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Showing posts from January, 2010

Devastation and Relief Work in Haiti

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This 7-minute video chronicles through video footage and photographs some of the devastation and relief work going on in Haiti. The video is from an organization called Churches Helping Churches and it is well worth the 7 minutes.
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“You love Jesus, you teach the Bible, you marry a woman, you have four children, you’re serving the Lord in ministry, and now your wife is gone, your church is gone, your home is gone, Bible college is gone… So why do you smile? Where is your joy?”

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"It's from the Lord."


(HT: Hope Road)
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Quotations: Embrace

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"He is our Father, and He loves us, and He knows just what is best, and therefore, of course, His will is the very most blessed thing that can come to us under any circumstances... Could we but for one moment get a glimpse into the mighty depths of His love, our hearts would spring out to meet His will, and embrace it as our richest treasure. And we would abandon ourselves to it with an enthusiasm of gratitude and joy, that such a wondrous privilege could be ours." Hannah Whitall Smith -

On Deliberate Prayer

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Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35) -
I read the above verse yesterday, searching for what it said about prayer. In terms of proper prayer procedure, it doesn't say much. There is no mention of magical incantations, notes on specific posture, or even instructions on how to pray (should one start with praise? confession?).
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Rather the verse shares a simple observation: Jesus prayed deliberately.
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Over and over again the writers of the gospels note Jesus' habit of deliberate prayer: John 17 records Jesus' prayer for himself, his disciples, and all believers; Matthew 26:39-42 details Jesus' purposeful and agonizing plea to his father, that the "cup" of suffering would be taken from him--if it be in the Father's will; Mark 6:41 notes Jesus' prayer over the loaves and fishes. Indeed, Jesus clearly had a habit of deliberate prayer.
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In pondering this…

Friday Footprints

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A trace of where we've been on the web this week...
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Would I Have Hid the Jews During the Holocaust? A thoughtful article by Elrena Evans on Christianity Today's blog, Her.meneutics, reflecting on Miep Gies, the Christian Dutch woman who helped hide Anne Frank and preserve her diary.
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The Bloom Book Club
An online Christian book club specifically for women. They're just gearing up to start a new book, The Same Kind of Different As Me. Check it out! (And we also thought we should mention that we really like the name of the book club.)

We'll be back Monday...
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grace & peace,
Jessina, Megan, and Joanna
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Sister to Sister: A Living Palace

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Dear girls, -
This morning I taught my freshman composition students a lesson on writing and revision. It's one of my favorite lessons (ironically, it's among their least favorite). I consider this lesson a kind of two-for-one deal: my students think they are getting a lesson on why the teacher thinks it's important to proofread and why they should begrudgingly consider whether or not each paragraph supports a thesis statement. But really, it's as much a lesson about spiritual growth as it is about writing.
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I begin my lesson by asking my students to share with the class their strategies for revising papers. Typical answers run along the lines of "Oh, I don't change anything after a first draft. It only comes out right the first time" and "Maybe I add a few commas, or change a word or two." Sometimes I get this one: "Revising just messes up my paper."
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When I get these answers, I like to prod my students to realize the implications o…

Quotations: The Intolerable Compliment

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"But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him...and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces...Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to "put on Christ," to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little." C.S. Lewis
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The Bible is Not an Encyclopedia

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Over the weekend, I found myself around a table discussing the nature and purpose of the Word of God with some other friends. -
The discussion eventually led to an idea that I have been thinking a lot about lately; mainly, whether I approach the Bible as a book of commands and doctrines, or whether I approach the Bible as a story of hope and redemption.
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So often I find myself reading the Bible on the lookout for some command that I can take with me and immediately apply to my life. I like to have solidity, 3-point sermons, 7 steps for how I can fight fear. But that is not at all what God intended.
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As Paul Tripp says,"The bible makes a poor encyclopedia. If that's what God intended, Scripture would have been arranged differently and included many volumes. As it is, there are many issues that the Bible doesn't address in a topical fashion. The Bible has nothing explicit to say, for example, about schizophrenia, A.D.D., teenagers, family television viewing... If you try …

Haitian Relief

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We're suspending our regular post for today in order to direct you to a few resources for providing relief to those who were effected by the Haitian earthquake. As Ministry Watch reminds us, "When disaster hits, scammers take advantage. Do not become a victim, but identify the most worthy ministries so those in true need are helped and not robbed a second time by fraudulent schemes or even well meaning, but inefficient, charities. The below ministries are a perfect match for helping for the disaster at hand."
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Mercy Ships
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Medical Teams International
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Danita's Children
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And, above all, let us pray.
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grace & peace,
Jessina, Megan, and Joanna
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Quotations: The Cost of Nondiscipleship

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"Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring (John 10:10). The cross-shaped yoke of Christ is after all an instrument of liberation and power to those who live in it with him and learn the meekness and lowliness of heart that brings rest to the soul..." Dallas Willard
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Beauty: Increasing and Decreasing

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A worthwhile three-minute video from Set Apart Girl concerning the elements of real beauty:
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Friday Footprints

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A trace of where we've been on the web this week...
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Books on Prayer
A helpful and extensive list of all types of books on prayer from the folks at Hearts and Minds Bookstore. (By the way, we finally updated our own resources page over Christmas with some book and website recommendations.)
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Try Again This Year
Discouraged for not being able to perfectly keep your New Years resolution? This post from the GirlTalkers reminds us that having some resolutions and getting something done is better than not having any resolutions and never getting anything done. "I may not have completed my to-do list for 2009. But I've done more than if I never tried at all."
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Top 40 Books of the Decade
A list of one Christian writer's book recommendations, composed of her favorite 40 books of the past decade. Lots of books to add to one's Amazon wishlist.
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We'll be back Monday...
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grace & peace,
Jessina, Megan, and Joanna
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Bible Reading Plans

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 We know that it's past January 1, but it is never too late to start a reading-through-the-Bible plan. The following is a collection of a variety of different plans and a bit about how they work. There are many different versions available to suit many different types of readers.
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One Year Bible Plan
This is a basic read-through-the-Bible plan, with daily readings in the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. You can download a pdf of the plan and print it out or you can check the website for weekly or monthly updates. This site also provides a nifty starting date calculator which will allow you to reset the Bible reading plan to whatever day you wish to start on, such as January 7! You can also adjust the Bible translation and language.
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One Year Chronological Bible Plan
This plan comes from the same site, but the readings are arranged chronologically. So you start at Genesis and I Chronicles and read straight through the Bible from there. Like the previous plan, the…

Sister to Sister: The Door to the Purest Service

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We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
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Dear Sisters in Christ,
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To be frank, servanthood never mattered to me much growing up. I rarely served my parents and friends out of love. Usually if I did serve them it was to make myself look good, or because of some special occasion. I was particularly sacrificial if there was a scholarship up for grabs and I knew my teachers would see. I took Matthew 23:12 quite literally: "Whoever humbles himself will be exalted." So I would busy myself trying to look humbled so that ultimately I could be exalted. But of course humility is not forced--it is Spirit-driven. And it is not easy to find true humility--sacrificial spirits are elusive and escape your grasp whenever you purposefully reach for them. On the outside I may have looked like a servant at times, but most often I was hot-tempered and self-consci…

Quotations: Mind the Present

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"It has been well said that no man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourselves so...If you find yourselves so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God's. He begs you to leave the future to him, and mind the present." George MacDonald -

Speaking Truth, Showing Grace

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Recently, in a sermon, I heard evangelism described as the combined work of truth and grace. Sharing our faith is not merely a matter of niceness or of stating the truth, this pastor suggested, but of coupling sincere kindness with a humble sharing of God's truth. Both elements are necessary in order to effectively reach others. -
This idea is beginning to make sense to me. I have long held the belief that if I am nice enough, distinct enough, people will wonder why and try to find out what makes me different. But is that truly enough? No one has ever approached me saying, "Amy, you are just so nice! Why is that? Is it because of Jesus?" Niceness is a necessity for evangelism, but alone it does not point others to Jesus. It is only one half of the equation.
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Consequently, I've come to agree with the pastor when he says we need to extend grace to others, but we need to do so while simultaneously proclaiming the truth about God, about what Jesus has done in our lives…