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Rev. Christopher MacRae
Kilmallie Free Church Manse
Camaghael
Fort William
PH33 7NG

Phone: 01397 704434
Email: christopher.macrae@kilmallie.freechurch.org
Registered Scottish Charity SC038140

  

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The Rebelution

  • The Problem With Comparison 18 Apr 2014 | 6:15 am

    “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” — Galatians 6:3-5

    Comparing is something I struggle with daily. There are days that don’t go smoothly for me, and I fall into the trap Satan gives me called self-pity. I have wasted so much of my time crying over things I didn’t have or couldn’t do, and it embarrasses me.

    If someone has more free time than I, I will be griping. If someone has flawless skin and amazing clothes, I will be searching online for more things I don’t need. I even compare myself to bigger families, wishing my family was as big as theirs! Obviously when I think things like that I am not taking reality into account.

    There is always going to be something that you won’t be able to get or become.

    “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” — Ecclesiastes 4:4

    We are so stuck in this world that we get our priorities messed up. We want to impress the world, so we try our hardest to fit in and make sure that we measure up. We look to those around us and think that we need to prove ourselves to them by becoming better than them. There are so many things we do, think, and say that we really would never do if we would just try to be who God created us to be.

    It is so easy for us to look at other people’s lives and see only the good things. We never take into account that they had a family member die, or that they have to move every two years. We just look at their vacations, their possessions and their accomplishments. But isn’t it ironic? People are looking at you and thinking the exact same things! The grass is always going to look greener. We are always going to want what we don’t have. Doesn’t comparing sound bleak, tiresome and boring all of a sudden? There is no win! All we get is a headache and a feeling of ungratefulness.

    We try to fix ourselves by looking to the right and to the left, when we should be looking up.

    “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” — 2 Corinthians 10:12

    When we compare ourselves, we either feel inferior or superior. Have you ever secretly rejoiced at people’s failures? When my friends get lower grades in school than me, or I hear that someone failed the driving permit test more than I did (It took me 3 times to pass it, so you don’t meet people like that often!), it makes me feel better about myself in the dirtiest way. So why do I still do it?

    Comparison doesn’t just hurt me; it affects everyone around me. When I compare how far along in school I am to what others are doing, it hurts my mom because I am not acknowledging all that she is already doing. When I compare the behavior or character of my siblings to how other kids are acting, instead of encouraging my siblings, I am breaking them down. I can get bitter when I feel like I don’t have as much as the people around me. How many people have I caused to stumble or not see God in me because of my selfishness?

    So once we realize that no earthly achievements are going to change God’s love for us, we are safe from ever comparing, right? Wrong. Who else reading this compares spiritual achievements? Like, “That person prays more than me! I need to pray longer!” Or, “That person is so on fire for God; they can’t stop doing good works in his name! I have to do more!” I compare myself to people memorizing entire books of the Bible or praying for everyone they know every morning, and I feel… inferior.

    You will never find peace in comparison, but only in the eyes of God.

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” — John 14:27

    In trying to become better than those whom I was comparing myself to, I tried to accomplish as much as I could in a day. At the end of the day I would go to bed feeling angry and defeated because I did not cross everything off my list. But the day that I sat down and asked God to lay on my heart what HE wanted me to accomplish, something amazing happened. I didn’t finish that sewing project, or write that friend, but I did finish all that I had written down. God knew what the day would hold and just what I would be able to get done, and He wanted me to find this out long ago.

    Don’t make the same mistake I did.

    There is emptiness in us because of our need for a Savior, for something more lasting and promising than this world. We try to fill that emptiness with affirmation, but no amount of earthly “encouragement” will fill that void. God, the Creator who spoke and made the universe, is trying to tell us, His creations, in so many ways every single day how He sees us.

    If we realized that the only affirmation that will ever fill us up isn’t found in comparing ourselves to others, but just keeping our eyes on God, how much peace would we have? Yes, we are seriously messed up. Yes, we have a lot of growing to do. But we have to let God work in us so His plans can be fulfilled in us. We will go to bed at night not accomplishing what we wished we had, but as long as God is at the center of our life and we are letting him handle our days, we will feel peace. God has a life purpose that is uniquely for you, so why would you want someone else’s life?

    We should learn to say, “I want to take my cues from God. I want to see myself as He sees me; as a person messed up and yet so beautiful to Him. A person that Has a lot of growing to do, is far from perfect and needs a lot of changes in his/her heart and life. But a person that God loves without having to perform: to have that job, or be that person. Nothing I do is going to change how God looks at me.”

    Whose measurement or standard should you use when it comes to evaluating yourself? Yours? The people around you? The people on TV or in the magazines who don’t really look or live that way? Or God’s?

    So how do you compare?


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    Photo courtesy of Sergey Sus and Flickr Creative Commons.


  • The Revelation of Art: Finding God in His Creation 14 Apr 2014 | 5:31 am


    Some nights, I go out into the whispering basin of our meadow and stargaze. The meadow our house was built in is surrounded by brushy woodland, but through the opening where the trees claw at the air, the stars show impressively in our dark rural skies. It’s mostly a summer activity, since neither I nor my telescope lenses and mirrors appreciate violently cold temperatures.

    My telescope has opened new realms to my observation, not only through the eyepiece, but I’m convinced it has done a lot for my naked-eye observation. The telescope shakes a lot, and is somewhat cumbersome considering its size. It resembles a small cannon. Some astronomers have the luxury of a computer-programmable telescope. All you have to do is punch in the left and right ascension of an object, and the telescope will find it by itself. I’ve had to learn how to locate deep-sky objects with my own eyes.

    Deep-sky objects, if you aren’t aware of the term, are things like nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies outside the Milky Way. Seeing these wonders is an experience that changes you. It changes how you see yourself, and the universe, and even God—especially God. We could go with all kinds of themes starting with this illustration, but I’m going to be discussing, like I’ve mentioned in my previous article, the nature of God.

    It’s a commonly accepted theological idea that God manifests himself in two revelations: Scripture, and Creation. Scripture is stressed more, since it speaks a very clear message—well, clearer than Creation does most of the time. Yet, if we neglect to acknowledge the revelation of Creation, we have turned a deaf ear to a much of what God is trying to reveal to us about himself.

    And still, whether or not we know this, I think we do it all too often. We could not get along without the Bible. God wouldn’t tell us so much in the revelation of Scripture and then just list it as a recommended, but not required text. We hear this said about the Bible all the time, but the truth is, as strong as words are, the human race cannot learn everything they need to know by being told.

    wreck_of_hope

    It’s amazing how much you can discover about an artist by studying their work. I’ve never read a biography of Caspar David Freidrich, but I’ve seen what he did. Freidrich was a painter during the Romantic period. I have trouble deciding for certain who my favorite painter of all time is, but he rates pretty high. One of his most famous paintings is called Wreck of the Hope. It’s basically a glacial field and a pile of ice with a ship smashed into it. The lighting, the color, the composition, everything about the picture is fantastic. I can also be pretty sure, from looking at other paintings of his, that he was a bit of a melancholic, to say the least.

    The same can be said for music. I’m studying music in college. Anyone who thinks classical music is boring hasn’t given it a fair chance. The variety from time period to time period is astounding, but even more fascinating is the definition composer to composer. Again, I have a preference for the Romantic period. There are several Romantic period composers that I have read biographies of. I might not have seen it all without the written aid, but I can pretty honestly say that it’s all encoded in the music. With no words at all you can feel the personality of the composer revealing itself—their emotions, their beliefs, events in their lives, their mental stability or lack thereof—it’s all there!

    God is an artist. He works with a living medium, a medium that glows and burns, a medium that trickles and falls and freezes, a medium that sings and whispers. With this medium, which sprung from nothing at his command in the beginning of time, he sculpts and paints and composes nature, his Creation, his art. He wants us to see it and study it and analyze it to discover who he is.

    God created objects so enormous and so far away that they are really quite beyond our rational understanding, when we’re honest. Once we’ve studied enough we can talk about light-years and parsecs and mega-parsecs. We can classify galaxies by size and structure and apparent magnitude. We can send our computers or our hard-working eyes to pinpoints at this or that left and right ascension. Yet do we realize what is right there in front of us? Do we realize that God is trying to tell us something?

    Do we…?


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  • Fasting From Doctor Who: My Month Without Science Fiction 11 Apr 2014 | 5:56 am


    It started out as a simple idea, a one-month fast from all things science fiction. But it blossomed into an incredible opportunity. This is my story.

    My Life One-Year Ago

    Almost one year ago, I was a very different kind of person. Science fiction television programs and movies obsessed me. I was a self-professed Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who fanatic. The Bible was a second or third priority and my relationship with God was taking a toll.

    My parents had mentioned my obsessions several times. But my stubborn sci-fi engrossed flesh would not heed their warnings. On Wednesday, January 16th 2013, that all changed.

    The Call

    I was at home, alone, working on schoolwork. I was working at an algebra lesson when, suddenly, I could felt a strong sense of terror. I realized that my priorities had shifted. I could feel that God was concerned about my life.

    I fell to my knees and began to cry out to God. I prayed, hard. I realized that I was being defined by my nerdy fandoms more then my relationship with Christ. I remembered that when I was watching the evil images on that television screen, Christ was watching them with me. I realized that non-believers would see my life as a reflection of science fiction rather then a reflection of God’s light. I was moved to tears.

    That was when God gave me a hard, Rebelutionary idea. He told me to take one month fast from all things science fiction. I got up, removed all the Star Trek and Star Wars memorabilia from my room, stuffed them in a box, and put the box in the closet. I got on my computer and put all my science fiction related files in a password-protected folder. I felt released from all the things that had once ruled my life.

    I sat down and wrote an email to my friends about what I was doing. In that email I addressed all the things God had been telling me. I outlined what God had showed me about my life. I asked that they would hold me accountable to continue my pledge. I even invited them to join me in my fast.

    I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought the worst was over with. Boy was I mistaken!

    The Fast

    My family got home and I explained my fast to them. They were overjoyed. I next called Wes, my best friend. He thoroughly read my email. The next morning, he sent out an email of his own.

    He said was proud to see me as “A man. A reflection of his creator.” He concluded his email by saying “I will not make a promise as yet that I will join James in his fast… An even greater influence than that of Captain James T. Kirk, Picard, The Doctor, or The Force, is the influence of a great friend. Like a rocket igniting, James has challenged me with this. James is a leader.” This email touched my deeply. It was my first inkling that this decision would cause a greater affect than I had expected.

    Reactions, Good and Bad

    The next day I arrived at my homeschool co-op for classes. I received a far different reception there then I did from Wes. One friend said I was “betraying Star Trek.” This saddened me deeply. I admire this person very much and had expected a different response. Another friend at co-op, David, respected my decision but did not want to join me. This was only the beginning of the challenges that lay ahead.

    That evening my family and I stopped by Barnes and Noble bookstore. My fast was up for another challenge. On the shelf in front of me I saw a toy TARDIS (a time machine from Doctor Who). I had never seen a toy TARDIS and I had enough gift cards from Christmas to purchase it. For a moment I wavered. Then I remembered my friends. How could I explain the purchase of a Doctor Who toy to them? It was my accountability to them (and a good dose of supernatural strength) that enabled me to place that toy back on the shelf.

    Later that month I was on a trip to the Library to pick up a video. Shortly before my fast, I had ordered an episode of Doctor Who from an out-of-town branch. I decided to keep this video and continue renewing it until my fast was over. It would be my reward at the end of my fast.

    Once again co-op came around. I was discussing my fast with David. Several students overheard our conversation. I was approached by two of them. They asked me about my fast. I explained my reasons and they listened politely. I believe I made an impact on them that day.

    At lunch I was approached by another student, Ty. He told me that he had been struggling with his interest in secular music. He asked me my what fasting from science fiction had been like. Once again, my fast had made a larger impact.

    The End of the Fast

    I filled the rest of my fast with classical music and good Christian books. At the end of the month I sat down and watched that Doctor Who episode from the library.

    It did not hold the same attraction for me. God was helping me move on. I removed my files from the folder and the memorabilia from the box. It still took several more months for me to begin to get over my obsession. God is still helping me overcome science fiction. I can thankfully say that I am no longer the person who watched Star Trek constantly or spent all his time researching Doctor Who. I still enjoy science fiction, but God is my priority.

    Conclusion

    Never be afraid to listen to God’s voice and make changes. When God gives you a rebelutionary idea, do it. Set up an accountability partner to keep you on the path. Share the decision with your friends, acquaintances, and classmates. You never know how a simple idea may change the world.


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  • Captain Wilbanks Did Hard Things 7 Apr 2014 | 5:14 am


    (AccessNorthGA.com) — “Do hard things.” That was the message given to Hilliard A. Wilbanks Middle School sixth-graders Monday morning.

    The words came from John H. Wilbanks, son of the late Capt. Hilliard A. Wilbanks, on the 47th anniversary of the captain’s death in Vietnam.

    The sixth-grade students filled the Cornelia Community House as special guests for Capt. Hilliard A. Wilbanks Day.

    Spellbound, the students heard firsthand accounts of Wilbanks’ heroism from eyewitnesses through means of video.

    Wilbanks was a Medal of Honor recipient who was presented with the honor posthumously on Jan. 24, 1968. He died while protecting friendly forces from the Vietcong in his single-engine, unarmed plane.

    Citing the book Do Hard Things, John Wilbanks provided examples of George, David and Clara, young people who changed the world.

    Those young people were George Washington, David Farragut (the U.S. Navy’s first admiral) and Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross).

    Some of the students gasped when they learned that Farragut was given command of his first ship at age 12 – the age of many of the sixth-graders gathered.

    Wilbanks told the students those three young people and others did hard things. Similarly, his father did many hard things.

    “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when he joined the Air Force in 1950, right out of high school which he attended here in Cornelia,” his son said. “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when he qualified for aviation school … in 1955. Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when he left his expectant wife and two children and family and deployed to Vietnam on March 18, 1966 – only two weeks before my twin sister and I were born.

    “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when he buckled the seat harness of his 0-1 Bird Dog for his 488th combat mission, not knowing at the time it would be his last,” John Wilbanks said. “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when he flew reconnaissance ahead of the 23rd Battalion of Rangers as they approached the tea plantation, not knowing the ambush awaited.

    “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when he spotted the VC forces and marked their position with smoke rockets, and began to direct the fire of three helicopter gunships to cover the retreat of the Rangers,” Wilbanks said.

    “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when one of the helicopter gunships was hit and he ordered the other two to escort it to safety, leaving only himself to support the 23rd Battalion Rangers,” he said.

    “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when he assumed a close air support role, flying low over the treetops firing his M-16 out the window of his unarmored 0-1, drawing the enemy’s attention away from the Rangers below,” his son said.

    “Capt. Wilbanks did hard things when on his third and final pass he gave his life,” John Wilbanks said. “To be sure, many did hard things that day. But Capt. Wilbanks’ unselfish acts of courage and heroism were able to minimize friendly losses. Before the battle was over, the Rangers had lost 36 members, but had it not been for Capt. Wilbanks that number would have been many, many more.”

    Wilbanks challenged the students to “do hard things” to impact the world around them.

    Following the ceremony inside, students and others gathered outside, where the Wilbanks family placed a wreath beside the memorial to Capt. Wilbanks.


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    Photo courtesy of The City of Cornelia, Georgia.


  • The Fleeting Life 4 Apr 2014 | 6:11 am


    I found out today that one of the families I babysit for is moving out of state in a few months. I’ve known them since before their oldest was born, and I’ve spent countless hours with their three boys, watching them grown, learn, and develop their own little unique personalities. I’m going to miss them!

    All of a sudden, I realize that my time with them is limited. Why do I take that for granted? Why do I assume I have all the time in the world?

    How does each day pass by so fast? Each week? Each month? Each year? My entire life?!

    The World Before You

    As a recent college graduate, it seems I have so many options, so many ideas, and so many opportunities, but time passes by so quickly. As time keeps slipping through my fingers, I think of all I want to do during my vapor of life on earth: learn a language, visit another country, and all the other dreams that run around in my brain sometimes.

    What if I don’t accomplish what I hope to? What if my plans are changed? What if I get to the end of my life and it looks totally different from how I thought it would look? How would that change how I spend these fleeting days?

    William Borden

    William Borden wanted to go to China. He wanted to be a missionary. Young (he was a recent Yale graduate), wealthy (heir to his family’s dairy business), and smart (did I mention Yale?), he had the world before him, and he chose to leave behind his life of ease for a life of dedicated service to God. He threw himself into preparing to work with Muslims in China, learning the difficult language, and pursuing the goal of bringing souls to Christ rather than more money to himself. At long last, he set sail for Egypt in 1912, where he would study Arabic before finally launching into China.

    But he never made it to Chinese soil.

    After all those plans, all that work, all that preparation, Borden died of spinal meningitis after a few short months in Cairo, at the age of twenty-five. Was his a wasted life? What of his ambitions — they were holy ambitions, right? What of his plans, his dreams to impact others for Christ?

    We Can’t Do Everything

    Time shows us we are not omnipresent. We are not omniscient. We are not omnipotent. We can’t even determine the courses of our own lives – but God can.

    Time shows us that we are dependent on our all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere God to make our lives count for Him. We rely on Him to guide us, lead us, mold us, shape us, and prepare us to do those things He prepared long ago for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Time is proof that we can never do everything. Borden didn’t accomplish everything on his bucket list. He didn’t even accomplish his primary life goal.

    Or did he?

    In Every Moment

    In his Bible, Borden wrote three short sentences that have often been repeated to summarize his life:

    “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”

    Did William Borden glorify God in everything he set out to do? Did he put Him first no matter what the outcome of his obedience might be? If so, then even if his life ended early (in our estimation), even if he didn’t cross off all of his goals, even if he didn’t attain his greatest desire, he had no reason for regret. Our great plans and goals may come to nothing, but a life that willingly seeks and follows Christ will never, ever be wasted.

    As time slips through our fingers, may we not try to hold it back. Every passing moment only brings us closer to eternity, where we will have all the time we will ever need. May we live each moment to the glory of God, trusting the One who wrote the number of our days long before one of them ever came to be (Psalm 139:16). With Him, our lives will all have purpose, no matter what that looks like.

    So I will pour myself into every moment. That’s all it is – a moment. Each one that flies right by me brings me closer to my goal, my reward, eternity. And in each and every moment, God will be there, too. No matter what I accomplish, if I do it His way for His glory, I will have no regrets.


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    Photo courtesy of Anthony Bouch and Flickr Creative Commons.


  • Obeying God: Does Doing All This “Christian” Stuff Really Matter? 2 Apr 2014 | 7:30 pm


    Last fall, I had to make a decision. Being the first year after my Mom’s fatal car accident made 2013 one of the toughest years of my life, as you could imagine. When grieving loss such as the death of a loved one, or even a lost career, a divorce, a cross-country move, chronic or terminal illness or any kind of major loss or change, the regular pains of life intensify. Last year my family and I saw the regular up-and-down’s of life taken to extremes. In the midst of all the raw emotion, I fell into a type of depression. And that is when I was bombarded by the questions and decisions.

    As anyone experiencing similar grief, I had a lot of questions about life. I felt like Job who wanted to “take God to trial.” But from all the questions, one monster protruded out from the rest: “Why am I doing all this Christian stuff?” And then all the little monster questions followed right behind: “Why am I hanging onto all these convictions? Why do I follow and obey God? Who’s going to care? Why don’t I just go do my own thing?”

    Let me ask you: Why do you do what you do? Teenager, why don’t you have sex whenever you want? Why do you hold on to your convictions? Why do you work hard to obey God? After all, you are saved because of God’s grace through faith — not because of what you do. There has been a lot of talk in recent years about modesty: why does modesty matter? Why don’t we lust and flirt? Why should we bother to live peaceably with each other and strive for reconciliation? Why don’t we murder? Why don’t we lie? Why do we follow the Bible? If none of this adds or subtracts to our salvation, then why bother?

    These are scary questions to ask because they open the door for possible wrong conclusions. In reaction to this, we often end up making dogmatic statements in an effort to keep ourselves or others from walking through the wrong door. But unfortunately this also shuts the door to finding any sort of deeper meaning in what we do. More often than not this causes us to die spiritually from meaninglessness. We lose what is good, right, true and beautiful by either becoming stagnant legalists or completely throwing it all out in our drive to find meaning. Humans, at the core, passionately desire meaning, and, although there are some why’s that will never be completely answered, we must keep searching. God loves and blesses hearts that seek after Him (Psalm 14:2).

    Often “obeying God” or “good works” is talked about in the context of salvation. Actually, salvation is the engine which pulls the “train-cars” of good works. We are saved to do good works and to live “blameless lives” (Ephesians 1:4; 2:10). In order for God to accomplish His purpose of good works in our lives, we must first be redeemed and walking with Him. Nobody deserves salvation — it is a free gift God has extended to man. Salvation stands alone in that it is neither created nor maintained by good works.

    Yet neither is salvation a moment in time. In fact, it is not complete until the Day of Judgment (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 5:9). But this is a conversation for another day. Suffice it to say that salvation results not from any works we do, but as a result of receiving God’s gracious gift, Jesus Christ and everything He did for us.

    So, again, why do we live blameless lives filled with good works? Because obeying God and doing right glorifies God and is worship to Him, is warfare against Satan, and is helpful in drawing us closer to the Father.

    Our primary purpose in life is to glorify God in everything we do (Revelation 4:11; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Our lives ought to be projected toward Christ and anything we do should be born out of that pursuit of God. In other words, our primary purpose is “to make God look good,” not because He is insecure in His goodness, needing us to sit up straight and behave; but because we are His representatives on earth. We do not take cues from men, but from Jesus Christ, who is our King.

    The kingdom of heaven is not a place; it is wherever Jesus Christ reigns supreme. Therefore, having become citizens of God’s Kingdom, we take orders from Him. It is an immobile sequence: citizenship first, followed by obedience. Would it make any sense to become a citizen of a country but completely disregard what the King tells you to do? If you think of salvation as citizenship, then think of doing good works or “living blamelessly” as the duty of all good citizens. We were given citizenship in God’s kingdom so that we would glorify God. Not because we glorify God, but so that we would glorify God. This is why James says that faith without works is dead (useless in fulfilling its primary purpose) (James 2:17). Salvation leads to works which leads to God being accurately represented on earth (a.k.a. building the Kingdom of Heaven). Therefore, simply moving into a community, a career, or a culture and “living right” (accurately representing God; obeying His commands, first loving Him and others) is glorifying to God.

    Directly tied into our life-purpose of glorifying God should be a lifestyle of worship. The two are inseparable and foundational for a healthy Christian walk. But first we must be aware as believers of our position before God. When a person is saved, God breathes into his spirit divine Life. In other words, God reaches into Himself and pulls out His own anointed life (Christ) and puts it inside the new believer. The “old man” is crucified on the cross with Jesus and that Anointed Life (Christ) takes up residence inside of us; our identity changes from sinner to saint (Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20). We stand boldly before the Father as His children whom He has cleansed, accepted, and loved. We are in Christ and Christ is in us.

    Take a moment to imagine Heaven with me. In the center of Heaven is God’s throne from which radiates thunder and lightning, and all kinds of power. A roaring crowd of millions of people, watched by millions of angels, surround the throne where twenty-four elders toss down their crowns and worship God. Being God’s beloved children we can approach the holy throne and as we do, we see that the path is stained by Someone’s blood. All of heaven watches with pleasure as we make our way to the throne where the Father waits with Jesus, our older brother, who stands at His right hand (Hebrews 2:11). We fall down at Jesus’ feet weeping and telling Him we love Him, asking Him for strength.

    Fellow Christian, it is crucial that we realize that the image I just painted is more real than the fact that you are reading this article right now. Our spirits are hid with Christ and are currently before God’s throne, worshiping at His feet. Anything we do in life is (or ought to be) a reflection of that reality, we do not have to strive for this position because after salvation, it is reality; we just have to live like it. Reality is truth: God is not asking us to understand just yet, He is simply asking us to agree with what is already true. Doing what is right, obeying God’s commands is agreeing with God that what He says is true and He deserves to be our highest priority. It is agreeing with the reality (truth) of who we really are: His precious sons and daughters standing before His throne receiving His grace, love, and commands.

    Who we agree with, God or Satan, is really who we worship. Which reminds us that “living right” is actually an act of warfare against Satan. From the beginning, Satan has been striving to steal our worship. Or one could say he has always been trying to get mankind to agree with him, rather than with God. That is exactly what he did with Adam and Eve: he told them lies and, despite knowing the truth, they chose to agree with Satan and ignore God.

    Sin, at its core, is agreement with Satan. I believe that when we sin, God is more grieved by the fact that we are agreeing with Satan than by the actual act, because He knows that Satan wants to destroy our lives. By agreeing with Satan (sinning) we are agreeing with a liar and a thief who will not hold up his end of the agreement but will take everything we give him! (Therefore God’s anger at our sin is actually born out of love for us.)

    Let’s make this practical. My family moved to Los Angeles in 2008 where violence and immorality plague the city. How can we expect to have any authority over spirits of violence if in our hearts we hate or refuse to forgive any man? Do you think Satan is going to take us seriously when we command the spirit of violence to leave, if we agree with it by hating our fellow man? (Or what if we are agreeing with the spirit of violence by the video games we play?) The more we actively and intentionally love and forgive everyone around us — even our enemies — and are cleansed of hatred and bitterness (violence), the more authority we have over the spirit of violence. What about immorality? All over the world women and children are being trafficked for sex. How can we expect to fight sex trafficking or any sexual perversion (spirit of immorality) if we are actively agreeing with it by the way we lust after each other, or are slaves to pornography? How can we expect to have authority and victory over immorality if we are agreeing with its spirit by the way we dress or flirt? By doing any of this, we make God look like a fool, and all the devils just laugh.

    If we want to be effective in glorifying God and redeeming culture we must be asking ourselves “Where does God draw the line?” and we must get in agreement with Him. This is hard to live out on a daily basis because everyone has their own interpretations of where they think God draws the line. Nevertheless, we must approach life with such an attitude and with humility. On every issue, we must endeavor to discern if there is a line and where it is, otherwise we will fail miserably in our fight against Satan and in building God’s Kingdom. Not in a legalistic or controlling manner, but in humility, earnestly wanting to “know what the Boss thinks.” I’ve tried to model this in my post about Christians and music.

    We do not fight Satan or build God’s kingdom through human warfare, but through spiritual warfare — through prayer, worship, and obedience to God (Ephesians 6:12). These “weapons” are incredibly powerful because they take us out of the picture and allow God to move freely through our lives. Let’s take up the breastplate of righteous living and move into the battle Christ is calling us to fight.

    Not only is living “blameless lives” glorifying and worshipful to God, and warfare against Satan; it also deepens our love for God and His righteousness thereby drawing us closer to Him. It is true that “what is fed the most grows the most.” When we choose to agree with God by obeying His commands, we “feed” our souls “food” which will strengthen us and draw us closer to the Father’s heart. The more we sin, the more we want to sin; likewise, the more we pursue God and His righteousness, the more we love God and become righteous (Romans 6:19).

    There is unexplainable power in obedience! God is more delighted when we choose to obey Him than when we make sacrifices for Him. Not that He dislikes sacrifices, but our sacrifices do not mean much if we are living in disobedience to Him (1 Samuel 15:22).

    But this is not a call to legalism — it is a call to genuine faith and surrender. Righteous living and good works “drudged up” on our own are only filthy rags. But holiness and good works will follow genuine faith and surrender because as Christians we have Christ living directly inside of us. When we are completely surrendered to God, He can freely flow out of us with us hardly even knowing it. It is not a freedom we can evoke on our own—it comes only from spending time with Jesus in solitude and in fellowship with believers on our faces before God. We will do good works and we can live righteous lives, but it won’t be from ourselves (Gal. 2:20).

    True, heartfelt, revival can happen in the Western church — not a revival of politics, of wealth or health, or of prosperity — but a revival which touches lives in meaningful ways. A revival saturated with truth, filled with love, leading to repentance of sin and freedom from oppression (physical and spiritual). A revival like this can happen — but first we must examine ourselves and get in agreement with God. The Lord is looking for a generation which is unconditionally surrendered to Him — willing to obey and follow Him wherever He needs them to go. Because when we surrender to God without conditions, and obey Him without questions, His spirit will be unleashed without measure in such fashion only seen a few times since the New Testament church.

    Now my question is “Am I willing to be that generation?” Am I willing to obey God no matter how I look or what people say? Am I willing to surrender my life to God and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness? Or am I more afraid of my youth group? Am I more concerned about getting “God” to agree with culture than I am about getting culture to agree with God? Will we live radical lives for Christ Jesus—not for the sake of being radical, but for Christ’s sake? Or is that not possible?

    Is it too hard?


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    Photo courtesy of blmiers2 and Flickr Creative Commons.


  • Everlasting Hope: 56 Days, 56 Hats, $1,000 for Master’s House 24 Mar 2014 | 11:38 am


    Everlasting Hope is a group that crochets hats to raise money for the Master’s House (see picture below), an orphanage being built in Uyo, Nigeria by MCCF International. (For right now, 50% of the profit we make goes to the Master’s Home.) Our goal is to raise at least $1,000.

    the_masters_house_nigeria

    We post different hats and crochet projects we are working on. We also have an online store called Hope Eternal Enterprises (HEE) where our hats are available for purchase. HEE got 38 views three days after it was published and Everlasting Hope has gotten over 560 page views! We were really excited!

    Back in December, I gave all the profit I made to the orphanage in honor of Christmas. A week after I sent it to the orphanage, I looked in my wallet for money to buy bunny food (you would not believe how much food my rabbit eats!) and it was empty except for a $5 bill. I now owed my mom $42 for bunny food and yarn.

    I questioned whether I should have put that much of my money into the Master’s House and I prayed to God for financial help. A couple of days later, I got an order for over 15 hats! I thanked God with all of my heart. That was a kind of sign to me that God was blessing what I was doing.

    What inspired me:

    The book Do Hard Things is what inspired me to get moving and do some hard things for God.

    I wasn’t sure what I should do exactly until I looked at their website and saw a project that Elaini Garfield was doing to raise money for orphans in India. She styled one dress 100 different ways over a period of 100 days, blogging about it along the way. She raised more then $10k more than they initially hoped for, so now she is continuing the blog indefinitely to raise awareness.

    cute_crochet_hat

    That gave me an idea: instead of styling one dress a different way every day for 100 days, I could crochet one hat a day for 100 days in different styles and sizes to raise money for the Master’s Home.

    My dad convinced me to change it closer to 50 days at least for the beginning so I changed it to 56 days (8 weeks). My goal was to raise $1,000 in those 56 days. I made a blog for it called Everlasting Hope, where I post different projects I’ve made lately and other stuff like that.

    I was going to start on February 1, but since then, I have been absolutely flooded with orders for all kinds of hats so the 8 Week Challenge was on hold for awhile. LORD willing, I will begin on March 30.

    God has definitely blessed us in this work; we’ve been absolutely flooded with orders for Minion hats (see above), frog hats, flower hats, and more. It’s been really awesome seeing God work His will through us. I never dreamed it would grow as big as it is now.

    How you can help:

    If you would like to help, you can:

    • Pray – We need all the prayers we can get!
    • Donate – You can donate online on the MCCF International website
    • Buy some of our hats – We’ve got all kinds of cute hats we’re making! They are all $10, no matter what size or style you get
    • Spread the word – Tell other people you know about Everlasting Hope.
    • Join us! – If you know how to knit or crochet, you can make things and sell them too! My little sister is going to make 1 headband a day for 56 days along with me.

    With God’s help, we know all things are possible. — Matthew 19:26

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  • Do Hard Things: A Message from President John F. Kennedy 21 Mar 2014 | 5:58 am


    On September 12, 1962, then U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave his famous “Moon Speech” at Rice University, with the goal of persuading the American people to support NASA’s efforts to send a manned space flight to the moon.

    The full speech runs around 18-minutes, but these 47-seconds are the most well-known. Here, JFK explains why the United States wants to go to the moon and reveals that doing hard things serves to sharpen and equip us to be the very best we can be, both as individuals and as nations.

    But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

    Tell us about a challenge (big or small) that you’ve chosen to accept in your own life. Has tackling that challenge taught you more about yourself and what you are capable of doing and becoming? Why do you think doing hard things is good for countries, families, and individuals?


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  • Why I Stopped Trying to Fit In, And Why You Should Too 17 Mar 2014 | 5:40 am


    In 10th grade, this was my biggest goal in life. I did everything I knew how to, in order to be cool enough. I wore the right pants. I styled my hair. I made sure I always smelled like I stepped out of a Bath & Body Works store, and, I exercised like my life depended on it, making sure the number on the scale was as low as I could possibly make it.

    It was a lot of work, trying to keep up with all of this in order to look good to my peers.

    Our identity is found in Christ alone, we’re NOT defined by other people’s expectations or accusations. We as Christians are children of the Most High God, given grace, love, worth, and an inheritance that can never be taken away.

    So why should I be afraid when someone thinks I’m too “weird” or “boring”, or even if I’m accused of thinking or doing something I had no part of?

    I’ve always been a people-pleaser. But oftentimes I will turn it into my first and only priority, something I worship, when there should only be One who has that place in my heart. I am robbing Him of His reign in my life & in my heart, replacing Him with another.

    “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” — Hebrews 13:6

    “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” — John 15:19

    “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” — 2 Timothy 3:12

    ” … For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” — 1 Samuel 16:7

    And there’s nothing wrong with trying to smell good, and look clean (in fact, I highly recommend it), but when we go to extremities in order to impress others, simply, we are wasting our time.

    I wish someone would’ve walked up to me a year ago and said that I shouldn’t care if people think I’m not smart enough, or skinny enough. That it doesn’t matter if I don’t reach their standards of perfection — or society’s. That I should just focus on my relationship with God, and showing Christ’s love & truth to all who come my way.

    So, I hope I can be that someone for you, dear reader. Don’t waste your energy and concern on others’ opinions. Jesus died, resurrected, said “Fear not, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and yet we’re still afraid of not fitting in? Of someone judging our appearance, or our actions? Of people belittling us, and maybe not accepting us?

    Jesus will always accept us. Not because we’re perfect. Not because of anything good we’ve done.

    But because He loves us.


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    Photo courtesy of Rosipaw and Flickr Creative Commons.


  • Kayla Montgomery, Age 18: Running and Winning Races with Multiple Sclerosis 14 Mar 2014 | 6:01 am


    (New York Times) — When a pack of whip-thin girls zipped across the finish of the 1,600-meter race at a recent track meet here, the smallest runner’s legs wobbled like rubber, and she flopped into her waiting coach’s arms. She collapses every time she races.

    Kayla Montgomery, 18, was found to have multiple sclerosis three years ago. Defying most logic, she has gone on to become one of the fastest young distance runners in the country — one who cannot stay on her feet after crossing the finish line.

    kayla_montgomery_coach

    Because M.S. blocks nerve signals from Montgomery’s legs to her brain, particularly as her body temperature increases, she can move at steady speeds that cause other runners pain she cannot sense, creating the peculiar circumstance in which the symptoms of a disease might confer an athletic advantage.

    But intense exercise can also trigger weakness and instability; as Montgomery goes numb in races, she can continue moving forward as if on autopilot, but any disruption, like stopping, makes her lose control.

    “When I finish, it feels like there’s nothing underneath me,” Montgomery said. “I start out feeling normal and then my legs gradually go numb. I’ve trained myself to think about other things while I race, to get through. But when I break the motion, I can’t control them and I fall.”

    kayla_montgomery_racing

    At the finish of every race, she staggers and crumples. Before momentum sends her flying to the ground, her coach braces to catch her, carrying her aside as her competitors finish and her parents swoop in to ice her legs. Minutes later, sensation returns and she rises, ready for another chance at forestalling a disease that one day may force her to trade the track for a wheelchair. M.S. has no cure.

    Last month, Montgomery, a senior at Mount Tabor High School, won the North Carolina state title in the 3,200 meters. Her time of 10 minutes 43 seconds ranks her 21st in the country. Her next major competition is the 5,000 meters at the national indoor track championships in New York on March 14, when she hopes to break 17 minutes.

    Her trajectory as a distance runner has been unusually ascendant.

    “When she was diagnosed, she said to me, ‘Coach, I don’t know how much time I have left, so I want to run fast — don’t hold back,’ ” said Patrick Cromwell, Montgomery’s coach. “That’s when I said, ‘Wow, who are you?’”

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    Photos courtesy of Jeremy M. Lange for The New York Times and Lauren Carroll for The Winston-Salem Journal.


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