Thirsty For Christ Thursday

Don’t Water It Down

Thursday

My childhood as an Army Brat is one I wouldn’t trade for anything. We lived all over the world, and my brother and I were lucky enough to spend two years in school at Hawaii Baptist Academy in Honolulu. While I certainly fell away from my faith late in high school and in college, I credit many of my teachers and one of my Bible classes at HBA with my excitement in studying Scripture and learning about God.

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If you want the very best for your children, send them to a Bible-believing Christian school for K-12 – Yes, nowhere is perfect. Yes, the sports/activities may be lacking (or not!). But instilling a love for Christ and the Bible at an early age is such an amazing gift. One that, even if it is thrown aside during adolescence and/or college, can be picked back up with fervor later in life.

All this to say that this morning, on my way to work, I was thinking about my 8th grade Bible class. Hawaii’s population is, if not primarily, largely Buddhist – and this was the case even at a Baptist private school. Bible classes were mandatory, however, and Jesus was a little part of every course, so if the Gospel didn’t manage to touch you in some way, it was only because you were intentionally stuffing your ears full of cotton.

Our Bible teacher that year was phenomenal. In fact, many of the faculty from my years there are memorable. Most of them had traveled to Hawaii to teach at this school as missionaries, and while this may seem like a glamorous calling…Trust me… Hawaii without air conditioning for a Southerner is not even close to glamorous. As Craig can attest since we spent our anniversary trip via ‘true Hawaiian style’, it is HOT.

Hawaiians: Y’all need A/C.

I remember it like it was yesterday…our teacher, originally from Alabama, which made me feel right at home, assigned us to read the book of Genesis and the entire room of eighth graders, characteristically tactless, groaned audibly.

“Now, hold on,” she told us. “The Bible, and Genesis in particular, is quite the soap opera. You won’t find yourself bored at all…As a matter of fact, I dare you to compare some of the events in Genesis to something that could be on the Jerry Springer Show!”

We were shocked! Jerry Springer?!?! Now that was juicy!! And as we read how Eve deceived her husband, Cain killed his own brother, Lot’s daughters getting him drunk…WHOA! How the heck was this stuff in the BIBLE?!?!

The truth is…the Bible is probably the one completely honest piece of literature ever written. Most books gloss over their ‘hero’s’ faults and mistakes…The Bible is quite upfront about David’s indiscretions, Abraham’s initial lack of faith, Peter’s denial…even Jesus asked if there was any way crucifixion could be taken from Him. When we read Scripture, we are reading the living Word of God and that is beyond powerful!

Certainly, there is nothing ‘boring’ about the Bible. You just may need to find a translation that’s easy for you to read. While the King James Version was written in the vernacular of the day, The Message and the New Living Translation and the English Standard Version are more akin to modern language and therefore, easier to delve into and allow God to speak through.

I’m currently reading the first book in a trilogy of Christian fiction…I made the wrong assumption it would be heady and holier than thou, and I have been more than pleasantly surprised. This book is captivating and real and a fascinating portrayal of what the early Christians endured. It is filled with a picture of the ancient cultures of Rome and Ephesus…A society that lacked morality completely and tolerated anything…Anything except Christianity. In fact, Christians were burned as torches for a ‘circus’ the Roman emperor, Nero, held. It is a description of a society that sounds all too (increasingly) familiar…

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And if you don’t believe me… Read this, this, this and this. An Amazon review of the trilogy mentions it is very graphic for Christian fiction…and I wonder…Has this woman read the Bible?!?! It is an honest, if graphic, portrayal of the world early Christians lived in and what they endured for their faith.

And it is important to read in these frightening times.

As Christians, we don’t need to water down what is going on around us…and we certainly don’t need to water down and dress up the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Jesus never claimed His Way was easy. In fact, He tells us the world will hate us and that we will be outcasts when we truly live for Him. His Way is the only way, however and making Christianity into a pretty, neat little package that fits into your particular box is a dangerous path…

The video below provides a great analogy about what palatable packing does to the message of Jesus Christ. {Click the image to play the video.}

Until tomorrow…

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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

Taking A Leap of Faith

Thursday

What if God asked you to do something you were unsure about?

What if God asked you to go somewhere you didn’t want to venture?

What if God made a demand of you that made you uncomfortable?

It’s quite a challenge for our (very) human selves, but unless your will and the will of the Lord are one, the questions above just may prove to be true for your walk with Christ. Where He wants us and what He wants us to do is not always easy, or fun, or within our comfort zone. Sometimes “letting go and letting God’, means standing at the edge of a proverbial cliff and taking a giant leap of faith.

We see this plainly in Jesus’ plea to God to let Him forgo the suffering of the cross:

Luke 22:42 (NLT)

 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.

It is not always ‘suffering’ but some of the destinations God has in store for your life are certainly uncomfortable situations. Check out the video below {Click the title of this post if you are reading it within an e-mail to view this in a browser!} from Beth Moore:

If that didn’t bring tears to your eyes… (If you didn’t watch the video clip above, please make sure to do so. It is a POWERFUL story!)

What amazing things can happen if you just allow God to lead you in every single step you make!

So what will you say to Him the next time He compels you to venture into the unknown?

Say Yes!

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My Choice Monday

Restored By The Master

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Better late than never, right? 🙂

Today, we are sharing a beautiful devotional from one of our favorites, Our Daily Bread.

http://odb.org/2014/06/23/restored-by-the-master/

Our Lord calls us to become RENEWED and RESTORED, to turn from our old lifestyle to follow Him! And trust us when we tell you, His restoration is miraculous…and I feel like that’s a ridiculous understatement!

If you enjoyed this devotion, be sure to check out Our Daily Bread in our sidebar. They have a great FREE app, as well, with included reminders to spend time with God! Not that any of us forget…right? 🙂

Have a great night all!
Love,
Pier & Craig, straight from our kitchen tonight to your computer screen

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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

What Does A Christ-Follower Look Like?

ThursdayHave you ever thought about the answer to that question: “What does a Christian look like?” 

Josh and Julia

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Best Man & MY Best Man <3

 

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Do any of the people above look the same? Not in the least on the outside. But they all follow Christ. So our hearts should ALL LOOK THE SAME.

The point is that, as Christians, we are all called to be ‘ambassadors’ or ‘representatives’ of Christ here on Earth. This not only means we CANNOT judge someone by how they appear to us; it also means that we need to keep in mind that when we present ourselves as Christians, we are now in our peers’ minds as representatives of Christ in ALL THAT WE DO.

That can be VERY powerful – in either a good or a bad way, depending on how we handle ourselves!

Read through Phillipians 2:1-18 below:

Philippians 2:1-18

Thinking Like Christ

Are you cheerful because you belong to Christ? Does his love comfort you? Is the Holy Spirit your companion? Has Christ been gentle and loving toward you? Then make my joy complete by agreeing with each other. Have the same love. Be one in spirit and purpose.

Don’t do anything only to get ahead. Don’t do it because you are proud. Instead, be free of pride. Think of others as better than yourselves.

None of you should look out just for your own good. You should also look out for the good of others.

You should think in the same way Christ Jesus does.

In his very nature he was God.
    But he did not think that being equal with God was something he should hold on to.
Instead, he made himself nothing.
    He took on the very nature of a servant.
    He was made in human form.
He appeared as a man.
    He came down to the lowest level.
    He obeyed God completely, even though it led to his death.
        In fact, he died on a cross.
So God lifted him up to the highest place.
    He gave him the name that is above every name.
10 When the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone’s knee will bow to worship him.
    Every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow to worship him.
11 Everyone’s mouth will say that Jesus Christ is Lord.
    And God the Father will receive the glory.

Living Like Christ

12 My dear friends, you have always obeyed God. You obeyed while I was with you. And you have obeyed even more while I am not with you. So continue to work out your own salvation. Do it with fear and trembling. 13 God is working in you. He wants your plans and your acts to be in keeping with his good purpose.

14 Do everything without finding fault or arguing. 15 Then you will be pure and without blame. You will be children of God without fault in a sinful and evil world. Among the people of the world you shine like stars in the heavens. 16 You shine as you hold out to them the word of life. So I can brag about you on the day Christ returns. I can be happy that I didn’t run or work for nothing.

17 But my life might even be poured out like a drink offering on your sacrifices. I’m talking about the way you serve because you believe. Even so, I am glad. I am joyful with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and joyful with me.

We are the gateway to His Amazing Love for so many out there. Christians should look like Christ – inside and out. 

The more we allow Him to lead us, the more He transforms us.

We are His light to the world!!! SHINE BRIGHTLY!!!!!!!!

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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

Enamored of Him and His Children: Finding Christ in the Montessori Method

Thursday

Good Morning Folks!

Today, Craig & I have such a treat for you! This is our 100th blog post!!! In celebration, we have a wonderful guest blogger who graciously is sharing with us today!

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We are thrilled to introduce you to Sarah Thérèse, who writes a beautiful Catholic blog over at Footprints On My Heart. We know you will be blessed by her story below, and urge you to visit her blog – in addition to ours, of course! 😉 Thank you, Sarah Thérèse , for your wonderful story! Don’t be a stranger around this blog! 😉

It was a cool, late March 2012 morning, several weeks after my college’s Spring break and therefore a bit late to still be considering summer employment.  Yet there I was, driving toward a preschool 15 minutes away from my house that, until just two days before, I did not know even existed.  I was uncharacteristically very excited about this job interview; considering my more reserved personality, I surprised myself realizing that I couldn’t get there fast enough.  I was interviewing for a job at a Montessori preschool and, if I landed it, it would be a real dream come true.

I had first learned of Dr. Maria Montessori and her method of education nearly two years before during my first semester studying Early Childhood Education in college.  As a graduate of a lifetime of homeschool, the Montessori Method resonated with me deeply and I was seriously interested in learning everything within my reach.  Now, two years later, I was writing a research paper on Montessori and pursuing a job opportunity in the field.  With that very first step inside a Montessori classroom on that late March morning, I fell completely in-love.

The job was, indeed, offered to me and I spent that first Summer working with the children.  It was a learning experience and I loved every moment of it, even the less pleasant ones (and with children, there are many).  I continued learning biographical and (for lack of a better word) “academic” information about Montessori and her method; I enjoyed getting to know the children and their different personalities, observing the ways my coworkers interacted with the children and how the children, in turn, responded to them.  Before long, though, I began to notice that something still seemed to be missing.  Montessori was also a devout Catholic and that was one aspect that I sorely missed while working in a privately owned, yet still secular environment.

I’ve questioned whether or not I should continue working there.  I consider it my dream job and it is a good place to be employed, but is it where God is calling me, or simply another stepping stone along the path there?

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a Catholic Montessori school and atrium and, oh my goodness, if I thought I fell in-love with the method when I stepped into the first classroom two years ago, I am completely enamored of it now.  Christ’s love so evidently shone through every single one of the teachers and there was an atmosphere of genuine peace and joy that was only enhanced by the presence of everyone, students and teachers alike.  But my favorite aspect of this visit, aside from seeing the atrium and receiving a very general overview of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, was learning more about Maria Montessori as a devout, religious individual.  The teacher who gave me the tour followed my promptings and offered so much more information regarding the religious aspect of the method and the individual than anything I’d found in researching, and I soaked it all in as if I’d been awaiting this moment my entire life.

Two things in particular jumped out at me: namely, her devotion to Our Lady under a particular title and her favorite verse from Sacred Scripture. 

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I found her personal devotion to Our Lady of the Chair very intriguing.  I wasn’t familiar with this title, but it’s supposedly as well known as it is ancient (fifth century).  Our Lady sitting – Our Lady of the Chair – belongs to the category of Marian representations called Theotokos.  The decisive feature of this representation is not Mary, but Jesus Christ whom she holds on her lap, mostly in a frontal position. In fact, she is the throne upon which Christ is seated; not she is wisdom incarnate, but the throne on which wisdom (Christ) takes place.  Theotokos means “Mother of God”: like a mother, she holds the baby on her lap; however, the whole posture indicates reverence and respect due to the Son of God and, at the same time, Mary’s gesture is one of demonstration. She holds the child so that he can be seen by the onlooker.

I was drawn to the example of Our Lady as she embraces the Christ Child, and the example that Montessori leaves us in that message by sharing her personal devotion.  As was aforementioned, Theotokos means “Mother of God,” and I believe Montessori’s devotion to this image is a call to Spiritual Motherhood of all the children her method has and continues to form.

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–John 3:30–

The words spoken by St. John the Baptist referring to Jesus basically sum up the entirety of the Montessori Method.  Montessori teachers are not there to strictly “teach,” their purpose is to guide and simply be present for the child.  The Montessori teacher’s goal is to allow the child to shine and be his or her self, without any pressure and with complete trust and confidence in the individual.  Children are the most amazing miracles in the world and each is a precious gift from above.  They should be treated as so.

Visiting the Catholic Montessori school was a very real dream come true and I cannot even begin to express how much I look forward to returning for another visit.  If you think the Lord is calling you somewhere or to do something, don’t be afraid to respond and test His call.  You never know what adventures might lie ahead…  And thank you, oh my Jesus, for calling me to love You through serving Your precious children and for teaching me through them about Your great love for me.

Sarah Thérèse is a homeschooler-turned-Montessori teacher assistant currently in her final semester of College and very, very ready to graduate in May with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.  She blogs about journeying toward a deeper relationship with Christ, and hosts an ongoing series about the Saints at Footprints on My Heart.

Craig & I have a special guest post coming up at Footprints On My Heart February 22nd about a saint very near and dear to our hearts! Stay tuned!!

Sarah Thérèse, thank you, again, for your beautiful testimony! We are blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful brothers & sisters in Christ as we journey through life!

Join us again tomorrow for Food For Thought Friday!!

All Our Love,
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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

Perfect Love: It’s What God Wants For Us!

Thursday

This week has been a lot about soul searching for me. As I’ve mentioned, I have the distinct privilege of guest blogging at The Veil Of Chastity on Monday, and in preparation for writing that post, I really sat back and recalled the work of the mighty hand of God and the role he played in bringing Craig and I together.

I mean, honestly, I get chills (and not in a good way) when I think about my life before Craig – OUR lives before each other – or what life could be like if we hadn’t followed God toward each other. (You can read the whole story on Monday at The Veil of Chastity)The one God has chosen for you loves you like Christ loves the Church.

Meditate on that for a moment.

Ephesians 1:4-5

4 Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sighteven above reproach, before Him in love. 5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[a]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—

My “Drawing Near” devotion (By John MacArthur) this morning had the following to say about Christ’s love for us:

“Moses told Israel that God didn’t choose them because of their great numbers or any inherent goodness on their part, but as an expression of God’s sovereign will and sacrificial love (Deut. 7:7-8). That’s true of you as well if you’re a Christian.

The Greek word translated “love” in Ephesians 1:4 speaks not of emotional or sentimental love but of love that seeks God’s best for others at any cost. It is marked by sacrifice rather than selfishness–giving rather than receiving. It seeks to forgive rather than condemn–to dismiss offenses rather than count them.

Such love is epitomized in God Himself, who loved you so much that He sacrificed His Son on your behalf, who willingly laid down His own life for you (John 3:16; 15:13).”

Ephesians 5:25

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her

The love your holy spouse should have for you (and you, for him or her) is so magnificent, so powerful, so amazing, that it is life-changing.

Leon Suprenant, writes an article on Catholic.com, which says:

“…even more profoundly and positively, we are “pro-love” in the sense of laying down our lives for our beloved, which is a sign of contradiction for those who think love is merely about self-gratification. Love is the greatest of the virtues, the greatest of the Commandments, and it consists in giving of ourselves to God and neighbor.”

If you’re married, do you experience this type of love from your spouse? Do you give this type of unwantingself-giving love to your spouse?

If you’re single, have you ever experienced this type of love or felt this type of love toward anyone you have dated?

If not, perhaps the the Lord has not lifted the veil which covers you. Cindy of The Veil Of Chastity, explains it this way:

“Think of The Veil as a simple metaphor:  It is the idea that God places a protective veil over all of us and the purpose of the veil is to hide us from every possible suitor except the one that God intends for us to marry.  I call the person God wants us to marry our ‘holy spouse.’

This protective veil makes us ‘unclear’, similar to looking through a Mylar plastic sheet, to those suitors who are not our holy spouse. These suitors may be attracted to us but they hesitate to pursue us fully because they can’t fully see us; we are hidden by the veil.  This may feel like rejection but it is really God’s protection.”

How beautiful is that bit of insight? Christ loves you so much that He chose someone for you, and protects you – as much as you allow Him – until you follow His will and guidance to meet your holy spouse. I urge you, if you’re single, to call out to God for His guidance. Christ is the only way to this amazing sacrificial love. It is a gift, solely from God Himself.

Suprenant further writes in his article:

“Married couples truly are “made for each other.” Supernatural grace that comes with Christian marriage builds on the natural complementarity of man and woman. Through their mutual gift, the two really do become one flesh (Eph. 5:31), just as Christ completely identifies himself with his Bride, the Church (cf. Acts 9:4). This two-becoming-one of husband and wife is brought about, symbolized, and recalled in the marriage act.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical God is Love, calls us not to settle for a self-seeking erotic love, but to a Godlike, self-giving love that builds on and perfects all the lower forms of love. In this context, chastity gives us the strength not to be reactive or controlled by our passions and lusts, but rather the freedom that comes with self-mastery—the freedom to love as Christ loved the Church. This strength is the fruit of a lifelong battle in which we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as we strive to imitate the purity of Christ.”

Don’t settle for earthly ‘love’… It does not even begin to scratch the surface (and I mean that literally) of the love the one God has chosen for you will give. This type of amazing sacrifice and self-giving love can only possibly come from God above, who loves each of us in that same way, and beyond.

Reflect on love today – Christ’s love for you; your love for Christ; your love for your spouse… If you are unmarried, pray. Ask God to first create in you a pure heart for Him, and then to guide you to the one whom He intends.

I promise you, the blessing of sacrificial love in your marriage cannot be described in words, and there is no substitute for the fruits it brings. The love Craig and I have, the love we share for one another, is the glue that binds us when things don’t go as planned, perfects every good day, and grows each moment. Our marriage as THREE, with God at the center, is life sustaining.

In Christ,
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