Annual Special Youth Edition
After a bit of research, I discovered that several of these budding poets and writers attend "The Potter's School" and I would like to extend my thanks to their instructors at Potter's School for pointing their students in my direction. To protect all these young writers from spam, I won't be including their personal email addresses. However, I would respectfully direct you to their school if you need any further information. Please note each article listed below is copyrighted to each individual author.
*As this is an annual special edition, Submissions are closed for class assigned submission requests. Submissions based on online or physical classroom assignments will NOT be accepted until March 15 - April 25, 2011. Any such classroom assignment submissions sent in before or after this time frame will not be accepted. However, I gratefully accept most devotionals, testimonies or poetry that are not part of a classroom requirement project, regardless of age or gender at any time throughout the year.
Maybe If ...
Maybe if i stepped out on faith
Maybe if I was confident
Maybe if I live a full life
Maybe if I never give up.
Maybe if I gossiped and hated less, but loved more
Maybe if I smiled more at strangers
Maybe if I really prayed for my enemies
Maybe if I lived what I spoke
Maybe if stood up for others
Maybe if I cared
It goes on and on
So maybe if we turned the "maybe if" into an "I did",
@2010 Rachel Buettner
Who Will Tell You?
A Word Well Spoken
Words are the deadliest of weapons. A fundamental message addressed over and over again in the Bible is Communication. The way Christians communicate not only determines how they relate with one another but also how unbelievers perceive Christ followers. The way Christians communicate ultimately decides how much of a witness they have for Christ. In the Bible, God reveals that love, patience, and self control are necessary in every word spoken. So how can Christians govern their speech and insure that they have been excellent witnesses for Christ? Christians must remember that words have power.
Love constitutes one of the greatest emotions man has. Love holds together even when everything else wants to give way and rip apart. If every word spoken was thought through and embellished with love, the world would instantly change for the better. Situations arise when people can not get along. Ideals collide and personalities clash, but the Bible tells Christians that a word spoken in love quickly resolves conflict. It can be easy to let emotions rule ones actions, but God would have Christians to think carefully about what they say and do. Love, when injected into speech, shows a Christian’s ultimate devotion to their Lord, and through this, Christians can witness in a large ways.
Patience forgives. It lifts up when pulling down may seem easier. Patience, especially in today’s society, is rare unfortunately even among Christians. So in a world that doesn’t practice patience what an opportunity for witness for Christians! When Christians become part of conversations that begin to get heated, why not practice this value and become a great example for our Lord. When Jesus was on this earth He was the perfect image of true patience. He, the almighty God of the universe, showed grace to flawed man. If Christians exercised more patience in their speech, the world would take notice and recognize that followers of Christ are different.
As patience had qualities of love, self-control has qualities of patience. Self-control is the process of thinking about ones actions and deciding to do the right thing. Self-control might be one of the harder values that Christians must conform to. It can become difficult to keep self-control when dealing with people who show a lack of caring, or effort, but Christians have a higher standard. Becoming short tempered and acting like a heathen do not show a mindset centered on Christ. Christians must make the decision to think hard, process their thoughts, and then confront others in a Christ like manner. Being self-controlled will never prove easy, but it will make a great difference.
The Bible gives a road map to Christians, and among the directions are lessons that will test the human nature. Speech has always and will continue as one of the greatest chances that Christians have to witness. The way Christ followers relate to other humans relies on communication, and the quality of that communication. Choosing to stand up and govern the words that try to escape our mouths and injure others could become the first step towards having a greater witness for Christ. Even the most stubborn hearts can change with a little love. Words are powerful. Let them bring honor to our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Greatest Gift Of All
It was early December, and I had my eyes tightly set on the one Christmas gift sitting under the tree, my new camera. Not just a camera, but the newest and coolest three-hundred dollar Nikon, the camera I had been waiting a year for. I had even bought a new matching Coach handbag. I counted the days before I could hold that precious piece of metal in my hand as its proud owner. One Friday Night, we sat small group as our counselor asked what Christmas meant to us and what we do to live out that meaning. Jesus had given us the greatest gift of all, and she challenged us to give back to Him.
Days later, I sat eating lunch with my mom when she casually mentioned if I would’ve been willing to donate the three-hundred dollars instead of buying the camera. At that moment, I felt as if God was the one speaking through my mom. I don’t believe my mom thought I would even consider it, so when I said "maybe", I could clearly see the surprise she felt. Not long after, I was emailed a YouTube link to a video showing just how much Americans spend on buying Christmas junk, when those billions of dollars could save lives in other parts of the world. It may seem pretty silly, but I believe God used that YouTube video to convince me, and I made a decision to give my camera, and my will, to Him. We returned the camera, donating the three hundred dollars to a Christian magazine she writes at, and I gave the handbag to a friend for her birthday.
The night I confirmed my decision, I received a church email with this verse attached at the end, and there was no doubt I had experienced the mighty hand of God at work. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."(Matthew 6:19-21)
© 2010 Jessica Wang
Round and round.
© 2010 Kimbi Bagnal
Run The Good Race
Imagine a long curving path going through many hills and valleys. A bright blue sky lingers overhead, providing beautiful shining light. Alongside the path there are beautiful flowers full of color, and green grass brimming with rich, earthy smell. Now imagine you standing in the middle of the path under the blue sky with gorgeous landscape all about, but out on the horizon dark, angry clouds begin to form, just waiting to unleash their fury. Looking back you see the blue sky, along with the green grass and flowers. Ahead though, grey sky looms overhead, but otherwise the path appears harmless. Walking along the narrow parts of the path, the green grass disappears further behind, and the dark storm clouds move closer. The sound of thunder begins to rumble throughout the sky, while the first strikes of lightning began to hit the earth with a crack. Struggles and storms obviously await the person traveling the path, while the blue sky and happiness is left behind for now. This picture depicts the Christian walk and the struggles that frequently accompany it. Christ calls Christians to persevere through these times because he has placed them there for a reason, for his glory and to test endurance. Christians need to rejoice in the struggles because they only make them stronger for Christ and more ready to confront and battle the sin in the world. Throughout the Bible, God calls his children to persevere because in the end they will receive a reward, which is eternal life with Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfected of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and say down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
God marks out a race for Christians, when he chooses them as his sons and daughters. He did not intend for it to be easy and simple, but provided stumbling blocks, so that we would fall on him and cling to him to finish the race. Running requires an enormous amount of mind over matter, as the body is forced to physical limits. For example, I run cross country and thoroughly enjoy the exhilaration in running and pushing the body through a strong mind. Each 5k race provides something new to conquer and endure through. I remember one race in particular that has drawn me constantly to a particular verse in the Bible, Isaiah 40:31 which says "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." As I rounded the corner to begin the second assent up the hill, my legs began to wobble and feel fatigued. A competitor was breathing right behind me and I knew that this hill would make or break the race for me. It was at that moment that I realized there was someone so much more powerful than me who was right beside me the whole race, Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior and would provide me with strength only if I hoped in Him alone. I whispered a quick prayer, "Lord, please help me!" After that moment the most amazing thing happened, my legs felt stronger and I was filled with a reassuring hope that I could finish this race and make it up the hill. I surged forward, intoxicated with this new anticipation and strength. After the race, I thanked my Father for giving me a miniscule amount of His powerful strength to get through the race.
In James 1:12 it says "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." When I finish a race, I am given a certificate of completion, or if the race is a championship, then I am given a medal based on my performance. Christ promises the best completion reward ever offered to man, a crown in eternal life. However, he also tells us before that in order to earn the crown we must persevere through the struggles in our race of life. We have to continually love Him and trust in Him for his provision because we have the reassurance that He will never leave our side. The verse promises that when we have stood the difficult tests that fill our life on earth, then we will receive the greatest most rewarding gift of all, eternal life. This awesome promise is a gift, which is so hard to comprehend why someone would die and take all our guilt and shame and still give us the gift of living with the most powerful and loving Being forever. Again in Hebrews 10:36, the Bible tell of the reward of perseverance. "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." God makes it very clear that if we stay on task with the things He places in our life and remain close to Him and trust in his unfailing love, then He will reward us. He never breaks his promises so we can be assured that our perseverance for the cross will lead us to a life full of Him in Heaven surrounded by His glory.
© 2010 Elizabeth Doe
Elizabeth writes "My dad is in the military and right now we are stationed overseas. This year I am a junior in high school and enjoy running track and cross country as well as swimming. This past year has truly been a blessing to me, as God has surrounded me with awesome fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. I have really felt a connection with running to dealing with my spiritual life and I wanted to share that. I hope to attend a Christian College and major in something dealing with medicine, perhaps physical therapy"
The People's Praises
Your praise echoes throughout the valley,
They cry out to You: holy, holy!-
It is You, our God of love and mercy,
© 2010 Chelsea Mason
Chelsea writes "I'm an *MK in the small northern European country of Estonia, and from growing up on the mission field I have learned so much about and from God especially about worship and praise. I've learned that praising God isn't an option, it's something that we're continually called to do no matter where we are in life. For when we praise our Creator, we are brought into His presence, and are lifted up out of the muck and mire of everyday. Glory be to the King of Kings forever. "
Joy! Joy! Incomprehensible Joy!
The Holy Lamb was slain
© 2010 Lauren Tortorelli
In All of Our Words, We Should Praise the Lord
Many Christians do not know the limits of our speech. What does the Bible teach about the way Christians should communicate? Although a topic on many Christians’ hearts, most do not know the answer. Some do not know if as Christians they can use swear words. Others think that all Christians should talk whatever way they see fit. However, the Bible teaches about the value of praise, and the affect words can have. In James 3:10, the Bible says "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." This verse aptly describes what should and should not gush out of Christians’ mouths like a waterfall. So, how we should speak, what we should say, and how we should react?
How should Christians speak to those around them? Interestingly enough, the Bible says, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26). Obviously, Christians should not curse, swear, or use profanity. Otherwise, the religion the he claims is not worth dirt. The man who not only deceives himself but others around him appears as a hypocrite. So, when someone believes one thing, but venom flies from his every word, it turns people away from truly following God. Therefore, the Bible says to not speak horrid words to those around you, because you never know who may turn from God.
What are some words that we should say? Matthew 15:18 tells us that". . .the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean." We should only speak words of praise. If we do not, then we tell God that this awesome privilege of speech that He has given us is not needed. God created us in His image. He wants us to give praise and thanksgiving for all He has done. Furthermore, as humans, we should strive to live like Jesus. Jesus would not use provocative words in order to prove His point. The words that effuse like rapids from our mouths should only be used in glory, praise, and honor of the One who made us.
How should Christians react to words of others? Many have heard this saying their entire lives: "if you cannot say anything nice; do not say anything at all." Proverbs 10:19 says, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." This verse reinforces the principle that multitudes grow up learning. Whenever someone bellows at you, as a Christian, one should not howl back. However, simply holding your tongue helps because if you do not say anything, you will commit no sin. Thus when someone talks bad about or around you, using caution and thinking of your reaction will sustain the Christian image.
One verse sums up everything, "but now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk" (Colossians 3:8). This verse reflects on the topics discussed and magnetizes them together. Although most people find it hard to shun emotions, actions, and words that we frequently use, with God’s aid we can do anything. Christians should only speak appropriately to those around them. Words that we say to others need to be compliments, not complaints. Reacting to the hurtful words of those around, Christians should always think before they react and use caution with the words they chose. However, no matter what one says, in all of our words, we should praise the Lord.
List of Resources:
Revolve Devotional Bible, New Century Version. Texas: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005.
© 2010 Katie Brown
Being swept away by the strong flow of pride,
I am a tree trying to blossom
As a flower, I need the sun’s great glare
I am an ocean, big and strong,
I am a fierce wind screaming in another’s ear,
I am a wolf, stalking my prey,
This all should not be,
I am now a chittering, chattering creek,
© 2010 Rachel McNaughton
That I May Know Him
The confirmation call came. I was going to Texas! STEP, short for "Skills Training for Emergency Preparedness," is a four week program in June, created expressly for the purpose of equipping young ladies with valuable life skills and building confidence in Christ through a thorough knowledge and understanding of Him and His Word. As I traveled to Big Sandy, Texas, one of my requests to God was that He would make Himself more real to me during STEP and that as a result, I would grow in my love for Him. As soon as I arrived at the campus, God began to answer my prayer in unexpected ways. He changed my perspective on many things as I learned to trust and obey Him.
Right from the start of the program, my team leader challenged us to put into practice "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" everywhere we went and at all times. That sounded simple enough; but when the test came - Monday morning at 4:50 AM - rejoicing was the last thing on my mind; as far as I was concerned, that verse didn’t even apply to me at that time of the day. Two weeks later, my team set off on a trek to various points around campus. Because the Texas summer humidity was so overwhelming, several in my team felt dizzy and lightheaded as we hiked through foliage and blazed through fields. As each step became more agonizing and discouragement filled our hearts, a teammate suddenly asked "Hey guys! When do we rejoice?" Instantly, that question brought Philippians 4:4 into perspective as a smile crept onto our faces and we all chimed in, "Always!" The Lord taught us how to rejoice, even in a miserable situation, turning it into a joyful and exciting expedition.
While I learned to rejoice in all I did, I found that God’s strength came with His joy. This was further brought to light by the events which transpired the evening after our arduous hike. Drifting off to sleep that night, a shrill whistle blasted me out of bed as my team leader instructed us to get dressed and gather outside. The STEP coordinator announced that we were about to simulate a Night Search and Rescue. This exercise implemented our newly acquired First Aid skills as well as tested our ability to remain calm and professional in a chaotic and somewhat frightening situation. Still feeling a bit nauseous from the excursion that afternoon, but unwilling to miss out on the action, a familiar verse "the joy of the Lord is my strength" came to mind, which comforted and sustained me through the night. This incident testified to the fact that I truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I found myself growing in the knowledge and love for my Savior through these experiences and more. One of the requirements during STEP was memorizing large portions of Philippians. The Word came to life as I meditated and new insights came with a heightened desire to magnify Christ and make Him evident in my every thought, word, and deed. I began searching my heart and asking myself difficult questions. "Do I really live as if Christ is my all and that to die would be gain? Do I do all things without murmuring?" As I pondered these questions, I thankfully realized that I still had the chance to allow God to work in me, "cleaning up" my countless blemishes and molding me into His perfect image.
Reflecting on my time at STEP, the Lord has indeed made Himself real to me. He has revealed to me different aspects of His character – His faithfulness and all-sustaining power, and I have experienced for myself His promise to never leave nor forsake me. His joy refreshed my soul in the heat of the day and His strength radiated light into the darkness of night. With the hike, the Search and Rescue exercise, and meditating on His Word, God has taught His truths to me in unforgettable ways. Because of these experiences, I am confident that no matter what befalls me, with the joy of the Lord as my strength, I shall finish this race which is set before me. "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." –Philippians 3:14
© 2010 Christine Ku
Be weak, ‘cause He is strong, be small, He’s big
Stay close, come drink, you’re not alone, be brave
Broken and lost, alone and scared—He’s there
His gift is strong, his gift is big, for you
© 2010 Melody Zimmerman
What Did I Learn?
Since Taiwan is in a tropical region, the environment there is very different from what I am used to in California. My parents had always told me that Taiwan was extremely humid. As a result, when we arrived at the Taiwan International Airport, I did not expect the airport to be cold. As we walked through the doors of the airport, however, we did feel a gust of hot air that I was not expecting. When we arrived at the place we stayed at, it was well past midnight. Since we were all exhausted already, none of us had trouble getting to bed and falling asleep. Also, by God’s grace, none of us had serious jet lag.
This was the first time my church has had a missions trip. It all began last year when our church started a class called "Shine! Character Camp." At Shine! Character Camp, we teach kids that, as Christians, we must "shine" in this world of darkness. The Bible says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 KJV) We also teach them character qualities that will aid them in life. After that season of Shine! ended, we decided that we would host an English Shine! Character Camp in Taiwan as an English Christian character camp.
In Taiwan, we taught four characters traits: gratefulness, obedience, service, and faith. For each day, we covered a character trait. Each character consisted of a definition and a character song, both with hand motions, a history story, and an animal story during large group time, which split into three sessions. During small group time, we had two Bible stories that were used as plays, some "I Wills…", memory verses, and word games. All of these activities were related to the character quality of each day. For instance, the definition for gratefulness was "Letting others know by my words and actions, how they have benefited my life." The character song was called "The Gratefulness Song", the animal was a porcupine and how it demonstrates gratefulness, and the "I Wills…" were things that we could do in our daily life to show gratefulness.
Our camp was a success in that we led most of the campers to Christ. I felt truly happy because I knew I had done something for Him. I had served God, as well as kids, two things I have always wanted to do. Through this experience, I became spiritually closer to God; He is in my daily life now, not just on Sundays, devotion times, and church fellowship and prayer meetings. I have benefited a lot from this experience. If I had a chance to go on another mission trip, I think I would go, to serve God and to learn. One of the last things I learned before we left Taiwan was that if we obey God, He will surely bless us.
© 2010 Melodie Sun
Dying, dying all around is death and destruction
How can there still be joy?
Is there hope for the hopeless?
© 2010 Ben Vickery
Take His Hand and Let Him Lead
"We’re moving!" More than two years ago, my dad accepted a temporary job in Chihuahua, Mexico, working for Honeywell. Having a Mexican background on my mom’s side, we eagerly took advantage of the opportunity to experience a new culture, language, and lifestyle. However, when our time there ended, we had to abandon our Chihuahua home, our newfound friends, and all the memories that had accompanied the hardships and joys of the experience. Why would God lead us to leave our home, move to a foreign country, and struggle to finally adapt knowing all the time that we would have to pick up and move again? Proverbs 3:5-6 states, "Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight" (NIV). Through the transition that took place in the summer of 2009, God revealed to me my need to trust Him entirely with my next steps in life. Thus, I have grown in my awareness, my dependence, and my trust in God.
First of all, I grew in awareness of God in my life through the process of leaving Mexico to move back to the States. While living in Mexico, we put much effort into integrating ourselves into the culture and conquering the language barrier in pursuit of building friendships. However, as our time in Chihuahua drew to an end, we felt as if two years had not provided the time necessary to strengthen the friendships that had just begun to blossom. Nonetheless, God revealed to us that the time and labor we had invested in trying to understand the lives around us had not been in vain. During our last visit to church on Sunday, the pastors of our small Mexican church invited us up to the pulpit to stand in front of the whole congregation. As we stood looking at all the people we had shared memories with over the past two years, the pastors gave us wholesome words of encouragement and prayed sincerely for our future. This greatly blessed us and increased my personal awareness of God’s presence in my struggles and His knowledge of what is best for me. Thus, through all of these goodbyes, tears, and hugs, God revealed to me his ever present hand in my life and taught me to wholeheartedly trust in him.
Furthermore, I learned to depend entirely on God during the difficult experiences of adapting to our previous church life back in Arizona. As soon as we left our American church to go start a new life in Mexico, the life and friends that we left behind seemed to pause somewhat in our memories. Nevertheless, all the while, life rolled on, old friends grew up, and people changed. Thus, when we returned, these people had gone through their own lives, had had their own experiences, and had shared memories with each other apart from us. Feelings of exclusion, envy, and displacement flooded my heart as we reintroduced ourselves back to our old fellowship circle. Out of my helpless need to escape the thoughts that had begun to destroy all the blessings that lay before me, I cried out to God and asked Him to take away these terrible thoughts and worries. Immediately, God showed me how weak and helpless I am without his presence in my heart. As a result, God showed me my utter need to depend completely on Him.
Lastly, when my family and I had settled into our church, God began to teach me how to trust in Him specifically as the school year flooded in. Our activities and lifestyle in Mexico had kept rather close to home since the city of Chihuahua did not offer many opportunities for extracurricular activities outside our home schooling. However, once we arrived in Arizona, all my sisters began to disperse pursuing their own interests. My oldest sister started to enjoy the liberties of a driver’s license and college, and my other sisters and I began to branch out as well. Although these new opportunities blessed us greatly, I began to feel as if our separate obligations had started to slowly break apart our close-knit family. Even though our family nights, sister nights, and times together had lessened, God allowed for my family and I to continue to have time together during the weekends and over dinner conversations. Once again, God showed me that He knows the thoughts, worries, and desires of my heart, and He has set aside a time and a purpose for everything. Therefore once more He proved himself worthy of my trust, life, and praise.
In the end, Stanley Lindquist sums up my point wonderfully with this phrase: "God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them." God has a purpose for every thought, experience, joy, and hardship that takes place in our lives. And our purpose on this earth is to glorify Him in all that we do and to grow in our relationship and faith in Him. Ultimately, through the struggles of transitioning back to a life in the States, God gave me more of an awareness of his presence in my life, showed me my need to depend entirely on Him, and taught me to trust in Him even as the obligations of the school year begin to separate my family and me. Therefore, these difficult steps in life that God has specifically designed for our good take us closer and closer to Him and lead us to place our trust in Him. As a result, we should, like a child in the midst of utter darkness and confusion, take His outstretched hand and let Him lead.
List of Works Cited
"Stanley Lindquist Quotes." Thinkexist.com. 2009. 5 Oct. 2009.
© 2010 Andrea Voron
Who? What? Where? When? What does the future hold?
© 2010 Elisa Cremean
"The tongue of the wise uses knowledge aright" (Proverbs 15:2). Vain speech is a gateway into sin. As it says in the Bible, "A fool uttereth his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards" (Proverbs 29:11). A wise Christian should keep his mouth from rambling. In our day and age, so many people do not consider what comes out of the mouth before it is too late. Also, Christians may provoke others with some statement they have made. Yet, as proverbs states, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:11).
Secondly, not only should a Christians words be wise, but also pleasant. As stated, "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and healthy to the bones" (Proverbs 16:24). A person can react to the same statement totally different depending on the manner of tone and emotion behind it. We, as Christian, must speak things which are uplifting unto everyone. As Paul says in the New Testament," Let no corrupt communication proceed from out of your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Ephesians 4:20). The words which proceed from our mouth should edify those which receive it.
"But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matthew 5:37). It is clear in this passage of scripture, that a believers yes and no's should be obvious. This scripture goes hand in hand with Ecclesiastes, "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: For God is in heaven, and thou upon the earth: therefore let thy words be few." It is important that one does not aimlessly spout off the first thing that comes to mind. Rather, a believer should earnestly consider what they should say regarding the matter at hand. For as it says, "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles" (Proverbs 21:23).
The weight of our words can affect history. The tongue is a sword, and all ought to learn to use it properly. As addressed, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11). Altogether, a follower of Christ's speech is to be intelligent, void of vain babblings. Also, it is to be pleasant and delightful to the hearer. Lastly, it is to be brief and to the point, not wasting any words. As Plato put it, "Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." Christians are wise men who do have something important to say.
King James Bible. Holman Bible Publishers, 2005.
© 2010 Brandon Radosevich
You Spoke and the Entire World Came to Be
You spoke and the entire world came to be.
© 2010 Sarah Fraser
The Question of Stephen
Stephen, who was merely a ‘table server’, followed Christ and did His work whole-heartedly. Little did Stephen or the other Christians of that time know of the impact Stephen would have on the Church. The story of Stephen is one that might confuse some. Did God win or lose? Of course, God in his supreme nature always wins. So a better question might be, was his death of any value to the Church?
Opposition arose against Stephen; members of the synagogue argued with him in an attempt to bring him down. However, the wisdom he possessed and the Holy Spirit were more than enough to defend against his oppressors. When the synagogue brought false witnesses to testify against Stephen they were able to seize him and bring him before the Sanhedrin. While being tried, it is said in Acts that Stephen’s face looked like that of an angel. The history of Abraham through David was the reply Stephen gave when asked if the accusations of him persecuting the Church were true. Stephen gave the history to show that he believed what they did. However he lost control of the situation when he said that they were stiff-necked people who resist the Holy Spirit.
The Synagogue was offended when they heard this and became furious. In that moment Stephen looked up and saw in heaven Jesus standing at the right hand of God. The fact that Stephen saw Jesus is not the point here. The point is that he saw Jesus standing; He was standing out of reverence and love for Stephen. After this Stephen proclaimed what he saw, but they covered their ears and yelled wishing to have no part in what he was saying. They dragged him out of the city and stoned him. While they were killing him, because of his service for Christ, the people laid their clothes at the feet of Saul. Stephen cried out for the Lord to forgive them and then fell asleep.
If you end the story there it seems like a loss to the Church. But by Gods providence the story does not end there, in fact it continues for years to come. On the exact day Stephen was killed persecution broke out. This scattered the Christians. It is because the Church was scattered that the gospel was able to reach as many places as it did. Saul, the one who smirked in approval of the death of Stephen, was also the one who started the great persecution. Persecution is not a positive thing, but if it had not been started by Saul then he may not have had his divine encounter on the Damascus road where he was converted. The Church today would be drastically different if it were not for Saul who became Paul.
God, in His supremacy, has a plan for achieving what needs to happen. There are instances throughout the Bible and history when good things happen only because of a few bad things occurring, as is the case here. Though the story of Stephen is a sad and dramatic one, the results of it are possibly what make the Church what it is today. Stephen had to act heroically, be bold, and do the unthinkable. But that is what a martyr does. They give evidence to the things they know and therefore condemn the unbelief of the world. Stephen did these things and was able to see glory.
(Story found in Acts chapters 6-7)
© 2010 Anna Nusbaum
As of May 2012, "WHATEVER IS PURE" ARCHIVES will no longer be seeking submissions. As most authors and poets now have their own blogs, we noticed a significant drop in submissions over the past year and felt it was best to move on to other endeavors.