Monday, December 26, 2011

It Takes Faith

Throughout the course of this year, we have talked about a lot of different topics. But intellect is not everything; simply knowing stuff does not count. When it comes down to it, it all takes faith.

You know what that is, right?

Faith is believing something that is not there -- like the wind. In John 3, Jesus gave this very same metaphor to Nicodemus. "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8, ESV).

Faith requires commitment without giving hard evidence (or, in some cases, it gives hard evidence for the very opposite of what is promised). Faith requires submission, humility, and love. It requires us to give ourselves up to the mercy of hope, and believe someone else's word -- with nothing to back it. Faith and ego really go well together, eh?
Anyway, now that we hace definitions cleared up, let's go over this year's focuses and see why they all require faith...

IT TAKES FAITH:
  • to give full fledged loyalty to someone you have never met, to someone who does not always appear to be on your side.
  • to promise your love to someone when you do not know if you will get love in return, when are not sure how long the love will last, or when you have been hurt many times before.
  • to know that you truly can be obedient and perfect in God's sight, and to know that His law is both perfect and right for you.
  • to believe in a story that you never saw, and to know that God does not ever change His law.
  • to believe that God would like to dwell in you and through you -- and to let Him!
  • to remember that God still loves you regardless of what you have done; to forgive someone who may never like you anyway; and to believe that God has given you true peace.
  • to believe that Jesus stands between you and the great Judge (you can't see them, can you?)
  • to know that your prayers mean something, and that God hears you all of the time.
  • to share a God you have never seen, and
  • to risk everything to do it.
  • to move to a place where your dependence is fully on God, like Abraham did.

Faith is a risk -- one that may leave us hurt. That's why we need the faith of a child: in other words, naivety, fully trusting all of the time. And if we put our faith in the right Person, we can be assured of fulfillment in the future.

"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:1-3, KJ
V).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Do I Need? -- Part 4

I have been impressed to do a series of posts on the basic necessities of twenty-first century life. Why?  Because independent living means that doing all of that stuff on our own, we need to know exactly what to consider.
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Heat.
All I have to say is wood cook stove. Why?

  • So long as my land is properly forested, I can supply my own fuel.
  • I can prepare food (hence the name).
  • I can warm my house. All of it.
  • I can heat my water.
  • I can bake.
  • I can dehydrate my foods.
  • Et Cetera...
You don't have to believe me: but I have evidence (Exhibit A; Exhibit B; Exhibit C). 

That being said, I encourage you to purchase the following instructional DVD: Getting Started with Wood Cook Stoves: A Hands-On Introduction by Mountain Media Ministries. It is a quality investment.

However, there are precautions that have to be taken when using wood and open fires. Listed below are some resources:

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"Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?"
~Ecclesiastes 4:11~

Friday, December 09, 2011

What Do I Need? -- Part 3

I have been impressed to do a series of posts on the basic necessities of twenty-first century life. Why?  Because independent living means that doing all of that stuff on our own, we need to know exactly what to consider.
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Food.
Obviously in order to survive, we need food. How do we move to independent resources of nutrition? 

One plant at a time...

Planting.
There are two main categories of planted foods: garden foods and orchard foods. We eat from each section, so we may as well know what they contain.

The garden is where I would find my roots and veggies (sorry, the joke was just waiting to be used). Leafy greens, legumes, and ground provision can be planted in gardens. Strawberries would also thrive here, as will other botanical "fruits" that grow only upwards. Note that flowering plants (like quinoa and buckwheat, which are pseudo-cereals) would be ideal in a garden setting. Gardens can be potted, or placed on a plot or several plots of land.

Here is an abbreviated list to make it simple:
Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Okra, Quinoa, Buckwheat, Strawberries, Beans of any sort, Peanuts, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Carrots, Herbs

Then there is the orchard. This would contain any fruits that tends to extend its bounds and needs a lot of space. Melons, berries, trees, vines: these are the type of foods to expect in this environment. Again, here is a list:
Cucumbers, Squash (winter and summer types), Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Almonds, Cashews, Oranges, Lemons, Pumpkins, Berry shrubs of all types, Cherries, Grapefruit, Mango, Apples, Bananas, Plantain, Grapes
By technical standards, a vineyard is a separate entity altogether. But we were not being technical, so we lumped it with orchard. It is also good to note that some beans would be better in a vineyard. 

There is another section of foods, that being the grains. Corn, wheat, rice, spelt, millet, etc. These are more difficult to cultivate, but with God's help it can be accomplished.

It is important to understand that plants take time to grow. While garden foods will mature within a growing season, the orchard foods will most likely take longer. Trees and shrubs, even when bought as sapling instead of seeds, will take about three to five years to bear fruit. So what do I do in the meanwhile? 

I could continue to just buy at the grocery market and buy in bulk (and use good storage methods, like the ones below). Another option, however, is gleaning. A great example is found here.

Winter Harvest
I recently learned about this while attending a sustainable living seminar by Mountain Media Ministries. Hopefully, the concept of a greenhouse is understood. You create a warmer environment by trapping the sun's energy (which, understandably, is hot). This helps plants to grow or at least thrive when the outside temperature is too cold. Sounds great, but it is still a heavy investment. A more budget friendly option is... HOOP HOUSES!!! It does the exact same thing as a greenhouse. The presenters of the seminar directed us to this link: http://www.hoophouse.com/

This system will allow you to continue to pick fresh foods from your garden, because you are extending the growing period by maintaining a warm place for growth. How cool is that?


Storing.
So, now that I have all of this food, what do I do with it (we are assuming that it is too much to eat)? I have to keep it in such a manner that it will not spoil and waste. It is always best to pick foods fresh and use them the same day that they are picked. However, the colder season does not allow that luxury; so we have to use other means. Solution #1: Root Cellar!!! This is an old-fashioned method of refrigeration. If it is built properly, it will keep food year round with minimal spoilage. Solution #2: Icebox. If you notice, this solution is not followed by exclamation. That is because it is not a universal fix. In any case, I could opt for an indoor icebox (year-round), or an outdoor one (winter season only). This solution is very cost effective if I were to live in a location with much snow.

By the way, Wikipedia has articles on both of these options (#1 and #2), which is great to get a general overview. Do real research for more information.

Other methods are dehydrating and canning. I must admit: I absolutely love dried fruit (especially figs and mangoes). Thankfully, they are the healthiest type of processed food! The highest concentration of nutrients with the least amount of processing. All you have to do is remove all of the moisture (hydration) from the food, and it can be kept forever. Seriously. They can go stale, though; so be sure to store them in airtight or glass containers. (Here is an awesome non-electric dryer). Then there is canning. I have limited knowledge in canning; but I can do some more research and write up a separate post on that later.

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"Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all."
~Jeremiah 31:12~

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Do I Need? -- Part 2

I have been impressed to do a series of posts on the basic necessities of twenty-first century life. Why?  Because independent living means that doing all of that stuff on our own, we need to know exactly what to consider.
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Water.
Our bodies are made up of approximately 60-75% water. Each of our individual cells are largely water; our skin needs water; the digestive process requires water. We need water to remove wastes from our body. Water keeps our blood pressure stay at a normal rate. 

Water is a necessary part of our lives. We need it for consumption, hygiene, preparation of food, and hydrotherapy treatments. So, recognizing this fact, what do we do when we choose to no longer depend on municipal water? Let us look at our options and what they entail...
  1. Well. This is the most readily understood independent water system. Perhaps your current property does utilize well-water. What is different is that when the power goes out, your well might not be helpful because most use an electric pump to carry water to your house. The most reliable resource is a hand pump (though that is only as reliable as your ability to pump it!). Secondarily, you can have electric pump if you have an energy system that is capable of supporting it. You may choose to have both.
  2. Springs. (AccessScience has an article on springs). Some properties have these on the premises; so if you buy the land, you own the water on that land. Some things to note about them is that they may not supply a steady stream of water. If you understand how springs work, you will realize that the amount of water supplied by them varies with the seasons. If you are blessed to have a number of springs on your property, then it would do you well to test them all, or as many as possible, to determine which one has the greatest output. Of course, springs must be developed for use in your plumbing system: an article is available on the Mountain Media Ministries website. They also have a DVD that explains.
  3. Ram Pump. This is a nifty set up that allows your house to be elevated, and yet still able to have a solid water supply. If you find that the nearest water site is below your home site -- meaning that you are unable to take advantage of gravity flow for your water system -- then a ram pump is your deal. The system is extensive, but relatively straightforward, and easy to use. Instead of talking like I know everything, I am going to send you here.
  4. Cistern / Holding Tank. This is a basic need for any water system that you choose. Having a cistern is vital to a ram pump system; but it is also useful for a spring or well. (A) With the spring, since the water is constantly available during whatever season, it is prudent and wise to have that water flow into a tank; and from the tank, flow to the house. That way there is no waste. (B) With a well -- especially a hand-pumped well -- it is a lot of work to pump all of that water. So if you were to pick a certain day out of the month, and pump water into your tank, that might be better. (C) A holding tank within your house is also of value. What happens when your spring-filled cistern gets full? Do you stop the water? Or, is it prudent to keep water sitting in pipes, waiting to be used (especially considering winter)? Not really. Having an indoor tank has its benefits. Especially if you intend to have hot water. But we will get into that on the heat section.
While the information here is minimal, Mountain Media Ministries centered out of Cornelia, Georgia has a great deal of knowledge on the subject. I really encourage all to go through and get the information that they need. Go now.
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"I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water."
~Isaiah 41:18~

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Do I Need?

I have been impressed to do a series of posts on the basic necessities of twenty-first century life. Why?  Because independent living means that doing all of that stuff on our own, we need to know exactly what to consider.
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Shelter.
It is readily understood that we need to have some place to live. The question is, What are the options? Your final, long-term abode (most likely, a house) will take some time to construct. You would have to decide how you are going to handle your temporary housing. Here are some options:
  1. Stay where I am. This options says that I will (a) remain in my current residence; (b) pay two housing bills; (c) have someone else build my house; (d) possibly visit sometime in between.
  2. Rent closer to the building site. Basically, I am choosing to move twice. I (a) may or may not build my own house; (b) will be able to visit the site more regularly; (c) may be able to enjoy more rural life, whether because of my temp location or through friends. I also give myself the option to move part of the way through the building process.
  3. Buy land that has livable space. This has multiple sub-options. The "livable space" can be a cabin, a house, or a decently sized shed. The building may need to be fixed up to accommodate the persons intended to live there. I can (a) live there permanently if it works for my family; (b) live there temporarily while building. If I choose option "b", I understand the the residence only needs to meet basic needs, as it still requires funds and it will not be the final resting place.
  4. Rent a Recreational Vehicle (RV). If you find land that can support an RV, and you either own or are able to rent such a vehicle, then that is definitely an option. If you know of a friend close to your building site who has an RV site, then you have another option. Whether you intend to build new, or to fix up livable space, an RV is a great option. Just get it hooked up, and you are good!
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"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." 
~Psalm 127:1~

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why This?

Why independent living? What is the significance? Where is the importance? Why do we need it NOW?

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These are some of the same questions that I asked myself when my family first brought this up about a year ago. I was okay with the general concept of moving; but not with the idea of moving to some faraway place, with no people, and definitely no people that I knew. I will be honest: I was resentful. It was not "country living" that had me agitated -- it was "sudden change". While I generally tend to adapt to my environment, I do still hate sudden changes of plan. It was not in my plan to live so far away that I could not see my friends. It was not my plan to give up college options because they were too urbanized. This "out of the cities" business was most definitely ruining my plans!

Yet, eventually, step by step, I accepted it. At first, it was with reluctance. After a while, though, I saw it as a good idea. And I continue to think that.

Let us consider a few major events, namely the following:
  • Earthquake and Flooding in Japan
  • The dying international economy
  • Famine in Somalia
  • International civil unrest
  • Earthquake in Turkey
  • Northeast USA: earthquake and hurricane in the same week, followed two months late by an autumn snowstorm that had people without power for even two weeks.
All of these, including a reevaluation of myself and my connection with God allowed me to see how important this really is. It is not a fanatic movement; it is not fear; it is barely preparation; it is GOD.

In fact, that is the number one reason why I am okay with this. I would still be resentful if it were not for God.

But let us go into some other reasons for an independent lifestyle...

Reason #2 -- Freedom.
For those of us in the United States, we tend to hear that we are in "the land of the free". Let us reevaluate that, shall we? We depend on others for food; for water; for clothes; for housing; for heat; for occupation; for education. In essence, we are giving away our liberty -- the same liberty Christ bought for us (Galatians 5:1). I was on BibleGateway, and I read an interesting verse in Psalms (119:45). I enjoy using virtual Bibles because I can look at the same passage in multiple translations. Compare and contrast:
  • King James: "And I will walk at liberty: for I seek Thy precepts."
  • Contemporary English: "I have gained perfect freedom by following Your teaching."
  • English Standard: "And I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought Your precepts."
  • Common English Bible: "I will walk around in wide-open spaces, because I have pursued Your precepts."
I found the last one striking because I have never heard freedom described in that manner. Open spaces are a relief after being cooped up for some time. That is why caged birds take off the moment they get the opportunity. I find that little by little, we are losing our independence in itty-bitty things. America is great; don't get me wrong. Right now though, it does not afford me the type of freedom that the Psalmist speaks about. To the mountains I go...


Reason #3 -- Privacy
Who likes having people all up in their business? I surely do not! And I would argue that it is the same for most people. We like to have some sense of individuality and belonging: it is nice to know that something is truly and solely our own. It is frustrating to have something that is not all yours (have you ever wondered why children do not like to share?). I was listening to a seminar on independent living, and the speaker made reference to the following text:
"Teach me Thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies" (Psalm 27:11).
Okay, no big deal. King David said things like that all of the time. But the presenter explained that the word "enemies" more literally means "those who watch me". And, I found two translations that support that!
"Teach me Your way, O Lord. Lead me on a level path because I have enemies who spy on me" (God's Word Translation).
"Shew me, O Jehovah, Thy way, and lead me in a path of uprightness, for the sake of my beholders" (Young's Literal Translation).
So, we can conclude (at least for this particular text) that our enemies are anyone who can be in our business and watch our goings out and our comings in. Not cool. Personally, I would like to make sure that I have less "enemies".

Reason #4 -- Peace
After all of the hustle and bustle of a day at work or school, our bodies need to RELAX. How can we hear God's voice if our ears are ringing and our minds are buzzing?
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
Need I say more?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

No, Are You REALLY Ready?

"As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to exciting amusements and festivities. Those who possessed influence and power were bent on keeping the minds of the people engrossed with mirth and pleasure, lest any should be impressed by the last solemn warning. Do we not see the same repeated in our day? While God’s servants are giving the message that the end of all things is at hand, the world is absorbed in amusements and pleasure seeking. There is a constant round of excitement that causes indifference to God and prevents the people from being impressed by the truths which alone can save them from the coming destruction.
"Young Sabbathkeepers who have yielded to the influence of the world will have to be tested and proved. The perils of the last days are upon us, and a trial is before the young which many have not anticipated. They will be brought into distressing perplexity, and the genuineness of their faith will be proved. They profess to be looking for the Son of man, yet some of them have been a miserable example to unbelievers. They have not been willing to give up the world, but have united with the world in attending picnics**  and other gatherings for pleasure, flattering themselves that they were engaging in innocent amusement. Yet it is just such indulgences that separate them from God and make them children of the world....

**[Publishers' Note: the simple outdoor gathering of families or church members is not referred to here, but that in which church members “united with the world” in a carnival type of community gathering quite common then. (PlugIn2God's Note: My dad used block parties as a modern-day example) ]**

"God does not own the pleasure seeker as His follower. Those only who are self-denying and who live lives of sobriety, humility, and holiness are true followers of Jesus. And such cannot enjoy the frivolous, empty conversation of the lover of the world.
"Let none begin to believe that amusements are essential and that a careless disregard of the Holy Spirit during hours of selfish pleasure is to be looked upon as a light matter. God will not be mocked. Let every young man, every young woman, consider: 'Am I prepared today for my life to close? Have I the heart preparation that fits me to do the work which the Lord has given me to do?' "

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The above text is taken from The Adventist Home, pp. 524-525.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Spirit of Sacrifice


"The plan of salvation was laid in a sacrifice so broad and deep and high that it is immeasurable. Christ did not send His angels to this fallen world, while He remained in heaven; but He Himself went without the camp, bearing the reproach. He became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; Himself took our infirmities, and bore our weaknesses. And the absence of self-denial in His professed followers, God regards as a denial of the Christian name. Those who profess to be one with Christ, and indulge their selfish desires for rich and expensive clothing, furniture, and food, are Christians only in name. To be a Christian is to be Christlike.
"And yet how true are the words of the apostle: 'For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.' Many Christians do not have works corresponding to the name they bear. They act as if they had never heard of the plan of redemption wrought out at infinite cost. The majority aim to make a name for themselves in the world; they adopt its forms and ceremonies, and live for the indulgence of self. They follow out their own purposes as eagerly as do the world, and thus they cut off their power to help in establishing the kingdom of God....
"The work of God, which should be going forward with tenfold its present strength and efficiency, is kept back, like a spring season held by the chilling blast of winter, because some of God’s professed people are appropriating to themselves the means that should be dedicated to His service. Because Christ’s self-sacrificing love is not interwoven in the life practices, the church is weak where it should be strong. By its own course it has put out its light, and robbed millions of the gospel of Christ....
      "How can those for whom Christ has sacrificed so much, continue to enjoy His gifts selfishly? His love and self-denial are without a parallel; and when this love enters into the experience of His followers, they will identify their interests with those of their Redeemer. Their work will be to build up the kingdom of Christ. They will consecrate themselves and their possessions to Him, and use both as His cause may require.
      "This is nothing more than Jesus expects of His followers. No individual who has before him so great an object as the salvation of souls will be at a loss to devise ways and means for denying self. This will be an individual work. All that it is in our power to bestow will flow into the Lord’s treasury, to be used for the proclamation of truth, that the message of Christ’s soon coming and the claims of His law may be sounded to all parts of the world. Missionaries must be sent out to do this work.
"The love of Jesus in the soul will be revealed in word and deed. The kingdom of Christ will be paramount. Self will be laid a willing sacrifice on the altar of God. Everyone who is truly united with Christ will feel the same love for souls that caused the Son of God to leave His royal throne, His high command, and for our sake become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich."

The Review and Herald, October 13, 1896.

Monday, October 03, 2011

My Birthday Project -- The Results

     Last month (that being September 2011), I undertook a literature evangelism project for my sixteenth birthday. The goal was to collect Bibles, Steps to Christ booklets, and money for such same material; this literature would be sent overseas through any ministry who was willing to accommodate. I entered the project with a fiery passion, sharing through every means I had available to me.

     I must admit that I was easily discouraged. It seemed as though no one was responding. There were some who said that I was doing a good work: but they did not appear willing to aid me in that work. Only God can truly know why; I am most definitely not trying to speculate. In any case, the lack of donations of any sort really frustrated me, and I started to worry that the project would prove a failure. However, my parents encouraged me by saying that many of their associates were planning on giving donations. I really had to pray, though, because I was getting really anxious and distraught.

     In spite of all of that, I also feel obliged to say that God is good. No, seriously. In fact, He is better than good: He is absolutely the most wonderful Person in the whole universe. I love Him so much, He is just that great. God provided a way for me to obtain the following donations in the space of about one week:
  • 2 Bibles
  • 100 Steps to Christ booklets
  • A sum of money exceeding $500
     Like I said before, God is truly good. While I was stressed out because I began to think that I was way over my head, God had His own plan in motion. How great, how awesome is He! Great is Thy faithfulness, O God!

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     I would like to thank all those who gave, whether it was books, money, prayers, or time. Your gracious kindness and giving heart is sincerely appreciated. As I promised, I am informing you of the destination of your heart-felt gifts. The ministries preciously considered are either unable to accept the donations in the form of literature, or they have not yet returned our inquiries. However, we were referred to Light Bearers Ministry (www.lbm.org) by way of one of our inquiries. I have known of them before, but this ministry entirely slipped my mind when I was considering mediums for my project. They have been involved in literature evangelism for some time now and have sent God's message to many people around the globe as a result. Very happy am I to collaborate with them in God's work.

     I pray that this project will lead many persons to the light and life of God's love, and that I will someday meet them in the courts above. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Who You Are Matters


This month, we have spoken about being Christ's letters to the world, giving His message of salvation to all. The following excerpt tells us the best and most effective way to be disciple makers. Throughout the remainder of the year, and for the rest of our lives, let us ask God let our life be a light -- you in your small corner, and I in mine.

"There is an eloquence far more powerful than the eloquence of words in the quiet, consistent life of a pure, true Christian. What a man is has more influence than what he says.
"The officers who were sent to Jesus came back with the report that never man spoke as He spoke. But the reason for this was that never man lived as He lived. Had His life been other than it was, He could not have spoken as He did. His words bore with them a convincing power, because they came from a heart pure and holy, full of love and sympathy, benevolence and truth.
"It is our own character and experience that determine our influence upon others. In order to convince others of the power of Christ’s grace, we must know its power in our own hearts and lives. The gospel we present for the saving of souls must be the gospel by which our own souls are saved. Only through a living faith in Christ as a personal Saviour is it possible to make our influence felt in a skeptical world. If we would draw sinners out of the swift-running current, our own feet must be firmly set upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.
"The badge of Christianity is not an outward sign, not the wearing of a cross or a crown, but it is that which reveals the union of man with God. By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian."

Taken from The Ministry of Healing, pp. 469-470

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Do the Work God Has for You


"Many are dissatisfied with their lifework. It may be that their surroundings are uncongenial; their time is occupied with commonplace work, when they think themselves capable of higher responsibilities; often their efforts seem to them to be unappreciated or fruitless; their future is uncertain.
"Let us remember that while the work we have to do may not be our choice, it is to be accepted as God’s choice for us. Whether pleasing or unpleasing, we are to do the duty that lies nearest. 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.' Ecclesiastes 9:10.
"If the Lord desires us to bear a message to Nineveh, it will not be as pleasing to Him for us to go to Joppa or to Capernaum. He has reasons for sending us to the place toward which our feet have been directed. At that very place there may be someone in need of the help we can give. He who sent Philip to the Ethiopian councilor, Peter to the Roman centurion, and the little Israelitish maiden to the help of Naaman, the Syrian captain, sends men and women and youth today as His representatives to those in need of divine help and guidance."

Taken from The Ministry of Healing, p. 472-473

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

My Witnessing Pursuit


When I first began panning out the plans for PlugIn2God, I ended up with this month's topic --witnessing-- as scheduled for September. It is absolutely amazing to me how God always works things out. Back then, I was not at all thinking about my sixteenth birthday: but God was. And so, a few weeks before my birthday, He gave me a plan.

I was struggling with what to do for my sixteenth birthday. While I had initially resolved to be content with a Sabbath birthday (yes, the 17th is a Sabbath), I was beginning to doubt that that was enough. I kind of wanted to do something for my birthday; but my current social situation does not really lend itself to a party of any sort. So God inspired me to work on my Literature Evangelism honor for Pathfinders. You will see God's Providence here again. Earlier this summer, God assigned me four Pathfinder honors to work on this summer. This honor was one of them.

One of the requirements for this honor is to choose one of the seven literature evangelism projects listed. I, not being a people-person, chose the seven option which read as follows: "Make a project of sending literature and / or Bibles, determining where to send the material and packaging and sending the material." After a brief thought, I decided to make this my birthday project!

Yes, for my sixteenth birthday, I plan to collect Bibles and Steps to Christ booklets to send to the mission field.

This month we are focusing on witnessing: will you please have a heart? 

PlugIn2God Focus of the Month: Witnessing

This month, we are talking about witnessing. 1 Corinthians 3:3 tells us that we are letters for Christ -- we help to spread His word and message of the gospel.

This is a new school year, and I think it is fit to make the following resolution: that we strive to be more like Christ, and in so doing, be His witnesses. Last month, we talked about prayer and having a working relationship with God. Others will see a change in us as we continue to improve in our relationship with God. This is being a witness.

You see, witnessing is not always about being in a foreign country or speaking out in your community. The best witness is the silent, but fruitful, life of a Christian. Why is that considered best? It is because anyone can do it. We all have the ability to be like Christ as long as we so will and move in His strength. If we can do simply that, taking up our cross daily, we can be a witness.

The "Give A Helping Hand" (GAHH) page tells you some more about being a witness. The subpages also feature links to different ministries that you can support. This month, we also return to the regular 1-month Bible Reading Plans. I am also requesting that a passage of Scripture be memorized by each (these passages are listed in the "Walk With God" section). I am memorizing Revelation 14:6-12 along with the rest of my family. This month, I will also be posting material / links that connect the previous months' studies with this month in order to aid you in your sharing project. I pray that this spirit of giving and sharing will pervade until the coming of Christ.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

My Birthday Project

This month, PlugIn2God is focusing on witnessing for Christ. Incidentally, I am going to be celebrating my sixteenth birthday this month.

Now typically, sixteenth birthdays are huge extravaganzas that rival even the best weddings. In failing to come up with something "big" or "exciting", I decided to forget about the party. I decided to undertake a mission project for this month. Here are the details:

  • I am asking for Bibles, copies of Steps to Christ, and monetary donations.
  • The literature may be new or used; the only condition is that the "used" is usable and in good condition.
  • The material will be given to one of the following organizations: Maranatha Volunteers International; Bibles Unbound; or African Youth Ministries.  . 
  • Donations will be accepted for the entire month of September.
  • It will help me to complete my Literature Evangelism honor for Pathfinders.
  • It will help you begin your journey as a gospel-giving Christian!
  • To find out where to send the donations, email me at GabrielleBaker@about.me and I will send you the address. 
I am really excited about this project, and I ask sincerely for your prayers. My biggest surprise really is that God in His foresight and Providence most definitely planned for us to be focusing on witnessing this month, my birth month. So cool! He truly is good. Again, thank you for your aid in my endeavor.

Here are the results.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

PlugIn2God Focus of the Month: August

This month, PlugIn2God is focusing on prayer: its relevancy, its power, and its importance. These aspects and more will be covered in an effort to revitalize God's people by prompting them to connect with Him -- not just when we want to, not just when we need Him, but every step of the way.
As we look at prayer with the mindset that God wants to be our Friend, our Mentor, our Guide, we will feel more and more that prayer is not just a thing of the past, that it is not simply an emergency call system. It is conversing with God -- talking and listening -- as a friend.

PS: This month provided you and others with a four-part series on prayer (enough to last one month). While at the current moment of writing the series is not yet complete, it will be definitely by the end of September. I hope that you utilize and enjoy and share this resource!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Connection: Getting To Know Him Better

This month (August 2011) we are studying about prayer from the angle of God wanting to be our Best Friend. As with all friends, we should get to know God better; and in fact, He wishes for us to seek His face: but how do we accomplish this?


          "It is our privilege to reach higher and still higher for clearer revealings of the character of God. When Moses prayed, 'I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory,' the Lord did not rebuke him, but He granted his prayer. God declared to His servant, 'I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee.' Exodus 33:18, 19.
          "It is sin that darkens our minds and dims our perceptions. As sin is purged from our hearts, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, illuminating His word and reflected from the face of nature, more and more fully will declare Him 'merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.' Exodus 34:6.
          "In His light shall we see light, until mind and heart and soul are transformed into the image of His holiness.
          "For those who thus lay hold of the divine assurances of God’s word, there are wonderful possibilities. Before them lie vast fields of truth, vast resources of power. Glorious things are to be revealed. Privileges and duties which they do not even suspect to be in the Bible will be made manifest. All who walk in the path of humble obedience, fulfilling His purpose, will know more and more of the oracles of God.
          "Let the student take the Bible as his guide and stand firm for principle, and he may aspire to any height of attainment. All the philosophies of human nature have led to confusion and shame when God has not been recognized as all in all. But the precious faith inspired of God imparts strength and nobility of character. As His goodness, His mercy, and His love are dwelt upon, clearer and still clearer will be the perception of truth; higher, holier, the desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought. The soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of holy thought is transformed by intercourse with God through the study of His word. Truth is so large, so far-reaching, so deep, so broad, that self is lost sight of. The heart is softened and subdued into humility, kindness, and love.
          "And the natural powers are enlarged because of holy obedience. From the study of the word of life, students may come forth with minds expanded, elevated, ennobled. If they are, like Daniel, hearers and doers of the word of God, they may advance as he did in all branches of learning. Being pure-minded, they will become strong-minded. Every intellectual faculty will be quickened. They may so educate and discipline themselves that all within the sphere of their influence shall see what man can be, and what he can do, when connected with the God of wisdom and power."


This is taken from Ministry of Healing, pp. 464-466, "Clearer Revealings of God"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Sky is Low, The Clouds are Mean

A Poem by Emily Dickinson

The sky is low, the clouds are mean
A travelling flake of snow across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How someone treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Connection: Your Walk With God Moment

     As young people in the 21st century, we often don't understand why it's really important to have a relationship with God. Why can't we wait till we're adults with jobs and degrees? Two possible explanations are the following:
  1. Tomorrow is not promised to us. (Job 1:21)
  2. Jesus could come any day, and we have to be ready. (Matt. 24:36-39)

     Okay, those are some good reasons; but could someone explain to me why our parents think five o'clock in the morning is a beautiful time to commune with God? I mean, let's think about this: God is never on vacation, and He never takes naps. Can we not commune with Him at a more godly hour of the day (an hour when perhaps we are more conscious)? Sure we can; have fun debating that with your parents! We can commune with God at anytime (and we should according to 1Thessalonians 5:17), but it is best to start our day with God. In doing this, we can have a better understanding of what God wants us to do for Him that day, and we can also have a peace and an assurance that He is with us and is guiding our actions. When we start our day with Him, we can ask Him to take our life and use it for His purpose.

     However, I have to admit: it is difficult to get up every morning -- with hardly any sunlight peeking through my window -- and praise God. The problem is that if I do not do it then, I never get around to doing it. I guess that in the end that is a good thing because we are told to "seek... FIRST the kingdom of God..." (Matt. 6:33).


     The real question behind the concept of "personal devotion" is this: how do we do it? Do we have to be old school or can we be ourselves? What falls into the category of irreverence? The cool thing about God is that He is always up-to-date with society. That means that if you listen to an audio Bible while reading along, He is okay with that. If you use a computer journal to record what you do in your personal time with God, that is okay. If you tweet or Facebook something that you take out of what you learned, I am fairly certain that God has no issues with that. 

     However, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He never changes, and He has guiding principles that also do not change. In essence, God is the He does not necessarily care how you commune with Him (so long as it does not go against His principles); He just wants to spend time with you, like any friend would. And, as you spend time with Him, you will begin to recognize His likes and dislikes; you will also hear Him telling you what kinds of things He would like you do to versus those things He does not want you to do. Here are some suggestions for your WWGM or "Walk With God Moment" :

  • Make sure you pray. Prayer could never be more important; communication is the key to every relationship!
  • Don't forget to hear what God has to say, too! Read a portion of the Bible everyday, either online or straight from the Book.
  • Music is an awesome way to praise God. You can sing songs from a songbook or from memory, you can listen to songs from YouTube or Tangle, or you can write your own songs!
  • An easy way to keep track of your walk with God is to have a WWGM Journal. You can use any kind of notebook, binder or portfolio or you can make a journal on your computer by making a file or using a journal program of sorts.
     Just as a side explanation, I refer to this as a "Walk With God Moment" because your walk with God is continuous; it is for this life and for the life to come. The special moment that you set aside for God each day is the time during which your entire focus is on Him and nothing else. As I said earlier, you should speak with God continuously throughout the day, inquiring of Him to see what He would have you to do. In doing God's will and following His path for your life, you are walking with Him. It's your walk with God, so let God tell you how it should be. Do not let others dictate how your relationship with God should be. That means that while you respectfully accept any advise or criticism given to you by others, you do not immediately implement it; you prayerfully ask God what you should do.

I hope and pray that you will enjoy your walk with God and will make it a part of your daily life.

Friday, June 03, 2011

You Are Royalty! (Conclusion)


I do not know about you but, as a child of the greatest King in the vast universe, I want to be stand out. I want to be known as somebody who is different from the rest of the society. When people see me, interact with me, I wish for them to hear the message: "I am somebody, and I am royalty; therefore, I do deserve respect." 




Christ has not limited His royal blood to only a select group of people; it is available to all who wish to have it. The only guideline is to bring others into the royal family which means that we are to dress like we are royalty, we are to act like we are royalty, and we are to have the character of our King. When others see this, they will be drawn to the presence of the Royal One; and they will be 
able to sing:

Oh, yes, oh yes, I'm a child of the King
His royal blood now flows in my veins.
And I who was wretched and poor now can sing,
"Praise God, praise God, I'm a child of the King!"  


You Are Royalty! (Part 2)


1 Peter 2:9 - "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..."
(emphasis added)

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Conduct:

How you act, how you behave, how you conduct yourself -- these all have an impact on you. You are royaltly: but can other people see that?

Your actions say a lot about what you stand for. Do you remember this phrase: “VERB—It’s What You Do!” From 2002-2006, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held this media campaign in order to confront and lower the statistics for childhood obesity. Being geared to middle-school aged children (approximately ages 10-14), they showed children of similar age, race, and situation being active.

You see, it is one thing to simply give lectures and such on the importance of exercise and the downfalls of being a potato couch. However, when you actually see that "everybody's doing it", you encounter the highly influential idea of the power of numbers. This idea may be the very reason behind the increase of followers in our society; whether it be fashion, sex, or drugs, there is somebody doing something simply because someone else is doing it. The thing is: everyone may not be doing it. But that is the way the activity is advertised and, therefore, that is what is believed.

If you did not already know, actions speak louder than words. Today, what you do means so much more than what you say. You are a child of the King: but, it no longer matters how much you profess that. Unless people can see it in your actions, they are not buying it. If your friends at school know that you go to church, but one day they see a not-so-Christian post on Facebook or Twitter, what are they going to think about you? In a technologically-oriented society such as our own, you can no longer live a double life. You either have to be fully for God, or fully for the enemy. No exceptions. 

Character:

Your conduct does not just come from anywhere: it begins with your character. If you want to behave as though you are born of royal blood, than your character must be that of royal blood.

What is character? One dictionary definition is moral or ethical quality. My one of my ninth grade teachers gave this definition: who you are even when no one is watching. My definition is what you are made of. Your character, in essence, is the sole basis of everything that you are. Everything that you do and say is derived from, rooted in, and founded on your character. 

So how is your character developed? Here is the formula (which I learned at a youth convention I attended in January): your thoughts (what you think) forms your attitude (how you feel); your attitude forms your behavior (how you act); your behavior forms your life (or the consequences that come as a result of your behavior).

So, if you are royalty and you wish to look as such to the world around you, then you need to behave like you are royalty; which means that you need to have the character of royalty; which means that you need to think like royalty. Now, remember that you are a child of the King of all kings. Therefore, your character must be a reflection of His character, and not just a reflection of an earthly king or queen in this world. The character and conduct of Jesus was much higher than that of any man or woman on earth, but through His strength and power, we can attain that same level of royalty. 


---------------------

Oh, yes, oh yes, I'm a child of the King
His royal blood now flows in my veins.
And I who was wretched and poor now can sing,

"Praise God, praise God, I'm a child of the King!"

See what the Bible has to say: http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/attitude