A Love Stronger

I read something the other day that really, I mean really, made me think. It was about our own willingness to sacrifice everything we have in order to follow what is right, to be willing to walk away from the people who matter to us the most because we have compromised truth somehow.

So many of us spend our time procrastinating. Procrastinating to do homework, to go back to school, to start working out.

To turn back to God.

But procrastinating to turn away from sin is nothing to mess around with.

Hebrews 10:26 -“Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.”

Sounds scary, but I am using this text to point out that there is no excuse for sin- His sacrifice doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want and not face any consequences.

Shouldn’t we know better?

Hebrews 10: 36-39 – Endure, do the will of God and receive His promises. Live in faith and press forward.

Proverbs 5:22-23- Our sins trap us and lead us astray, and ultimately to death.

As Christians, we have to ask ourselves: “Have I turned away from my old, sinful life? What am I doing to show God I love Him? What am I doing to show the world what it really means to be a Christian?”

 

We can’t just stop progressing. We can never stop looking up. We have to abide in Christ and let Him transform us from the inside out. It’s a constant process.

The word of God reveals His character. He Himself has declared His infinite love and pity. When Moses prayed, “Show me Thy glory,” the Lord answered, “I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” Exodus 33:18, 19. This is His glory. The Lord passed before Moses, and proclaimed, “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6, 7. He is “slow to anger, and of great kindness,” “because He delighteth in mercy.” Jonah 4:2; Micah 7:18.

God has bound our hearts to Him by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. Through the things of nature, and the deepest and tenderest earthly ties that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal Himself to us. Yet these but imperfectly represent His love. Though all these evidences have been given, the enemy of good blinded the minds of men, so that they looked upon God with fear; they thought of Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan led men to conceive of God as a being whose chief attribute is stern justice,–one who is a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them. It was to remove this dark shadow, by revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that Jesus came to live among men.” -Steps to Christ, p. 9

 

 

God has a love for us we can only begin to understand-Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13). We have a friend in Christ. He lay down His life for us. And in turn, as we grow to love Christ because of His love for us, nothing, not even death, will keep us from standing for Him, to choose what is right.

A love stronger than death.

Do we have that love? If not, why don’t we?

How are we showing our love to our Creator?

Until next,

Fixing the World’s Problems

How do we handle not being Superman?

I’m sick of death, I’m sick of loss, I’m sick of grief. I’m sick of hurt and disappointment. I’m sick of it all.

Today I awoke with grief in my heart.

The kind of grief that makes me want to stay asleep. The kind of grief that has me waking up in tears, waking up with a heavy heart and little hope.

The kind of grief that is difficult to explain simply because I feel this grief over other people’s circumstances. I feel their heartache, I feel their sadness, I feel their loss. It’s like for a moment, I’m tied to their soul.

Except it lasts for more than a moment. It lasts hours, even days.

The lights aren’t as bright, the noises are muffled. Joy is removed because I feel it has to be— Who am I to be happy when they’re dealing with this grief? It seems unfair, and I want to carry their load on my shoulders and save the world, to fix their problems, to heal their hearts.

Except, I can’t.

I can’t save the world. And I’m left feeling completely helpless.

How can I remove this lasting grief and instead bring hope and relief?

And also, how do I deal with not being able to be a superhero?

I just want light in this world of darkness. I want people to feel hope and feel alive, living abundantly. I’d want that for me too.

And I am anxious for the day when death and the grave will be vanquished forever, so no one has to feel any pain anymore.

Let’s all try to shed a little light today, even amidst our grief.

Sending love,

Revelation. 20:14
Psalm 147:3

 

The Thin Red Gossiping Line

Hello everyone! So I’ve been lagging on posts- I have about five that have been lingering in my drafts for ages. I really have to get on that. Does anyone else have the same issue as I do? When you know you have to work on projects, but getting to a starting point is difficult? Once I start though, the momentum kicks in and I have a hard time stopping haha. Any time limits I give myself go out the window… something else I need to work on.

But anyway, I’m going to kick off my writing projects list with this post 😀

Let’s dooo thissss.


Okay, so I may not have any statistics to back this up, but I’m going to just go out on a limb here and say many of us—dare I say most of us?—like gossip.

Yes, let’s just admit it. In some way or other, we like to hear something said about someone else. We like to say stuff about someone else. Something that in some way makes us feel better.

It’s not an easy thing to admit, I get that. I like to pretend I don’t like gossip.

But listening to or taking part in gossip is almost like a driving force, a desire within us that feels impossible to stop.

“It’s not really gossip. I’m just talking about it with other people to, you know, get advice.”

Fine. I can see that. But realllyyy thougghhh?

Based on Ecclesiastes 10:1, an author writes: “However contracted may be our sphere, we still exert an influence for weal or woe. …one rash act, one thoughtless word, on our part may exert so deep an influence on the life of another that it will prove the ruin of his soul. Every act, every word, is a seed that will bear fruit. Every deed of thoughtful kindness…of self-denial, will reproduce itself in others…” Prophets & Kings, page 85,86

That is crazy. Not gossiping could most definitely be an act of self-denial—holding back our words because we know we shouldn’t say them. Do any of us ever think about what we say, or how our words affect others? Or are we so trapped in our emotions at the time that we don’t even think about what we’re going to say- we just say it?

Okay, now for the biblical texts.

Prov. 17:9 says he who repeats a matter separates friends.

1 John 3:15 says whoever hates anyone is a murderer, and murderers don’t have eternal life within them…

Do we repeat matters we shouldn’t be repeating? Do we gossip because we don’t like someone?

Or do we gossip just because it’s well, fun?

Ultimately, we have to watch what we say to people, about people, and around people. Gossip might feel good in the moment (like every other sin) but comes with negative repercussions (like every other sin).

What those of us with big mouths need to recite is Psalm 141:3,4:

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Write that down. Put it in our pocket. Look at it every day.

Sometimes things truly are better left unsaid.

And I for one have to be okay with not hearing the latest gossip. That’s going to be a challenge.

“Every day, our words and acts are making impressions upon those with whom we associate. How great the need that we set a watch upon our lips and guard carefully our steps! One reckless movement, one imprudent step, and the surging waves of some strong temptation may sweep a soul into the downward path…

On the other hand, if by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence over others. Thus hundreds and thousands are helped by our unconscious influence. The true follower of Christ strengthens the good purposes of all with whom he comes in contact. Before an unbelieving, sin-loving world he reveals the power of God’s grace and the perfection of His character.” -Prophets & Kings, page 238

Let us aid others in the development of good principles, not feed the ugly, gossiping monster within. Let us reveal love. And as Christ’s disciples, let us rememeber who we are representing.

Until next,

Brotherly Love- What Does that Mean?

In my reading of 1 John 1 and 2, I was impressed by the ideas of brotherly love.

Those in the Christian world often hear the theme of “love your neighbor” and “love one another.”

I’ve written about this theme before in Love One Another and I’m a Foolish, Fragile Spine.

Some people say that loving one another is the greatest of great commandments, the Golden Rule.

But how often do we actually do that?

How do we practice this?

I can’t even express how teeth-grinding it is for me to see hatred and bigotry portrayed and justified by using biblical texts. It makes me crazy. These hateful people declaring their hatred in the name of God is the example of Christianity they give to the world.

And we wonder why people hate Christians.

Guys, this loving your neighbor theme is serious. The Bible says if we truly love God we will love our brother also ( 1 John 4:21).

My understanding is that if I don’t love my neighbor, I don’t truly love God.

We need to extend that love to everyone—including the people we don’t like.

For me, that means including those “Christians” who spew Bible verses in order to justify their racism. And the people who say awful things about my religious group. And the friends who say (indirectly) that I’m stupid for believing in God and not in “science.”

How do we develop that love? How often do we put ourselves last and other first?

Let’s all try to develop that kind of love this week, that Christ-like love God wants us all to have.

 

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?