Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I had a moment last week where I was somewhat frustrated. One of my co-workers was being fairly rude to me and it finally got to the point where I shut down. Throughout this period of frustration, I had several thoughts go through my head. First was the anger; I kept thinking, “how could he be so cruel to me and how can I get him back?” Then I would catch myself in these thoughts and quickly divert to prayer, “God please keep my mind set on you, let me show my co-worker your light, and your love.”
For at least an hour I let these thoughts swirl around my head. Unfortunately I let my angry thoughts win the battle and started to act out, scowling at my co-worker, talking behind his back, and divert to many more thoughts of negativity.
In retrospect, I am sad for myself. Yet again, I failed at showing Christ’s love to an enemy. It’s one of the hardest things to show compassion to those who have hurt you, yet God commands us to do so. Jesus says in Matthew and Luke to “love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” When he shared this, people were quite upset with this teaching, and do you blame them?
Even still, in today’s world we have a hard time praying for those who we are against, but I promise you it is the best thing for you and that is why Christ commands it.
I have a relationship that has been tainted by a lot of hurts from the past. While discussing this person with a mentor, he encouraged me to forgive, move forward, and love this person. The reaction I had in my head was a very quick “no way”, but as I walked away from this meeting I realized that something needed to change. Carrying bitterness was getting too hard and getting in the way of me living up to my potential in Christ. I let the idea of revenge consume me and it became apparent in the way I approached everyday tasks and worse, other relationships.
Somehow, by God’s grace, my heart has been softened and now I can honestly say that I am praying for the ability to forgive this person. I’m not there yet, but even in beginning the process, God has already granted a lot of peace and will continue to do so.
I think that’s why Jesus tells us to love our enemies, because if we choose to hate them, only anger and bitterness remain. I’m not saying we can’t disagree with others or get frustrated with situations, but I am saying God grants us peace and the ability to forgive if we choose to love our fellow image bearers of Christ regardless of our personal view of them.
So I encourage you to consider your enemies and what they have done to you, pray for God to grant the ability to forgive them, and then, to eventually love them. Don’t be like me and let bitterness consume you, it leads you nowhere. But seeing the world through the lens of Christ will always be profitable for your state of mind, heart, and soul.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Today I found myself watching TV and A Walk to Remember was on. The first time I saw this movie, I was a middle school girl desperate to get my hands on any romance movie. So I ate that movie up and couldn’t wait to meet my “Landon Carter”. I thought it was a great movie. 10 years later, however, I’ve got a problem with it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, here it is in a nutshell: Bad boy, Landon Carter gets himself into a rough patch and in order to pay his dues he has to get involved in drama club, where he is forced to work with preacher’s daughter and school geek, Jamie Sullivan. Landon then falls in love with Jamie, who, midway through their romance reveals that she’s dying from cancer. Landon is heart broken, but stays with her, marries her, and they live happily through a summer until she dies. It is a heartbreaking romance, that many still consider one of their favorite chick-flicks.
Here’s where things get a little bit testy for me. The movie has a spiritual element to it. Jamie’s character is a Christian, and that’s a big reason why she’s set apart and mocked by her classmates. When Landon falls in love with her, he changes. He starts listening to Christian music, working hard in school, and dedicating himself fully to Jamie. But here’s where I get frustrated, he does all these things for Jamie, and not for God.
Landon questions Jamie about her faith and she talks about the wind and how she can’t see it, but she can feel it… That’s how she knows God is real. At the end of the movie after Jamie has died Landon says the same thing about her, He can’t see her, but he can feel her. Did you notice the shift? You see, Jamie was talking about her belief in God, while Landon was talking about his belief in Jamie. Landon explains that Jamie changed him and made him a better man, but never brings God into the picture, because, to Landon, what changed him was a person and not God. Instead of worshipping the Savior, he worshipped one of the saved.
I’m not saying that people can’t be a part of your transformation to believing in Christ, but know where it comes from. Your transformation isn’t the result of other people’s power, but the result of Jesus working in your life. He uses His people to be a part of your journey, and works through them to minister to you. But they are not God himself, and should never be revered in that way.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The other night, my roommates and I sat down to watch a movie called “Now Is Good”, which is a heart-wrenchingly wonderful movie. The premise of the movie is about a girl who is dying from leukemia and has made a list of things she wants to do before she dies.
By the end of the film we are all crying our eyes out as this character is fading into her imminent death. The movie shows her last moments with her family and goes out with a monologue about Moments. This monologue explains that moments are all we have and we must take each and every moment to the fullest.
While I was watching the film, I just got sad. There was no hope in her death. To her and her family, it was the end, the end of her existence, her presence, and her being.
I have been fortunate in my life that every person who I have known to have passed on was a believer of Jesus Christ. So while their passing has been hard and sad, there has always been an air of hope during their funerals, because we believe in the Christian faith that after death we go on to live out eternity in Heaven with Jesus. The hope we find in death is that we will indeed be reunited with our loved ones and also see our Savior face to face.
In watching “Now Is Good” it got me to thinking about what it would be like to not have the hope that knowing Christ has given me. How afraid of death I would be, how much more difficult it would be to see my loved ones pass on, how hard it would be to find hope in life.
Maybe my thoughts are extremely biased because I’ve only known what life is through a Christian perspective. But for me, being a Christian makes now more good than ever. Now is good to live, now is good speak out for my faith, now is good for Jesus to come, now is good for me to die.
I’m not saying I want to die now, but it would be okay if I did. I’d be okay with it because I find hope in my death. When I die, I will meet Jesus face to face, I’ll get to be reunited with my Great Grandparents, My best friend’s mom, and many others who have gone on before me.
I love the line from Peter Pan, “to die would be an awfully big adventure”, and a big adventure it will be. Until then, Now is good.
Monday, January 21, 2013
I think there’s this common misconception in the Christian faith that if we do everything right then we will get everything we want. I think this comes into play when we think about the Psalm 37:4-5 verse:
“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
I got an email yesterday with this verse in it and it got me thinking. The thing we do with this verse is paraphrase. If you’ve grown up in the Christian faith, you’ve heard it a million times. But what we hear is “He will give you the desires of your heart” and we don’t hear the rest.
And even if you do hear the rest of the verse, that doesn’t mean you get it. I know I don’t get it. What I mean by this is that I still have this tendency to approach God with an If-Then statement… “If I love God then I will get”… you fill in the blank.
But that’s not how God is and I’m learning that everyday. This past summer I was really angry with God, and at some moments, I can still be. This mainly had to do with the fact that I was a fresh college graduate and still single. I was under the belief that if I did everything right and followed God’s ways then I would get a boyfriend and the perfect job by the time I graduated. None of that has happened yet, and I can honestly say that I am at peace with that now.
The reason that I feel at peace about all of this is because I think I’m starting to realize what this verse truly means.
Let’s take some time to focus on the parts that we normally forget. First, “Delight yourself in the LORD.”- Find your joy in Him. Not in the things that could or haven’t happened yet. The thing is, if you truly delight in the LORD, the deepest desires of your heart are already fulfilled in him, because he provides everything you need. I’m not saying you’re never going to get the things you want most, but if you find peace in God, then you find peace and patience in your heart to trust God’s timing.
That leads to the other part we forget to remember. “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him”. In our times of waiting for the deepest desires of our hearts we cannot waiver in God. Commit to Him, like you would commit to your significant other in life. Being a follower of Christ means that you are in a relationship and there are sacrifices and compromises you need to make in order to serve that person.
I think about that all the time… If I didn’t serve Jesus, then I would have given something as simple as a kiss to any guy who looked at me (that may be extreme, but just an example). The point is, at the end of the day, choose God. Do everything in your power to do His bidding. Serve Him and trust in Him even if it means you don’t have everything you want in life, because getting what you want isn’t always fulfilling. Trust in God and his timing.
I really do believe that God grants us the desires of our hearts, but in His time, not our own. I also don’t know if we always know what our deepest desires are. I know that I have always wanted to eventually have a husband and a family, but I didn’t know until recently that I also desire to be leader in the church.
If God had granted me a husband now, then he wouldn’t have brought me more joy by discovering pieces of my life ambition and hopes. The thing is, by doing things God’s way, he becomes more glorified in the end. I pray and hope that by pursuing seminary and church work, that God’s kingdom will be further expanded through me. And while right now I may really hope and pray for a significant other, God might think and know that that’s not what is truly in my heart (even though I think it is).
At the end of the day God knows what our true desires are, even if we don’t, and that is a wonderful thing. God’s timing and purpose is superior to all things, and I find my hope and joy in that. So if I continue to be single for forever, then I’m at peace with that. Do I hope that God grants me that desire in my heart, yes. But above all, I really hope that I can trust, commit, and delight in the LORD, for He is good and above all things. Seeing Him as an If-Then God, does no one any good, for it taints our expectations and hopes of who he really is.
So let me say one more time, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Have you ever noticed that in the moments you feel most insecure, those are the moments you act like the biggest idiot? I have, at least for myself.
There’s something about being surrounded by people that you’re not the most comfortable around so then you end up boasting about this or that and how awesome you are… then if you run into someone who also insecure about themselves, and you find yourself in a One-Upper battle with them, and that’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
Most of the time, my insecurities come out with the people that I’ve known the longest. I’m not quite sure why this is but I’m assuming it has something to do with the fact that they’ve known me at my worst times. A lot of the times when I end up hanging out with these people I want to show them that I’m not the same as when I was younger and more foolish. I so badly want to impress them with who I have become.
But does that really mean I’ve become much better than what I was before? I mean, I am still a sinner and I will always be one until the day I die. I know there is such thing as growth and maturity, so don’t misinterpret me and think all of this is pointless. But what I think I am slowly learning is that the insecurities we fill ourselves with are what hold us back. And not only that, it’s more important place your security in Christ.
I find the moments I’m most at peace in a social situation, I’m trusting God with what He wants me to say and do. When I trust God my insecurities fade away.
So if you go into a social situation feeling insecure, hum this verse of Stuart Townend’s song “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”
“I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection”
Boast in your Savior, boast in His love for you, boast in the fact that you are valued by Him. All other sources where you find your value are nothing in comparison to finding value in Jesus.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
The other day while at work a co-worker of mine had a moment of stress and he yelled “JESUS!” and then looked at me and quickly apologized knowing that I am a Christian. I replied with a quick “its fine”, and then I found myself pondering this little moment.
I wish would have said something a little different, because this guy put the LORD’s name in vain. I wasn't offended because I know for a fact he doesn’t acknowledge the existence of God. But I wish I would have said, “don’t worry about me, worry about God”. This may come off as a judgmental comment, but lets be serious for a second. If there truly is a God, which I believe there is, don’t you think using His name as a form of profanity should put a little fear in your britches? I do.
Listen, I’m not trying to get all high and mighty, but really think about what you say and who hears you. God does, and one of His commandments is to not put His name in vain. If you claim Him as your savior then that means you believe he has power over all creation, which should probably mean you should have a proper amount of fear for Him. I’m not saying this means that God is going to smite you, that’s where His grace and mercy comes in, but he has the capability to strike you down. So therefore approach your God with respect. Fear Him, be afraid of the fact that he can end you in a breath. Please, if you claim Christianity don’t say things like “Oh My God”, or “God Damn it”, because those are some serious things to say.
With all of that said. If you’re not a Christian or don’t believe in a higher power then please, don’t apologize to Christians for your choice in wording, because at the end of the day, you don’t have to answer to me or my brothers and sisters in Christ, but you’ll eventually have to answer to God. I’m sure you disagree with me, and that’s fine. But for your sake, I hope that someday God can reveal Himself to you in a way that you can accept Him.
So please, if you acknowledge Jesus as Lord then take the time to think about His name and respect it.
Friday, November 30, 2012
I normally try not to have expectations. The reason for this is because I am a very dramatic person, so normally my expectations are fairly grandiose, and of course, they’re let down quite tragically because they were too high in the first place.
I have this problem particularly when I give gifts. I’m not one to give gifts too quickly. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I’m pretty selfish and frugal and I get anxious when I have to spend money on gifts. That’s why I normally try to give things that are meaningful and fairly cheap. An example of this is last years Christmas gifts to my family.
I got each member a picture frame with a picture of the two of us together. Then I wrote a heartfelt note about how much they mean to me and how I love them. This was quite a success and I had both my parents crying. I was quite proud of myself.
On other occasions there are gifts that I’ve given and (to me), they seem unappreciated. I go into this whole gift giving thing thinking that the receiver of my gift is going be so moved that they’ll cry and say, “How can I ever repay you”!
You see? I’m quite dramatic. I’m not saying my friends aren’t grateful for the gifts I’ve given them; I just expect more of a reaction.
But this got me thinking a little bit… about the gift of Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if God feels the way I feel about my gift giving…. Underwhelmed. Here God sent His Only Son to earth to live among men, be pursued and tempted by the devil (which didn’t even phase Him and therefore He is the ONLY perfect human being), to be crucified on a cross and tormented by bearers of his image, and then to rise from the dead carrying our sins upon his shoulders. And yet, do I thank God for the grace he’s given me through his son? No.
I mean I do thank God for this gift, but do I thank Him in a way that is appropriate and glorifying to Him? I don’t think I do, at least not in the way he deserves.