Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - The Year of the Wrecked Christmas Tree

This.  This wrecked Christmas Tree.  This is totally a picture of my year. 

From the star that looks like it crashed into the tree at the top to the lights falling off at the bottom (probably due to a cat fight underneath), from the whole thing leaning to the right to the middle string of lights that burned out a few days before Christmas, this tree has been my year.

The year started with my daughter spending a heart wrenching week in the hospital, and it ended with the heart breaking end of my 27 year marriage.  Yeah, I have felt a lot like this tree.  Listing sideways with burned out lights.  Not quite sure whether I was going to make it or not.

But you know what, the star is still burning brightly on the top, and there are wonderful presents waiting underneath.  Maybe it’s not perfect, but there’s still light and life in this thing.  A whole lot of Light and Life.  Because you see, the Light in the star and the Life in the presents don’t come from the tree itself.  No, the Light and Life of the Christmas tree come from somewhere else entirely.

The Life and the Light in me don’t come from me either.  They are the Gift that came 2000 years ago in the form of a Baby.  Immanuel.  God with us.  I love that name of Christ.  Because as Feri Basci said to me many years ago in Romania, “When you are most alone, Christ is with you.” 

In that Gift of Immanuel, there is the promise of a future.  Because of Christmas, because of Immanuel, Light and Life surround me and fill me and I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be alone. 

The tree may be a wreck on the surface, but reality is that there is a Hope and a future of Light and Life, and it is good.  I am looking forward to it.

II Corinthians 4:6-11        For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
II Corinthians 5:4-5          For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Romans 5:1-5     Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Hebrews 13:5    … be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you.  I will not, I will not, I will not let you down.”

“In my deepest wound I found you, Lord, and it dazzled me.” St. Augustine

©Rebecca A Givens, 12/31/14

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Emotions are like a wine glass

Emotions are like a wine glass –

                Sometimes full of deep dark secrets,

                                or bright golden joy;

                Sometimes sitting in a sink of dirty dishes,

                                or crashing to the floor

                                                and shattering into a thousand tiny pieces.


Broken Wine glass

Broken Emotions

Broken Life



© Rebecca A Givens, 11/13/14

Monday, October 27, 2014

Is it really well?

There is an album of hymns I listen to almost every day at work on my ipod, as background music to drown out the music coming over the speakers. Piano, no voice, turned down very low, so it doesn’t distract me. Even so, the words to the hymns often come to mind. Today I found myself arguing with the song “It is Well”. No, it is not well. Life is not well right now in any sense of my understanding. It’s tough. It’s hard. It hurts more than I can say. Everywhere I look I see myself being run over, and throughout the whole world the innocent being trampled. It’s not fair. But I do trust God. How can I reconcile that? Is God all powerful? Is God Sovereign? Is God good? Those three things can’t all be true, can they? But I believe they are. As the argument went back and forth in my heart and mind, and my hands did their job automatically, the music to the song resounded in my ears… it is well with my soul. With my soul. Oh my. That’s it. No, it is not well with my life. But yes, it is definitely well with my soul. My soul has been rescued by God. (Psalm 18:19) One day my body will be too, and that is what I wait for. But right now, yes, even now, it is well with my soul.

And suddenly I am beginning to understand being afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. I understand, at least a little bit, the groaning of this life being swallowed up by the life to come. I understand the command to be thankful and rejoice even in the suffering, and am learning to wait for the hope of Christ. (Romans 5:1-5, II Corinthians 5:4-5, II Corinthians 4:6-11)
I see it, I experience it, I understand it just a little bit, but I cannot begin to explain it. So I will just read it from Paul and sing it with Spafford and the Gaithers.

It Is Well with My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


©Rebecca A Givens, 10/27/14

Monday, September 29, 2014


Enoch walked with God, and was no more.  God gave him Heaven.
Noah walked with God into a boat and through the flood.  God gave him a new world.
Abraham walked with God to a strange land.  God gave him faith, and a promise.
The nation of Israel walked with God out of Egypt and into the desert.  God gave them the Promised Land.

They didn’t know God’s plan as they stepped into the desert, or the flood, or onto the path toward a new home.  But they knew God.  And God gave promises as they walked with Him.  I will make you a great nation.  I will save you.  I will give you a good land.  The promises must have seemed distant in the desert and in the flood and along the strange path, at times they didn’t believe.  But in the end they trusted.  They followed.  They walked.  And God was faithful.
Do I trust God?  Do I trust Him in the desert?  In the valley of the shadow of death?  Do I trust His plan that I can’t see, or will I make my own plan?  Will I be Eve eating the forbidden fruit, or Miriam dishonoring Moses, or the Israelites with their golden calf and pagan idolatry, refusing to walk into the Promised Land because of the giants that dwell there?  Or will I walk with God?  Will I walk with God in the darkness, moving when the pillar of fire moves, or will I light my own torch?

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. 
Psalm 23

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 
Isaiah 43

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corinthians 4:6-10

I will walk through deserts and storms and floods and fires and valleys and shadows in this world.  But God promises me Life.  This Life is not perplexed or despairing or forsaken or destroyed.  This Life swallows up the desert and the darkness, the pain and the death.

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  2 Corinthians 5:4-5

Jesus is the Way through the desert and the dark valley, the flood and the fire.
Jesus is the Truth of the Promise of God, the Promise of His Presence, the Promise of Heaven.
Jesus is the Life that swallows up death, sin and shame, affliction and sorrow.
Jesus is the Light that banishes the shadows, the Light that illuminates the path, the Light that dwells in my heart, the Light that continues to shine through the cracks of my brokenness.

 ©Rebecca A Givens, 09/29/14

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Voice in my head packs a pretty good punch

Voice in my head: “Do you believe God is sovereign?”
Me: “Of course.”
Voice: “Then start acting like it!”
The words are a slap upside the head.
I pick myself up off the floor.
Pick myself up out of depression.
And laugh.
I have no control over life,
                or over the future.
I don’t have even an inkling of what the future will look like.
I have been yanked back and forth these last two weeks,
The whole universe yanked first one way and then the other.
Which way is up?
I don’t know which direction I am moving,
I don’t even know who I am anymore.

But I do know this -  

God is sovereign.
God is in control.
God has a plan.
God is Creator of all,
                including me.
God is Sustainer of all,
                including me.
God is my Savior.
God loves me.
God, and His Plan, are good,
                even when life doesn’t feel good,
                even when my whole world shakes. 

God is Sovereign.
That is my trust.
That is my peace.
That is my joy.

 © Rebecca A Givens, 08/25/14

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


From my journal a few weeks ago:

I am sitting on my porch swing at 7am.  It is pleasantly cool.  I hear lots of different kinds of birds.  The dog is lying on the porch, the cat is sitting nearby.  All seems peaceful.  This peace is an illusion.

Five minutes ago was a completely different story.  How can five minutes make so much difference?  But then I was cursing at the dog who wouldn’t leave me alone.  I was spilling hot tea on my hand and burning it.  The inside cat was sitting on the window sill, and the outside cat was hissing and spitting at him.  Inside the house the air conditioning has died.  There is no money to fix it.  My husband has no job, and the best possible lead did not send the offer letter they said they would send.  My emergency stash is almost gone.  I am frustrated with teaching karate, and scared of being vulnerable in the Ladies’ Bible study I joined.

This peace cannot be real, because the all the other stuff is still there.  God asks me the question He asks me every day.  “Becky, do you trust Me?”  I look back at the passage I am trying to memorize in Ephesians.  All I can remember is “Therefore.”  Therefore there is now no condemnation.  No, that’s Romans 8.  That chapter saved my sanity years ago, maybe I should read it again now. 

8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Yes.  That’s me.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

            Oh.  How do I walk according to the Spirit?

 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

                Life and Peace I want, but setting my mind on the Spirit is hard.  Sometimes it seems impossible.

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Christ is in me, the Spirit of God dwells in me.  God, who raised Christ from the dead, will give life to my mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in me.
Breath that in for a minute.

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

                By the Spirit… live.  Not in my own strength and self-sufficiency.  Ugh.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,

I am led by the Spirit because I am a child of God.  I am NOT a fearful slave!  I am an heir!
                But I am afraid.  I am frustrated.  I am depressed.  How do I put all that to death?
                By the Spirit.

provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

I am an heir with Christ, which means I will suffer with Him before I am glorified with Him.  So I should not be surprised when I suffer all manner of things.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                Are my sufferings worse than Paul’s?  No.  God forgive me.

 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

Frustration.  That feeling that things are not what they should be.  Or not what I want them to be.  Futility.  And there is nothing I can do about it.  Maybe that’s a clue.  Maybe I’m not supposed to do anything about it.
Creation waits and hopes for freedom and glory in God.  How do I do that?

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

At the moment I have no idea what those firstfruits are.  Ah... Maybe it’s the Spirit which is the deposit for my inheritance (Ephesians 1).  I guess Ephesians is sinking in more than I thought.
I definitely groan inwardly.  But I think I forgot what I was waiting and hoping for.  Am I waiting eagerly for my final adoption as God’s child, the redemption of my body?  The end of this earthly life of struggles and the beginning of heaven?  Is my hope in that?  No.  I can’t see it. 
But do I trust it?  It is certainly more sure than a paycheck or an air conditioner.  More sure than my backache getting better.

24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

If I hope for what I do not see, I must wait for it with patience.  There is literally no other choice.  It’s either hope and wait, or despair.  Forgive me Lord.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

Thank You Lord!

For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

For the deep things.  The things deeper than word or thought.  The things no one else knows.  The things I had to edit out of this list before it went public.

27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

The Spirit only intercedes according to God’s will, He knows God’s mind.
I know that I cannot get away from God’s will.  Thank You God!
OK, this next part is huge.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

                So –       I am called
                                He has a plan
                                All things are in that plan
                                All things work together for that plan
                                His plan is good.

29 For those whom he foreknew

Not just knew I would exist, but knew me before I existed.  Knew me.  Knew me and my doubts and fears and failures and sins.

he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

That is the plan – that I would be His child and be conformed to Christ’s image.  I am not His child if I am not being conformed.  That is sanctification.

30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Salvation:            He predestined
                                                He called
                                                He justified
                                                He glorified
All past tense.  It’s a done deal.  A sure thing.  But it’s just not finished yet.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

                God, Creator, Sustainer, Planner for me.  What can be against me?
He is in control.
I am not. 
But neither is Satan, or the government, the fallen world, or any other person.  All are subject to His plan.

32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

                Isn’t He going to take care of me?

33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn?

Yes.  I am a failure at many things.  Important things.
But God justified me!  and I am not condemned!
And He’s not going to stop there.

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Christ is sitting at God’s right hand, in a position of power.  And He is interceding for me too!

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

                or lack of a job
                or no air-conditioning
                or my own sin
                or my own fear

36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

                Through Christ.  Not on my own.

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Not even the past.  Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

And that, self, is where true peace lies.

©Rebecca A Givens, 07/23/14

Monday, June 30, 2014

Remember me

 Remember me, Lord.

Remember me as You remembered Noah in the ark; save me out of this evil world.

Remember me as You remembered Abraham and saved Lot in Sodom; save my children.

Remember me as You remembered Rachel in her barrenness; soften my own barren heart.

Remember me as You remembered Israel in Egypt; lead me to heaven as You promised.

Remember me as You remembered Samson; use me in spite of the sin in my life.

Remember me as You remembered Hannah when You gave her Samuel; send me Your prophet.

Remember me as You remembered David; forget my sin.

Remember me as You remembered Israel in exile; forget my unfaithfulness and bring me home to You.


O Lord, You never forget Your people.  Remember me.



©Rebecca A Givens

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I knew we had rats or mice, the evidence they left could not have been anything else, but I elected to ignore them.  Much easier to pretend they aren’t there than to deal with them.  But one afternoon I opened the bunk house door and a whole herd of giant rats came flowing out of the hen house.  I might have screamed and run away, but if I did nobody saw me.  I checked.

These rats were huge.  Think Rats of Nhim (my daughter questioned whether this movie was suitable for children), Ratigan (Great Mouse Detective, you must see this classic Disney film!), ROUSes (rodents of unusual size, for all you weird people who have never seen Princess Bride.  Seriously, I can’t believe there is anybody who hasn’t seen and loved that movie.  Go watch it.  Now.  I’ll wait for you to come back.)  There are probably some serious horror movies with rats that would be more appropriate, but I hate horror movies so I haven’t seen them. 
Anyway, rats infested the bunkhouse.  I have no idea why we call it the bunk house, it has never had bunks of any kind in it, but the previous owner called it that so we do too.  For us, it is a convenient place to pile all the crap we don’t have anywhere else to put, and it’s attached to the hen house.  For the rats it is convenient to have piles of stuff to run around, hide and make messes in (and destroy), and chicken feed to eat.

The rats clearly had become a problem that could no longer be ignored.  I began to understand why my hens weren’t laying.  Either the rats were eating the eggs, or they were irritating the hens so they quit laying.  And I began to fear for the hens themselves.  These were seriously big rats, and there were a lot of them.  Time for action. 

I started by asking the pest control guy for poison.  He has this great rat poison.  The rats love it, and when they eat it, it makes them really thirsty so they go out for a drink and never come back.  The smell of a rat nest is bad, but the smell of dead rats in a rat nest in the concrete block walls is infinitely worse and definitely something to be avoided.  Unfortunately pest control guy was sick or in the hospital or something and it took weeks to get this wonderful elixir of death.  In the meantime, I started cleaning out the bunk house.  Fortunately teen boys think giant rats are a great adventure, and two of my karate students volunteered to help in hopes of seeing one of the culprits.
Off we went, armed with dust masks and gloves and garbage bags.  It was disgusting.  The smell was suffocating.  The floor was covered in rat droppings and chewed up paper and cardboard and sawdust and straw from bags of bedding for the chickens.  We piled boxes of nasty stuff in the yard.  We sorted through stuff and rescued stuff and threw away tons of stuff.  Lots of it made me really sad to throw away.  Things that had sentimental value had been chewed up or pooped and peed on and ruined. 

I spent the next few weeks sorting the stuff in the yard - cleaning some of it, and leaving some of it in the sun and rain to get the horrible rat smell out of it.  When the poison finally arrived it disappeared almost immediately, and I quit seeing whole herds of rats.  Yay.  I would still see the occasional rat scuttle out of the hen house, along the top of the wall, and scaling the wall sideways in the place where there was nowhere on top to run.  They were rather amazing actually.  One night I turned around and there was a rat sitting just a few feet away and staring at me.  By then I was past screaming and just stared back at him.  Finally there was nothing but a few random dead rats which I disposed of.  Hallelujah!  I immediately had eggs again.

This sordid tale started a few months ago.  But the mess in the yard is still there.  The mess in the bunk house is still there.  There was no point in really cleaning it until the rats were dead, and of course I have found other things to do since the day the last rat died.  Today I started working out there again.  I threw away more stuff, cleaned more stuff.  Moved more stuff.  It’s going to take at least a few more days of hard work to get that place merely not disgusting. 
And that brings me to the point of this whole story.

As I cleaned things today and thought about rats, I also thought about sin.  I thought about how sin infests my life sometimes.  It builds a nest in the wall of my heart, it eats my energy, it destroys valuable things and leaves a really disgusting mess.  But for some reason it is so much easier to ignore the sin than to kill it; until it pours out in an ugly way that refuses to be ignored.  I try to clean up a bit, but the sin is still there, creating more mess.  Finally I ask God to kill the sin.  I confess it and repent and God begins to root it out.  But you know what, there is still all that mess that the sin leaves behind.  The consequences.  The destroyed mementoes, the valuables that have been trashed and have to be thrown away.  The friends I have hurt and the time I have wasted and the bad habits and ways of thinking I have acquired.  So I work and I clean but I never quite get the smell of sin off my hands.  I am told that rats and mice can smell an old rat nest miles away, for many years.  Yeah, sin is like that too.  Even when it’s confessed and cleaned up and appears to be gone, when you least expect it, it moves right back in.
So what is the answer to this infestation of sin? 

1.       Well, it strikes me as obvious that it would have been easier to get rid of the first rat by itself before it brought its friends and had babies and destroyed my stuff.  Likewise, if I am diligent in my own life to confess and repent of sin while it is small, then that would prevent a lot of damage down the road. 

2.       If I had kept the clutter manageable the rats would not have had a place to hide.  Is my day so full and cluttered that I don’t have time to reflect on life and evaluate and see my sin?

3.       I must keep putting out poison, because new rats are going to smell that old nest.   How do I poison sin?  I feed the new creation inside me on God’s Word. 

4.       I need help.  I needed poison from the pest guy.  I needed the boys’ help moving stuff and shoveling crap.  I needed the garbage men and my husband to take away the trash.  I need my church family and my believing friends to help me and support me, teach me and pray with me. 

5.       Most of all, I need God Himself.  I need to spend time with Him.  I need to remember that I cannot attain righteousness, He declares me righteous for the sake of Christ.  He fills me with the Holy Spirit.  As I spend time with Him, He poisons the old man, He removes the old rat nest that is lurking inside me, He washes out the sin so that I am clean, He salvages my heart. 
Romans 5-6

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!
Rebecca A Givens, 05/27/14

Monday, May 5, 2014

Rethinking my wardrobe

I just had a very surreal experience.  I took something out of the refrigerator, and watched a container fall in slow motion off the shelf and into the air.  It fell and fell and fell… and hit the floor in front of me with a splat of chili.  Yes, chili.  It was one of those moments I was glad I had not gotten around to mopping.  Chili was everywhere.  Covering my house shoes and my pants.  The lid was flat on the floor, full of chili.  The container itself was absolutely empty several feet away.  And chili was arrayed in a lovely arc everywhere in between.  After starring at it for several minutes I reached around and got the roll of paper towels and the garbage can and starting scooping the chili into the garbage, thanking God for the invention of paper towels.  I slipped the shoes off and scooped chili off them and my pants.  In the middle of all this my husband walks in.  Through the kitchen and out the door.  Here I am, literally knee deep in chili, and he doesn’t mention it or even notice.

Perhaps I need to rethink my wardrobe.  Or the cleanliness of my kitchen.  Or my life. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Who Am I?

I ask age old questions:

Who am I?
What makes me who I am?
What defines me?
It seems too complicated to put into words. 

I fill many roles.  From the beginning I was, and still am, daughter, granddaughter and sister.  I am now wife and mother and aunt.  I am teacher and sensei and employee.  I am friend many times over.  Do my family and friends define me?
I do many things: I parent, work, teach, cook and clean house occasionally, garden and plant some, read, study and learn, walk, drive, listen, herd chickens and a dog and some cats, train, watch Dr Who, crochet and knit.  Does what I do define me?

I go many places: home, church, work, dojo, store, errands, my kid’s classes and activities, Texas, Mississippi, Hungary, Romania.  Does where I go or where I’ve been define me?
I love many things: chocolate, coffee, tea candles, hiking, plants, foraging, reading, karate, family, Church, Bible.  Does what I love define me?

I want to be many things: strong, confident, invincible, smart, brilliant, well-read, well-travelled, happy, at peace, wealthy, perfect.  Does what I want to be define me?
Many things have happened to me in my life.  Good things and bad, sin I’ve done and sin done to me, good and bad works, hard and painful things, fun and happy things, successes and failures.  Do those things define me?

I don’t like any of those lists.  They change at the whim of other people and outside circumstances.  I myself change with each passing year, physically, hormonally and emotionally.  The world changes around me, culture, economy, government.  And still the question remains.  Who am I?  What defines me?  What one thing or person in all this stuff is capable of answering that question?  What one thing or person listed above is always true?  I change, how I feel changes, what I like changes.  In all the changes of my life, what one thing or person never changes? 
God.  His Word.  That’s all.  Literally.  That is the only thing that never ever changes.  And what’s really cool is that He talks about me in His Word.  Really.  Me.  And not only does He talk about me, He defines me.  Check this out.

I was dead in sin.
But God:
chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world
predestined me to be adopted me as His child, in Christ
blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
redeemed me through the blood of Christ
forgave my trespasses in the death of Christ
lavished His grace on me, in Christ
made known to me the mystery of His will
gave me a glorious inheritance in Christ
made me to the praise of His glory
sealed me with the Holy Spirit
revealed Himself to me
enlightened my heart
called me to hope
raised me from spiritual death
worked in me with the same mighty power that He used to raise Christ from the dead
seated me with Christ in heaven
gave me Christ as my head
made me part of a church body that is His body
filled me
will show me in the coming ages the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward me in Christ
saved me by grace through faith in Christ, not through anything I have to do
created me to walk in good works in the power of Christ in me

As a Believer, God defines me.  He created me, He bought me with the blood of Christ, He has a right to define me.  And that whole awesome list is what God says is true about me.  Not my past, not my activities, not other people, not the circumstances I live in.  The list of what God has done for me and in me and through me - that is what defines me.  That is what I hang on to.  God hanging on to me.  All that other stuff will pass away.  But the list that God makes about me in the book of Ephesians will always be true.

Thank you Jesus.  Thank you.

©Rebecca Givens, 04/28/14

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thoughts on Ephesians 1:11-23

This is part 2 of a series.  Click the link for Part 1
Part 1 of this series

Ephesians 1:11-23 In Him we have obtained an inheritance, again, the inheritance is already obtained, but it comes from Christ, it’s not something I pull out of myself, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, God planned ahead of time to give me an inheritance with Christ.  He planned it according to His own purpose and will, and He will work it all out.  He will work it out.  Not me; so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.  Paul was definitely to the praise of His glory.  Sometimes I wonder about myself.  But if it’s God who works it out, then will He not also work out my life so it is to the praise of His glory?  Won’t He bring Himself glory in my life?  Yes, God, may my life be to Your Glory.  In Him you also, when you heard the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.  I heard, I believed, and I was sealed with the Holy Spirit.  He is the deposit and seal that God placed on me when He saved me.  And that in itself is to the praise of His glory!  Saving a sinner could only be done by God’s amazing grace and Christ’s perfect life and precious blood.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, I love prayers in scripture.  Praying God’s words back to Him is the ultimate of praying according to His will.  This prayer I pray not only for myself, but for my children; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom Remember, Paul is talking to Believers who have the Holy Spirit… but we don’t always listen, and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, knowledge of Him comes from scripture and the Holy Spirit, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,  but we don’t always understand or believe and trust what we know, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what is the hope?  Is it heaven, or is it something here on earth?  It is more than salvation.  I think it is everything he’s been talking about so far, and more, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, I love Paul’s adjectives.  Riches, glorious inheritance, ah… maybe that’s part of the hope, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, immeasurable great power, toward me.  Think about that for a minute; according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead this mighty power raised Christ from the dead.  That is the power that God works in me.  In me;  and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, Christ, seated at the right hand of God, in a place of ultimate authority, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  Christ has authority over all powers and all dominions in all places and times, past present and future.  And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  This is not just about me as a Believer, but about the whole church, the body of believers.  Together, we form His body.  He is the head, and He fills us with the fullness of God.  That is a hard concept to envision.  Christ at the head, in ultimate authority, working in and through the church with ultimate power, giving us an ultimate inheritance, all to accomplish an ultimate purpose.  All to the praise of His glory.  I need the doxology again. 

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen.