Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Prayer For Rain

          Late Thursday night, dry lightning started countless fires in the Southern Oregon area. The minor fires have been put out, but there are a couple that have grown to monstrous proportions. Already, 35,000 acres have been burned. The smoke is thick everywhere from Cave Junction to California.
          At this point, the fires are just too big to be controlled, much less put out. What we need right now is rain.
          Please, please pray that God would shower us with rain and put out these fires. Pray that the smoke clears. Pray that He keeps Oregon safe.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Serving Leftovers To A Holy God

That is the title of a chapter in Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. And I have to admit, it makes me wince. It happens more often than I like to think. When I finish doing what I want to do, then I’ll give God a few minutes of my time. Spend ten, twenty minutes reading the Bible, count my blessings, and tell Him goodnight. Next morning, it’s back to the me show.
So often, we fail to prioritize our relationship with God. It’s almost like once we’re saved, that’s it; we don’t have to do anything more. Jesus loves me, try to live a good life, then I go to heaven and party for eternity. Whoopee!
Um, no.
Life is hard, and being a Christian is no exception. In some ways, it’s harder. We have a moral standard that we strive to live by. We are mocked and ridiculed by a world that doesn’t recognize us. We have to work and wait to receive our reward. Yes, we hold fast to our beautiful hope in God, but it is difficult in a world full of temptations.
Our relationship with Christ is more than just a ticket to heaven. He wants us to know Him, love Him, worship, and glorify Him. As Francis Chan says,
         “[God] wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”
This life is about God. Period. We were created by Him for Him. To have a real and personal relationship with Him. Living for God doesn’t start when we go to heaven; it starts now.
  I have failed and continue to fail. I keep wanting to give more time to God, but I keep not doing it. I become selfish, hoarding away my time for my own pleasures. Reading a novel somehow is more appealing than reading His word.
If you don’t eat for a very long time, you sometimes don’t even feel hungry anymore. Your body is trying to cope without the food. But as soon as you start eating again, you realize just how famished you were.
When we don’t read the Bible often, we begin to lose our hunger. Distractions pull us away, and we forget about spending time with our King. If this is where you are right now, go spend an hour reading your Bible. I think you’ll realize that you’ve been starving for it all along.
Pour yourself into your relationship with God. Don’t give Him your leftover time; give Him your first time. Your first thought. Give Him all that you are.
Because it’s all you have to give.

        “The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives.” ~Francis Chan


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sierra Springs and the Bible

We need water. Water is one of the few things in life that we absolutely need; without it, we cannot long survive.
Jesus offers us pure, holy water that will satisfy our thirst as no other water can. It is drawn from the Well of Life. Once we drink of this water, we won't want any other.
All of this makes me think of the Monk episode, Mr. Monk Goes To Mexico.
Knowing that he is going to a place that may not be able to fulfill his need for Sierra Springs, Monk brings with him an overabundance of bottled water – just in case. Shortly after their arrival in Mexico, Monk and Sharona are robbed of all their luggage. Food, clothing, toiletries… it’s all gone. But what is the one thing that Monk is concerned about?
His water.
Throughout the episode, we watch as Monk searches desperately for water. People offer him other kinds, such as Aquafina and Arrowhead, but Monk refuses them all. Sierra Springs is the only bottling company that he trusts. At one point he finds someone with Sierra Springs, but they don’t see its value; they taunt him and pour it out on the ground.
During his three day stay in Mexico, Monk drinks no water. Everyone tries to persuade him that the other brands are just as good, but he knows the truth. No other water can satisfy him.
Can you see the parallel?
There are many false religions – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Pantheism, and Buddhism, just to name a few. They knock on your door, they quote their books to you, and they try to win you over to their side. But we cannot be fooled. We have tasted of the only pure and satisfying water, and we know that no other can quench our thirst.
When the world looks at us, they’re confused. They don’t understand why the Bible means so much to us, or why we are so “intolerant” of other religions. They mock us and threaten to torture us, but still we must hold fast. Even if they take away all that we own, they cannot take away the hope that we have in Christ.
Monk would rather die from lack of Sierra Springs than seek satisfaction from any other brand.
Would you rather die for your faith than turn aside to false religions?
Read your Bible. Immerse yourself in it. Consume pure water. Grow in your love for Christ. And stay strong in your faith.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Hard Work Never Hurt Nobody

         Greetings! Goodness, it feels like I haven’t posted in forever – when in reality, it’s only been a week. ;) I guess I just miss you guys.
Just as a side note, I know that my post title technically isn’t true, but I’m in a weird mood, and that is what I want to call it. So deal with it.
Now that we’re through with the preliminaries, I have something to tell you.
I am an impatient person.
Yes, dear friend, you heard me right. Riah is impatient. I like things to be done promptly, “quickly and efficiently” as I tell my siblings when they dawdle while picking up toys. It drives me crazy when people move slowly; I like to be swift and complete any given task as soon as possible. I’m also slightly *cough* OCD about things be clean, neat, and in order. Mom will be in the middle of making dinner, and I’ll start putting away ingredients that I think she’s done with – when she’s not. I want things to be tidy, and I want to be places on time. Which, in our family of nine, almost never happens.
This is something I have been aware of for a while, and am trying to control. I mean, really, does it matter if Levi and David take twenty minutes to pick up a handful of toys? Is it going to kill me to leave the salt shaker out until Mom finishes making dinner? No. I just have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter.
But my impatience extends beyond the desire to ‘clean up’ quickly. I can’t tell you how many story plots I have stashed away in a folder, waiting to be written, because I don’t want to take the time to outline them. Seriously. It’s ridiculous. I am a plot-first writer, which means that story ideas come to me naturally, while characters are a little harder for me to create (but certainly not less pleasurable). When I think of a story that I love, I sit down and write as it comes to me. In the end, what I have is a great idea with no PLOT whatsoever. Needless to say, it’s frustrating.
If I just took the time at the beginning, however, to outline my story and figure out what’s going to happen, my books would turn out a lot better. And I know this. But I’m too impatient (and lazy). I don’t want to wait to write this amazing story for weeks while I sweat and bleed trying to figure out all the angles and plot twists. I’d rather write it now (even though I know it would be much more amazing if I worked it out beforehand).
All that being said – my mom sent me a blog post from Desiring God this morning called Lay Aside The Weight Of “Not Feeling Like It”. The Desiring God blog does not often disappoint, and it certainly didn’t today. I would encourage you to read that post; it's short, and well worth the read.
The gist of it is this; we like to take the easy path. We prefer the momentary pleasures that the world offers, rather than working toward the better reward that God promises us. Why exert effort when we don’t have to?
But this life is not about pleasure. It’s about living for Christ and expanding His kingdom, making disciples of all men. And it’s hard. I may write good blog posts, encouraging you to do all unto the glory of God, but I fail. So much of the time. Maybe I sound like I have it all together, but I don’t. I too am broken.
It’s hard to stand firm in sinking sand; in fact, it’s impossible. If you stay in the mire, you will drown. But Christ is our Rock and our Stronghold; through every storm, He will remain steadfast. Cling to Him, and He will hold you up.
I want to encourage you to not be lazy. Don’t put off doing something because you’re “not feeling like it”. Don’t not do something just because you’re too impatient to do it right. God never promised us that life would be easy – but He did promise us a reward that far surpasses all comprehension if we live according to His word. Don't miss out on that gift. Give Him your all.
         After all, hard work never hurt nobody.


       “…God, in great mercy, is showing us everywhere, in things that are just shadows of heavenly realities, that there is a great reward for those who struggle through and persevere (Hebrews 10:32–35). He is reminding us almost everywhere to walk by faith in a promised future and not by the sight of immediate gratification (2 Corinthians 5:7).
      “So today, don’t let “not feeling like it” reign as lord (Romans 6:12). Rather, through it see your Father pointing you to the reward he has planned for all who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). Let it remind you that his call is not to indulgence but endurance.”
~Jon Bloom


Determined not to be lazy (and because I miss my writing dearly), I have begun to outline a new story! I actually came up with the idea a couple of years ago, but am finally going to put it into action. I plan on spending the next couple of months writing a detailed outline, finishing just in time for NaNoWriMo.
I will hopefully post a synopsis for The Dream Tamer in a week or two. :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Psalm 101

Recently, I realized that I was growing negligent in my relationship with God. I wasn’t spending as much time in the Word or in prayer as I knew I ought. I wasn’t putting forth effort to be more like Christ. I had let down my shield and was entertaining thoughts that I normally would have fought against.
In a word, I had grown lazy.
One night, God convicted me of this. I suddenly realized that for the past couple of weeks, I hadn’t been living for anyone but myself. Which, I had long since learned, was a worthless thing to live for. I saw how far I had been drifting, and I asked God to forgive me.
Then I asked Him for a chapter. A verse. Something that would be perfect for where I was at in that moment, that would challenge and convict me. I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on Psalm 101.
And I started crying.

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land,
That they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.

Stay strong, followers and lovers of Christ. Read the Word, fellowship with your Maker, revel in His love, grace, and forgiveness. Believe and be changed. Nothing else in this life is worth it.