Monday, July 25, 2011

I Hide Your Word Within My Heart

I hide Your Word within my heart
To keep me safe from sin;
For where Your truth is in control
No lie can enter in.

I shine Your Word upon my path
And walk within its light;
For where Your wisdom shines, O Lord,
It drives away the night.

I trust Your Word with all my heart
And give You thanks and praise;
For all the beauty of Your truth
That stands from age to age.

Text by: Claire Cloninger

This song seems to capture the truth of why we are hiding God's Word in our heart for the first place.
The reason we memorize Scripture is not to win an award or to go to nationals (though all those are great if they happen).  Rather, it is to hide God's Word in our hearts that we may know God better and that we may worship Him for is great and awesome deeds.
This is the reason we memorize!

In Christ's Love,

P.S.  If any of you get a chance, the music to this song is very simple to sing and could easily be used for your Bible Bee summer get togethers or for your local contests.  This song is in "The Celebration Hymnal" #411.

Give Me the Faith

Give me the faith which can remove
And sink the mountain to a plain;
Give me the childlike praying love,
Which longs to build Thy house again;
Thy love, let it my heart overpower,
And all my simple soul devour.

I want an even strong desire,
I want a calmly fervent zeal,
To save poor souls out of the fire,
To snatch them from the verge of hell,
And turn them to a pardoning God,
And quench the brands in Jesus’ blood.

I would the precious time redeem,
And longer live for this alone,
To spend and to be spent for them
Who have not yet my Savior known;
Fully on these my mission prove,
And only breathe, to breathe Thy love.

My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord,
Into Thy blessed hands receive;
And let me live to preach Thy Word,
And let me to Thy glory live;
My every sacred moment spend
In publishing the sinner’s Friend.

Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart
With boundless charity divine,
So shall I all strength exert,
And love them with a zeal like Thine,
And lead them to Thy open side,
The sheep for whom the Shepherd died.

"Give Me the Faith" by Charles Wesley

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Mark 11:22-23

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The End of the Rope

You've been working on your verses all since the beginning of June. Though it's been hard, you have been able to do it, and as you move on, you think nothing can stop you. You're going above the number of verses you have to be doing daily. You're on track with your sword study. You've got a good review system going. But then...
But then you get overwhelmed. The time you spend on reviewing Bible Bee verses is getting more and more. Memorizing all of the references for all of the different cards is difficult. You don't get to do as much studying as you want for the Bible Bee, and many passages you don't know as well as you wanted to.
You're discouraged. You're spending many hours a day working on this, and... And you aren't where you want to be. You have so much work to do. You're exhausted; you're tired of doing it. All you want to do is to give up and call it quits.

Generally in trying to do something, there are two main time periods where it is easiest to give up. The first is a couple weeks after you started. You started the task with boldness and vigor, but it can too quickly die out, and you can give up. But the other time period when it is easiest to give up is when you're nearing the final stretch. You aren't quite at the point when you can see the end in sight, and you still have so much to do. The amount of time and effort is getting to you, and perhaps you don't have the strength to continue working at it. "Where can I get the strength to do this?" you might ask.

Psalm 11:1 says, "In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, Flee like a bird to your mountain?" If our soul has taken refuge in God and we hope in God, what weariness can discourage us from our journey? God is our all in all; he is every thing that we need.

Galatians 6:9 says, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Are you discouraged? Do you want to give up? Look ahead to the end goal! Look to the time when you have done all of your verses, the Bible Bee is done, and you can look back at this time with satisfaction of having a job done well. Look forward to the time when the hardness is over! Look to when you can relax and rest and rejoice that you had the strength to get through it all.

But where do you get this strength? In Hosea 10:13, where God recounts the wickedness that Israel has done, He says, "Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors..." The strength to persevere and to continue on is not to be found in ourselves. We have no strength in and of ourselves to continue on. If we were just relying on our own strength, it would be best for us to just give up here. Because we wouldn't be able to do it.

But the glory of it is, is that we do it not of our strength but of God's! Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Through the strength we receive in Christ we are able to do it. This is a strength by which we shall be able to do all things, even memorize 250-500-800 verses in one summer for the Bible Bee.

Is your strength failing you? Isaiah 40:31 says, "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." If we hope in the Lord, we will have our strength renewed. We will soar on the wind as if we were majestic eagles. It is when we realize that our own strength can do nothing to help us that God blesses us by renewing us with strength that comes from him?

So, like I am now, are you weary? Had you been hoping to have been doing better right now? Is the time commitment becoming burdensome? "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." the psalmist says in Psalm 55:22. Look to God and trust in him. Cast your fears, your worries, and your burdens upon the Lord and hope in him. Because he will never suffer the righteous to be moved. If you trust in him, then he will not fail your trust.

Monday, July 18, 2011

So He said, "Come."

“Matthew 14:28-29.”

I sighed and turned my head toward the water. Perhaps the answer would be written somewhere in the waves? But no, nothing–maybe just a sailboat in the distance.

“First word please.”

“And”... “Peter”... “answered”...

“And Peter answered and said what? Skip.” My sister showed me the card. Of all cards to miss while one was studying at the beach!

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

As I’ve been reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, I have been amazed at how well it goes along with our study of 1 Peter. Bonhoeffer talks a lot about the call and the cost of discipleship, which is very similar to the theme in 1 Peter of salvation and suffering. Many of the passages on which Bonhoeffer focuses are our memory verses, and reading this book has helped me learn what I am studying.

In Chapter 2, Bonhoeffer focuses on the Call of Discipleship. In reference to Jesus’ call to Peter in Matthew 14:28-29, he says,

It means that we can only take this step aright if we fix our eyes not on the work we do, but on the word with which Jesus calls us to do it. Peter knows he dare not climb out of the ship in his own strength–his very first step would be his undoing. And so he cries, “Lord, bid me come to thee upon the waters,” and Jesus answers: “Come.” Christ must first call him, for the step can only be taken at his word. This call is his grace, which calls him out of death and into the new life of obedience. But when once Christ has called him, Peter has no alternative–he must leave the ship and come to him. In the end, the first step of obedience proves to be an act of faith in the word of Christ. But we should completely misunderstand the nature of grace if we were to suppose that there was no need to take the first step, because faith was already there. Against that we must boldly assert that the step of obedience must be taken before faith can be possible. Unless he obeys, a man cannot believe.

...If you dismiss the word of God’s command, you will not receive his word of grace. How can you hope to enter into communion with him when at some point in your life you are running away from him? The man who disobeys cannot believe, for only he who obeys can believe.
(The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

We might not walk on the water to go to Jesus as Peter did, but like Peter, we have received the call to come to Jesus. To refuse that call is is also the refusal of His grace. Are you answering His call? Will you lay aside all reasonable, earthly fears and trust solely in Him? Run across the troubled waters of life and have faith!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Be still

Have you ever made yourself a schedule and told yourself that you were going to follow it? Occasionally, I find myself writing them in fifteen-minute increments in notebooks to make sure a single minute isn’t wasted. I stick them on my bookshelf. My message board has lists of friends I want to email and phone numbers I need to call. My booklist is a large stack of dusty books sitting under the list on my bookshelf. There is so much to do and so little time!

Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

Be still...

Quiet your heart and seek His presence in the still. Don’t be so worried about putting in enough hours studying Bible Bee that you forget to listen to His voice. Have you ever waken up while it’s still dark and begun to pray? Sometimes God speaks in the smoke and earthquake (Exodus 19), but other times it’s the still, small voice you hear only when you are still and listening (1 Kings 19:12). When you are the only one awake in your house, and the only other noise you can hear is the gentle pattering of summer rain on the roof, can you quiet your heart enough to hear Him? Are you so busy studying that you forget to listen?

Some days, studying feels like a complete mental exercise. I feel burned out and overwhelmed. I quickly flip through every card in the stack and say them till the words jumble together. I’m not listening. Slow down and be still.

Mark 1:35 “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”

Jesus knew to seek God in the quiet solitude and there commune with Him. We need to follow His example. Quiet your heart and be still. Know that He is God.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Proud to be a Christian

Today is July 4–the day America became an independent country. Fifty-six men agreed to break away from England and become the United States of America–“one nation under God.”

Since the signing of the Declaration, America has fallen away from her Christian heritage. It saddens me to read the news and see how far away we are from God’s law.

Have you ever felt that you are an outside observer numbly watching the news and wondering how these things can be happening?

In some ways, we are. I live in America, but my citizenship is not in America. Philippians 3:20–For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. In our Bible Bee Sword Study, we were told to read the book of 1 Peter as if it was written to us. Who were the real recipients? The Dispersion...the pilgrims, aliens, wanderers...the “poor wayfaring stranger,” as the old gospel song goes. If you’re a wanderer, are you at home? Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). My American citizenship is temporal and lasts only as long as I live in America, but my citizenship in Christ’s kingdom is eternal.

Today we celebrate the liberty of our country. Why not use today to celebrate our liberty in Christ? Galatians 5:13 says that we have been called to liberty. We are free from sin–isn’t that amazing? We have been freed from sin, and now we serve our King! Even in a “free” country, we still have to obey some form of government. No earthly government is perfect, but our King is perfect. It is a joy to serve Him!

Jesus taught us to pray to the Father “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). Revelation 12:10 says, Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down." We eagerly wait for the day when His kingdom will come...and we know it will!

God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14). On Independence Day, we look back and celebrate the good our country has accomplished–I am proud to be an American! But my identity and true pride do not lie in being an American; rather, they are in Christ. The world is nothing to me, because I am not a citizen of it. We boast in the name of Christ.

I am proud to be called by His name. I am proud to be a Christian.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Today I attended a funeral. Yes, I had the joy of being present at a memorial service of a dear, Christian man named Harold Reiner. I would have rather been there than anywhere else. Why? Let me explain.

This man, Uncle Harold as I knew him, was a Christian giant. He had fought the good fight, he had finished the race, he had kept the faith. He had served as a missionary to Brazil faithfully for over sixty years. He was completely surrendered to the call of the Lord. No matter what circumstances he faced, he consistently did what the Lord wanted him to do. He faced many, many hardships throughout his life. His first wife died, leaving him the father of four kids. He lost two of his children in a plane accident. But, no matter what, he still faithfully finished the course that the Lord had laid out for him. He never gave in. His heart's desire was to see the unreached people reached. Through his work, there are now thirteen churches and two camps in existence and hundreds of lives saved.

I had the amazing privilege to be impacted by Uncle Harold. I was able to go down to Brazil and see all the different places where he had ministered. I spent countless hours traveling with him and was able to hear story after story after story of all his adventures in Brazil and how God had used him in his ministry. He always was encouraging me to follow the Lord. He always had a verse to share, a quote to get you thinking about.

And now, Uncle Harold's journey on earth is over. All the trials and hardships are over. He finished his course. He is now in the presence of our Lord, rejoicing and praise Him. 1 Thessalonians 4 talks about how we as Christians don't sorrow as those who have no hope. Why? Because we have the amazing hope of heaven. Uncle Harold is freed from the pains and sorrows of this world. He is in a better place. This is reason to rejoice!!

At the funeral, Uncle Harold's son shared some thoughts. When we leave this earth, we will take no possessions with us. Only two things about our earthly life will matter for eternity. First, the legacy we leave behind. Second, the people that we reached with the Gospel. Uncle Harold left an amazing legacy. His life shared the message of complete surrender to the Lord. He made so many great memories with everyone he knew. He also reached hundreds of people with the Gospel. His work on this earth is over, but what he did here will last for all of eternity.

What about us, though? What does all this have to do with us? Well, we are still on this earth. We still have to run the race that is set before us. Will we follow the Lord's call? Will what we do here in this life count for the rest of eternity? What kind of legacy are we creating? How many people are we reaching with the Gospel message? We only have one short life to live before we enter eternity. I don't know about you, but I want my life to count. I don't want to waste it. What will be said of us when we leave this world? We, as Christians, have heaven to look forward to! Let's keep our eyes on the prize as we run the race set before us. May our heart's prayer be to have it said of us, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

So, why would I have rather been at the funeral than anywhere else? Because I get to think about eternity. I get to remember Uncle Harold's life and be encouraged to keep pressing on until I reach heaven as well.

Blessings, friends!