God's Love Really DOES Change People

I’m sitting here while my friend is drying off from a shower. We’ve raced on horseback, we’ve been swimming, and we’ve done dramatic interpretations of history books. It’s funny now, looking back, to see how far we’ve come.
Last year, this girl spent the week at my house. The first night she was here, I cried. I didn’t know how someone could be so – well, mean. My parents told me it was our job to show her God’s love and to be her friend. It was hard, because she was so critical of everyone, but towards the end of the week she had become more comfortable around us. She quietly had told me that she was sick of people criticizing her – but she had become what she hated most.
This year, we all were shocked. Is this the same girl? Not once has she made fun of me, not once as she played the part of a bully. She is encouraging, sweet, thankful, and fun-loving. We’ve talked a bit about church, and I’m confident that she is a Christian. I want to spur her on to a deeper relationship with Christ this week.
I realize how much that unhappy week last year changed her life. I showed her what it’s like to have a friend – and to be one. Most of all, I realized that God’s love really does change people, that patience is a virtue, that revenge isn’t sweet, and that bitter people are the way they are because some hurt them.
Just something I thought I’d share.

Your Sister in Christ,


Replying with Scripture

If someone was trying to get you to do something you know is wrong, what would you say? What if they kept doing it? I'd probably yell at them and tell them to back off, that I don't want to be a jerk like they are (in a slightly nicer way, of course).
Jesus had the same problem, but he handled it in a totally different way.
Check out Matthew 4. Jesus has been in the hot desert for a long time. He's hungry, tired, and in need of a shower. Satan comes along, trying to trip Him up. "If you're really the Son of God, turn these rocks into bread to eat." Next, he told Jesus to jump off a cliff, because of course God would save Him. Is testing God a good idea? Jesus knew it wasn't. Then Satan's last-ditch attempt: "Just bow down to me, and all the world can be yours."
Instead of mouthing him off with the longest stream of cuss words at the time, and instead of saying, "Hello, Satan. You're dirty scum, the world is mine, and I can burn you to a crisp whenever I feel like it."
Get this: Jesus replied with Scripture! He kept His cool, He didn't lash out, and instead, He replied with the Absolute Truth: the Word of God. I would be telling Satan to lay off and go get a life by now, but Jesus knew just how to fight off sin. He quoted Scripture to say no. When your friends ask you to do something you know is wrong, you don't have to rattle off Bible verses every time. But it's a good idea to keep your cool and memorize a few Bible verses that can help you when you're tempted to do something wrong.


Building Houses in the Sand

Remember in my last post, I talked about my trip to Galveston and seeing so many businesses and homes destroyed? I asked you what you would do if everything you ever worked for disappeared before your eyes.
The homes that line the beach in Galveston all have one thing in common: they are built on stilts to prevent flooding. Still, they are built in the sand, so there's always some danger of too much water or wind.
Remember that song when you were little? "The foolish man built his house upon the sand...." The wise man built his house upon the rock. When a storm came, the wise man's house stood firm, but the foolish man's house was washed away.
Why? The wise man had a firm foundation in solid rock. His house couldn't be shaken. But the foolish man placed everything he had in the sand, and it wasn't away. His house was shaky and unsteady, always changing.
Life is a lot like that. It boils down to where you put your heart. Is your life in sand -- shaky, unsteady, and unable to last? Or is your life built on the solid Rock of your Lord Jesus -- firm, steady, and able to withstand anything?
I would say my house is in dirt. Not quite as loose as sand, but definetly not as steady as rock. I'm with Jesus some of the way, but not all the way. It's wrong, but that's where I am right now.
Good news, though. I'm in the process of moving. I'm tired of my old home, my old life. I've found a nice place just for me in the Rock, in Jesus. I've been invited to live with Him -- all expenses paid -- forever. All I need to do is move. I need to move my life, my heart, my values, everything...and give it to Jesus. Anything that won't fit in my new home -- like movies I shouldn't watch, music I shouldn't listen to, things I shouldn't say -- is just going to be thrown out to make room for the new, better stuff Jesus will give me -- peace, compassion, and definetly better music. My old ways will just have to go because -- you probably didn't know this -- Jesus is a proffessional interior designer. He's had lots of experience. He can rearrange my life and show me knew ways to do this and that so that everything -- including my heart -- is in the right place.
Jesus has invited you to move in with Him in His awesome house. He doesn't care if your current decorating style is cliche or downright ugly -- He'll turn that around and show you the new and better way.
So evaluate your life right now. Where are you? Stuck in the sand? Or standing on the Rock?


After the Storm

I've been thinking... Ya know that hurricane in Galveston? It flooded the island, rose above the seawall, and destroyed many family businesses and homes. Can you imagine pouring all your life -- your sweat and time and money -- into a shop and then it's all swept away in an instant? Or what about the man who worked hard to build a house for his family, just to see it gone in one fell swoop? Everything you've worked for...everything you had...gone. No more than a memory.
And after the storm, you dust off uour jeans and start all over. A new beginning, a new chance. I don't know if I could do that. I think some people would just give up. What would YOU do? Just a thought. Gotta get on a tour now. Catch ya later, ok?


Gone to the Beach

I’m driving to Galveston tomorrow (not to worry, I’m not behind the wheel) with my family so I won’t be here for a few days. Then my friends are coming over for a week, so I honestly don’t know when I’ll get to update my 2 blogs. So if you’re wondering where I’ve been or coming to the conclusion that I’ve been abducted by aliens, I plead, do not worry. Of course, I might be eaten by a shark or run away and join the pod of dolphins residing in Galveston; but if this happens, my dad will notify you so you can mourn my parting properly.
While I’m gone, I have a few wishes. First, if you go on a trip, I want the details in my chat box! Second, feel free to leave me well-wishes for safe travel. :) Third, keep reading your Bibles and share with me what you’ve been reading when I get back, because I will most likely be feeling deprived of my readers. Lastly, when I come back to you, a few exclamations of, "OMB MELISSA WE MISSED YOU SO MUCH! OUR LIVES HAVE BEEN SO DULL WITHOUT YOU!" Yes, that would be nice. :)

Your Sister in Christ,


What will Heaven be like? [part1]

We know that when you accept Christ as your Savior, you receive eternal life. You’ll go to Heaven when your earthly body dies – there’s no question about that. But what is exactly is Heaven? What is it like?

You’ve probably had some sneakers that were great at first – but then you went outside and ran in them. They got muddy; the soles wore out. You still remembered their past awesomeness, but now they were nothing like that. So you toss those out and get a new pair for your feet to hang in – shiny, new, and even cooler than the old ones.
Revelation 21:1 says, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven the first earth had passed away." Heaven will be a totally new place for us. God is going to toss out our muddy, worn out world and replace it with a new one, a shinier model that will last forever. There will be some familiar things – like plants and animals and streets – and then there will be totally new things for us to see, smell, taste, and feel. There will be streets paved with gold, gates made of mother-of-pearl, mansions more grand than anything on earth, and crystal clear water. Even the things that are familiar will be different to us. Every color that we saw on earth will be more vivid and more beautiful in Heaven. Every breeze will be more refreshing, the water even wetter.

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:3-4) Did you catch that? In Heaven, God will actually live with us! The old way of doing things will be gone. On earth, when you’re in pain, you cry. But in Heaven, God will dry your tears and take away your pain! He can even do that now, here on earth, if you ask Him to and if that’s part of God’s plan for you.
On earth, when we talk about purpose, we say your purpose is your job, or your walk with God, or your family or your cause. But really, all those fall into place when you figure out your real purpose: to be with God, to be as close to Him as possible. THAT is what you were made for.
Think of a car. What is that car made to do? Go forward, to do what it’s driver tells it to do. But what if that car wants to be a boat instead? So it drive into the ocean and sinks to the bottom where seaweed climbs over its forgotten hood. The car was trying to be something it wasn’t. The car was not doing what it was made to do; it was going its own way. And it died.
If we are not worshipping God like we were made to, we are spiritually dead. We’re trying to be something we’re not.
In Heaven, we’ll realize and fulfill our purpose and when everything clicks, we’ll realize what really matters. We’ll lead better, happier lives. We were made to be with God forever. If we’re not, than we die. In Heaven, our purpose will be fulfilled. Only then will we truly be alive.

Part 2 coming soon, where we look at the Holy City where we'll live!



My brothers and one of my sisters were baptized today at a pool party! The girl, Jessie, was scared of drowning [in 3-foot-deep water] but finally she decided she would do it.
My dad spoke about our youngest, Abigail: "I knew that Abigail wasn’t ready to be baptized when I asked her if she had ever sinned or done anything wrong – and she told me twice that she had never."
I wanted to make some points about baptism. You probably know these, but sometimes we need to be reminded.
Baptism is a symbol of your old self dying like Jesus died (when you go underwater) and living a new life in Christ, free of sin, just like Jesus rose from the dead.
Baptism is a command. Even Jesus, who was perfect, was baptized – and God was pleased with Him!
If you don’t get baptized, you’re still a Christian.
If you do get baptized, it doesn’t mean you’re a Christian.

If you chose to get baptized, you’ll probably get a Bible as a gift. Use it! Don’t let it sit on a shelf. Read about Jesus’ baptism in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and then about Jesus’ death and resurrection. If any passages jump out at you, let me know!


The Voice of Andronicus

"Do your worst, I am a Christian. Christ is my help and supporter, and thus armed I will never serve your gods nor do I fear your authority or that of your master, the Emperor. Commence your torments as soon as you please, and make use of every means that your malignity can invent, and you shall find in the end that I am not to be shaken from my resolution."
- Andronicus, Roman Empire, 303 AD
Andronicus was thrown into prison because he was unwilling to deny the Christian faith. He was whipped and his bleeding wounds were rubbed with salt. He was brought out of prison and tortured again, thrown to the wild beasts, and finally killed with a sword. This brave martyr was steadfast to the end. - Jesus Freaks, DC Talk


God Bless America

Freedom. According to a popular 4th of July song, "in the heart of every person is a longing to be free; free from fear and persecution -- free to think and free to speak."
Living in the USA, we have the freedom to say what we want, to preach what we want, to chose oru leaders, even to leave the country if we want to. With all that's going on in the world today, freedom is a blessing. Think about it. People DIE for freedom. It's that important. It's that special. We have to protect it.
But my mom was wondering...are we using this freedom? Or are we wasting it? Are we striving to use our freedom to benefit our country and the world? To benefit God's kingdom? Or are we using it to do evil, or not using it at all?
On the news, we here about people in foreign countries who cannot chose their leaders. These are people who are not allowed to speak truth. People risk their lives every day just to read their Bible. Every day, Christians are murdered for their faith.
We are given this freedom, and the US Army is fighting for it. So why aren't we using it?
God tells us, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." In America, we are free to say what we want. We live free from persecution when we proclaim our faith -- we know that one one can hurt us for doing so in this country. We are protected because of our leaders and their decisions and because of our armies.
Jesus also has fought for our freedom -- and has won. He died so that we could be free from sin. We don't have to act like sinners anymore. Isn't that amazing? We don't have to be tied down by our sin! We are FREE. When God sees us, He doesn't see our sin; He sees the Holy Spirit living inside us. Remember that verse? "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
We need to use our freedom, both the freedom in our country and the freedom in Christ. Go out there and be free!
(And don't forget to wear red, white & blue.)

Dear God,
I realize it is a blessing that I have freedom. I can do so much with my life. I realize freedom isn't free; you had to die so that I could be free. Please help me to use my freedom and shine for you.


Hebrews 12

First day of my SOAP reading. I read Hebrews 12 -- following Jesus' example, God as a Father, careful living. Read Hebrews 12, write your own notes and read mine. Let's compare and see what we've learned!

v1-3: I am surrounded by people who love me and are strong Christians. I should join them in their work for God. I should take out of my life anyhing that makes me sin. When people are jerks, I should follow Jesus' example. Even when he suffered daily from the accusations of mean people, Jesus was strong and firm. He never stopped working for God even when things got tough. He made a lasting impression -- one that's lasted over 2,000 years!
v4-11: God is my real father. he is disciplining, teaching, and training me to be more like Him, the person He created me to be: a beautiful, strong, courageous, kind person with a servant's heart.
v12-29: I should be careful how I live. When I'm weak, I must make myself strong again. I need to stay on the right path, the one that leads to God, so I will be strengthened. I should live in peace with everyone (that's hard!). I should live free from sin, becauses sin separates me from God. I need to be careful and listen when God speaks, because His Word is important to me. I am thankful that I am made strong in the Lord and that God's kingdom -- which I am a part of -- can never be destroyed or shaken.



"I'm doing this new thing," Maddy said excitedly, holding her Bible. "It's a Bible study."

"Cool," I said. That's a cute Bible. "What's so special about it?"

"We read through the New Testament in a year. But instead of rushing through, we soak it up. I really like it. Then there's the SOAP."


"Yeah, SOAP. Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. It really helps keep you on track. That's how I do my devotions."


I'm going to try it. My devotions -- if that's what you want to call them -- are, well, lacking. I've gotten into reading the New Testament and underlining all the important parts, but I don't pray about it. And when I do, it's not sincere. Or at least I don't feel sincere. And I never, ever apply it to my life. It's hard for me to admit, but this is how I'm feeling right now.
I think with the SOAP acronym, I'll be able to focus. I'll have four things to do and I won't skip a single one. To you it may seem like checking things off a list, but I think it's what will work for me.

I encourage you to try this. We can do it together! And of course I'll share with you my Scripture readings, my observations, how I'm living it out, and my prayers. This could be really cool. Let's do this!

{And, if you want to try it for yourself, tell me all about your devotions! Let me know what you read and what you felt about it in the comments or the "Be a Voice" chatbox on your left.