June 25, 2017

Rustlings

Rustlings

image copyright neha 2017; https://forgottenmeadows.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/branches/

The evening is quiet and calm,
The gentle wind rustling to and fro.
It moves with purpose, not hurry.
The wind is the breath of the trees-
In… Out… In… Out…
It brings life to the listless night.
The breeze is gentle and calm-Peaceful, but not passive.

Background: One evening I sat on a bench outside of my dorm by myself. The sun had been down for a few hours at that point and the breeze was cool and active. At a first glance in the dark it seemed that things would appear still and lifeless, but I noticed how active the wind was active in the darkness. It seemed to give life to the night. Observing this reminded me of how the Holy Spirit works — “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

 

Greater than Solomon

Greater than Solomon

The Oxalis stricta a weed flower that inspired my poem.

Your rich golden color stands out against a backsplash of green.Too often others observe you as a nuisance,
But this my little friend you are not.
You are a testament to great grace;
A small demonstration of crafted beauty to behold and admire.
If only we would take the time to stop and consider your maker and ours, little yellow flower.

Background: I penned this poem this past summer while sitting on campus as Covenant watching the sunset. I was by myself and as I looked around I noticed a cluster of tiny little yellow flowers. I was mindful that everything I was seeing had been created by God, even this tiny flower. God cares about and crafts the smallest detail of this flower and if He cares about something so small how much more does he care about His children who have been purchased by Jesus’ blood.

Support Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are doing well. I graduated from Covenant College on May 6th, and I am spending my summer working at Covenant. As I move into this new chapter of my life, I am excited to share with you where God is leading me next.

As many of you know, last year I had the opportunity to go to Washington State on a second missions trip to work with Sacred Road Ministries on the Yakama Indian Reservation. On that trip, I learned much about the Yakama people and culture, and since then have had a strong desire to return to the reservation to work with Sacred Road. I was able to save the funds to return my last semester for Spring Break, and I have been accepted as a one year missions intern with Sacred Road beginning in the fall.

In 1855 the Yakama people, along with thirteen other tribes and bands, signed a treaty with the United States government which established the Yakama Reservation at the foot of Mt. Adams in south central Washington State. Since that time the culture, families, and dreams of the Yakama people have steadily disintegrated. Today, individuals and families on the reservation are struggling with lost vision and hope for the future, alcoholism and drug abuse, broken families, neglected and abused children, at-risk teens (30% in White Swan are technically homeless), crime, violence, and suicide.

Sacred Road (www.sacredroadministries.org) is a ministry that enters into this community, believing that the good news of the gospel is powerful and can bring the same life, hope, and change to the Reservation as it does in our own lives. In Isaiah 58, God tells His people that if they “extend themselves” or “pour themselves out” for their needy and oppressed neighbors that He can and will redeem and restore their broken community.

I am more excited for this opportunity than I can put into words! My role will include showing hospitality as I prepare meals for the church, widows, orphans, and other community members, as well as assisting with mercy ministry and youth discipleship. Would you pray I will be able to bless my hosts with gracious interaction and loving service and that the gospel of our great King will be made known throughout the nations? It is so important to me that you pray because without God’s enabling grace and strength all of my efforts are in vain.

In order to be able to go to Yakama by this September, I am praying for God to provide partners who will commit to support me financially.  In addition to financial partners, I am working this summer at Covenant College in order to save money toward my expenses.  This is something that God is calling me to, but something that I cannot do by myself. I want to invite you to partner with me by financially supporting this calling. The total cost for the year is $23,457 or $1,921 a month.

If you would like to give, you can give either online or by check. Gifts can be given on a one time or monthly basis. If you would like to support monthly, you can setup automatic, recurring payments online. If you plan to support monthly by check, please let me know so I can plan accordingly. To give online you can go to:

HaleyDempsey.com/support

If giving online you will need to select my name, “Haley Dempsey,” from the list of options so Sacred Road knows who your support is preferenced for. If you wish to send a check, please include a separate note indicating it’s for Haley Dempsey’s support fund. You can make checks payable and mail to:

Sacred Road Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrah, WA 98933

If you would like to talk to me more about this opportunity in the meantime please feel free to reach out! I would love the opportunity to share my heart with you even more!

In Christ,
Haley Dempsey
Email: HaleyNDempsey@gmail.com

Post-Graduation Plans

With less than a month left in my senior year at Covenant I am excited to share where God is taking me next! Beginning in the fall after graduation I will move to Washington State to work on the Yakama Indian Reservation with Sacred Road Ministries (sacredroadministries.com). Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the reservation on a short term spring break trip with Covenant College. On that trip, I discovered a deep love for the reservation and for the people.

Me and Lucy at Kids Club

One of my roommates Cayla went on that first trip to the Rez. I remember telling her I could see myself living and working with Sacred Road. She just grinned and told me she had already thought of that the day before and just hadn’t said anything about it yet. The kids in a very real way stole my heart. This was especially true of one letter girl I met. Her name is Lucy. She is a creative and talkative little girl who was nine at the time. Though she could not pronounce it, Lucy told me that her Indian name meant “beautiful talking bird.” She added, “…which is good because, you know, I’m beautiful, and I like to talk.” We met the first day at Kids Club and played together the entire week whenever she could come. She loves art and drawing so we spent a lot of time playing with chalk, chalk paint, markers, and crafts. She loved piggy back rides and sitting in my lap during snack/story time.

I remember the flight home at the end of the week and feeling like my heart was still on the Rez. When I got home, I talked about little else but the trip, the kids, the needs, and the ways God was working. My passion for the reservation didn’t die, it became stronger and more articulate. I knew I wanted to return  and serve for a year, but  I did not think that it would be possible soon after graduation. One week when the Granberrys were in town, I was able to spend a lot of time talking with them about coming out as an intern. After discussing budgets and possible jobs, I knew I was going to pursue this. God had put the desire in my heart and has been opening the doors to go ever since.

I was able to save the funds to return to the reservation for spring break this semester. On the trip, I was able to assist Mary Granberry with the same things I will be doing when I arrive as an intern. The trip was especially confirming that the reservation is where I need and want to be. When I go out for the year, my role will be primarily in showing hospitality as I prepare meals for the church, widows, orphans, and other community members. I will also assist with mercy ministry and youth discipleship.

If you would like to know more please feel free to contact me directly. I love sharing my heart and what God is doing on the reservation!

If you are interested in contributing towards my financial support to get to Yakama you can do so at: haleydempsey.com/support

 

Food That Restores

I recently learned that, “the word ‘restaurant’ is a French-coined word that means: food that restores.” As someone who wants to go into the culinary industry, I greatly appreciated this, and it affirmed many of the conclusions I had come to believe about food. I love food, and I love making it, and being at Covenant has changed my perspective of what food is and what my relationship to it should be.

The phrase “food that restores” conveys that there is more to food than we might initially think: food is so much more than calories to be counted. It is, as Dr. Kaufmann puts it, “A foretaste of future glory.” Gathering around a table to eat together is one of the ways that we can affirm the image of God in others and experience humanity to its fullest. You may think that I am just a food enthusiast and have overstated my opinion, but I don’t believe that I have. My hope in this article is to help you to see food differently: I hope you come see it as an opportunity to worship God and to enjoy a foretaste of future glory.

Food plays an important role throughout the Bible. It was eating of the fruit of the tree by which Adam and Eve fell. As Christians, Jesus invites us to come to the Lord’s table – a meal. The Israelites remembered and celebrated the faithfulness and provision of God through feasts throughout the year. Food plays a significant role in the Bible, and it should not be overlooked.

I will be the first to admit that food is broken and that we often do not relate to food as we ought. That is a result of the fall; creation is fallen and food now is not what God originally intended it to be. We struggle with gluttony, food allergies, food that is prepared poorly, food that goes bad, as well as unhealthy foods.. But, even with food, we can see how God created it good, and it is broken now because of the fall. God doesn’t leave it there though. He is working through us to bring at least partial redemption to his creation now and will one day completely redeem and restore all things – including food. Even now when we eat good food we can have a glimpse into the glory that is to come.

In a past BagPipe article (Covenant College’s school news paper), Adrienne Siegenthaler made the comments that, “food is broken…” and  “that food is holy.” I completely agree with her. As Christians we are to love what God loves and hate what he hates, and as we enjoy food, we take pleasure in his creation. We must recognize that food is a gift from God, and He has given us the ability to enjoy that gift through our senses. We enjoy the aesthetic beauty of our food, eating with our eyes first and then proceed to enjoy it through our sense of taste. We can see in Genesis 1 that God looks at His creation and says it is good, and then in Psalm 104:31 that God rejoices in it. When we eat we can glorify God. We see Paul charge the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” As I take a bite of an awesome homemade lasagna, I can thank God for his provision and for the ability to be able to take joy in the taste – and worship in that. While we can and should worship and glorify God in our relationship to food, food also plays a huge role in our relationships with one another.

When you think of your best friends, how did you become so close? You probably spent a good deal time together, but chances are that you shared many meals together. Recently on a Sunday evening at LMPC, Pastor Joe Novenson made the comment, “It’s hard to think you’re not welcome, when someone invites you to their table.” He was speaking in regards to the Lord’s Supper, but the principle applies to our everyday meals as well. People are not just objects. They are human beings made in the image of God, and this means that they are multidimensional: they are creative, rational, social, as well as so many other things. When you sit down to a meal together, you have the opportunity to affirm the image of God in people and help them know that they are valuable. I’m not saying this can only be done around a meal, but it is a common opportunity for everyone. Through this process you build and strengthen relationships.

It is my hope that the next time you sit down to eat, you aren’t solely doing so to sustain your body so that you can function. I hope you consider the good gift that God has given us and praise and thank Him for it. I hope that you are intentional to affirm the image of God in those that you share meals with and assure them that they are valuable. God through food restores our bodies, relationships, and joy in Him.

Spiritual Warfare and Missionary Praxis

(This is a paper that I wrote for my Missionary Methods and Problems class this past semester. My topic on spiritual warfare as well as conversations with friends caused me to wrestle with how I look at spiritual warfare. I hope this paper will help you to wrestle with the topic yourself. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.)

As Christians we are taught that we are participants in a spiritual battle. It is a cosmic battle that is not fought with physical weapons, and we fight an enemy we cannot see. Ephesians 6:12 tell us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Growing up in the West predisposed me to a perspective that, until recently, I hadn’t thought much about. As I have been learning, disagreements exist between Christians around the world regarding what spiritual warfare is and what fighting the powers of darkness looks like.  Eugene Peterson has said well that, “There is a spiritual war in progress, and an all-out moral battle. There is evil and cruelty, unhappiness and illness. There is superstition and ignorance, brutality and pain. God is in continuous and energetic battle against all of it. God is for life and against death. God is for love and against hate. God is for hope and against despair. God is for heaven and against hell. There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square foot of space is contested.”

What I am going to address are the different beliefs regarding how spiritual warfare manifests itself  in the physical world and how Christians, especially missionaries, should engage in spiritual warfare.
I have learned that my North American Reformed Christianity has tended towards a perspective that separates the physical and spiritual realms. Paul Hiebert in his own writings calls this separation the “excluded middle.” He explains how those who fall into this trap do not see any interaction between the physical and spiritual worlds. Things such as logic and science are distinct from the supernatural and miraculous which are  often experienced in other cultures. Nam Shin Park in his article Hermeneutics and Spiritual Warfare summarizes Paul Hiebert’s viewpoint on what contributed to the change in perspective of the Church. He writes, “ …the viewpoint of the Church regarding spiritual warfare was dramatically changed by the influences of the Enlightenment and modern dualism, which brought separation between the supernatural or spiritual world and the natural world… These two realms are quite distinct and are not involved with each other.”

Philip Jenkins discusses how North American Christians often view Eph. 6:12 as “superstition and irrelevant” but he says, “However superstitious and irrelevant it appears to mainstream Northern Christians, the passage makes wonderful sense in most of Africa as it does for believers in Latin America or East Asia.” My own perspective has tended toward viewing spiritual warfare as an internal struggle and fight and has excluded how demonic warfare against God is manifested in the physical world.
Problems arise when missionaries from a Western context with a perspective like mine travel to other cultural contexts and are confronted with the reality of supernatural powers at work through systems, false religions, and demonization. Because of their perspective they have no way of understanding or explaining what is happening. More often than not, these missionaries will explain these instances away as being imagined or happenstance. Michael Pocock summarizes this well, “The orientation of Western missionaries was less supernatural than the worldview of those they were trying to reach… They believed that all difficulties stemming from what they regarded as either wrong belief and practice or possibly demons, would disappear when new converts realized they were fearful of forces that did not exist or played a minor role in life.”

Critiques from the non-western world can help teach and broaden the Western understanding of spiritual warfare. Here I will look at and analyze two contrasting views which critique the Western and majority world perspective on spiritual warfare. This will demonstrate ways other Christians believe spiritual warfare is manifested and engaged. The first perspective that I want to examine is that of Nabeel T. Jabbour, an Egyptian Christian. In his work entitled, An Unseen Reality, Jabbour discusses five instances in which Satan has influence in the world. These include demonization, cultures, laws and basic beliefs, structures of power, and thought life. Before discussing these, Jabbour emphasises the fact that the devil has already been defeated by Christ Jesus and will be completely destroyed at Christ’s second coming. This is important to keep in mind as we look at what I think are three of the most important instances which Jabbour brings out. These are Satan’s work through demonization, cultures, and laws and basic beliefs.

A summary of Jabbour’s thoughts regarding demonization is that he believes in the casting out of demons, but he emphasizes “power with truth encounters” in which the glory of God is demonstrated through the event and the purpose is not the amazement of the people around. An overview of his position regarding Satan’s work in cultures is that, “This is what the Devil is set on doing—slowly polluting every culture until humanity is destroyed without its realization or resistance.” His suggestions for Christians is that we be circumspect and watchful, but not to the point that we become incapacitated by fear and ineffective to reach our culture. Finally, Satan’s third influence in the world is that laws, which should be good boundaries to protect us, can be inadequate as well as formed because of evil intentions.

Jabbour concludes all of this by encouraging Christians to take seriously the schemes and plots of the devil, but as we do, to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, because he has given us the power to overcome the evil one. At the end of the article, he charges Christians to “be careful to put on the whole armor of God and close firmly every door and window against our enemy.” He also encourages Christians saying, “As you read your Bible, underline the passages that help you to gaze at God and only glance at the Devil.”

A second perspective I am going to look at is that of false religions as a form of spiritual warfare that Satan uses to keep humanity captive. One example of this is folk Islam. Rick Love states that, “More than three-fourths of the Muslim world, of approximately 800 million people, are folk Muslims, who are doctrinally Muslim but in practice are animists. Folk Muslims confess Allah, but worship spirits. They are more concerned with magic then they are about Muhammad.” Millions of people are ensnared in fear to pagan ritualist practices. Love observes that, “Because they live in a world of magic and miracles, they are not always awestruck by demonstrations of God’s power. On the other hand, if we demonstrate no power they are even less impressed!” In this instance of Folk Islam, Richard Love suggests that power encounters are necessary in evangelism, not solely truth encounters. Rick Love defines a power encounter as, “the demonstration of God’s power, through God’s servants, over the work of Satan and demons, based on the work of Christ, the Great Commission and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, resulting in the salvation of the lost, the upbuilding of the Body and the glory of God.” Love deliberately mentions that he does not believe that power encounters are the key to winning the Folk Muslims to Christ, but he most certainly believes that these demonstrations of power, especially through healing and exorcism, should be practiced in evangelization. Rick Love concludes his discussion by saying, “Power encounter is not the only key to reaching the hearts of Folk Muslims, but it needs to be an essential factor to effectively evangelize Folk Muslims and plant the Church of Jesus Christ in their midst.”

Both of these positions challenge me to expand my Reformed perspective that miracles are not performed today and that the devil and his demons are inactive in our world today. I do not agree with everything both authors have to offer, but I can glean and grow from their understanding. I agree with much of Jabbour’s perspective because of his emphasis on Christ’s victory over the devil and the ultimate goal of the glory of God. I am reminded of Colossians 2:15, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Although Jesus has conquered Satan, we experience the “now and not yet” of this truth. Satan knows he will ultimately be conquered, but the effects of mankind’s fall have not yet been completely eradicated and will not be until Jesus returns again. Until then, the devil, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” As Christians we are called to wage war against the devil and push back the kingdom of darkness. Paul urges the church at Ephesus to, Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” These positions have helped me see the deficiencies of my own tradition: that God is not able to work powerfully through his people, my tendency toward self-reliance rather than dependence on God to work in and through me, and that Satan is at work both in overt and subtle ways.


I have learned that the despite the Western tendency to think of the spiritual world as superstitious, non-existent, or irrelevant, the Bible says a lot about this realm and how we are to engage in this spiritual battle. It started in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. The serpent tempted Eve and after she and Adam fell, God cursed all of them. In Genesis 3:15 God curses the serpent saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring, he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and then tried to shift the blame off of themselves. They were not deserving of any favor from God and yet, even in his curse of the serpent, he gave a promise to Adam and Eve. God said there would be antagonism and animosity between the offspring of Even and the serpent, but despite being struck by the serpent, the seed of Eve would ultimately crush and destroy the serpent, the devil. Hebrews 2 deals with Jesus being the founder of salvation by bearing our death for us. Hebrews 2:14 continues by saying, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” This verse shows us how Jesus became a human and experienced the same things we experience. He did all of this so that, in His death, He could destroy and conquer the devil. When Jesus came and died on the cross, it appeared as though Satan has won. But when Jesus was raised from the dead, he conquered sin, death, and the devil. This gives us hope in resisting the devil because we know that he is already defeated and that with Christ we are victorious. Also, because we are in Christ, he has given us the Holy Spirit who enables us  to resist sin and overcome Satan.


One thing we know for sure is that “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Paul gives us insight into what our armor and weapons are in Ephesians 6 when he charges us to, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” We engage in spiritual warfare with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer. As Paul concludes the book and chapter 6 of Ephesians by exhorting the church the stand firm, but to do so not in their own strength, but the Lord’s. All of these weapons that Paul lists in the passage are God-centered and therefore require constant dependence upon God. The views held by Nabeel T. Jabbour and Rick Love demonstrate this dependence. Christians have applied these truths in different ways throughout church history, but what we all can learn is that the discussion and engagement in spiritual warfare is something that can only be engaged and overcome by the power of God.

The lack of knowledge and understanding Western missionaries have of the spiritual battles they are stepping into must be addressed. If it is not, they will not be able to adequately provide the answers the gospel gives to the questions of evil, pain, and suffering local people are asking. There are a variety of approaches that missionaries can and will use upon encountering these problems. The first is that they will write these encounters off as non-existent spirits and therefore not declare Jesus Christ as the one who is victorious and more powerful than the forces of darkness. As a result people will return to their former way of life to solve their problems. Another possible response is “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare” which Scott Moreau defines as, “praying against territorial spirits, seeking to ‘map’ their strategies over given locations by discerning their names and what they use to keep people in bondage, and then binding them so that evangelism may go unhindered.” This response does not have much biblical support. It focuses on actively finding, mapping, and naming demons and engaging them through prayer and power encounter when there are no biblical examples of these activities for Christians to follow. Rather we are called to “stand firm” under the attacks of the evil one not seek out and engage. To do so is presumptuous of the power that demons possess. Craig Keener offers another response for a way to engage saying, “If by spiritual warfare we mean particular prayer practices such as “casting down” heavenly powers, we have little biblical warrant. If, however, we mean by spiritual warfare what the image means in the New Testament, missions and the Christian life are spiritual warfare. This spiritual battle includes but is not limited to prayer.” Keener is saying that power encounters are not the only form of spiritual warfare. Rather, he is saying spiritual warfare takes place in the everyday life of the believer as well as the extraordinary.

As much as Christians would like there to be a one-size-fits-all answer regarding what to believe about spiritual warfare, there is none. Despite this, we can see that spiritual warfare is real, and it’s important to consider all that the Bible says on the subject and to be prepared for the battle. Missionaries need to be aware of the culture they are entering and what that culture believes in regards to the spiritual realm. They should prayerfully evaluate their own positions regarding the topic and be teachable. The scripture plays a huge role as missionaries approach this topic of spiritual warfare. The Bible teaches us who God is and how we are to to live, as well as how how to engage the world in a gospel-driven way. This issue is one in which it’s easy to gain a lot of head knowledge, but that is more difficult to internalize. It requires the grace of God to teach and grow us as does all of our Christian life. May we be ever teachable in this area and in every area. 

Resources:

  1. Hiebert, Paul. Spiritual Warfare and Worldview. Web. Nov 13, 2015.
  2. Hiebert, Paul G. “The Flaw Of the Excluded Middle.” Missiology 10.1 (1982): 43.ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 4. 2015.
  3. Shin Park. 2011. “Hermeneutics and Spiritual Warfare” Didaskalia (Otlerburne, Man.(2011): 85-103. ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials. Web. 4 Nov 2015.
  4. Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. 2002.New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. Pocock, Michael. The Changing Face of World Missions Chapter 7. (197) (Grand Rapids:Baker Academic, 2005)
  6. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (20-59) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  7. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (33) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  8. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (40-41) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  9. Jabbour, Nabeel T. The Unseen Reality: A panoramic View of Spiritual Warfare (67) (Singapore: Navpres, 1995)
  10. Love, Rick “Power Encounter Among Folk Muslims: An Essential Key of the Kingdom,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (193) (1996).
  11. Love, Rick “Power Encounter Among Folk Muslims: An Essential Key of the Kingdom,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (194) (1996).
  12. Love, Rick. Muslims, Magic and the Kingdom of God: Church Planting Among Folk Muslims. (113). (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2000) Web. Dec. 03, 2015.
  13. Love, Rick “Power Encounter Among Folk Muslims: An Essential Key of the Kingdom,” International Journal of Frontier Missions (195) (1996).
  14. 1 Peter 5:8, ESV
  15. Ephesians 6:11, ESV
  16. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, ESV
  17. Lawless, Chuck. Spiritual Warfare and Missions. (37) Web. Nov. 13, 2015.
  18. Keener, Craig. Paul’s Missionary Method. (107) Web. Dec. 06, 2015. Site: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2013/02/Keener-chapter-from-Pauls-Missionary-Methods-2.pdf

 

A Philosophy of Work by Haley Dempsey

(Last year I was challenged with the idea of what it means to work hard, and even wrote a blog post about it, but recently I have been thinking about it again in a more specific way. The last few weeks I have been working on an article on the topic for our school news paper  but also wanted to share it with you all in the hopes that it would encourage you and cause a deep reflection on how you are living your own life.)

Have you ever heard someone talk about what it means to work hard or to have a good work ethic? Having a conversation about this topic over the summer prompted me to ask myself two questions. The first was, “What does it mean to work hard?” and the second was, “What should be my motive for the things that I do?” Working hard is often encouraged, but I believe that many of us are still missing the mark. Why? Because we are not working to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

We have often heard this verse, and others similar to it, used to spur us to do our best in all that we do. Some of you reading this may be wondering why it even matters to work hard instead of aiming to just get by. It matters because the Bible says we are to do everything as unto the Lord.

I have struggled with not wanting to do my best in the things that I do, whether it be in my classes, in basketball practice, or at work, and I have failed. I have had to be reminded of Colossians 3:23-24 which says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

What does it mean to work hard? It means to go the extra mile; it means that we do the right thing even when it is inconvenient or no one else is around. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” We should work as if He has asked us to do those things Himself. These verses I have mentioned do apply to us doing our best in everything, but they can be taken a step further.

We tend to grasp the application of these verses to work hard, but we often miss what our motivation should be for doing this. As fallen human beings we tend to seek our own satisfaction, self-promotion, and prestige in our work, or we do it because we have to. We hear, “Whatever you do, work heartily” but we forget the part that says, “As for the Lord” and “You are serving the Lord Christ.” The reason it is wrong to not work for God’s glory is because when we strive for our own selfish ambitions we rob God of his glory.

Whether you are an athlete on the basketball court, or a student pursuing academic accomplishments, excellence is not the end goal. God requires more of us. Our goal should be to bring God the glory, praise, and honor that is due to him. As Christians, we should be setting an example of excellence because we desire to do all that we do to the honor of our Lord and Savior.

I want to challenge each one of us to do everything as unto Him. Do your homework to the glory of God. Play sports to the glory of God. Yes, even clean toilets to the glory of God. He is our Lord, Creator, and Savior and He deserves everything that we have. Our hearts should be set on not our own will, desires, and pleasures, but on God’s. Let us be a people who seek to please Him.

 

“Remember the Sabbath day, to Keep it Holy.”

tc-fourA few weeks ago I was killing some time with my brothers before heading over to a friends church we often attend Sunday evenings when I got a text from my boss. He asked me if I was willing and able to come in and work for a couple of hours that day. I knew I didn’t have to and he certainly wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t; to be honest I love my job and wouldn’t have mind actually doing the work. We were already ready for church and out of the house, but I would still have been able to go to work if I was willing to. In that instance in just a small way I was tested and reaffirmed of my conviction that I cannot and should not work on the Lord’s Day.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the  Lord  your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the  Lord  made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the  Lord  blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” -Exodus 20:8-11

I think that the shorter catechism has defined and captured what my thoughts are on the Lord’s Day very well. Here are questions from the catechism that are relevant to this topic.

Shorter Catechism Questions 58, 60-62

Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day.

The strongest reasons why I don’t believe I should work on the Lord’s Day is because God has made the sabbath holy (set apart) and a day to worship him both publicly and privately.  I don’t believe I should be involved in my regular weekly duties -unless it is absolutely necessary and out of mercy- but be focused on the Lord.

When I told my Dad about my thoughts on this he said if I am going to believe something I need to always stand by my convictions. He shared a verse from Psalm 15 that he had read: “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;” That means if a person says that are going to do something (or has a conviction about something) they will stand by it, even if it means they suffer misfortune for their decision. This is one things that I had thought about and was convicted of in the past, but has become something that I have been really thinking about the last few weeks. I am convicted that I should not work on the Lord’s Day and that is something I will stand by (by God’s grace), as the verse says, to my own hurt. I hope this is an encouragement to you and gives you something to think about! Please share your thoughts on working on the Sundays or any questions you may have.

Complete in Thee Hymn

This past Wednesday I was at church and we opened the service singing this hymn called “Complete in Thee.” I immediately loved the hymn and looked it up to listen to when I got home. I have been listening to it non-stop since Wednesday night. I pray it is an encouragement and blessing to you. I’m sure it will become one of your favorites and it has mine! (The lyrics are below the video.)

Complete in Thee Lyrics:
Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Chorus

Complete in Thee—each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Chorus

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

Chorus

Meet the Author

Hey Everyone,

Today I thought I would do something a little different than what I usually write and let y’all get to know me a little bit! I just wrote 25 random facts about me so you can get an idea of the girl behind the blog post. 🙂 If you see a shared interest comment and let me know!

1. I wear reading glasses, but I wear them all the time.
2. I have a very diverse taste in music: everything from Casting Crowns, Joshua Radin, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift, instrumental hymns, Alabama, Chicago, Frank Sinatra, etc. 😀 *I told you it was diverse*
3. My favorite color is eletric blue.
4. I actually enjoy writing and never minded writing research papers in school.
5. Some of my favorite books of the Bible are Psalms, James, Ruth, and 1 & 2 Samuel.
6. My favorite place to go on vacation is Savannah, GA
7. I love listening to and watching thunder storms.
8. If I could go anywhere in the world I would want to visit Scotland
9. My favorite snack is Ritz Crackers (they are really good with Nutella on them!)
10. If I could I would wear jeans, cowgirl boots, and a t-shirt or plaid shirt every day. 🙂
12. I do web design
13. I was homeschooled for all of high school using the A Beka Academy video curriculum
14. I am facinated by Civil War, WW1, and WW2 history as well as ancient egyption and myan history.
15. Some of my favorite movies include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibiblity, Remember the Titants,  Gods and Generals, The Sound of Music, Rocky IV, Hoosiers, and My Fair Lady.
16. I’m not sure of the exact date I was saved but it was when I was about 8 or 9 years old.
17. I hate seeing or hearing about medical things (blood, body fluids, needles, etc.)
18.  I am trying to teach myself to play the guitar.
19.  I am a big reader
20.  Some of my favorite books are: The Missionary Call, Heaven Taken by Storm, The Soul Winner, Hearts of Fire, The Crown and Covenant Series, Do Hard Things, and Peace Child
21. Most people know I play basketball, but I did actually play volleyball in the 8th and 9th grades. I probably would have continued if I had not hurt my knee in a game.
22. I like playing card games: particularly lier and rummy (probably the only two card games I know anyway.) Oh, and Uno! 🙂 I usually do prefer card games though over board games. It depends.
23. My favorite meal would consist of country fried steak, oakra, mac & cheese, and sweet tea (that’s not the most healthy meal and I don’t eat it often, but when I do it is good!)
24. There is no #11 on this list, but because I didn’t feel like changing all of then after #10 so I didn’t. Did you notice until now?
25. The only bracelets I ever wear are hair bands. 🙂

I know some of the things on that list are pretty random, but I do hope it helps you to know where I’m coming from and am just an 18 year old girl sharing my thoughts and I go through my Christian life.