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