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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Playing Marbles With Diamonds

Grace Sight #16 is the song Playing Marbles with Diamonds.

Playing Marbles With Diamonds is a song by Steve Camp. It made its debut back in 1989 on Camp's album Justice. 

When I listen to this song I think of how important it is to have our priorities straight and have a real relationship with God.  A relationship with God is like a diamond that people like me too often have taken for granted.  A passage from the Bible comes to mind also.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20, English Standard Version)."
Our world is full of so much suffering and uncertainty today.  Let's not play marbles with diamonds. It just not the way God meant our lives to be lived.

Here are some links to more information on this song

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nick Vujicic

Grace Sight #15 is Nick Vujicic.

Nick Vujicic has a severe disability. He was born in Australia in 1982 without any limbs (feet or arms).  He uses the life given to him by the sovereign God to inspire others around the world as a preacher and inspirational speaker. He has an amazing story of overcoming limitations to reach success in his life.  But the most important of all is that God is using him to tell the Gospel message. He writes the following on his ministry's Website at www.lifewithoutlimbs.org.  

"If just one more person finds eternal life in Jesus Christ...it is all worth it". 

There are numerous YouTube presentations featuring Nick Vujicic.  They are translated in to several languages to relate to his international audience.  Below are two of my favorite. 

The following is his testimony set to the song "In Christ Alone." 



The following is his inspiring presentation called "Get Back Up".


The following are links for more information on Nick Vujicic:
I think that Nick Vujicic is an inspiration to me because my son has autism and he combines faith with a vibrant life despite his disability.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Faith Freaks

Grace Sight #14 is Faith Freaks.

I just found out today (from Twitter of all places) about a social media system that is designed to be a Christian oriented safe place for youth and young adults. Even though I am neither of these I registered to try it out.  Apparently they are willing to accept old folks like me into the community.  I do wish they had this type of social media when I was a youth.  The site is called Faith Freaks and you access it at www.faithfreaks.com.

The Faith Freaks website lists this as the goal of their unique social media.
Faith Freaks is a safe on-line environment dedicated to helping young people by providing help, hope & encouraging them to grow in their faith.  Our trained volunteers help young people find resources to overcome the many challenges that they may be facing. Including, but not limited to, suicide prevention, depression, peer pressure, drug or alcohol abuse & other challenging or life threatening situations. We help by providing many types of resources both online & in their own communities. Additionally we try to encourage healthy decision making.  Moreover we strive to glorify God by providing an alternative social network that is safe, clean, friendly, and Christ-centered.
It works like Facebook or MySpace but has some moderation and Christian features built into it that make it a safe place where Christian teens can meet new people and grow in their faith.  It has a mission to be the premier Christian social media alternative.  Below is a collage of some of the features offered on Faith Freaks.


One of the first things I noticed when I registered is that there are prayer rooms that flow smoothly in the system.  Also, when I uploaded my profile picture (one of the first things one does in a social media account, right) it didn't appear immediately but said "Waiting Approval".  Amazing. Someone screens photos before they go live to make sure they meet a Christian standard. In fact, when you go to upload photos you are informed that pictures will be removed if they contain any of the following features:

  • Guys without shirts or girls in bikinis ... unless they were taken at the beach or pool.
  • Visible undergarments.
  • Excessive cleavage.
  • Seductive poses.
  • Open-mouth kissing.
  • Obscene hand gestures.
  • Bad words, whether on your clothing or elsewhere in the photo.
  • Alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs.
  • Satanic symbols, pentagrams, etc.
  • Gory or violent images.
There are dozens of testimonies of individuals who have been helped through FaithFreaks.com.  A list is at http://www.faithfreaks.com/testimonies.php.  Faith Freaks is being used by church youth groups as a safe setting for online ministry and community building.  I believe this can be a great place for ministry to take place. Consider signing up if you are young or young in heart.


Monday, August 8, 2011

A Call to Prayer by J.C. Ryle

Grace Sight #13 is A Call to Prayer.

J.C. Ryle in his study
To be prayerless is to be without God, without Christ, without grace, without hope, and without heaven.  It is to be in the road to hell.  --J.C. Ryle


J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) wrote a classic tract titled "A Call to Prayer".  It is amazing how something written two centuries ago can be so applicable to the Christians today.   In it he writes the following observation:
I have looked careful over the lives of God's saints in the Bible.  I cannot find one whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a person of prayer.  I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that "they call on the Father," that "they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."  I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked, that "they call not upon the Lord." 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 14:4 
I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days.  Some of them, I see, were rich, and some were poor.  Some were learned, and some were unlearned.  Some were Episcopalians, and some were Christians of other names.  Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians.  Some have loved to use liturgy, and some to use none.  But one thing, I see, they all had in common.  They have all been people of prayer. 
Here's an overview of the content.

Introduction
"Men ought always to pray."  Luke 18:1
"I will that men pray everywhere." 1 Timothy 2:1
I have a question to offer you. It is contained in three words, DO YOU PRAY?

The outline of the body of the tract is as follows. 


I. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE PRAYER IS ABSOLUTELY NEEDFUL TO A PERSON'S SALVATION.


II. I ASK AGAIN WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE A HABIT OF PRAYER IS ONE OF THE SUREST MARKS OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN.


III. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE THERE IS NO DUTY IN RELIGION SO NEGLECTED AS PRIVATE PRAYER. 


IV. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE PRAYER IS AN ACT OF RELIGION TO WHICH THERE IS GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT.


V. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE DILIGENCE IN PRAYER IS THE SECRET OF EMINENT HOLINESS.


VI. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE NEGLECT OF PRAYER IS ONE OF THE GREATEST CAUSES OF BACKSLIDING.


VII. I ASK, LASTLY, WHETHER YOU PRAY BECAUSE PRAYER IS ONE OF THE BEST MEANS OF HAPPINESS AND CONTENTMENT.


Let me speak a parting word to THOSE WHO DO NOT PRAY.


Let me speak, lastly, TO THOSE WHO DO PRAY.

Conclusion:  "I want the times we live in to be praying times. I want the Christians of our day to be praying Christians. I want the church to be a praying church. My Heart's desire and prayer in sending forth this tract is to promote a spirit of prayerfulness. I want those who never prayed yet, to arise and call upon God, and I want those who do pray, to see that they are not praying amiss."--J.C. Ryle

I hope this outline has wet your appetite to read the full text of J.C. Ryle's tract at the Revival Library.  You may also purchase it for $2.99 from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Call-Prayer-J-C-Ryle/dp/0972237402.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who Am I?

Grace Sight #12 is the song Who Am I?

Tonight I will have the long anticipated opportunity to hear Casting Crowns in concert.  Casting Crowns has an amazing song called Who Am I?, which was released on September 30, 2003 on their debut album called Casting Crowns.  It has won two significant awards as a song.  
  • In 2005 it won the Dove Award for Song of the Year.  
  • On July 26, 2011 the RIAA certified it as a Gold Single, signifying 500,000 units had been sold of the song.  It is Casting Crowns first Gold Single.  
I really never get tired of hearing it and it still bring me goose bumps. In fact, it's one of the select few songs I would like played at my future funeral. My simple mind finds it possible to follow the theology of the words of this song and my soul jumps for joy at its truth. The graceful focus of the song is on the refrain that goes as follows.

Not because of who I am - But because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done - But because of who you are.

The following YouTube video presents background to this song in an interview the singers, Mark Hall and Juan Deveva did for New Song Cafe` at worshiptogether.com. You may also appreciate the quieter singing of it without all the other singers and diverse instruments.




One can listen to this wonderful song on another YouTube video included here. This one is actually the most popular one with almost 8 million views. I hope it brightens your day and provides clarity and purpose on the road life takes you down today.




For more information on Casting Crowns visit their website at http://castingcrowns.com/.

This post was updated on August 4, 2011 after the news of the song receiving certification as a gold single.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Pledge of Allegiance

Grace Sight #11 is The Pledge of Allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.

Comedian Rich Praytor has an excellent and brief soundbyte on what it would be like if we took God out of the United States' Pledge of Allegiance.  Listen to it and enjoy.


For more information on Rich Praytor visit his website at http://richpraytor.com/.

Comedian Red Skelton (1913-1997) also made a statement on the use of "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.   
Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our nation, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance "under God." Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said, "That's a prayer" and that would be eliminated from schools, too? (Red Skelton)  http://www.redskelton.com/PLEDGE.htm
If you are a citizen of another country of the world, hopefully those words "under God" are part of your nation's priorities.  They sometimes are and sometimes are not evident in the United States system.  Remember that anyone can say these words without thinking about them or truly affirming them.  The important issue is whether we truly mean what we say.  And the most important two words in this pledge are the words "under God".


Grace Light #11

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bethesda Academy

Grace Sight #10 is Bethesda Academy. 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.  (Jim Elliot)


Most of what we do in our time on earth will vanish a few years after we are gone, but when God finds a willing servant to carry out His work, the legacy may sometimes live on for centuries. Such is the case when one considers what has become of George Whitefield's Orphanage that he founded in Savannah, Georgia in 1740.  Sometimes at great sacrifice Whitefield provided for the financial needs of a struggling orphanage near Savannah, Georgia throughout his life.His motto in giving according to the Whitefield Society was, "Poor yet making others rich."  

Bethesda Academy (formerly Bethesda Home for Boys) has been a consistent refuge over the centuries, serving over 10,000 boys since it's beginnings.  It had to be rebuilt in 1773 after a fire shortly before the United States was officially birthed. While many institutions come and go, it remains the oldest child caring institution in the United States.  Today, under the leadership of Dr. T. David Tribble, Whitefield's Orphanage is a learning institution known as Bethesda Academy, and it still has a housing component for children that need it.   According to Jenel Few, 40% of the 100 students live at the Academy in 2011.

Paula Deen has a close relationship with Bethesda Academy today and in recent years and supports them with charitable fundraising (for more information see www.pauladeen.com/article_view/paula_and_the_deen_team_give_back/)   Below is the Bethesda Academy video on their core values.



Below is the Bethesda video related to their core value of A Love for God that George Whitefield made part of the institution when it was created 271 years ago.



For more information on the Bethesda Academy visit some of the following links: 

The mission for Christians should be to follow the leading of the sovereign God in sacrificial giving.   One may not comprehend the long term impact of giving to the Lord, but with God at work in something it may endure for centuries, making an impact for time and eternity.  Bethesda Academy shows us how one's giving may live on long after one is gone.  To God be the glory!