Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Tertullian, to his wife, around 200AD:

What a bond is this: two believers who share one hope, one desire, one discipline, the same service! There is no distinction of spirit or flesh, but truly they are two in one flesh. Where there is one flesh, there is also one spirit. Together they pray... together they fast, teaching each other, exhorting each other, supporting each other. Side by side in the church of God and at the banquet of God, side by side in difficulties, in times of persecution, and in times of consolation. Neither hides anything from the other, neither shuns the other, neither is a burden to the other. They freely visit the sick and sustain the needy... Seeing and hearing this, Christ rejoices. He gives them His peace. Where there are two He also is present; and where He is , there is no evil."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Who is Jesus?

"Jesus does not ask, 'Who do you want Me to be?" Rather, Jesus reveals Himself. He does not call us to create and shape His being, character, or mission. We either fall to our knees before Him as Creator and Redeemer, or we walk away, rejecting His claims. We have tried to craft a middle ground. We have tried to re-image Jesus as we want Him to be. This day, go to the synagogue in Nazareth and listen once more. You must curse Him as a profit monger, you must pity Him as a deluded madman, or you must kneel and submit."

John Sartelle, Tabletalk magazine, July 2010.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hard Place

Are you in a hard place?
Is there pain?
Is there difficulty?

I have been down some hard, painful and difficult paths. In those journeys I have learned that God put me in those places for a reason, and I had a choice of two attitudes with which to respond.

Unfortunately my first response to hardship is generally to fight God over it.
But how can I fight against an all powerful God?
I can try to move myself, but how can I run from God?
I can try to change things to make them like I want, but how can I change the mind of God?
I can make a different reality by escaping into a bottle, or a book, or the computer, or television, or any number of other things, but I only become a slave to those addictions.
I can try to control everything, but that is just banging my head against a wall.

I have to say that my experience fighting God has led me to the conclusion that it just doesn’t work.
No matter what I do, I can’t escape the misery. When hard things happen my only other choice is to embrace this difficulty as part of God’s plan. As hard as it is to accept, I am exactly where God wants me, and where He has put me.

So I look at my problem.
Did my own sin or bad decisions cause this difficulty? Then I must grieve and repent and go do what is right. I must read, study and meditate on scripture, and pray and seek godly council so I can know and do what is right.

Did someone else’s sin cause my pain? That hurts, but I must still do what is right; forgiveness is required in this situation. Again, I must read, study and meditate on scripture, and pray and seek godly council so I will know and do what is right, no matter what anyone else does.

Did circumstances just come together to cause my hardship? Then I must embrace this as God’s plan for this moment, and ask Him how I can glorify Him in this place. I must ask Him to teach me and to draw me close to Him. I must ask Him to reveal Himself to me, and ask Him to glorify Himself in me. Once again, it comes to reading, studying and meditating on scripture, and praying and seeking godly council so I will be able to know and do what is right, no matter what my circumstances are.

My bad circumstances may or may not change at all. Sometimes they even get worse. But my misery will change. Somewhere in the midst of whatever my problems are, no matter how severe, I find God’s presence, and with Him come peace and joy. In the place of God’s presence, I find that not only can I accept the hardship, but I can thank God for it. It is worth any pain, any difficulty, any hardship, to know God this way.

There will always be difficult circumstances in this life, and we will always sin and make mistakes. The question is not, “when will God fix this for me?” or “why won’t God fix this for me?” Rather, the question must be “How can God glorify Himself in me in this situation, and what does He want me to do now?”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

©Rebecca A Givens, 07/19/10

Monday, July 19, 2010


Susannah Wesley to her son's question "What is sin?" ..."Son, whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience,obscures your sense of God,or takes away your relish for spiritual things;in short, if anything increases the authority and power of the flesh over the Spirit, then that to you become...s sin, however good it is in itself,"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Prayer by Origen

"Lord God, let us keep your Scriptures in mind and meditate on them day and night, persevering in prayer, always on the watch. We beg you, Lord, to give us real knowledge of what we read and to show us not only how to understand it, but how to put it into practice, so that we may ... obtain spiritual grace, enlightened by the law of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, whose power and glory will endure throught all ages. Amen."


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Church History

"We are like dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants; thanks to them, we see further than they. Busying ourselves with the treatises written by the ancients, we take their choice thoughts, buried by age and human neglect, and we raise them, as it were from death to renewed life."
Peter of Blois, 1212

"What can we say of the Fathers? What shall we think of them, or what account may we make of them? They be interpreters of the Word of God. They were learned men, and learned Fathers, the instruments of the mercy of God, annd vessels full of grace. We despise them not, we read them, we reverence them, and give thanks unto God for them. They were witnesses unto the truth, they were worthy pillars and ornaments of the church of God. Yet they may not be compared with the Word of God. We may not build upon them; we may not put our trust in them. Our trust is in the name of the Lord."
Bishop John Jewel

Friday, July 16, 2010

A different kind of battle

God has equipped us not with sword and spear but with the spirit of liberty that is ready to die. He has not called us to go out and kill the enemy but to die for the enemy that they might be won.

R.C. Sproul, Jr, Tabletalk Magazine, March 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Is something wrong with this?

I spent the last four days on a trip to Texas and back. I spent lots of time eating out. Everywhere I went, from fastfood to gas stations to resteraunts, was crowded with people. And the huge majority of those people were overweight. I wondered if they were hurting financially as much as my own family is. Surely the recession has affected some of them. So, are they spending money they don't have? ordering food they don't need and shouldn't eat? and then I was appalled watching the staff clear the tables... what waste! I wondered if there were hungry people in those towns.

Does anybody else think about these things? Does this bother anyone else? Is there something wrong here?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How Can It Be?

I was flipping through the notebook I keep in my Bible yesterday, looking for devotional material for my upcoming karate camps. This notebook is where I write random thoughts and Bible notes which are the start of most of what I write. I ran across this piece that I wrote about a month ago...

How Can It Be?

Something inside is lonely and lifeless and dead.
How can that be?

The Spirit of God lives in me.
The Son of God died to give me life.
Peace and joy are mine,
yet peace and joy elude me.
They are submerged,
drowning under the cares and concerns of the world,
hidden behind the activities and busyness of this life.

I am weary and tired.
Where is the strength of eagles’ wings?
My mind is scattered and dark.
Myriad thoughts flit in and out so quickly
they can’t be grasped and looked at.
There is no time to ponder or think deeply.
There are no thoughts to dwell on anyway.

There is nothing to hold fast to.
How can this be?

I have God’s Word to meditate on;
the light for my path and my eyes.
It should capture my fleeting thoughts.
It should anchor me to that firm foundation
which I know I possess.

I need Your Light
Your Peace
Your Joy
Your Strength
Your Mind
Your Attitude
Your Love
I need You.

That is How it should be.
And can be.
And will be.

©Rebecca A Givens, 07/04/10

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Upcoming camp plans...

I have had a couple of really good days. I spent the last 2 days pulling together devotionals for my upcoming karate camps. I have been thinking about them for months, and it was satisfying to see it come together after spending so much time thinking and praying about it. I can't wait for camp!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ladies Self-Defense Classes

I found this today when I was browsing through old posts, looking for something else. It seems appropriate to repost it with the upcoming Teen Girls class.

First of all, "Are they necessary?" or "Why should I take a self-defense class?"

Statistically, women are more often victims of crime, violent and otherwise, than men are. Women's lib may have happened ladies, but let's face it - typically women are just not as strong as men; we don't have the muscle mass that men do. And we don't tend to be as physically aggressive as our male counterparts. How many men have you heard of being raped by a woman? I can't think of a single story with that scenario.

I don't want to be a fear-monger, but the news is full of stories of muggings, attacks, kidnappings, etc. And they happen everywhere - mall parking lots, wal-mart parking lots, in cars, in homes, in broad daylight as well as night. We do indeed live in a violent world. It would definitely be a good thing to prepare ourselves, and our teenage daughters, for the world we live in.

Next question is, "How do I learn to protect myself?"

The market seems to be flooded with Ladies Self-Defense Classes, as well as videos and books. While a video or book might be a good resource, nothing can replace a live teacher and actual guided practice, so I am definitely in favor of taking a class. But how do you choose one? Sometimes it might simply be a matter of convenience: I can get to this place at this time. But other than that, here are some things to look for in a self-defense class.

  • Beware of a teacher who knows everything and can guarantee that you will be able to handle any situation after taking his one day class. That is simply not possible.
  • Beware of a teacher that teaches techniques that are so complicated you cannot remember them. It may look really impressive, but what good will that be in a real-life situation?
  • Beware of a teacher who's techniques involve things you cannot physically do. High kicks to the head look really good, but the only way I am going to kick someone in the head without falling down is if I knock them on the ground first. I am not Billy Jack, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, or Bruce Lee. I am a middle-aged woman!
A one-day self-defense class is simply going to be an introduction to taking care of yourself. It is going to teach you to begin to be aware of what's going on around you, to pay attention. It should teach you some very basic techniques and strikes that apply to a number of realistic scenarios. It should teach you where to target your attacker so your strikes are more effective. But this is only a beginning. If you do not continue to practice these things and think about what you are taught, they will not be much good in an actual situation where you are scared.

I am a student and a teacher of a traditional martial art, and I think that the benefits of studying martial arts long term are enormous. Only one of those benefits is self-defense. This makes me a bit biased - I'd love it if EVERYONE got involved in martial arts! Well, the good guys at least . But I realize that martial arts is not for everyone, particularly traditional martial arts. So the next best thing is to take a self-defense class and practice on a regular basis.

I plan to teach a one-day Ladies Self-Defense Class here in Hoover in a couple of weeks, and continue to offer the one-day class every few months. In addition I thought I'd offer a "refresher course" in conjunction with it, for ladies who have had the class but want to practice beating up on "Bob" (the man shaped heavy bag), or review the scenarios that were covered in class. It would be a good chance for you to bring questions as well. My intention is for these to be small classes, allowing for lots of practice and interaction.

Whether you take my class or someone else's, do start paying attention to what is going on around you. Paying attention is the BEST self-defense there is!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things of Indifference

"... Paul adds that 'it is made holy by the word of God and prayer' (I Tim 4:5). This provides us with a good rule for our use of things otherwise indifferent: Is it consistent with biblical principles, and can I pray with integrity, thanking God for the way I am using or doing this?"

Rev Richard D. Phillips
Tabletalk magazine, July 2010