Sunday, February 28, 2010

What Would You Like on Your Tombstone?

I'm not talking about Tombstone pizzas and toppings here.  Have you ever wondered what people will remember you for once you leave this earth?  “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”~Charles Spurgeon

Silly or not :), I told my family that I would like this inscription on my tombstone: "She lived for God.  Now she lives with God."  I like this one, too: "Don't leave earth without JESUS!"  What would you like on your tombstone?  What would you like people to remember you for?  Just being alive each day is not the same as "living."  "Teach us to number our days aright--that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)  What are our days filled with?  Whatever you do, don't waste your life.

"Now, if the day has been filled with duty and love and service--its page written all over with pure, white thoughts and records of gentle deeds--then it is well; its passing need not be mourned over. But merely to have to rub it off at the setting of the sun, leaving in it nothing but a story of idleness, uselessness, selfishness, and lost opportunities, is a sad numbering!" ~J.R. Miller, "Numbering Our Days", 1912

Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I'll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.
                                                     ~Unknown

"We have eternity to tell of victories won for Christ, but we have only a few hours before sunset to win them." ~Unknown

"I'm in my 83rd year, but it doesn't necessarily mean I'm wiser or stronger. It doesn't mean I've done more. It's not the stretch of life that matters. It's the depth of life. It's not how long we live. It's how we live. Keith was a man who seemed to live on the edge of eternity. And he was ready to step into it." ~Leonard Ravenhill spoke of Keith Green after his death (quote taken from "No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green" by Melody Green & David Hazard)

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot

Please visit here for the links to other Spiritual Sundays posts. Have a blessed day in the Lord, everyone!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing


Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (written by Robert Robinson, sung by Jadon Lavik)

"From the Lord comes deliverance.  May Your blessing be on Your people." Psalm 3:8
"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Ephesians 1:3
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

In 1 Samuel 7, when God made the Philistines get into panic mode and lose to the Israelites, Samuel took a stone and set it up as a remembrance of God's faithfulness and help.  He named the stone, "Ebenezer" which means stone of help.  "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
Let us all raise our "Ebenezer" with our praises!


Previous Songs:
Faithful One
Your Love Broke Through
Until the Whole World Hears
- Take My Life
- In Christ Alone
- Sweetly Broken
- Be Thou My Vision
- God With Us
- Offering- Christmas Version 
- How Many Kings
Give Thanks
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- He Knows My Name
- Oh Lord, You're Beautiful!
- What the Lord Has Done in Me
- I Surrender All
- Mighty To Save
- Could I Be Called a Christian?
- Cry Out to Jesus
- Jesus, Be the Center
- God of Justice
- Love That Will Not Let Me Go
- I Will Offer Up My Life
- When It's All Been Said and Done
- Knowing You, Jesus

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday's Fave Five #3

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My fave five this week include:
1. Hugs from my kids.  I can never get enough of them :).  I love being surprised by the behind-the-back-from-nowhere hugs from my 16 year old daughter.  I enjoy getting the giant squeezed front hugs from my 8 year old son.  I treasure the once-in-a-blue-moon neck hugs from my 11 year old son (who has autism).

2. Hymns.  We just finished reading Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers.  We'll soon start Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation.  We learned not only about the lives of famous hymn writers, but also the deep gratitude, utmost reverence, and high adoration that they had towards God, our Maker.  I truly appreciate the Biblical worship, earnest prayers, and faith-building words expressed in hymns.

3. Winning prizes.  I won the grand prize from the Celebrating Life Contest at Focus on the Family.  I also won a book (Big Thoughts for Little People) from Tyndale.  I am very thankful!

4. Swagbucks.  You can search the web (which most of us do all the time anyway) and earn prizes at swagbucks.  Very easy and fun.  It's free to sign up.  Right now, they are celebrating their 2nd birthday and giving out many codes for free extra swagbucks.

5. Naps/Sleep.  I'm blessed to be able to fall asleep easily.  I just need more quantity :).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Godliness


"Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be Godly. For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:7-8

"But Godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

Those who know and love Jesus will never stop this training no matter how difficult and strenuous it is because they know that it pleases the Lord and that their rewards are immeasurable.  Thankfully, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness.  Just do it :)!

Training routine = Reading, studying, memorizing, and applying God's Word
Training Coach = the Holy Spirit
Training partners = the Church (our brothers and sisters in Christ)


Previous WFW:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FIRST Wild Card Tour: It's Always Too Soon to Quit!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A man who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago and the author of more than 150 books. For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. Dubbed by many as the “pastor’s pastor,” Dr. Wiersbe skillfully weaves Scripture with historical explanations and thought-provoking questions, communicating the Word in such a way that the masses grasp its relevance for today.


Product Details:

List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765105
ISBN-13: 978-1434765109

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction to 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon


Too Soon to Quit!


Timothy was not too happy in his church in Ephesus, and Titus was in a difficult situation on the island of Crete. To both of them, Paul wrote, “Be faithful! It’s always too soon to quit!”


Paul used the Greek word pistos (“faithful”) at least seventeen times in these three letters. The theme runs through each chapter: Be faithful to the Word, be faithful to your task, be faithful to the people to whom you minister. God is faithful! But don’t get the idea that the Pastoral Epistles are only for pastors and other “full-time Christian workers.” These three letters are for every Christian, every church member.


I have added a chapter on Philemon because what Paul wrote to him fits right into the theme of this study. Philemon faced a difficult problem with his runaway slave, Onesimus, and Paul’s counsel encouraged Philemon to be faithful to the Lord in solving that problem.


As you study these letters, I want to help you understand the ministry of the local church and also encourage you to stick with it! If you and I are faithful to the tasks God has given us, then His work will prosper and His name will be glorified. Could we ask for more?


A Note about Paul’s Life


Paul was arrested in Jerusalem around AD 57 and was confined to prison in Caesarea for two years (see Acts 21:19—26:32). Paul’s voyage to Rome to be tried before Caesar started sometime around September AD 59. After a shipwreck and a three-month wait on Malta, he arrived in Rome about

February AD 60 (see Acts 27—28). There he had liberty to minister.


Paul was acquitted of the charges and released. During the two years that followed, he ministered in various places and wrote 1 Timothy and Titus.


About AD 65, he was arrested again but this time put into a dungeon. It was then that he wrote 2 Timothy, his last letter.


The other collected letters, including Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, were written during his first Roman captivity. —Warren W. Wiersbe


How to Use This Study


This study is designed for both individual and small-group use. We’ve divided it into eight lessons—each references one or more chapters in Warren W. Wiersbe’s commentary Be Faithful (second edition, David C. Cook, 2009). While reading Be Faithful is not a prerequisite for going through this study, the additional insights and background Wiersbe offers can greatly enhance your study experience.


The Getting Started questions at the beginning of each lesson offer you an opportunity to record your first thoughts and reactions to the study text. This is an important step in the study process as those “first impressions” often include clues about what it is your heart is longing to discover.


The bulk of the study is found in the Going Deeper questions. These dive into the Bible text and, along with helpful excerpts from Wiersbe’s commentary, help you examine not only the original context and meaning of the verses but also modern application.


Looking Inward narrows the focus down to your personal story. These intimate questions can be a bit uncomfortable at times, but don’t shy away from honesty here. This is where you are asked to stand before the mirror of God’s Word and look closely at what you see. It’s the place to take a good look at yourself in light of the lesson and search for ways in which you can grow in faith.


Going Forward is the place where you can commit to paper those things you want or need to do in order to better live out the discoveries you made in the Looking Inward section. Don’t skip or skim through this. Take the time to really consider what practical steps you might take to move closer to Christ. Then share your thoughts with a trusted friend who can act as an encourager and accountability partner.


Finally, there is a brief Seeking Help section to close the lesson. This is a reminder for you to invite God into your spiritual-growth process. If you choose to write out a prayer in this section, come back to it as you work through the lesson and continue to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you discover God’s will for your life.


Tips for Small Groups


A small group is a dynamic thing. One week it might seem like a group of close-knit friends. The next it might seem more like a group of uncomfortable strangers. A small-group leader’s role is to read these subtle changes and adjust the tone of the discussion accordingly.


Small groups need to be safe places for people to talk openly. It is through shared wrestling with difficult life issues that some of the greatest personal growth is discovered. But in order for the group to feel safe, participants need to know it’s okay not to share sometimes. Always invite honest disclosure, but never force someone to speak if he or she isn’t comfortable doing so. (A savvy leader will follow up later with a group member who isn’t comfortable sharing in a group setting to see if a one-on-one discussion is more appropriate.)


Have volunteers take turns reading excerpts from Scripture or from the commentary. The more each person is involved even in the mundane tasks, the more they’ll feel comfortable opening up in more meaningful ways.


The leader should watch the clock and keep the discussion moving. Sometimes there may be more Going Deeper questions than your group can cover in your available time. If you’ve had a fruitful discussion, it’s okay to move on without finishing everything. And if you think the group is getting bogged down on a question or has taken off on a tangent, you can simply say, “Let’s go on to question 5.” Be sure to save at least ten to fifteen minutes for the Going Forward questions.


Finally, soak your group meetings in prayer—before you begin, during as needed, and always at the end of your time together.


Lesson 1

An Important Job

(1 TIMOTHY 1—2)


Before you begin …

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read 1 Timothy 1—2. This lesson references chapters 1 and 2 in Be Faithful. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.


Getting Started


From the Commentary


Timothy was born of mixed parentage: His mother was a Jewess, his father a Greek. He was so devoted to Christ that his local church leaders recommended him to Paul, and Paul added him to his “missionary staff” (Acts 16:1–5). Paul often reminded Timothy that he was chosen for this ministry (1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14). Timothy was faithful to the Lord (1 Cor. 4:17) and had a deep concern for God’s people (Phil. 2:20–22).


But in spite of his calling, his close association with Paul, and his spiritual gifts, Timothy was easily discouraged.


Paul wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy to encourage Timothy, to explain how a local church should be managed, and to enforce his own authority as a servant of God.


—Be Faithful, pages 20–21


1. What clues does Paul give in the first two chapters of 1 Timothy about Timothy’s tendency to be discouraged? (See especially 1 Tim. 1:18–19.) Why do you think Paul mentions that he has “handed over to Satan” Hymenaeus and Alexander?


2. Choose one verse or phrase from 1 Timothy 1—2 that stands out to you. This could be something you’re intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.


Going Deeper


From the Commentary


One reason Christian workers must stay on the job is that false teachers are busy trying to capture Christians. There were teachers of false doctrines in Paul’s day just as there are today, and we must take them seriously. These false teachers have no good news for lost sinners. They seek instead to lead Christians astray and capture them for their causes.


Paul used military language to help Timothy and his people see the seriousness of the problem (1 Tim. 1:3). Charge means “to give strict orders from a superior officer.” Paul used this word (sometimes translated “commandment” and “command” in KJV) eight times in his two letters to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3, 5, 18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17; 2 Tim. 4:1). He was conveying this idea: “Timothy, you are not only a pastor of the church in a difficult city. You are also a Christian soldier under orders from the King. Now pass these orders along to the soldiers in your church!”


—Be Faithful, pages 21–22


3. How does Paul’s use of military language speak to an urgency in battling the false doctrines in the Ephesian church? What are some similar circumstances in today’s church where a “command” to a church leader might be appropriate? What are the risks of not responding to the false doctrines swiftly and decisively?


More to Consider: Read Galatians 5:1–6. How does this passage speak to the “ false doctrines” of religious legalism that Paul is warning against in 1 Timothy 1:3–11?


From the Commentary


The mention of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11, literal translation) moved Paul to share his own personal testimony. He was “Exhibit A” to prove that the gospel of the grace of God really works. When you read Paul’s testimony (see also Acts 9:1–22; 22:1–21; 26:9–18), you begin to grasp the wonder of God’s grace and His saving power.


—Be Faithful, page 24


4. Review 1 Timothy 1:12–17. What do these verses tell us about Paul’s testimony? What arguments does he put forth to illustrate the gospel of grace in his own story?


From the History Books


The city of Ephesus (in present-day Turkey) was at one time a city of nearly half a million people. Among other things, it was known for the Temple of Artemis (Diana). People came from far away to worship the goddess of fertility. The temple itself, which took more than a hundred years to complete, is often referred to today as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” and is evidence of the strong pagan influence in the city of Ephesus during Paul’s day.


5. What impact would the pagan environment have had on Timothy’s ability to serve the church in Ephesus? What sorts of challenges might he have faced that were unique to a city that was known for its worship of a fertility goddess? How might knowing this about Ephesus have influenced the manner in which Paul addressed Timothy?


From the Commentary


It was not easy to serve God in pagan Ephesus, but Timothy was a man under orders, and he had to obey. The soldier’s task is to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4), and not to please himself. Furthermore, Timothy was there by divine appointment: God had chosen him and sent him. It was this fact that could give him assurance in difficult days.


—Be Faithful, page 27


6. How does Paul’s personal story (1 Tim. 1:12–13) speak to the idea of being divinely appointed for the leadership task? How might this have offered encouragement to Timothy? How does this resonate with the way we view church leaders today?


From the Commentary


Timothy must have been greatly helped and encouraged when he read this first section of Paul’s letter. God had called Timothy, equipped him, and put him into his place of ministry. Timothy’s job was not to run all over Ephesus, being involved in a multitude of tasks. His job was to care for the church by winning the lost, teaching the saved, and defending the faith. Any task that did not relate to these ministries would have to be abandoned.


—Be Faithful, page 29


7. Why was it important for Timothy to focus on the local church? What greater value could this focus have had on other efforts to reach the Ephesians? In what ways do the leaders of churches today succeed in staying focused? In what ways does the church fail in this? How can Paul’s words in chapter 1 help redirect a church that has lost focus?


From the Commentary


Often, what we think is the “freedom of the Spirit” are the carnal ideas of some Christian who is not walking in the Spirit. Eventually this “freedom” becomes anarchy, and the Spirit grieves as a church gradually moves away from the standards of God’s Word.


To counteract this tendency, Paul exhorted both the men and the women in the church and reminded them of their spiritual responsibilities.


—Be Faithful, page 33


8. Review 1 Timothy 2:1–8. What were the spiritual responsibilities Paul described specifically for the men of the church? Why do you think he separated the responsibilities of men and women in this and the next section? How much of what Paul described is specific to the culture of the time, and what can we derive from this passage that is universally helpful for all believers, men or women?


More to Consider: Read Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:9–14; James 4:1–10; and 1 John 5:14–15 to see examples of problematic attitudes some people bring to prayer. How does Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:1–4 speak to the concerns raised by these passages?


From the Commentary


The word translated “subjection” in 1 Timothy 2:11 is translated “submitting” and “submit” in Ephesians 5:21–22 and Colossians 3:18. It literally means “to rank under.” Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that “rank” has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability.


Submission is not subjugation. Submission is recognizing God’s order in the home and the church and joyfully obeying it. When a Christian wife joyfully submits to the Lord and to her own husband, it should bring out the best in her.


—Be Faithful, page 40


9. Review 1 Timothy 2:9–15. What are the specific responsibilities Paul outlines for women in these verses? What makes this passage somewhat controversial in today’s church? Again, how much of what Paul writes is specific to the culture of the time, and how much is directly applicable today?


From the Commentary


Paul gave several arguments to back up this admonition that the Christian men in the church should be the spiritual leaders. The first is an argument from creation: Adam was formed first, and then Eve (1 Tim. 2:12–13).


The second argument has to do with man’s fall into sin. Satan deceived the woman into sinning (Gen. 3:1ff.; 2 Cor. 11:3); the man sinned with his eyes wide open. Because Adam rejected the God-given order, he listened to his wife, disobeyed God, and brought sin and death into the world. The submission of wives to their own husbands is a part of the original creation.


—Be Faithful, page 43


10. What is your initial reaction to Paul’s arguments about why men should be the spiritual leaders in the church? Why do you think Paul makes this distinction in his letter to Timothy? What can we discern from this that is applicable to today’s church leaders?


Looking Inward


Take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve explored thus far in this study of 1 Timothy 1—2. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.


Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don’t press people to speak if they’re uncomfortable doing so.


11. When have you been discouraged like Timothy? How did you respond to that discouragement? How can Paul’s words of encouragement to Timothy help you?


12. Timothy was battling the false doctrine of legalism. How have you battled that in your church? In your own life? Why is it so easy to fall into legalism? How do Paul’s words to Timothy help you understand the gospel of grace?


13. What is your response to Paul’s exhortations to men and women at the end of 1 Timothy 2? How are Paul’s words applicable to your life? Do you agree with everything he says? Why or why not?


Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things you have learned that you’d like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try).


Do you need encouragement? Do you need to fight the temptation to be legalistic? Be specific. Go back through 1 Timothy 1—2 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.


Real-Life Application Ideas: Invite a discussion with other church members about how you can support and encourage the church leadership. Brainstorm specific ways you can encourage the leaders, and then take action on these ideas.


Seeking Help


15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you’ve previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.


Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other

group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you’ve read

and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read 1 Timothy 3. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapter 3, “Follow the Leaders,” in Be Faithful.


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series - 1&2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon by Warren Wiersbe. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

My Review: I always enjoy good Bible study materials.  I'm excited to receive this book.  It's designed for both individual and small-group use.  Each of the eight lessons in this book includes five main sections: Getting Started, Going Deeper, Looking Inward, Going Forward, and Seeking Help.  Each lesson is filled with thought-provoking questions, insights from Dr. Wiersbe's commentary, Be Faithful, relevant practical application and notes for small groups.  Other books in this series include Galatians, Proverbs, and Matthew.

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Desperate Hope

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Desperate Hope

David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Candi Pearson-Shelton is a worship leader, songwriter and independent artist. Known for her involvement with the Passion worship movement, she also wrote and performed the title track on the Dove-award-winning album, Glory Revealed. She and her husband Jonathan live in Southern California with their son, Elias.

Visit the author's website.

Desperate Hope, by Candi Pearson-Shelton from David C. Cook on Vimeo.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766144
ISBN-13: 978-1434766144

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Substance of Hope


Oh blessed hope, sole boon of man, whereby on his straight prison walls are painted beautiful, far-reaching landscapes, and stretched into the night of very doom is spread holiest dawn. —Thomas Carlyle


If you could hope for just one thing, what would it be? What is that one hope that causes you to wake every morning and trudge through these days? Something, something in the fiber of an existence fuels each breath. If not, then what good is living? Lost hope is lost meaning, and lost meaning is void—dull, still, black. This is no life. This is more like what I imagine hell would be.


We need a marvelous hope because we need purpose. We pray for what we hope for because our entire being screams out a deep longing for it, and to lose this would be to lose ourselves. So what can be the object of this kind of hope? What is the single greatest imaginable hope?


The substance of such a worthy hope, the kind that gives purpose and meaning to this life, is recorded in the gospel of John, tucked inside one of Jesus’ prayers. Chapter 17 records what Jesus thought important enough to pray for. This was His deep longing, and in His perfect marriage of deity and humanity, He offered us a glimpse of His object of great hope. In this chapter we find Jesus praying a remarkably simple prayer that can be broken into three distinct parts.


First, He prays for Himself. In the few beginning sentences, He establishes with His father the importance of their reciprocated glory, praying that God would glorify Him so that He could in turn glorify God. He confidently confesses the beautiful fulfillment of His mission, acknowledging the work He had been sent to do was done. His primary concern for Himself, His worthy and God-centered hope, was that in the time approaching—His betrayal, arrest, and death—He would continue in the reciprocal glory between Father and Son, and God would bring Him back into the glory they shared before the beginning of the world (verses 1-5). His desire for Himself? To reveal the glory of His Father and get back to Him as soon as possible.


The second part of the prayer is for His disciples. This piece of His prayer is especially moving because it reveals His genuine affection for these men, these friends and brothers, to whom He’d grown so close. The first part reads like a proud papa spouting off a list of the things His children have accomplished. They kept His word, they accepted it as truth, and believed Jesus to be the Son of God, and they glorified the Father because of it. Jesus’ tender love is revealed as He prays according to His great hope for these men. He asks for a bond of unity, the same brand He enjoys with God His Father. He asks for His own joy to be fulfilled—literally crammed—in them. He prays that God would keep them protected from the enemy as they carry out the tasks that were entrusted to them. His great hope for His friends, His disciples? That they would exist joyfully in unity as they spread the beauty of the gospel, which is the hope of glory and the promise of being with Jesus the Savior forever in His Father’s kingdom.


The third part of this prayer is my favorite because it puts an exclamation point on Jesus’ great hope. It happens to be where we come in, too. Jesus actually prays for us—you and me—in John 17! Isn’t that an amazing discovery? Before we were even given an earthly thought, He divinely prayed for us, and we have the proof of His thoughts toward us in this chapter. His prayer for us sounds very much like those for Himself and His disciples. He prays that we, those of us to come who would believe in Him, would also enjoy the same unity that He has with His Father. He set His glory on us so that we would fully know the unity He desires for us, and so the world would see how much we are loved by the Father. Then he adds the icing:

Father, I want these whom you’ve given me to be with me, so they can see my glory. (John 17:24)


There it is: Jesus’ great hope is for us to be with Him so we can relish His supreme grandness—to see His glory. In the three-part prayer for us all, He illuminated the hope that fueled His words, His actions, His life, and His death. He wants us all to see His glory, and He desperately wants us all with Him.


This incredible truth is far easier to read and accept with eager willingness, easier to apply to our own lives, when we haven’t found ourselves in the precarious position of praying against Jesus. Trying to reconcile our hopes with the hope that is evidenced in Jesus’ prayer means that we will no doubt find ourselves pleading against the very thing Christ has already prayed for. Rick’s sickness highlighted the opposing prayers God hears, as well as the wide contrast between our sometimes selfish hope and the pure and perfect hope of Jesus. We prayed for more time here, for healing, for miraculous things, but things that ultimately kept Rick physically intact and in close proximity.


And Ricky died.


And Jesus prayed for this!


I find it hard to say anything more eloquently and God-breathed than the words Charles Spurgeon has already penned:

Thus the disciple is at cross—purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from His throne, and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?” Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, “Jesus, not my will, but Thine be done.” You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction——”Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” Lord, Thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go.


Understanding the deep ramifications of an answered prayer, one way or another, is to consider all its facets. For me, it is an astonishingly brighter mourning when a child of God returns to Him because Christ’s prayers were answered rather than my own … that the death wasn’t just a blip on the radar screen of life, or a chance occurrence among the other random happenings here on earth. This was an event that has been prayed for over the course of history. Our prayers would have only recently joined in with that of Christ’s, which continues to ring out through time for each of us who believes. He loves us more than understanding can allow us to think upon, and sometimes God grants His Son’s prayer with a “yes” answer, at the expense of our mortal but temporary wounds, and to the blissful delight of all the beings in heaven. He did with Rick, and we continue to turn the diamond of an answered prayer in order to see more facets when the Light touches them.


Now I stand with the diamond in hand—His answer to our prayers. I stand in the aftermath of hope. To say that a journey of hope can have an aftermath is fiercely accurate, as only one who has been on such a journey can know. What a mere day looks like after such a grueling journey; how small moments suddenly inflict enormous emotion; how a lifetime feels in the wake of crushing sorrow and miraculous graces intertwined—all are a part of the full experience of the aftermath.


There is more to an aftermath than a simple time of felt consequences left from the disaster that brings it about. Instead, it is more akin to a second growth from the season of pain, the harvest of our grief bringing about a second crop. The aftermath of hope is about wandering around in the rubble, finding the green mingled in with the char, picking up the pieces that aren’t burned or completely shattered, and finding in the new growth a collection of new ideas, new vision, new character, and a new, more certain hope.


And whether from talent or compulsion of the soul, there is great value in recording the gentle whispers and hard-learned faith lessons that make up the aftermath, springing up like tender shoots of vivid green grass through the contrasting blackened dry soot. These are my blades of grass, the lessons in the aftermath, told with the heart of an explorer fresh from the adventure, brimming with tales of terror and scars, of beauty and redemption.


The aftermath of hope. Hope in all its glory.



©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Desperate Hope by Candi Pearson-Shelton. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In the Valleys

I have recently seen and heard of many fellow Christians facing trials and difficulties physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually, etc.  I hope and pray that they will keep clinging to Jesus, our Prince of Peace/our Forever Faithful Friend.  Some of my favorite verses that comfort me whenever I'm in the valleys are:

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Psalm 68:19

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
"...So that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" makes me think of this poem below.  I hope you find it encouraging.  Remember..God is with you even in the valleys...you're never alone.  "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)  Hugs from me to all of you.  If you have any prayer requests, please feel free to let me know in your comments and I will pray for you.

It's In the Valleys I Grow  By Jane Eggleston

Sometime life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble, and woe.
It’s then I have to remember
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God’s love
And would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it’s in the valleys I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.

My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross.
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was satan’s loss.

Forgive me, Lord, for complaining
When I’m feeling so low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share Your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank You for valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it’s in the valleys I grow!

~Please visit here for the links to other Spiritual Sundays posts. Thanks so much to Charlotte and Ginger for hosting Spiritual Sundays every week.  Have a blessed day in the Lord, everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Faithful One


Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the videos.

Faithful One (Written by Brian Doerksen, sung by Robin Mark)


Faithful One (Written by Chris Eaton, performed by Selah)

"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them--the Lord, who remains faithful forever." Psalm 146:5-6

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:5-6

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
Jesus is my Forever Faithful Friend!  He is full of love, compassion, mercy, and grace.  We can always depend on Him no matter what storms of life we're going through. What a Friend we have in Jesus! He is the Best Friend anyone could ever ask for.


Previous Songs:
Your Love Broke Through
Until the Whole World Hears
- Take My Life
- In Christ Alone
- Sweetly Broken
- Be Thou My Vision
- God With Us
- Offering- Christmas Version 
- How Many Kings
Give Thanks
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- He Knows My Name
- Oh Lord, You're Beautiful!
- What the Lord Has Done in Me
- I Surrender All
- Mighty To Save
- Could I Be Called a Christian?
- Cry Out to Jesus
- Jesus, Be the Center
- God of Justice
- Love That Will Not Let Me Go
- I Will Offer Up My Life
- When It's All Been Said and Done
- Knowing You, Jesus

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday's Fave Five #2

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My fave five this week include:
1. Dates (time alone) with my sweetheart.  Rare but precious :).  I'm thankful to get two this past week.
2. Our family's Bible/prayer time.  We enjoy discussing about the Bible with our kids and training them to be like the Bereans.
3. Reading.  So many good books...so little time. I just finished Life Lessons from A Horse Whisperer by Dr. Lew Sterrett (with Bob Smietana) and now I'm reading One Million Arrows by Julie Ferwerda.  By the way, my 16 year old daughter wrote a review of Thicker Than Blood by C.J.Darlington at Growing In Grace online Magazine.  You can also read her interview with the author and enter her book giveaway.
4. Photography.  I love taking photos of God's creation; I have a photo blog called, "My Father's World."  Right now, I'm hosting a giveaway that may interest people who enjoy photography.  You can win one 18x24 poster print (to be made from your digital photo of your choice).
5. State of the Nation 2 with Ken Ham.  It is close to an hour long, but it's so good!  I hope you'll take time to listen.  Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kitchen Chat with Margaret McSweeney - Protecting your kids

"A mile a minute - that is how fast your child can disappear." Haunting and truthful words posted on the website for Klaas Kids.

On Friday, February 19th, Margaret McSweeney will interview Marc Klaas, father of Polly Klaas who was kidnapped and murdered in 1993. As a legacy to his daughter, Marc founded KlaasKids Foundation to help stop crimes against children. Please tune in to Kitchen Chat with Margaret McSweeney Friday at 11:00 am CST!

Here is an excerpt from Marc's journal that is posted online:
"There is nothing that can prepare one for a murder trial. My family sits as the last few hours in Polly's life are dissected, analyzed, de-constructed, reconstructed, cross-referenced and compartmentalized. The constant assault on our sensibilities by horrible revelations that defy the principles of civilization seem overwhelming much of the time. It is impossible to withstand or rise above the continual dehumanizing facts that are revealed in a constant, monotonous stream of revelation. There is no room for anything but the processing of nightmarish information. The killer laughs throughout the video tape and I want to shout, yet I must sit unflinching and stone-faced for fear of causing a mistrial. Every day my family is drawn into the world of murder, mayhem, rape and deprivation and there is no way out."

Learn about effective ways to keep your children safe from harm and find out what you can do to help stop crimes against kids. Please tune in and call in with your questions for Marc this Friday 11-12 CST on Kitchen Chat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Look to the Lord

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3)  Where is our focus in life?  Inevitably, life is filled with struggles and trials.  My advice: "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." (Psalm 105:4)  Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble but He encouraged us to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33b).  Let's look to Him and His strength, instead of our temporary troubles.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

True Valentine~True Love

"For God so loVed the world,
        That He gAve
              His onLy
              begottEn
                   SoN
                        That whosoever believeth
                        In Him
            should Not perish,
         but have Everlasting life."
                                               John 3:16 KJV

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command." John 15:12-14

"Love sent my Lord to the cross of shame,
Love found a way, O praise His holy name!" Unknown

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!  Everyday is Valentine's Day for those who are in Christ Jesus :).  I love you all with the love of the Lord.  Isn't it so awesome that we all are loved by GOD who is LOVE?  Perfect love!

~Please visit here for the links to other Spiritual Sundays posts. Thanks so much to Charlotte and Ginger for hosting Spiritual Sundays every week.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Your Love Broke Through


Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

                   Your Love Broke Through by Keith Green

"Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.  I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You." (Psalm 63:3-5)  Your love broke through; my soul now clings to You!

Previous Songs:
- Until the Whole World Hears
- Take My Life
- In Christ Alone
- Sweetly Broken
- Be Thou My Vision
- God With Us
- Offering- Christmas Version 
- How Many Kings
Give Thanks
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- He Knows My Name
- Oh Lord, You're Beautiful!
- What the Lord Has Done in Me
- I Surrender All
- Mighty To Save
- Could I Be Called a Christian?
- Cry Out to Jesus
- Jesus, Be the Center
- God of Justice
- Love That Will Not Let Me Go
- I Will Offer Up My Life
- When It's All Been Said and Done
- Knowing You, Jesus

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday's Fave Five #1

This is my first time joining the Friday's Fave Five meme.  It is hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

My fave five this week:

1. God's unconditional, unfailing, everlasting love.
2. My one and only Valentine.  My husband is loving and romantic, kind and polite, funny and clever.  A rare gem/gentleman!
3. Celebrating Life Contest at Focus on the Family.  By signing up, you can win one of their prizes, which includes a free trip to Colorado Springs! So, support the message of Celebrating Life and win a cool prize...I love it :)!  The contest ends on Feb. 14th.
4. Free science DVDs for our homeschool.  I have not watched them yet but they look very interesting.  The negative thing is that they are probably based on evolutionary point of view.  I'm glad my children are  Biblically grounded on creation.
5. My fantastic giveaways:- Win a $50 Safeway gift card, Win a copy of Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah, Win one 18x24 poster print (to be made from your digital photo).

My One and Only Valentine

Friday Photo Flashback

This picture of Eric and me was taken in 1988 (the year when we first met).  We quickly became good friends and then best friends forevermore.  I am eternally grateful to the Lord for bringing us together and orchestrating everything.  I love my one and only Valentine to infinity and beyond :).  I feel I'm the most blessed wife!

"Praise the Lord.  Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands." (Psalm 112:1)  I wrote "Eric" next to this verse in my Bible because it describes my husband, a man after God's own heart!

P.S. I'm having three fantastic giveaways right now:- Win a $50 Safeway gift card, Win a copy of Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah, Win one 18x24 poster print (to be made from your digital photo). 


Previous Friday Photo Flashback:
- Happy Birthday, Jesus!
- Earliest Picture of Me
- To Grandma's House We Go
- Best Brothers...Best Buddies
- Harvest Festival
- I Love Mommy & Daddy
- Corn Roast Festival
- A Taste of Thailand
- I Could Never Promise You
- In Father's Hands
- Thai Version of Wipe Out
- My Graduation Day in Thailand

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love Never Fails


I love the whole 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.  Without love, our do's and don'ts mean nothing.  We may serve God in various ministries, share the Gospel, help the needy; but if we lack love, all those mean nothing.  Our actions and words should be driven by love...God's kind of love.  Love like God does...like He is!

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

P.S. I'm having three great giveaways right now.  You can win a poster print, a $50 Safeway gift card, or a copy of Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah.  Please click on the links or scroll down to find them.

Previous WFW:

A Must-See Video for Every Christian

Related Posts

Related Posts with Thumbnails