Sunday, February 27, 2011

This little light of mine...

This little light of mine, I'm gunna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gunna let it shine
This little light of mine, I'm gunna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Most everybody has heard this song before, the main part at least if not all of it.  It is such a simple song, one that we learn at vacation bible school or Sunday school when we are still too small to see the top of the kitchen counter.  So why is it so hard to match our actions to what we are singing about? 
I don't know about you, but it is HARD to let my light shine when I am in an environment that is cynical and mean about anything that might make those around me uncomfortable.  It is so much easier to shine when I am by myself or with a group of friends that I know loves God as much as I do...but God doesn't want us to only shine for ourselves.  What would be the point? He wants us to shine to people who have possibly never seen the result of a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit and not afraid to show it....that is how we witness to others and share the gospel, the good news!
But....its hard, I know, and I would be a hypocrite if I said that I was a bright, shining light in the hallways of my high school right now.  However, I might just start trying to be.
At church today, the pastor mentioned that the paster that was at the church before him used to encourage people to share the gospel with others, and to light a candle when they did to signify that they are spreading the word of God.  He wanted his congregation to make a physical, touchable (though it would hurt) light for everybody to see that signified God....I thought that was cool.
So, I guess its time to stop hiding my light under a bushel (or in my bedroom) and get out there to share it with others by being positive and more Christ-like.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If you really knew me...

A speaker came to our school today to teach us about sportsmanship or something equally irrelevant to my life, and for the second half we were split into random groups.  So there I was, sitting with a group of people who I (with three exceptions) have probably said about 10 sentences to in my life, and the speaker tells us to answer this question: If you really knew me you would know....
Ho. ly. Crap. I was scared, and I had no idea what to say.  We went around the circle, everybody obviously uncomfortably and not sharing anything like a brainless zombie, I followed suit and said, "If you really knew me you would know that I plan on spending at least another year in Honduras." Sure, this is true and it is important in my life...but it's not what I should have actually said. After the whole exercise was over, I thought of a list of things I should have said:
If you really knew me you would know that I believe in Jesus Christ and that he is the only way to true happiness.
If you really knew me you would know that I used to hate myself, but I don't anymore.
If  you really knew me you would know that I grew up without a dad because mine is an alcoholic and abandoned me.
If you really knew me you would know that I truely believe that we don't have many years left on this Earth.
So, If I really knew you, what would I know?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking the Plank Out of my Own Eye.

Today I was forced to think about all of the times that I have gossiped about other people without meaning it to be that way.  I have never considered having a legit conversation about someone gossip if you aren't saying anything bad or judging them, but today I found out how it feels to be examined like that.  Today I was informed that two people who I have no bad feelings towards and even talk to friendly all the time, talked about how I am a hypocritical Christian (If you read Ali's blog, this probably sound's familiar).  And, I totally get where they would get that impression, if they were only looking at my past (see Fusion talk). So no, I don't really blame them for having this impression, but it still hurts that they think that and would discuss with other people that that is what they think.  No, I don't think they meant for it to hurt me, they didn't mean to gossip, but that's what happened.
So, where do I go from there?  How do I show them that I'm not a hypocrite, that I was hurt by them saying I was?  Maybe I don't...maybe it's best to just drop it and let them think what they want, hoping that my actions speak louder than anything I might say. 
 "A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel." Proverbs 15:18 
I guess all I can do is focus on bettering my life by becoming more Christ-like and less human-like in the hopes that others take notice and understand that Christians make mistakes and have pasts too. So, no more gossiping for me...what about you?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Left Behind.

So, I'm currently working my way through the Left Behind book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.  For those of you who don't know (and I'm guessing that most of you don't), it is a series based on the book of Revelation and what is going to happen after Jesus comes back to rapture the church.
The book of Revelation is so hard to read for me.  I'm one of those people who reads really fast and can absorb it all and then think about it later, but the final book of the Bible just doesn't allow for that.  You have to actually, like, study it.  Not that you shouldn't study all of the Bible, but Revelation is just a bit more, high maintenance.
Which is why I love the Left Behind books so much.  Though they are fictional, I really think that they have all of the facts down pat, and they are really helping me figure out the whole "Jesus is coming back and he's rapturing the church and those left behind have seven years and seven tribulations and seven scrolls and the three horses" etc. etc. Revelation is full of symbolism, and Mr. Layhaye and Mr. Jenkins really figure it out for us, in their personal view I guess.
The end of the world is not something that most people want to think about seriously because is flippin' scary.  Think about it: one day (in my opinion before I am a senior citizen...that soon) our Lord and Savior is going to come back to Earth and rapture the church, taking all of the "true Christians" to heaven.  Then the world is going to be taken over by the anti-christ, and it is going to be put through a bunch of terrible things, which eventually lead up to Jesus making a final appearance, a final judgement.  That stuff is scurry....I don't want to be left behind, and I'm sure you don't either.
But anyways....these books are really good....find them in your local library, or download them on your nook/kindle/sony reader. (:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

5:30 Sunday Morning

Last Sunday was an interesting day...full of things that made me think.  My day began at 5:15 when I had to get up and get ready for work. While I was driving to work at the beautiful hour of 5:40 I noticed that my car was the first one to drive on the slippery, snow dusted stretch of Highway 22 that goes North from Kiester, and I was hit with my first thought:  This must be how it feels to be the only person on Earth.  Now, that may not seem like a huge thought...but it is if you believe (like I do) that the world is going to end soon. No dears, I'm not talking about 2012, I'm talking about Jesus Christ coming back to Earth to claim the true Christians and leave the rest behind to face what comes next.  As I was driving all alone in the world, I could totally imagine that that would be the world after we are taken away. But almost immediately after that thought, I realized that more people will be here than will be taken, and that sucks.  I wish that I could reach everybody, take them with me...but I have no idea how that could ever ever be possible.
My second thought of the day happened around 6:30, while I was talking to the cook/activities director in the kitchen of The Shepherd's Inn, an assisted living home where I work.  We were talking about a resident who has Alzheimer's and how her family has stopped visiting or taking her to church on Sundays.  Lauryne, the cook, then said something that really hit me,
"Once you get old, you turn invisible."
and the sad thing is, it's the truth.  I had always kind of known that, but after working at The Shepherd's Inn for a year or so,  I know it's true.  Families just throw their mom's or their dad's into some home or another, and then they are "freed" from all responsibilities and hardly give them the time of day anymore.  This thought stuck in my head for that whole day as I helped my old ladies get ready, eat, and relax.  It stuck with me from then until now...and it's so sad.  I'm not too worried about it, because as I said earlier I believe Jesus is coming back, and soon.

So those were my two major thoughts for Sunday...just a little food for thought.

My FUSION talk...

So, I wrote this six days ago, and I gave it to a room full of people five days now I suppose I'll share it with the World Wide Web. Enjoy (:  (please excuse all of my grammatical errors.)

    Some people love when opportunities to tell the stories of their most grotesque scars pop up. Stories of illnesses, surgery, dog bites, childhood falls or accidents, fights, and plain old clumsiness are always beefed up a little to make the story better. Scars are permanent place marks on the time lines of our lives. We can look at our bodies and see reminders of our appendicitis, chicken pox, the time we jumped out of a tree thinking we could fly, and the time the dog down the street took a bite out of our shin.
When my friends get on the topic of scars, or a facebook note asks me about where my sweetest scar came from, I usually refrain from giving an answer. I always figure that telling people that my most grotesque scars are the ones I have inflicted on myself and the ones that nobody can even see will put a damper on the almost-always bubbly moods of those around me. My stories aren't the cute, funny ones everyone wants to hear, but they are honest, and they are my life.
       The deepest scar I have, and the one that has probably had the most effect on my life, is the one that my dad has caused. My dad left a blistered, purple mass on my heart from the many times he abandoned me and gave me false hope through my childhood. I grew up always wondering why I wasn't a good enough reason for my dad to stop drinking and doing drugs and going to jail. I always wondered why he didn't love me enough to stay and watch me grow up. Matthew 5:39 says “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person, If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” This verse pops into my mind when I think of my relationship with my dad and the countless times I have tried to help him. However, as true as I believe this verse to be, both of my cheeks are too sore to offer to him anymore. I have grown up without a dad and although I am alive and okay today, I have always felt as though I missed out on something big because of it. It wasn't until I truly accepted God as my savior and Father that the heartache I felt from my dad eased. It was as I began to read my bible and understand it that I started to realize that I had a father all along, but he was just one that I couldn't hug or see. If any of you have grown up without a dad or without a mom, you understand when I say that God isn't a substitute for the “real thing”, but He is always here, and his love is forever. Matthew 11:28 comforts us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”. No matter who has hurt us in life our heavenly father will restore our strength, will, and peace of mind, even if the person who hurts us is us.
      When I first began to read my bible, my favorite book was the book of Job. I loved the story of God testing Job, his loyal son, to show Satan that Job was blessed by wealth because of his faith, not faithful because of his wealth. I found comfort in Job's shouts of self-hatred, wishes of death, and when he scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery because for years I was really, really depressed and I felt much like Job may have. In eighth grade, I was out-casted from my grade for reasons unknown to me and I had no friends. I never talked about how much this hurt me ( I never really talked about things that were too serious) , and eventually all of the terrible feelings I was cooping up turned into depression. Because I didn't want to worry my mom, I pretended to be happy.
      The summer after that year we moved to Kiester, and my depression packed itself in my boxes. I was becoming numb, as though I was no long living life, but instead watching my body go through the actions from somewhere else. I began to do terrible things that would temporarily distract me from the numbness that I felt: drinking, smoking pot, having sex, cutting, anything self-harming. This lasted two and a half years, during which I struggled with Christianity, which I never grew up with. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 speaks about self harm, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Obviously, I was not honoring my body by tainting it with illegal substances, boys, and razor blades, and my body is scarred on both the inside and the outside from what I put it through. However, we don't have to take such drastic steps to taint God's temple. Watching explicit movies, listening to music with a bad message, saying things that are not uplifting to someone else, and filling our minds with bad thoughts are all ways to disrespect God. The more that we stray from his word and his direction, the more we hurt our bodies, our souls, and the Holy Spirit within us. I realized this when I attended a traveling ministery and accepted Christ as my saviour for the first time, but trying to expel secular, or worldly, things from my life was terribly hard.
      As I began to build a support system of friends who helped me get my life together and become a happier person, I also began to become a stronger Christian. The road wasn't easy though, and I sometimes went back to cutting when I had a bad night. I went to TEC in the fall of my Junior year and that weekend was the true turning point in my life. I suddenly had this huge group of people who loved me and wanted the best for me, and I could trust them. I had a greater knowledge of God and who I wanted to be. I had love for myself. Now, I'm not trying to promote TEC or convince you into going, because its a personal choice. I'm just saying that my experience at TEC saved me from myself. Yet, I'm still not perfectly okay, and I still have to work on fixing myself and being happy every day. The scars on my thighs and on my heart from those three-odd years of my life are still visible and still healing, but I wouldn't want them to disappear. Every time I see them they are a reminder of who I used to be and how far I have come from that person. Sometimes, when I wear shorts or a swim suit, people ask me what the scars on my legs are from, and I always get really nervous and its awkward and I can't look them in the face and say “I used to cut” because I am too scared of ruining the image that they hold of me. But as much as I regret putting my body through the things that I did, I like to think my trials were similar to Job's in that God was testing my faith, even before I had one. Everybody has to experience a trial or two in life, hopefully not one like mine, and it is sort of God's way of reminding us that we need Him, I think.
      “ The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believer. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” reads Romans 13:11-14. These verses are pretty powerful. In order to keep our bodies from inheriting more scars we need to lay down all of our addictions, our sins, and our harmful habits, and replace them with goodness, joy, and a servant heart. If we live for Jesus and not for ourselves, just imagine where our lives and our world would be now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Jesus.

Less than two weeks ago, I was leading a group of teenagers, some older than me even, on a journey to discover who Jesus is, what he means to them.  It didn't seem like such a big deal at the time, but is. Being at my high school, I continually notice all of the secular and sinful things that are surrounding me.  
Teenagers today are not innocent. 
Teenagers today are not naive. 
Teenagers today are not compassionate.  
Teenagers today are brutal. 
 And that sucks, because everybody deserves to know the Lord, and instead many of us just throw away the opportunity for a second chance. If only it could be as easy as to lead an entire school body through a T.E.C. weekend, so that they can see their version of Jesus.
How do we show people Jesus without scaring them off?
How do we let ourselves shine without scaring them off?
How do we not give up hopes without scaring them off?