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!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

outlawing knives

Attention all,

As a knife enthusiast, it's time to act. U.S. Customs and Border Protection ('CBP') is attempting to bypass Congress in mounting a frontal attack on the U.S. knife industry by expanding the long-standing 'switchblade' definition from the 1958 law to include all knives that open with one hand. This includes traditional pocket knives, one-hand openers, and assisted opener knives.

80% of new knife sales in the past five years were one-hand openers and assisted openers. Probably each one of us owns one of these knives.

This 67 page brief was presented on May 21, 2009 for the first time to the U.S. companies involved. They only gave them one month to reply ( deadline: June 21st). At 5 p.m. on June 10th, U.S. Customs denied a requested extension from the attorneys to fully review and prepare a response to this situation, holding to their original response deadline.

Several court cases in California, Texas, Illinois and Michigan have determined that assisted and one-hand-opening knives are not switchblades, according to the definitions stated in the 1958 law. Recently the Texas House and Senate unanimously agreed and have that bill, which clearly distinguishing the differences between the two categories of knives, on the Governor's desk at this time for his signature. U.S. Customs has taken this matter into their own hands to act contrary to legal precidents already decided upon in these previous court cases.

If U.S. Customs succeeds, they will effectively ban all folding knives from Interstate commerce. Individuals who cross state lines into states where switchblades are banned will be subject to arrest and prosecution. Customs' proposal will make criminals of 35.6 million Americans!Please go to the American Knife & Tool Institute website shown here for all the details:

On the website, there is a link you can click on that will generate a letter to US Customs. You just need to personalize it where it shows you to (in parentheses). If you cannot send the letter to reach WA by June 20, then you can send a letter to your congressman. June 20th is the deadline for snail-mail to be received in-hand by U.S. Customs regarding this case. ß
go here to find your Congressional Representative ßgo here for suggestions on what to write.

This affects over 23,000 people who work for and with knife companies, not to mention all the retailers and people that use knives on a daily basis!Please visit the AKTI website, and contact your Congressional Representative right away!!!! Pass this along to all your friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. The time is short to act. Please act today.


Jim HammondHammond Knives & Designs, LLC

I learned something from my chickens yesterday...

I learned something from my chickens yesterday.

We have a portable chicken pen out in our garden. One end has a small roof for shelter, and this roof opens up so we can feed and water the chickens. Every once in a while the chickens will be disturbed about something (moving the pen, a barking dog or a lawn mower), and before I can get the door closed one of them will fly out.

A very strange thing happens at that point. You'd think the chicken would just head for the trees at top speed, but as soon as its feet hit the ground it stops. It looks around and realizes it is no longer in the pen... and as I walk toward the chicken it runs... directly back to the side of the pen. It looks longingly through the fence at the other chickens... and it begins to get rather frantic. As I approach it to catch it, it starts to run back and forth at the fence, or around the corner of the fence, trying to find a way back inside; the poor thing has no clue how to get in, but it doesn't want me to catch it.

Because the chicken stays there at the fence it is not too hard to catch. I get my hands on the bird, grab it so my hands are holding its wings tightly to its body, and hold it close to me. Immediately the chicken calms down and sits in my arms, sometimes even resting its head against me. I talk to it gently and place it back in the pen where it belongs and it wanders off to do whatever it is chickens do all day.

Yesterday as I went through this routine I found myself sympathizing with the chicken. I feel a lot like that hen that I was catching... like somehow I got outside of where I am supposed to be and I am running up and down the fence line, unable to get back in. I desperately need for someone to catch me and put me back where I belong... yet I can't seem to do anything but run away. When will I learn to be still and let the Master catch me and hold me and comfort me, then put me back where I belong?

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him, do not fret… Psalm 37:7
Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 47:10

©Rebecca A Givens, 06/2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Who am I? Who is God?

I wanted to write a bit of commentary on the previous post. It is very closely connected with another post called Be. There is a delicate balance between knowing who I am and knowing who God is. If I spend too much time trying to understand myself I leave God out of my thinking. If I don't know my place as a sinner saved by grace, my concept of God is wrong. Calvin says you can never know God until you know yourself, and you can never know yourself until you know God. Think about it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who am I?

Who am I?
Who did God create me to be?

I am a child of God –
The Creator
The Redeemer
The Sustainer

He created me
as a person
an individual
with strengths and weaknesses
with likes and dislikes
with a distinct personality

He gives me

He sustains me
in life and death
strength and weakness
peace and war

Yet like the people Paul speaks of, I have focused on the creation rather than the Creator,
on who He created me to be – rather than who He is.

Me, the individual personality is subordinate to me, the Believer in Christ,
me, the Daughter of the King.

I am His.
He gives me gifts for His own sake
and for His own glory.

Yet I focus on myself
and on my gifts
and somehow I don’t see
The Creator and The Giver.

In the pursuit of being who He created me to be
I somehow lose sight of who He is.

The question must not be, “Who am I?”
but, “Who is God?”

Lord – take me out of who I am, and bring me in to who You are.

Rebecca A Givens, 06/2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I changed the prayer below into singular first person... that makes it personal for me as I read it and pray it. I suggest you also use it to pray for your family and your church. I love well-worded printed prayers. Far from being rote to me, these prayers put into great words what I want to say to God.
O Lord God,

Thou art my preserver, governor, saviour, and coming judge.

Quieten my soul to call upon thy name;
Detach me from the influence of the flesh and the senses;
Impress me with the power of faith;
Promote in me spirituality of mind
that will render my services acceptable to thee,
and delightful and profitable to myself.

Bring me into that state which attracts thine eye,
and prepare me to receive the proofs of thy love.

Show me my danger, that I may fly to thee for refuge.

Make me sensible of my sin's disease,
that I may value the good physician.

Placard to me the Cross, that it may slay the enmity of my heart.

Help me to be watchful over my ways,
jealous over my temper,
diligent over my heart.

When I droop, revive me,
When I loiter, quicken me,
when I go astray, restore me.

Possess me with more of that faith
which is the principle of all vital godliness.

May I be rich in faith,
strong in faith,
live by faith,
walk by faith,
experience the joy of faith,
do the work of faith,
hope through faith.

Perceiving nothing in myself,
may I find in the Saviour
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption.

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

Friday, June 5, 2009


There are many kinds of people who practice martial arts: young and old, athletic and not so athletic, educated and uneducated. Some are chasing rank, their eyes are fixed on the color of the belt. Some just want to fight. Some want to compete and win. Some simply enjoy the physical activity and hanging out with friends. You see these kinds of people in all levels and all styles of martial arts.

Zero in for a minute on long term martial artists; the old guys who have been doing this for 20, 30, even 50 or more years. You still see the attitudes above, but there is something more as well. What you do changes from day to day, week to week, year to year. Jobs change, families change, activities change, desires and passions change. But there is something different about what these people are doing. Their lives have changed through the years, but day after day you find them in the dojo, teaching and training. Why? Why has this part of their lives not changed?
These people “are” Martial Artists. They don’t simply “do” martial arts; it is not just an activity or just a job for them. It is part of who they are; it is part of what defines them. The martial arts that they do flows out of the Martial Artist that they are.

Over the last few weeks I have thought a lot about this great philosophical question of “Who am I?” Why do I do what I do? A non-marital artist commented that she had no idea karate testing would be so hard and so intense. Why do I subject myself to testing, to getting yelled at and beaten on? The bruises, stress, injuries, and emotions – in short, the blood, sweat and tears – that led up to that moment of testing are not even measurable. Why do I put myself through that? It is because of who I am.

Over the years I have seen that my martial arts journey parallels my spiritual life. My physical struggles in the dojo are pictures of my spiritual struggles in life. As I asked myself this question about martial arts, I found God asked me the same question about Himself.

You can live the life of a Christian because your family or friends expect you to, or because it makes you feel good, but eventually that will not be enough. It is not easy to be a Christian. The political world of today is against Christians. The media portrays Christians as stupid and weak. The social world of today does not want the morals of God to rule them. Sometimes I don’t want Christian morals myself… it would be so much easier to sleep in and not go to church, so much easier to not teach VBS or Sunday School, so much easier to not control anger or lust, so much easier to forsake my duties as a wife or parent and go do what I want to do instead. In some places being a Christian can even cost you your job, your family, or your life.

At some point being a Christian will become hard. The test will come. Will you stop doing the things a Christian does? Will you move on to some other activity that interests you more or costs you less? When God doesn’t give you what you want, will you go do something else?

Who are you?
Why do you do what you do?

Don’t just “do” Christianity, “be” Christianity.
What you do must flow out of who you are.

Rebecca A Givens, 05/2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Psalm 40:6-7

Last week I read Psalm 40, and these verses have been stuck in my mind ever since...

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced,
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come -
it is written about me in the scroll."

The more I think about these lines, the more profound they become.

Remember that this is Old Testament. This is a time when a Hebrew's world revolved around sacrifices and offerings in the temple. God Himself had given them the sacrificial system. Yet God is saying here, through David, that sacrifice isn't really what He wants. He wants to pierce my ears. Jewish law required slaves to be freed every 7 years. But, if the slave did not want to be freed, the master would pierce his ear as a sign of permanent ownership. God wants permanent ownership of me, not me going through the motions of sacrifice.

Then in the next sentance David offers himself to God, and get this, he acknowledges that God planned it and knew it all ahead of time.

Sometimes I forget who I belong to. I forget who planned out all of history before time began. I forget who created me, who set me on the path of my life, who loved me and called me and saved me. He saved me from myself, from the world, and from Satan and hell. All because He loves me, He delights in me, He wants to be with me.