Kiana Honored Queen

October 18, 2014

Friends,
Eight nights ago, at Alvarado’s Homecoming, my niece, Kiana, was one of the five senior princesses. She had chosen as her escort a young man named Tim who is one of the “LifeSkills” mentally challenged students she has assisted for two years at her school. Tim is the one I wrote about in my 12/16/13 post whose father was tragically killed last Fall in a motorcycle wreck. Kiana, in response, organized a charity fund raiser at her school and also wrote to the radio station, KLTY, asking if they too would like to help Tim’s hurting family.

So, as our family watched from the bleachers Friday night, 10/10/14, and all the princesses and their escorts stood on the football field at half-time, Kiana Headland was announced to have won queen! It was very exciting!

Truly, Kiana is deserving of the title. Not only has she assisted with the handicapped class, but she is a major leader in her school. She is the president of the student council, vice president of the student body, is a cheerleader, was the cheerleader mascot last year, was junior homecoming princess last year, is one of the top students grade-wise, and the list goes on. Most of all, she is a sweet and good girl who loves Jesus, shines Him to others (including to the Japanese people when they go every summer to Japan to minister, as well as to the international students attending the local university who she joins her parents in ministering to). More than all this, Kiana shows thoughtfulness and maturity like few others her age. Our family is very proud of her as well as thankful to God for helping her achieve and flourish.

Besides the excitement we had on Homecoming night, Kiana had invited me, along with her parents, to attend her classes that morning, as all the students’ parents were invited to do for their teens. That was a lot of fun and so was watching her and the other cheerleaders cheer for the pep rally. She had arranged for Tim and some of the other LifeSkills students to join in at one point to lead the crowd in a cheer, and that was definitely precious to watch.

Below are some photos of the whole wonderful day.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

P.S.  Here, also, is a link to the newspaper’s photos:

http://www.midlothianmirror.com/gallery/collection_38a6ae56-72f5-515f-9436-f46e61eff04e.html?mode=nogs

Kiana and Tim

Kiana between two of her best friends who were also runner-ups

Kiana between Tim and his sister

Kiana (after receiving the queen’s crown and sash) and Tim; Alvarado fans in the background

Kiana and Tim with my brother and his wife (Ruth)

Kiana with her boyfriend, the football captain, by the gym, Homecoming morning

Kiana and her boyfriend of two years (who escorted her last year) and her parents

Me, Kiana, and my brother

Kiana and Tim when we visited his classroom

Kiana rehearsing the cheer with Tim and two of his classmates

My brother helping Ruth tie the Science Lab apron we had to wear in that class

Kiana and me wearing the aprons and goggles in Science Lab

Kiana and her dad cleaning up after the pep rally

Beautiful Kiana, getting ready before the evening Homecoming game

My parents met us at the football field

My brother and Tim before half-time

My mom and Kiana hugging after she won (Btw, the ring Kiana wears is a purity ring –a symbol of her vow to God to be pure.)

My parents with the new Homecoming queen and king between them

Me, Homecoming Queen Kiana, and Homecoming King Tim, 10/10/14

Friends,
Last week my mom and I witnessed to and prayed with a couple who were originally from Africa. The woman was a Christian and the man said that because one of his parents is Christian and one is Muslim, he is both Christian and Muslim. We tried to gently explain to him that a person cannot be both, for the two religions, though yes, they overlap in commanding righteousness, do, for the most part, contradict one another. The man and woman were polite listeners, and at separate times my mom and I prayed with the wife who was eager to have her husband come to the Truth.

One thing I almost always bring up with Muslims who think that their religion and Christianity can mix is that Jesus claimed to be the “I Am” (John 8:58) –the Almighty Most High, Creator and Only God. If Muslims teach that Jesus was merely one of the great prophets, how are the faiths compatible?

I also almost always ask a Muslim about how he believes that his sins can ever be atoned for. If we’ve all sinned, I say, and sin requires either punishment or pardon, how do you get God to pardon you for all your sins so that you can make it into Heaven? The Muslim usually answers to the effect that he is trying to be good enough. Yet this, we know, is impossible before a perfectly holy God. For perfect justice to be upheld, there must be a punishment or a ransom paid –and a ransom paid requires a Redeemer. The Muslim religion has no such Person. It all falls on the Muslim individual –how much he can please God; and of course all of us are a part of fallen humanity in which every human falls short of God’s requirements. (Rom. 3:23)

The Christian, on the other hand, and though he, also, like the Muslim, wants to please God, has both a Redeemer and a Savior. Jesus has bought us back to God by the shedding of His blood (Acts 20:28) –the blood of Him who was/is sinless. (2 Cor. 5:21) This is the only way to be forgiven by God for sin (Heb. 4:14-16 & 9:22), and thus the only way to be saved from God’s wrath against sin. (1 Thes. 1:10) By stepping into Christ, therefore, and doing so “by faith in His blood” (Rom. 3:25), we come into the One who is sinless and we abide there in loyal submission to Him (Luke 6:46-49 & 14:25-35), we abide there living His life (Gal. 2:20 // Col. 2:10), we abide there by having renounced sin (Rom. ch. 6 // Gal. 5:24), we abide there free from Sin’s mastery (same verses), and we abide there, pleasing God because we are controlled no longer by the sinful nature but by His Seed / Nature / Spirit. (Rom. 8:9 // 1 John 3:4-10) By the Seed / Nature / Spirit of God in us –which comes by being born of His Spirit (John 3:3-8)– we have the power to live up to that righteousness which, as Muslims and Christians agree, God does indeed require. (Jesus Himself told us that the command is perfection. –Matt. 5:27-30,48) And if we do allow ourselves to get weary or neglectful so that we take up sin, we have an Advocate and a Cleanser who comes to our aid when we repent. (1 John 1:9-2:6) But, who does the Muslim have? No one but himself. And he, the Muslim, is not powerful enough or good enough.

Christianity and Islam are not compatible. The faiths cannot exist together in harmony. Anyone who thinks he can adhere to both and be in the Truth is just deceiving himself.

“Seek the Truth,” is what we told this confused man. And it is what everyone needs to do who is not yet walking in the Only Truth and Life –He who is the Only Way to the Father (John 14:6) and He whose teaching is the only Redemption (John 8:31-36 // 2 John 1:9), this being because He is the Father Himself in bodily form. (Isa. 9:6 // Col. 1:15-20 & 2:9)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Just by living on this fallen planet, we are bound to have storms –trials, disappointments, grief, pain, death… This isn’t Heaven. But, we do have God. We do have a Savior. And His Spirit is available for all who put their trust in Him, all who walk obediently with Him. His name is Jesus and He is completely able to save us from all that we need to be saved from. This means saved from sin and Hell, but it does not always mean being saved from having to endure storms. Therefore, being that storms are part of this life, we need to understand what the Lord requires of us as we go through them.

The Lord requires us to have faith. Faith in Him. Faith that He will see us through, be right there with us, give us peace and strength in the journey, and mold our character into Christ-likeness. We must have faith. Without it we cannot please God. (Heb. 11:6) But with it, we overcome the world. (1 John 5:4) And even if we die, we live. (John 11:25,26)

How do we exercise and prove our faith? We obey the Holy Spirit. But this we can do only if we are reading the Word which is where He / His Truth is found, heard, known, and experienced. (Here is a very important post regarding this: http://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/salvation-comes-through-the-word/)

When we are led by the Spirit of God / the Word of God, we will be led to pray in praise, especially if we are going through, or expecting to go through, a storm. This praising, faith-filled prayer to God will be intense, it will be continuous, and it will be battle –meaning, strenuous, but also flowing compulsively like a torrent. For when we, by our will and faith, open wide our mouths, God Himself fills our tongues. (Ps. 81:10) He has brought us up out of bondage, storms, pain, heartache, and afflictions from the enemy (see same verse), and He will do so again –through our prayers that are filled with praise.

But let me say it again: A tiny morsel of God’s Word and a small bit of praising is not going to bring the answer, the deliverance, the miracle. It takes making the battle our priority. It takes making the winning of it an expectation of confident faith. And it takes engaging our battle weapons whenever –and I mean, whenever– we get the chance, whether it be while driving, cooking, cleaning house, or walking down the aisle of a grocery store. In other words, we must be quoting the Word and exalting God continuously and assertively as we exhibit for Him our complete trust in Him and His will for us.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Acts of Self-sacrifice

September 28, 2014

Friends,
In the suburb next to the one we live in there has been a beautiful occurrence that has gone national. It can be read and viewed here:

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Grand-Prairie-Homecoming-Queen-Shares-Her-Crown-275390651.html

Being that homecoming is actually a very big deal in Texas, this act of kindness shown by two girls toward another is no small thing. But giving up the crown for their friend who had experienced a cruel prank has reaped more reward and honor than had they kept their crown. What an inspiration to all of us to remember those who hurt, those who are bullied, and those who are less fortunate. And what an encouragement to remember to be kind, generous, humble, unselfish, and self-sacrificing!

Last year I wrote about my niece, Kiana, who was her school’s 11th grade homecoming princess and whose boyfriend accompanied her in his football uniform. This year this same young man is the captain of their football team, but, ever since last year, Kiana, with his agreement, has planned, if she gets nominated again, to have a particular other classmate to be her escort. This classmate happens to be mentally handicapped. Kiana has assisted with him and the other handicapped students for several years, getting them involved and participating, and this year, while being a cheerleader, the president of the student council, and the vice president of the student body, she has organized for them to be a part of several things including the cheerleaders. Talk about someone who has worked to make potential outcasts feel included and honored!

There are many self-sacrificing people in the world. True, there are many who are not, but there are many who are. And all too often their acts of kindness and selflessness go unnoticed. Maybe this is why it is so wonderful when someone’s does get attention. Even national attention.

May many take such heart-warming stories to heart and strive to think of ways to show kindness to everyone they can, especially to those who may be hurting somehow. I’ve seen that sometimes even the smallest act of kindness can go a very long way. It can melt a heart, it can create a friendship, and it can save a soul.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

That Eternal-Life-Food

September 21, 2014

Friends,
Jesus has given us this command: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27) Yet what is it that most people in the world are working hard to attain? What is it which drives them to go hither and thither, being busy, busy, busy? It is the desire for the world’s food. It is the world’s nourishment they seek. It is the world’s crumbs –those rotting, hollow, and counterfeit joys and support systems– that they are striving so hard to possess and eat.

But Jesus has instructed us to reject such a pursuit. Instead, He has told us, we are to work for that Food which does not evaporate or perish but which lasts and gives true and eternal life.

What is this Eternal-Life-Food? Jesus has informed us in the same chapter that this Food is Him –His body and His blood. He has told us to nourish ourselves on Him. He has let us know that because the Father has placed His seal of approval on the Son of Man (also in v. 27), He (Jesus) is qualified and able to give us this lasting Food. Because He came down from Heaven and gave His life for the world (v. 33) His flesh eaten produces eternal life. (v. 50,51)

Jesus’ flesh and blood which He has spoken about that we are to eat and drink (v. 53-58) is actually His Spirit which comes by way of His words. (v. 63) Therefore if we do not nourish ourselves with the Word of God, Christ is not in us and we are not abiding in Eternal Life. (v. 53) Yes, our physical bodies need physical food, for that is how God created us. But our spirits must be nourished with spiritual food (Mt. 4:4), and the only True Food, the only Food that produces eternal life, is Jesus who is the Word of God. (John 1:1,14)

Let’s caution ourselves, though, about one thing: It is not enough to just eat (read) the Word of God. We must digest it (meditate on it) and let it work in our spirits so that it produces that Life which it is supposed to produce in us. We must let it strengthen us and let it be our source of godly action, our source of power to do the Lord’s will. We know that without the Spirit we can do nothing; thus we need Him. But the Spirit is filled up in us when we read the Word and put it into practice.

Let’s stop striving for food that does not profit our eternal souls, but instead strive –daily– for the Eternal-Life-Food which Jesus gives us through His Spirit in His Word.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Door To Life

September 17, 2014

Friends,
Someone I grew up with and who seemed to be trying hard to follow the Lord most of her life, but who has recently turned to a New Age-type path, mentioned at her blog Jesus’ words about being the Door. But then she asked, “The Door to what?” I was surprised that she could ask such a question without seeming to know the answer, for Jesus’ teaching in John 10 is not hard to understand.

In John 10:1-16, Jesus tells us that He is the Door (v. 7,9) and that everyone who enters the sheep pen without going through Him exists there illegitimately. (v. 1,5,8) This could be anyone who tries to pretend they belong to Christ, though Jesus’ emphasis is on those who try to usurp the (true) Shepherd’s authority in order to get the sheep to follow them. (same verses & 10-13) Such impostors are like those who, even in our day, use Christ’s words (and the rest of the Scriptures) to teach doctrines that are false. Distorting the Word of God and promising the Way of the Truth and the Life, they actually are in league with him who is bent on destroying lives. (v. 10a) By bringing in falsehoods to confuse the flock, the ensuing division separates and scatters the sheep so that the weaker ones can much more easily be devoured by the Lie. (v. 10,12 // 1 Peter 5:8) Such deceivers really care nothing for others (John 10:13) but only for their own egos and desires. (Jude 1:15-19)

So, if Jesus is the Door, what is the answer to, “The Door to what?” In John 10:9,10 we have it in a nutshell: By going through the Door (Jesus), we receive safety, provision, and Abundant Life. The latter actually encompasses the other two (the safety and provision) and all of it is for eternity –if we do not rebel and turn away from lovingly and willingly following the Shepherd’s instructions / leadership / teaching. (v. 4,14,27-30 & 8:31-36 & 15:1-10)

So again, “The Door to what?” No one who knows and believes God’s Word would ask such a question. The whole Gospel tells us that Jesus is the Door to Eternal Life and that this Life begins the moment we abandon ourselves –repenting of our pride, our self-preservation, our desire for power, and all our participation in the evil realm– and cast ourselves into Christ. (Gal. 2:20 & 5:24 & 6:14) Once we do this, we have entered the realm of Rest (Heb. 4:1-11), the realm of Peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7), the realm of Love (John 15:10), and the realm of Safety. (10:9,27-30) This is the realm which, no matter what is happening around us or to our bodies, the real inner-self has already been tenderly tucked away in the blessed care of the Lord Jesus, our Creator and Shepherd and Savior.

Jesus is the Door to Life –the eternal existence that is blessed, not cursed, and is increasingly more wonderful into eternity than we can currently imagine.

Who would not choose to cast themselves through This Door?

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
In Isa. 22:11 we read, “…but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.”

We do not replace those to whom these words were directed, but being that God’s Word is living and that He uses it to speak to each one of us individually, let us direct these words toward ourselves as well. Do we look to the Creator and have regard for Him who orchestrates events? Do we stand in awe of Him and thank Him for His miracles, His deliverances, His judgements, and His mercies? Or do we shrug our shoulders and take it all for granted –considering the promotion to have come about by our own worthiness, the escape to have happened by our own wisdom, the prominence to have blossomed through our own ingenuity, and the strength to have come through our own hard work?

Can any good thing happen without the Lord’s might and help and plan? Can even evil happen without His prior knowledge of it, His allowance of it, and His insertion of it into His purposes? What we do, whatever happens to us, and all events of history come about because God either causes it or allows it –and always for His glory and the ultimate good of the righteous. Can we then take credit for amazing feats or for blessed positions? Moreover, should we feel hopeless while enduring pain and troubles, forgetting that God is sovereign over the affairs of all mankind?

In verses 8-11 we read, “You looked… you saw… you stored up… you counted… and tore down… you built… but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.” Why do people credit themselves or others when it has been the Lord’s doing?

So the Lord called you on that day to weep, to wail, to repent. (v. 12) But instead the people continued to party, and ignored the call of God. (v. 13)

What is the Lord’s response to such shameful indifference? “‘Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,’ says the Lord, the LORD Almighty.” (v. 14)

What is the sin? Is it not the refusal to repent of one’s disregard for the Lord’s hand in one’s life, in what is going on with us, with others, and in the world? Is it not the refusal to look to the One in whose control everything lies? Is it not the refusal to call out to Him and acknowledge, in full faith, that He is completely sovereign?

Let’s turn our eyes and hearts to the Lord and His Word and renounce the wickedness of disregarding His involvement in the earth.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel