Thanks for stopping by! I created this blog as a companion to my website, Becoming Godly Maidens.com. I hope you enjoy reading what I have posted and that you will come again. Let me know what you think! Leave a comment :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012


They look to the sky
The earth is
They worry
They hunger
They go barefoot

And in the city,
A business woman gripes
That grapes
Have gone up
Seventy-five cents.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spilled Blood

At the time that Mark's gospel was written, horrific persecution was assailing the Church. I cannot even wrap my brain around the horrors that Christians suffered under Nero and Titus—the atrocities of the torture and killing is just too much for my cushy-Western-sheltered-American mind to comprehend. It is easy to read things like this academically, and just pass unemotionally over the words on the page, as we do while reading history books about wars we never heard of and never cared about. However, we cannot just read the words and ignore the content. The reality is that Christian persecution is not history; it has been going on for two thousand years and it has not stopped. People today are being killed for their faith. As you read these words, somebody is DYING because they love Jesus. Stop reading and think about that for a moment. Do you get that ? Do you really comprehend that? Someone’s heart just stopped beating. Somebody’s child is fatherless or motherless. There is a widow or a widower whose world just collapsed. A congregation just lost a pastor or a beloved church member. There is a gunshot, an explosion, or a machete. Somewhere, there is a dark red bloodstain. And that blood belongs to someone who is your brother or sister.

      Maybe I am being a little intense. That is actually my point. Did you know that there is a Christian murdered by a Muslim extremist every five minutes? That is over 100,000 every year. And that is not including people killed by other hostile groups. This is a REAL, and it’s going on NOW. Human torches and gladiatorial-style events may be a thing of the past, but suicide bombers and ax murders are a thing of the present. While you and I are sitting in our offices, bedrooms, dens or dorms in our cushy chairs, contemplating whether it is worth risking friendships to talk about Jesus, there are people out there who are dying for their witness. While we are complaining about the amount of homework we have and bemoaning our work schedules, there are people who are suffering the loss of their loved ones in hiding and in silence. I am not saying this to give a guilt trip – we are blessed here, and that is just a fact. Praise God! I am saying this because Christians in Mali, Cuba, Iran, Libya, China, India, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Belarus, Uzbekistan and many other nations need your prayers. They need your support and your awareness. There is nothing more powerful than an intercessory prayer made out of genuine love for a brother in need. Pray for Asia Bibi, who is being imprisoned in Pakistan. Pray for her husband and two daughters. Pray for Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese Christian who has been in and out of government incarceration for years. Pray for the Indonesian church, and pray for Muslims—pray for the small percentage of radicals who are doing the violence, and pray for the peaceful majority, who are hurt by the evil deeds of the few and who have little exposure to the truth of the gospel. Pray that God will break your heart for what breaks His-- let your heart and your spirit be rent and ripped for your brothers and sisters who are persecuted.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

You Deserve This


Really? I do?

Now, why on earth would I deserve that? Did I do a heroic act of service that saved the fate of Wendy’s stores everywhere? Is it because I was born a middle-class individual (which intimates that everyone not born in a first-world country gets less because they deserve less)? Is hot, juicy, and tasty food at 2:00 AM a basic human right?

      I am pretty sure that I don’t deserve 24-hour burger availability. Even though I might pay the two bucks or whatever it costs to purchase this piece of GMO, fat-saturated, processed cow (?) meat in a bun, I still don’t “deserve” it because I don’t “deserve” the money in the first place. I may have scrubbed dishes and mopped floors for fifteen minutes to get the money, but I don’t even “deserve” the precious opportunity to have a job and I certainly don’t “deserve” the laws in place that assure me fair wages. I “deserve” nothing; I didn’t give two cents to get into this world, and it doesn’t owe me a thing. The only thing I deserve is Hell.

     Many of us know the Bible verse that tells us “the wages of sin is death.” In other words, I’ve messed up on some level at some point, and I deserve to suffer eternal death in Hell for it. But here’s the good part! Just like I do have the undeserved opportunity to have a job, live in a good country, and eat a burger for breakfast if I want to, I also have the undeserved opportunity to escape the punishment for sin. The rest of the verse above says, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We deserve the punishment, but instead we are extended the ultimate gift…. Grace. The very essence of the word “grace” IS undeserved. We can’t earn it; we can never in a million years deserve it. I don’t “deserve” a juicy, hot burger, and I am a hundred thousand times less deserving of this beautiful gift of eternal life.

     Just as I will probably not choose to take advantage of the midnight burger option, many will turn down the option of undeserved life. Sadly, unlike the burger (which will almost certainly contribute to high blood pressure), the gift of eternal life is the most beautiful, beneficial, wonderful and essential part of human existence. If there is anyone reading this who has not taken advantage of the undeserved gift of grace, I hope that you will stop and do so now. The Bible says to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” This means that all you have to do is take God at his word—believe what He said, which is that Jesus Christ (God Himself) became a man and took our punishment for sins. He died so that we don’t have to suffer eternal death. Then after three days of being dead, God gave him new life and he emerged from the grave! If you want to know more or you are completely confused about what I am talking about, I’d love to explain it better. My email is breezie@becominggodlymaidens.com .

     Don’t buy into the lie of advertisers everywhere—you deserve nothing. And neither do I. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will be able to appreciate our privileges, the greatest of which is the grace we have been given.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chicken Feather Romance

I say,
How can you not see the
In scrubby bushes
And chicken feathers?

Isn’t all of life

You just have to look at it that way.
Who needs moonlit walks
And candle-lit dinners
When you can find
In chickens and dirt?

There is a
Big-picture romance
That cannot happen
Without both
The seaside bungalows
The dust and bird scat-
Those who love and live the latter
Will taste the romance
And find blessing
Beyond compare.

And what if there
Are two little pairs
Of bare feet
Running in the dust,
Running through the
Scrubby bushes and the
Innocent, dirty little feet—
And one pair is white
And one is brown
And both are scrubbed
By me everyday
And put into little shoes
On Sunday
And run through
 My kitchen
Leaving little
Muddy footprints
That I clean up?

What if I scrub
These twenty toes
And a hundred more
And love every one of them
Because each
Is my precious gift
To watch grow out
Of a dozen shoe sizes
And become the
Beautiful feet
That bring good news.

To touch a heart—
To touch a life—
To touch a people;
This is my dream.

Big dreams come
In a thousand little pieces
The ordinary,
The extraordinary,
The miraculous
And the mundane.

If a snapshot of a dream
Is chickens
And children
And dirt

Bird scat

Must all be
Very romantic

It’s part
Of the greatest
A savior wooing
His bride
Drawing His people
To Him.

And I say,
How can you not see
In scrubby bushes
And  chicken feathers?

(c) 2012 Breana Franks

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Empty Chairs

Did you know that we're the surviving 78 percent of your generation?
Look around you... your church, your school, your neighborhood. There should be more of us here. But they're gone, and we can't get them back.
They were aborted.
They were killed in the womb.
What separated us from them? We didn't get in the right line while they got in the wrong one. We didn't say or do anything to pick pro-life parents or deserve to live while they deserved to die. Knowing this, can we honestly sit back and do nothing? Can we ignore the fact that we missed out on countless friendships? That the missing chairs in our classrooms should be filled? Can we let it keep happening?
We have voices.
The unborn and the dead don't.
It's our obligation to be voices for the voiceless.

It's our obligation to protect the innocent-- the unborn and the mothers, who also become physical and psychological victims when they believe the lie.
I hope you decide to watch this three minute video; it's worth your time.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012


     ~Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!”~

     So many times in both the Old and New Testaments, God’s people are commanded to rejoice in the Lord. Practically, this seems like a hard command. How on earth, while we are wading through our everyday ups and downs, can we rejoice at all times? But considering who we are and what has been done for us, how can we NOT rejoice? God has forgiven us, given us hope, taken away our guilt and given us purpose! To rejoice always does not mean that we have a happy face all the time and that everything rolls off our backs. It does not mean that we only cry happy tears. It does not mean that we are singing and dancing at all times. It does not mean that we are required to paste happy plastic smiles on our faces when life is not playing along or we are failed Christians. Joy of the Lord is something deeper—it is the song that springs from our hearts when we are happy. It is the strength we find when we have nothing left. It is the peace that gives us hope for a positive future when life just stinks. The emotions we have do not affect our joy; we can be crying our eyes out and feeling like our hearts are breaking, but our joy does not disappear.

     There is, however, a difference between having joy and acting on it. We can’t just let our joy sit, unseen, at the bottom of our hearts’ reservoir. We must REJOICE! We must let our joy show for all the world to see! This is part of our witness. Our joy should be visible for the unsaved to see and thirst for. Nobody wants to be like a sourpuss. If religion turns your personality into a wrinkled-up raisin, than it is just that—religion. Religion, not a living, active relationship with the God of the Universe. People can tell the difference!
     Joy is something that I have been thinking about. I think that sometimes I do not do a very good job of showing my joy. I am not a very effervescent person, and I tend to be extremely serious most of the time. I have been learning to lighten up; however, I have also found that unless I watch myself, my default expression is one of absolute crabbiness! I sometimes listen in amazement to what comes out of my mouth—often, even when I am thinking positively, I say one negative thing after another. Time to be more intentional about reflecting my inward joy? I think so! A wise man I know once said, “I’m not going to walk through life looking like I was baptized in pickle juice… keep the smiling, keep the joy… It gets the joy back when you stop focusing on trivial stuff.”

     It’s time, Christians, to stop focusing on the trivial stuff. It’s time to focus on the eternal stuff. Who cares if I get less than a 95 on my Ethics test? Who cares if I drop a clean fork now and then while I’m working in the cafeteria? Who cares if say something stupid to someone I just met? These things won’t matter in two weeks, so I shouldn’t let them steal my joy now. The important thing—what I should be focusing on—is that God has big plans for me. He has a beautiful life for me, and He has an even more beautiful eternity for me. He has a beautiful eternity for YOU. Rejoice! Are you ready to let your joy shine?

Images copyright Breana Franks 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


No Internet access for six weeks.
No Internet access for six weeks!

No, that’s not a cry of horror. That is a cry of delirious joy. This summer, I will be totally off the ‘net and away from all electronics (except my cell phone) and out in the cool pines. This is an occasion to forget about makeup, emails (hooray for snail mail!), Youtube (sorry Jordan-from-MessyMondays), and movies. It is also and occasion to


    My reading list currently consists of six of John Steinbeck’s novels that I’ve not yet read, the rest of Kisses from Katie, Culture Making, and Tom Sawyer in Spanish (we’ll see how much of it I can actually understand). I will, however, be adding a few new books to my list, since I have decided to take up the
Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge!

2012 Summer reading challenge hosted at www.inthebookcase.blogspot.com

Just in case you want to join the challenge :)

     I want to read two that I’ve never read before: Jo's Boys and How They Turned Out and Flower Fables
     Another thing that I am going to read a lot of this summer is my Bible. Working 40 hours a week without school or other commitments means that I will have a lot of time on my hands. What a perfect time and place to seek Yahweh.
     One verse that has been on my heart recently is Jeremiah 29:13, “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” This verse is a part of something that God told the elders of the exiled Israelites thousands of years ago through Jeremiah the prophet. It was spoken to a specific audience at a specific time in a specific place, but I believe that it is as true for us as it was for them. God WANTS to have a relationship with me. He WANTS to have one with you. How amazing is that? When I consider the heavens, the work of His hands, what is man that He is mindful of us? Why does the creator of the universe care about humanity as a whole, much less each individual person? I can’t fathom. I want to KNOW that God, not just know about Him. I am thirsty for Him right now! Like a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for my God. He is good enough to call my heart when it is turned to things on earth and not things in Heaven. He is good enough to comfort me when I am hurting. He is good enough to hear my cry, even if I’ve only halfheartedly answered His call just that morning. He is good enough to answer odd little prayers offered in faith for His pleasure and mine. He is good enough to make it blatantly obvious in a variety of ways that He wants my full heart and my full attention—right now. O taste and see that the Lord is good! I want more of Him.

He wants more of me.

He wants more of you.

I guess the important question at this point is
Are you going to give more of yourself to Him?
“Yes” on its own is not a good enough answer. I think we all do far too much of saying nice things and not acting on them. Singing nice lyrics and not meditating on them. Making nice decisions and not living by them. So HOW are you going to give more of yourself to Him? Maybe you will give more of your time. Maybe you will spend intentional time with Him when you used to do something for you. Maybe you are going to serve others intentionally with a cheerful heart. Maybe you are going to support a mission, financially or with prayer. I hope you join with me in giving more of yourself to God. I hope you and I together will make this summer into a new adventure in our relationship with God. Oh, I am excited about this summer! What a beautiful life this is. God is good.

See you in six weeks!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What He Paints for You

One of the benefits of going to a small college is the small library that goes with it. Normally, I probably would not count this as a blessing, but it definitely has its upside. For one thing, The lack of shelf space and the constant need to bring in new books means that dozens of books are available for purchase at all times. As a book lover and a penny-pincher, I am always thrilled to find a nice old hardback for a dollar. Consequently, I am starting to collect a nice library of exegetical works. I think my Biblical Interpretation teacher would be glad to see the unsightly piles of books that are starting to collect on top of my desk, on chairs, beside my bed, and any other flat surface that can hold books.

     Often, I find that old books are more relevant than new books! I suppose ideas that are tried by time show themselves for what they are worth. I love gleaning insight from authors long gone, and I imagine them sitting next to me and speaking their words to me. What is it about the writing style of long ago that seems so much more personal than today’s writing? I have never been able to identify with the “you” that is addressed by new books, but the “you” spoken to by old books always seems to be me and no one else.

     Before school closed for the semester, I bought Expositions of the Holy Scriptures: Psalms I-CXLV by Andrew MacLaren. I can’t tell you how old it is, just that it’s old enough to not have a copyright date. I’m using it with my devotions, since I am reading through Psalms, and I thought that you might enjoy one of a few treasures I found in it (I feel like Pride and Prejudice’s Mary with her “extracts” right now).

     Oh! If we would only see clearly and habitually before us—for we could if we would—what God’s heart inclines for His to do for us, in the far-off future, if we would only let Him, do you not think that these trifles that put us off our equanimity this morning would have been borne with a little more composure?”

Oh dear. Sometimes it can be so hard to see the big picture. Oh, trust me, I know. When I commit one social faux pas after another, cut my fingers while cleaning, mistranslate between languages, drag my hair through degreaser and spend two hours trying to fix a lemonade machine all in one day, I have a tough time seeing the big picture. I have to remember that the important thing is not that I achieve perfection. It is not that I stop tripping over my tongue, stay perfectly neat and understand how to do everything on the first try. I will never manage that! The important thing is that even in the little things, I can “set my mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Then the little frustrations will fade away and I will be left standing in awe of the awesomeness of God’s plan.

So “in the middle of your little mess, don’t forget how big you’re blessed.” God is creating a beautiful picture with your life! He uses the bad times and the good times alike, whether trivial or tremendous. As you watch the Master Artist work, you may be fixated on one gray streak of paint and wonder why He used such a sad color. Then, when you step back, you will see that it was a shadow to make something white and shining stand out in all its glory! A painting with only pinks and yellows would be a boring picture. It takes the blue and browns of life to make it beautiful.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


     Sarah Jessica Parker once commented, “So many roads. So many detours. So many choices. So many mistakes.” The innumerable choices that humans may make in lifetime and the thousands of paths available are overwhelming. With free will, it seems that a person may be able to end up anywhere, and so many of those places may be the wrong place. Without limits and without guidelines, without a command to overcome sin in one’s life, anything is permissible, even those wrong places. How much free will do people have and what choices are humans able to make? John Steinbeck seeks to answer this question in his book East of Eden. However, he made one big mistake to the detriment of his point. Steinbeck’s misinterpretation of one biblical Hebrew word in his book East of Eden creates a flawed view of free will and his character Cal’s ability to use it.
     Steinbeck uses one word as the central point of his novel East of Eden. This word is the Hebrew word “Timshel.” It is used in Genesis when God when speaks to Cain as he entertains the idea of murdering his brother Abel. Timshel is translated “you must rule” in the verse 4:7, which reads, “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” In the novel, one of the characters, Lee, becomes confused by differing translations of the word timshel in the King James Version and the American Standard Bible. The King James reads “Thou Shalt,” and the American Standard reads “Do thou” (Steinbeck 299). The KJV’s translation can be taken as either a simple future tense verb (a promise) or as an imperative mood verb (a command), while the ASB gives a verb that can only be taken imperatively. Given this, one might assume that the verb is meant to be imperative in both cases. However, Lee (and presumably Steinbeck) only reads the KJV version as a promise. Lee, baffled by this apparent contradiction, sets out with scholars of his acquaintance to discover the real meaning of Timshel. They conclude that “timshel” means “thou mayest,” a subjunctive verb. On page 301, Lee cries, “Don’t you see? The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,” meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel— ‘Thou mayest’—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That way the way is open. For it ‘Thou mayest,’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’” Lee’s quote sums up Steinbeck’s entire book. If there is choice, then Cal has a right to chose whether he wants to care for his brother or hurt him. There is no right or wrong answer—the consequences of one action may be less pleasant, but each has the right to choose whether to be righteous or sinful. Lee says that Timshel is the most important word in the world; it is certainly the most important word in the book. But what if Steinbeck was wrong about the meaning of timshel?
     The Hebrew word transliterated timshel or timshol is תִּמְשָׁל. The root word of timshel is mashal (מְשָׁל), which is a primitive root verb meaning “to rule, have dominion, reign” (Strongest, 1430).  Timshel’s prefix is תִּ. This is a combination of the Hebrew Letter “Taw” and the vowel mark “Chireq,” which makes the “i” as in “mitt” sound. The תִּ prefix changes its verb to the imperfect tense of, among a few other things, the second person masculine form (Raizen). Thus, the subject of the verb is whomever the speaker is speaking. In this case, it is Cain. According to Esther Raizen, a Hebrew professor at University of Texas, “The imperfect tense a number of moods, among them imperative.” Imperative seems to be the most common form of the imperfect tense, and Bible scholars seem to assume that timshel is Genesis 4:7 is most accurately rendered so. Every major translation of the Bible translates this word in some form of imperative (KJV, Amplified, NASB, NIV, ESV).  This means that timshel is command, perfectly rendered “you must rule over it.” In essence, God said to Cain, “You are planning to sin, and it is ready to overtake you. But you, Cain, are commanded to conquer it instead.” There is free will, but there is no acceptable alternative to obedience. God did not give Cain an alternative—disobedience incurred God’s wrath—but He did give him free will. In Genesis 4:8, Cain killed his brother. In verse 12, he was dealt his punishment.
     Had Steinbeck understood the meaning of timshel, his novel East of Eden would have taken a different stance on free will. Steinbeck suggests that one has the right to choose whether he or she will let sin rule his or her life. On page 301, as mentioned before, Lee says, “The way is open. For if “Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not…’ that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he still has great choice.” He continues on page 302, “But think of the choice! That makes a man a man.” In other words, the right to choose if one will go the way of righteousness or the way of sin is what gives a man his humanity. With this point of view, timshel is not a command; it is permission to live how one wishes. It means that it is permissible for Cal to be mean. Cal is not trapped in his sin nature—as Lee said, Cal “could control it—if [he] wanted” (Steinbeck 541)—but neither is he required to break out of it. At the end of the book, Cal’s father speaks his dying word to his son, “Timshel” (Steinbeck 601). In this one word, he is giving Cal permission to choose his own path, reminding him that he can choose the right way if he wants to. If Steinbeck had a correct understanding of the word timshel, Cal’s story would have taken a different direction. Instead of being a story of choice and consequence, it would be a story of redemption and forgiveness. Without a command to overcome sin, there is no requirement of righteousness, no sin, and no need for a savior. If mastering sin is simply a better option, then the reader can only expect that Cal would end up where he did—struggling to overcome his wicked bent all by himself, hoping to make good decisions.
     An understanding of the true meaning of timshel, “You must,” is the basis of every choice of right or wrong. If we have the right to choose anything we like, then we may choose to do the wrong thing if the pleasure outweighs the negative consequences. If, however, we are commanded to overcome wrongdoing, then the only permissible choice is the righteous choice. This is not restrictive, but gracious. If one lives this way, his choices will be more obvious, his detours more pleasant, and his roads straighter. Roads starting from a right choice do not lead to mistakes. Therefore, there is no need to fear the future. The road is clearly marked, and when the traveler knows where he is headed, the journey will be beautiful.

Works Cited
The Holy Bible: Amplified Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1987. Print.
The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments Authorized King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011. Print.
The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments. IA Falls, IA: World Pub., 1995. Print.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version Containing the Old and New Testaments : ESV. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. Print.
The NIV. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Bible Pub., 1983. Print.
"Quotes About Free Will." (82 Quotes). Web. 04 May 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show_tag?id=free-will>.
Raizin, Esther. "Biblical Hebrew Grammer for Beginners." Utexas.edu. University of Texas, 2007-2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.laits.utexas.edu/hebrew/heblang/bh/bhonline/grammar/verbs.pdf>.
Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
The Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. Print.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And Never Again I'll Go Sailing

I just found reason 4,978 why I know that God loves me.

Lately, I have been having this intense desire to move to a foreign country after graduation. I feel like I just don’t fit in the culture, but really I just want to go far away. This desire bothers me, because it’s not about God and His plan; it’s about me and my plan. This is where God put me. This is where I need to be, at least for now. I thought about missionary work and teaching English, so that I could fit my dream with God’s work. But I realized that God will never move me if I’m not content here. I can’t be selfless across the globe if I’m not selfless here. And I’ll never be a missionary there if I can’t be one here. Still, I have a drive to explore and a desire to move.

There was a second part to my desire that bothered me more. I really wanted the foreign country to be the home nation of someone who would be totally head-over-heels for me. This was the more aggravating of the two parts of my desire, for a couple of reasons. First, there is the problem of finding said foreign guy. Second, right now I feel that God wants me to focus on Him right now and not on romance. Still, my imaginary foreign guy would not leave me alone no matter how often I asked him to leave.

I went down to my school’s prayer chapel yesterday to pray about it and before long, I found myself perusing through the “pray for the nations” guide and finding about the prayer needs of a conglomerate of little God-forsaken European countries that I never knew existed. I wonder if they need missionaries there? I wonder if they have neat accents? I wonder….? Once I had peeled my brain out the book and set it aside, I managed to have some good prayer time about my desires and God’s will. It wasn’t until tonight that I heard an answer.

~Philippians 3:20~

But our citizenship is in Heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh wow. God hears prayer. God knows my heart. My eyes filled with tears. My desires weren’t wrong, they were misplaced. I’m not meant to be a part of this culture forever. I do get to go far away to somewhere beautiful. I do have a Man who is coming for me, who loves me more than anything. He’s faithful, loving, and strong. I don’t know if He has an accent, but I bet you anything that He could pull off a mean Scottish brogue if He wanted to. He’s coming for me, and He’s going to take me away to His country. But for now, my place and my work is here. For now, I am learning to be content and to be a witness.  For now, I’m dreaming and waiting… for my Jesus.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

DIRECTIONS: Read and Wear. Repeat if Desired.

   Oh, how I love a well-worn Bible. I love books in general—the feel of pages (antique books have thick, slightly textured pages and often ragged edges; Bibles have thick, smooth pages; coffee table books have heavy, glossy pages…), I love the smell, I love the weight of a book in my hand. I love the feeling of cracking open a brand-new book right in the middle, and I love the feeling of a beloved, century-old hardback falling open to the faded ink of the inscription page. Most of all, I love the feeling of a well-worn Bible.

     You’ve seen them. The pages have creases, and they’re slightly warped and wrinkled in favorite passages. There’s writing all over the margins and highlighter ink bleeding through the pages. The covers are torn and patched with duct tape (I once knew a guy who had to drive nails through his Bible’s spine to keep it from falling apart). There are leaflets and notes stuffed in between the pages, marking favorite passages and floating out randomly. I just love that.

     This morning, I picked up my sister’s Bible to do a little reading, and I was absolutely thrilled to see that her cover is fading at the spots where her thumbs go where she holds it. The pages are a mess… I’ve never seen such terrible warping as the mountains and valleys on the pages of Psalms. There are markings and highlight marks everywhere, and the corners are dog-eared and worn. What a fabulous feeling. I may not see her read her Bible since I’m gone most of the day, but I have no doubt that she is doing it!

     What does your Bible say about your passion for God’s word? More importantly, what does your LIFE say about your passion for God’s word? You may not like to highlight or mark in your Bible. You may be careful with yours and keep it on a shelf instead of chucking it in your backpack everyday with your sack lunch, three textbooks, and gym shoes. Maybe your Bible is well-read and dust-free, but not packed with pens and papers. A glance at your Bible may tell a little bit about your Bible reading habits, but your life will tell a lot more. How do you live? Do people see Jesus in you? Are you a “living Bible” to those who have never read it? My challenge to you is to stop for thirty seconds right now and evaluate your life. How do you live? How do you love? What changes should be made? Prayerfully consider this. It just might change your life. Now consider your time spent in God’s Word. Do you read every day? Do you absorb what you read? If you’re stressed out, bitter, or complacent, it might be a good time to reevaluate your Bible reading habits. Read daily. Read deeply. The point is not how much or how long; the point is that God is working in your life through his word.

     So pick up your Bible. Get the most out of it. Love it, read, it, wear it out. Or take notes somewhere else and keep the pages neat. Or plug in your iPod or Android and scroll through the pages. Or listen to your audio Bible. However you do it... God is eager to speak to you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stressed Out and Overwhelmed?

Well, the New Year (as well as the new semester) is underway! If you’re like me, you may feel a bit like an your mind is being slowly compressed in a flower-press. There is so much to do and think about— a list of assignments and homework that is literally as long as my arm, projects to finish, work to do, money to earn, promises to fulfill, friends and family to spend time with, lives to touch, souls to save, problems to solve, prayers to pray and the world to rescue! Who has time to do everything there is to do and experience? I’m wrestling with a thousand questions and trying to figure out my priorities. I’m trying to study for A’s but spend time with family, too. I’m trying to save money but be generous. I’m trying to plan for the future but follow God’s plans for my life. I’m trying to avoid wasting time and also avoid running myself to exhaustion. Can anyone relate?
Hopefully you, unlike me, have not yet dissolved into a useless mass of nerves and mush. Hopefully this will not happen to you at all this semester. Keep in mind the bigger picture of life. What is your purpose in life? Is it getting 100% instead of 92% on your history test? Of course not. At the same time, do not get so overwhelmed by your desire to save the planet and eradicate all forms of social injustice that you totally overwhelm yourself and render yourself incapable of doing anything efficiently. Take your opportunities as they come, and create opportunities for yourself, but realize that you can’t do anything single-handedly. Don’t miss the smaller pieces to the puzzle—you may not be able to go save an entire tribe of South American natives right now, but you can share your faith (and maybe a coffee date) with that lost person in your life. You can stop being busy in order to help someone move. You can look up from your computer or iPhone long enough to notice that someone is having a bad day, and take the opportunity to make it a good one for them.
    And last but not least—make sure to take time every day to read the Bible and pray. To those of us who have been in the Chruch for a while, this advice starts to sound cliché, but it’s the best way to stave of stress and keep your spirit full and your mind clear. Drishat Shalom—Peace to you!