Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Throne



When one dark eve I closed my eyes
I woke surprised to see
A palace worthy of a king
And throne with crimson seat

I entered it and there beheld
The banner and the throne
Were boldly colored red and bore
A name—it was my own!

I timidly approached the throne
Emboldened though yet shy
Ascending several golden stairs
I gave the seat a try

The chair was vast but comf’table
A royal poise I feigned
Reclining back, I smirked and sighed
And thus began my reign

As I picked up the golden crown
And placed it on my head
I felt as if the whole wide world
Was sitting in its stead

The problems came at first in pairs
And then in droves and hordes
Though scepter put me in command
What small aid it affords!

I tried to get the budget straight
And keep the ledgers neat
Though ample funds were mine and more
I could not make ends meet

The books in my library sat
With hundreds still unread
The knowledge I had yet to learn
Made questions fill my head

And not just questions, I’m afraid
But worries came as well
Since answers kept evading me
My mind on problems dwelled

Ten servants flanked me left and right
My orders to obey
But though I sought efficiency
To-do lists grew each day

My friends and ladies came to sit
My company to keep
But true love still evaded me
Sometimes I’d sit and weep

The battlefield was clothed in blood
My soldiers losing heart
I could not lead them by myself
I’d failed them from the start

I searched to drown my dreadful days
With pleasures sought by night
But nothing in my kingdom’s walls
Could make the trouble right

As darkness set in o’er the land
I ordered lanterns brought
But no amount of human light
Quenched darkness I had wrought

At last in desperation, I
The ruler of the land
Cried out for sovereign help because
I needed stronger hands

Those hands came quicker than I’d thought
(With head and body too!)
As King of Kings came riding in
His light embraced the room

He took the scepter from my hand
I gladly let it go
I handed him the crown as well
All that and more I owe

My child, he said, come help me rule
I climbed up on his knee
With childlike curiosity
I watched all I could see

The treasure chest he managed well
His funds were infinite
My knowledge grew as he professed
What he himself had writ

He answered all my questioning
His manner, soft and kind
With Him I conquered many tasks
My walls with trophies lined  

I met true friends who joined with me
To hail Him as the king
Victorious troops from battle came
Enticing all to sing

I found my pleasure at long last
When he captured my heart
He drove all darkness from this place
And gave a fresh, new start

“My Lord,” said I, “One thing remains
Your name must replace mine.
You’ve taken over everything
And made it all divine!”

“This realm, my child,” replied the king,
“Shall ever bear your name
For though it has new leadership
The kingdom is the same.”

We thus struck up a compromise
My banner bore his crest
Together with my name it made
A land unique and blessed

The thought of ruling by myself
Brings only great disdain
The kingdom is my own heart still
Made better by his reign

For from that day he changed my life
He changed the kingdom too
He rules it with his loving strength
He’ll do the same for you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Death of a Dream


Feels like the death of your dream
And you don't understand
You've done all you can to obey
Like Abraham with knife in hand
Faithful one asking God, "Why?"
Oh, he sees the tears you cry
What feels like the death of your dream
Could be a new beginning


Has God called you to surrender your dream to him?  A while ago I wrote this post about surrender. I was having to make some choices to let go of some things I held with far too tight a grasp. Around that time, I also wrote this song/poem in my journal. I re-read it last night and was once again gripped by the pain but also the beauty of letting go of my plans, hopes, and dreams, and letting God have His way in my life.

Maybe you feel that your "dream" has been killed by something that happened to you...Maybe you lost your job, a loved one passed away, your family was torn apart by a divorce, or it just feels like singleness will be forever and you'll never find true love. Even after surrendering to God, it's still hard to trust his goodness and his perfect will when life throws you a devastating curveball.

No matter what you're facing, remember that Jesus came to bestow on you:

"a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair"
Isaiah 61:3 

Your dream is in His loving hands. 
"He has made everything beautiful in his time." Eccl. 3:11

Additional Resources: "Dreams Must Die" on Forever His Servant http://foreverhisservant.blogspot.com/2011/03/dreams-must-die.html#comments
" I must daily learn the act of dying. Yielding my life for His.  Giving Him everything." -Melanie

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Smarter Pants



There she was, ravaging the shelves for her size. Her mission was clear, her mind resolute. “I will find the perfect pair of jeans.”


Then, she saw them. The metallic stitching on the pockets glistened across the whole store. The bold red letters S-A-L-E blurred into B-U-Y M-E in her love-struck eyes. 


In slow motion, she pushed past racks of mediocrity in pursuit of ultimate perfection. There they were. The most gorgeous jeans ever designed by man. She snatched up two sizes and colors, just to be safe.


As she strutted confidently into the fitting room, the motion-activated sensor heralded her arrival. “Whee-whoooooo!”


But tragedy struck in that fitting room. The larger size was far too large. She tossed them to the side and determinedly pulled on the smaller size. With a couple of hops, jumps, and twists, she got them buttoned and stepped back to admire her prize. They were trendy, uber attractive, and even comfortable! But her face fell as she realized the jeans looked like they had been purchased in the paint section of Home Depot. The second she wore those jeans out of the fitting room, her commitment to modesty would be thrown to the wind. She sighed as she admired them for a final minute and then peeled the things off. “Bee-booooooo!” Upon her exit, the beeper now seemed to announce her failure to the world.


As she sadly returned the jeans to their rack and stepped away, casting one final sorrowful glance, she suddenly turned to see a set of shelves she hadn’t noticed before. Another pair of jeans, not quite so shiny, but equally trendy, seemed to pop off the shelf at her. Barely daring to get her hopes up again, she slowly picked them up plodded back to the fitting room.


Halfheartedly, the discouraged shopper tried on the stylish light charcoal jeans and looked into the mirror. At first, she didn’t dare to believe it! They seemed to fit perfectly! She walked around, sat down, and bent over just to be sure. They fit! And they were almost as chic as the ones she had to leave behind! Best of all, they were unquestionably modest.


The whole store seemed to pause and watch in amazement as she triumphantly exited the fitting room, singing along to the “Whee-whooooo!!” Armed with a ten-dollar-off coupon, she—or should I say, “I”—marched to the cash register with my grey denim prize.


Moral of this somewhat-silly-but-actually-quite-true story: Don’t settle for second-best in regards to modesty! There’s always another pair of jeans.  ;)


“[M]ake up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:13


Additional resources on modesty: http://womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com/2011/03/spring-fashions-and-modesty.html 

NOW AVAILABLE: Smarter Pants 2: Demise of the Creamy White Jeans

Friday, March 18, 2011

Escaping the Dark Side


“Luke. I am your Father!”


What chilling words. For those of you who have seen the Star Wars movies (I’m guessing that includes almost everyone) you know that they’re the words of Darth Vader, telling Luke what he least wanted to hear.


In John 8:44, Jesus said to the Jews, “You belong to your Father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”


Creepy. Sound “Vader-esque” to you? The main difference is that this enemy, although he was good at one time, isn’t going to suddenly find his inner good and save you from the emperor. “There is no truth in him.”


I can hear the Jews screaming “NOOOO! That’s not possible!” They were enraged at the accusation that they, God’s chosen people, were children of the devil. But it was the truth.


As a matter of fact, all of us start out belonging to the devil. See, a lot of times we think of our life as beginning in the middle, with a choice to either follow the good side or the dark side. But that’s not actually the case. We are born into sin, and that means we start out on the negative side of zero. As Jesus said, “ . . . whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son” (John 3:18b).


David knew he was born into the Dark Side: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51). Paul confirms this in the New Testament, saying “ . . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).


Everyone starts out on the Dark Side. In the hole. At negative infinity.


Hopefully, you’ve read John Bunyan’s classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress. In this story, a young man, Christian, makes an epic journey to get to the Celestial City, heaven. He doesn’t begin halfway between heaven and hell. He begins in the City of Destruction, a place facing imminent wrath and destruction. A man named Evangelist tells Christian that if he stays put, he will surely be destroyed. As Christian makes his journey, there are pitfalls and “shortcuts to hell” all along the path. So many forces are working to hinder or deter him from his destination. But Christian, though he struggles and fails at times, makes choices that keep him going toward his goal. Because of this, he receives the ultimate prize: Standing before his Lord in the glory of heaven and hearing the most precious words in all eternity: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


We start out, like Christian did, scheduled for destruction. We’re already on death row.


Is there any hope? How do we escape the clutches of the Dark Side?


First of all, we have to die. Just as Christ died. A paraphrase of Romans 6:6 says, “Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life!” All we have to do is accept it. (And if you haven’t yet, please contact me, a pastor, or a strong Christian you know and they can help you accept Christ today!)


But even after salvation, we’re in danger of making choices that turn us back to the Dark Side. As Paul said, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.” (Colossians 2:6). That means every day, we continue to “put to death” our old self and give life to our new self in Christ.


You see, it’s all about choices.


C. S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “ . . . every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before . . . The mark which the action leaves on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life . . . each of us will have to endure—or enjoy—forever.”


Every choice we make, every moment of our lives, is either leading us back toward the life we came from, or onward to the “Celestial City.”


Every time you entertain thoughts of anger, it’s leading you back toward the malice Christ died to save you from. “Anger leads to hate. Hate…leads to suffering.” You’re changing into a hateful person.


Every time you allow yourself to look at something you shouldn’t, you’re training your eyes to keep doing it. You’re changing into someone with unguarded eyes.


Every time you allow hurtful words out of your mouth, you’re changing into someone who says hurtful things.


Every time you choose darkness over light, wrong over right, sin over righteousness, you are choosing to turn around and walk back towards the city of Destruction. You’re returning to the Dark Side—to who you were when you lived there.


The good news is, it works both ways. Paul says, “ . . . live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16).


Every time the alcoholic refuses the drink, every time the porn addict decides not to click, every time you chase away the thought of lust, anger, pride, selfishness, or greed that pops into your mind, you are shaping who you are; you are becoming a child of the light. “For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. LIVE AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT!” (Ephesians 5:8).


Who are you becoming? Are you choosing to live as a child of light, or are you making choices that have turned you back toward the Dark Side?



As Yoda might say,
“Mrmmm . . . up to you, it is.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shadows - Guest blog at JamesLex.com

Hello Friends! :)

My latest blog post is actually as a guest blog for a good friend and fellow blogger, James Lex. James has his own website, Jameslex.com, which includes a versatile blog about technology, school, life, and faith. His blog is one of a select few that I read regularly.

"Shadows" is about living your life controlled by the fear of your past mistakes. It's something we all do at times, and this post gives scriptural insight as to how and why we do it, as well as the key for escaping from our shadows.

Please stop by JamesLex.com to read my post, "Shadows," and while you're there, check out some of James' writing as well! :)

Have a great week; happy reading!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nineteen and Never Been Kissed




No, it’s not because I’m weird or shy. I don’t have deadly garlic breath or a weird quirk about me that drives the guys away. I made a choice, a long time ago. A promise to myself, my parents, and my God, that I’d remain pure until the day I get married. Purity, in my mind, wasn’t just a choice to save my virginity for my husband. Actually, purity is an art that I discover more about every day. It’s a beautiful dance, and I’m still learning the steps.


Sometimes it’s hard not to give in to temptation. But as Ephesians 6 says, the struggle is “not against flesh and blood.” Little choices lead to bigger choices. Honestly, I’ve never been tempted to kiss a guy. (And I’m pretty sure I’ve never tempted a guy to kiss me!) But that’s because the choices I make beforehand don’t let me get into those sorts of situations. Don’t get me wrong; I still face temptation on a daily basis. But they’re not usually physical choices of what I do or don’t do with a guy. They’re choices of what I watch, what I read, what I wear, what I listen to, what I say, what people I choose to befriend, and what thoughts I choose to entertain. I’ve found that every right choice leads to a deeper mental and spiritual commitment to purity—complete purity.


Let me tell you right now, my pursuit of purity has not been perfect. There are things I’ve done that I already regret. But missing a step doesn’t mean it’s not worth finishing the dance. Learning the dance of purity now means that I’ll be ready when the dance reaches its climax and I’m joined by another, one who has waited and practiced just as I have.


“Why?” you might ask. “Why learn purity now? Why not just “have some fun” while you’re single? There’s lots of time to be ‘pure’ and ‘faithful’ once you’re married.”


Pay attention, this may come as a shock to you: What you do now, will be what you do when you’re married. You cannot choose to live an impure life now and then automatically become the epitome of fidelity when you say “I do.” If you don’t stand your ground against lust’s clever temptations now, marriage will not automatically cure you of your desire for what is not yours. If two dancers who have no idea what they’re doing get together, do they get better? No, their klutziness is multiplied! Toes get stepped on, balance is lost, and there may even be a total collision with another unsuspecting pair of dancers.


By “impure” I simply mean this: Whether you are married or single, deriving sexual pleasure from thoughts, fantasies, images, or actual physical contact with someone you are not married to. You’re welcome to make up your own definition, but from my knowledge of God’s moral will through scripture, this is what I know to be true. Ephesians 5:3 says that there “must not be even a HINT of sexual immorality, or of ANY KIND of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” That’s good enough for me.


I’m not going to make up your list of what is and isn’t “pure” for you. That’s between you and God. But I ask you to consider carefully, and not let the world’s twisted way of thinking influence you. So many things that are “acceptable” in this day and age are detestable to God. Yes, detestable. I have my list, and like I said, I’m still learning. But one thing I know is that I’m definitely saving my first kiss for my wedding day.


I can hear the critics now: “You mean you’re not even going to kiss him when he asks you to marry him?”


Nope. And whoever “he” is will be completely fine with that.


“But that’s so unromantic!”


Hey, I’m as romantic as they come! I love seeing happy couples together, I cry at most weddings I attend, and most of my favorite movies are adventurous tales in which the lead characters, drawn together through perilous circumstances, fall in love at the end. But romance isn’t just what you see at weddings and in the movies. Real romance begins with a decision you make long before you find Mr. or Mrs. Right.


The fact is, I’ve decided in my heart that on my wedding day, I don’t just want to be able to say “I’ve saved my body for you.” I want to be able to give all of me, without reservation. I want to be able to say, “I haven’t lusted after another man. I’ve saved everything, even my thoughts, for you alone. You’re the only one I have ever, and will ever love.”


Now that’s romantic.


Are you hanging on halfheartedly to the shreds of your purity you have left? Or have you made a firm decision to learn the ways of purity? Whatever your past, it’s not too late to begin learning the dance. Your future is up to you.

"I don’t stay pure so I can marry the perfect woman so we can have a perfect marriage. I stay pure because I love the woman I’m going to marry." -Ben, of "In All Purity"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Lamplighter Guild - The Chance of a Lifetime!


Hi Everyone!

I've been given the exciting opportunity to attend the Lamplighter Guild for Creative Disciplines!

Now, you may be thinking, "What's a guild?" Well, in this case, it is:

"A spectacular week . . . planned for forward-thinking adults and young adults (minimum age 16) who seek to engage in highly creative and strategic training in the dramatic arts, visual arts, and entrepreneurial strategies. Students will be inspired by visionary leaders who believe it is crucial to develop godly life principles while cultivating excellence in their craft.

Enjoy one-on-one sessions with masters in the dramatic arts, including actors, directors, composers, and engineers in such riveting dramas as The Chronicles of Narnia, Les Miserables, Left Behind, and episodes from Adventures in Odyssey, Radio Theatre, and Lamplighter Theatre. This week promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Although my career goal lies in education, I also have a passion for the dramatic arts. The Guild opportunity will enable me to sharpen my acting skills, as well as potentially opening doors for me to pursue voice acting positions with radio theater operations such as Lamplighter Theatre.

A description of the Guild's purpose states:

"Our goal is to provide students with a life-transforming week, which will inspire them to attain the skills needed to become diligent craftsmen, reaching the highest level of excellence in their work and life. We desire to provide a platform where students and masters will share ideas and explore new and strategic ways to be God’s image-bearer in today’s culture."

I've been considering several different leadership training opportunities before I return to school this fall, and this one strikes me as the one that most aligns with my life's purpose. As I've prayed and thought about this decision, I've felt the Lord leading me towards attending the Guild.

I'd like to ask you for your prayers and, if you feel led, your financial support.

To offset the cost of the lodging and tuition, Lamplighter Publishing has given me the opportunity to sell their products at 30% commission. Lamplighter Publishing provides beautiful collectors' books, enthralling audio dramas, and other similar products, all centered around Christ and faith-based living. I have read and listened to many of their products and have found them to be exciting, thought-provoking, and faith-enhancing.

Between now and mid-July, you can purchase Lamplighter products through me, or directly on the website using my code:

GUILD05

Please pass this code on to anyone you know who might be interested in purchasing Lamplighter books or CDs.

I will also be highlighting some of my favorite Lamplighter products on my blog.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and support!

~LaJoie~

To purchase Lamplighter books or products, go to: http://www.lamplighterpublishing.com/

You can read more about the Guild at this site: http://lamplighterguild.com/