All the peeps we sang with:Casting CrownsMichael EnglishpureNRGAvalonNatalie GrantDenver and the Mile High Orchestra
I mean, could you ask for anything more? Everyone did a great job, but I have to say Casting Crowns was just...WOW. I mean, the Holy Spirit was definetly there that night. I had never been a part of something like that. I got a dose of it when I went to the TobyMac concert, but the Jonas Brothers concert had absolutely no...what's the word?...hmmm...you know what I mean. We were all dying from the heat at the JB concert (seriously, some people were fainting), even though it was fun.
So, not only did they sing Christmas songs at this concert, but they also did some not-so-Christmassy praise songs that were beautiful. Casting Crowns did an amazing one called "Christmas Bells" based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was in a war time, and Henry just lost his wife and daughter, and he wrote this about despair and finding hope and peace in the Lord.
World Vision partnered with this concert lineup and my family is now sponsering a 7-year-old girl from China! This is so cool, let me tell you. We get to write letters to her and stuff and get a pic of her and a translator tells her (and us) what the letters say. Get this -- if YOU sponser a child through World Vision, here's what happens. World Vision goes to one needy village at a time in various countries and gets pictures and information about all the needy children there. Then they bring them to the USA. Now, here's what's cool. Nobody else is sponsering the child you'll be sponsering. That is the only picture of that girl or boy from World Vision -- YOU are their hope. Mark Hall (Casting Crowns lead singer) informed everyone in the audience that you can't preach the gospel to an empty stomach -- you need to fill it first, and then offer Jesus' love. That's what World Vision does. First we help them take care of the child, then, as we continue to care for them, World Vision tells them about God. It's so cool, I really hope you decide to sponser a child. Please talk with your parents about this!! I hope to have more info for you later.
This would be my 3rd concert. I've gone to TobyMac/Barlow Girl/Thousand Foot Krutch concert, Jonas Brothers concert, and now this. The best part: it'll last late into the night, which is super cool. What a great lineup!
What concerts have you gone to?
Home for Christmas has no instruments and, unlike what you'd expect from BarlowGirl, it doesn't have the slightest hint of rock in it. Barlow Girl wanted to focus on their vocals, and it has really shown. I have one of the songs from this album, What Child is This, and their voices are sooo pretty together, I seriously recommend buying the whole album. I might buy it myself.
I'm sure everyone of us pigged out on turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and, of course, a slice of pumpkin pie a'la CoolWhip.
I've started making lists. Yeah, lists. I used to make a lot of lists when I was little, but I threw them away. One of my lists are things I'm grateful for. I want you guys to make a list, too. The list doesn't have to be just for Thanksgiving -- you'll find great new things to thank God for throughout your entire life. Why not show your gratitude and thank God for them? I thank him for a few things I'm thankful for that day every night. God loved you so much he wanted to give you these things.
I also encourage you to read This Thanksgiving from The Christian's Journey and the King we Follow.
Today, at my AWANA Trek meeting (bible study for teens), we talked about justice. When you first think of justice, you probably picture a courtroom with a guy in a powdered wig raising a wooden stick (I forgot what they are called), booming, "GUILTY!" (Yes, I do love the show Shark, if that’s what you’re thinking.) Justice is found in another place: right here at home. What is justice outside the courtroom?
- doing the right thing
- making wrong things right – fixing problems
- being fair
- helping others be fair
Micah 3:8 says, "He [God] has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." This was one of my memory verses today. Being the procrastinator that I am, I memorized them lickety-split in the car on the way to church.
What are we to do?
- be good (like God has shown you)
- be just (act justly)
- be merciful (love mercy)
- walk humbly (with God)
God is a just God. God is totally fair. As my youth leader put it, "He doesn’t say, ‘Oh, it’s ok that Hannah did this, because she’s my favorite, but Melissa, well, she’s gotta go.’"
How can God be just?
- He does not have favorites
- He loves everyone, including you
- He is perfect
- He is fair
- He knows what is in your heart, so he knows your motives
- He knows what you’ll do in the future
The Bible mentions several times the justness of God. In Numbers 16, God showed justice to Korah, who didn’t like Moses’ leadership. Korah wanted to be first and in control. By rebelling against Moses, Korah was rebelling against God, because Moses was a man of God who did what God told him to do. God punished Korah by opening the ground and swallowing up Korah and everything that belonged to him. It was like he had never even existed!
Now, listen to this. Korah came up with his buds to Moses and Aaron and said, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?" (Numbers 16:3) What did Moses do? He fell flat on his face and asked the Lord for help. He then stood up and said, "In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to Him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near Him." (verse 5) Moses didn’t do what you and I would have probably done. Moses didn’t defend himself. He didn’t even talk about how long he had led all the Israelites in the desert and how he and God provided for them. He didn’t mention what God had already done through his leadership. As my Trek book puts it, "He simply left it in the Lord’s hands." And bad-guy Korah was punished.
If you did something really wrong, God would punish you. He would even punish you if you did a little thing wrong. Bad things may happen to us simply because we were born, because we’re all born with sin.
This is just. Sin must be punished. Justice shown to you is a gift. When you sneak out to go to a party, being grounded from sports, TV, and the phone may seem harsh and definitely not fun, but it’s really a gift. We can learn from our mistakes if we take the time to think about them. Now you know that there are consequences for your actions, and that doing wrong things doesn’t pay. Now, hopefully you won’t sneak out again.
Hopefully the person who wronged me will never do it again – to anyone. Hopefully she has learned a lesson. Hopefully she is sorry for what she has done (I’m pretty sure she is). Meanwhile, I can show her love and mercy and justice by giving her friendship and boundaries. Maybe something good will come out of this.
I hope to continue discussing justice and mercy with you in the next part of Order in the Court, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, please pray for the person I have mentioned. I will not abuse her trust by releasing her name here, but I will ask you to pray that she will learn from this mistake.
- We’re made for each other. Really. I was made for God. In fact, he made me! He decided what I would look like and who I would marry, what my passion would be and what vegetable I would loathe most. He made me just for him, just so I could be his best friend forever – and yes, literally, forever!
- He’s let me read his diary. Diaries are usually a private thing, but God, being the awesome friend that he is, actually lets me read his diary – whenever I want! What’s more, he lets EVERYONE read it. His diary is the coolest ever – it’s all about kings and queens, princes, soldiers, heroic battles, me, and himself. No wonder it’s the world’s best-selling book.
- He can read my thoughts. It’s really cool when you can read your friend’s thoughts and they can read yours. God always knows what I’m thinking, whether it’s good or bad.
- He’s a great listener. God is willing to listen to all my ramblings, all my requests, all my dreams and thoughts and hopes and fears. He listens whenever I’m ready to talk, without getting mad at me for being so self-centered.
- He forgives me. I do plenty of things wrong, to him and to other people. Here’s the cool part: when I ask for forgiveness, he forgives me! God is so not into holding grudges when you apologize.
- He gives me stuff. Yeah, I know this sounds pretty self-centered, but God gives me stuff, and it’s great. He gives me a house, a warm bed, animals, big dreams, food, clothes, a family, and an allowance (thank goodness!).
- He helped someone invent Cheez-Its. Seriously, how could you not love him for that?
- He’s a great artist and shows me his work. Actually, God is the BEST artist ever, I’m not joking. He’s made a whole world just for me, filled with beautiful sunsets and sunrises, rainbows and trees and blue skies.
- He protects me. God is brave and truly cares about me. He’ll protect me from criminals, bullies, goats, anything.
- He loves me. If you don’t think that’s a good reason, then you’re crazy.
God is perfect, but he does have a pet peeve: sin. God CANNOT STAND IT. When his son was dying and all the sins of the world were cast onto him, God turned his face away from his own son! He hates it when I sin, but God doesn’t hate me. He loves me, and he’s willing to forgive me if I ask.
Want to meet my friend? You can talk to him, free of charge, anywhere and everywhere, as long as you want. Now that I’ve introduced you, it’s up to you to get to know him. (PSST! I’ll let you read his diary!)
Sometimes you just have to make yourself do something, because it’s necessary for your short-term happiness, your relationship with your brother, your college, and maybe your teeth. (I WILL brush my teeth today. I WILL.)
What are some of those places where you have drawn a line and wanted to not go anywhere below that? Have you made yourself study so you won’t get a B in Spanish, and accepted nothing less? Have you made yourself do a chore and do it well, not stopping until it’s done and done correctly?
How do you feel when you’ve finished that task? Tired, probably – maybe hankering for a bag of chips. But what else do you feel? A sense of satisfaction? Happiness? Are you proud of yourself for accomplishing this and pushing yourself to do it?
But what happens after that? Once you’ve accomplished that, is there no place to move on to? Of course there is!
Kate and Josh, brother and sister, both were determined to not fail science class. They made a promise to themselves not to accept an F, but to push themselves until they got a grade that would help them pass the class. When their teacher handed them each their research report, with a bright red C on each one, both smiled. A C is a passing grade, so they wouldn’t fail the class. What happened next? Kate, satisfied that she wouldn’t fail, let herself relax now. She continued her passing grade at a steady rate – C, C, C – and passed the class. Her brother, however, chose a different route. After feeling the satisfaction of getting a passing grade, Josh wanted to go beyond that and move forward. Yes, he would have to push himself, but he worked hard studying that month, and when he received his report card, he got an A in science class.
What did Kate do? She drew a line and kept to it. She didn’t fail, but she didn’t move forward. Josh drew a line – and lived above it. He continued to strive for more. He continued to do well and work hard, and he was well rewarded.
You have the choice to draw a line, and you have the choice to either stick with it or be great. It’s up to you. You have the ability, even if you aren’t great in science or math, or friends, or whatever you’re struggling with.
So, yes, strive for the A. Make yourself study. Work on your skateboarding and master a flip. Practice jumping your horse, raise the poles higher – and clear it!
However, when the kittens grow older, they start getting more adventurous, just like kids. The mother cat must show them how to live: how to play, how to keep clean, how to hunt, how to eat the mice they kill, how to stay away from predators (such as people, dogs, coyotes and cars), and how to find food that humans leave behind. The mother’s job is to protect the kittens and teach them how to live in the world.
When a mother horse is teaching her foal how to survive, she may nip it when the foal does something wrong, such as over-nurse, stray to far, or be to friendly with someone they shouldn’t be.
Your parents are much like the mother cat and horse! God has given your parents a big job: to love you and to teach you the ways of the world so that someday you’ll be ready when you set off to face it, looking out into the horizon at your dormroom, the McDonalds where you’ll work, your not-so-hip weather-beaten Ford, and *gulp* your girlfriend.
Do you think the mother horse was being mean when she pinned her ears back at her foal who was getting a little too friendly with some dogs? Of course not! The mother was simply protecting her child, and teaching it to be cautious about what company you’re with. Sometimes it feels like our parents are just being mean, but they’re just watching out for us to make sure we don’t get into trouble.
Don’t believe me? What are some of the "DON’T YOU DARE DO THIS" rules your parents have for you? No drinking? No driving at night? No parties? One hour of TV? 10:00 curfew? No friends over on a school night? Why do you think your parents have these rules? To be mean? Or to protect you? Think about it. Drinking is dangerous to you and to others around you. Driving at night can get you lost, kidnapped, in a storm, or in a wreck. A lot of parties have beer, Spin the Bottle, Ouija Boards (more on this later), and there are probably some people there who your parents don’t want you hanging out with. A lot of TV can earn you the award for "Biggest – Literally – Cheeto-Eating Couch Potato". A 10:00 PM curfew will help you stay out of trouble by not getting kidnapped, lost, or at parties you shouldn’t be at. Having friends over on a school night will keep your mind on your buds – when your mind should be on doing your homework and getting some sleep. What other rules can you think of, and what would happen if you didn’t have these rules?
Guess what! God has given you a special job right now! Your job right now is to obey your parents, because they’re your boss, just like God is their boss. Your job is to obey and honor your parents, to get good grades in school, and to live your entire life for God!
Your jobs will change over the years, but don’t worry – God will never change. God will be the one sure thing in your life when you pack your bags, kiss your mom on the cheek, shake your dad’s hand, and drive away to college. Even when your parents are there to help you through life, God will always be there for you, and his rules to live a great life are right there in your drawer – The Holy Bible.
Someday, after high school graduation, after college, after bullies and unfair teachers and cafeteria lunches, after your first girlfriend, (probably after the second, and third), after spending all your savings on a ring that isn’t even for you, after you get married and after all the mistakes of your youth, you’ll have kids. And guess what – those kids will think you’re being mean, too, when you tell them they can’t watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. But you’ll know that you’re just looking out for them and obeying God.
When you do have kids, will you want them to honor and respect you as you should honor and respect your parents? You can leave those questions till later in your life, but someday you will have kids and you’ll get to raise them just how you and God know they should be raised.
I am Miss Lydia Bennet for a Pride & Predjudice play I auditioned for. I am a 15 year old English troublemaker who runs away and gets married to a scoundrel, Mr. Wickham.
I'm really excited, and I'm sure all of my friends will be sick of hearing me chat about this by the time the play is over. :]
Miss Lydia Bennet
Understand it. Love is willing to wait instead of demanding, "Prove you care, NOW!"
Experience it. Sometimes you might feel like no one loves you. Or you may feel that they do, but only a little bit. Sometimes you might feel like screaming, "PROVE YOU CARE, NOW!" But what will that accomplish? You’ll startle the person you’re talking to – and what they’re trying to say, what they really feel, may not come out right. So instead of yelling and demanding an answer, just watch their actions. If you’re wondering if your mom loves you or not, watch what she does throughout the day. Does she cook your meals? Does she let you live under her roof? Does she buy you clothes and other things you need? Does she occasionally give you a treat? Does she look at you kindly, or hug you? Sure, none of these mean someone loves you, but they do hint at it, and if you watch closely, you’re bound to find that someone does love you.
Live it. Next time you see your mom, dad, or someone else you love, tell them you love them, whether you say the words or you give them a hug. People love to know you care about them.
Put God in it. Ok, maybe you’ve had a rough life and maybe you don’t have a mom or dad who loves you. But don’t give up hope. You have a heavenly dad, perfect and pure, who loves you more than any person could ever love you. God’s love is eternal – it will never fade. God loves everyone (that means you!) so much that he sent his son to die for you, so that you could be with him. There’s no love greater than that, trust me. God loves you, and don’t ever forget that. God’s love is real love.
If love is patient, then should you be patient with your siblings to show them love?
If love is patient, should you love those who try your patience?
If someone is impatient, does it mean they are incapable of loving you or anyone else?
In what ways have other people shown patience and love to you?
In what ways have you shown patience and love to others?
In what ways has God shown patience and love to you?
What are some ways you can show love to others by being patient?
Should we be patient to God and accept his timing? Is this one way to show your love for him?
Sometimes people's pet peeves can sound absolutely crazy to us. Like, I absolutely love reptitive noise -- keyboard clicking, tapping, drumming, anything; most people can't stand it. I think they're crazy, but really, they aren't.
We're wired with little things that tick us off -- pen clicking, gum-smacking, screaming, people wearing white after Labor Day. Other people's peeves sound crazy to us (how on earth could that bug someone?), but we all have pet peeves. Our pet peeves don't sound crazy to us.
God instructs us to "love on another as we love ourselves". If we wouldn't want someone to get on our nerves, we shouldn't make a point of getting on theirs. We should be respectful to their wishes and honor them.
Fasting is giving up something for God. Usually it’s food, so many of the people who fast skip meals for days or even weeks.
Does fasting make you a Christian?
No. The only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ, believing that he is your Lord.
Do you have to fast if you’re a Christian?
Some people think you do, but the truth is, God accepts you and loves you whether you skip meals or not.
Don’t forget – fasting meals is not dieting. Fasting is not for your own benefit, it is a way to show that God means more to you than anything else, that you value him over yourself, that you respect him.
Throughout the Bible and throughout history, people have fasted for the Lord. Remember Esther, who asked her cousin Mordecai to tell all the Jews to fast and pray for her? They were honoring God, and he helped them.
Brio magazine suggested to fast one of your meals, but skipping meals probably isn’t a good thing right now for you (it can spin your metabolism out of whack). You don’t have to fast just food. Fasting isn’t about what you fast – it’s about giving something up to God that means something to you.
If you feel that God is calling you to fast, here are some healthy ideas:
▪ Have a week of absolutely no TV (even if What Not to Wear is on)
▪ Give up desert for a month (this food fasting will actually be good for you!)
▪ Give up fries, coke, chips, or other junk food for a month
▪ Give up secular music for a week or month, whatever feels good to you
▪ Give up questionable movies that aren’t healthy for your relationship with God
▪ Give up movies altogether for a month or a week
▪ Give up makeup for a week or month, whatever feels best (this one is hard, but it’ll show that you really do care about God!)
▪ Give up video games for a month (you can do it!)
▪ Give up your allowance for a week or month (instead of just cutting it altogether, give your week or month’s worth of allowance to serve someone else who needs it – for example, buy a needy couple dinner, or donate to your local animal shelter)
Remember, whatever you chose, do it with a happy heart that’s ready to honor God!
CHALLENGE: I’ve listed some fasting ideas, now you list your ideas in the comments, and let’s all pick one thing to fast! Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all worship God together? Be sure to mention what you’ll be fasting in the comments.
NOTE: You can fast several things if you feel called to.
I feel sick, really "bleh" today. Last night, I made hot chocolate with the works (tons of whip cream, marshmallows, and about half a bottle of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup). My head started hurting, but I thought it was just from the sugar.
My head hurt worse when I finished folding the laundry, but my mom said I needed to finish my chores before I went to bed. (Yes, that night I actually WANTED to go to bed, crazy, I know.)
Now it feels like someone keeps punching my head, and it keeps getting worse. I feel hot, cold, hot cold. My head is burning up and my neck is on fire. The rest of me is cold, and I feel like I've ran a marathon in high heels.
So I'm not going to post anything good today because I don't think I could stay awake long enough to type it. We'll see.
Lots of love,
I've heard this song a million times before, but one verse really stood out to me.
Rebecca talks about Jesus dying, and in the midst of everything, he "thought of me above all".
So, let me help you realize how huge this is.
Jesus was dying the most painful death anyone could ever go through. He was tortured and beaten. All the sin from everyone in the entire world was cast upon him, blood pouring from his wounds.
And, as the sky turned to gray and the Roman soldiers were drinking wine, as the croud watched and the rain fell, as Jesus whispered his last words and breathed his last breath, he thought of me -- thought of you -- more than anything else.
He was in so much pain and was about to die. He could have easily gotten down from the cross and lived a normal life, healed himself.
But he didn't.
He chose to save you, because he loved you more than anything else. He loved you and wanted you to be safe; he loved you more than he loved himself! He chose to suffer so you may be free, and he is eagerly awaiting the day when you go up to Heaven and fall at his feet and love him back.
So, dislike the guy all you want, he's still going to be our president (unless, of course, he is impeached).
Oh, and he's not our president yet! My dad said he's the electoral president or something, the government guys have to accept him. So I'm still following Bush, as long as I can, just a second longer....
It'll just really tick me off when the rate of baby murders goes up, thanks to our new president.
Good times, good times.
Not that it was a surprise.
I told mom the other day, "I'm praying that God will make the one who will serve the Lord and America the most our president, but if Obama wins, I know God hasn't answered my prayers."
Well, of course, God knew what he was doing, but that doesn't mean that our country won't fall.
I made a song...about Obama, and my beloved country...but it is under peer review and may not be released to the public due to, um, truthfulness. :] Just a bit of my feelings.
Andrew, just you wait, you'll soon see why I was right. So, haha. There, I laughed. Wow, I actually laughed today! (Man, Andrew, you're good.)
No, wait, I'm angry.
You'll see, my friend, you'll see.
A Holy Heart
There’s a big health fad going around. Cereals such as Corn Pops used to be called Sugar Pops, but now, if someone saw that, they probably wouldn’t buy that cereal. Reality TV shows such as the Biggest Loser show people exercising like crazy. Sugary foods now have labels that say, "Whole Grain!" Maybe we teens should get all health-nutty, too. This, however, is not your typical boring health lesson.
A healthy body starts with a healthy heart, which is what we’re gonna talk about today.
Most of us don’t have healthy hearts, but we don’t even know it! I’ll tell you something I’ve never told anyone before: I admit that I have had heart problems. I still do! You see, I have a problem with giving. And with not making sarcastic comments. And with a lot of stuff. So you can probably guess that my heart is black with sin. My heart is unhealthy from all that stuff that’s clogging it up. When my heart is full of sin, my entire body simply can’t work right. You, believe it or not, have the exact same problem. So, how do we fix it?
Unclogging your Heart
So, you probably know that eating tons of fries and Little Debbie cakes can’t be good for your heart. Those things clog your arteries and prevent your heart – and you entire body – from working properly. There’s something else that clogs your heart. Sin. Before we start exercising our heart, we need to unclog it.
So, just as someone who is going on a diet will stop eating things that are bad for him, we need to stop doing things that are bad for us.
So, let’s start with the basics. What are some of the things that God warns us about? What things do you struggle with? Jealousy? Greed? Grudges? What things does the media shove down our throats? Things we shouldn’t look at? Music we shouldn’t listen to? Swearing?
Remove those things from your life. Replace them with better things so you won’t miss them as much.
All that crud in your heart right now is slowing down the work of your heart and making your entire body unhealthy. Unless you ditch the stuff that’s making your heart unhealthy (sin), you won’t be able to use your body in the awesome way God made it to be.
Exercising your Heart
Now comes the next step. If you defunk that gunk in your heart, but don’t add anything, your heart won’t have anything to do except the same old, same old: pumping, pumping, pumping blood, blood, and more blood.
Your heart is an amazing machine and needs to keep busy. It feels great when you do something good for others. That’s how God designed your heart to be. He wanted us to use it to serve other people. We have a life, now how do we use it?
Besides praying, the next best thing to do for people is to serve them. No, I don’t mean be their slave. I mean show them God’s love by doing things for them. If some bunny trashed your neighbor’s garden, offer to help her replant it. Set the table for your mom, take out the trash for your dad. Read your little sibs a bedtime story you loved when you were their age. Give your friend a little gift – just because. Bake cookies for the lady who is recovering from back surgery, and buy flowers for your teacher’s birthday. Just spend time with someone. It’ll really get your heart pumping!
Meet your Trainer
Your personal heart-healing trainer will be with you to help you on your journey called life. He’ll help you keep your heart, body, and mind in tip-top condition. If you have any questions, just ask him – he’s ready to listen 24/7.
Now go get pumping!