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Friday, December 17, 2010

A Prologue (December 17, 2010)


I'm going to do a bit on sunrises vs. sunsets later.


Headed out to an outdoor skating rink with a bunch of friends.
Thank the Lord for the busy weekend.
Been listening to a lot of Air 1 radio. Let me tell you, they work wonders. 



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A New Era

My deepest apologies for not posting the other two articles. This month has been a too crazy for me and Darby to post any articles.

In fact, I would like to inform you all that I am officially a college student! I really don't want this to focus on me, but the fact is that I won't be able to have time to keep this running as I'm in college (I'm starting a semester early. In January). So with much remorse I am sorry to say that Bonded in Christ is coming to an end. :(

However, there is some silver lining. I'm going to turn this into a more personal blog where I will chronicle my adventures into the wonderful world of books! :)

Thank you all for all your love and support. Special thanks to Lauren, Darby, and Elizabeth, who came together from opposite sides of the country to help me out. I love you girls so much! :)

In all things, may you bring glory to God

-Belle

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All From God


I’ve always wondered how atheists celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I mean, it’s a good excuse to eat lots of food, but what does that day mean for them? Do they go around in a circle saying “thank you” to nobody in particular? Austin Cline, an atheist writer for About.com, answered my question in his article “Godless Thanksgiving: Do Atheists Have Anyone to Thank?”

There's a popular belief among some American Christians that the American Thanksgiving holiday is necessarily religious. Aside from the apparent desire to turn everything into an expression of their religion, the primary reason behind this seems to be the idea that the whole point must be to give thanks to their god - not any other gods, just theirs, thus making it a Christian holiday too. If this is true, then it makes no sense for non-Christians, or at least non-theists, to celebrate Thanksgiving.
…There are many people whom we should thank because of how they help us either live at all or just live better. A common thread in these cases is precisely the fact that it is humans who are responsible for that for which we should be thankful, so it is humans whom we should be thanking. At no point are gods involved; even if they exist, gods aren't responsible for that for which we should be thankful, so there is no point in thanking them. On Thanksgiving, don't waste time with prayers, poems about gods, or empty religious rituals…
Sad, right? But I’m afraid that it’s not just atheists who feel like they have a right to the good things they enjoy, apart from any god. Many of us as Christians have started to live like we deserve to have a nice suburban life with a happy family. We have a right to a good education. We deserve to enjoy this beautiful weather. We understand that we don’t deserve heaven or salvation, but a consistent job or a warm cup of coffee is a totally different matter.
Although different than grace that brings salvation, the good things we enjoy and talk about around the Thanksgiving table are nevertheless gifts of grace. We’re here. We’re living. We’re breathing. It rains. The sun shines. Few people call that grace though, because as Jeff Hutchinson, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, succinctly put it: “So few believe in common grace, because the human heart will not admit that a world without common grace is what we deserve.”  
In Psalm 53, David writes: 
The fool says in his heart, “‘There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
All of us have said "there is no God" in our hearts or have at least lived like it, making gods out of ourselves or our things. Nobody is good. All are corrupt. Nobody seeks God. But when man wasn't interested in God, God was pursuing us. Instead of wiping us off the earth, He poured out His wrath on His Son and poured out grace on us, His enemies. What we really deserve is instant wrath. Thus everything is an undeserved gift of grace from God. The good things in my life that I enjoy are totally undeserved, because I should be getting only wrath from Him. That's grace.  
So when you enjoy beautiful weather, good food, a free country, a good education, laughter, a warm house, don’t ignorantly believe that these are simply things you deserve. Thank the God who by His grace has given you this day.
-Lauren Reavely  

The Practical Life of Thanksgiving


         Being thankful is something that I think all of us struggle with. For some of us it’s easy to say something without thinking and not really mean it. For some of us it’s easy to think things without thinking. Obviously we all do both at some point. But, what is harder for you to control? For me, it’s what I think. I’m the kind of girl that won’t say something unless I’m asked about it or if I’ve had coffee. ;) So, most people think of me as “the quite one” that always has a smile on her face. But, my mind is FULL of unthankfulness and impatience. So, what can I do to be thankful? And not only on thanksgiving day but the whole year?
            Sometimes you’ll hear someone say, “When you think something bad... just stop.” But, as I’ve found out it doesn’t always work that easily. I like to think on the positive. So, instead of thinking “stop the bad thought”... think about starting the good. Yes, many times there is a bad thing said (or thought) and you need to ask God to forgive you for and remove it from your mind. But, sometimes there’s simply a loss of a good thought in your life. If you’re in love with someone, don’t you talk about them ALL the time? Not only that... but do you think about them ALL the time? It’s the same way for God. Think about Him, how amazing He is, His extraordinary love for you - a sinner!
            Philippians 4: 4-9 (English Standard Version) says this, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
            Be thankful for the difference God has made in your life, be completely in love with Him, think on positive things. Be the girl that people look at and wonder how you could be - not only happy - but at peace with your life and contented with what God has given you. God is amazing. If you are faithful and are thankful for what He has given you, He will bless you for it. As this quote says, “Live, Laugh, Love.”
-Elizabeth Morphonious 
            

Monday, November 1, 2010

November!!!! :)

Tis the season to be thankful

I would once again like to thank my incredible "team" for being so on top of the ball with getting in the articles in. I also want them to know that I appreciate the sincerity and humility with which they right.

With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away I thought it would be good to take a look at what true thankfulness means. I know it may seem a bit cliche to be talking about thankfulness at Thanksgiving, but the Lord has blessed us more than we can ever imagine. He gives us the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the breaths we take each day. 


So I have asked the girls to write about being thankful. They can write on what they're thankful for, why it is important to be thankful, anything that they can think of. If you would like to contribute don't hesitate to send your articles to the email under "Write For Us" on the main page.

God Bless you all.


"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do; Do it all for the glory of God." -Corinthians 10:31



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making Absolutes


Once again, great job on the articles girls. :)

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is one of my favorite books. It is based on the story of Hosea, a prophet commanded by God to marry a prostitute. After Hosea married his wife, the prostitute, ran away from him and went back to prostitution. Hosea, obeying God’s command, went after her and brought her back. The prostitute continued to run away from him and Hosea continued to bring her back. In Redeeming Love the first time Hosea brings her back he is furious with her. How could she leave him and go back to her profession after he had rescued her, and clothed, her and loved her as a wife. The biblical story was an analogy of Israel. God was showing Hosea, and those who would read His word, of Israel’s continual lust after idols of gold, silver and wood and His continual restoration.

What is the first commandment?

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; Do not have any other gods before me.” –Exodus 20:2-3

Notice how this commandment starts. “I am the Lord your God who brought you…. Out of the house of slavery.” If you think that this was just intended for the Israelites who had been rescued from Egypt I’m sorry to say you are grossly mistaken. We are all slaves to our sinful desires, and yet God has rescued us. He has brought us out of our slavery. He has saved us from eternal damnation. No wonder he commands us to serve Him alone.

So then what is an idol?

My mother and I have discussed the meaning of an idol countless times, and we were able to boil it down to two simple points.

            An Idol is either anything that you are willing to sin to get, or anything that becomes your absolute.

I believe the first point is pretty self-explanatory. Anything that becomes more important than following God’s command becomes an idol. However let me expound on the second. When something is absolute it means that it is “free from imperfection” (Webster’s dictionary). I find my worth, satisfaction, and purpose for life in something that is absolute, as I should, and as should we all. Something absolute will never let us down or hurt us. However when we place a thing or person in that position of being absolute we are now finding out worth, satisfaction, and purpose from that thing; whether it be money, food, or appearance; even a husband or wife can become an idol. As Lauren said, idols can be good things, but if we make them the most important things in our life, if we think of them as absolute, then they become our idols.

When you think of a “modern day” idol what is the first thing that comes to your head? Money? Love? Power? While all of these can be idols, I don’t believe that the objects themselves are the ultimate idols but rather, they are “surface idols.” In order to check idolatry in our life we have to rid ourselves of the “deeper idols.” Tim Keller introduced this concept of surface idols and deeper (or heart) idols in his book Counterfeit Gods. Think of it this way:

When you’re pulling weeds you don’t want to just cut off the part above the dirt, you want to dig, getting your fingers dirty, to the seed of the and pull it out by it’s roots. If you just clip the weed above the surface you are only getting rid of it for a short while.

As an example: I have made a certain guy in my life my absolute. If I try to stop thinking about him or having feelings for him in an attempt to rid myself of the idolatry, the idol will pop up in some other form; either as a different guy or as my own appearance. While this guy is the surface idol, the deeper idol is the need to be loved. God’s love isn’t enough for me; I need to find it in others. This is the heart idol that I need to deal with and fight. Again I want to stress the fact that this guy is not wrong, and my feelings for him are not wrong. Rather what’s wrong is making him absolute.

If you want to know more about the difference between deeper idols and surface idols I would highly recommend Counterfeit Gods. It is a fast read, but it is the book you can’t just read once.

We will never be able to completely rid ourselves of Idolatry in this life. It is a part of our sin nature. Back in the garden Adam and eve were willing to sin to get what they wanted and so the first seeds of idolatry were planted. However, there is hope.

“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

God has provided us a savior that has overcome every area of sin. He has died for us, and it is because of Christ, our absolute sacrifice, that we are forgiven. God gives us the strength to slowly pull up the roots of our idols. The deepest sins are always the most painful to uproot. Just like when Aslan peels back the scales on Eustace, turning him into a boy again in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so the Lord peels back the deepest layers and deepest roots of our sin, rescuing us from the bonds of slavery and enabling us to spend eternity with Him; The Only Absolute.
(Yours truly) Belle Schuler, Oregon 










Not Of Wood Or Stone

Here is my problem. I bite my tongue repeatedly. Not only does this cause a minor amount of self-inflicted pain to said appendage, but also it is proof of a significant issue in my walk with the Lord. The Bible is chock-full of verses related to idols, and how we are to treat them. I get it. Do not bow down to a stick that has been carved to vaguely resemble Buddha’s third cousin once removed. However, what we fail to realize is that it is so much more than that. Idols are defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “A representation or symbol of an object of worship.” Anything, be it something we are bowing down to physically, or merely placing on a pedestal in our head, is an idol if we put it before the Lord.


For me, one of my subtler idols is this: men’s good opinion. “Should I witness to this surfer dude sitting next to me on the plane? I think we have talked about flip flop brands long enough. Nah, he’d probably think I’m really weird.” “Should I speak up when someone says religion is a crutch? I don’t want to come across as crazy.” It goes on and on. We are far too concerned with our good name, and reputation. Jesus said “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” 


If you don’t have children of the world hating you, you’re doing something wrong. You’re not taking enough of a stand, you’re not remembering the Lord’s wonderful mercies to you. When you do catch sight of all He has done for us, serving Him and living wholeheartedly for Him will be easier. And by easier I mean you will want to do it more, not that life will be fruit loops and rainbows. We are fighting a battle, and if we lose focus of whom our worship goes to, we’re going to lose. When you go to heaven, do you want to be told “I never knew you. Depart from me, evildoer!” or “Well done, thy good and faithful servant. Enter into thy reward.”? The choice on paper is obvious, living it out is harder. But I encourage you to press on and keep the faith.


-Darby Sproul, Florida