There's lots of other beautiful merchandise on their site- click on the link on the sidebar to take a look!
Let's look at a few passages. First of all, take Titus 2:3-5.
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
Okay, so, taking that apart, what do we get? A Biblical woman is to be...
-Reverent in behavior
-Not a slanderer
-Not addicted to wine (or anything else)
-A teacher of good
-Loving towards her husband and children
-Working at home
-Submissive to her husband
There we go. Some of that sounds a bit hard... I'm beginning to think that I can't do this on my own. Oh... wait a minute. I'm not supposed to anyway. I'm supposed to do all of this through CHRIST who strengthens me.
Let's look at Proverbs 31:10-31 now, that famous passage of Scripture which outline's a godly woman's character and actions. It's a bit long to post, so you can click on the link and read it for yourself if you like. Okay, what do we see? Some of these things are actions, so we have to think what characteristics these actions spring from and denote.
A Biblical woman is...
-Trustworthy (v. 11)
-A doer of good (v. 12)
-Industrious, a willing worker (v. 13)
-Goes to great lengths to provide for her household (vv. 14-15)
-Economical (vv. 16-19, 22, 24)
-Caring towards the needy (v. 20)
-Devoted to caring for her household (v. 21, 27)
-Clothed with strength and dignity (v. 25)
-Not anxious (v. 25)
-Always teaching kindness (it's on her tongue; I take that to mean, she is always teaching it) (v. 26)
-Always speaking with wisdom (v. 26)
-Not idle (This one, for me, is sometimes a verse that causes pangs in my heart when I compare it with my life.) (v. 27)
-Praiseworthy (vv. 31)
Wow. That is quite a list to live up to, isn't it? Certainly, it is quite overwhelming. After I read through all of that, I have to just pray and say, "LORD, I can't do this on my own. Father, You have commanded me to be like this, but in my own strength, I cannot. Give me the strength I need to bring glory to Your name."
Alright, last passage. Let's take a quick look at 1 Peter 3:1-6.
Wow. Yet again, a bit overwhelming. Some of the characteristics we have already seen in the other passages, but some we haven't. Let's break it down.
A Biblical woman is...
-Subject to her own husband
-Adorned with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit
-Not afraid of anything that is frightening
So there we have it. The characteristics of Godly, Biblical womanhood. A woman is submissive and respectful towards her husband (or, in our cases, the head of our earthly life is our father, for the time being), pure, reverent, kind, and trustworthy. But what I find very interesting is that, while feminism makes this sound as if women are hiding behind their husbands and fathers, and are being held back, a Biblical woman is commanded to "not fear anything that is frightening." She is also strong, both in spirit and body, and she laughs at old age. She is fearless and beautiful, worshiping God in spirit and in truth. This is, indeed, a beautiful woman, and one who I want to be. Will you join me?
Or, if you'd rather have that in English...
"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
What did you do on your mission trip?
We stayed at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Denver. They were so kind to provide room for us while we were there. As for activities, one of my favorite ones was Living Water. We went to a few parks and bus stops and handed out water bottles and sandwiches to people, which was a fabulous way to get conversations started. My favorite place doing that was at the bus stop, because there were always new people coming in, even if only for a short time. We also fixed up a health clinic, handed out fliers for a Christian school, fixed up a woman's yard, volunteered at a food bank and clothing store called Acts 2, painted over graffiti in a few alleys, and helped a worship band set up their equipment.
What was the best thing about the trip?
I was given so many opportunites to trust God, which is pretty scary sometimes. To just go up to someone and introduce myself was very difficult, but I was so blessed as I saw God work through me to impact others, even though I was terrified at times!
What was the hardest thing about the trip?
The hardest thing was probably to same as the best thing: trusting God. I had to constantly be reminding myself that He was in complete control over the whole thing.
What was it like to share your faith? I know that would be very scary for me- How did you overcome those fears?
I'd never shared my faith with anybody before, and I was so frightened every time. I don't think it can ever be something you're completely and totally at ease with. Sharing my faith opened me up to criticism, which definitely took me out of my comfort zone. Some of our key verses on the trip were Acts 18:9-11, which reads: And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not keep silent; for I am with you and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city." And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. God reminded me of these verses so much over the course of our missions week. My dad, who is my youth pastor, taught a lesson on these verses before we left, and showed us that the literal rendering in the original Greek for the words "Do not be afraid any longer," were actually "Stop being afraid, for you have no reason to fear!" There was no reason for me to be afraid, and I think that that knowledge definitely strengthened and encouraged me in a mighty way.
What was the most important lesson you learned on the trip?
That God is in complete control. I already knew that, but I learned it again on the trip. He showed it to be so true as He took my fears away and showed me how to trust Him in new and exciting (albeit scary) ways.
Do you plan to go on any mission trips in the future?
Missions is what I plan to do with my life, actually. I have one more year of high school, after which I'll be attending the community college here to get my degree in dental hygiene. Once I graduate I feel that the Lord has called me to work in India, possibly at an orphanage, and thus spend my life serving Christ and others. As to trips in the near-future, my dad is planning a youth group missions trip this summer. We might be going to a Native American reservation, or maybe back to Denver. I'm excited to see where the Lord leads!
Thank you so much Sarah! I love your heart for God~
Sadly, I forgot about this incident soon after it happened. Or, when I did remember it, I brushed it off as a notion that didn't have any true significance. I was bringing out the beauty that God had given me, and making myself beautiful so that I would show that HE is beautiful! Or was I? Just yesterday, I was reading through some articles. One was on cosmetics. The author's premise was that make-up does not bring glory to God, but that rather, it is wrong to wear it. After thinking it through, I don't totally agree with this young woman. God has given us means with which to bring out our natural beauty. He created beauty. He made everything beautiful. He loves beauty. He Himself is beautiful. So it is not wrong to use the means He has given us to bring out our beauty. But there is something wrong with the way we do it.
I do not wear much make-up. I merely put on light eye-liner and a bit of eyeshadow, in order to bring out my eyes. But when I put it on, I give no thought to bringing glory to God's Name. Instead, I am focusing on how I can make myself most attractive. I want my friends to see my beauty, and love me for it. I want young men to think that I am beautiful. I do not want to be plain. I want to be noticed. That is why I wear make-up.
THAT is what is wrong with make-up. I am sinning when I put it on, not because I am putting it on, but because of what I am doing in my heart. So I would like you to ask yourself today, Why do I put on make-up? What are my motives in doing so? Examine your heart, hold it up to the Scriptures, and ask the Lord to show you whether it is at fault.
For me, right now, I have decided to stop wearing make-up, at least for the time being. When I decided to do this, I felt a panic rising in my chest. What would people think of me? No one would notice me, no one would love me! I would be nothing exceptional, nothing beautiful! I would be... myself. The girl God made me to be. This is proof of the position of my heart. Right now, make-up is one of my idols. I feel that I need it. I am not content with what the Lord has made me to look like, and thus I want to make myself more beautiful in the eyes of the world. That is just plain wrong.
I am resting in His mercy, because this is an impossible task on my own. I pray that you will do the same.
Chrissie has gone home to be with Jesus. Her heart has been healed and now she spins and she sways to the Cinderella song with Jesus as her dance partner.
Please continue to pray for her family and thank God that she is finally healed and home with Him!
- Can you share your testimony?
- Have you had an experience (mission trip, traumatic event, etc.) that has completely changed your life?
- What is the most important thing for you as a teen girl pursuing Christ?
- Who is your role model?
- Is there something unique about your life that you'd like to share?
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 28:46
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the day in Holy Week we call “Good Friday”. I’ve always felt conflicted about calling the day of your crucifixion “good.” It seems a bit self-serving. That there had to be a day when you, the God who made us for yourself, would be made sin for us, is not good at all.
BUT… on the other hand, that you would so freely and fully give yourself for us on the cross is quintessential, archetypical, never-to-be surpassed goodness. There never has been, and there never will be, anything that is more deserving of the appellation, “good”, than your death for us. For out of the same heart… out of the same mouth came these two cries from the cross: “Father forgive them…”, and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The first required the second. The second secured the first. Together, both of them buckle my knees… still my heart… and loose my tongue…
Yet, how can I even begin to adequately express the wonder, love and praise I feel in response to what you’ve done for me on the cross? It’s like wanting to paint the most magnificent spring landscape I’ve ever seen, but with a palate of three colors and both of my arms in a cast. It’s like having a passion to write a great symphony in honor of you, but knowing I’m just a kazoo player who doesn’t read music. It’s like desiring to cook you a great banquet… with my microwave oven, a loaf of white bread and a can of cheese whiz. There’s simply no way I can possibly offer a response congruent to the magnificence of your mercy and the measure of your grace for me at Calvary…
So like everything else I have to offer you, Jesus, take my humble praise and purify it, magnify it and cause it to be an sweet aroma in your heart. No one could ever take your life from you and I could never find life on my own. Because you were fully forsaken, I am forever forgiven. Because you exhausted God’s judgment against my foul sin, I now live by the gift of your perfect righteousness. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! So very Amen, I pray, in your all glorious, all gracious name.
By Scottie Smith
This is a poem I wrote. I'm not really sure what kind of poetry it's supposed to be. It started out as free blank verse, but didn't work out that way. It is supposed to be read the way blank verse would be read, though- short, long, short, long, short, long, short, long, short, long.
A haggard child shivers in the night
She makes her bed beneath a blanket worn
The child, she shivers for the cold and fright
Of never knowing what might lurk in shadowy forms
She hopes the morn brings food to eat, then sleeps
I see a boy who hides within the bush
A heavy weapon weighs upon his shoulder
By his appearance I would guess that he was ten
But somehow this young boy became a soldier
‘Twas taken from his family to be a soldier
A helpless infant buried softly cries
She is alive but no one holds the child
A woman has abandoned her sweet babe
She may not ever be loved by a mother
But soon she will be held by a compassionate Father
An orphaned girl mothers a sickly boy
She cannot find a scrap of food to feed the child
A sly and scheming man will offer to employ
Her for a loaf of stale bread as her wage
She does not realize that she’ll nev’r escape
Evil thoughts churn in the mind of a youth
Who never even had a chance to earn his way
Crime seems to be the only way he’s able
To make enough to gain a decent pay
For desperate acts the boy will soon be paid
Who will help these poor children learn to hope?
Will justice ever come in this despondent time?
If no one else will go I know I must
In His good grace I’ll go and in His mercy trust
I’ll show them where to find the greatest Hope
Someday the haggard child’s belly will be filled
She will be warm and she will sweetly sleep
Perhaps she’ll have a home to call her own
I’ll tell her that it is the Father’s will
For her to live forever in His home
I see a day when boys can laugh and play
And never worry themselves with jobs of men
They’ll hear “A mighty fortress is our God.”
And never have to fear what’s ‘round the bend
Their deepest trust will always be in Him
A baby will be rescued and held tight
In a mother’s warm and welcoming arms
She’ll grow up knowing that she is so loved
By so many, but especially One
He loves her jealously, oh, how He loves!
Someday the helpless girl will be discovered
Then justice will be brought to her exploiter
But, oh, if we had been there earlier
He never would have had the chance to hurt her
But now we’ll trust the Savior to heal her
I see the many years of deep regret
In the wrinkled brow of a man in prison
He thinks he’ll nev’r be able to pay his debt
But I will tell him that I know he can
For Jesus tells us to forgive then to forget
Someday I’ll teach these poor children to hope
And help to bring them justice, peace, and love
If no one else will go I know I must
In His good grace I’ll go and in His mercy trust
I’ll show them where to find the greatest Hope
And now I sit here pensive at my desk
With thoughts about the future in my head
But even as I write these very words
A dear and precious child now is dead
I cannot only sit here writing words
What can I do, O, Lord what can I do?
As children are in bondage every hour
I cannot sit here, Lord, O, I must not!
But if I move, the question, Lord, is how
I’m ready to move, I only must know how
Oh, how can I teach poor ones Jesus’ love
As we are living worlds and worlds apart?
For I am sure I must do something now
For hurting ones all I can do is pray
‘Til I can go meet them someday anon
Why did I write about this? Well, partly to vent my thoughts- this is like my journal! Also, I want to inspire other teen girls to do big things. Date Night for Haiti started out as three young teen girls with a dream- and ended better than I could ever imagine. America's expectations of teenagers are so low. We're not supposed to care. And if we do care, we're not supposed to do anything about it. We're supposed to act "cool" and live only for #1. Well, that's not the way I want to live, and I'm sure you don't either. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity." We young people are supposed to be an EXAMPLE- even to those older than we are. I just want to encourage you that if God leads you to do something big, He will carry you through it. If I was to say that we got through Date Night for Haiti on our own, I would be kidding myself. Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Well, that doesn't exactly apply to the point I was trying to prove...but if God starts something in you, He's going to finish it! Don't worry- you can do it...because God is standing there right beside you.
P.S. - Sorry for the inconvenience of having to post a comment instead of sending an email. The last time I posted my email address, spam mail started filling my inbox. If you are concerned about your privacy, please make your comment anonymous.
"Marilla," she demanded presently, "do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?"
"A--a what kind of friend?"
"A bosom friend--an intimate friend, you know--a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too. Do you think it's possible?"
From Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Ever since I first met Anne Cuthbert in the world of Avonlea, I have dreamed of having a bosom friend- someone who I can tell anything to and confide my deepest secrets in. Someone who is completely loyal to me. Someone who will be my friend forever.
Recently, though, I realized that dream probably wasn't coming true anytime soon. My friends had come and gone over the years. Some of us just grew apart naturally, some moved away, and more recently, some rejected me because I chose and different path than they. Being a set apart girl is...difficult. Not many other girls like you come your way. Sure, I have a few good friends...who live states away. And in town, I have some friends in my church small group. But there's just not that bosom friend- who I can always be with, talk to, and share my heart with.
For a while, this really hurt me. I felt like no one besides my family valued me, which made me feel...worthless! I thought there must be something wrong with me. Why else would everyone "hate" me? However, over the past few years, I have slowly but surely learned a lesson I hope never to forget. It was one of those lessons I have heard ever since I was a little girl, but never really sunk in:
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. - Proverbs 18:24
Now, in this verse, the word "companion" means: Another, friend, fellow- kind of like a buddy. It even says that it means it in a weaker sense. You know, just a "chum".
But the word "friend" (referring to Jesus) means: To love, a lover, to delight in something, the eager pursuit of something, God's love for man.
It also says that this friend "sticks" closer than a brother- "Sticks" mean to cling or adhere to. It comes from a root than means to cleave, stay close
Jesus is our lover. Our dear friend who will always stay close to us. He delights in us and we delight in him. When we do not delight in Him, He eagerly pursues us. Jesus is our forever friend and no earthly friend will satisfy us as much as He will. He will be forever loyal to us, He will be forever with us, and He is forever listening to our cries. Jesus deeply loves us. He is our FRIEND. He is my bosom friend and my "lovliest dreams" have come true.
One afternoon, the urge became overwhelming. I searched the internet and quickly found a great cake recipe (add an extra egg for a custard flavor), a buttercream frosting recipe, and even an easy fondant recipe! I decided to make all of my stuff from scratch because store-bought frosting and cake mix both have transfats and fondant is hard to find and very expensive. All of the recipes were very easy to follow and didn't require any really weird ingredients.
Once I baked my mini cakes (Wilton) , fondant, and frosting, I shaved off the uneven tops of the cakes and turned them upside down. That is a technique I learned in my decorating class that is very useful. Next, I frosted and decorated my cakes. The first cake I made was a "lion cake." I made it for a little friend of ours who loves lions and LOVES birthday cake! :)
I frosted the cake with chocolate frosting- I just added some cocoa powder to the vanilla frosting I had already made, plus some brown gel food coloring (Wilton). Gel food coloring is handy because you don't have to use as much and still get a bold, rich color. Next, I made the orange face out of fondant and dropped it on the cake. I couldn't believe it actually worked!! I also made the nose out of fondant, coloring it with gel food coloring. I made the mouth, eyes, and whiskers with black frosting I bought in a tube from Wilton. You can put any Wilton tip on the top of the frosting tube, so I would recommend getting black, even though it's expensive. It's kind of hard to make black frosting! Next, I piped chocolate frosting around the face and the bottom to make the lion hairy (and hide some rough edges!). Our little friend loved the cake and thought it was delicious!
THE HAMBURGER CAKE!!!
- Mineral powder- Takes off the shine. Apply on the forehead and nose. Make sure it matches your skin tone!
- Stick concealer- I use this under my eyes because I have dark circles. But it's also good for covering up the occasional pimple. :)
- Neutral tone eyeshadow- I use cream, beige, and brown. You can usually find all three in the same pack. For a brighter looking eye, apply cream under the eyebrow and in the inner corner of the eyes. Apply beige across the entire eyelid area. Apply brown in the crease of the eye.
- Blush/bronzer- I have a mix- it looks very natural. Not too tan, not to rosy.
- Eyelash curler- Curler? Crimper? I'm not sure- but it makes your eyelashes look longer. If you use one of these, you don't even need mascara.
- Black or clear mascara- Clear mascara does not streak. Even waterproof black mascara does- but it does make for a more defined lash. (Oh goodness, I'm starting to sound all fashiony. :D)
- Sheer lip gloss- MUCH more natural than lipstick!
- Daily face wash- Wash your face every morning and night to maintain a clear complexion.
- Aveeno SPF lotion- Apply lotion after washing your face to keep your face moist. Make sure your lotion contains SPF to protect you from the sun- yes, even in winter!
- A variety of brushes- Apply blush, bronzer, eye shadow, and powder with brushes for a natural feel.
I just started reading John Piper's When I don't Desire God. At first, it was just as frustrating as everything else I've tried. For some reason, I just could not understand the concepts. You see, Piper talks about how we must fight for joy in God...but at the same time, we must allow God to do the work in us. This just did not make sense to me. I feel that fighting is something violent or harsh. How could I balance that with letting God do his part? I was so discouraged that I almost put down the book. Then, one day, God began moving as He always does. While my mom and brother were doing a devotional together, I overheard my mom saying that you should always pray before you delve into the Word. Hm...I had not been doing that. The next morning during my Bible study, I prayed before opening my book- Lord, open my eyes to see what You would have me see in this book. Help me to understand clearly what I need to understand. Speak to me through this book. God had a little somethin' to say to me:
We are like farmers. They plow the flied and plant the seed and cut away weeds and scare away crows, but they do not make the crop grow. God does. He sends rain and sunshine and brings to maturity the hidden life of the seed. We have our part. But it is not coercive or controlling. And there will be times when the crops fail. Even then God has his ways of feeding the farmer and bringing him through a lean season.
Oh my! This makes perfect sense to me. We must do our part and invest ourselves in our relationships with Him. But He is the one who will finally bring us the joy. If we do not read our Bibles, pray, go to church and really dig deep, true joy in God is not going to happen. But if it is not His will for us to have that joy quite yet, it's not going to happen yet either. God has everything perfectly laid out. We just have to do our parts while we wait for Him.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
The following quote makes me wonder what I can do (or rather, what I can allow God to do) in my life to have that true love and passion for God.
"How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose...! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves...O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation." - Augustine
This is a reminder that God loves us and really wants us to find joy in Him- He does not want us to live an empty existence.
"Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, You will honor and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold , and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away? So, for God to say, Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified." - Thomas Watson
"Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes out sensibility...But aren't thre bad, unlawful pleasures? Certainly there are. But in calling them "bad pleasures" I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean "pleasures snatched by unlawful acts." It is the stealing of the apples that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory...I have tried since...to make every pleasure inot a channel of adoration. I don't mean simply by giving thanks for it. Once must of course give thanks, but I meant something different...Gratitude exlaims, very properly, "How good of God to give me this." Adoration says, "What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!" One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun...If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour." - C.S. Lewis
"Esteeming God less than anything is the essence of evil." - John Piper
Comment on this post to let us know if you'd be interested in an e-zine or comment anonymously with an advice question!
"I wish something interesting would happen. You know, in books, things always happen to make a normal life fascinating... the main character is kidnapped by a bunch of thieves or rogues, and then a knight or a hero of some sort comes and rescues her... or a war breaks out, and the main character goes to win renown in battles... or the main character's father, the king of the realm, dies, and she is left to rule the kingdom while there are enemies attacking... or the main character is given an extraordinary task, and she accomplishes it with ease, even if she's doubtful, frightened, or even apparently incapable. But not so here... Here, life goes on as it always has. I get up, eat, study for hours, take a break, study for hours, take a longer break, read, go to bed, sleep, get up, eat breakfast... and the cycle goes on. I suppose I wouldn't especially like being kidnapped and held for ransom in a dark cave deep in the heart of the forest. And I don't suppose it would be exactly pleasant to have to fight in a battle, even if you did win undying glory. Perhaps it wouldn't be enjoyable if my father was a king, and he died, leaving me to rule a troubled kingdom which was being bombarded on all sides. I would probably find it less than enjoyable if I was given a seemingly impossible task, and was told to do it, if I had to die in the process. But then again... any of those might be more interesting than sitting around and doing the same thing every day. I suppose there are still frontiers to conquer... still battles to fight and glory to win. And not always with swords and bows, or pikes and catapults. I suppose there are still knights and fair maidens, and I suppose I could find them if I looked hard enough... There are still many places where justice is being neglected, where there is a need to defend the defenseless, and a need to speak out for truth. But... I am just a young maiden who is still learning how to fight. Perhaps that is why I must learn, why I must toil away day after day at my monotonous tasks... perhaps, when my training is complete and I am equiped for war, I will ride out and aid in pushing back the foe. I do not train with swords and spears, not with bows and arrows. I do not train myself to fight in the way that a typical warrior princess would... But I am in training for battle, and perhaps, some day, I will be able to put my training to use. Perhaps, after all, there are battles and foes, knights and maidens. They may not look the same as they did five hundred years ago... but they are still existant, and there is a need for leaders, and people who are equiped to do battle, and to give their all for truth and justice. Perhaps... perhaps some day I shall do my part.
'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...' - Ephesians 6:12-17"
Sisters, God put us here for a reason. He has a use for us, even if we can't see it right now. Life might seem hopeless, but our God is good, and He made each and every one of us for a purpose.
James 2:1 says, "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism."
This word, "favoritism", which is translated in King James Version "respect of persons", also means, "the fault of one who when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities" according to Blue Letter Bible's lexicon. I have been guilty of that so many times. It is so easy to judge a person before we forget they they too are God's workmanship.
James goes on to say, "Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (emphasis added) The word "chosen" refers to choosing with kindness, favor, and love. Now, honestly, when someone smells funky or looks a little rough, I do not want to have anything to do with them! My human nature says, "Ew! Gross! Look the other way! Run!" I'm disgusted. Can't someone take a bath once in a while?
Ah, but Jesus chose the poor while he was on earth. He ate at tables with tax collectors, He touched lepers who had been deemed untouchable, He healed blind, dirty beggars, He spoke with Samaritans. Look, He even chose poor fishermen as his disciples. All those who had been cast low in society, Jesus loved. All those who were usually chosen last, He chose first.
So, sisters, this is the question I have for you. A question that I have been pondering:
What does it look like for us, as believers, to choose, love, be Jesus to those we love the least?
The amount of love we express for the person we love the least reflects the amount of love we have for God. This just makes me want to love everyone, EVERYONE! so much that there is no doubt that I love God. Even those who are sick (this is a tough one for me because I am a germophobe), those who are dirty, those who are rude, those who have made terrible decisions, those who have hurt you. We must love each of these people the way we would love Jesus if He was walking on the earth. With admiration, grace, patience, and truth. What can you do for the person you love the least today?
(Click on pictures to view more information.)
End of the Spear (2006)
Follow the journeys of five men and their families who give their lives for Jesus in the Amazon Basin. As they try to befriend the hostile native tribes of Ecuador, they risk their comfort and safety- but more than anything, they want salvation for the Auca tribe.
Pros: This is an inspirational, Christ-centered story featuring the lives of missionary heroes such as Nate Saint and Jim Elliot. It is a great movie to watch for anyone who is interested in missions to see examples of amazing faith.
Cons: There are some violent spearing scenes and some...ahem...bare bottoms (to stay true to the Auca's traditional clothing...or lack thereof...) Although this may not be a movie for young children, kids 12 and up should be able to handle it.
Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002)
A documentary based on the lives of the same five men featured in End of the Spear. The film includes interviews with the missionary's wives and children as well as live footage from the Auca tribe. Extremely inspirational.
Pros: This movie made me want to get off the couch, get on a plane, and go to the Amazon! The incredible things five missionary families experienced while in the Amazon are moving.
Cons: Since there is some real footage of the Auca tribe, modesty is an issue. I don't believe there is any spearing in the documentary, though.
Being homeschooled, I am not used to being around teenagers who act so differently from me, and I struggle with a great deal of nervousness when I'm around them. In order to take the test, I had to go to a building with all of these strangers, and stay there for four hours. The night before the test, I was so extremely nervous that I broke down. I almost said that I could not go, that if I did I would probably pass out, or something else, from terror. I wasn't trusting God, and although I prayed, as usual, I wasn't really expecting Him to do anything spectacular. I didn't even really think that He would give me peace in my heart, and courage to do something that I was afraid of.
That morning, my dad drove me to the building where we were to take the test, and took me inside to sign in and find where I was supposed to sit, etc. All of the other kids had come on their buses, or in cars with friends, so I was apparently the only one who had my father with me. Add to that the fact that I was wearing a denim skirt, didn't have my hair cut in a modern style, and that I had no friends here, and I was very much the odd-ball in the room. Not that anyone even noticed me. I literally felt faint, and just wanted to get away. I shrunk next to my dad as we stood in line, in the huge crowd. Then, a man who had been standing against the wall with a younger boy came up and introduced himself to my father. "I assume you're a homeschooler?" he asked, after shaking hands.
"Yes," my dad replied.
"So are we," the man said. "This is my son, here." He called a young man over, and introduced him to us. He was a year older than me, and was wearing the same type of "old-fashioned" clothes. "It looks like you two are the only homeschoolers here."
I nodded. Dad and the man talked for a little while, and then they suggested something.
"Why don't you two stick together today, okay?" my dad said, turning to me. I nodded mutely, and we walked off to the 'classroom', after I said goodbye to my father. The young man kindly tried to converse with me, even though I was extremely quiet, and by the time the test started, I was feeling much more comfortable.
Throughout the day, we had several five-minute breaks. During that time, my new friend thoughtfully continued to pull me out of my shell, and by the end of the first break we had discovered several subjects which we both loved and heartily agreed on. After that, I was quite happy and not nearly so nervous any more. The test finally ended, and we both left with our parents.
Later, thinking about it, I almost wondered if the young man had been an angel, sent by God to deliver me in my time of trouble. But he was not. I saw him at the library a few weeks later, evidence that he was, indeed, a resident of a small town outside of ours. But God doesn't always send angels. He works in such amazing ways that He can bring human beings into His children's lives at just the time that they need it. And He does. El Elyon, the Most High God, gives us everything we need, even when we neglect to trust Him to provide it. He is indeed Jehovah Jireh (yeh-ho-vaw' yir-eh'), the God Who Provides. He provided for my needs in a way that I never would have expected, and in a spectacular way that could only be His hand working. I didn't really trust Him to do it, but He did it anyway. He loves us that much. He is Jehovah Jireh. Do not forget that, dear sisters. He will provide.
There was once a school teacher in England who decided to sponsor a young boy from Africa. The little boy was about eight years old and not very self-confident. In his first letter to his sponsor, he told her, "You can see from my picture that I am not very handsome." The school teacher replied, "Well, I think you are very handsome. Your picture is on my desk. I look at it every day and think how handsome you are."
In his next letter, the boy said, "Well, thank you, but you can see from my report card that they sent you that I am not very smart." His sponsor replied, "Well, we all have our special gifts and talents. You find something you are good at and work at it with all your heart."
"Dear Sponsor, I found something that I am good at! I am a very fast runner! There are 5 children in my class and I am the fastest!"
She replied, "I am so proud of you! You run as fast as you can!"
Several years later, the teacher heard from her sponsored child again- "Dear Sponsor, I am a very, very fast runner. I can run faster than anyone in my town. In fact, I can almost run faster than anyone in my whole country! I am going to run in the Olympics!"
That year, the school teacher watched proudly from her cottage in England as that same little boy who had once possessed almost no self-confidence won a silver medal in the Olympics.
On his way back to Africa, the young man came to visit her. Handing her the medal, he said, "This is yours."
"Oh, no, no," she replied, "You ran as fast as you could. You worked so hard. I'm so proud of you. You keep it."
"No," the boy said, "If you had not encouraged me when I was younger the way you did, I would never have made it here. This is your medal. This is your victory."
Wow. Doesn't that just give you the chills? Let me share our Compassion experience. For many, many years, we have been sponsoring a girl my age. The letters she writes are often very formal. It seems all she talks about is school. At first, we were very frustrated. It almost seemed as if someone else was writing the letters for her. However, this story has inspired us to encourage our child in what she writes about most- school. Someone needs to encourage her. Tell her how proud they are of her. Tell her she has value. In a third-world country, getting good grades, let alone going to school, is something to be very proud of. We have been challenged to write FOR OUR CHILD instead of just things that we want to write. One more thing- if you were an extremely impoverished child in a third-world country and you knew a rich American was sending money to you, wouldn't you feel indebted to them? Perhaps your pride would be hurt. Maybe you would feel embarrassed. If our girl is feeling like that, we want to eliminate all those doubts. We love her and love sharing our great abundance with her. If you sponsor a child through any ministry, let them know that they are loved and valued by you, and more importantly, by GOD, their heavenly Father. Sometimes, though, because there are limits on what you can write, it's hard not to send the same kind of letter every time. Here are some ideas on how you can encourage your child and brighten their day:
- Interview them- Ask them about some of their favorite things such as food, color, hobby, etc. (Just make sure you don't ask about anything that they might not have access to because of their poverty.) It will show them that you value their opinion- share your favorites with them too!
- Make something for them- whether it be a simple drawing, a bookmark, a note card...you will not only be giving them a material gift, but the gift of time.
- Send them a coloring sheet- it will hopefully provide some entertainment. One idea would be to send them a picture of the state that you live in or landmarks in that state.
- Send them a postcard from a place that you've visited.
- Give them a picture of you or your family.
- Share your favorite Bible verse.
- Include several strands of embroidery string and some instructions of how to make a friendship bracelet. (I think that an actual friendship bracelet would be too bulky for the envelope.
- Use special stationery.
- Send them baseball cards- we also sponsor a boy in the Dominican Republic where baseball is a favorite sport. I bet that a baseball card would really be a treasured possession!
- Write a joke, a song, or a funny story- (Just make sure that it would still make sense in any language...no puns, poems, or rhymes...)
- Send stickers! :)
- Visit them. If you are able to afford such a trip, visiting your sponsored child could bring hope and life into their lives.
Eleven-year-old Kafui was given her name by her older brother, who had no choice but to raise her. Kafui means "Praise Him" in the Ewe language (the Ewe are a tribe from the Volta region of Ghana). Kafui's name is surprising, because this little girl was an orphan before she was even born.
Kafui's suffering started when she was only seven months in the womb. She had to be prematurely delivered before her mother's pregnancy reached full term. Her mother was at the point of death, having innocently eaten food poisoned by her rival, another wife of Kafui's father, who died in a motor accident before she was born. After spending time in an incubator in the hospital, Kafui was released to her single, unemployed brother.
Mawunyo, age 19 at the time, had no experience with child care, let alone with a premature baby. He first saw God's mercy when their mother's younger sister, who was away with her husband and had given birth to a baby, returned to town.
This aunt agreed to nurse Kafui alongside her own baby. However, after just three months, her husband came and took her away again. Kafui returned to her brother, Mawunyo.
Vulnerable and Alone
"I was scared. She was very small; too tiny even to handle," Kafui's brother recalls. "Friends made my fears even worse when they kept telling me that she would die if I did not give her to an experienced elderly woman. But we did not have anybody."
The two lived in a very old, small kiosk that leaked in the rain. It was not suitable for any baby, let alone one so vulnerable.
God intervened again when a distant relative agreed to nurse Kafui for a few more months. After that, Mawunyo started feeding her adult food, unable to afford the expensive baby formula Kafui needed.
As Kafui grew up, Mawunyo could not bear to watch other children go to school while his sister missed out on education. With no money and only faith, he took his sister to a Christian nursery and preparatory school, where he talked to the headmistress and got Kafui accepted into the school.
Everyone at the school was surprised because the headmistress had never accepted a child into the school without the registration fee. This actually drew focus to Kafui, which was exactly what this shy, timid, undernourished girl needed. Then a teacher, Mabel, took special interest in Kafui.
"Kafui was always a sad-looking child who would never play with the other children," recalls Mabel. "I wanted to know more about her. I drew her to myself and made her relax with me, and then she opened up and started telling me about herself."
Kafui began spending more time with Mabel and her two children. Mabel supported Kafui and her brother, giving them food and providing books and extra lessons to help Kafui catch up in school. Shortly after this, Mabel's church, the Rohi Global Evangelical Church, became a partner with Compassion. Mabel registered Kafui at the center, assuring her education.
Today, two years later, Kafui is happy, active, and full of smiles. Her brother, Mawunyo, is overwhelmed with how God has rescued him and his sister. "I can only thank God for telling me that day to send Kafui to that Christian nursery and preparatory school, because that is where it all began. I believe it was God, and I praise Him."
And so does his little sister, whose name bears their testimony.
(Story from www.compassion.com)
James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble..."
There are a lot of orphans in the world- just about 143 million. A lot of those oprhans have HIV/AIDS or were orphaned because of it. Oftentimes, because orphans are so vulnerable, they're abused. In Russia, 60% of orphaned girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become criminals. In Africa, young orphaned girls are forced to sell their bodies for a few scraps of food, just to stay alive.
The number of orphans and the suffering they endure is a bit overwhelming. However, more overwhelming to me is the fact that we (the church) are doing nothing about them. Why? Maybe because we're uninformed, maybe because we don't know what to do, maybe because we just don't care (though I don't understand how this could be possible). When I first heard about the widespread orphan crisis, I wondered how I could help. Of course, adoption seems like a good idea, but it may not be for everybody...and as a young girl, it's not even an option. Another idea is to be an orphan advocate- someone who speaks up for the orphan...kind of what I'm doing right now. I'm telling you about this in hopes that you will do something about it and maybe even tell someone else. Another thing you can do to help orphans is prevent them. Right now there are about 143 million orphans...what will keep that number from escalating in the years to come? Children are becoming orphans every day. So...instead of trying to put a bandaid on a on a broken limb, let's try to completely eliminate the problem...
Now, even as I say this, I don't know quite what I'm doing...this is something I'm exploring myself as well...however, the ministry of Compassion is a really cool ministry. It is giving hope to children (orphans and non-orphans alike) and their families. By providing financial support and the love of Jesus Christ to families all over the world, Compassion is holding families together- keeping countless children from becoming orphans.
My family supports 2 children through Compassion. We are able to write letters and communicate with our Compassion kids and learn about what their life is like. We are able to pray for them and help provide for their families. I think that's pretty cool. If you'd like to support a child through Compassion, click here.
Let me know what you think. The next post will be about writing letters and encouraging your Compassion child.
Cardigans- They can be word in essentially any season, come in almost every imaginable color, and a variety of fabrics. Some are warm and soft, while others are cool and thin. Probably half of my wardrobe is made up of cardigans- don't worry- they don't always have to look grandma-ish! They're great for layering- and if you have any neutral colors (I would recommend gray, black, or brown), they're easy to toss on with just about anything when you're on the go! I personally don't own the above Land's End cardigan, but I have one a lot like it and absolutely love it!
Ballet flats- They are so easy to slip on with, well, just about anything...I know I'm sounding repetitive here, but that's why I'm calling these pieces essential- they are smart buys because you can wear them all the time. If you buy a pair, I would recommend buying one like the ones about with a little bit of stretch. I was able to get a pair for a dollar at a garage sale! Unfortunately, they are the kind with no stretch, so they make my feet a little bit sore. But, if they were comfortable, I'm sure I'd wear them with almost every outfit!
Pea coats, trench coats, and jackets- A few years ago, I bought a really cute yellow trench coat at Old Navy...and of course thought it was a cute, trendy piece...but maybe that it would go out of style in a few years. Boy, was I wrong! I have received more compliments on that coat than on any other article of clothing. And it's still in style! Trench coats and pea coats are classy pieces that will last you a long time- especially if you invest in them! This coat from New York and Co. was originally over $100 and is now just a little over $50- a great price for a coat. Jackets are also great layering pieces- the best kind is a dark brown jacket- preferably corduroy- once again, you can wear it with just about anything!
Fashion scarves- Although this is a bit more of a trendy piece, fashion scarves are generally inexpensive, fun, and (surprise, surprise) can be paired with just about any outfit. They can be found in really any color and can be worn in so many ways. Because they are a trend, don't spend to much money on a scarf- but having one or two doesn't hurt- especially if they're solid colors (preferably neutrals) that you can wear with lots of stuff!
Jeans (that fit well)- Jeans...they're an essential, prevalent piece in almost every American's closet. For teenagers, most of the time they are tight...a little too tight, worn, and torn. A little over a year ago I fell victim to the tight jeans epidemic. I found some American Eagle jeans for a steal. They were comfortable, a little tight, and I loved them. The problem was, for me, they were a little too tight. Icky tight. When I think back on it now, I just think "gross". It wasn't like they were cutting off my circulation or anything. The problem was that they were stretchy. Not a little bit stretchy. Really stretchy. Beware! Do not fall victim to the stretchy jeans! Don't get me wrong. Stretch is great! But it can make a pair of jeans that are too small look like they fit...it can even make them feel like they fit. But really, you'll just end up looking trashy. And who wants to look trashy?
Over the years I've had a couple really good pairs of jeans. And honestly, the best jeans are the expensive jeans. Like, designer jeans. No, I did not go out and spend 200 bucks on a pair of jeans. I bought them at a resale shop. For a very small fraction of the price- like maybe $20-30. The brands I've loved are David Kahn and Worn. These brands might be hard to find, but they're worth the digging. If you have no luck there, you could also try Banana Republic (again, hit the resale shops) and Limited. Probably, if you still have no luck, Levis will be your best bet.
Boots- Maybe they're just in where I live, but it seems like Ugg boots are everywhere! Ugh! :) A couple weeks ago, we were talking about Uggs and my brother said, "Oh, you mean those tubes with the rounded toes?"...I guess we know what he thinks of Ugg boots! My mom thinks they're ridiculous too. I'm not so much against them...maybe because that's just more my style...maybe because I'm a teenager caught up in the latest fashion. But really, if you want a pair of boots that's more classy and traditional, go with a pair of riding boots. I bought a pair recently and absolutely fell in love with them! They look cute with a pair of jeans or a skirt and they are so, so, so fun! Although they are a bit pricier, they will last you a really long time and be an overall good investment.