"Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ." - George Washington

Monday, May 31, 2010

Purify My Heart

In order for there to be a change, you have to realize that something's wrong. ~ Josh Cockroft
At National Convention this year, the theme was "Changing lives to change the world." I saw that theme and thought, "Oh dear, won't this be fun? I hate change." and then for the first period of worship that week, Josh started us off by saying that phrase:  In order for there to be a change, you have to realize that something's wrong. That hit me like a hammer. I don't ever like to think of myself as wrong - none of us do - but was I wrong? Was I there to change something that was wrong? Why was I there?
Proverbs 30:21 ~ There is a generation that is pure in it's own eyes, yet is not washed from it's filthiness. 
 I had the idea that I was doing okay in my walk with the Lord. As you know, my diligence in Bible reading was pretty askew, but I thought I had fixed that. I had an accountability partner and life was hunky-dory. But I couldn't shake the feeling that something was between me and God.
Titus 1:15-16 ~ To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
I didn't want change. I knew it would be painful to search my heart. So I decided I would learn, but I didn't need to change. God is so much wiser than me though. And He is sovereign, He does what He wants.
Matthew 5:8 ~ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 
The first day had been a long one and I had lost the chance of reading my Bible on my own, so after lights out, I pulled out my phone and read my Bible in bed. I was in Matthew 5, and started reading the beatitudes. "Blessed are the meek and yaddah yaddah... Blessed are the pure in heart... Well now. Purity is quite a foreign topic nowadays. Purity and innocence aren't held in very high regard. In fact, they're rather scoffed at. The hip thing now is being gangsta and ghetto. Riding the border of sin, using filthy language, watching dirty movies and filling the heart with lustful music. Being pure in heart is a lot harder than it sounds, it's so unpopular. Scandal is fashionable, purity is not." That was what jump-started my week, the issue of purity in a fallen world.
In order to have a heart for change, you have to have a heart for the changer. ~ Chad Warren 
One of the speakers was Chad Warren, the one who had guest directed the Iowa State Class. I had met him before and heard him speak. The issue he opened up was idolatry, and how anything that becomes top priority in your life, other than God, was an idol. Now no one, including me, thinks of themselves as idol worshipers. I'm certainly not bowing down to my car, or going gaga over a certain guy or celebrity. But what he said was true, there were certain things in my life that occupied my thoughts more than Christ. God began to work in my heart.
James 4:8 ~ Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 
The thing that weirded me out was that purity kept reoccurring. In my small group in the next day, we approached it on a rabbit trail. And there was one other girl who stated exactly what I had been thinking in my Bible study the night before. Coincidence?
Psalm 19:12-13 ~ Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. 
It came up in a song in worship, called Refiner's Fire. The first lyrics are:  Purify my heart, let me be as gold and precious silver. It seemed rather appropriate.
Acts 3:19 ~ Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord... 
Then came the night that we split up into prayer groups. There were many topics addressing the government, the church, missions, abortion, families, the military, etc. And purity. I knew I had to go with that group. There was no other option that made as much sense. We prayed for purity in every aspect, sexual purity, mental, spiritual. Courage to remain pure amongst friends. It was convicting.
Isaiah 44:22 ~ I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to me for I have redeemed you.
And then we went back into the auditorium to worship. Worship after everyone's heart has been tuned with prayer is always the most deep and genuine and that night was no exception. Not a dry eye could be found, hearts were broken and the Spirit moved through everyone. He convicted me of things I hadn't even thought to be a problem. And He liberated me! Oh the joy of giving it all to the Lord and having my self washed clean!
Ezekiel 11:19-20 ~  Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statues and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be my people, and I shall be their God.
He gave me a new heart of flesh! This verse had been one discussed in small groups and throughout the week, and not until I got home did I realized my mom had been praying this one for me. A young man in our  small group had said that every time we sin, our hearts become less tuned to the Spirit's pricks, more callused and stony. How true! I hadn't even realized how far I had strayed from God. I earnestly prayed that He would fetter me to Himself, and not let me become so callused again.
Romans 12:1 ~ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 
The words conformed and transformed in the Greek are in the passive tense. You don't conform or transform yourself, those things are being done to you. It all depends on the position you have put yourself in. Don't allow the world to conform you! Position yourself to be transformed by God. Even if you don't, He'll still do what He wants, and He can make you learn the hard way.
Philippians 4:8 ~ Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy - meditate on these things.
Ask the Lord to keep your heart pure, don't let the world conform you, don't become callused and stony. Ask the Lord what you have idolized. What or who is standing in His place? The Lord ought to be your one desire.
Desiderio Domini
                           {I long to be with my Savior}

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Changing Lives...

I'm back! I left for a week. I went to TeenPact National Convention, to grow in my faith, be challenged to change, and to go and change others. National Convention was at Fort Bluff Camp, in Dayton, Tennessee.  It was a long 16 hour drive, to a place of recuperation from every day life, from striving and fighting. It was a period of refreshing from the Lord, a week of iron sharpening iron. My life has been changed! I'm the same, yet different. I have had my stony heart removed, and one of flesh is in its place. I have fallen in love with God and He holds my future. He has given me a passion for purity. He has given me new friends to be encouraged by and be accountable to. He has shown me how much He loves me. And all I have in return is an extremely grateful heart. In the next few weeks, I will more than likely expound on these things, but for now, I still need some time to look at it all in retrospect and continue to learn and grow in these areas.

BUT, I can share some pics with you. =D

 This is our Iowa group. We spent more than 32 hours together in the Chevy Convertion, driving through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. From left to right is Peter, me, Laura, Emma, Jennifer and Matt.

Meet our loverly drivers, Mrs. Niemeyer, and Mama Brew. =) They deserved a breather. Thank you both for sacrificing your time to take us to Tennessee.

Like good home-schoolers, we did a little sight-seeing (and modeling) along the way. Would you believe this place is a rest stop? It's called Whitehaven, just over the border in Kentucky.

A statue of Andrew Jackson on the East side of the Tennessee state capitol building in Nashville, Tennessee. There is actually no TeenPact state class in Tennessee yet. Rather ironic that National Convention was held there.

The camp is set right on the edge of a bluff (Thus the name, Fort Bluff Camp) and we took a little trip to edge to take some pix and chillax.

The vantage point gives you a view of over 500 square miles, and you can even see the river and over the border to Kentucky, I think.

Taking advantage of the landscape. Tennessee is beautiful, and the weather wasn't bad. Just way too humid.

Converse look good anywhere. =)

Aaron Watson, one of our speakers and the Director of Staff Development. Thinker of Deep Thoughts.

The presidential candidates that made it out of the primary elections. Reggie Flowers, Nathan Tifft, and Clayton Chambers. Each state class has its own mock elections for a governor and representatives, but National Convention holds elections, campaigning, and open forums on a larger scale, for president/vice president, representatives and senators.


Celebrating Clayton's success on election night.

One of our speakers, 18-year-old Zach Hunter, who raises money to free and rehabilitate slaves, and to put an end to human trafficking and child prostitution. Check him out: Zach Hunter: The Teenage Abolitionist

Zachary Chambers leading worship. Some of the deepest, convicting and most profound worship I've ever had has happened at NC.

The girls session. Yes, Aaron Watson spoke during the girls session. Very impressive and enlightening, for sure.

The guys at TeenPact are the best you'll ever meet. They open doors for you, offer you their chairs, and let you pass them in the lunch line. I even saw a guy give his lunch to a girl who had lost her meal pass. So on the last night, all the girls let the guys go first through the meal line. Best night ever!

The traveling intern team. What an amazing group of people! They give and give and give.

Ultimate Frisbee is the official sport of TeenPact. This year, there were 20 teams competing all throughout the week and the top two held their game on the last evening, under the lights. We were on the top of a bluff, in the clouds naturally. Made for a wet, but very epic game.

Five years of TeenPact, and still passionate.

If you're interested in TeenPact, check out the website. This years season is already over, but I would still highly entreat you to consider attending your state's class next year. It is truly life-changing. God has used TeenPact to make an impact on me and hundreds of others.
Changing Lives to Change the World

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dilligence... Or Lack Of

   I've noticed this morning, that my lack of diligence in blogging and pen-palling... my lack of interest at church... and my general attitude, behavior, and conscience are all directly linked to the amount of dedication I put toward my devotions with the Lord. You say "Well, you haven't blogged very much lately." and that's very true. "That means you haven't been studying your Bible very much." Also true. I've gotten very lazy in every aspect of my life because one key activity has been put to the side. There simply must be a change!

   I have decided to become an accountability partner with my closest friend. She and I are going to read the same passages everyday, and call each other every evening to compare what we have learned. I also plan to prioritize my reading just as much as I prioritize my morning coffee. No coffee unless I'm sitting down with my Bible at the same time. I need energy in my life, just as much as caffeine for my morning.

   And you, my readers, deserve an apology. I will do my best to keep diligent. If things slow down again, you have every right to leave me a note and tell me to pull my Bible back off the shelf! I'm counting on you. And I'm trusting in God.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not Gone Yet

   Hello All! It's been at least a month or two, I suppose, since my last post -- I'm sorry. I guess I decided I had been spending too much time online. Plus, spring fever got to me! It's simply gorgeous outside and the weather has been unbelievably amazing. I weeded and tilled a section of the garden, but I still haven't bought any flowers to put in it. It just might remain a patch of dirt all summer... lol.

   A few quick updates, work and life goes on the same as usual, but my home school tumbling recital is tonight so I'm rather nervous for that already. It might be my last year, as I haven't decided whether I'm going back or not. If it is, I hope it is one worth remembering because the whole year has gone so wonderfully. Our picture day is usually incredibly hectic and stressful - easily the worst day in the tumbling year. But this year went very smoothly! What a blessing from God, we all enjoyed it and got some amazing class pictures.

   I got to go to my first prom! My best friend Kristina invited me, since it was her senior prom. The prom was organized by a homeschooling family that has a junior and senior in high school. There aren't any other home school proms around and to actually go to a prom, you have to be dual-enrolled, or invited by someone that is. It was held at a Holiday Inn in West Des Moines, and there was food, a dance floor and DJ - it was legit! =) We even went out to eat at the Cheesecake Factory beforehand, the food was delish! (We split the chicken bellagio, I suggest you try it sometime.) We had a great time, and made lotsa memories. And we mustn't forget the beautiful dresses! =) Dressing up was probably the best part.
   We also have a new toy! We sold the beloved clubhouse and swing set in the back yard and bought a 13' trampoline! It's totally fun and we use it pretty much every day. No injuries yet...

   Those are the highlights of summer drawing near... I'll try to keep you posted. =)