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Posts Tagged ‘Grace’

One question that weighed heavily on my heart tonight was why so many Christians emphasize digging into God’s Word. Why should we crave the Word? What does it even mean to crave it? Why should we read the Bible every day and hide it in our hearts? As I pondered the questions, God brought to my mind several thoughts.

We desire the Word of God because it draws us closer to His heart.

When we hear the Word of God, it inspires and rejuvenates us, sparking life within us and opening our eyes, heart, and mind to receive a refreshing drink of God’s Spirit.

When we read the Word of God, we become allured by God’s thoughts: what He desires, His joys, and what saddens Him.

When we memorize the Word of God, it becomes ingrained in the constitution of our mind and being; imprinted upon our spirit. It transforms our mind to be synoptical with that of the Lord’s; it convicts us of evil, inspires us to love, and equips us with the courageous faith God grants those who relentlessly seek after Him.

The irresistible longing for God that drives us from the inside out to seek His face and know His thoughts comes from His grace.

So take freely of it, receive it, process it, and dispense it.

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Like many people, I’ve gone through a “clothes craze phase”. I visited a bunch of thrift stores and bought just about everything I thought looked good. As always when you become crazy with something, you notice other peoples’ paraphernalia as well, in this case, clothes.

One really weird thing I noticed is this: if a given person is not into fashion or the latest trends, he usually ends up dressing in clothes that reflect his personalities and interests. For example, I have some friends who love sports. They are definitely not into clothes. But they dress well, and they dress in clothes that present themselves to people as athletes. The jacket, the brand, the pants, shoes… all have something to do with SPORTS!

Another example is myself. Almost everyone who knows me well will tell you about my passion for writing, reading, and literature as a whole. I’m not exactly a fan of fashion… but I do like clothes that “look good”. Due to my pretty conservative background, I usually wear polos and shirts in classic colors and designs, mostly with jeans. But based on my attire, many people will ask me out of the blue if I’m a writer or am planning a career in that direction. Funny… because most of the time they don’t know a single thing about me. And I don’t consciously go out of my way to dress like a literature nerd.

My point in saying all this? Clothes reflect who you are, and as Christians, we must dress to represent ourselves well. Some may say that clothes do not make the man, and clothes do sometimes cover up who a person really is. However, people have a natural inclination to base their first impression mainly on the clothes that particular person is wearing. You may come up with all sorts of excuses and exceptions for your not-so-Christian attire, but in the end, you are misrepresenting yourself, the Christian community, and God. You can look good without dressing like the world dresses.

Also, the wrong clothing attracts the wrong crowd. You may be dressing to fit in with a certain group, impress a certain person, or whatever. But most times, you will end up with the wrong people; the people you should not be with.

I’m not saying this to condemn, but I know the impact clothing trends have on many young believers. I am writing this out of concern for my fellow believers, for why would a peer like me go all out for no apparent reason just to criticize how people dress? Clothing expresses a person’s individuality, but clothes also reflect their values – whether they know it or not.  Personally, in the past I have debated over some clothing styles, and my conservative side won over. But honestly, it isn’t a huge struggle and problem for me. However, I’ve personal experience with people I know who love the Lord and do their best to live out His plan in their lives… but if I was a stranger and just met them, I would not automatically think them Christian – just because their clothes don’t reflect the modesty and self-respect that Christians as children of the King should be shrouded in… around their entire being.

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Everyone knows the story of the Titanic… and if they don’t, then the major motion picture might just give them a little background information on one of the biggest tragedies in human history.

What everyone doesn’t know is the story of 8 musicians aboard the Titanic, who, even as the Titanic sank, kept right on playing their songs. Even as people got out into the lifeboats to escape the oncoming doom of the “unsinkable ship”, these 8 men stood on the deck bravely tried to serenade the hectic crowd. They met their deaths in honor, giving their lives… and music… to the survivors of the Titanic.

In The Band that Played On, historian and biographer Steve Turner investigates the lives of these 8 remarkable men, revealing 8 individual stories of bravery, courage, and honor. He lists each one and delegates a section to each of their stories, compiling them into a beautiful volume that will last for years of re-reading. It is sure to be a classic that you can pass on to your children and they to theirs.

I was elated to find this book on the review list. I heard scraps, from different sources, about a band on the Titanic that played to their deaths. I also saw some pictures in children’s books. But it wasn’t until now that the existence, life, and stories of these men manifested themselves to me. I was able to finally read up on their lives, and why they came to their honorable end the way they did.

This is truly an inspirational story that will warm your hearts, even when troubles seem to bite your being like the cold ocean water.

I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for a review. I was in no way obligated to write a positive review.

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“These are for you,” He said, “Because I love you and want you to know the best I have for you. Everything you did in the past is the past, and let this remind you of how much I will always love you, no matter what.”

One by one, He attached them to my body, just below my neck. They stuck there and began to give off their soft glow once more. Then the Mater Potter Held up a shiny piece of metal. I gasped at my reflection. Or did it belong to someone else?

The mirror bore the image of the most beautiful vase I had ever seen. A strange pattern covered my body, and it took me a moment to realize they were my cracks. The Potter had used them to create an intricate, unique design the like never seen before. The three pearls shone brighter than my original precious stones, which were slightly scarred by my contact with the rocks.

“Do you like it?” the Potter asked me, eyes twinkling.

I nodded.

“My strength is shown in your weakness,” He answered the question that was still concealed in my mind. “I will take your flaws and show people my omnipotence, for you are the work of my hands, and I will shape you as I see fit. Nothing anyone says will ever change that.”

That’s when the truth struck me. I was perfect before I had become prideful and decided to venture into the wretched world outside. It was alluring, but it didn’t last. I was left alone to suffer when hard times rolled around, and my Potter had to come rescue me. When He broke me, my imperfections and weaknesses became apparent. But He took my weaknesses and flaws and used them for His purpose. Not only does He has the power to heal, but also the power to restore and create something new from the old. I was a potsherd, but in His hands I am made beautiful. In His eyes I am perfect. And His opinion is the only one that matters.

THE END

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Unbeknownst to me, the Potter had heard my cry. As I sat there crying out, He had already begun to put on His winter wear and prepare to come out and take me back in.

The Master Potter endured the harsh cold and bitter wind blowing across the exposed areas of Hs body, striking Him like nails and thorns. Right after He picked me up, He threw me against the rocks and shattered me into a hundred pieces. The sudden impact revived me and made me aware of my surroundings once more. He reached out and took my pieces into His arms, holding me close to His warm chest. Turning so that He took most of the beating of the wind against His own body, He brought me back inside.

First, He took me to His washing pan and filled it with warm water. Then with His best soap He began to clean every one of my pieces. The warm, clean water felt good as He rubbed the soap over me and rinsed me clean. Slowly all my colors washed away until I was once again a brownish-tan color. Once He had finished, He took me to His worktable. As I watched, He took some fresh new clay and began to form a new vase. Once the basic shape was visible, He took my pieces one by one and attached it against the sticky surface.

It took a while, but soon all of my pieces were affixed to the new structure. He added a few more touches here and there, and spread a thin layer of fresh clay over me to ensure every crack was sealed. I noticed, however, that my cracks still showed through. I wanted to point it out, but thought better of it.

Next, He stood me upright on His decorating table. He picked up his brushes and began to paint new patterns on me. I wondered what it looked like, as I felt His brushes move in the strangest directions, with sudden jerks and turns. But I trusted Him to decorate as He saw fit.

But that wasn’t all. He opened a drawer and procured a small ivory box. When He exposed its contents to me, I became silent with awe. There, nestled among the satin folds, were three lustrous pearls, shining as brightly as the moon on its fullest night.

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The winter began with a drop in temperature. This sudden onset caused people to retreat into their homes to avoid the freezing cold. Then the rain came. How it poured! The storms caused everything to become drowned in water, making the dirt roads muddy and creating miniature ponds all over the city.
I soon became filled with the rainwater, and passing horses and carts splattered my face with mud. No matter how much rain poured on me, the dirt always seemed to find a hold on me again. And to make matters worse, various animals came to drink out of me. Their saliva caused mold to begin growing on me. I was repulsed, but could not do anything about it.

The temperature began dropping once more. The nights made me feel like I was in the arctic, freezing any exposed bodies of water all over the place – which sadly included the water found inside of me. I felt ice forming and pushing against my inner walls, and it hurt so much! Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to deal with the pain, but all my efforts were in vain. Wet and miserable, I begin to think of my brethren inside the Master Potter’s house. How warm they must be! They are probably chattering away with each other or listening to the wise old Potter tell stories of long ago. And here I am, wretchedly trying to survive what is probably the harshest winter to hit the area.

Desperate for help, I cried out to the Master Potter. I doubted He would hear me through the howling wind and the walls of His secure house, but I was in too much anguish to care. I vowed aloud that if He would come and take me out of my predicament, I will happily and faithfully serve Him for as long as I live.

Then I let my consciousness slip into darkness.

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Tears glistened in Vera’s eyes as she fingered a little cross hanging from her neck. The cross was made of pure sterling silver, and reflected the light shining from the stained-glass window. It was one of her most prized possessions, and for a good reason.

Vera had just been baptized, and was still kneeling before the pulpit with her head bowed. She shed tears of joy of giving her life to her Savior, but there were also tears of mourning. Wishing the person who led to Christ could be there, she thought back to that tragic day…

~*~

“Wh-where am I?” Nevaeh whispered.

“Shhh…” Vera replied in a soothing voice. “You’re in the hospital.”

“Hospital? Why?”

Vera sighed. Ever since the car accident, Nevaeh was constantly forgetting where she was. Vera had to remind her every time she woke up.

“Nevermind.” Nevaeh said again, voice straining. “Vera, I remember. All my memories are returning to me.”

“Really?” Vera exclaimed. “That’s wonderful!”

“It is! But Vera, I…” Nevaeh struggled to breath, “I… I’m going to die soon. Very soon. I won’t be around here… on earth… much longer.”

Her words pierced Vera’s heart like a flaming arrow.

“Nevaeh! Shush! Don’t say that! Of course you’re not going to die!” Vera replied— more to assure herself than her friend. She felt tears spring into her eyes as she bent over to hug Nevaeh.

Nevaeh shook her head. “No Vera… I know I’m going to die. I’m go…go… going to go back home to my Father. Listen to me Vera.” She coughed. “I’m older than you by a few years, but we have been… been like sisters since we were children. Now, I-I want to give you this gift in remembrance of the great times we’ve had together.”

Vera opened her hand to accept the object. It was a tiny silver cross on a cord. Her mouth dropped open. “Why Nevaeh! This is your most precious possession!”

“The dead have no treasures, but what reward they receive when they go to Heaven.” Nevaeh said. “Take a closer look at the cross. The vertical bar is me, since I’m older and therefore taller than you. The horizontal bar is you, being the younger and smaller one. Despite our age difference, though, we crossed each other’s path of life and are now connected as… as… as sisters.” Her voice faltered for a moment. “There is more significance to this necklace, but you’ll have to find out what it is on your own. It is a journey worth taking.” Nevaeh coughed. “Goodbye Vera!”

All of a sudden Vera felt like she was in a daze. She didn’t notice the others as they entered and exited the room. She didn’t even know what to make of her friend’s last words to her.

~*~

For several years now Vera struggled with Nevaeh’s absence and final words. She never quite understood what the “more meaning to the cross” part meant. However, she still treasured it as the most precious thing she owned; a memoir of her best friend.

But now, at her baptism, she understands what those words mean. Not only did their paths cross, as Nevaeh described, but formed a cross, a symbol of Christianity and the death of Christ that bounded all believers together. She remembered that Nevaeh had always been passionate about her Lord, and a joy surrounded her that made her already attractive face even more beautiful. Even on her death bed, she had tried to break through to Vera.

Vera once more remembered the persistence of her friend, the meaning of her words, and her God-given joy, wisdom and passion.

But best of all, she saw the cross upon which her Savior died, and the love behind it all…

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