Tuesday, October 21, 2008

frustration

So many songs that we sing and listen to regarding the way of the Lord characterize this walk as one that is full of comfort and joy. They tell us that no matter what, the Lord has us and we leave those moments filled with the idea that a true walk with the Lord is one where the pilgrim feels assured and satisfied, and to a point, that is true. The satisfaction and fulfillment that is experienced in the Christian life is unmatched.

However, that does not mean that every moment with the Lord is easy. Life isn’t easy. There are hurdles, challenges and uncertainty. There is temptation and challenges and we fall. The good Christian life is not one of exercised blamelessness but rather of constant repentance.

The difference between the Christian life and the secular one is truly at the beginning and the end. We begin our Christian lives in the light of the cross and the fact that no matter what we go through, no matter what challenges or hardships, we live in the shadow of the cross, the ultimate sacrifice. This fact pushes us to continue even though giving up seems like a better option.

At the end of our walk, we have hope. We don’t toil for no reason but rather live in the fact that we have this eternal treasure waiting for us in heaven. We are propelled forward in pursuit of this. In exchanged for this glorious hope we are asked to patiently endure every challenge that is brought our way.

However, these things are part of a constant struggle to keep on with this commitment. In the midst of our failures and our pain we need to find those moments where we reach out to the things that we are supposed to keep on. We pick ourselves up and we keep on going.

We have to.

Friday, October 10, 2008

so many times we fail

It’s a really great thing when you can look back and realized that you have been faithful to your walk with the Lord for a certain period of time. For the last year my goal has been faithfulness and devotion, and I have tried to keep myself in check in those things regarding my walk with God.

However, after a certain period of time, you get so comfortable in your walk, and get so used to staying in the right that you forget how easy it is for us, as humans, to fall. You get smug. You think, “hey, I’m not too bad at this, I probably could go it alone!” and then suddenly something happens and you realize how easy it is for us, as humans to fall.

The temptations for sin are all around us. Its na├»ve to think that these things don’t exist or that they aren’t always waiting for us to have a moment of weakness. Even the good things in life can be turned bad depending on our lack of reliance on God and our remembrance of the place that He has in our lives and the lives that we are supposed to live.

This uncertainty and fear seems counterintuitive to the solace and peace that we are supposed to receive as children of God, but I beg to differ. The very basis of our faith is the fact that we indeed our sinners and that God has been gracious to us. We are sinners saved by faith, and no matter what are deeds are, good or bad, that will not change. This truth is one of the most beautiful tenets of our faith!

However, the shame and guilt that comes with sin are things that seem to want to pull us away from God. The overwhelming feeling that we have failed, that we have again shown imperfection brings the sinner to feel unworthy of receiving the great things that God has in store for them.

We forget that the Christian life is one of cultivating perseverance, and that the sin itself, while perhaps a terrible blemish, is not the thing that will keep us from God. God has already taken care of the sin! We need to pray yes, that God will forgive our sins, but also that He gives us the strength to keep on walking and that when we fall we remember that the Lord, in His loving kindness, is there to pick us up. Apart from Him, we falter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

look alive.

Focus. I seem to write about focus a lot, and for 2 reasons. Firstly, I believe that focus is one of the most important things that a Christian should have. It is really easy to get distracted and sidetracked by all the busyness in life to the point where we lose our focus. Secondly, I believe focus is something that, unless fastidious about, I severely lack.

I am one of those people who can get completely caught up in things that are new or shiny. I enjoy the thrill of things that are new, and usually things that are new tend to take up more of my thoughts.

However, in order to be faithful, fruitful Christian, we have to keep on our eyes on the prize. This is easier when you’re life is lacking in other objects to take our focus, however, what happens when suddenly your life fills up with other things that demand your time and attention?

This isn’t about neglecting everything else in our lives for things that we think are look “holy”, but rather about shifting the focus and directionality of everything in our lives so that they are constantly being centered on Christ, because God praises those who are good stewards of what has been entrusted to them. Oftentimes we eschew these things because we think that they are too small to be noticed. Yes, many tasks are so small that they will never be noticed and appreciated by man, but we have to ask ourselves, is that the goal? Is that the purpose of anything we do? Even if it is, it shouldn’t be. We forget that we are running a race.

Races are not hard. You get tired. You want to quit, but something keeps on telling you to keep going. To push it. To go all out. You only get to run this race once you you’d better give it all you’ve got.

Look alive!

Friday, September 12, 2008

consume

I was walking around my house the other day and my eyes caught upon a book that was sitting on my dining table. I don’t remember the exact title of the book, but I remember the byline was something like “How being Christ centered can prevent divisions without the Church”.

Being the lazy person that I am, I did not open the book, but from the title itself left a deep impression on me.

Being Christ centered and Christ focused is something that is taken as a “given” in our personal and communal Christian lives, but I think it is something that is oftentimes underestimated.

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with the idea that no matter what is going on in this world, or in our lives, we are supposed to be consumed with the desire to be with God. The reason we are left on this earth is to make an impression on others in His name. We are supposed to be saturated with this longing to be with God. Our focus is upward instead of merely onward.

I think that this concept is one that is easily cast aside for the more exciting ideas of “innovation” and “change”. I do believe that our God is the epitome of innovation and that nothing is impossible with him, and that God, and God alone has the power to change hearts. However, these powerful tools are rendered useless in the life of one who casually forgets where his focus and intention lies.

Our focus and intention have one goal. Christ.

Do we long for him?

Does it consume our being?

It's so easy to get sidetracked by the blessings that the Lord bestows upon us. However, the utmost way to show our gratitude is to constantly place Him where He belongs.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

worth it

I woke up this morning and I felt a distinct twinge of pain. It twisted and flew in my psyche, eventually mixing into with an aura of hopelessness. I felt immersed in loneliness.


However, in the act of dissecting exactly what was happening to me I realized that praising God is praising Him regardless of our emotions. It is really easy to praise God when we feel “gung ho” about our lives, but what about when we feel like there is no hope?


I once listened to a sermon where the speaker implored us to direct our emotions and release them towards the Lord. When I heard that, I understood what he was saying, but I did not understand why. I now understand why.


In the midst of the possibility of great work that will glorify the Lord, the enemy will try to use everything in adversity to this potential great work. Our weaknesses, our insecurities, everything. The more that we value these things the more that they can be use in opposition to the greatness that can occur.


My weakness is that I value these things. I get so caught up in the things that I want it could stand as a hindrance to giving God the glory.


Are we willing to count everything as loss in exchange for God’s glory? It’s so easy to say yes, but it’s really difficult to mean it. Really meaning this statement means willingness to exchange everything for the possibility of God’s glory. This encompasses two very difficult clauses. The first is the fact that the things that we really value, treasure and like are included in this term “everything”. The second is the fact that we are exchanging these things for the possibility of “successful” service, worship, or praise. This means that the work will not necessarily be immediately or outwardly rewarding. Its not always going to be the greatest worship, the greatest service. It may be mediocre. It may be terrible.


However, the key is, is it still worth it? Are we willing to constantly realize that in recognition of the fact that our Lord sacrificed His life, His everything, and endured unfathomable pain on our behalf, that all these possibilities are worth it?

Friday, August 29, 2008

and that my soul knows very well

Imagine your life as a fortress. All the things and people that are important to you are the pillars and walls protecting and surrounding the center, which is your heart, the essence of you.

One day, BAM! Something starts crumbling. It might start slow with a rumble, and a pebble falls, or it might be sudden, like everything is fine and then a missile has just struck one of the towers.

It’s devastating.

There are no words that could effectively describe this type of shock to someone who has never experienced it before. You can’t eat; you can barely sleep, and for me, everything in my mouth tastes faintly metallic. Everywhere you go you are reminded of the devastation, of your loss. You feel scared and alone.

You feel like you are starting your life over and don’t know where to begin.

“It’s a bitter end
When the sweet begins
Grace is sufficiency.”

I think that the most work that God has done in my life was when I felt like I had nothing left. Looking back, I realize that this excruciatingly painful process is what God has used to remove the dross from my life. God burns away the dross and instead replaces it with His faithfulness; His grace. Only in times of trial have I truly begun to understand the meaning of these words, faithfulness and grace. The bible says that God’s grace is sufficient to meet all of our needs. This means that no matter the trial or tribulation, God will never give us more than what, with His power, we can bear. This concept is one that has only recently been proven true in my life.

When my heart was broken, I felt like the seemingly senseless act was, emotionally, more than I could bear. I couldn’t imagine being able to tackle this hurdle of pain. Looking back, I realized that it was God’s grace that brought me through that trial and gave me ample time before the next trial that came my way. I didn’t know at the time that in a way I was being prepared for the next trial, which would be largest trial I had ever experienced.

It truly is a beautiful thing when you can look back and see the steps that have brought you to this point and see that it truly has been the Lord’s hand that has been guiding every moment, especially when you understand that in that level of devastation, you were unable to do anything on your own.

It’s only in the truly difficult trials can you be led to complete dependence on our Lord. It’s through these things that He refines our character. It’s amazing that we serve a God who can take this world’s deepest pain and use it to His glory!

When the walls of my fortress crumbled it was like the walls of Jericho falling. Each pillar fell and crumbled except for one, the one that rested on trust and dependence on the Lord. When I think back to that story, it seems inexplicable that any one portion of the walls of Jericho would stand, and it serves as a parallel to our lives. I think that it’s inexplicable that through these trials that I would be able to stand. I can wholeheartedly attribute my survival to the Lord.

“When mountains fall, I'll stand
By the power of Your hand
And in Your heart of heart I'll dwell
And that my soul knows very well”

Thursday, August 28, 2008

fog

In high school, I used to walk to and from school. It wasn’t a long walk. I would walk down the block, through a gate, across the track, through another gate, and across a field. I think that over my high school career, I had to have walked that walk at least four hundred times, in different types of weather.

However, one type of climate has recently vividly stuck out in my memory. Some cool mornings I would walk to school and would be surrounded by this find mist, almost a fog. It would surround me as I walked, and I couldn’t see more than five feet in front of me. I remember feeling like a walk that more than familiar had suddenly become mysterious. I would think about my steps, trying to make sure that I was walking, generally, in the correct direction. The only steps I could really plan were the ones in front of me.

As officially a “twenty-something”, I feel like this is what it seems like for my life and the lives of my friends. When you’re young, it’s like you’re walking down a long stretch of sidewalk. You encounter bumps and challenges, but you generally have a very good idea of the things that you must tackle next—honors, AP, high school graduation, college courses, professors, college graduation. You know those things are coming and you are trying to prepare yourself to handle them successfully. However, one day you realize that you are out of college and suddenly everything seems foggy. You can’t see what’s in front of you. You can barely make out the steps in front of you, and the panic sets in.

For me, the panic comes and goes in waves. On a random night, I will lay awake wondering if I really will get a job or will I end up a bum, if I am going to die alone, if I am going to have children… it seems like I want to know everything now, but I know that I will not. I try to deal with it by embracing the mystery as excitement. I tell myself that one day when I’m forty and I feel like I have been doing the exact same thing day after day that I will long for the feeling like the future is a mystery. I do believe that is true, but that idea in itself isn’t very comforting.

I think that it all boils down to trust. It’s really easy to say that we trust God when we can see the path in front of us, when we can see our future challenges and say “Yes, I trust that God will help me through this.” It’s a whole other thing when we have no idea exactly what types of things we are approaching and instead are trusting God with every step, steps that lead in unknown directions, with the possibilities of humiliation and failure looming.

I am reminded of a Sunday school song: “Walking with Jesus”. One portion, if I remember correctly, says something along the lines of “walking in the sunshine, walking in the shadow, walking every day, walking all the way”. As children we happily sang this song, marching along, not realizing how truly difficult it could be to walk with the Lord in the shadow. It’s not easy. however, if it were easy, would it really be trust? Would it really be an accomplishment?

Monday, August 25, 2008

love

I used to love others so that I could get love back. I wanted to be in love with someone so that I could receive love, not necessarily so I could give love.

It created a lot of disjointed relationships where I was constantly frustrated with the amount of love I was not receiving from others. I would cry and whine when I wouldn’t get what I wanted from a specific person.

However, the time came when I realized that I wanted to be someone who wasn’t that petty.

To me, real love is loving someone to the point where you care about their well being even at the expense of your happiness. I want to care about others to the point where I want the best for them, and not just the best thing for them that is also the best for me.

This is the nature of real love: Selflessness. This concept is one that is oftentimes casually dropped out of depictions of love by the mass media. According to the media, the pursuit of love lies in making sure that we are being loved by our partner, instead of loving them in a way that supports their holistic well being!

I want to love someone to the point where I want the best that God has for them.

possibilities

Lately I’ve been thinking about possibility and impossibility. Many times we label things as impossible according to the things that we think and understand. We create these borders and limits to the possibilities in our lives and then proceed to treat them as concrete, as invincible.

But really, what is not in the realm of possibility with our God? I think that I am constantly having my mind blown as I see that God makes things possible in situations and places where I had decided they were impossible!

When I get frustrated, I like to make assumptions and decisions about my future. I pretty much express that since I have not gotten what I wanted when I wanted it, that it is impossible and thus will not happen at all. This habit has led to a life what seems to be surrounded by closed doors.

However, the deeper I get in my relationship with God, the more I realize that Gods possibilities are limitless. There are no bounds to what God can do. The question is: Will you let Him?

words

It’s amazing the power that one word has. I think that sometimes we don’t realize how much power is housed in the things that we say. We let our tongues flap around lackadaisically with no concern for the effects of the things that we say.

One of the most fun, and must deadly things to talk about is other people. It is so enjoyable to discuss and joke about people’s lives, their futures, and their motives. We mock the things that they do and make assumptions about their intentions and their character. We are self-appointed experts on the motives on other people, laying down judgments about them insensitively and in public.

I think that it this one of the most useless things we can do unless we are looking out for the other person’s well being. We hesitate to tell people what we think about them because we think its mean to hurt their feelings in that way, and yet we feel compelled to say those things, as well as more cruel things, to others.

I don’t know if anyone else sees the contradiction in these items as much as I do. I don’t see where we get off talking saying mean things about people and their lives when we don’t have the intention of helping them or enriching their lives.

The bible tells us to “love one another”. It does not tell us to love people that we like, or people that are popular, rich or even people who like us. It tells us to love “one another”. I believe that a serious contradiction lies in the life of one who professes to love their fellow man and then proceeds to say slanderous or malicious things in private about others for their own gain. These individuals must take time to deal with the duality of their lives because their actions are not representing the things that they profess are important to them.

So where do you stand? Have been appointing yourself an expert on the lives of others without them knowing? It might be time to start thinking about the different ways that we could be showing love to these individuals instead of slinging mud.

it all began

It all began with a breakup.

I was madly in love with this guy. Then this guy, this guy that I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, broke up with me. I felt like I was restarting my life, and after a while I realized that even though I still hurt, it was embarrassing to still hurt, so I hid it.

However, all those emotions had to go somewhere, and I began to write. I was close my eyes and type furiously. Everything I felt suddenly became the catalysts to thousands of sentences. Suddenly, every major emotion became something that could spur on my writing.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer and my life changed. I realized that it was time to stop taking things for granted and I decided to reprioritize my life, putting the things that I really deemed worthy in first place. I had said that I loved God, I had said that I was a Christian, but it was at that time I realized that if it was important to me, I needed to start acting like it.

Writing my thoughts, my devotions, seemed to meld these two things together, and I began to sporadically produce these pieces.

So here I am, posting these things with the hopes that these thoughts, feelings, and ideas can impact someone else’s Christian life as it does mine.