Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Storm

On this Life's stormy sea,
dismayed and troubled I be.
I need a Comforter to calm this storm,
a beautiful new horizon to form.

This storm has unleashed its rage,
a great battle wherewith to wage.
Waves compass me with ferocious power,
daunted I cry in fear as I cower.

Terror runs to my very core,
soon the storm will seize me in its lore.
As I cling to this piece of wood,
I'd swim to shore if only I could!

But alas! The storm is wild!
Its anger has been riled.
Where is my Deliverance? is my cry,
Will I be left alone to die?

As I lift my tear-streaked face,
I think of my earthly race.
Had my Father deserted me,
given me up to the power of the sea?

Would I be lost forevermore,
never again to reach the shore?
But now the sun shines through the rain,
sorrow disappears with the storm's main.

Lo my Comforter has come,
deliverance is mine with which to run.
My doubts have been erased,
joy and praise together been laced.  

God's grace is mightier than the sea,
this grace He has given is for me!

~Rachel Brown

Friday, April 23, 2010

Remaining Content in the Home

I love working in the kitchen.  The joy of cooking, the delicious aromas, and the fun of working alongside Mama and my sisters.  Some of my fondest memories will be the laughter and jokes shared during good times in the kitchen.  Then there is also the fact of the whole family gathering together around the dinner table after our thirty to forty minutes of sweat-work over the stove.  The happy times families can have together!  A family either pulls together through the good and bad times, or it will fall apart.  We see it across America today.  But that is another topic entirely...

How easy it is to remain content as a daughter in the home while the way is easy!  But then how hard it is to remain content in the home when the way becomes difficult!  Most people want to give in when things begin to look bleak and dreary.  Just like defeatism, this is a tragedy.  Defeatism can make young women look longingly at the world's independence.  "If only..."  runs through our minds.  But no, we shouldn't be thinking in "if only."  It will just get us into trouble.

Striving with contentment while the heart longs for "independence" (so-called) is practically impossible.  We can never be content until we root out of our hearts the longing and rebellion that remains.  Once it is removed, then we can begin practicing our contentment and patience.

Here I am, fifteen years old (although so close to sixteen I can begin to say "almost"), and I'm talking about remaining content while still at home?  You've got to be kidding!  Most stay-at-home daughters who might be getting impatient are in their why me?

Let me share a secret with you about a young woman's heart: she longs desperately for the day when she will have that love and a home of her own.  A young woman dreams of the day that she will fall in love with the man who will remain hers forever.  However, is our desperate longing so desperate that discontentment will overtake our hearts?  Are we so desperate that all we ever think about is "love"?  Are we so desperate that we are constantly looking for "love" in all the wrong places, and at the wrong times?  Are we so desperate that any interest a young man displays (even the friendship type) sets our hearts to fluttering with giddiness and romance?  Are we also so desperate that we eat up romance novel after romance novel?  I'd say we're pretty desperate.

Romance novels.  A treacherous enemy.  In today's distorted world, we also have a distorted view about true love.  Fairytale romances certainly don't help.  Young girls nowadays are lost in an imaginary world of young men and women falling head-over-heels in love, and living happily ever after with the perfect marriage after a beautiful whirlwind courtship.  That isn't reality.

I admit: I've read plenty of romance novels in my day.  In fact, I have a bag of them in my closet.  I'll confess to an eager hunger to get my hands on those books, but what does it profit me?  A distorted view of love?  I don't need any more of that.  All that arises is discontentment with my position in life.  Even Christian romance is pretty twisted. (Can't we trust anything anymore?)  Most romance novels just feed our discontentment.

I thought I'd make a small point here: Jane Austin is one of my favorite authors.  Yes, I love her work, and yes, her books are Victorian novels of love, romance, strength, honor, integrity, and showing how to overcome difficulties in the world.   Am I going to throw the books out the window? No, but I'm not going to read them everyday...nor ever week...nor every month...
There is nothing wrong with reading a good fiction book once in a while, but not going overboard.  I don't want to become "hooked" again. (So no, I'm not giving up Mr. Darcy for good.)

I'm apt to make a fool of myself more times than not.  Talking over internet, or worse, talking in person, I always seem awkward and dumbly ignorant and unintelligent.  I've often sat staring around the room just because I can't think of anything to say.  (Like I've said before, my mind flows more clearly on paper than with my mouth.)   Or, I decide to take a stab in the dark, but blurt out something utterly incomprehensible.  Talk about remaining cosmopolitan.   My mind becomes immobile, or so it seems.  Most people don't know that 99.9 % of the things I'd really like to say are jumbled up inside of me.  Is it embarrassment?  Shyness?  Pride?  Fright?  Afraid of ridicule?  Perhaps all five?  Maybe.  But what does this have to do with remaining content in the home?

Just as I remain unsatisfied with my lack of conversing skills, so it is with discontentment, in anything.  The more I remain afraid, the more I sink into my little turtle shell, daring not ever! to come out into the sunlight.  My incompetency becomes deeper and deeper, and I grow weaker and weaker.  My discontentment grows, and I'll never rise to the occasion to deal with the situation.

Our problems have the same solution: shake off the shackles of discontentment and begin to live vivaciously with joy in our hearts.  Being shackled to the ground only hinders us from flying.

The next time discontentment rises in your heart, take special effort to remain loyal and kind.  Our families need us.  Do we really want to desert them to sow a few "wild oats"?  Those "wild oats" of independence only result in ruin.  Look at young women today.  Going off to college for four years after completing government school institutions.  Many lose more than just freedom.  Many give of themselves freely.  Many lose their virginity and purity.  Many go into careers that take over their whole lives, never enjoying the blessings of Daughterhood or Motherhood.  Do we want to give up our freedom for those shackles?  For we daughters are the ones with true freedom.  True freedom is taking responsibility and acting mature. True freedom is obeying what God has commanded.  What the world has may look like fun, but it is only "enjoyable" for a season. (Hebrews 11:25)  Whatsoever we sow, that shall we also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

Our twisted view of love will only set us off looking for that "perfect man" who will one day fulfill our every desire.  Isn't that ironic?  We know down deep there isn't any such perfect man, yet we're willing to search high and low for him endlessly.  We also know that we ourselves are far from perfect; how then can we think that a "perfect man" would marry an imperfect woman?  Utterly illogical.

I say we totally remove so-called "love" out of our minds.  After all, true love will one day be brought to us, if it is God's will, and in His timing.  Why do we want to be bogged down in the despair of discontentment and unsatisfaction?  We women are at our best when happy and ready to serve, not waiting for Prince Charming to ride along.  So put a smile on your face.  Grin at your reflection in the mirror if need be to boost your morale.  Give your sisters a kiss and your brothers a hug.  Share some laughter in the kitchen with your mother.  Show your support to your father by meaningful gestures.  Show your love.  Show your care.  Show your willingness to be a servant. (Mark 10:31,44; Luke 22:24-27)

Much better results will result from a proper attitude. And you know what?  God will one day reward our patience and fortitude.  Whether it is His will for you and I to marry or not, our perseverance will bear forth fruit. (Galatians 6:9)

Live every day as it were your last, for all too soon this life will be past. Kiss all your loved ones with tenderness and care, and show the whole world Christ's love which we should share. Make the most of your time with well-worth fruit, only what's done for Christ will one day take root.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"To Die is to Glory, to Love and to Care"

Intrepid, courageous, the soldier marches on,
his sword he clasps, his armor has been don.

His eyes so dark, so steady, so calm,
fear nothing, not death, nor any sudden qualm.

He marches into death, with neither sorrow nor doubt, 
his sword flashes in the sun as he utters a shout.

Only God almighty destines his fate,
to die or to live, the soldier is sate.

For to die is to glory, to love and to care,
for his dear Love's sweet face he will anything bear.

With God as his guide, he slashes the foe,
not one earthly trouble can e'er cause him woe.

The battle rages on o'er 'round  him in death,
but will he conquer until his last dying breath?

With wounds deep red, and flowing with blood,
his sword he lets fall down into the mud.

Eyes troubled and pained, his arm reaches high,
he feels all alone underneath the bright sky.

The enemy advances, with swords poised high, 
to give the last blow to the last man nigh.

Suddenly his eyes flash with determination and pride,
No! He will not give in to death here at side.

He picks up his sword for one last time, 
he grits his teeth as the bells toll and chime.

Those bells! They taunt and they cry,
"He this lone soldier must surely indeed die!"

Looking to heaven, he takes a deep breath,
for now he knows his fate, one that says death.

But yet, he'll gain life, far up above,
for God's rich grace has given him love.

Ne'er more will he see his sweet Love's face,
if only to her once more he could race!

Her kind eyes of gentleness and grace,
will ne'er more look upon her lover's dear face.

Such tears she will cry when she learns of his fate,
but she must wander on with goodness, not hate.

For God is Judge o'er all men's lives,
they must trust Him in faith, for it is He who drives.

The soldier, with brave, determined face,
runs into the foe with unhindered pace.

Slashing and fighting, he valiantly fights,
but soon he will leave to new weathered heights.

Collapsing with fatigue, his sword drops a'gain,
for his last wound has driven him into the pain.
Still and forgotten, lonely and weak,
the soldier's head lifts as he looks toward the peak.

Tears sting his eyes with unashamed streaks,
death comes in closer, in desperation it reeks.

One last prayer uttered from the soldier's mouth,
flows upward to heaven, driven by the wind south.

In peace his eyes close, and a smile shows forth,
for the maiden so fair, far away in the north.

One day they'll unite, as only lovers can,
but for now he must go, to a far off land.

For to die is to glory, to love and to care,
now the soldier has flown, after Life's fullest share.

~Rachel Brown

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Overcoming Obstacles

"And Caleb stilled the people before Moses and said, Let us go up at once, and posses it [the Promised Land]; for we are well able to overcome it."  ~Numbers 13:30

"But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we...the land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature.  And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."  ~Numbers 13:13-33

"And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: and they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceedingly good land.  If the LORD delight in us, then He will bring us into the land, and give it us, a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not."  ~Numbers 14:6-9

Joshua and Caleb are two of my favorite Bible characters, "Heroes of the Faith."  They displayed faith in God, courage, strength, fortitude, and a willingness to do whatever the Lord said.  I'm sure they had the look of brave soldiers.  I can see them now, swords in hand, deep voices shouting for the children of Israel to follow them into the Promised Land, for the Lord was with them!  Joshua and Caleb were mighty men, valiant men, men of strength and honor.  No man in the whole Israelite camp was like unto them.

Joshua and Caleb were men after God's own heart.  Their hearts were willing to serve, to love, to follow their Lord to the ends of the earth if need be.  God needed their type of men.  If all the men in the Israelite camp had been like Joshua and Caleb, there wouldn't have been any groaners or complainers, and the children of Israel could have entered the Promised Land the first time.  Unfortunately for them, things didn't turn out so well...

"And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!"

Okay, they wanted to die in the wilderness?  God would grant their request.

"Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against Me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun."  ~Numbers 14:29,30

All the Israelites of that generation, aged twenty years and older, would die in the forty-year-wandering-in-the-wilderness period.   Their children would inherit the land.  But, there were two who would survive...

Joshua and Caleb had been faithful.  They believed God would be with them and would help them overcome every obstacle; therefore God would give them their reward.  He would allow them to enter the Promised Land, the only survivors of that generation.

But the other ten spies who brought back an evil report, God punished them for their unbelief and disobedience.

"Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD."  ~Numbers 14:37

How does this story apply to us today?  Very good question.  I'm glad you asked. (now you may wish you didn't.)

I'm going to be honest and blunt.  America has become as terrible and wicked as uncivilized and ungodly lands.  True, we may still have more freedom than other countries, yes, and more opportunities, but how long do you think it will all last?  We're already a socialized nation.  We've already turned away from God.  We see it everyday: murder, idolatry, lust, stealing, infidelity, greed, dishonesty, covetousness, adultery, fornication, strife, heresies, drunkenness, uncleanness, etc.  If we were still blessed by God, do you think we would see these things everyday?  They sound more like curses to me.  I'm afraid God's hand is slowly but truly leaving us.  What then can we do?  

Are we Christians supposed to stay hidden in the shadows where no one can see us, waiting desperately until we die so we can escape the trouble of this life? Or maybe come out of the shadows and join in the world's wicked revelings because "there isn't anything we can do!"?   Most emphatically no.

Joshua and Caleb stayed true to the Lord, even when everyone else forsook Him.  They stood up proudly.  Why, even their very lives were threatened!

"But all the congregation bade stone them [Joshua and Caleb] with stones."  ~Numbers 14:10a

However, even in the midst of danger, strife, and unbelief, they remained faithful, trusting that God would help them overcome every obstacle.  Will we do the same?  Will we rise up as proud servants of the Most High, or will we cower in darkness, with our heads buried in the sand?

Remember, the ten spies were punished with death for their unbelief.  The unbelieving children of Israel were punished as well.  They wouldn't live to see the fulfillment of God's promises.

If we continue in sin today, think of how much more our children will have to endure.  Will we leave behind a legacy of sin, or of trust in God?  Many things depend upon us right now.

Think of the President of the United States.  The choices and decisions he makes will affect the whole country, good or bad.  The same abides with our congressmen, senators, representatives, governors, and mayors.  Where are they leading us?

But, think on this for a moment: the men we have in leadership today were placed there by "we the people."   "We" voted.   "We" place men in office.   "We" are responsible.  The men in office are supposed to be noble, "able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness." (Exodus 18:21a)  Do we place such a caliber of men there in that position?   Taking a look at our congressmen today, my answer would be no.

Do we no longer love our country?  Where is our patriotic zeal and courage?  Where is our religious zeal?  Do we no longer trust God?

If we would dare to be a Joshua, if we would dare to be a Caleb, astonishing things would transpire.  Perhaps, just perhaps, God might use us, and start a revival in this land.

I weep for my country,
which has fallen so low; 
I weep tears of sorrow,
these tears I now show.

O God where are You?
is my desperate cry;
Why have You forsaken us?
Please come to us nigh!

This country is falling,
oh how we need Your hand!
We the people are crumbling,
soon we'll be sand.

Unless we have Your help,
unless we see Your face;
we'll be lost forever,
 and we'll have lost the race.

Rise up America!
Rise up people strong!
For God will come again,
if we'll admit we're wrong.

Peace will come again someday,
but one thing we must do:
clasp our hands in humbleness,
turn to Him and pray.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm Yours

I will praise Thee, O God my King,
for You have made me want to sing.

Contented I will will strive to be,
O let me not wander away from Thee.

You have made me in Your own way, 
my life I will wholeheartedly at Your feet lay.

In my heart Your love will stay
forever I'm Yours, guard my heart alway.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Tragedy of Defeatism

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." ~1Corinthians 15:57,58

Defeat is such an easy thing to give in to, but such an ugly word.  If every Christian gave up in defeat, where would the world be?  In an even bigger mess than we are today! (which is hard to imagine.)

What would have happened if our Pilgrim forefathers gave up in defeat?  They would have remained in religious shackles in England.  If they would have given up, our freedoms which we enjoy so leisurely today would not exist.  Their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would have suffered in chains their whole lives.

Let's go back even further.  Imagine yourself as Christopher Columbus.  31 days on the open sea, with no sight of land whatsoever.  The men are tired and restless, uneasy with fear.  They want to return to Spain, to give up the whole voyage altogether.  Columbus had doubts himself.  Was this really God's will for him?  His undaunted and intrepid courage he once had left him now feeling empty and forlorn.  He decided three more days they would press on, and if land was not sighted, they...would...turn...back...

How tears of defeat must have smarted his eyes!  His glorious vision of finding new lands for the furtherance of the gospel had come to a bitter end!  What went wrong?  Columbus felt sure it had been a dream sent directly from God.  Oh the shame and defeat of lost hopes!

But, behold!  On the early dawn of the third day, a cry of  "Land!"  rang forth.  Every foot must have raced to the deck, every eye eagerly peering into the horizon.  It was land!

Columbus' heart must have swelled with joy and praise!  Upon reaching shore, he knelt in humbleness and offered a prayer of thanksgiving to the God "which giveth us the victory."  

What would have happened if Columbus had given up totally before the three days were up?  Our flourishing land of America would have been left undiscovered.  Columbus would have returned to Spain in defeat, his chance lost forever.

Take a look at the American Revolution.  The small army of the colonies was very meager, and supplies were scarce.  Men shivered in the cold of winter, their bare feet leaving bloody tracks in the snow.  Yet they marched on, fearlessly into battle.  They grew thin and weak from lack of food, but their bravery overcame their gnawing stomachs.  They marched boldly behind their intrepid leader, the great General George Washington.  What would have happened if they had given up in defeat and surrendered to England, the mightiest nation of that day?  England's army was well-trained and well-fed.  They had more muskets and gunpowder than did the colonists.  They were proud--no one could defeat them!  However, something turned the tide for the American soldiers, a tide the British did not expect.

The American colonists placed their wholehearted devotion and faith in Jesus Christ.  They knew it was only He who could give them the victory.  Though their army was small, though they were weak, in God they were strong.  George Washington is a prime example.  For his faith, trust, and courage, God protected him, and gave the colonists victory over England.

But if defeat had conquered, if fear had overtaken every heart, England would have been victorious...and we would still be in bondage today. (from England, not our federal government.  Yeah, I know, now we have a similar problem today, only from our own leaders!)

Every Christian in history has to be future-oriented.  Our forefathers knew this.  They were willing to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, for liberty and the pursuit of happiness for generations to come.  They placed their complete faith in Jesus Christ.  They knew He was the supreme Ruler of all.  No country or nation can survive without God's law.  "As is the religion, so is the nation."  ~Charles Galloway.

Our forefathers, from Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrim settlers, the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Huss, William Tyndale, John Knox (all the Reformation leaders), the Southern army of the Confederate States of America, every soldier of America who has suffered and labored tirelessly for freedom, including countless others, all could have given up in hopelessness.  But the only important factor is this: they didn't.

Once America was great.  Our Founding Fathers created this nation to be for the people, under God.  Christianity was the supreme law of the land.  Alexis de Tocqueville said this about Christianity in America:

"There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and freest nation of the earth...Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must, nevertheless, be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country, for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of free institutions.  I am certain that the Americans hold religion to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions.  This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society."

Professor James Bryce of England shows agreement:

"It was religious zeal and religious conscience which led to the founding of the New England colonies two centuries and a half ago--those colonies whose spirit has in such large measure passed into the whole nation.  Religion and conscience have been a constantly active force in the American commonwealth ever since."

In 1787, the Continental Congress said that "Religion, morality, and knowledge are necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind."   When America was founded, no one could deny the major influence of Christianity in our nation.  Today, everything is different.

America has endured a long road, one of bumps and hills, ruts and ditches, obstacles and failures.  Our great nation has crumbled into a tiny portion of what it once was.  Socialism has entered past our guard.  Wickedness and vile roam the streets.  Infidelity and lust play games in front of our children.  Evolution and murder are common.  Have we given up in defeat?  Where is America?  Most importantly, where are the Christians?

The land we see today is no longer the nation of old.  Our forefathers would be horrified if they could see the country today.  Even the secularism of old cannot be compared with what it is today.

America has progressed like Israel of old.  Once they were the glory and splendor of the entire world as they followed God's laws.  But false gods wormed their way into the lives of God's people.  Idolatry and infidelity reeked the land.  Because His people turned away from Him countless times, and though He gave them numerous chances, God eventually unleashed His curses upon them.  Every curse listed in Deuteronomy 28 will fall upon the heads of those who seek any god other than the Most High.  Yet, if God's people will turn from their wicked ways, God will heal the land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Today, most Christians have given up in defeat.  Bold, courageous hearts have given in to fear and doubt.  Not many are future-oriented. (However, there are those out there who are. Thank God for those who are making a difference!)  The children growing up today will live in a land flowing with dirt and slime, all because their parents have no thought to the truth.  Many Christians of today have mellowed out.  In fact, many even eagerly participate in the world's wickedness!  What about the verse which says,  "Love not the world, neither the things which are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." ~1 John 2:15

Defeat should not be an option for God's people.  Christ will one day overcome death.  Will we who live now forget His promises, and continue to follow the pattern of the world?  What will we say when we meet Jesus face-to-face?  "Sorry Lord, but I thought Satan was too powerful.  He, he tricked me!  Yes, that's it! He tricked me!"

"Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."  ~James 4:7

As America becomes deeper and deeper into socialism and sin, will we Christians continue to tolerate such?  But we have Christ on our side! And one day He will make His enemies His footstool. (Hebrews 10:13) 
In the end, Christians will be victorious.  But before the end, it is our choice: do we give in to defeat, or will we keep fighting for Christ?  

Never let defeat conquer!

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."  ~Colossians 2:8

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  ~Galatians 6:9