Hate = Murder

How dislike, jealousy, covetousness, bitterness grows into actual hate. What do we do about it?

I’ve been reading a lot lately about loving one another. I mean, I even have several posts already written (and in the process of being written) that are all about this idea of brotherly love.

I’m currently reading a book by Karen Ehman titled Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.

While I read part of me thinks, “Oh yeah, I know this,” or “Oh yeah, I can do that.”

But truth be told, I’m actually struggling.

1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

I’m blinded by dislike/jealousy/bitterness/envy/competitive spirit/fill-in-the-blank-here that I feel like I am walking in darkness.

And even worse, these fiery feelings have been fanned for so long that for the first time I feel like it’s breeding into actual hate.

And that’s some really dangerous ground.

1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

A murderer!? Who has no eternal life? YIKES.

So what do I do about it? How do I handle these feelings?

I know I’m being tested. I know I have to trust God and talk to Him about this every day…

But instead of these feelings going away, I feel they’re becoming more grounded in my heart.

WHY? What’s going on?

Am I doing something wrong? Is there more I could do?

This has to change. No matter how we may feel about a person, those who claim the Christian name should not express hate, AT ALL.

And yet, it’s burning in my heart.

I’ve been given this advice: You don’t have to like a person, but you do need to love them.

I know I need help.

Until next,

em

Somebody Change Me

I don’t care how you do it, just change me.

Have you ever wondered if you needed to change?

Does anybody ever think that?

I mean really, who admits there is some part about them that is flawed and needs fixing?

And what do we do about it when we do admit we need change?

A lot of people just tell themselves and the world “Hey, that’s just the way I am. And all ya’ll just have to deal with it.”

But then you have those others who only focus on the things they need to change. The ones who find flaws in almost every part of their character.

But who tells them they need to change? Who defines what are acceptable and unacceptable traits?

Do we let people tell us what we need to change, or do we find out for ourselves? But it’s not like we can just ask ourselves in the mirror one day “Hey what do I have to change today?”

What do we change, and how?

What traits are just a part of who we are?

And where do we find freedom?

If I Died at a Concert, Would I Go to Heaven?

I’ve often asked myself this question. It’s a legitimate concern for me because I love music and I love going to shows. I love the feeling music alone gives me, and the power of performances is like nothing else.

So in light of what happened at a concert in Manchester recently, the question popped up again: If I died at a concert, would I go to heaven?

(*Note: I’m not at all giving any kind of judgment to any of those people who lost their lives at that concert in Manchester. My heart aches when tragedies like these occur. I don’t know their lives nor their hearts, and I’m not here to sentence anyone—that’s not my job.)

I’ve gone to countless shows. I’ve even seen one band nearly 20 times alone.

Here’s the thing though.

Within the last maybe year or so, I’ve really felt my concert-going days would soon be over for me. I felt God was calling me to set my mind on things above, and going to shows was something I had to let go of. If I’m honest (though through gritted teeth), I think it’s a pretty clear conviction for me.

Though yes, I’ve tried to ignore it. There are many, many concerts I want to go to this year. If I go to one of these concerts and end up dying, what does that mean for me? Where will I end up? Would my Christian life up to that point not matter? Did I just damn myself by that one decision, that one choice to go?

Is it dangerous to do something we know we shouldn’t be doing? Where do justice, grace, and mercy come into play?

Does ignoring our convictions and rationalizing them away end up leading us to an inevitable path of destruction?

 

How Rude

When I fail at following my own advice

Okaaaay so I said in my last post that I didn’t want to write posts that are too detailed or write them just for the sake of blabbering about myself and my problems, but here I am already about to cross my own boundaries.

But this story is just too appropriate, and writing IS my therapy anyway. There, I’m justified. Haha.

Seriously though, I’ll start it off like this: Do you ever deal with people who say they are one thing but in actuality, they are quite different? Do you deal with people who say they behave a certain way but they really do not behave that way at all?

Well, I always hope that am not like that, talking about how we should be one way and then I totally act the opposite.

Except I did that today.

Ugh. Major. Face. Palm.

I acted the opposite of how I tell and what I expect others to be. I totally missed an opportunity to be nice to a person even though she was totally rude to me. I totally missed giving them “a cup of cold water,” as I tell the students in my class to do. I totally missed being the best person I could be: being nice (and not rude) even when the person is not nice in return.

I just really hate when people are rude. Who doesn’t? It just sends this fire raging through my bones and it’s almost impossible to quench.

But I think I’m so used to getting the kind of reactions I want and expect, that I totally lose it when I don’t. That’s another issue that’s worth digging into.

So in short, my reactions to rude people are a problem that needs fixing. I make mistakes and miss opportunities. I will never claim to be the gold standard. My posts are as much for me as they are for my readers. I wish I could’ve handled the encounter better, but now I learned from it.

Learn and move on! Small victories, right?

Love One Another (Wait, They Don’t Love You)

Lettering by ofpaperandgrace

Last post I briefly glossed over the question of what it means to truly love your neighbor as yourself.

I want to talk about that a little more because whether it be in my reading for the day or on the radio, love for one another seems to be a theme that keeps popping up.

What is love for one another? 

The Bible says in John 15: 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17

John 13: 34 says “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Matthew 22 has Christ’s response to the question of “What is the greatest commandment?” as this: Love God and love your neighbor.

So if we Christians think that love is the greatest commandment of all, how do we show it?

And to whom? Does this love only apply to the people we, well, love?

I believe the principle in Titus 3: 1-2 (the verse that is the feature image for this post) is this: as Christ’s followers, we are to develop these types of qualities.

I’m not going to say that because we’re not immediately nice to people who wrong us or we don’t go to church every weekend like we should mean we don’t have a love for God or our fellow man. We are sinful humans after all.

But really, though, if we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, shouldn’t we aim to develop the kind of love that treats others with respect and goes to worship God in His house on His day?

The kind of love that serves others even when we don’t feel like it or even though that neighbor is incredibly nasty and hocks loogies outside your window every morning?

The kind of love that obeys God, goes to church even if we can’t stand a certain church member, and abstains from willfully sinning?

Isn’t that what faith is all about, trusting that God will help you through what seems impossible?

As Titus puts it, show humility to all men.

Now I know what oppositions could come up. Like, how can I be nice to someone who raped me? or abused my child?

I cannot give direct answers to those questions. All I know is God can make what seems impossible possible.

Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service. The channel of communication must be open continually between man and his God. As the vine branch constantly draws the sap from the living vine, so are we to cling to Jesus and receive from Him by faith the strength and perfection of His own character.

The Desire of Ages, 676

John 13:35 says “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I’ve been tempted to think that because someone acts a certain way towards another person or thinks a certain mean thought about them, he/she really doesn’t love that person. But I don’t know if I believe that anymore. I think our moments of weakness and plain old humanity get the better of us, and we lose our grip.

Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of glory become one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you,’ (John 15:12); when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts.

Many who profess His name have lost sight of the fact that Christians are to represent Christ. Unless there is practical self-sacrifice for the good of others, in the family circle, in the neighborhood, in the church, and wherever we may be, then whatever our profession, we are not Christians.

The Desire of Ages, 641 and 504

I think we could all do more of serving others and truly trying to understand what it means to love one another.

Until I come up with a clever sign-off,

em

Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Hello, everyone!

Soooo I am back with a little bit of a concern (really, though, when am I not concerned about something?).

The reason I have this blog is because I want people to draw closer to Jesus. I also want others to see my life as I try to live it as Christ is calling me to live it. To look beyond the “Christian” title and dig deep into what that means and how people my age and beyond can live it. I also want to share the real struggles that I face as a Christian.

So I’m caught in a tough place. I don’t want this to be a diary; I don’t want to expose details of my day that could bore you to death. I don’t want to be too open or post details about my issues just for the sake of blabbering about myself. So what do I do? I don’t want to focus on me, and yet I want to share my stories as I walk with Christ. So what should I do, dear readers? How do I balance a lifestyle/faith-based blog?

When it comes to posts about issues and lessons I can be as vague and yet as precise as I can. If you want to know about specifics we can privately talk about it via some way or other.

When it comes to lifestyle posts, well I can be as colorful as I think I should be.

So let’s give this a try, shall we?

I had a spark ignite in my brain yesterday when I was driving home. I was listening to a sermon that was more or less about what it means to own your faith. The main thing I got from it was this: No matter what may be going on with people around me, no matter what problems I see or problems I am dealing with, I always need to a.) Trust God and b.) Serve others.

Alright, alright that may sound superficial because as a Christian we all kind of hear those things, right? Almost as much as we hear “love your neighbor as yourself.”

But what does that all mean?

How do I own my faith? What is trust in God? What is serving others?

I’ll tell you what it is for me, and what I think it is for anyone claiming the Christian faith.

As the speaker put it, owning your faith involves perspective, participation, presence, perseverance, and power.

So then it hit me: At least in part, the recent bitterness I’ve been feeling is because of me — my unbelief in God’s character and promises. My perspective is way out of whack. I am too busy looking at other people and letting their personalities or whatever it may be getting under my skin, that I forget the power God has to make what seems impossible possible.

I have to get on my knees in prayer and trust Him.

Instead of focusing on the ugly characteristics of others, I have to participate in serving them. Instead of avoiding places I don’t want to be because I don’t get anything out of being there or can’t bear the emotions I may face, I have to be there and be present because I’m letting God lead. Instead of coming up with excuses for still participating in sin, I have to be persistent in my faith by never letting go of God and remembering He calls me out of darkness. And above all, instead of relying on myself

I have to rely on God’s power.

I can’t do any of this on my own.

That’s it.

I (and all of us in the Christian faith) must choose what’s right to glorify God. How can we call ourselves Christians if we aren’t doing that? We must probe into God’s thoughts because His thoughts are not our thoughts — they’re greater and better and go deeper than we could imagine in our feeble human minds.

And we have to serve other people, even if we don’t see ourselves benefitting in any way.

All of these things require sacrifice. The only way to truly serve God and serve others is by sacrifice.

Sin is truly an ugly thing. I can let it keep me down, or I can look up and trust in He who is greater than I.

He has to transform His believers from the inside out, and we all have to be serious about that.

What’s the bigger picture? How serious am I in serving God? How serious are you?