Monday, June 23, 2014

Be Thou my Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD..."
--Hosea 6:3a--

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dreams…and Today

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”
—Matthew 6:34

When I was around seven years old, I made a mental list of some things I wanted to do some day when I was older. Three things I badly wanted to do someday was ride on a boat, fly in an airplane, and ride a train. Since then, I’ve been able to do all three, and each was exciting (although I think flying is the best of the three!).

In our spiritual life, there are certain things that we have expectations and hopes for. Things we want to accomplish one day, but maybe our hopes aren’t realized yet. We can envision ourselves doing things for the Lord, in the future, when we’re “older”—older in faith, or older in years, or maybe both. Sometimes I wonder, though, if I don’t over-plan my future—thinking of all the things I hope I can be and do later when now is the time that I have been given to live and work.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to plan to do things in the future—no, I believe dreams and plans have a very real and correct place in our lives. What I am saying is that sometimes we tend to plan to do things in the future too much, and are neglecting those things that we have been given to do here in the present. If that’s the case, then you and I have a problem!

Let me give you a little example. I hope to one day (if the Lord wills) to become a nurse, and possibly a midwife. After the training I’ll receive that way, I hope to go into active service as a missionary somewhere. One of the gifts that the Lord has blessed me with is a love of taking care of other people.

The problem comes in when I spend too much time dreaming about all I’ll be able to do to help others later on. And that means I miss at least some of the chances I have now to bless others. In being caught up in the “tomorrows”, I miss the “todays”. And while that isn’t exactly sin, it is wrong to be believing that I have to wait for a certain time (when I’m more able, more educated, etc.) before I can do a certain thing.

Take advantage of the moments now—this may be the only time you will be able to help that person the way you can now. Dream big—riding airplanes, taking care of old people, or whatever you want to do one day—but don’t let your dreams get in the way of your example and walk with the Lord here and now.

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” —Proverbs 27:1

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris

Title: Do Hard things: a teenage rebellion against low expectations.
Authors: Alex and Brett Harris
Publisher: Multnomah Books, 2008

So yes, I haven’t read that final biography of Charles Spurgeon yet :-)

"Most people don't expect you to understand what we're going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don't expect you to care. And even if you care, they don't expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don't expect it to last. We do." - Alex and Brett Harris

This is one of my favourite books for young people! Do Hard Things is all about challenging the 'teens' in today's culture to see that there is more to life than friends and video games. Rather, the teen years are the "launching pad of life."

It's about what you do after you've become a Christian. Your heart has changed, and so must your life. 

There are five kinds of hard things:

  • Things that take you out of your comfort zone
  • Things that go above what is expected or required
  • Things that are too big to accomplish alone
  • Things that don't earn an immediate payoff
  • Things that challenge the cultural norm
I like this book because it is practical as well as being about the history of adolescence. There are a lot of books that talk about feelings, or relationships, but Alex and Brett have taken the challenge and written this one. They've also written Start Here, a follow-up book about how others are doing hard things, and just how you can get started and join them.

I think every Christian young adult should read this book, because that;s who it's written for - a whole generation willing to serve God above themselves.

Rhoda :-)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Potato Pancakes

Our family has been making these forever and they are really, really, really, really good!

potato pancakes” by Olga Vasiljeva is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What you will need: (We make double this for our family of 12 people - play around with the quantities as you see fit.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • ½ tsp. celery salt
  • 1 pound (500 gm) grated potatoes (or just whiz them in a food processor if you are in a hurry)
  • ¼ cup flour

Mix eggs, milk, onion and seasonings in a bowl. Add potatoes and flour. Mix well. Fry spoonfuls of mixture in oil for 2-3 minutes on each side. They’re best if served hot. :) Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stay in the Castle :: Part Four

Click here to read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three


She woke with the dawn, not knowing that it was a year to the day since her departure. Her back hurt. "Just part of being in your last month of pregnancy," the village woman had told her. Rising with difficulty, her husband muttered something in his half drunken state. He had come home only hours before and they had argued--again. Oh, well, after the baby is born maybe things will get better.

There was still a house to clean and chores to do. Picking up a worn, straw broom, she walked outside to sweep the front porch. Their house was small. It sat at the edge of town, not far from the bridge where he had waited for her that first night. Her eyes followed the path up to her Father's Castle. The King had still found little ways to show her that he had not forgotten her; that she was still loved. But what he had said was now true. Nothing was the same.

Her eyes wandered to the East to spend a few minutes watching the sun rise, a simple pleasure that she shared alone each morning. It's rays almost blinded her, distorting the trees and the hills beyond. Squinting against it's brightness, she returned to the job at hand, first glancing absently up the High Road.

Her heart seemed to stop, gripped as if by a strong hand. The broom quivered in her grasp. Far down the road came a white horse, it's rider sitting straight and tall. He seemed to be coming straight out of the sun. The horse quickened it's pace as it neared the castle, sensing the excitement of it's master. Her heart began to beat again, now loud and in rhythm to the pounding hoofs. He reighed his mount to a stop outside the castle's front gate. She could not make out his features, but his stance spoke of honor and character. He knocked on the front door, her front door not that long ago. The King stepped out to greet him, and she watched as they conversed; watched as the King spoke with his hands, and then pointed toward the village. Involuntarily, she took a step back into the shadow of the porch.

The noble Prince listened carefully, his strong shoulders sagging in disappointment and sadness. Shaking the King's hand and receiving from him a consoling hug, he mounted his horse. He looked toward her village home, his eyes finding her in the shadow. For a moment they both stared. Then, pointing his mount back toward the sun, he rode away into it's brightness.

She felt the hot tears on her arms and hands long before it occurred to her that she was crying. Nothing, she thought, will ever be the same.


Written by Pastor Jerry Ross
Stay in the Castle is a story written by Pastor Jerry Ross about a young lady who finds herself at a crossroads. One road is marked, "My will,” the other, "God's will.” It is a love story–a story of misplaced love, lost love and genuine love realized. Best of all, Stay in the Castle is a true story.

I hope this story was helpful to you. I know that it encouraged me to "Stay in the Castle" and wait on God's will for me no matter how long it takes! Going God's way is always best! :)

Have you enjoyed this story? Has it encouraged you to "Stay in the Castle"? Please feel free to comment with your thoughts! =) 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Desiring God

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby….”
—1 Peter 2:2

My mom recently weaned my youngest brother. Even though I’ve seen it done to all my siblings, it is still hard to see him wanting to eat but not being allowed to. He still begs, but he is slowly learning to eat like a “big person” at the table with everyone else.

Nora” by Rick Bolin is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Seeing his longing to eat and remembering the verse from Peter makes me question my own life. Yes, I’m happy in the Lord and going to Him for daily nourishment, but am I longing to get to know Him like I ought to be? Do I desire to know Him as I ought to—as He wants me to? Or am I lax in my spiritual life, going to Him when it suits me or when I especially need His guidance and direction?

My dad has used the illustration a lot of a baby who is just born and doesn’t want to eat. The parents are very worried about the baby, aren’t they? And so God is about us when we don’t actively seek Him and turn to Him day by day, second by second. It isn’t just us who need this, though—its the world. Let us, each one, turn to the Lord and ask Him to guide our footsteps in the “way of righteousness” (Proverbs 12:28), so others can see His light and desire Him as well.

We all profess that we are bound for heaven, immortality, and glory: but is it any evidence that we really desire it if all our thoughts are consumed about the trifles of the world, which we must leave behind us, and have only occasional thoughts of things above?
—John Owen

Be the jewel He’s called you to be!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Guest Post: Created a Jewel

by Abigail

It’s a gorgeous morning. The sky above the mountains is a vivid blue, with streaks of white clouds stretching above the blue haze of mountain peaks. The breeze is cool and invigorating, and feels good as it brushes against my cheeks. I’m so glad to be alive—so happy to be the person God created me to be.

Last night, however, I was feeling blue and lonely, and so mad at myself. I had just been to a youth gathering, and although I had a good time with my friends, I was struggling against worthless feelings. We had been playing volleyball, like usual, and I am one of the worst volleyball players. The ball doesn't seem to cooperate with me very often, flying to the side or hitting the net. I hate messing up my team, and when sides were chosen, I of course was chosen last. (Thankfully we usually number off. :) ) Also, I felt mad at myself for being so quiet and introverted. I am a deep-thinker and a quiet personality by nature, so when the young people are talking in a group I like to just sit and listen, and smile, maybe add a little comment here and there. I do better one on one, but I’ve never been much of a talker unless I know someone extremely well, or feel really comfortable.

And last night, I was mad at myself all over again. It seemed like no one really liked me. Sure, they were my friends, but they didn’t really miss me if I was gone or really care if I was around. I was just the quiet Abigail, and I didn’t really matter that much. At least, it was easy to think that way.

After a long talk with my dad, I felt a lot better, but it was this morning at the youth’s prayer meeting that God really hit the truth home to my heart. Our youth leader was talking about peer pressure, and one statement struck my heart like a dagger. “Don’t let peer pressure define the person you are.” Suddenly, I got it. (again :) ) God had created me quiet. He had made me not such a big talker. I wasn’t very charming or especially smart, or good at volleyball. But I could smile. I could love others and genuinely care about them. I could splash God’s love over to others who were hungry for it, and I could be an encourager. God had given me gifts, and after all, I do talk a lot sometimes.

It wasn’t about me. I was nothing. But Christ had made me something. He had created me good, given me His very nature, put Himself inside me, and given me the ability to become a beautiful young woman, radiant with love and joy. And right now, I feel so happy I could burst. Because I’m free to be the person HE created me to be. He made me myself…and has awesome plans for me!

For all of us.

I am a 17-year old daughter of the King, living in Montana with my parents, five younger brothers, and little sister. I love living here in this gorgeous place, and every day God shows me a little more of how awesome He is. I have a passion for Israel and the Jews, and it is my dream to live in Israel and help God’s people someday. My interests include writing, art, piano, swimming, volleyball :), flower gardening, working with moms and babies, poetry, reading biographies and writing novels, and spending time with friends and family in the great outdoors.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stay in the Castle :: Part Three

Click here to read Part One and Part Two 


Three months later, a slightly older, but much changed Princess marched into the Great Room to announce to her Father the decision she had made on the previous night. Her midnight visits had increased in frequency since that first visit a long time ago. The village night life was more exciting than she had ever dared imagine. The people, though sometimes crude, laughed and sang and danced and chased each night into dawn. They were living! Living now! Not just waiting for a dream that might never come true.

The young man that had met her that first night had treated her, well, like royalty! In a hundred ways he had made her feel special. Then last night, the greatest of all nights of her life, he had proposed to her. She clutched the ring he had slipped onto her finger tightly in her palm, drawing courage from the pain it produced.

"Father, I have something to tell you."

He sat in his chair, the Book of Lessons on his lap, it's pages freshly stained with his tears. She almost lost her resolve.

"I've met a young man. I know I shouldn't have gone without your permission but...anyway, we are going to be married--right away!"

The King shut the Book and stared out towards the Highway. "I watched you go each night, wishing you back." Then turning his eyes to her he said. "This castle has never been a prison. This castle is a decision. I want you to know that if you leave here, things will never be the same again. My love for you will never change, but everything--everything--else will." She wavered for a moment, but only a moment, her head filled now with the village ideas.

"I know that this is what is right for me. He may not be Royalty, but I love him." And with that she left the castle.


Stay Tuned for the fourth and final part of this story!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why Worship?

Why should we worship God?

Well, here are the answers to this important question that come to mind.

The First Reason
What is the chief end of man? 
Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.
(Westminster Shorter Catechism)

We were created to glorify God. God made us to glorify Him and enjoy Him. That is our main purpose for existence.

Psalm 100:3
 "It is he that made us."

The Second Reason

We owe Him so much! 

Without our Lord, we would be still sinners and condemned to eternal punishment on Judgement Day. But He took the punishment for our sins and died on the cross so that we could be forgiven and go to be with Him one day.

Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Isn't thankfulness for all He has done an admirable reason to worship Him?

The Third Reason

We are commanded to worship Him.

Revelation 14:7b
"Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."

1 Chronicles 16:23-31
"Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come before him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
Tremble before him, all the earth!
The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” "

There are many, many other reasons why we should worship our great, loving, kind Heavenly Father. If you aren't convinced by now, here are some more verses on this subject. I think Scripture itself is such a powerful way to convey information! :) God's Word says it so much better than I can.

Luke 19:37-40
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Isaiah 55:12
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
(Even nature glorifies God!)

John 4:23
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him."

Blessings to you all!

(All quoted Bible verses are from the NIV version unless specified.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Mint Chocolate Cookies

Mint Chocolate Cookies


  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. mint extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 15-20 drops green food coloring
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temp.)
  • 1 bag Andes Mints (chopped)

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) together and set aside. Unwrap the mints. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and mint extract. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Add green food coloring until evenly colored. Fold in the chopped Andes mints. Roll round teaspoon of dough into balls. Flatten and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let stand on cookie sheets for 2 min. before moving them to wire racks to cool.

Note: These cookies are for those that like mint!
-Jessica S.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”  — Psalm 28:7

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.”  — Psalm 9:2

The joy of a smile :)” by Rakesh JV is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

I work in a local business, doing some general cleaning two afternoons a week. One afternoon, as I swept the floor, I whistled, only half thinking about what I was doing. Someone walked in, and as my usual custom I continued sweeping, ignoring him. Usually, I only talk after I’ve been talked too. Being an introvert does have its helpful sides at times—I dislike trying to start conversations. My mind wandered onto what I would be doing later, when suddenly the man’s words cut into my thoughts. “Are you happy?”

The question was so startling that I stopped whistling and continued sweeping for another second or two before looking up. My mind busily sorted out an answer. For a long time, I was longing to be truly happy. But now? The answer to the question almost surprised me when I found it. “Yes, I am happy.” I said, looking at him. Then I began sweeping again, before a nudge (from God?) made me ask, “What about you?” I glanced up once, then continued with my job.

“I’m trying to be.” He responded. He soon walked out—probably done for the day. But his question—and my answer—made me very thoughtful.

Happy. Something that I long to be. And, with a stranger’s question, my view on life suddenly changed a little. Yes, I am happy—whether or not I’ve ever noticed it before. I’m content. And I believe that’s because of God.

Now I’ll turn the question to you:
Are you happy? Or are you just trying to be happy?

It’s a thought-provoker, I’ll admit! But it’s a good question to answer. And, if you are truly happy, I believe with my whole heart that others will be able to see that. They might not say anything. But they’re watching. They want happiness, too. And when they see it in you, they start to wonder.

Be joyful!

P.S. I don’t like to mention things like this, but Cosette told us a couple weeks ago of her decision to leave the writing team. Her life has recently gotten much busier, so although it’s sad to see her go we understand. However, I would like to ask—would you please join us in praying that someone will either come to take her place or else that there would be enough submitted posts to fill in her day (the second Friday of each month)? Thank you! -Esther, for the JOJ team