Bekah's Heart, Crossroads

Persecution of A Different Kind

Our prison simulation for the high school students ended over 65 hours ago… yet my mind and heart continue to process that experience.  I wasn’t even one of the prisoners, but it had a great impact on me.  The struggle I’m having is in asking myself the question: “HOW is this going to impact me?”  I know that it has, but I also know that it would be easy for me to push the experience away and just slide right back into everyday life. I don’t want that.

At the end of the 12-hour simulation we revisited a passage that we also started the day with from Hebrews 11-12.  At the end of chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews talks about various forms of persecution that people of that time were experiencing… jeers, flogging, chained, put in prison, stoned, sawed in two, put to death by the sword, and more.  Heading into chapter 12 we see a very big word: “THEREFORE”.  That means… as we read these upcoming verses, keep that persecution, and those people in mind! It says:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix out 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.” (Heb 12:1-3)

Therefore… as you consider all the people who have suffered …. throw off what hinders and run the race.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.

As we wrapped up the long day, I spoke of how we may not experience the same kind of persecution that over 200 million Christians in the world experience, but as we run our race… we run with them.  We too are called to throw off the things that hinder us and step up in our own worlds.  I truly believe we face persecution of a different kind in our culture.  We face the persecution that says “STAY QUIET” and “KEEP YOUR BELIEFS TO YOURSELF!”   We may not be beaten into submission but the call is clear to BE TOLERANT… that you can believe what you believe and I’ll believe what I believe and as long as you don’t get too loud about your beliefs, it’ll all be peachy.

Now, I’m not saying that we need to go crazy and I’m DEFINITELY not saying to disrespect others and their beliefs.  I am saying, though, that if we don’t use the freedoms we actually have in this country to believe what we want and to speak about it, soon those freedoms will fade away.  It reminds me of some verses we discussed at the Short Course last night that talk about “grace and truth”.  This is definitely a case where both are extremely careful.  We can slide to one side and get so wrapped up in speaking truth that people get pushed away from Jesus instead of drawn to him through his love and grace.  Or, we can focus so much on loving everyone that we forget to speak truth and they sadly never meet the real Jesus who IS the Truth.

Again, I’m trying to figure out what this really means… not just on a general, “all of us Chrsitians” level… but on a personal level…. a level that says what am I doing to stand up and speak boldly about what I believe?  What am I doing in the face of cultural persecution?  What am I doing when what I believe clashes with what the culture around me is saying?  Will I just go along with it and keep what I believe to myself or will I stand up and speak? How am I living in grace AND truth?
I pray that we’d all have discernment to know how to react in the face of persecution of any kind and that when it comes down too it, that our whole lives would simply be all about Jesus.  I pray that our ONLY goal would be to fix our eyes on Him and run the race He has marked out for us.  If that path includes speaking up, I pray I’d have boldness to speak up.  If it means staying quiet, I pray I’d have the grace to do just that.  If my race calls me to physical suffering at any point, that God would be my strength and if the race leads me through times of relief from persecution that I’d rejoice in those moments.  But I can only discern what action (or inaction) is needed when my eyes are firmly fixed on Him.  Most of all, in EVERY moment, I pray that I would remember the God who came to earth and found it JOY to suffer for me… because he loves me that much…. and that His great love would flow out of me to all around me.

Bekah's Heart, Random

My Changing View of Grace

Living in grace doesn’t give me an excuse to do whatever I want simply because “God will forgive me.”, but it also removes my excuses to live a cautious, risk-less life. Grace calls me to action. Grace gives courage to try, even if failure may follow. Grace is not about having it ‘right’, but rather about having my eyes in the right place, on the Grace-Giver.

Help me Lord to give in to the mystery of your daily, sufficient grace!

Bekah's Heart, Music, Poetry/Songs

The Walls that Divide

This afternoon, I found myself thinking about a lot of things.

Mostly… about the walls that often divide us… walls in schools, homes, churches, friendships, and more.

These walls often come from areas of pain in our individual lives.

Following is a musical response I wrote this afternoon… not perfect… recorded only on my computer in my spare bedroom… voice cracking at times due to the cold I think I’m starting to get… but for whatever it’s worth… here’s my prayer that God would begin to restore our lives and as he does so, restore some of the brokenness in our relationships and in our world.

(If you’re reading this in some kind of blog reader, you’ll likely have to go to my actual website to listen.)

 

 

 

The Walls That Divide

Verse 1: The rain outside my window
Echoes rain inside
Of souls I walk past
Each and every day
Their storms of life
Overwhelm
Darkness looms
Shame destroys
Lord, please shine your light

 

Chorus: Break through the walls ’round our hearts
The hurt and the pain I see everyday
Restore our lives, I pray
Break through the walls that divide
Teach us to love, to care, and to serve
Restore our world today
Please break through

 

Verse 2: I am so frustrated by all the hurt I see
People caring less and less about humanity
How did we get so rotten?
How did we get so mean?
Gossip and lies
Please, open our eyes
Lord, please make us clean (Chorus)

 

Verse 3: Alone we are so powerless
Together we are strong
And with God on our side we will be defeated no more
Let us stand up and fight the enemy that seeks to destroy.
Instead, Lord, restore. Please have your way in me. (Chorus)

 

Bridge:
Break through.
Break through.
Break through, today.
Break through the hate
Break through the judgement.
Break through the walls that divide.  (Chorus)

 

 

Blessing

In the Little things…

Last night at the Short Course Bible Class on Psalm 34 we talked about noticing (tasting) God all around us, even in the little things.  Here are just a few little (and big) places I’ve tasted and seen God the last few days (in no particular order):

  • A fixed closet door
  • New fun colored pens to write letters to my friends
  • Singing and learning about God with the preschoolers in Chapel
  • Observing 22 youth go without so other could have
  • Beautiful women to share life with
  • Answered prayers
  • Communion Sunday… the body broken. the blood shed. for forgiveness. for all.  for each.
  • Sunday Wanderings through the blogosphere
  • Sharing and receiving “words that make souls stronger” (Eph. 4:29)
  • Cinnamon Graham Crackers with Peanut Butter
  • Cleaning my apartment one room at a time, knowing that God is doing the same in his house, my heart
  • A candlelight dinner in my PJs with Jesus
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Opportunities to practice giving myself grace
  • Brownies and a fun card from dad
  • An extra 15 minutes of sleep due to no school for the preschool this week (though I did miss praying with all the teachers this morning)
  • Laughter with staffmates
  • Connecting with other interns
  • Coming home to a clean house
  • Homemade chicken fingers and fries

So what about you?  Where have you tasted and seen that God truly is good recently?

Bekah's Heart

Content to Linger

As I opened my Facebook page this afternoon, the first day of 2011, my eyes fell upon these words in the status of a friend:

We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions. Who you are and what you’ve done are all we’ll ever want. – Isaiah 26

I was struck by these words and began to wonder how many of us could actually say this is true about our lives… that we’re not in a hurry?… that God is all we’ll ever want?  Yet… this is the beautiful life God desires for us.

 

I assumed this was from the Message paraphrase of the Bible and searched quick on the internet to find out for sure.  When I did, I stumbled upon a blog post by a man named David Norman in which he said the following about this verse:

 

Isaiah spoke of a time when the people of God would find complete rest and peace and hope in God. He longed for the day when God would be enough for them. …  I wonder, sometimes, if I am obedient to the extent that I am "content to linger" where God places me. I often find myself pushing and stretching in order to accomplish these big dreams God has placed within me. Very rarely do I ever find myself in an area of rest where I am not moving toward something.

 

I’m guessing many of us (and definitely myself) can associate with David Norman in the fact that we’re always focused on the next thing.  Lately I’ve been learning a lot about the beauty of just letting something be.  Instead of just trying to plan and fix and change everything around me… I’m beginning to see what God means when he says that he want to change ME.

 

So, as I start a new year, I resolve to not have a list of resolutions to try to keep, goals to attempt to meet, or plans to fix what I might perceive as broken in my life.  Instead, God, this is what I want to be…

 

content to linger.

okay with standing still… with standing in pain… with standing in joy… with standing where you take me.

comfortable with simply being and refraining from trying and striving and pushing forward.

at ease with the path before me.

satisfied with letting You be more than enough for me.

resting in who You are and have made me to be. 

 

And in the process, this coming year will be blessed in greater ways than I could ever imagine with my own resolutions, goals, and plans.  This year… this day… this moment, Lord, teach me a way of life in which I’m truly able to say:

“I’m in no hurry, God.  I’m content to linger in the path You have for me.  Who You are and what You’ve done is all I ever want.”

Bekah's Heart, Devotional

A Bold Prayer…

It seems that a couple times a year, I stumble upon this prayer that I once read in a book.   And this morning, as I glanced back through some journals, I read it once again.

 

It’s a bold prayer…

A scary prayer…

A prayer that maybe we don’t really want to pray, because we know God answers prayer…

A beautiful prayer that gets ME out of the way and lets GOD do His work.

 

And so today, I pray for strength, courage, and GRACE to yet again, pray this prayer:

Lord,
Challenge me everyday.
Show up every weakness I have.
Play on my vulnerabilities.
Invest me with responsibilities that I might not handle well and
Put me right in the midst of Your salvation drama.
Amen. Let it be so.

Bekah's Heart, Devotional

Questions

Questions.  They surround us everyday. Some arise over trivial things that really don’t matter much.  Others pound at the door of our hearts begging for answers. 

 

Questions like “What now?” when one loses his job. 

Questions like “How long?” when a loved one hears that dreaded “C” word, “Cancer”. 

Questions like “WHY?!?” when a loved one is taken from this earth “too soon.”

 

Though, as much as we desperately want answers, maybe we’re not supposed to get them…at least not now.  In a conversation today, Sue she shared with me this quote by Rainer Maria Rilke:

"Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer"

 

I think maybe Jesus was trying to tell us something similar when he spoke these words:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  … So do not worry… but seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

 

Each day will have it’s trouble.

Each day will have its questions.

Maybe instead of pounding at heaven’s door

demanding answers,

we can simply

come,

rest in our Savior’s embrace,

and let him quiet us with His love.

 

 

My dear child, I know you have questions… questions that your heart longs to have answered.  In my time and in my way, I will reveal those things.  But for now, just live.  Don’t beat yourself to death trying to find all the answers … just live in me.  Live in my love.  Live in my GRACE.  And I will keep giving you more grace…. and more grace… and more grace. …  and one day, you will have lived yourself into the answers and will forever live in a place with no more questions.  I love you, My child.  Come.  Let Me quiet you with My love.

Crossroads, Youth Ministry

Please Don’t Underestimate Them!

I read this yesterday as the Facebook status of a high school girl and got her permission to share it here: 

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I’m a virgin. I’m in high school, and I will not lose my self-respect just to "fit in".

Wow.

And the world says there’s no hope for this generation?!? 

Well, I think this girl just chose to stand up and say to ‘the world’, "YOU’RE WRONG!"

The coolest part about this, is that I know this girl is not alone!  Whether others are boldly posting their stance as a Facebook status or not, they state it with their lives!

Don’t underestimate our teens.  PLEASE!

Instead, remind them that they are beautiful and wonderful and creative and talented… that they are worth loving… just the way they are. 

Encourage them to refuse to change themselves to fit a mold and rather to just be who God created them to be.  Love them when they make mistakes, because we all do, and offer forgiveness.  I invite you to join me in showing them the respect they deserve.

Blessing

Unable To Count That High

The leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and more fills the fridge.

Pies and cookies line the buffet table ready to be eaten as soon as our stomachs can hold another bit of food.

Bodies of friends lay asleep in the living room buried under blankets, pillows, and other remnants of last night’s sleepover.

 

I sit at my kitchen table…

overwhelmed…

in awe…

humbled…

grateful…

 

How gracious is our God!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Awesome God, I can’t help but pause and bring you thanks and praise for this day. 

For a new day to be alive and live in you. 

For an amazing time of worship this morning with Your Family, focusing us as we began this day of giving thanks.

For beautiful friends to spend time with and celebrate with this week. 

For big meals… and small meals… reminders of your provision.

For a house and food and family.

For grace… freedom… life.

For the fact that as I begin to “count my blessings,” even just in today,… I suddenly realize, I can’t count that high!

I give you thanks.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 28} – My Hope by Matt Redman

A beautiful song by Matt Redman called My Hope. ENJOY!

 

 

My Hope by Matt Redman

Verse 1

My hope is built on nothing else
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly live on Jesus name

 

Chorus

When the mountains are falling
when the waters are rising
I shall be safe in you
Through the nations are quaking
Every kingdom be shaken
Still I will rest in you

 

Verse 2

When darkness seems to hide your face
I rest on Your unchanging grace
In every high and storming gate
My anchor holds within the veil