October 24, 2010

The Focal Point

Does it ever seem like our lives get so busy that we loose sight of our focal point? Or, you know that your goal is to be fully dedicated to the Lord, but you just can't seem to get there? As Christians, Christ should be the center of our lives...but it seems that some days (or weeks...or months) get so filled up with other things that our focus gets blurred.

I think that so many times it's easy to loose sight of the Lord and what He has planned for us. Other things become "distractions", and even though these things may not be bad they can make us loose sight of our goal.

Right now I encourage you to not loose sight of your life focus, Jesus Christ. He will make our lives truly beautiful if He is our love...our goal...our focus.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2

October 16, 2010

Fall Is...

...crisp, cool air and the sun shining through the trees

...picking juicy, red apples

...trail rides on dirt paths surrounded by the colors of autumn

...the smell of fresh hay stacked in the barn loft

...a time to admire God's beautiful creation

...bright, colorful pumpkins that add that perfect fall touch

...crunchy leaves that leave the ground in a blanket of brown, orange, and red

...you fill in the blank...what is fall to you?

"This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

October 11, 2010

Bliss Photo Challenge - Pets

Here are some photos for the Bliss photo challenge....I couldn't decided on just one!

One of our kittens

Bentley our Australian Shepherd (he's the best dog ever!)

Misty, my sister's Shetland pony

Ok, I have a question...does anyone know of an easy way to add a watermark to your photos? I had to add all of mine by typing in onto each photo using Picasa 3. Anyone know of a quicker way or program? Any suggestions are welcome!

October 6, 2010

Standing Strong for the Lord in Your Youth

These years of our youth are so important, and God’s desire for us is that we use them for His glory. He wants us to shine for Him in this world of darkness. Philippians 2:15 says, “So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe.” God is looking for people who want to serve Him. People who want to be strong for Him through the years of their youth. People who are committed to being a dedicated servant. People who are bright lights in this world of darkness.

But can God really use me in my teen years? I think that in today’s world, the ability of a teen fully dedicated to God has been underestimated. These years of our youth are some of the most important years of our life, but in this generation so many teens are wasting this precious time. People see the teen years as years of rebellion and living for self...but they don't have to be. If you look in the Scriptures, there are many places that show us examples of young people who were willing to stand up for the Lord and follow Him no matter the cost. Some of the examples that I have found are David, Jeremiah, Timothy, Mary the mother of Jesus, Daniel, Esther, and Joseph. These young men and women were willing to stand up for what the world said was foolish, and God rewarded them for giving Him their all.

This morning when I was doing my devotions I started reading Jeremiah, and the calling of Jeremiah especially stood out to me.  Jeremiah 1:6-8 says:
"Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
So then it got me wondering, how old was Jeremiah when God called him? So I decided to search it online and see what I found. No one knows exactly how old he was, but some say he was probably between 13 and 17 years old, others say he was about 20. But still, God called him, a youth, to be a prophet. That was a huge job! God didn’t look for someone who was highly educated, experienced, and older, He called Jeremiah. And just as He called Jeremiah, He calls to each of us to be willing to take that step of faith. “Youth and inexperience do not disqualify when God calls; He equips and sustains those He commissions.” (footnote on Jeremiah 1:7, NIV Study Bible).

So we’ve seen that God called young men and women in the Bible to serve Him, but does He still call today? Just take a look around you. This world is desperately in need of youth who are willing to stand for the truth and be strong for the Lord. So many teens are wasting these years for things that, in the eternal light of things, will never really matter. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Other people are watching the way you live, the conversations you have, the way you interact with others, as well as your faith. Someone who is totally dedicated to the Lord isn’t someone who blends in with everyone else, they stand out as one who is different than the world. Don’t think that just because you are young, God won’t use you. Make it your personal goal to shine for the Lord in all that you do.

One thing that I struggle with in this area is just finding what areas I can serve the Lord in. I want to be totally dedicated to Him, but sometimes it’s hard to find a place where I can serve Him with all my heart. I was listening to a Bright Lights leaders CD a couple weeks ago, and Sarah Mally made some really good points. As Christians, all of us are called to ministry, but sometimes it can be hard to find what ministry the Lord has called us to. But there are four different ministries that all Christians are called to, and one other one that isn’t talked about in the Bible, but is still a wonderful ministry to have. These five are:

1. Prayer (Romans 12:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
2. Witnessing (Mark 16:15, 1 Corinthians 1:17)
3. Making Disciples (Matthew 28:18)
4. Good Works (Galatians 6:9-10, Ephesians 2:10)
5. Writing (Encouraging others in their walk with the Lord through the form of writing. You can also do this by recording what the Lord has been doing in your life, and then sharing it with others. I think that this area of ministry is neat because you are able to impact people whom you may not be able to reach in other ways.)

These are some practical areas of ministry that you can be involved in as a teen. I think that the enemy wants us to think that just because we are young or inexperienced, we can’t do anything to serve the Lord. But that is such a lie! God wants young men and women who are dedicated to Him. You don’t have to wait until you are older to serve the Lord; you can serve Him now, right where you are. You can stand strong for Him in the place that He has put you. Don’t think that God can’t use you, because He can, and will, if you’ll just let Him.

It can be discouraging when we think about standing alone against the world. The evils of the world are so powerful, and they could easily pull us in. But we shouldn’t fear that, because we aren’t alone. When we surrender to the Lord, He will stand right there with us to help us to be strong and stand up for what is right. God never promised that it would be easy, but He did promise that He would give us the strength to make it through.

I encourage you to make a personal commitment to stand strong for the Lord through your youth, for He is worth standing for. One idea is to write out your commitment, and then place it somewhere where you’ll see it. This can be a visual reminder that you have given your teen years to the Lord. Strive to uphold a high standard, and don’t lower it so you can “fit in”. For God hasn’t called us to be of the world, but to stand out as bright lights in the world. Don’t waste these precious years, as they can be some of the most fruitful! Remember that God is still calling to youth today and seeking those who will be dedicated to Him.

(Some of you may have read this article already, as it is from Issue 12 of Beautiful Gems)