Monthly Archives: November 2008

Christmas Writing

Ahh… I am sitting here looking outside at the wonderful winter wonderland that lies in front of me with a big cup of Apple Cider that tastes amazing and turning on Relient K’s Christmas album. It’s truly the Christmas season and that makes me so excited. Thanksgiving is under our belts (literally) and it is finally the best part of the entire year. I love Christmas. The huge amounts of snow, the music, the festivities, the caroling, the annual lock-in at my friend’s church, the family and friends, and the wonder of the season.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I tend to get caught up in the “fun” of Christmas and rarely think of the deep significance of what we celebrate. God came down in flesh so that he could die for us. It’s not even just looking at the tiny baby in the manger, but that baby all grown up and dying for our sins. I love the whiteness of Christmas up north, it reminds me that the reason for Christmas is that Jesus came to make my heart as white as snow. It’s so wonderful and totally humbling.

So I wanted to let you all know that I am going to be taking a break from the series I was planning on doing and going to be doing a bunch of posts on Christmas and such. There is so much to write about in the next twenty-six days (oooo… that is so exciting to be able to say!) so I’ll return to the series in January maybe. God bless all of your Christmas celebrations!

~Olivia~

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Thanksgiving

 So I’m sitting in my cousin’s basement right now, the TV is on and the pre game talk thingy is on. My oldest cousin and brother had to run to the store for something and my cousin and my oldest cousin’s fiance are taking showers (ok, they just got out), so I thought it would be a good time to take a break and tell y’all what I am thankful for this year. 

 God has blessed me so much with so many things. One thing that I want to really give thanks for is the amazing friends. He has given me some amazing “brothers” that I am so thankful for. I have had guy friends before, but I have made some very special friends with guys over the last year or so. 

 God has also blessed me with two wonderful “girlfriends” (chicas) Lauren and Hope. They are both amazing girls that have blessed me so much with their friendship and accountability. I have known Hope for years and she goes to my church, and it has been so special to see all these signs of grace in her life as she has grown up. She was in my study for Do Hard Things and I think out of all the girls, she changed the most from it. Starting this fall we have become accountability partners and have enjoyed (trying) to get together about once a month to have some coffee or tea and talk together. 

 Lauren is an unusual situation. I have never met her before in person, but she has been such a blessing to me. I “met” her this summer through some mutual online friends and it’s been an amazing friendship. So when I need a person to pray for me or to share my heart with, she is almost always the first. I cherish our many long talks on phone and IM. We have been keeping each other accountable lately too. 

 So my everyone is out of the shower and my cousin and brother are back so I better get going and join in the festivities that haven’t started yet. :D Thanks for all the encouragement that you guys have given me since I have started blogging, it mean a lot to me. God bless!

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Hebrews 12 Part Two

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

This verse was one that I memorized last week for youth group and when I really started meditating on it, I found that it was such a wonderful verse with so much truth, joy, and power.

 

Going back to my previous post, we are running a race, and in that race we are to fix our eyes on Jesus. Without doing so we will stumble and fall just like the apostle Peter when he was walking on water. Christ needs to be at the center of our lives, our “race”, because He is the reason we are running the race. He is the author of all we believe and cling to, so our eyes must be set on Him.

 

I love how it says that He endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him. He was willing to die the worst death just for the joy of being our Savior and rescuing us from our sins. It’s a wonderful thought! Jesus, the Lord of all things, was willing to come down to earth and live a perfect life, just to end up dying on a Roman cross, because He wanted to be able to be with us. He found joy in reconciling us to God! It’s just so amazing!

 

We have a Savior who founded our faith and perfected it, like the book of Hebrews talks about in concern to the new and old laws. He perfected it by dying a horrid death, and though he despised the shame and torment of it, He found joy in the fact that it would mean that it would save us. He didn’t just stay dead, but rose and is still alive and is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God. If that isn’t something that we should give thanks for I don’t know what is!

 

In the midst of the upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations, keep Jesus as the number one thing that you are thankful for. Because He is our everything and has done more than anyone else could ever do for us. So gives thanks to Jesus, for all that He has done and will continue to do. ~Soli Deo Gloria~

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Hebrews 12 Part 1

I am going to do something that I haven’t done before. I have been reading through Hebrews lately and I decided to take chapter 12 and blog through it. I was in my room tonight and reading it and was struck by how it is such a great chapter of scripture. So I hope you guys will like my study on Hebrews 12 for the next few posts. J

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

Hebrews 12:1

This is a very wonderful verse, and one that most are familiar with. I want to start by pointing out the first part of this verse, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,”. We are being looked at the see if we are living lives that are holy and worthy of respect. Non Christians and Christians alike are looking to us to see if we are living what we are preaching and following Jesus, whom we claim to love and serve. Also, in my (awesome) study Bible it says in it’s footnotes, “The readers are in effect running a race before a great cloud of people who have already finished the race with honors. Their example encourages the readers, and admonishes them if they stumble.” According to this, it means that the Christians in heaven are cheering us on! That is such an encouraging and uplifting thought. They know that life is tough and they know how hard it is to stay faithful to God until the end, so they are rooting for us to finish the race. It is such a wonderful thought!

 

“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,” We are commanded by the Bible to live holy and blameless lives. God says to be “Holy as I am holy”. To do that we must rip off our sin and remove it from us. At fall retreat at camp last year, our devotions one day were on this passage. My counselor used the this illustration: she had this big, long, heavy cape/cloak that she had made. It would be not only hard, but foolish, to run a race with her huge cloak on. She would be tripping and falling and getting all tangled up in it. In order to run a race she would have to take off the cloak and the weight that it had. That is probably one of the best metaphors of this concept I have ever heard.

 

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” This life is going to be a long, hard road. To live life in our fallen world takes endurance and strength. There are so many times, even in the course of one day, that we just want to give up. But DON’T LOSE HEART. We have a prize that is at the finish line that is beyond our wildest dreams and hopes! We have Jesus waiting for us as it says in the very next verse! (Which we wont get into yet.) The prize is well worth the hard work, much more so than an Olympic medal is worth all the long years of training.

 

So remember that we are surrounded by not only people who are looking at us to see if we are doing a good job, but also people that are up in heaven cheering us on. Also, we are to fling off any and all sin that is in our lives so that we may run the race, for which we will get the most glorious prize in the end! I want to just encourage those of you who are already running this wonderful race by putting your faith in Jesus Christ, to not give up and to “keep on keeping on”. Those of you who have not put your faith in Jesus, please talk to me. Soli Deo Gloria!

 

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Great is His Faithfulness

 This fall and even the last year has been full of things that I just don’t understand. I have spent much time saying, “God? What’s your plan in this? I can’t see it. Please show me it!” Yet often time God gently whispers to my heart saying, “Just trust me. I know you and I love you. This is for your good and my glory. I have a plan, but it’s not time for you to see it yet. Lean on me until you can.” It can often be hard to just have simple childlike faith in God.

 We have temptations and struggles all around us and Satan in forever whispering lies in our ears. He is constantly saying, “God doesn’t know what He’s doing. You are crazy to trust Him at His word. He didn’t really mean that you have to trust Him with EVERYTHING, I mean, this is just way too big for God.” It’s the same lie he has been saying since the very beginning (Genesis 3).

 The Bible is so clear though, that God is faithful. He never forgets His people and He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. One of the themes of the Bible is God’s faithfulness. From Genesis to Revelation, God is faithful. Especially in the Psalms and the books of prophesy where it looks like God has forgotten His people. These are some of the verses that reflect that in the Psalms: 25:10, 57:10, 86:15, 89:2, 14, 33, 100:5, 111:7, 117:2, 119:90.

I love these words from Lamentations. After the author describes the horrors of the fallen Israel and the pain and strife of himself and the others around him, this is what he says; (Chapter 3)

 “21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him;  26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”

 God is still there and He is always faithful, even when we can’t see His purpose or understand His plans… He remains faithful. He is unchanging and always good. He always has a plan that is for our good and his glory. We need to rest in God and in the fact that He knows what He is doing. I pray that we will both do so and surrender our every single problem and need to Him. God bless.

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Longing for Persecution

I have to admit something to all of you; I am sick and tired of nominal and lukewarm Christians. It is one of my greatest annoyances. I hate how our churches and youth groups are filled with people that say they are Christians, have “prayed a prayer”, and don’t do “bad” things, yet it stops right there. They are without all fire and passion and even love. Their “Christian” life only extends as far as Sunday mornings and other church events, except for the fact that they don’t take the Lord’s name in vain or such. It is a sickening ailment of the American and Western church.

When I look at the American and Western church then also look at the persecuted church, I am shocked by the difference. In the underground and persecuted church, people risk their lives to just go to a church service or to own a Bible. In the Western church, most people miss church to spend time at their cabins and to go hunting (at least where I live) and Bibles are in abundance, yet we barely even take time to read them. The persecuted church will not deny Christ even if it comes down to dying, when the Western church will deny Christ for the sake of popularity.

Now I know full well that there are Christians in the Western church that are willing to die for their Lord and Savior and have a passion for him, as well as people in the underground church that deny Christ or who betray others in the church. This is just a generalization of the majority.

There is such beauty in the persecuted church. I have been reading Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand and the stories he tells of himself and others that have been persecuted for Christ’s sake under the communists are amazing and heart wrenching. The love expressed by the underground church is nothing less than beautiful.

We need that. We need faith that stands the roughest storms. We need courage that will take a stand for what they believe and say, “Here I stand I can do no other”. We need lives that are ready to be laid down. We need passion alive in the hearts of those who claim to know the King of kings. We need to have the fire and power of God at work in the church of America. We need the stuff of the persecuted church.

The change starts with you and me. If we don’t have passion, fire, courage, strength, and faith present in our own lives we can’t expect it from the people around us. We are to lead by example and show the radiance of Christ in our own lives. I also think we need some persecution and testing to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. We know nothing of persecution, but I know that in the years ahead we might get a taste of it. I know that it will be good for our church and will take away the dead and nominal Christians and just leave the ones that are truly followers of Jesus. Then maybe we will start to show some of the beauty of Christ. God bless.

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Six Things God Has Taught Me

Well I was tagged by my friend Kaysie again but this one is a little different. I thought that this was really cool and different than all the other tags I have seen. So I am supposed to write six things that God has taught me this year, and that is going to be very tough to narrow it down. It seems there is always a time in almost every season that I reflect on everything that has happened in the last year and am amazed by how much I have changed. Well enough of me rambling, here it goes.

  1. If you have a servant’s heart and have a desire to serve God, He WILL use you. It doesn’t matter how small and insignificant you are.
  2. To be patient when I don’t feel like it and to just wait on God.
  3. When to shut my mouth and when to open it. (Though I still struggle with this one.)
  4. That if you draw close to God He will truly draw close to you.
  5. That the cross needs to be the center of every single thing, including my life.
  6. There is no part of my life or my heart that Jesus does not own and does not have the right to be Lord over.

 Well that is just the tip of the iceberg on what God has taught me over the last year. He has been so good to me and has taught me buckets of things. Now it is my turn to tag some of you guys so I can hear from you.

Josh (Maybe you will actually post for once! I really want to hear from you Josh.)

Trey

Pearls and Diamonds (Lauren and/or Abigail)

Mike

Erik B.

My dad (Kevin)

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