Monday, April 26, 2010

"It's the heart that really matters in the end": Purity Rings

On my 17th birthday my parents bought me a purity ring. Now 5, almost 6 years later I still proudly wear it. It is a symbol of my promise to my parents, to my future wife, and most importantly to the Lord that I will remain a virgin till my wedding day.

Back in High School it got me some strange looks...seeing as how I was in a public school. But I think the looks of surprise have gotten even worse since I joined the Navy. I know I've said this before in previous blogs, but everything you've heard about sailors...is all unfortunately true. Sailors are probably some of the most unfaithful people you will ever meet. Sorry if that sounded harsh, but I'm not going to sugar-coat the truth.

Anyways...some of my shipmates do show respect, and seem impressed by my decision to remain pure. In fact after our most recent port visit (Thailand), some of my shipmates seemed even more impressed by the fact that I still had the ring on. Let's just say that Thailand is not what you would consider to be a "pure" place. I won't go into detail.

Anyways...getting to my point for blogging on this topic. More than anything I believe that in the end what matters with a purity ring, is that your decision to wear it comes from your heart. Some people I've even known of wearing one because they think it's "trendy." This of course is completely the wrong motivation.

Your decision to wear one is not just a trend...it is a sign from your heart that you have made a commitment. A commitment for purity. As I said, it is a promise to Lord. A promise to the Lord is not to be made lightly. So we must be sure that we are promising from our hearts and that we are completely committed to carrying it out.

I am very fascinated by this whole "Rebolution" thing I keep seeing on the Internet. Any of you who don't know what it's about, it's a movement among teenagers to rebel against low expectations. I think this is awesome! Society today tries to hard to force young people to fit into their mold, but I think they do need to rebel. Not only teens though...even adults faces some of the same peer pressure. We must stand firm on our commitment, and cling to the Lord to give us the strength to endure the temptations that come our way.

Well anyways...now that I'm done rambling on...I really hope that this was an encouragement to you all. We all, as Christians, need to stick together, and support each other in our commitment to stand against this peer pressure, and remain pure. I hope and pray that this post was an encouragement to you all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In every condition, -- in sickness, in health,

In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth,
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, --
The Lord, the Almighty, they strength e'er shall be.

"Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

"E'en down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never, forsake!"

I was listening to this song this morning on my iPod, and I figured I would post it on my blog. Sorry it has been so long since I blogged about what has been going on my life, but things have actually been pretty uneventful lately. We're coming toward the end of our deployment, only a few more ports left, and things have been pretty quiet. I'll be posting pics on my blog of where we've been probably when we get back. Anyways...hope all is well with everyone!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Time to Sleep

"And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison." (Acts 12:6)

Here is an amazing thing. The apostle Peter is in prison, bound with chains, heavily guarded, probably awaiting execution (his close friend James already had been put to death by Herod), and "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Acts 12:5).

Yet, here he is, fast asleep! He had been imprisoned at least once before for preaching the gospel, and the Lord had miraculously delivered him then (Acts 5:17-19), so why should he be fearful now? The Lord was still in control, and there was nothing Peter himself could do about the situation, so he simply went to sleep. There are, of course, many situations where a Christian needs to stay alert and watchful. But there are also times when he has done all he can do, and there is nothing to be accomplished by further worrying, so he must leave it in the Lord’s hands.

In Peter’s case, he was sleeping so soundly that when an angel from God came to deliver him from his "impossible" circumstance, the angel had to smite him on the side (v. 7) to awaken him! In fact, he was still so sleepy that he did not really "come to himself" (v. 11) until the angel left him outon the street alone.

Then, of course, Peter rushed back to the house of Mark’s mother, where the church was praying for him (v. 12), to tell them of the amazing answer to their prayers. As with Peter, there are times when we must simply "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14:13), "so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Hebrews 13:6).
HMM


I get daily devotional emails from the Institute for Creation Research, and this was the one I got two days ago. I thought it was really neat, so I figured I would share it with you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

He has changed my life.

...Someone asked me, "How do you know you became a Christian?" One of several answers was simple: "It has changed my life." It is this transformation that assures me of the validity of my conversion...the change was not immediate, but it was real. In six to eighteen months, I knew that I had not gone of the deep end. My life WAS changed. At about that time I was in a debate with the head of the history department at a Midwestern university. I was telling him about my new life, and he interrupted me with, "McDowell, are you trying to tell me that God has really changed your life? Give me some specifics." After listening to me explain for forty-five minutes, he finally said, "Okay, okay, that's enough!"

One change I told him about was my relief from my restlessness. Before I accepted Christ, I always had to be occupied. I had to be over at my girlfriend's place, at a party, at the student union, or running around with friends. I'd walk across the campus with my mind in a whirlwind of conflicts. I was always bouncing of the walls. I'd sit down and try to study or cogitate but couldn't do it. But after I made the decision for Christ, a kind of mental peace settled over me. Don't misunderstand; I don't mean all conflicts ceased. What I found in this relationship with Jesus wasn't so much the absence of conflict as the ability to cope with it. I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world...Jesus changed me in another way. I'm not proud of it, but I mention if because many people need the same change, and I want to show them the source of that change: a relationship with the resurrected, living Christ. The problem is hatred. I had a heavy load of hatred weighing me down. It didn't show outwardly, but it kept grinding away inwardly. I was ticked off with people, with things, with issues. I was insecure. Every time I met anyone different from me, that person became a threat, and I reacted with some level of hatred.

I hated one man more than anyone else in the world--my father. I hated his guts. I was mortified that he was the town alcoholic. If you're from a small town and one of your parents is an alcoholic, you know what I mean. Everybody knows. My high school would make jokes about my father's drinking. They didn't think it bothered me because I fell in with the joking and laughed with them. I was laughing on the outside, but let me tell you, I was crying on the inside. I would go to the barn and find my mother beaten so badly she couldn't get up, lying in the manure behind the cows. When we had friends over, I would take my father out to the barn, tie him up, and park his car behind the silo. We would tell our guests he'd had to go somewhere. I don't think anyone could hate a person more than I hated my father.

About five months after I made the decision for Christ, a love from God entered my life so powerfully that I took that hatred, turned it upside down, and emptied it out. I was able to look my father squarely in the eyes and say, "Dad, I love you." And I really meant it. After some of the things I'd done to him, that really shook him up.

After I transferred to a private university, a serious car accident put me in the hospital. When I was moved home to recover, my father came to visit me. Remarkably, he was sober that day. But he seemed uneasy, pacing about the room. Then he blurted out, "Son, how can you love a father like me?" I answered, "Dad, six months ago I despised you." Then I shared with him the story of my research and conclusion about Jesus Christ. I told him, "I have placed my trust in Christ, received God's forgiveness, invited Him into my life, and he has changed me. I can't explain it all, Dad, but God has taken away my hatred for you and replaced it with the capacity for love. I love you and accept you just the way you are."

We talked for almost an hour, and then I received one of the greatest thrills of my of my life. This man who knew me too well for me to pull the wool over his eyes looked at me and said, "Son, if God can do in my life what I've seen him do in yours, then I want to give him the opportunity. I want to trust him as my savior and Lord." I cannot imagine a greater miracle.

Usually after a person accepts Christ, the changes in his or her life occur over a period of days, weeks, months, or even years. In my own life the changed took about six to eighteen months. But the life of my father changed right before my eyes. It was as if God reached down and flipped on a light switch. Never before or since have I seen such a dramatic change. My father touched an alcoholic beverage only once after that day. He got it as far as his lips before thrusting it away. Forever. I can come to only one conclusion: a relationship with Jesus Christ changes lives.

There was another person in my life that I needed to forgive. His name was Wayne, a man who worked for my parents when I was growing up on the farm. When my mom had to run for an errand or was gone for a longer period of time, Wayne was put in charge of watching me. Mom would march me up to Wayne and say, "Now you obey Wayne and do everything he asks you to do. If you don't, you are going to get a thrashing when I get home." Trust me; you didn't want to get a thrashing from my mother.

But I would have gladly taken the thrashings if I had known what Wayne had in store for me. From the time I was six years old until I was thirteen, he sexually abused me regularly. When I told my mother, she refused to believe me. At thirteen, I threatened Wayne. "If you ever touch me again, I will kill you." Wayne knew I was serious and he stopped.

I wanted Wayne to burn in hell and I was willing to escort him there. The memories of the abuse scarred me. But after coming to Christ I knew I needed to forgive Wayne, just as I had forgiven my father. I confronted Wayne once again and said, "Wayne, what you did to me was evil. But I trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and have become a Christian. I've come to tell you that Jesus died as much for you as he did for me. I forgive you." It was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. I could never have done it on my own. If you have a similar story, be assured that you don't have to face your demons alone either. Your past CAN be overcome with God's help.

You can laugh at Christianity, you can mock it and ridicule it. But it works. It changes lives. I should say JESUS CHRIST changes lives. Christianity is not a religion; it's not a system; it's not an ethical idea; it's not a psychological phenomenon. It's a person. If you trust Christ, star watching your attitudes and actions because Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives.

from: More Than a Carpenter
by: Josh and Sean McDowell

Life Lessons...

Alright, so forgive me if this is getting pretty lonesome...I've never been one of these guys who likes to be a burden. Most of the time I try my best to not be the whiner, or the complainer. I know when I was little my mom had this rule...she used to say that she couldn't hear me when I whined. Anytime I would speak to her in a whiney voice, she'd say..."get the whine out of your voice, and I'll hear what you are trying to say." That has stuck with me till now...so forgive me if I sound whiney...I'm trying really hard not to.

Anyways...getting to the point. Today when I got up, after eating lunch, I went down to my shop and had a very upsetting email in my inbox. I don't really want to go into details about what happened, but let's just say I made a mistake, and let me tell you...I have definitely learned my lesson from it. All these things that I go through I know are all God trying to teach me some things...but let me tell you...they are not always easy lessons to learn...sometimes they hurt. This lesson had to lead to me getting my first ever counseling since I joined the Navy. A "counseling"...as we call it in the Navy, is when someone who is senior to you, sits you down and discusses with you what you did wrong, and what must be done to fix it to ensure it doesn't happen again. Sorry if that was confusing, but hopefully you understood what I wast trying to say.

So...like I said...I know this is a lesson I needed to learn, and I guess it's good that I'm learning now before I get older, but it still hurts, and I was pretty upset about it. To be honest...I wasn't sure whether to cry or throw something during the whole situation. Thankfully I was able to maintain my composure and did neither. But Psalm 139 kept going through my head today, so I thought I would post that passage in closing. I hope and pray that these words from the Lord are an encouragement to you!

O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Jesus, I Love Thee

by: William R. Featherston

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Survey...

What's Your Favorite
Color?
Green
Candy? PB Twix
Main dish? Chicken Cordon Bleu
Dessert? Cheesecake
Drink? Milk, or juice.
Veggie? Broccoli.

Do You
Go to Starbucks Coffee Shop?
Yes, but I don’t get Coffee there, I usually get a frapuccino.
Go to the mall a lot? Not usually, and if I do have to go, I’m in and out really fast.
Talk on the phone everyday to someone who is not family? When I’m Yokosuka, yes. Luci and I talk on the phone almost every day. But when I’m on deployment, no.
Read your Bible everyday? I try, but I do miss and day here in there.
Do lots of reading? I try to, it’s so hard though, with how busy I am most of the time.
See your grandparents everyday? Nope, all my grandparents passed away.
Bake a lot? No, I don’t even remember the last time I baked something.
Clean your room everyday? Yes, I have to…I’m in the Navy!
Have to say your sorry to someone everyday? I don’t have to everyday, but I usually end up saying “Sorry” at least once every day.

A Certain Thing You Dislike Of Each Category
Veggie? Brussel Sprouts
Color? Pink.
Drink? Grapefruit juice…yuck!
Animal? Bees, wasps, hornets...anything that can sting really.

Do You Have A
Pet?
No...I wish I did though!
Gift card at the moment? No.
Sewing machine? No…
Big mess under your bed? No! Again, I’m in the Navy…I’m not allowed to have a mess under my bed.
Pack of gum in your bag or purse? Well, I don’t carry a purse, but no I don’t have one in my backpack.
Computer in your room? Laptop.

Have You Ever
Been on a plane?
Many times.
Been out of state? Again, many times.
Been out of the country? Yep…I’m in Borneo right now!
Been in a eight-teen wheeler? Yep…when my family moved from PA to Ohio.
Been in a car accident? I’ve gone in the ditch a few times, but that’s about it. Don’t know if that counts…
Read about a hundred and fifty page book in about an hour? No!

Your Favorite Place To
Go shopping?
The Nex (Navy Exchange).
Eat out? In Japan: The Ramen House…in the States: Steak and Shake.
Go visit? Anywhere in Europe.
Read a good book at? On my balcony.

Random
What color is your room?
White.
How old are you? 22, I’ll be 23 on July 23rd.
What year were you born? 1987
Are you related to anyone important or famous? My grandma used to claim that we were related to Robert E. Lee, but I’ve never seen any proof, so I’m not sure.
Have you ever met a vice president? No.
Are you getting bored yet? No.
What are you thinking? I’m exited about hiking tomorrow!

Who You Will Tag
I’m not going to tag anyone…if you want to do it, feel free. I was bored, so that’s why I did it.