaps”.

I never realized until I was grown that when I received that rare “yes” it was because what I wanted matched or coincided with what my parents wanted for me. When I got a “no”, it was because in the wisdom of their experience they knew that what I wanted was not good for me. The less frequent “perhaps” indicated it was either not time yet, or they just had not thought about it and would let me know in the right time. We all have had some kinds of experiences like this. But the real point is that when I as a small boy asked for something, it was usually for selfish and self-serving reasons. James echoes this in James 4:3, “When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” I believe this is what is at the heart of the perceived problem of “unanswered prayer.”

If we, as Christians, ask our heavenly Father for something and it is in accordance with His will for us, He will give it to us – even if we ask for the wrong reasons. The Israelites asked for meat in the wilderness and the Lord granted their grumbling request – with so many quail they were physically sick with it. (see Numbers 11) And just because we ask something of our heavenly Father, let us not think for a moment that a “no” answer is no answer at all. As time passes and we grow in the faith, we may discover how very blessed we were not to receive what we asked for in our immaturity. And, since God is in no need of a “Plan B” and His grand purposes are ever marching onward, a “wait” answer would also be an indicator of His loving-kindness to us as we learn patience at the foot of our Master.

In response to the heart-felt questions about the state of our lives, Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” And just a bit later in Matthew 7:11, Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God is neither mean nor deaf to His children. He wants to give things to us. They are called His blessings and they come in many forms.
So is there really any such thing as an unanswered prayer for God’s people? I don’t think so. It is not a question of God not answering our prayer, but of our submitting to His sovereign and loving will for our lives as His redeemed children. Do we really trust that He will provide for us all that we need? Or are we just upset because we don’t get whatever we want? Almighty God is not our personal “Santa Claus” into whose lap we climb and present our wish list, which He is then obligated to fulfill. He is our heavenly Father, who knows what is best for us and desires that we have it all in abundance – according to His will and in His time.

May He find us asking according to His will, patient until He makes His answer known, and content with whatever it may be. Our model is Jesus, and therein is the “peace that passes all understanding”.

In Christ,

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


As I study Corinthians I see more and more our current society...

"It was clearly no easy matter even for regenerate Cristians to break free from the besetting sin of their ciy, especially when some 'enlightened' members of their community kept assuring them that it was not really a sin at all."

F.F. Bruce, Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Desiring God 2009 Conference

I have been listening to the podcasts from this for the past week...

Monday, October 5, 2009

When did I quit fighting?

Lord, I can’t see the battle
or the enemy.
Give me eyes to see the enemy;
show me the battle.

Train my hands
and my feet;
Fill my mind.
Put a sword in my hand,
a helmet on my head,
armor on my chest.
Give me a shield;
be my shield,
my rock,
my fortress.
Hide me from the enemy,
from his arrows
and his flaming darts;
But strike a true blow through me.

I am weak and wounded,
heavy of heart,
slow of mind.
I cannot see,
cannot stand,
cannot remember.

Give me faith in spite of my failure -
Your faith and grace,
Your strength and courage,
Your weapons and wisdom;
For I have none.

I am lost,
I have no strength.
I have nothing.

But You hold me.

©Rebecca A Givens, 09/25/09

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hold that thought, God. I need to check my email

OH MY. I found this and it goes so perfectly with my previous post...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fasting and Slavery

Lately I have been thinking a lot about slavery. Paul says we are either slaves to sin or slaves to God. Even when we are saved we can choose to go back to our old slavery to sin.

Anyway, I have been wondering, what am I a slave to? Enslaving myself to something is akin to making it an idol, to worshipping it. Sometimes we give ourselves over to something that is not worthy of our worship. Let's take it one step simpler still, and some things we do simply waste time.

Now that I think about it, I think perhaps in getting ready for testing I became a slave to it. I know I have definately teetered on that line of karate being an idol in my life. That is a constant danger for me. In that sense my foot injury was a good thing, it forced me to step back from karate. There are lots of random thoughts about my foot injury rolling around in my head; that is not the direction I intended for this blog post to take!

Where I was going in this post was in fasting! Not fasting from food, but fasting from whatever we do or use as an escape and time waster in this life. My pastor has talked about not reading novels because years ago they became something that consumed him. Perhaps God forced me to fast from karate for 2 months for the same reason. But again I digress from the small topic I started thinking about into a huge idol topic...

My own particular small thing that started me on this post will sound absurd... but thursday night I decided I was wasting way too much time playing spider solitare on the computer. Time just dissappears when I click on that game. And there is so much I would rather do! I would rather read a book, watch a movie, knit. And I should clean house.. Am I a slave to solitare? I don't know, but I decided I would not play a game for at least 1 week. We'll see. So far I haven't been home long enough to notice... but today I have computer work to do, and between those things to do a game would be... a waste of time!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kids' Karate Clinic

Kids' Clinic 2009 for Shingo Ryu Bujutsu Kai and Shingo-ha Yoshukai Bugei

When: Saturday - October 24, 10:00-2:00
Where: Shintaikan Dojo
Lake Crest Presbyterian Church
560 Lake Crest Drive, Hoover, AL, 35226

Cost: $10, this includes pizza for lunch

Black Belts and Brown Belts: Please consider coming and teaching a short segment to the kids! They thrive on attention from you!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Habakkuk 1:11b

...guilty men, whose own strength is their god.

Oh God, is my own strength my God?
Forgive me.
Your strength is made perfect in my weakness.
Teach me to not despise my weakness,
but to embrace it.
To embrace it as Your strength.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Brief Thoughts from Philemon

1. Don't run from your problems - face them. Paul sends Onesimus back.

2. You are not alone, I will help. Paul writes a letter on Onesimus' behalf.

3. Relationships need to be mended and restored.

4. I will pay whatever it costs. Paul offers to pay back what Onesimus took.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

King David

I have been reading and praying through the book of Psalms over the last couple of months. As I read these prayers from King David’s heart, I began to wonder about David as compared to other kings of Israel. David was called “a man after God’s own heart”, yet he had committed adultery and murder. He was a sinner; what made him any different from other kings of Israel, who were rejected by God?

Take Saul for instance. Saul didn’t kill everybody or everything that God told him to. Saul didn’t kill, David did. It seems like David’s sin of murder would have been worse than Saul’s sin of not killing. But, listen to Saul’s first response to Samuel’s rebuke, “I saved them for God, but we destroyed the rest.” He made excuses. He lied. He never again sought the Lord. And he lost his kingdom.

Contrast that with David’s first response to Nathan’s rebuke about his sin: “I have sinned against the Lord.” That was it. No excuses, no explanations, just acknowledgement and repentance. Yes, there were some terrible consequences David still had to pay, but God immediately forgave his sin. David founded a great kingdom, and he went on to be “a man after God’s own heart”.

Sin makes you hard and bitter; sin separates you from God. Repentance brings life back to a dead soul; it restores your relationship with God.

The question is not will we sin. We are sinners, therefore we will sin. The question is, “What will I do with my sin?” Will I make excuses and blame others? Or will I admit my sin, repent and ask forgiveness?

©Rebecca A Givens, 09/06/09

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thoughts from Thessalonians

Somewhat random notes from The Life and Letters of Paul:

If I see a problem in someone else, do I tear into them, or do I do what Paul did in Thessalonians?
Step back
See and acknowledge what God has done in them
Thank God
Then bring in challenge, growth, admonition and difficult conversations

God is at work and Paul will not violate the integrity of that work.

Theology is not based on need.

Can I let go of my life tomorrow?
Is there anything I feel I must do before I die?
Do I cling to what I have?
Do I possess my life?

Yet I do not abandon this life either - I am a steward of it.

Contribute today to what God has laid before your hand.

Am I pre-occupied with my own life?
with anything in this life?
even Christian instruction?
Does my Bible study just feed my curiosity, or does it change my life?

In times of depression remember:
God chose me
God enabled me to hear the Gospel
God is the author of the message I received
God is the head of the church
God wants my life to be conformed to His purposes

A purified life is the fruit of a right understanding of the coming of Christ.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Toes and other small things...

Six and one half weeks ago I hurt my foot… my little toe and the surrounding joints. It is hard to believe that that one tiny area could rule my entire body the way it did. I was tired, depressed, claustrophobic, restless, aching and stiff because I couldn’t work out or even walk. Small things can have a large affect.

My little toe affected my entire body. It reminds me of the yeast of the Pharisees working into the whole batch of dough. Yeast is such a small percentage of bread dough ingredients, yet it has a huge affect on the loaf of bread. What was the yeast of the Pharisees? Their teachings. What did they teach? A works based salvation. I have to do enough right things to gain God’s favor. There is nothing wrong with doing right things! But when we think that is how to be saved… we miss the point. We miss the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. We miss the fact that it is God who saves us, not we who save ourselves through our own strength. We miss the attitude of love for God rather than duty to Him, and we completely miss His love for us. All of this because of a little twisting of the truth.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Beast revisited

About a year ago I wrote a piece called The Beast. It was a very graphic... well, a vision I guess. It was not my imagination, it was what I actually saw. But I have been hesitant about it because let's face it, in conservative circles visions aren't something that happen now-a-days. I wasn't really sure what to do with what I saw, so I just wrote it without commentary or explanation.

This morning I have been thinking back on that vision, and I went back to read it. I realized what a gift that was... a horrible, scary gift. Because you see, as that voice whispers to me it sounds and feels like an old friend. I don't remember that it is a beast who wants to master me, to control me, to be set free by me. But as I read the account and saw it in my mind again, I could see the reality of the beast. It is no friend's voice. It is a voice that wants to lead me into hell.

I am in a war, a spiritual battle, that is very very real. So are you. It is happening in the world out there, in the government, in society, and in your heart.

Don't forget.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

1 Thessalonians

As my children are becoming adults and their leaving home looms very closely on the horizon, I find that I understand Paul more and more. He began a new church in Thessolonica, full of new believers that he led to the Lord, and he thinks of them as his children. But they are on their own now, before they were even fully ready to be, and he is anxious about their wellfare. Will they continue on in their faith in God? They are surrounded by pagans and antagonistic jews. Will they give in to the pressure? Will they give up their Christianity?

Paul finally receives word that they are doing well. They are doing what he taught them to do. They are not giving in to peer pressure or the evil ways of the world around them. They are still following Christ. And Paul is encouraged!

I think of my own children. Will they continue to live a life of faith? Or will they bow to the materialism of this world? Will they get into trouble when they are on their own out there? I can think of nothing in this world I want more than to hear that they are doing well on their own.

As I thought of Paul and his converts and my own children, I also got a glimpse of my Pastor's job too. Because the members of his congregation are his spiritual children. No wonder my pastor likes to hear about the spiritual lives of us... not just the problems, but the victories must encourage him greatly. I must remember to tell him more of those good things!

The last thing in this long train of thought this morning was that as a Sensei and a teacher I am also like Paul. I have a responsibility to and for my students as well as a right to be proud of them when they do well. The kid that successfully defended himself against a bully at school, the shy timid little boy who grinned and did his kata in front of everyone, the student who walks taller and no longer lives a life of fear... those all encourage me more than I can say. I have a responsibility to look after them while they are in my care, just like I look after and train up my children while they are in my care. And this is what Paul says about that:

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worth of God who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thess 2:11-12

And that is my job as a parent and a Sensei. I don't call them or save them, God does. But I encourage, I comfort, I urge. Sometimes with force, particularly when they are young; sometimes with guidance and advice. Sometimes it's a hug or a cookie or a kind word. But there is a purpose in it all. And it is not just about karate, or math, or music or whatever I am teaching or pushing at them. My ultimate goal must be for them to live a life worthy of God who calls them into His kingdom and His glory, not my own.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Psalm 100:3

I have spent my life wanting to belong to someone -
someone who could take care of me,
someone to belong to,
Someone who has the desire, the power, and the right to rule over me.

Read Psalm 100:3, with the pronouns personal.

I know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made me, and I am His;
I am His child, the sheep of His pasture.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Which cat are you?

We have a cat named Ali. She was not named after alley cat, she was named for Alice in Wonderland… because it fit her personality. Ali is… well, a bit spacey, ADD, and totally instinctual. It was a long time before she even realized that we were in her house. She did like to sit on our warm soft laps, but other than that I don’t think she knew that we existed. She would jump up and sit on you as long as you didn’t move; she definitely didn’t want to snuggle or be petted. Every once in a while, she’d look up at your face, and the blank look in her eyes would change to awareness that she was looking at a live being… wow.

We have another cat; his name is Mo, short for Amontillado from the Edgar Allan Poe story. Mo came from the pound. He was so small he could sit in the palm of my hand, yet he sat in such a dignified manner! Within 2 days of coming to live with us, Mo got very ill with feline flu. He had to go to the vet and have IV fluids and was on antibiotics for a while… nothing more pitiful than a tiny sneezing, wheezing, dehydrated kitten. At that same time child #4 cut her toe and ended up spending a week sitting on the couch watching TV, so Mo sat with her all week long. They were quite a pair, both skinny and miserable and pitiful.

Mo is the opposite of Ali. He is loving and affectionate and wants to be held and loved. Whether it is in his basic personality or he was aware that he would have died without us I don’t know. But unlike Ali, even in those early days, Mo would look at you and want you to love on him.
These two cats typify the ways people respond to God. Some people are like Ali, totally oblivious that there is a being up there who feeds and protects her. Every once in a while the beings above intrude into her consciousness and she gets a glimpse of them, but for the most part she just goes about her business being a cat. Other people are like Mo. They recognize that they are being cared for and they respond with love and affection and a desire to seek out the being above them.

Are you aware of God in your life? Do you seek God? Or do you just wander around being a human, oblivious to His presence and His provision? Whether you realize it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not, God is the Creator and the Provider of your life. You should take some time to get to know Him.

©Rebecca A Givens, 08/09

Monday, August 31, 2009

Show me...


Show me how to live this life.
Show me how to glorify You.
Show me how to show You to those around me.
Show me how to teach my students more than karate.
Show me how to be a wife mother,teacher, friend.

No - don't show me -
Live in me and through me.

Breath life in me.
Glorify Yourself in me.
Show Yourself to others through me.
Use my life to draw others to You.

Whatever I am in this life - wife, mother, teacher, friend,
Whatever role I play in the lives of those around me,
Let it not be me living it,
but Christ living in me.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fun for the whole family

Our entire family sat down together to watch a Victor Borge video. It's a rare thing for all of us to be entertained! Great fun!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

John Donne (1572-1631)

“O most mighty and merciful God, who, though thou hast taken me off of my
feet, hast not taken me off of my foundation, which is thyself

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jonah's Worm

Forgive me.

Like Jonah, I have been angry and bitter
over the worm that ate the vine
that You gave me for shelter.

But You are bigger than the worm,
bigger than the vine,
bigger than the scorching sun,
bigger than the desert that surrounds me.

You promise me shade and shelter
that is more than physical,
more than temporary.
It is eternal.
It is perfect.

You shelter my soul.
You sustain my spirit.

You protect me in and through Your gifts, yes,
but more than that –
You give me Your Presence, Your Spirit.
It sustains and shelters and comforts.
It even brings peace and joy,
if I will let it.

Forgive me.
The Lord gives
and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

©Rebecca A Givens, 08/23/09

Monday, August 24, 2009

Soli Deo Gloria

"We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect God's law or the gospel in our preaching or if self-improvement, self-esteem, or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel." R.C. Sproul

Church Worship is not for us, it is for God!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Five Solas

Sola Fide

Sola Scriptura

Solus Christus

Sola Gratia

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


We, the church, are the bride of Christ. Have you ever stopped to think about what that means?

Psalm 45 is a wedding song to the King and his bride. Verses 10 and 11 caught my eye:

Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.

We are to leave everything and everyone behind and give ourselves to Christ.

Now read John 8:39-47. This is the passage where Jesus is telling the Jews that they are the children of Satan and that He is the son of God. There are no neutral parties in this life, you are either for God or for Satan. You can’t sit on the fence and decide, because there is no middle ground.

Satan is our father, and God calls us out of Satan’s family and into His own. He takes us as His own children, and as the bride for His Son, and He tells us to forget our people and our father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.

We are to walk away from our first father, Satan, and forget that we ever served him. We fix our eyes on our new Father, the Father who bought us with the blood of His Son, the Father who reached down and claimed us as His own; and He presents us as a bride to that same Son who shed His blood for us. And He is enthralled by our beauty! Enthralled by me! That is amazing!

Rebecca A Givens, 06/07/09

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hannah Graduates!

I've been meaning to get around to this post all summer... how did it get to be August already?
Child #2 graduated from high school last May! 2 down, 2 to go!
We are very proud of Hannah. She won a full scholarship to Alabama and turned it down (I have no problem with that). She was accepted (and offered a scholarship) to Gutenburg College in Oregon, but in the end turned that down as well. She has decided to take a year off and write... finish a book and get some short stories published... as well as work at the Library and another part-time job (as yet unfound), and help me drive her sisters around their various activities, and tutor them in Latin and Art. Sounds like a lot when you list it all out like that! Anyway, depending on how all that goes, she may go to Gutenburg in another year. Or something totally different may come along. Whatever she does, I am sure she will do well.
Congratulations Hannah!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The state of my life...


That is the state of my life at the moment.
Broken little toe that will not heal, so I am staying off it, sitting, foot propped and iced off and on.
That means no working out.
No training.
No riding.
And you know how that makes me feel.

On top of that there are no groceries
no laundry
no dishes
no cooking
no cleaning
That would make me feel wonderful if I was training or riding, but I am sitting here looking at it all not getting done!

You'd think I'd take advantage of this time to write or study, but without the working out I can't seem to sleep or get my head wrapped around any words coming in or going out.

So I purged my address book. Caught up on a bit of mindless paperwork. Downloaded the next podcast course I plan to listen to. I need to go though my inbox and get rid of at least half of it. And read some mindless escape in Harry Potter. Next week I will work some extra, with my foot propped. And go to Texas where I can sit and do nothing there.


Psalm 91

This morning I sat down for my devotions and wondered what to talk to God about. What is it that I want? What is it that I need? Healing? Money? I opened my Bible to the next Psalm, and this is what it said:

Psalm 91
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Rest in the shadow of the Almighty… Lord, that is what I want. But how do I dwell in the shelter of the Most High? Lord, make me to dwell in Your shelter and rest in Your shadow.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Yes, I will say that… LORD, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

God, save me, cover me, give me refuge. Be my shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Take my fear.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

I cannot bear the weight of my sin. Forgive me.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

You are my dwelling and my refuge.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

Do Your angels really watch over me? Thank You! Keep me moving with You, along Your path. Do not let me stumble in danger, or be distracted by anything.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

I do love You, LORD. Yet even the love that I have for You comes from You. Give me more love for You. Give me more opportunities to acknowledge Your Name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

Answer me in my trouble Lord, show me Your Presence. Deliver me.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
nd show him my salvation."

I look forward to eternity with You!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Christ's Nature

I have spent of lot of time "seeing" my own sin nature, but I Corinthians 15:49 says:

As we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

I have the nature of Christ in me as well as the sin nature!

Lord, help me see Christ in myself.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Every day, no matter what:

Tell God that you love Him.
Tell Him that you trust Him, no matter what happens.
Thank Him for something, or several things.

Remind yourself that God is sovereign over everything, including the interruptions in your day and the disappointments. Yes, even the really bad things.

And then I remember my life verse..

Psalm 18:19b - He rescued me because He delights in me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


All the experts agree that we should spend time talking to our kids, without distractions. Turn off the computer and the television, put down the newspaper, and give your full attention to your kids. Same goes for your spouse. Our families need our undivided attention. We all need to be heard by those closest to us, we need to know that we are important.

Yesterday I was rushing around trying to get out the door to get to work, when I realized I hadn’t had time to sit down and talk to God. I hastily decided that once again we would talk in the car on the way to work. Soon I was driving down the road with the radio on, it was a Christian station, and the words in the paragraph above came to mind.

How often has my husband felt neglected because I was sitting in front of the computer while I was with him? How often have my children been talking to me but I was only half listening because my eyes were somewhere else?

I was reminded that as a Christian I have entered into a relationship with God. Just like my relationship to my husband or my children, that relationship requires some time and some undivided attention. Yes, He is always with me, even in the car and in the middle of all my activities. And yes, He hears those prayers that I pray on the run. But do I hear HIM when I am on the run? Do I hear that still, small Voice speaking to me?

Spend some focused, undivided time with God. Not for His sake, He doesn’t need you to make Him feel special; but for your own sake, so you can hear His Voice. Read and pray through His Word. Pray for your family and those around you in need. Ask Him to direct you and teach you and speak to you. Then when you run out the door you will be so much more aware of His Presence in your life because you will be tuned in to His Voice.

Nothing brings me comfort, peace and joy like being aware of God’s Presence in my life.

©Rebecca A Givens, 04/04/09

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ed Freeman

You're a 19 year old kid.

You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , on11-14-1965, LZ X-ray , Vietnam .

Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8 - 1 and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.

You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not getting out.

Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter..!!

You look up to see an un-armed Huey!! But.... it doesn't seem real because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you..!!

He's not Medi-Vac so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway. Even after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

He's coming anyway.

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the Doctors and Nurses.

And, he kept coming back..!! 13 more times..!! He took about 30 of you and your buddies out who would never have gotten out.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Ed Freeman, died last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise , ID

May God Rest His Soul.

I bet you didn't hear about this hero's passing, but we've sure seen a whole bunch

about Micheal Jackson passing..!!

Medal of Honor WinnerEd Freeman!

Shame on the American Media..!!

Now.... YOU pass this along on YOUR mailing list.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Strength Out of Weakness

Daily Encounter
A Week-day Devotional by Dick Innes of ACTS International

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
1. Strength out of Weakness
"But he [God] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."1

I read a few years ago the story of a 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.

The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move.

"Sensei," the boy finally said, "shouldn't I be learning more moves?"

"This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you'll ever need to know," the sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.

Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. "No," the sensei insisted, "let him continue."

Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.

On the way home, the boy and the sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind: "Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?"

"You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm."

"The boy's biggest weakness had become his biggest strength."2Hmmm ... very interesting. When it comes to life, for some folk their biggest strength becomes their biggest weakness. For example, as Jesus said about the wealthy man, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."3 The eye of the needle was referring to a door in the wall of the city (as it was commonly called) which was too small for a camel to go through, meaning that it was impossible for a person who trusts in his riches—or his fame, personality, power or position—to get into God's heaven.

On the other hand, when we acknowledge our weaknesses and know that we need to depend on God for guidance, wisdom, discernment, and deliverance from temptation—this can become our greatest strength.

Suggested prayer, "Dear God, please deliver me from the sin of pride and help me always remember to be dependent on you for guidance, wisdom, direction, power to overcome temptation, and for my eternal salvation. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).
2. Thought for the Day, by Alan Smith,
3. Matthew 19:24 (NIV).


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posted with permission of Dick Innes

Saturday, July 11, 2009


It’s not the knowledge of scripture –
It is the will to do it.

It’s not the obedience of the hands –
It is the attitude of the heart.

It’s not the people I know, depend on, love, need –
It is God.

It’s not talk about God –
It is talk with God.

It’s not asking God for what I want –
It is asking God for what He wants.

It’s not about what I can or cannot do or be –
It is about what God does in me, with me, through me.

It’s not about knowing myself –
It is about knowing God.

It’s not about knowledge for the sake of knowing, or satisfying curiosity –
It is about knowledge to know Him better, love Him better, serve Him better.

It’s not knowing about God –
It is knowing God.

©Rebecca A Givens, 06/29/09

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Come Away From Rush and Hurry

This song is to the tune of "Come Thou Fount"
It fit so well with my theme of REST that I just had to post it...

Come away from rush and hurry
to the stillness of God's peace;
From our vain ambition's worry,
come to Christ to find release.
Come away from noise and clamor,
life's demands and frenzied pace;
Come to join the people gathered
here to seek and find God's face.

In the pastures of God's goodness
we lie down to rest our soul.
From the waters of God's mercy
we drink deeply, are made whole.
At the table of God's presence
all the saints are richley fed.
With the oil of God's anointing
into service we are led.

Come, then, children, with your burdens,
life's confusions, fears and pain.
Leave them at the cross of Jesus;
take instead His kingdom's reign.
Bring your thirsts, for He will quench them,
He alone will satisfy.
All our longings find attainment
when to self we gladly die.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


12 hours is a long drive
it’s much easier to put up a tent with 2 people
a cold shower sucks
some girls dress like prostitutes… in public
my new friend is a little squirrel named Chatter
I saw 3 fawns
a rabbit ran under my legs as I sat in the camp chair, his friend watched
rain falling on the tent is not a comforting sound
I am a loner, but I still get lonely
I like the woods and being outside
bugs walking on the water is cool
I struggle with depression. can’t deny it anymore
people in Ohio talk funny
there is more to life than martial arts
it’s nice to be remembered
old people are wonderful
take what comes – don’t force it
God is relational
giant fish
baby ducks
rest and peace seep in slowly
does it always rain here?
the sound of the wind
my soul finds rest in God alone

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rest Only

I spent my last day or so in Ohio thinking about how to bring back the rest and peace I found there. I knew that I would be coming back to the normal chaos of my life. I thought about this all the way home as well. I feel like I can breathe again, like I can relax again. I don’t want to lose this!

Well, I got home last night. My desk is covered with mail, there are dishes and laundry and questions. My inbox has a zillion new e-mails. Finances, bills, discussions, plans all await my attention. How do I hang on to rest and peace?

While I was gone I made a list of things and places where I find at least a small measure of rest and peace in my life. As I reflected on those things and on my week the Psalm that God directed me to at the beginning of the week continued to run through my mind. “My soul finds rest in God alone…”

I wonder about myself – about my ability to handle pressure and stress, about my abilities as a wife and mother, about my abilities as a homemaker. I have responsibilities in these areas, but not abilities. And therein lies my lack of peace. The abilities I do have: teaching martial arts, kata, etc, cannot provide me with the rest and peace to make it through the other parts of my life (although I have frequently sought peace in those areas…).

So rest, soul rest, cannot come from within me. My abilities do not provide it, and my lack of abilities certainly cannot provide it. Only in God can I find rest. He had to take me out of the normal chaos of my life to remind me of that. I pray that as I return to this chaos, I will seek my rest only in Him.

becky givens

Monday, July 6, 2009

More Rest

With each passing day here I find the peace and the rest sinking deeper into me. Each day I breathe easier, I relax more, I sleep better. I keep thinking, “I found it! This is wonderful!” Only to find the next day I feel it even more, even deeper.

How do I take this home with me? How do I live in the present, in the moment, yet keep my eyes on eternity? How do I keep my soul in this place of God’s rest?

How do I remember who I am? How do I do what I am supposed to do?

I want to love my husband and let him love me.
I want to hug my kids.
I want to be the wife and mother I am supposed to be.

Yet I live in a fallen world, a fallen body, a fallen heart. Fears, finances, busyness, job. Responsibilities pull me in every direction. My thoughts and my intentions scatter to the wind with the beginning of each day. Every task presses in and squeezes me tighter, constricting my heart.

How does the rest of the soul happen in the chaos of the world?

Perhaps it exists:
In the hours before dawn when the house is asleep.
In the arms of my husband.
In the meditation of a kata.
In the quiet moments before sleep.
In the peace of a worship service.
In a cup of coffee with a friend.
In a cold beer.
In my pastor’s office.
In a walk through the woods.
In the surety of the knowledge of the sovereignty of God.
In the meditation of Scripture.
In a well written word.
In the help of a friend.
In the warmth of a fire.
In the coolness of a swim.
In a motorcycle ride.

Lord God, open my eyes and my heart to Your rest.

becky givens

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Well, 2009 is half over. I must say that it has been very busy for me. At Thanksgiving I started a part time job. I trained intensively for the last 6 months getting ready for a black belt test that was in May. Child #2 graduated from high school in May. I started teaching karate at a new location in May. This all means that I currently work 12-15 hours/week, teach 9 hours/week, and home-school a 5th and 9th grader (yes, we are still trying to finish up last year’s school). Then there is family and house and church. Thank God the karate test and the graduation are over at this point!

As you can imagine, and probably relate in today’s world, the pressure and the exhaustion have caught up with me at times. It is hard to juggle the schedule and the responsibilities and my sanity. I found out 2 weeks ago that I had to drive child #3 to Ohio and stay for a week. I cannot tell you what went through my mind - let’s just say that I could not imagine any way that I could drop my classes, my work, my income, and my stuff and stay in Ohio for a week!
So, here I am - at a campground in Ohio. I’ve been here since Friday night. Saturday I spent at a harp competition, but I’ve been here alone in the woods ever since. I did go to church Sunday… it made me miss my own church. I do have neighbors in the campground… they make me miss my family (except the screaming child that was here the first day…). It took me several days to unwind and stop the chatter in my mind and really enjoy being here.

This morning I opened my Bible to the book of Psalms, and this is what I read:

Psalm 62:1-8

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down –
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.

As I read this I realized that rest is what I have needed most. These last few months there has been no rest. There has been too much activity and busyness and noise in my life. Satan and the world and my own sin nature fully intend to topple me; and I can’t find rest anywhere except in God alone. He had to get me alone and away from my stuff and my responsibilities and my life to remind me of that.

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

becky givens

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I just returned from a week in Ohio. I had not planned to go, but a few weeks ago child #3's ride to OSAS, harp camp, fell through. I didn't have a great attitude going into this... money, cancelling classes, getting off work (therefore not getting paid), all the stuff I have to do. But I have to say that God knew what He was doing by making me go. I spent lots of time reading, studying, hiking, and sleeping. I spent time on my Life and Letters of Paul class, started studing in Romans, continued meditating in Psalms, listened to R.C. Sproul's podcasts, and Ravi Zacharias' podcasts, wrote a little, prayed a lot, read a few pointless novels. It took a few days for the rest to sink into my soul... and I did not realize how tense and stressed I have been until rest seeped in. I slept for the first time in months. I never would have dreamed how comfortable a cheap, narrow air mattress on the ground could be! Over the next few days I am going to post my thoughts that arose out of that week...

Monday, June 22, 2009


The valley of the shadow of death;

It is everywhere
all around me
inside me.

Sucking the life
the joy
the peace
from me.

The valley
the pit
the abyss
I cannot take my eyes from it.
The darkness rises like a fog from it.

Is there no light anywhere?
Is there no mountain other than the edge of the abyss?
Must I dwell in darkness?
Is that where I live and move and have my being?

I am blind in the blackness;
suffocating in the fog and smoke.

Yet I remember –

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

©Rebecca A Givens, 06/14/09

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sovereignty AND Free will

In Psalm 52:12 David asks God:

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

Several years ago I was struggling in my Christian walk. I didn’t want what God wanted, and I knew it. So my prayer was very similar to David’s. Lord, change my heart to match Yours. Make me want what You want. I wanted to want God, but I didn’t. I hated that I was struggling so much, but seeing David pray the same thing in this verse makes me feel so much better!

Along with praying that God would make me want what He wants, I often wish that He would just stop me from sinning. After all, He is sovereign, He can control my actions. So why does He let me continue in my pigheaded way to do stupid things? I don’t want this choice… this responsibility!

An answer is found in an earlier Psalm, also written by David, Psalm 39:9:

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

God doesn’t want me to come to Him like a robot, He wants me to chose Him. He gives me a chance to prove my love to Him by my obedience. He lets me struggle with my own desires and my own will so I can grow stronger.

But at the same time, I couldn’t do it without Him enabling me to! These 2 verses seem to contradict one another… God, make me willing. Becky, don’t come because you have no choice, come because you want to.

Something to think about.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Isaiah 62

More and more often as I read in the Old Testament I see Israel as a picture of myself. I am the nation of Israel, Jerusalem, the City, Zion. Yes, these are references to God’s people as a group, but I think they also apply to me, the individual.

This morning we read Isaiah 62 in church, and it struck me very strongly that Isaiah was referring to me as he said these things:

For Becky's sake I will not keep silent,
for her sake I will not remain quiet,
till her righteousness shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.

The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.

You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD's hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah
and your land Beulah;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.

As a young man marries a maiden,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Becky;
they will never be silent day or night.

You who call on the LORD,
give yourselves no rest,
and give Him no rest till He establishes Becky

and makes her the praise of the earth.

The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
"Never again will I give your grain
as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
for which you have toiled;
but those who harvest it will eat it

and praise the LORD,
and those who gather the grapes will drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary."

Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.

The LORD has made proclamation
to the ends of the earth:
"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your Savior comes!
See, His reward is with Him,
and His recompense accompanies Him.' "

Becky will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the LORD;
and she will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.

Is that not the most encouraging thing ever? I encourage you to read everything this way. Make it personal. See what God is saying to you!