Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 Ways to Brighten Someone's Day

1. Send a handwritten note.
2. Make cookies.
3. Invite to watch a movie together.
4. Offer to run an errand.
5. Go on a shopping trip together.
6. Give a fruit basket.
7. Buy a card with sound.
8. Get ice cream.
9. Give genuine, sincere compliments.
10. Smile!

The most important things in life are not things... they're people!  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Isaiah 43

One of the most beautiful chapters I've ever read is Isaiah 43.  It is an invitation to renew fellowship with God, a reminder of His protection, and a picture of our relationship with Him.  Grab your Bible or click here to read it online.  It was a blessing to me, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Verse Hunting Online

It's hard to copy down an entire Psalm when your computer doesn't have E-Sword!  Hand-typing Scripture enhances typing skills, but is extremely time consuming.  It's especially hard when you know a few key words but can't remember the exact reference.  If you're ever online at a computer without a Bible search tool already downloaded, consider visiting these sites:





Monday, September 20, 2010

Blog Monetization

   I know this is random, but I've found a nice link affiliate program I've started to use on my blog.  I've shopped around and looked into various ways to monetize a blog, and this one is my favorite.  I don't like the idea of having adds all over my page (it's kind of tacky if you ask me), so VigLink is the perfect solution!  It simply links to your blog and nobody will even know it's there!  VigLink is networked to a large number of merchants from which you have opportunity to make a commission.  It's a neat way to earn a little something off your website, and it doesn't have to be by plastering pop-ups and adds all over your page.  If you have a blog, give VigLink a try!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Where Emotions Come From

To someone who only believes in the physical world, emotions are chemical reactions in your body.  To someone who only believes in the spiritual world, emotions are the very soul of your being.  Where do emotions really come from?  Can we control them?

The truth is, you've never had an emotion that didn't start as a thought.  If you're sitting in the line at the drive-thru, you have the opportunity to choose whether you're going to be grumpy or cheerful.  What makes the difference?  Consider the following examples:

1. You look at your watch every five seconds, mentally counting how much time you could have saved by going inside to order your food.  The five cars in front of you don't seem interested in moving through in a timely manner, as do the fast food employees not appear to have any concept of the meaning of the term "FAST" food.  You begin wondering if they've already put your food in a bag; has it been sitting there getting cold this whole time?  Were the fries cold to begin with?  Did they forget the fries altogether?

2.  The line is taking longer today, but you left a little early to allow for error.  After all, those poor employees can't help it if the whole town shows up at their door step for lunch!  You pop in a CD to keep your mind occupied.  A butterfly floats around your car.  The car in front of you has a hilarious bumper sticker.  You're playing your favorite song.  Lunch sounds more and more delicious every moment!

So... in the first paragraph you're irritated and impatient, and in the second one you're happy and carefree.  The scenarios are exactly the same.  Why was #1 so different than #2?  The thoughts that flew around in your head changed everything.  If we are fully capable of choosing to be joyful, why don't we?  It is the same reason why we sin: we choose to.  It is only natural to be negative minded, which is why we need supernatural help to guide our thoughts.

Philippians 4:8 is a good place to start.  We're supposed to think upon things that are pure, honest, lovely, and of good report; else thoughts of selfishness, anger, and self-pity will flood our mind instead, creating emotions like unnecessary discouragement and bitterness.  The Word of God has the answer to the conflict within, and it begins with changing your mindset from life's unfairness to God's faithfulness.  Instead of looking earthward (horizontally), look heavenward (vertically).  You will be pleasantly surprised how much happier you will be by simply looking on the bright side.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Passion and Purity

Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's ControlEvery time I think I've waited long enough to get married, I think about Jim and Elisabeth Elliot's courtship!  This book is an amazing account of their journey to marriage, with all its joy and sorrow.  Elisabeth candidly recounts their victories and regrets while courting, as well as every thought and emotion that swept her mind.

I LOVE this book!!

Even if you're not in a relationship, (or already married) you need to read this.  Elisabeth Elliot went through enough in her extended courtship to be a blessing to any young lady that deals with loneliness, insecurity, broken trust, or impatience.  Be blessed by this account of a lady who really does know how you feel.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Send Someone a Ray of Sunshine

One of the simple joys in life is getting an unexpected note in the mail.  Mailing notes for anything besides birthday and Christmas is almost extinct, but the sheer thrill of receiving a letter is not.  As a poor college student, I have to carefully gauge my spending money, even that which is used for stamps and stationery.  An easy solution: e-cards! 

Hallmark has a vast e-card selection, quite a few of which are free.  I encourage you to send a few and see if you like the system.  If you find you've discovered your new favorite way of sending a ray of sunshine, consider purchasing a year's subscription for $10 (as opposed to $1 each).  My favorite Hallmark e-cards to send and receive are Hoops and Yoyo!

It has been said that a card is the biggest little thing you can do for someone.  I recommend being an encouragement to someone when you're feeling down, because in lifting someone else up we become encouraged.  E-cards aren't the only way to send a smile, but I enjoy it and hope you'll give it a shot, too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Great is Thy Faithfulness

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:21-23

I love this passage; it is filled with hope and healing for the broken spirit.  But have you read the verses before verse 21?  They're depressing!

Lamentations 3:1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.
Lamentations 3:2 He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.

Lamentations 3:3 Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.
Lamentations 3:4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.
Lamentations 3:5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.
Lamentations 3:6 He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.
Lamentations 3:7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.
Lamentations 3:8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.
Lamentations 3:9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:10 He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.
Lamentations 3:11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate.
Lamentations 3:12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.
Lamentations 3:13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.
Lamentations 3:14 I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
Lamentations 3:15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.
Lamentations 3:16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
Lamentations 3:17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.
Lamentations 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:
Lamentations 3:19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
Lamentations 3:20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

Have you ever felt like this?  I have!  Verses 21-23 wouldn't be half as beautiful and refreshing without the artfully but painfully written verses previous.  After taking in verse 1-20, we see the remainder of the passage in a whole new light:

Lamentations 3:21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
Lamentations 3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Wait a minute... at first Jeremiah is lamenting over the affiction that apparently God has led him to, then suddenly begins rejoicing over His faithfulness.  Isn't this kind of strange?  Why would God allow all of these awful things to happen to Jeremiah?  Why would Jeremiah go from "he shutteth out my prayer" one minute to "his compassions fail not" the next?

My view of God was brought back into focus when I took a closer look at these verses.  We are wicked sinners and deserve nothing better than the sufferings of verses 1-20.  In fact, we not only deserve this, but eternity in Hell, too.  It is only by God's infinite mercies that we are spared of our rightful wages.  I think back to a time in my life when things were so bad, I felt like I could have written verses 1-20; then I think of what the justice of God would have required me to pay, had it not been for Calvary.  There, God showed His never-ending mercy and amazing grace when Jesus bore the punishment for all my sin and laid my every burden and heartache upon Himself. 

God deals with us, not according to what we deserve, but according to his faithfulness.  Trials are no fun, but are a cakewalk when we compare them to what we really deserve.  We have done nothing to merit the favor of God, yet He continues to bless us out of the abundance of His tender mercies.  He is so patient with us, isn't He?  It is because of His never-failing compassions we are not consumed.  Great is His faithfulness!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

America in Crimson Red

This book was required reading for one of my classes last year, but it was amazing!  America In Crimson Red: The Baptist History Of America gives little-known facts about our nation's history.  After this read, you will never view Baptists quite the same way again!

Coming from a varied church background, I never really knew what it meant to be Baptist until I studied it at college.  Now I'm a die-hard! =)  Another great pick is Why Baptist? which deals with Baptist distinctives.  Whether you're Baptist or not, these two books are a great addition to your personal library.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Heavenly Persuasions

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things that are unseen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

-II Corinthians 4:17-18

What keeps us going when nothing else does?  Heavenly persuasions!  God tells us here that the hurt and rejection we feel in life is light affliction.  Imagine how heavier it would feel if you carried the burden all by yourself.  God is the One carrying you through, and He keeps you going when the going gets rough.

All pain is temporary.  The Bible expresses it as "but for a moment" (verse 17).  Although suffering seems to last forever, it doesn't.  To a child, a bee sting is traumatizing because he's never been stung before; we as adults know from experience that the pain will pass, therefore we calmly dress it with baking soda and wait it out.  Every trial we face terrifies us because it is uncharted waters, but we must remember that each one is only temporary.

Remember, for every cross there is a crown.  Any affliction we might face "worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (verse 17).  In other words, it will be worth it all when we see Jesus!  What a good deal: our affliction is actually relatively light; it won't last forever; and by enduring with patience, we lay up treasures that will last forever!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Way Up is Down

A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Proverbs 29:23

God has His own humorous way of humbling me.  Just this week I accidentally barged in two different places I was not supposed to be, and it was completely embarrassing!  First, I interrupted Heartland's traveling groups meeting (which I honest to goodness thought was adjourned!).  Secondly, I stormed into the dorm room that was mine last year and had to apologize to a bewildered freshman who was probably wondering why on earth I came into her room without knocking.  Even worse, I had already done the same thing three times that week!  The grand finale: on the way down the stairs I tripped and stumbled headlong into the wall.

Embarrassing moments are not necessarily God's sole means of keeping us humble, but they do wonders!  It's been well said, "The way up is down."  God designed us to stay small in our own eyes, while He lifts us up.  Because God never meant for us to exalt ourselves, He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  We must be cautious when we are publicly recognized, lest we exalt ourselves in our hearts.  Being humble is not having "low self-esteem," but a high esteem for God.  Stay "little in thine own sight" (I Samuel 15:17) and He will exalt you in due time (I Peter 5:6).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quote: Finding God

"Finding God does not mean building a house in a land of no storms, but building a house that no storm can destroy."
IFBKJV.com Quotes and Quips

Friday, September 3, 2010

Weather and the Bible

What gives a snowflake its shape?  What is solar wind?  Even if you're not a science geek, you will understand and enjoy Weather and the Bible.  Each tid-bit of information is short and sweet, so even people with the attention span the length of a gnat (like me!) can appreciate it.  I enjoy this book as leisurely reading, but it can also be used to supplement a homeschool curriculum or gift basket.  It's fun to read and is void of all the "millions of years ago" junk.  Finally, the weather from a biblical perspective!

I'm sure you can get this book from any Christian bookstore, but if you purchase it through this link, I will get a small commission.  I say that with every book, I know, but if I fail to mention it I almost feel guilty for trying to be sneaky and make money off of you without telling you.  I just like to give you a heads up, in case you actually did want to buy it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Psalm 4:5

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.
Psalm 4:5

Have you ever had to give up something you wanted very badly, for the sake of another or for the greater good?  I was thrust into this my freshman year of college, and I was not happy about it.  I had something very dear to my heart taken from me, a little at a time at first, and finally altogether...for an entire summer.  I knew this happening was God's will, but it didn't make the sacrifice any easier.  Near the end of the summer, I stumbled across Psalm 4:5, and it totally changed my perspective.

Unless you're a new reader, you've probably figured out what scenario I'm talking about.  The sacrifice I was called upon to make was Tim.  After our school asked him to be on GloryBound, he traveled every couple of weekends to churches in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas.  Soon enough the real test came, and he traveled the entire East Coast with GloryBound.  That summer was one of the hardest times in my entire life.

We are all asked to make difficult sacrifices.  Why does God always ask us to sacrifice our most precious possessions?  Abraham must have thought the same thing.  Perhaps it is to bring us to the realization that those things we call "ours" aren't really ours to begin with -- they are God's.  Perhaps it is to teach us to rely on God for joy and strength, instead of leaning on the spirituality of another.  Whatever the case may be, God assures us in Psalm 4 that even though offering sacrifices of righteousness is never easy, it's always worth it.

At a youth conference I heard a simple quote, "Brag on God, do what's right, and things will get better."  Even if you are in the middle of a painful circumstance, you have the capability to honor God in your speech and actions.  It is a sacrifice, but God calls it righteousness (Psalm 4:5).  That's motivation enough for me to at least try to do obey Him in the middle of a trial. 

The second part of the verse instructs us to put our trust in the Lord, which isn't exactly easy when the ground is crumbling underneath your feet.  It's so easy to try and put matters into our own hands, but is that a realistic aspiration?  Even if you could control your situation, there's nothing you can do that God can't do better!  Psalm 118:8 says blatantly, "It is better to put trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."  The greatest part about it all is, it's worth the sacrifice!  Here's how it works:

Offer sacrifices of righteousness + put your trust in the Lord = Thou hast put GLADNESS in my heart!

That's right, someday all those tears are going to come back as joy (Psalm 126:2, 5-6).  Sacrificing his beloved son was not what Abraham bargained for, but was certainly worth it.  Abraham experienced first-hand how God provides for us and he even got Issac back, unharmed!  Oftentimes God asks us to sacrifice in order to give us something better.  Tim was more prepared for the ministry at the end of the summer than he was at the beginning.  He learned countless lessons during the summer he couldn't have at home, and to me, that's worth it.

If you see yourself approaching a difficult time or find yourself smack dab in the middle of a storm, you might discover that you must make a few sacrifices.  Understand that God has everything under perfect control, and that you can rest in Him while you wait on Him.  Things will get better, and it will be worth it.

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