Friday, February 27, 2009


Have you ever been around a really smart kid who is lazy? They haven’t had to work hard at their studies because it all came easy for them, so they never appreciate the accomplishment of those good grades…

I have noticed this in the martial arts as well. Students who have a natural athleticism are not usually the best students. They take their skill for granted, they don’t work hard, and they don’t usually last long. The student who comes in and struggles with it, who has to work hard at everything to get it, who doesn’t quit, learns more and accomplishes more. I have often said that the reason I made it to black belt is because of stubbornness and the refusal to quit; it had nothing to do with my ability to do karate. It is a rare student who is both gifted and who works hard, and that is the one who will go on to become truly great.

As I thought about these things I realized that struggle and difficulty are what grow character in us. Comfort and ease make us lazy. Look at the generation that came out of the depression, or WWII, or go back further to the revolution. Those people had character. Look at people today. We have commercialism and entertainment. We have no work ethic. We are the “ME” generation who cares only about itself. We are neither productive nor happy.

Scripture tells us that struggle, the fight, is what grows us up to be mature Christians. That blessing comes through persecution and difficulty.

Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

You see, struggling through something, whether it is suffering a hardship or learning a difficult task, produces perseverance. Perseverance says “I won’t quit.” Then comes character followed by hope. It’s not supposed to be easy. We were not made for a life of ease; we were made for challenge, we were made for work. Only then can we develop into the person God desires us to be. Only then will we be satisfied with our lives.

Rebecca A Givens, 02/2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I have been reading through the New Testament at lightening speed, still finishing up the "Read the Bible Through in a Year Plan". (although for me it became the year and a few months plan)As a result I haven't taken time to comment on my thoughts as I read, there are just way too many things in there and no time to delve into them too deeply. But I as I read Titus this morning a couple of things caught my eye.

... [Grace] teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14

Grace teaches us to say NO to sin
Grace teaches us to live a self-controlled life
We are waiting for Christ's glorious return
Christ died to redeem us from wickedness
Christ died to purify a people for His own sake
We are supposed to be eager to do what is good.

So often we give way to much power to our own sin nature, and we don't listen to what Grace is trying to teach us. We don't have grace because we do the right things, the Grace we have teaches us to do the right things. And Christ's work did not end with our salvation, but it began there. He desires for us to be eager to do what is good... He wants us to want to please Him as He purifies us. Redemption, purification, and a desire to do what is right to please Him... it all comes through Grace.

Father God, Thank You for Your Grace!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



Its purpose is not to make me feel good
or to be pragmatic
or to “work for me”.
I don’t have to like it
or be happy about it.

How I feel doesn’t change truth,
How much I like it doesn’t matter to truth.
It is totally outside of me,
It totally does not depend on
my thoughts or feelings,
my attitudes or actions.

Truth just is.

Truth has the eyes of an eagle
and the fierceness of a hawk.

It sees through the mask of deception
both of self and of others.
It judges without prejudice.
It defines right and wrong,
good and evil.

Truth is no respecter of persons;
age, sex, race, nationality, religion,
Truth stands outside all of these
to measure us.

Truth is truth,
no matter the circumstances,
no matter the person,
no matter the time,
no matter the place.

Truth just is.

©Rebecca A Givens, 2/13/09

Monday, February 16, 2009


The first daffodil opened in my yard last week. I have been wanting to rush out and post a picture ever since, to celebrate Spring's official arrival. The white witch could take away spring in Narnia, but at this point no government entity can take away spring in Alabama... life is good!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Missions Conference thoughts...

What is the purpose of missions? Why do we support missionaries, and why do they go? It’s not about winning an argument or a debate, it’s not about being right. It’s about glorifying God, it’s about worship, it’s about loving the world in the name of Christ. When those things happen, when the world sees that, some of them hear and are drawn into the Message of Christ.

Our church missions conference is winding down, and it has been a great weekend. I love spending time with missionaries. I love the reality of God and His Work and prayer, I love the passion, I love the foreign perspective. They live in a bigger world than most of us. Some things strike me very strongly in missionaries, and indeed in pastors and Believers in general. The biggest is humility, knowing that it is God doing this work, not me. The other thing is passion; sometimes it is a quiet passion, sometimes animated and flamboyant, sometimes it is excited and sometimes it is tired, but it is there. I think I saw it all this weekend; lots of different personalities and mission fields and people and needs. Some of them I connected with in a special way and I intend to keep up with them in their work and pray for them.

The world is full of different kinds of people and different kinds of needs in different kinds of places. Some of those places are here at home, some far away. Find a way and a place to plug in to that somewhere.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Servant in Battle

O Lord,
I bless Thee that the issue of the battle between Thyself and satan
has never been uncertain,
and will end in victory.
Calvary broke the dragon's head,
and I contend with a vanquished foe,
who with all his subtlety and strength
has already been overcome.
When I feel the serpent at my heel
may I remember Him whose heel was bruised,
but who, when bruised, broke the devil's head.
My soul with inward joy extols the mighty conqueror.
Heal me of any wounds received in the great conflict;
if I have gathered defilement,
if my faith has suffered damage,
if my hope is less than bright,
if my love is not fervent,
if some creature-comfort occupies my heart,
if my soul sinks under pressure of the fight.
O Thou whose every promise is balm,
every touch life,
draw near to Thy weary warrior,
refresh me that I may rise again to wage the strife,
and never tire until my enemy is trodden down.
Give me such fellowship with Thee that I may defy satan,
unbelief, the flesh, the world,
with delight that comes not from a creature,
and which a creature cannot mar.
Give me a draught of the eternal fountain
that lieth in Thy immutable, everlasting love and decree.
Then shall my hand never weaken, my feet never stumble,
my sword never rest, my shield never rust,
mu helmet never shatter, my breastplate never fall,
as my strength rests in the power of Thy might.

Monday, February 9, 2009


In my karate classes I am constantly encouraging my students to practice outside of class. There is just not enough time in class to cover everything they need to work on each week. To be truly good, to have it become a part of who they are, they must practice daily.

Look at any accomplished athlete or musician; the ones who become really good, who are considered masters, are the ones who work at their craft daily. What professional football team doesn’t practice daily? What Olympic athlete doesn’t train daily? What karate master hasn’t trained daily for many years? What concert violinist doesn’t practice every day?

“There is no way I will ever be someone that great anyway.” Well, honestly, I fall into this camp; I will never be a great karate master… I don’t have enough years left in me to train in the martial arts for 40 years, and I don’t have that natural ability. So does that mean I shouldn’t train hard? Well, maybe I won’t be a master, but I am going to test for nidan (2nd degree black belt), and I better be good. That means I better train daily.

One Sunday morning it occurred to me that a Believer’s spiritual life is the same. How many people sit in church on Sunday morning and think that this is all there is to being a Christian? People, there is just not enough time on Sunday morning to cover everything you need for a whole week! “Preachers are the ones who need to work at it all week, they are the professional Christians.” OK, just like I will never be a martial arts master, I will never be a great theologian, and I will certainly never be a preacher. But the Christian’s life must be more than just sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. Why else would Scripture compare the Believer’s life to winning a race? You can’t win a race without preparing for it by running every day. Why is the Christian life portrayed as a battle to be fought? Would you send an untrained soldier into battle? Would one hour of training each week prepare either the runner or the soldier?

So what does all this mean? What does the Christian life consist of besides going to church? How do we train and what are we supposed to be practicing? I suggest you start by reading Scripture and talking to God about what you are reading.

Perhaps it is time to reflect on your life. Are you a Christian, or do you just go to church?

Rebecca A Givens, 02/07/09

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Great Literature

In the Wednesday morning Bible Study I attend we spent a few weeks studying the book of Ruth, and this week we started in Jude. In reading these 2 books this time through I was struck with the wonderful writing of them. The word pictures, the comparisons, the language is wonderful even after being translated into English. Makes me want to go study Hebrew and Greek so I can read it in the original. As I thought about it, the whole of Scripture is an absolute work of art, a wonderful creation of Words. Words that sound good in addition to being good. Words that reflect His Beauty as well as His Thoughts.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Acts 17:28

For in Him we live and move and have our being.

That pretty much covers everything.