Welcome to my blog! To get an idea of what this blog is about you might want to read the "About Me and My Family" page as a starting point. You can browse through the archives or head over to the "Articles" page to read on specific topics I've written on over the years. Keep checking back because I'll be posting new articals from time to time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Youth Camp: 4-week Perspective

Today I was looking again at the pictures I took at camp. I look at them over and over because I want to be reminded of the great time we had and all that took place. I want to get a glimpse of the great spirit that was there all week. Pure and innocent.

It's been four weeks since we got back from camp. The first two weeks I was doing really good; many teens in our youth group were excited about serving God and it kind of spilled over into the whole church for a time. We had zeal! I wanted to hold onto that excitement so bad because I guess in the back of my mind I knew it wouldn't last forever . . . but I wanted it to. I thought that if I read my Bible enough, prayed enough, and stayed away from wickedness as much as possible then I would be eager to serve God every day and I would always be filled with an abundance of love for Christ. And I tried to do just that.

But it didn't work.

Once I was back from camp I had to go back to work. That meant I heard cussing (thankfully, it's not very often), I saw immodest dress, I saw lots of attitude, I saw coldness towards anything Godly, I heard worldly music when I went into the grocery store and restaurants, I was tempted to turn the TV on, and I was encouraged to just do what feels right. I no longer went to church twice a day, I didn't listen to 3-4 sermons within 24 hours, I wasn't around many Christians, I wasn't in an atmosphere that shunned County music and cussing, I didn't have the chance to pray with 10-60 like minded Christians throughout the day, I wasn't in a place that encouraged girls to dress modest, and I wasn't constantly reminded to read my Bible and pray. I was no longer at Bible camp and it was evident!

The first day that I didn't feel like spending 30 minutes in prayer I was discouraged. Only two weeks and already I'm slacking? But then I started thinking about an illustration a preacher once gave. Did you know that before the flood there was a canopy of water that surrounded the earth? This canopy would shield off any harmful radiation that came from outer space. This meant that people would live much longer. This makes sense when you realize that Adam lived to be 930 years old and Methuselah lived 969 years, yet after the flood the age expectancy dropped dramatically. It is also believed that plants also thrived and grew much larger and stronger all because of the environment they were in.

That's kind of how I think of camp verses the world we live in every day. At camp we are shielded from as much wickedness as possible. No TV, no secular music, no immodest dress, etc. Because we are not exposed to those sinful attractions we are free to live for God to the greatest extent. Christians should thrive in that kind of atmosphere. But once that shield is broken we have to live in a totally different atmosphere that effects every part of our lives.

But this doesn't mean that we should give into the struggles of this world and live for Christ half-heartedly. It just means that we have to try harder. Christian living isn't being given to us like it was at camp so we have to get it our self.  It isn't as easy, but it can be done. We may not be as excited, but we still need to serve God with everything that we have. We have to read our Bible and pray when we don't feel like it, we have to make our self smile when we're singing at church, and we have to go out of our way to seek what God wants us to do.

And as always . . . be reminded of the good days at camp.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Giving the Glory for Answered Prayers

Answered prayers very rarely come in the shape and form I expect them to be. Sometime I wonder if they ever turn out as I think they will. There are times when the answered prayer is greater than I could have imagined, other times I find myself thinking, "God, couldn't you have found a better way to make it happen?"

But the important thing is that God does answer our prayers. One of my favorite verses speaks of this: "I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live." Psalms 116:1-2 When God answers my prayers it makes me want to pray even more! It makes me want to give God the glory He deserves, which reminds me of a verse I was reading the other day which said, "Be thou exalted, O God, above the havens: let they glory be above all the earth." Psalms 57:11 That is a lot of glory! If I were to give Him all the glory due to him I wouldn't have time to speak of anything else. "Let thy glory be above all the earth."

Over the past several months I have seen many of my prayers answered. Some were desires that I didn't have the faith to pray for, others were specific request that I asked God to meet. Both were amazing.

A little over a year ago I stated e-mailing a girl named Katie who lives in Pennsylvania. Through the 100+ e-mails we have been encouraged through each others battles and victories and have been able to see each other grow in the Lord as we grew closer together. Ever since last October I have been planning on going to meet her and her family for the first time while they were in North Carolina on vacation. At first I was really excited, but as the time got closer I began to get nervous about driving so far with only my little sister in the car to "protect" me should disaster come. I told Katie about this and she assured me it would be okay if I didn't come, but I really wanted to meet her. I was torn between two decisions.

So I did what I've been taught to do all my life but seldom put to practice. I put it in God's hands. I believe that is the key to prayer: telling God what I need and trusting Him to supply it as He sees fit. If I were to continue to search for an answer myself or try to fix a problem on my own after I have prayed about it, I haven't really given God the chance to answer my prayer. So I didn't do that this time. I left everything up to God.

A few weeks later I heard that our church was going to Bible camp in Pennsylvania. Now honestly, my first thought wasn't "Oh, I can meet Katie while I'm there!" No, I thought the same thing that most girls of my status would. "Hmm, maybe I'll meet a nice young man up there!" Followed by, "Lord please forgive me for my vain thoughts, I know you'll send me a man right when I'm not expecting it." ☺I didn't say that I trust God all the time, now did I?

I felt God impressing on my heart to go to this camp. Without God's "nudging" I probably wouldn't have left my job for a whole week based on my own wants especially when I didn't even know if my younger sibling were going. But since I felt Got telling me it was okay to go, I signed up right away. It wasn't until the next day that I realized Katie and I might be able to meet. In a few short days we had the place and time picked and we were counting down the days!

Here's the great part: Not only did I get to spend 2 wonderful hours with Katie in Pennsylvania, but I also got to go to the most amazing Bible camp with my siblings and church family and experience God's presence in a whole new way and watch Him move in so many people's lives. I prayed for a way to meet Katie without having to travel by myself and I ended up spending a whole week going to church twice a day and falling even deeper in love with my Savior right there with my brothers and sisters who were doing the same thing!Later I found out that Katie and her family are no longer going to take vacation in North Carolina, so if God hadn't worked it out for me to go to camp I might not have met her at all this year. I expected God to give me only what I had prayed for and he more than tripled the blessing! My expectation was so low, yet he proved to me that He does answer my prayers and in a way that I could never have planned myself.

So now we're home from camp and energized more than ever! All the youth in our church are eager to see God move and God is doing just that. So Bethany and I decided to start having a Bible study once a week at home. But even in the midst of all the excitement, having that study time doesn't always look easy. We've had a three day revival last week, my room is in serious need of dusting, we were invited to a game night at a friends house, and I still haven't written in my journal about the week of camp. So this morning as I walked out the door on the way to work I whispered, "LORD, please help me find time to prepare for Bible study." Once I was at my desk answering phones, typing as fast as I could, and helping my co-workers find emergency room charts, I didn't give my hurried prayer any thought. Then mama called. None of my brothers and sisters wanted to go to our friends house for game night so mama and daddy were the only ones going and since the game we all love to play requires an even number of people, I wouldn't be able to join the fun. I was disheartened. I wanted to go, but under the circumstances the only thing I would be able to do is sit there and watch. So I said I would stay home with my brothers and sisters and let the adults have a fun night.

Then God so gently reminded me of my prayer for time. What better time to study than when mama and daddy are away and my brothers and sisters are watching a moving with brownies and ice-cream? Yes, I wanted to play games with our friends but obviously God thought I needed to stay home and study. After all, I did pray for it.

Even though that is not the way I wanted God to give me more time He should still receive the glory for answering another one of my prayers. And if he chooses to answer another (like I know He will) I will give him the glory for that one too no matter what the outcome is. For if He is to be glorified above all the earth I still have a lot of  praising to do, but plenty to praise Him for!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

God is Good!

Why is God so good?

Because he let me, my brothers and sisters and church family have an amazing week of Bible camp

He spoke to my heart in great ways

I've got to see my brothers and sisters grow in the Lord

A friend of mine got some much needed help

He lead many Christian conversations

He saved our friend in the car while we were on the way home

He lead a friend of mine to rededicate herself to the Lord

He let me meet Katie who I've been e-mailing for a year

He kept us safe

He gave us joy

He brought us closer together

He gave us zeal to serve Christ

He has blessed us beyond anything we could ever deserve

For this, God is good!