66 in 52 Challenge, Bekah's Heart, Devotional

Reflections on 1 Samuel

At the end of this week in 1 Samuel it was actually something in the most widely known story of this book that stood out to me and is where I’m centering my heart. Despite reading and hearing the story of David and Goliath more times than I can count in my life, God still brought new application for my life from these timeless truths. This time it came in reading a different version than I’m used to reading. In the CEV translation a contrast between Saul and David arose.

Later on in the book we see David and Saul as enemies but none of that has come to the surface back in chapter 17. As David prepares to fight Goliath with Saul’s permission the CEV translation captures a subtle but perhaps huge difference about each man’s focus heading into battle and dependence on the Lord.

In verse 36 Saul tells David: “… I hope the Lord will help you.”

While a few verses later as David stands face-to-face with Goliath he declares: “Today, the Lord will help me!”

Saul was hopeful.

David was convinced.

As I went back and looked at other translations and even the original language unfortunately I can’t point with clarity that different words were used, however the context and the story itself seem to support this difference in their attitudes.

  • Saul gets all worried about dressing David up in armor to protect him. David takes it off and trusts what he knows: “The battle is the Lord’s”
  • Saul is the King, the mighty warrior leading an entire army who is afraid of the giant. They’ve heard the taunts of Goliath day after day and have only let fear increase. David, the shepherd boy, too young to be in the army, hears the taunts once and is determined to risk his life to quiet the insults.
  • Saul is focused on victory for human gain. David only cares about honoring God’s name.

So whether the original language shows a difference in these two men’s words or not, I think we can clearly see behind the words their hearts were indeed in different places. I wonder if their attitude back even at this point had anything to do with the trajectory of each of their lives. On the surface they were similar. Both were king. Both led battles. Both sinned and walked away from God… big time. Yet how they recovered from those defeats was drastically different.

David was humbled when called out. Saul got defensive.

David repented. Saul acted out.

David is remembered as “a man after God’s own heart”. Saul died falling on his own sword after being wounded in a battle with the Philistines, the same group of people David declared victory over back in chapter 17.

I can’t help but wonder if many of these difference can be traced back to that one key difference… Saul HOPED God would come through, David KNEW he would.

It brings me to a reflection of my own heart. Am I fearlessly confident in my amazing, all-powerful, victorious God or simply optimistically hopeful? Am I convinced or wavering? Am I centered on the things of this world or the name and glory of Jesus? It could make all the difference.

66 in 52 Challenge, Bekah's Heart, Devotional

Reflections on Judges – Not My Generation!

For me, the entire book of Judges can be summed up in this verse found early on in the book:

“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

I find it hard to even describe my thoughts and feelings as I read this verse, because I feel like we’re living somewhere in the middle of it today. I look at my generation (as well as the one after us) and I sadly see these two things true of us as a generation:

  • We don’t know or acknowledge the Lord.
  • We don’t remember the things He has done for us.

Of course, there are exceptions (I certainly hope I am one of them!) but as a generation, we don’t know God.

Then, to go on and read the rest of this book with that in mind, fear starts to creep in a bit. With these two things defining their generation suddenly things like murder, idolatry, rape, deception flood the story line. When we don’t know God and don’t remember what He has done, life gets pretty overwhelming pretty quick.

The repeating cycle in Judges continues today individually as well as generationally: we follow God for a while, then we don’t. We walk our own way until our lives get so horrible we can’t take it anymore and then we cry out for help. Of course, God, in His never-ending love and mercy, rescues us and sets us on the right path again. But, after a while, we forget again and turn our own way.

I’m sick of the cycle and I guess I don’t want to be part of a generation defined by our wandering. But even worse than that, I don’t want to be the generation the first part of the verse mentioned. It’s easy to skim over, but I think the reason the next generation didn’t know God or remember what He had done for Israel, was because the generation before them didn’t tell them.

If the generation after me doesn’t know God, that’s not on them. That’s MY generation’s fault. How can they “remember” the mighty works of God if they’ve never heard them? How can they know and acknowledge God if they’ve never been taught?

Oh, I see so much of God’s grace in the book of Judges, but I also feel some conviction. I sense the Holy Spirit motivating me to not only be part of a generation that knows and remembers Him, but that makes sure the next generation has that opportunity as well. I want to be part of a time in history where, thousands of years from now, people can look back and say THOSE people acknowledged God in their lives! I want to be defined as a generation who knows God and makes Him known. I want to see passion in the next generation to follow God greater than their sinful nature to wander away.

Our God is big enough to break the cycle in this generation. I’m ready and willing to join in on that work!

Joy, Lent


When people count the 40 days of Lent (such as me and this blog series of 40 Days of Giving Up), it doesn’t include the Sundays.  The thought process behind this is that even though Lent is a somewhat solemn time to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus in his death, each Sunday of the year, including those in Lent, is to be like a mini-Easter celebration.   So, on the Sundays during this Lent season, I’ll take a break from “giving up”.

Today, I want you to think about the number 6.  Keep thinking about the number 6.  When you go throughout today think about the number 6, over and over and over.  When you brush your teeth…. when you get the car… when you’re in church (I guess you can take a break to listen to Pastor’s sermon)… when you’re eating lunch… when you’re watching TV… constantly think about the number 6.

Now let’s say you did that for a whole week… constantly thinking about the number 6.  Then, all of the sudden, next Sunday, I told you to just STOP thinking about the number 6.   It would be practically impossible.  After focusing on it so much for a whole week, you couldn’t NOT think about it if you tried.  And when you would try you would then fail, because in trying to not think about 6, you actually think about 6, and then get frustrated that you can’t stop thinking about 6.  Which, again, would be thinking about 6.

This is how it can be when we’re trying to give up these hard things that are so ingrained in us… things like worry and pride and busyness.  If we couldn’t even “stop thinking about 6”, how could we ever just “give up worry”.

BUT, what if instead of just telling you to stop thinking about 6, next week I told you to START thinking about the number 9 instead?  When you brush your teeth…9  When you get the car…9.  When you’re in church… 9. When you’re eating lunch…9.  Constantly think about the number 9. At first you might slip up at times and think about 6 instead of 9, but then you could refocus on 9 and before you knew it, 6 would be less and less in your mind as 9 overtook it.

So many of these things I’m choosing to give up this Lent are based in lies. Lies about myself, lies about God, lies about the world and the people around me.  If I simply try to stop believing those lies, I will never actually succeed. BUT if I shift my focus on truth, slowly those lies will fade and loose their power.  Sure I’ll slip up, but more and more I’ll be able to catch myself and refocus my attention.

When I find myself worried, I can remind myself that my God provides everything I need.  When I over-commit to things and am way to busy, I can remember the truths God shares about the value of rest, and make adjustments to my schedule.  When I get caught up in pride and selfish-ambition, I can focus on the truth that God alone is powerful and worthy and ask Him to give me a spirit of humility and service.

Yes, I give up all these things, but only when I choose truth instead, will I find any success.

Jesus, help us give up these things by imprinting Your truth on our hearts.  In Your Name we pray, Amen!

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.

College Ministry

God on the Move

It seems like everywhere I turn lately it is obvious that God is on the move and it is SO exciting to see.

One of the places I witnessed him this past week was at Lutheran Campus Ministries (LCM) of WNY (also known as Organic Campus).  First Trinity had the opportunity to partner with this great community by making and serving the meal for the college students before their monthly worship experience.  Eight First Trinity members were involved in some way in making the dinner happen (not counting the many of you that I’m sure were praying!).   As I left that night, the college students I was talking to were not only thankful for the meal we provided but also the conversation that took place with the First Trinity members.  Two FT young adults and I stuck around for worship after the meal and were blessed by the experience.

Some of the other ways I witnessed God on the move were mentioned in a thank you letter we received from Steve, the LCM Pastor, this week.  Please read the letter below and pray that God would continue to work through this ministry, and First Trinity’s partnership with them, in amazing ways!




2 February 2012

Dear Friends at First Trinity,

Thank you to Bekah, her crew and all of you at First Trinity for the fantastic dinner last night.  We had 23 people and then 19 for worship.  The focus of worship was on God still creating in our lives today.  Part of the sermon experience was for groups to get together and create a painting of their vision of who God is.  All four of those pieces of worship art are hanging in The House and are each wonderful in their own way!


But better than that were the interactions from the Peer Ministers.  I watched Katie welcome every single person that walked through the door and engage them in the type of radical hospitality that Jesus modeled… really asking how people were doing.


I watched Nick bring a friend that he met at work three days before and as she broke into tears telling him about a long term relationship break up.  He got her dinner and just sat with her in her tears in the back room so she wouldn’t have to go out with everyone else crying or sit in the back room alone.


I watched Jeremiah skip coming up to Communion so he could stay with a new girl that wasn’t comfortable with Communion because she had never seen it before. And he explained what it was and why we celebrate it. (Side note from Bekah not in the letter from Steve: I was in the group next to their table and I think my favorite moment of the night was hearing him explain it and then all of the others at the table sharing the personal significance it had in their own lives.)


I watched Mary Grace sing with the most incredible and haunting voice a version of Holy, Holy, Holy that opened up the concept of the Trinity that young adults could hang on to.


It was awesome… but not because the room was completely full… instead, because God was very easy to see!


Still in One Peace,


Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

A Need to Be Kneaded

After my post about making bread last night, I decided to investigate WHY bread needs to be kneaded.  As I did a google search and read what www.wisegeek.com had to say about it, I was amazed at how God was STILL speaking to me through the simple act of baking bread.


Check out one of the reason behind kneading:

“One of the most important things that takes place during the kneading process is the development of gluten. As the flour that makes up the dough is moistened and stirred, the gluten begins to form and also gains in strength as the dough is subjecting to the kneading process. Gluten can be thought of as the binding agent within the dough, allowing the loaf to take on a cohesive texture that will allow the substance to not fall apart during baking.”

Do you see it?  Do you see the connections?!?


Yesterday in my post I was talking about God kneading truth into my life.  As this happens… I get stronger. 


As I submit to the kneading process… something that would probably be labeled as “weak” in this world… I actually gain strength. 


That truth works with the other ingredients that make up everyday life and becomes the binding agent that holds my life together and allows me to not fall apart when the tough times occur.


Bread of Life, knead Your truth into my life every moment of everyday!  Remind me to submit to this process, that I may gain strength to face whatever comes my way.

Bekah's Heart, Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

It’s Kinda Like Making Bread…

Upon returning home from work today, I decided I would NOT try to go out to volleyball tonight.  The roads weren’t too bad but after almost getting stuck 3 times going in/out of the church parking lot today, I decided not to press my luck (for lack of a better phrase).  Instead, seeing multiple unused yeast packets in my fridge, I decided to make some bread. 


As this process has gone on this evening, I’ve realized that sometimes what God is doing in our life is kind of a lot like making bread, especially the process of kneading the dough. 


There seem to be a rhythm to it… a process… repeated… necessary … for the bread to turn out.  


Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.


I feel like we’re constantly somewhere in this process as God shapes us into who he wants us to be.  As I look back over the past few months, I see God working in my life like a baker works with dough.  There have been some areas of my life where God has come and said, “Let me knead some Truth into that, Bekah.”


DSCF9213But kneading it’s not always a pleasant process.  Some descriptors in the kneading section of the recipe I used tonight were “punch,”  “squeeze,”  “stretch,” “pound,” “twist”.  When we think about the possibility of God doing these things in our lives… to our hearts, it does not sound like a very fun process.  


Oh, but God understands the need to knead. 


He’s got to work that yeast, His Truth, through our whole lives.  Sometimes that truth comes like a punch to the gut.  Other times he needs to stretch us out of our comfort zone.  Sometimes it comes as a pound on the door of our heart simply saying, “Something’s not right here. Let me fix it.” 


As God continues to knead our lives, it hurts, but it’s good.  It also takes time.  Those 10 minutes (or 10 hours, or 10 months, or 10 years) seem like forever, but God knows the perfect amount of time needed to knead. 


I also realized that the process isn’t exactly the most exciting for the Kneader as well… the punching, the squeezing, the stretching, the pounding, the twisting… it’s hard work.  And maybe that’s what it means to know that we are His “workmanship”. 


DSCF9214 And then, in the perfect time, the kneading ends, at least for a while, and the dough is shaped and placed in a ball in a bowl, covered with a towel and left alone. 


Sometimes when God’s been working on us for so long… for those 10 days or weeks or months or years, it kind of seems weird for the kneading to stop.  I mean it seems in my life that just when I get used to the kneading, and finally believe the Baker for its necessity, that’s when He says, “Okay, now it’s time to rest.”  Sometimes it even feels as if I’ve simply been beat up and left alone.  But God does not leave, he only knows our need to rest and let His Truth do its work… to rise up in our hearts and bring healing to the areas where he’s punched, squeezed, and stretched us.


But again, that’s often not the end of the process.  After the certain time… known by the Baker alone, the process begins again…. the punching, the pounding, the twisting, the shaping.  Again, it’s crucial, it has to happen.  There is a need for our lives to be kneaded… shaped again and again by the Master Baker.


And then He tells us to rest once more, letting Truth rise up in our hearts.


Again and again this process takes place.


Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.


Through the process we just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing.  The dough doesn’t knead itself… the dough doesn’t know how long to wait in the resting period… the dough doesn’t know how many times it needs to be kneaded before going to the oven.  But the Baker does. 


Lord, teach me to give in to Your kneading… Your pounding, Your twisting, Your stretching and squeezing… and help me to rest when I just need to let your Truth rise up in my soul.