Monday, August 29, 2011

Broken pieces

I guess you could say I have a bit of an obsession. If I’m happy, I solve a Rubik’s cube. If I’m bored, I solve a Rubik’s cube. If I’m nervous, I will definitely be solving a Rubik’s cube. Last time I counted, I had about six or seven on my dresser. Since I couldn’t bring any Bible Bee study materials to the local competition on Saturday, I brought–you guessed it–some Rubik’s cubes.

I brought my very favorite one: the 4x4. It’s harder than the 3x3, and it’s even more fun. I haven’t been able to solve it for a few months...I have a suspicion that a friend may have rigged it when I wasn’t looking. Anyway, no algorithm I tried would solve it, so I finally decided to flip the cubes manually. When they called me for my oral round, I left the cube in the waiting room. Well, when I came back after the oral round and everyone was gone, I found it...broken into 57 pieces. No two pieces were left together. Probably some other contestants saw it on the table and decided to play catch and it a hit the wall...hard. I carefully scooped up the pieces and brought them into the other room. After a few minutes, I gave up–it was a mess!!

When I got home that evening, I laid all the pieces on the floor and sorted them out into by their color and placement. Then, I flipped them over and tried seeing how everything fit together. The 4x4 Rubik’s "cube" doesn’t even have a cube base; it is a sphere with X’s etched through it. How on earth did 56 square faces fit into a sphere? I slid the pieces through the sphere X’s. Some stuck, some didn’t. Why wouldn’t they fit? A few slides and clicks later, the ridges fit like puzzle pieces. Within an hour, I rebuilt the cube. Only 56 pieces had been laid out on the table, so there is still a hole. Unless I can find the missing piece somewhere, it won’t ever be a whole cube again, but I learned some interesting things when I was solving the cube inside-out.

  • First of all, a rigged cube can’t be solved from the outside. The problem wasn’t with the outside of the cube; it was with the internal structure. No matter what algorithm I used, I couldn’t solve it by manipulating patterns. It needed to be broken and changed on the inside before the outside could be changed.

  • Every piece fit together. When you look at dozens of pieces of plastic with weird curves etched underneath, they really don’t look like they fit together. But when you look carefully, you begin to notice patterns and shapes. Then, as you piece the problem together, you see the connection points. The pieces were made to lock together to form a whole. Switch one piece the wrong direction and the whole cube gets jumbled. Put ever piece in the right place, and you end up with a complete Rubik’s cube.

  • One of the more obvious things was that ever piece had a purpose. There weren’t any "extra" pieces. The puzzle is broken until every piece is in can’t have a half-solved puzzle and say it’s done (as evidenced by the hole left in my cube by the missing piece). Mr. Rubik designed each piece to have a purpose in the whole; he created the cube to be one thing. Even when we scramble Rubik’s cubes up, they are still whole–they’re just convoluted wholes. In the beginning and the end, though, they are perfect.

You probably see where this is going now=) Our lives are just like that Rubik’s cube! Man started perfect and got "rigged" on the inside. No human manipulation can put us back together again. But, after God breaks us, we can be whole. It takes divine intervention–a renewed heart–to be perfect again. Our problems in life aren’t accidents; they are planned for a purpose. Our problems and struggles in life shape us into being conformed to the true image of what we should be. And finally, we serve a sovereign God. God created and designed us with a purpose. Everything that happens is for His purpose and His glory. Every piece fits together for His plan. Whether or not we like the design of the pieces, He has it right. Maybe I didn’t like that my cube was really a sphere and I wanted to change it. That’s too bad! I can’t change what it was meant to be! Maybe we don’t like what happened...perhaps we weren’t satisfied with a test score or competition. Well, God works all things for good, and He has a purpose for that! Remember, it takes breaking for wholeness! We’re just a bunch of broken pieces. God makes us whole. None of our twists and turns are going to make things better, but His working–no matter how hard it seems–will.

Philippians 2:13–for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

After Locals...

Congratulations EVERYONE!
No matter how Saturday went for you, if you did your best, you are a winner! I know you've heard that many times are starting to think of it as cliche, but it's true. 
If you are really doing this for the Lord, then the outcome is in His hands. As you breathlessly await the results to be posted on Wednesday, trust Him.
Maybe Saturday was a disappointing day for you, and you don't feel like you were able to represent what you really know. Trust Him.
Maybe you shone on Saturday, and you have already set your mind toward Nationals. Hold on a minute!  Revel in the Lord and what He has given you in His word. Trust Him!
Maybe you are more nervous now than before Locals, and you can hardly focus on anything without thinking about how you did. Trust Him!
God's way is perfect! His Word never returns void!  
Don't be so focused on the Bee that you forget the Bible!  
Enjoy God these next couple days, just spend time with Him, away from the memory cards and the Sword Study, tell Him you love Him. 
And here's a thought: Await His appearing with the same anticipation with which you await the posting of the scores. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Be Thou My Vision

I've been thinking a lot about this hymn these last few days of studying for the Local Bible Bee. May these words be the prayer of our hearts as we compete tomorrow!!

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art-
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
Hight King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, I bright heav'n Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

I especially love the words of the third verse; they apply so greatly to me - it's not about the prizes or praise of the competition - it's all about Christ and glorifying HIS name! He needs to be first in my heart - He needs to be my treasure, my wisdom, my Word, and my vision - both for the National Bible Bee and in every other area in my life!

Grace be with you all!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Press On

As we are finishing our work in our sword study on the book of 1 Peter I would like to encourage all of you to stay strong, finish the course, and stand fast through trials.  Our goal in this life is to "Live Victoriously Through Our Trials".  We will face trials but through God's grace if we submit to His will He will use our trials to build our character that we will be more like Christ.  This is my prayer for all of you.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~ Romans 8:28 ~

To God alone be the Glory as we prepare for the Local Contest for the National Bible Bee.

These trials are to refine you,
To purge away all dross,
That through it all you'll radiate
The light of Christ, humility,
God's mercy on that wondrous cross.
 by Marie Morris                     

Just a few more days!!

Well, it’s almost time! In just five days, we’ll be participating all around America in local Bible Bees. We have five days left to finish perfecting verses and complete our study of 1 Peter. Are you getting nervous? I am! Every day I look at that stack of verses, marked over with a rainbow of colors to remind me of all my mistakes, and I start getting that awful butterfly feeling again. With less than one week left, the relaxed morning quiet time turns into an intense study session. The evening quiz time often ends in tears as we realize just how far we fall short.

If you look at the Bible Bee website, it says that there are 2717 families participating for a total of 5653 contestants. Of those 5653 contestants, only 300 will make it to Nationals. The other 5353 will be done with Bible Bee for the year. They will be done with the Bible Bee, but never done with the Bible. The last page of the Sword Study says something like, "Congratulations! You’re finished!" Then underneath that, it says, "Which book will you choose next?"

As we’re getting close to the competition, I was encouraged by re-reading Alex and Brett Harris’s comments from the 2009 Bible Bee ( After the all the study time you’ve put in, it’s hard to have to stop. It doesn’t matter if you end after locals, national preliminaries, semi-finals, or finals...we all have to admit that it’s over sometime. I remember how hard it is to be one of the 240 (or 255 by the new rules). To make it so far and then stop–it hurts! I can’t remember too many times when I’ve felt more discouraged than after the 2010 semi-finalists were announced and I was not one of them. But then I hit me that it wasn’t about the competition. We say that all the time, but do we really know what it means? After the competition was over, I decided that I was not going to stop. It was one of the best, life-changing commitments I’ve ever made. Whether or not you make it to nationals this year, I challenge you to continue what your memory work! Make Bible study such a part of who you are that you can’t go a day without it!

Philippians 1:6–Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 4:7-8--I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Earth into Heaven

Have your heart right with Christ,

and he will visit you often,

and so turn weekdays into Sundays,

meals into sacraments,

homes into temples,

and earth into heaven.

~Charles H. Spurgeon

Doesn’t that sound lovely? Having ever earthly thing turn into its heavenly counterpart? If your heart is right with Christ, it will happen–earth becomes heaven! When your heart is sanctified (1 Peter 3:15), your life will become sanctified. Jesus’ set-apartness will change the common into the holy.

Have you ever felt that Sundays are the best day of the week, and that Communion Sunday was filled with an even more special joy? Sometimes when we walk into a friend’s home, we sense a certain peace and joy that overflows onto us. That is the kind of home that is filled with Christ’s love. We can have all of that by keeping our hearts right with Christ!

Monday, August 8, 2011


This weekend, my family drove across the country to visit our family.  It was a long drive--20 hours!--but we have done it many times and look forward to our long family car trips.  They give us plenty of time to read, study, listen to sermons, and stare out the window.  This year, the ride was relatively uneventful.  Last summer, it wasn't, but that's another story=)  We pulled in the driveway after 3 a.m., and several very sweet cousins were still awake to help us unload.  For the next few weeks, we will be visiting a state that, although very familiar and "homey" from many years of visiting, is still not quite our home. 

It's a good reminder of what we began our summer thinking about in 1 Peter: The pilgrims, strangers, and aliens scattered around the world (1 Peter 1:1).  We can settle down here and enjoy being with family--some of our best memories were made here--but we won't be at home.  We're travelers.

During the drive, my older sister was reading and old edition of Pilgrim's Progress.  In the book, she noticed that Bunyan used the verbs "travel" and "travail" interchangeably (don't you love reading olde English!).  We were traveling to our grandparents.  Pilgrim was travailing to the Celestial City.  Traveling means we are going from one place to another on a journey; travailing means we are laboring and toiling.  When our traveling is difficult, we travail.  When we travail, we travel.  Our suffering doesn't leave us in the same place!  We travel from one place to another!

2 Corinthians 7:10-11--For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.  For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner:  What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!  In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Godly sorrow, or suffering, is not in vain!  Sometimes when our travailing seems in vain and we pray for strength, it still seems like we can't get through...things don't get easier.  But, as my pastor says, God's answer to prayer may not be taking the trial away.  It may simply be the strength to get through the day so you return to Him the next day and ask for more grace.

As we enter the last 20 days before the local Bible Bee competition, our travailing is getting more intense.  It's almost time!  Yet our journey is nowhere near over--Bible Bee is only the beginning.

Keep traveling and travailing to the Celestial City, Pilgrim!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book of Treasure

Here is a poem I composed about Bible reading and studying.  It also applies to Scripture memory.  I pray that each of you may learn to love the Word of God greatly through our time with the Bible Bee.  The Bible is a Book full of treasures that God desires us to explore.  By reading and studying and memorizing His word we are able to know Him better.  This is my prayer for all of you, that you will gain treasure from His word abundantly.

Book of Treasure

How often when we read the Book,
Do we forget to take a look?
For Truth within the cover there,
Or words of Wisdom, pure and fair.

The Bible is God’s Word so pure,
It is divine, rooted and sure.
Trusting in others is absurd.
The Book of Treasure is God’s Word.

The key to unlock this Treasure:
His Word in our hearts with pleasure.
Searching for Wisdom so we find,
Jewels so rare, His Word divine.

The Bible is God’s Word so pure.
It is divine, rooted and sure.
Trusting in others is absurd.
The Book of Treasure is God’s Word.

So take a look within God’s Book,
Digging for a much deeper look,
Seeking the Lord with all your heart.
His Word has treasure to impart.

The Bible is God’s Word so pure.
It is divine, rooted and sure.
Trusting in others is absurd.
The Book of Treasure is God’s Word.

                                By Marie Morris

Monday, August 1, 2011


1 Samuel 2:1–And Hannah prayed and said:"My heart rejoices in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

Psalm 16:11–You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 35:9–And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; It shall rejoice in His salvation.

Habakuk 3:18--I will rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Philippians 4:4–Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, Rejoice!

Have you ever been reviewing a verse, and suddenly started smiling and laughing, rejoicing in the message of the verse? Some verses seem to demand that you stop for a moment and praise God. Psalm 139–You know my thought afar off..there is not a word on my tongue but, behold, O LORD, You know it altogether...Where can I go from You spirit, or where can I flee from your presence? Philippians 2–Christ humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. How can you read that without rejoicing? Our God is amazing!! And, in His perfect holiness and justice, He took our punishment and saved us from the death that we deserve. He knows our every thought, and yet He still saved us! What could give us greater joy than that? God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

My soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation!