Friday, January 30, 2009

Paul, Silas and the jailor

This morning I read about Paul and Silas in prison in Acts 16. They've been stripped, beaten and flogged, because they drove a demon out of a slave girl thereby reducing her value to her owner (she was a fortune teller). BTW, she had been following them around for days yelling out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved!" Can you imagine this picture? It must have been driving them crazy, not only what she was doing, but the knowledge that she was a slave to more than one master... earthly and demon. And what about the demon? Was it compelled to announce what it knew? Did it have her doing this on purpose, to get Paul and Silas into trouble?

Anyway, they've been stripped and severely beaten and thrown into the middle of the jail with their feet in stocks. It's midnight. They are praying and singing hymns to God. What is up with that? It's been a long day, you'd think they'd be tired... how often am I too tired to pray or sing hymns? I might be praying silently, but they were praying together, aloud, singing, the other prisoners are listening... and there is a violent earthquake and everyone's chains fall off and the locked doors spring open. But do they run away? Nope. The jailer is on the verge of suicide, assuming they escaped, but they call out to him. In he rushes, with these glorious words, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The man had been listening to them, and he knew life when he saw it. Right then he became a believer, he took them out of jail and into his home, he cared for their wounds (remember, they had been severely flogged), apparently woke his whole family (although the earthquake may have done that), and they all were baptized. Then they sat down to eat a meal... remember, the earthquake happened at midnight, so this is really late. And then come some of my favorite words, "he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God - he and his whole family."

I want that faith. The faith of Paul and Silas that prays aloud and sings hymns in the worst of circumstances at the end of all human physical strength. The faith that witnesses to those who hurt and harm me and accepts them into the family of God. The faith that really doesn't worry about tomorrow because it knows that God has tomorrow under control. And the faith of the jailer, who immediately did what was right. And I want the joy that God gave to these men. Lord, give me faith!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thoughts from the book of Acts

Something struck me this afternoon as I was reading in Acts 13. Paul and Barnabas are preaching in Antioch, and are very well received that first sabbath day in the synagogue, even asked to come back the following week. Apparently news about them spread throughout the city, because the next week everybody was there. But the Jews became jealous and talked abusively against them. So Paul and Barnabas said they would take the gospel to the Gentiles, who were thrilled to hear the word of the Lord. The Jews continued to stir up trouble and managed to force them to leave that region.

That's the background to the following verse:

"And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."

How cool is that?!

Lord, no matter what happens in this world, in politics, in church, in personal life, I pray to be filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

God's Hate

Christ stands between me and God,
as a Shield protecting me
from the white hot, burning fire
of the hate and anger of God.

That burning hate against
evil and sin was poured out on Christ,
He who never sinned.

The only fire I will see is a
cleansing fire,
a purifying fire
that will leave me clean –
not destroyed.

Not so for those who are not Believers.
That wrath –
that consuming fire -
will be poured out on them
as it was on Christ for me.

Rebecca A Givens, 01/09

Monday, January 26, 2009

Soul Winter

Tree stands alone
Bare branches against ashen sky
Bitter wind blows through aching bones
Waiting for life

Bright bird perches
Flashing, preening, singing
Warm sight, warm sound
Life returns
Rebecca A Givens, 01/09

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Scripture Reading

I am now reading in the book of Acts. It has never been more alive or exciting to me! I don't know why but the gospels were like that as well. Perhaps because the Old Testament is so fresh on my mind? Or perhaps because I am reading bigger chunks of it, and reading it all the way through? Whatever the reason, I am finding it very exciting. I can't wait to get through the whole New Testament so I can come back and dwell on it at a much slower pace.

I encourage you to read and immerse yourself in God's Word. How can a Believer not desire to learn more about our Savior? Pray that God will give you a hunger and thirst for Him and for His Word.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Intense Training

The days are here where training becomes intense. Black Belt (nidan, 2nd degree) testing looms before me and I have much work to do.

Rank really means nothing to me. The only thing I love about testing is that it gives me an excuse to train more and train harder, but I don’t care what my rank is. The training is what is important. Some days I progress, some days I plateau, some days I forget what I know. But what matters is that whatever that day has brought, I will be back the next day for more.

Actually, rank does have one important function for me... the belt around my gi reminds me that people I respect think I am worthy of it. It gives me some measure of self-confidence.

Anyway, just wanted to warn my readers that as training becomes intense other things do as well... it will be interesting to see what happens in the other parts of my life. Pray for me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009



How can I bring You Glory?
It is an absurd thought,
You are Glory itself!

I am nothing.
I am sin and sinner.
I am weak, flawed, broken.

You are everything.
There is no sin in You,
only my own laid upon You.
You are strength itself,
perfect in every way.

Yet You chose me to be Your Glory.
You wore my sin
that I might wear Your Righteousness.

Your Blood flows freely over me;
Your Heart turns lovingly toward me;
Your Mind plans the steps of my days
and the Peace of my heart;
Your Power makes it all happen.

For Your Glory

©Rebecca A Givens, 01/17/09

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have been reading through the gospels lately, and am now up to the crucifixion. It's a story that we all know well, perhaps too well, because we just read along and Jesus dies and we go on about our day. But this time through it struck me deeply. Jesus tells the women to not weep for Him, but to weep for themselves and their children because difficult times are coming. But they can't see that far into the future, they can only see their Lord being taken away. Then I found myself weeping with Mary at the foot of the cross. The thought of His blood flowing, the realization of my own judgment being thrust upon this perfect Man, of Him bearing the hate and anger that God has for my sin, it is just more than I can take. I see Him hanging there, in physical, mental, and emotional agony, looking down through the centuries at me. Looking into my eyes. On His face, in His body, the agony is plainly evident. But in His eyes there is Love. This look, this love shining out of His agony, it breaks me. I can't help but fall at His feet in awe of what He has done. I can't help but pledge my life to this Man.

May He be real to you.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

From Your Hands - Julian Drive

This song has been stuck in my head for the last week...
Prayin’ in the garden
You saw the crowd a-comin’
Betrayed by the one that called you King
You could’ve called a band of angels
To come and save the day
But instead you chose to stay
You didn’t run away
In the very front of your mind
While the blood was flowing
You saw my face as you cried
Certain in knowing
Tears, blood, and pain in the sand
True love was pouring
True love was pouring from your hand
Bruised and beaten
Appeared you were defeated
But things aren’t always what they seem
They thought when they placed your body
Into an empty grave
It would end all debate
But the stone was rolled away
In the very front of your mind
While the blood was flowing
You saw my face as you cried
Certain in knowing
Tears, blood, and pain in the sand
True love was pouring
True love was pouring from the
Same hand that washes clean
And sets the captive free, yeah
Same hand that calmed the sea
And the one that rescued me, yeah
In the very front of your mind
While the blood was flowing
You saw my face as you cried
Certain in knowing
Tears, blood, and pain in the sand
True love was pouring
True love was pouring from your
In the very front of your mind
While the blood was flowing
You saw my face as you cried
Certain in knowing
Tears, blood, and pain in the sand
True love was pouring
True love was pouring from your hand
In the very front of your mind, yeah
You saw my face as you cried
All the tears and pain in the sand
True love was pouring from your hand

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bible Study difficulties

Since I lost my Bible a couple of months ago I have felt cast adrift in many ways, though one good thing is that I have realized a new love of scripture. I read the Words and I want to absorb them into my being – I want to study more and learn more. I look forward to my Bible reading time every day.

But the difficulty is that my prayer life has suffered. I had prayer lists in my old Bible that I have had a hard time replacing. At first I kept thinking it would turn up and I wouldn’t have to replace them; and then I knew I wouldn’t be able to get them exactly right so I kept putting it off. I have spent more time reading and studying the Word and thinking about it and God – and less time talking to God. It’s a bit ironic that the study of God might replace the relationship with God… perhaps reading and studying and thinking are things I can control, but when I pray I give control to God. It is giving Him permission to use me, to change me, to mold me. Praying is not just a list of people and things to say to God, it is a giving of myself and my concerns to Him.

Lord, forgive me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Be Thou My Vision

We sang “Be Thou My Vision” in church Sunday. This has always been a favorite of mine. My daughter plays it on the harp so I hear it all the time, but I hadn’t thought about the words in a long while. As we sang the first verse the third line hit me: “Thou my best Thought, by day or by night” and I realized that this was the absolute best thought that should go in “becky’s thoughts” this week. Every verse speaks to me in a personal way. I pray that it will speak to you as well, and that you can make it a prayer for yourself.


Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Dal­lan For­gaill (translated from the Irish byMa­ry E. Byrne, Versified by El­ea­nor H. Hull)

Monday, January 12, 2009

What brings peace?

As Jesus approached Jerusalem for that last time, He wept over it and said this:

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes..."

It really struck me how often I forget what brings me peace. God has opened my eyes and shown me peace, He has saved me from the coming destruction. Yet I forget and do not live like I have that peace.

Lord, keep my eyes open and Your peace in my mind and heart.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Matthew 19-20

I had some random thoughts as I read through Matthew 19 and 20:

Divorce - The pharisees are trying to trap Jesus and so asked Him about divorce. I wondered if divorce was common amoung the Jews then... I think the Greeks and Romans were pretty promiscous. Anyway, Jesus says it is unlawful to divorce your wife except for unfaithfulness. The disciples response was that it would be better to never marry if that were the case. Was the thought of marriage for life to one woman that unthinkable to them? I just don't understand what they were thinking about at that moment.

The Rich Young Man - A rich young man comes to Jesus wanting eternal life. He wants to know what he must do to get it. He says he obeys the commandments, but he seems to know that something is lacking in his life. Jesus tells him to give up his wealth, and the young man goes away sad. That is apparently what he values the most. And Jesus says this: it is easier to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. At this the disciples are astonished and wonder who can be saved. They were not rich, but like the rest of us probably would wish to have wealth. The thought that having wealth might prevent you from being saved is an eye opener. But I also wondered about something else... did the disciples still believe that Christ was going to overthrow the government and begin an earthly rule? If so they might well have thought wealth was in their own future. And the temple rulers seem to present a picture of wealth as well...

Next came the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Workers were hired over the course of a day, so that some worked all day and some just a small portion of the day. Yet at the end of the day all were paid the same wage. The workers who toiled all day felt they had been wronged and should have earned more. Believers who are saved early in life and serve God for a long time will gain the same salvation as those who are saved at death's door. Is this fair? Did you earn your salvation by your life of service to God, or was it a gift? The life of service to God is a chance to show God I love Him and say thank You for the gift of salvation, not a means of earning salvation. Those who have little time here on earth miss out on that chance to love God back, and the chance to commune and walk with God through this life. That is a blessing beyond measure, and I encourage you not to waste it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Healed Lepers

Yesterday as I was reading in Luke 17 about Jesus healing the ten men who had leprosy, a couple of little words stood out in my mind.

Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests. The priests were the ones who could pronounce them clean. He didn't heal them first... he said, "Go to the priests." So they went. And as they went, they were cleansed. They were in the process of obeying Him before He fixed their problem.

How often do we sit and wait for God to fix our problem, rather than getting up and obeying Him? Maybe He won't fix it until we start moving in the right direction.

Oh yeah... and I want to make sure I am the one who goes back to say thank you to God.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who do I want to be?

This morning I was thinking about some older people I know, and my mind began to wander (as usual). I wondered what I would be like 30 years from now.

What do I want to be like when I am old? Who do I want to be?

I want to enjoy life, whatever life I have in my body. I want to serve God and those around me. I want to pray and to be known as a woman of prayer. I want to always be learning, about God and His Word, about the world around me, about the people around me. I want to read good books, listen to good performances, but need few things. Whatever parts of me will move, I want to keep exercising. I want to explore foreign lands and people and culture and language, traveling if possible but just learning if not. I want my children to enjoy my presence, not feel pressured by it; I want them to feel my acceptance of them. I want my grandchildren to know that I love them, to feel it in my eyes and my face and my arms and my words. I want to know God more, to love Him more, to need Him more, to serve Him more, to trust Him more. That is who and what I want to be. Amen.

As I read what I had written, I thought about the fact that it is a New Year, a time when we traditionally look at the last year to evaluate it, look at the future to plan. If I want to be that older woman in the future, I should work to be that person now. As I grow older my mind will be much more entrenched and set, less flexible and able to change. My habits will rule my life. I will become more of who I am now.

Lord, make me who You want me to be. Keep sending me role models to inspire me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Prayer for the New Year


Give me eyes to see You
and look for You,
even when You are invisible.

Give me ears to hear Your voice
and follow You,
even on uncertain paths.

Give me a mind that seeks out Your mysteries
and serves You,
whether I understand or not.

Give me a heart that feels Your presence
and loves You,
no matter what I feel.

Give me a will that determines
to submit to Your authority,
no matter what I want.

Rebecca A Givens, 1/1/09

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hypocrisy and Fear

In reading through Luke 12:1-12 this morning I had a few thoughts:

Each paragraph here is familiar to me, but I never realized they were connected to each other. This is all one teaching from Jesus... how does each part fit together as a whole?

Jesus is speaking to His disciples, in the midst of a crowd of many thousands. He tells them:

to be on guard against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees
to not fear those who could kill them
to fear God, who has the power of hell
God will not forget them, He knows the smallest details of their lives
acknowledge Jesus in public and He will acknowledge us before angels
deny or disown Him in public and He will disown us before angels
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable
do not worry about how you will defend yourself, the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say

Can you see the connections now?
The pharisees claim to know God but do not. They will seek to kill those who follow Jesus, but we should not be afraid because they only have power over the body, not the soul. God has the power to send us to heaven or hell, so we should be in awe of God. God also knows us intimately and cares for us, so as we face persecution we should be encouraged to stay the course, remembering that as we stand strong here on earth, Jesus is honoring us in heaven. If we do trust Jesus, the Holy Spirit will be in us, giving us the words to say when we are attacked or persecuted, allowing us to acknowledge God in those circumstances.

I confess I do not understand the statement about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. I have a feeling that it has to do with God drawing us to Him, giving us words that please Him, our ability to come to God, etc. Something to think about...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grace in Trials

Father of Mercies,

Hear me for Jesus' sake.

I am sinful even in my closest walk with Thee;
it is of Thy mercy I died not long ago;
Thy grace has given me faith in the cross
by which Thou hast reconciled Thyself to me
and me to Thee,
drawing me by Thy great love,
reckoning me as innocent in Christ though guilty in myself.

Giver of all graces,
I look to Thee for strength to maintain them in me,
for it is hard to practice what I believe.

Strengthen me against temptations.
My heart is an unexhausted fountain of sin,
a river of corruption since childhood days,
flowing on in every pattern of behavior;
Thou hast disarmed me of the means in which I trusted,
and I have no strength but in Thee.
Thou alone canst hold back my evil ways,
but without Thy grace to sustain me I fall.

Satan's darts quickly inflame me,
and the shield that should quench them
easily drops out of my hand:
Empower me against his wiles and assaults.
Keep me sensible of my weakness,
and of my dependence upon Thy strength.

Let every trial teach me more of Thy peace,
more of Thy love.

Thy Holy Spirit is given to increase Thy graces,
and I cannot preserve or improve them
unless He works continually in me.
May He confirm my trust in Thy promised help;
and let me walk humbly in dependence upon Thee,
for Jesus' sake.

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

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Creed by Steve Turner


We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before during
and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy's OK
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything's getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated.
You can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes,
UFO's and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha
Mohammed and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
his good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same,
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.

We believe that after death comes The Nothing
because when you ask the dead what happens
they say Nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it's compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between
warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behaviour that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth
that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust. History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds.

Steve Turner