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Broken Heart

It’s been a while since there’s been a post on this blog — so, if you’re not looking to read a book, then I’d scroll down the page and see what other posts there are, and if you’re up for a nice fire-side story… please, make yourself comfortable.

Let me start out with saying that the image in this post is over-looking part of a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in the early morning. This picture was taken on the last day, or morning, the team was in Haiti. Yes, I was part of that team if it isn’t already obvious. I won’t elaborate too deeply on my experience, but I will say this: No one will understand, unless they’ve been to Haiti, what I am trying to say. I could try and explain it a million ways and people would still not truly get it.

What is it?

It is my personal experience. For many of the kids on the team, including me, which consisted of 19 people total: 11 high school students, 3 eighth graders, and 4 chaperones/leaders, it was our first time going down to Haiti — and for some, it was their first time leaving the country. I have been on an international mission trip before, but to a more rural and less poverished country — Ecuador. Haiti, for me was an eye-opening experience, as it is for many, but since each person’s background story, life experiences, etc. is different, the experience has a different impact each and every time… if that makes sense.

For me, it was a literal slap in the face. The slap in the face, honestly, wasn’t bad – in fact I desperately needed it. I was struggling with so many selfish desires – these desires were to fill that void in my heart, the pain I felt emotionally. I did nothing out of lustful intents nor anything that breaks the law… but I did hurt myself and the people closest to me because of what I was doing to myself. Basically, what I’m also trying to say is that I hit rock bottom. I was done, I didn’t want to try anymore. I was so done that I almost backed out of going to Haiti, as I was second-guessing myself so much to the point I drove myself into having anxiety attacks. Going to Haiti made me realize that I may have it rough, I may go through trials, but it is nothing compared to what the Haitian people are going through. Despite the severe poverty, crime rates, and so forth, the Christians of that society… I envy their faith. Americans are rich with possessions — most often or not unneeded possessions — while the Haitians who are (for some, literally) dirt-poor are richer than any of us Americans could imagine in their relationship to Christ. Seeing how such a poor and troubled people could be so content, so happy, snapped me out of my own trance.

Our group was working on the floor of a school at the sight of the orphanage our church has been supporting for years, now. During breaks, or when we needed a break from the heat, we would go and play with the orphans, as they were on some sort of break. Gosh, I can’t even describe the feeling of getting to interact, hold, and play with the kids — all whose ages range from 2-18 years. I can tell you, as I’m writing this, I’m smiling like an idiot and starting to tear up at all the happy memories. The bonds/friendships made will last a life-time and beyond. The night we said goodbye was heart-breaking. And at that, it brings me to the main point of this entry…

Recently, I was listening to the music on my phone. I have about 800 songs on my phone… don’t judge. Often or not, I’ll “discover” songs that I had purchased a long time ago – and when I say “a long time ago” I mean a year or so ago. Anyway, as I was listening, a song came up that I had forgotten how much meaning it had written in between the lyrics. That song was “Break My Heart by Jonny Diaz. If you have not heard the song, need a refresher, or would just like to hear it, click the link, and take a minute and listen.

Before going to Haiti, that song to me, had as much meaning as the lyrics plainly state:

I see children in slavery
It’s all too much so I turn off the TV
A world away from the world they’re in
So I give up before I even begin

To try to make this right
To try to love like Christ

So, help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Come break my heart, come break my heart
True grace sees a face, not a burden
So, come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?
Come break my heart

It’s hard to see past my picket fence
So I give a little from a guilty conscience
How can I ever really make a change
When I’m too afraid to even feel their pain

So, help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Come break my heart, come break my heart
True grace sees a face, not a burden
So, come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?

I believe that love can bridge the distance
And I believe that one can make a difference
‘Cause one man on a cross changed the world

So, help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Lord break my heart, Lord break my heart
‘Cause true grace sees a face, not a burden
Come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?

Help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Come break my heart, come break my heart
Sure, Your love should never be a burden
Come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?
Lord break my heart, come break my heart
Lord, break my heart

Taken from: SongLyrics.com

I had never given much thought to the true meaning behind the song. But I doubt I could’ve without a little extra help. After going to Haiti, I heard of the stories of children being enslaved — I even got to meet some kids who had been rescued from the restavek programs, who had been rescued from being sex slaves. I got to see first hand through the eyes of the children, thanks to the wonderful workers at the orphanage. At first I had felt nothing after interacting with the kids, but that was because I knew nothing about their past. Their burdens were not burdens to me, their burdens – well, most had let go of. Their faces would light up as soon as they saw us, and so would ours. Those kids broke my heart right in two. This “heart break” isn’t like that of a relationship between a guy and girl… that “heart broken” stuff, for that, is crap. I’m sorry, but it is. To see a child, who is as much as a total stranger to you as you are to them, come up to you without hesitation and lift their arms up as a gesture to be held, hugged, and loved… well, it is heart breaking. I wanted to feel their pain, to know what they had gone through and then see where the kids were now. My heart broke because of the type of adoration I learned of. This kind of adoration cannot be explained.

That step out of my comfort zone — going while I was struggling, going to a different country without my parents, being held at a whole new level of responsibility — is all just a mere memory now.

That love Jonny Diaz is talking about, for me, did build a bridge. It built a bridge from my heart straight to Haiti and the kids there. Their faces are forever in my head – the smiles, the laughter. I thought that while I was going to be down in Haiti, everything would just be a burden, a painful burden. I had pushed my own burdens aside, bracing for these new ones — I was asking myself, “How can I love these children? How can I show them the love of Christ? How do I communicate it?” the list goes on and on. God answered that: be yourself and simply embrace them. I needed to learn how to love these children on my own, for God knew I’d find the answers to my questions very fast.

My heart will always be broken. It will always go out to the orphans and people of the world, no matter what status they are in society. I cannot wait to go back to Haiti and hug the kids and play with them and work in the heat. I do not care what other people think of me and how I feel towards Haiti and the people. Haiti will have a special place in my heart and I will never get tired of showing God’s love in countless ways, as well as serving Him – wherever, whenever, and to whoever he calls me to minister, too.

My wish for ever person that reads this blog, in general, is that they take the message of the post away with them. And I wish for God to place a burden in people’s hearts to do his will – I also hope that each and every one of you who reads this will get a chance to go on a mission trip, as the impact is amazing and unforgettable.

In Christ,
Tori

If you have questions concerning the statics, etc. of Haiti, feel free to send me a message via the blog’s email (found on the Contact Us page).

Here are a few sites about Haiti and its background, for those interested, including information on restaceks.

RestavekFreedom.org
–> The Issue

Love In Motion

MissionofHaiti.org
–> Haiti Facts

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Writing

Usually when I’m about to make a post, I’ll have written it out, whether it be on a piece of paper or in my journal.

I’m going to try something new. Writing it plain and simple, no piece of paper or page in my journal.

It’ll show my flaws. It’ll show what my writing looks raw. Yes, it’ll be revised. But it’ll be the base material; it’ll have the original piece still in it.

This also isn’t my usual post. Surprise? The last one wasn’t like the posts I usually do.

Welcome to how my mind works.

I go from one topic to another. It is hard to focus, especially when I’m writing. It’s not because I don’t like writing or it’s hard for me to write. In fact, it is almost too easy for me. And as I write my mind goes off on tangents thinking of all the possible topics I could write on or everything that is on my mind.

Just like it is hard for me to focus on My Jesus.

Writing. Write.ing. Two syllable word. A seven letter word. A seven letter word that means a lot to me.
Being able to write. I’m so thankful for it. I use the gift God has given me to be able to do this – blog and share about God’s word. I use this gift to write amazing stories and poems. I also use this gift to my personal advantage. Writing down my feelings. I write down everything, literally, that goes through my mind exactly how I thought of it.

Like I said before, my mind wanders from one thing to another. I do not wish to elaborate, as that’s what my journal is for and maybe someday it’ll be in a post, but as of now… sorry. Of course this post has a point, it isn’t just me going on and on and on writing how I love to write. No, but it has gotten me thinking.

I dropped the line, “Just like it is hard for me to focus on My Jesus.”

It is true. Oh so often I find myself focusing on school, or music, or even cleaning or even my family and the struggle of living. I lose focus on Him. I try to do a devotional each morning. A small one, almost everyone probably has heard of it – it’s called Our Daily Bread. It is a great little devotional. Whether you can relate to the devos or not, it is eye opening and wonderful. But even when, in the quiet of the morning, I’ll be reading it, I still find it hard to focus. I go off planning my day, calculating how much homework I’ll have that day and how long it’ll take me to do it… yadda, yadda, yadda.

I don’t want my mind to wander as I spend time with My Lord, My Jesus. I’m sure I’m not the only one; I know I’m not the only one. I know that I’m proud enough to not admit it right away, that no, life isn’t easy. It’s not easy finding time and just sitting down and spending time with Christ. More often or not I find it easier to sit down and do my homework and listen to music. I just don’t get those people who are like, “Oh, yeah I sit down each morning and spend an hour reading and praying.” I marvel at that, at such dedication, I really do… if it is real true time with Christ. And there are people who spend hours with God and you can tell, you can tell that their faith is unshakable; firm in a solid foundation.

I envy that… “Thou shalt not envy.”

I want that… “Thou shalt not covet.”

But see, I can envy and covet that. That which is an amazing relationship with Jesus.
He wants me to envy and want a relationship with him, because he is My Saving Grace. He is our Saving Grace.

Yes, I’m a strong Christian. I have a firm faith, but it isn’t as firm as I’d like it to be. I want to sort of faith that the people living in persecution have – that no matter what they don’t waver.

Would I be able to stand up to that sort of test?

I don’t want to have to go through that to find out. I want to just know. 

I can feel Him in me. Trust me, he’s there and he’s working.

He is living in my heart, for it is His home. But there is the fact of handing over everything. The deed, the title, the key. And allowing him to rule every part of my Heart and my life. 

My Heart, Christ’s Home.

I may be weak, but the Spirit is strong in me. My flesh will fail, by My God never will fail.

God Gives Me Faith.

His love is relentless. He will never stop seeking to spend time with me, even though I may stop and go. Start and stop and restart. He’s always there, always at the same meeting place. I just have to meet him there, and I will. I go to him excited. Excited that I get to spend time with Him. Cause in the end, he’s all that matters. He’s always by my side.

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Those Nights

 Before you scroll down, please listen to: Those Nights by Skillet

I remember when we used to laugh
About nothing at all, it was better than going mad
From trying to solve all the problems
We’re going through, forget ’em all
‘Cause on those nights we would stand and never fall
Together we faced it all, remember when we’d

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

I remember when we used to drive
Anywhere but here, as long as we’d forget our lives
We were so young and confused
That we didn’t know to laugh or cry
Those nights were ours, they will live and never die
Together we’d stand forever, remember when we’d

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Those nights belong to us
There’s nothing wrong with us
Those nights belong to us

I remember when we used to laugh
And now I wish those nights would last

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Those nights belong to us
There’s nothing wrong

From: Metrolyrics.com

Sometimes a song’s lyrics can describe my feelings more than my own words can. Especially songs that have that melody and instrumental component.

There are nights where I just want to cry. Sometimes I do, sometimes it feels like a dam is blocking the tears’ flow.

This isn’t the sort of post I normally do. It’s personal. I really am not one who expresses my feelings to people, though there are a select few in my circle of friends.

As of late, my life, well, let’s just say hasn’t been easy. I’ve done, experienced, and seen things that no one should have to go through. But that is the result of a fallen world. I know many people around me are struggling, suffering, trying, coping, and/or hurting. I know I am one of them.

This is going to be one of my longer posts, just to fore-warn.

An excerpt from my journal.

2/14/14

These past few months I’ve grown sick and tired. I can’t stand it anymore. The yelling, the drama, the list could go on and on.

This really should be spoken aloud, but for now, writing it down will have to do.

My brother, [Younger Brother 1] is almost out of control. He yells and blows up at the smallest of things. ‘Things’ is a broad term. I used it properly. He bad talks and back talks to everyone. He bullies [Younger Brother 2], but then again, somethings [Younger Brother 2] just asks for – baiting him and watching him take the bait. I’m not justifying my brother’s actions, if that’s what you’re thinking.

I am so. fed. up. I’m so done, irritated. Et cetera. I can’t handle it anymore. I can’t remember the last day where there wasn’t any yelling, arguments, people laughing and smiling.

I am torn. I cry almost as much or more than I genuinely laugh. I’m sick of drama. 

[Younger Brother 2] disses me and calls me awful names. I act like they just bounce of. But they hurt.

I set my alarm this morning for 8:00, but turned it off and slept in. Around nine I’m awakened by yelling slamming, and screaming. My door is closed. From the moment I woke up my day has been rotten, even considering it’s a snow day. There is no peace. I just feel tension. I just don’t known anymore.

I jump at the slightest of sounds, I cringe and almost crumple at the raising of voices. I’m afraid. Though, I hide it all away. I put on a facade and keep calm and try to carry on.

I act happy, like I’ve bounced back from a down mood. But I don’t.

I often sit in my room alone, door shut, music either plugged in or not. But I sit there deep in though. I try to think about all the ways I can help my brothers; help [Younger Brother 1]. What’s the psychological factor? His heart? Emotions/real thoughts?

Truth is: I’m desperate.

Yeah, I’ve been going to God more and more, which is a good thing. He’s drawing me nearer to him. I need that.

Through trials, there is happiness at the end. They can be long and tedious or short and over. We can be at the end of the rope and that’s when God seems to pull us out.

I’ve been at the end for awhile.

I’ve been done.

I’ve promised not to ever cut again – I slipped just before New Year’s, but after I said I said I wouldn’t cut myself anymore. My wrists are so far, as clean as they’ll be.

Relapse is real. Addiction is real.

If I said I wan’t angry at God, I’d be lying. I know I shouldn’t be, I feel guilty and like a bad Christian for saying and thinking it.

But he knows all my thoughts and actions even before I think them. He knows exactly what I’m going through. He has a plan for my life. A road that is hard, slim, and narrow, but in the end and grand picture of life, there is an un-explainable or indescribable reward and treasure waiting for me.

I often find myself trying to help others first and pushing my feelings off or not wanting to trouble people.

Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.

— Unknown

Despite his bad times, [Younger Brother 1] has the occasional happy moment (as of late he’s been better than just have the occasional happy moment). There’ll be moments when we both are laughing so hard we cry.

Those moments can change quickly. They are also forgotten fast.

I love my brothers, I really do. I try to cope, I try to help. I try to act strong and fine. But every argument, every tear, every yelling/screaming word tears me apart slowly. There’s a wound try to heal, but each time it’s just ripped back open, even bigger. 

Why do I tell you all of this? To have you pity me? Never. Worry over me?  Don’t even. Post this so all family and friends could see my true thoughts and land me with a counselor? Nope. Cause drama? Didn’t I say I hate drama?

I tell you this because I want to give encouragement out to people who are going through the same, similar, or just tough situations. I want to tell them that there is hope. I’m living, breathing proof.

Those nights? Well, it’s these sorts of nights that causes me to pray even harder.

Pray hardest, when it is hard to pray.

— Unknown

These sorts of nights are what deepens my faith and causes me to hold on, trust, and believe in Christ. These nights belong to us. These nights keep me alive. They keep me alive in God’s word and the Spirit. They help me get stronger, even though it may cause disruption in me for a time.

God is My Lighthouse in the darkest night. He never fails. He never leaves.

One night I dreamed I was walking
along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only
one set of footprints in the sand, is when
I carried you.”

— Mary Stevenson

I can make it through anything. Anything is possible with God (Matt. 19:26). I know that with him I can be strong and courageous, facing each day knowing he is by my side and he will never leave it; I’m not alone (Josh. 1:9).

For an ending:

7eventh Time Down’s song “Just Say Jesus

If you have any questions, feel free to drop an email, you can see the email on the Contact Us page.
If you want a list of encouraging or just plain good Christian songs, email or comment, I’d be happy to provide a list for you of my favorite artists and songs.

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Speaking Of...

Recently, I’ve encountered a lot of talk on “relationships and love” with people – and it got me thinking about God’s love. How his love sets us apart (as well as himself) from all the other people and their religions/beliefs. This also made me think of how even when we fall into chaos and unknown territory – he is there; he’s always there, for us. And he’s never mad, even when we fumble big-time, or turn out backs on him, or even commit a serious wrong or hold a grudge against someone that we need to let go of – he’s always there calling to us. And when we find him – his bright and ever-lasting light in the darkness of our lives, he opens his arms wide and embraces us, crying or laughing, or smiling with us.

There’s a verse my youth past told us and taught about to us on Sunday (11/3). This is about God’s love and relates to all the things I’ve said. Luke 6:27-33:

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do no withhold you tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Now, I want to first point out that the first phrase of the verse says “to you who hear.” Why do I point this out first and foremost? Because Jesus is calling people to really listen, as what he’s about to say hasn’t been said before. He knows – as well as you and I, that some people just zone things out or do that “half-listening” thing when people preach/teach on a topic that’s been heard before. He wants to get everyone’s attention, letting them know that this is a new topic, it’s a topic that people really need to whole-heartedly pay attention. Make sense, right? I hope so.

Okay, with that covered, let’s talk about the rest of the verse. This verse is obviously about loving our enemies and treating others how we want to be treated, right? In fact, one of the verses (vs 3) – “do to others as you would have them do to you” as many know it by – is a very well-known verse to many people (not just Christians). And at a first glance of the verse, people get the obvious theme (which I pointed out at the beginning of this paragraph) – be kind to people I don’t like/are considered my enemies, treat others fairly, and take care of the needy. Easy right? No. Is there more to the verse? Of course. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t tend to those who need help or turn the other cheek, or treat others wrongly – their all great and wonderful things to be practiced, but I want to focus on the last bit of the verse plus a few in-depth details about the first part verse.

I’m going to start at the end – with verses 32-33 (the last paragraph of the given verse). Jesus is saying that when we love and treat those who are good to us and love us – what’s the point? What do you truly gain? Yes, it’s crucial for those who love you to love you and for you to love them back, but what about that kid who bullied or you really bad once – maybe more? It’s easy to hold a grudge against them, hoping something bad will happen to them, just as something bad happened to you, or if they try to apologize, you want them down on their knees begging for mercy while you have your arms crossed, foot tapping, and your head angled enough to look down on them making a disgusted face and refusing – until they collapse – to forgive (Jesus even points out that when we love those who love us – even murderers, prostitutes, etc. love those who love them – that’s what he’s referring to when he says “sinners.”) Why is it easy to hold a grudge and not “love our enemies” as we’re instructed? Let me tell you a secret – it’s called flesh; sin. We want to have revenge; satisfaction, making whoever made us feel unloved, unwanted, and not good enough… we those who weren’t good to us, have the same feelings, if not worse.

See, if we only love and do good to those who love us and do good to us, then we do not truly treat those how we want to be treated, we don’t understand truly what it is like to love our enemies. We don’t know what it’s really like to show them God’s love, and we don’t try to understand how to act or reply in a Godly way to those who wrong us. Just like in school, teachers teach and have the students practice the concept they teach – for without practice how can we truly learn and know the material?

Rewinding to the first section of the verse (vs. 27-31)… try applying what I just said about verses 32-33 to these verses. Have a different perspective now? What about a new plan or way to approach situations in relation to these?

Now, in verse 27, isn’t just loving loving your enemies that “Oh, that wasn’t nice – but all well” attitude, it’s about coming along side them, helping them; showing God’s true love, and forgiving them even if they haven’t asked forgiveness. As a Christian, we should always strive to go that extra step. And – or more – but, when these situations come up, we need to check ourselves – giving/praying (to) our hearts to hearts to God and letting him take those grudges and put them away – destroy them. We also need to make sure our actions are for self-glorifying reasons.

You know that sarcastic phrase that people (you) often mutter when in or towards a situation that comes up and is hurtful, benigning, etc.? The one that goes: “Well, that was a slap in the face.” Literally, it could of been – but that’s also when you show grace and turn the other cheek. Don’t lash out, don’t retaliate. Humbly offer the other side of your face. Either they will “hit” you again or be in shock from your actions. And even if it seems that your actions had no effect – let me assure you, they did. God is planting that seed in their heart through you. Some may often even come back asking questions, because their so dumb-founded, of “Why?” and “How?”. That is your opportunity to tell of the “why” and “how.” The same application can go for the second half of verse 29 – where it talks about offering someone your “tunic.” When someone begs – have a compassionate heart. Give to them – and don’t demand repayment or ask for what you gave to be given back to you. Whether is was simply loaning a money to a friend who forgot their lunch at school to food to someone needy… don’t ask for repayment. These actions and showing love sets us Christians apart (and God), as I said before.

You do need to be careful though, of people who have a false claim, do show them God’s love, but be wary, going to God and seeking counsel on the situation you’re in. It’s sad, but there are people who imitate and act in ways that are deceiving to gain things they are have and don’t need.

Referring back to the first paragraph – where I was talking about how we oh-so-often struggle, I want to conclude partially in reference to Tammy Maltby’s book, Confessions of a Good Christian Girl. In the book, she talks and tells of women who struggled – these were good Christian women, leading Christ-like lives and living well, or that’s what it appeared. Yes, they loved God, but these women were conflicted with suicide, cutting, addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography), self-image and confidence. The book tells countless testimonies of how in the deep dark, these women found the light, the love. One of the quotes Maltby put in her book, which is by Angela Thomas, goes:

“Jesus wants you to know that when you are broken, shivering, alone, or afraid, with nothing left and nowhere to go, then you can turn in His direction and lay yourself at the foot of his love…. God wants you to know that when everything is gone, that makes more room for Him, and every time there is more room for Him, you are blessed.”

(pg 5, Maltby)

In this we can take an apply the concept of that when we hold on to grudges, hate, and hurt (etc.) when you give them up and lay “yourself at the foot of His love” we are revived with his love and forgiveness. This helps us make that step to forgiving those who may have hurt us or even ourselves. Because just as other people may be our enemies and slap us in the face, we can do just as much damage, if not more to ourselves; we can easily become our own enemy. We must learn to have compassion on ourselves and others and to have respect for ourselves and others.

I wish I could write on about this topic, but time is such an enemy to me lately, so short and demanding. Before I part, until next time, here’s some verses in parting. Don’t just go, “Oh cool, verses to look at!” and ignore them or think I’ll look at them later. Look at them now. It won’t take much time.

Psalm 36:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, 1 John 3:1-2, 1 John 4:7-12, 16-18

Some questions for reflection:

  1. Are you able and confident that in times when people wrong you, you can stand up, humbly, forgive, and give your burden to God, even though it’s not easy?
  2. Even when you mess up, or others, are you able to go the extra mile for God’s sake?
  3. Loving your enemy will be hard, but will you be able to rise above the offense and “offer the other cheek?”
  4. In times of distress it’s easy to forget about God – it’s easy to blame him, and in times when you want something badly, and it may not be his will – are you able to accept him and trust him to lead you 100% through?
  5. Sometimes it’s our very selves that get in the way of seeing truly what’s right – having a personal conflict is hard to accept, confess, and be able to reason and respect yourself, but sometimes that’s the first step to forgiveness. If some of these questions were hard to answer, maybe start deep in your heart and soul. Really think about it.

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Dear Everyone,

I am sick of people trying to sit around and tell me that modesty has nothing to do with the way your dress- just the way you behave. Or that modesty is a ‘heart issue’ and what you ‘feel is appropriate.’  Someone once told me, ‘You can’t stop the guys from looking or thinking. that is their job.’ and that pretty much sums up what all my girlfriend’s say about their summer clothes.  Yet, as a sister in Christ to all of you whom are walking with God, let me say this:

There is no excuse you can come up with for wearing those short shorts, bikinis, tank tops (the ones that show your colorful bra or ride so low the only thing not showing is your nipple), or any summer items along those lines, that is Godly.

As brothers and sisters in Christ we are asked to help each-other in our walk with God. (Mathew 18:5-7) We are not to help each-other stumble on the fringes of sin without going over or blatantly walk straight into sin; we are to help each-other FLEE from it. God directly tells men not to lust after a girls’ beauty. (Proverbs 6:24-26) To understand what is modesty and what it is not, is not as simple as saying ‘what you feel in your heart.’. If it was, a girl could say ‘ I don’t think wearing a bikini is immodest because I am still covering my lady parts,’ just as easily as she could say,’ I think I need to wear what the nuns wear,’ the next day. ( http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey )

This is not saying we shouldn’t take care of how we look, but we do need to be more concerned about what’s on the inside and our walk with God; That includes helping one another with each-other’s walks. (Timothy 2:9-10) So is it just the guys problem to deal with? No. It’s also ours. Giving up what society says is fashionable for what God says is one of the simplest ways we, as girls, can show not only guys but God Himself how devoted we are. When we began our walk with Him, we pretty much said ‘Here I am Lord! Come into my heart and use me!’ But if we cannot sacrifice a few clothing items for Christ’s sake, then are you really allowing Him to dress you in His righteousness? We are suppose to portray a Christ like image- these scanty outfits are doing no good to that cause, they are hurting it. So please do not take this as a bashing or me knit-picking, but rather a thought to ponder on and research. Don’t think ‘oh, I’ve already done that. I don’t agree.’ and log off. You stuck by and read this whole thing for a reason, let God show you that reason.
(The link I posted above is a study done on what guy’s think of girl’s clothes)

~A

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Good Thing to Remember

I was talking to one of my best friends, about how tonight (or the night of September 6, 2013), at bible study, one of my old youth pastors, was visiting, and he talked about how there are good Christians, Christians who study the Bible, go to church, to good, etc. but they don’t really live for Christ. What they (we) really need to do is die to ourselves, so that we can live for God. We need to focus on the things he’s given us each day, and when we have accomplishments, we need to not praise ourselves or be happy. We need to praise and thank Him.

There are times, when I’m desperate I go to God. But most of the time, maybe I’ll say a quick prayer and go on my way. But it’s only in time of need, when in reality I should be talking to him each day, not just when I need that “lean to” person, even though he’s happy to help and is always there for us. God also wants us to focus on him all the time. He wants us to go through trials. He’s going to test us; to see how well we stand up and also to remind us again (and again if necessary) that we need him. More than ever. And when we get lost, he knows how to capture us and bring us back.

My friend made the comment of: “That’s definitely hard to remember to do every day. We get so caught up in our lives that we forget about Him who gave us life.”

My username on so many accounts is “CapturedbyChrist.” And it’s true. But I sometimes don’t let him capture me, I’m like a mustang, running away, not wanting to submit; to live my own way, when in reality, I need to submit to him as my leader, the one I need to trust, depend on, love, and always remember no matter what. He’s always there for me.

We do, we get so caught up in school, how our grades are, what homework we need to do. We’re always planning ahead. We don’t take each day step by step. We take each week leap by leap. With God, we oh so often as for what our future is going to look like; what’s the master plan, when instead, we need to be asking him what the next step is. Not leap. Step. One foot in front of the other. Slowly, steady, constant. No leaps, jumps, or haste. Patience is key.

Some of this little “philosophy” is based off a book (I don’t remember the title), and how it states the “Joseph Principle.” Of how, in the end when Joseph was thrown in the pit by his brothers, was sold into slavery, then by his wisdom, became the 2nd in command of Egypt and it just so happened the Israel was having a famine and his brother came to Egypt to seek food, Joseph recognized them, at first he was a little angry. But he forgave them, and he was able to save his family and bring them to Egypt. All this wasn’t by his own power, or glory. It was by God. God had a step-by-step plan for him. God knew what he needed, he knew the whole story, and he knew, even when Joseph celebrated, that he wasn’t doing it for himself, patting himself on the back, no Joseph was thanking God. Joseph knew what God had done. God’s grace and mercy are ever over-flowing and present.

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How to: Pass the Test of Faithfulness

If you do not wish to read the passage in this post, 
you can also read it here (for those visionally challenged): Daniel 1:1-21 (ESV)

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.  Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate and of the wine that he drank. they were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for tens days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

– Daniel 1:1-21 (ESV)

In this chapter of the book of Daniel and observing and dissecting it, before we dive in, let me point out that in verses 1-2 we are given a brief history lesson. And in this history lesson, we see that the year is about 605 B.C.

Now, discussing Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. All of these names are names of teenagers. And these teenagers’ names were changed into Babylonian names; names that were linked to the Babylonian gods, not Yahweh. The boy’s Jewish names mean (in order that they are listed above): “God is my Judge,” “Yahweh is gracious,” “Who is what God is?,” and “Yahweh is a helper.” As for the Babylonians names, they invoked the help of the Babylonian gods Marduk, Bel, and Nebo: Belteshazzar means “O Lady [wife of the god Bel], protect the king!” Shadrach means “I am very fearful [of God],” Meshach means “I am of little account” or “Who is like Aku?” and Abednego means “servant of the shining one [Nebo].” The Babylonians wanted to change the Jew’s identity completely; they wanted to extinguish their faith.

Testing reveals who and where you are. Daniel 1:8 is the key verse in the who chapter. The word “defile” means “polluting or staining.” When Daniel didn’t accept the food, he wasn’t rude in any manner, he just simply said, I don’t want to be defiled. Daniel knew that if he took this little step and did eat the food and wine of the king, it would eventually lead to bigger problems. We have to be steadfast and keep those good little things near, practice them and keep them close, for if we don’t and we slowly take little steps away from what is right, it can lead to bigger problems. When Daniel didn’t accept the food, he knew that he was taking a risk, as Nebuchadnezzar was not the type of guy one stood up to. Daniel and his friends had made up their minds before that they wouldn’t compromise – no matter what the consequence would be.

People fail because they don’t plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Those things that we count valuable cost us.

The top four things things that Christians struggle with are materialism, laziness, staying accountable, and staying true to the word. When people are accountable, and they plan ahead, and realize that they need to stay focused on God, they stay on the right track. When trying to pass a test, you want to have confidence, but if you have too much confidence, things can go awry. For example, you didn’t study, but it was because you’re confident you know the material, you set yourself up to fail. Studying is crucial; especially studying God’s word.

Making your faith stronger is just – if not the most – important thing to do. God is the one who is the strongest and will help us overcome the tests of life. We need to be able to stand up to people who try to change us. We need to refuse to “bow down” to the worldly things and stay committed to our relationship and journey with God.

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