Redundant

Why do we use the same passages of Scripture over and over again?
Why is “apathy” always Revelation 3? Why is “how to be a godly woman” always Proverbs 31? Why is “the power of speech” always James 3? Why is “don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t overeat” always 1 Corinthians 8:19-20?

Why do the kids in Sunday School only learn six or seven Bible stories?

We have an entire Bible. Why don’t we utilize it? If God gave us the whole thing… Why don’t we use the whole thing?

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River or Stream?

As a senior in high school, I am spending a lot of time wondering about what I am going to “do” with the rest of my life.  I ask myself a lot what I want to be when I grow up.  As a Christian, another big question is, “What is God’s will for my life?” I’ve spent a lot of time reading articles from Christian publications and looking in concordances for verses, all trying to determine what “God’s will for my life” is.  (If you say it quickly and often enough, it kind of sounds like one word. What’sGod’swillformylife?)

I’ve tried to consider doing things that I love. Karate, for instance.  Writing.  Teaching.  That sort of thing.  But every time there is this nagging voice in the back of my mind: how do you know this is what God really wants for you?

I’ve been doing a ton of heavy thinking on this lately, and maybe if you’re in the latter stages of high school, you’ve been thinking through this type of thing too.  (Heck, maybe you’re in your thirties and you’re thinking through this.)  The professor of a class I recently took sparked something in my mind that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time now.

It goes like this: Picture yourself standing in a stream that is really only about two or three feet wide.  Many people think that this is “God’s will;” it is very narrow and the way to go is very certain; after all, you just follow the little stream.  There isn’t really much room to move side to side, you just keep moving forward.  This is what you’re “meant” to do, and you’ll just “know” when you find it.

Lately, however, I’ve been reconsidering this view.  I picture myself standing in a wide river, with plenty of room for me to splash from side to side.  I could stand in the middle. I could stand farther to the right.  I could stand all the way to the left.  But I am still inside the river.  I’m beginning to think that God’s will represents more of a wide river than a trickling stream.  I could be doing any number of things with my life, and they would still be inside God’s will.  I could be a barista, a schoolteacher, or one of those people that picks up the garbage, and God wouldn’t look down at me and say, “Hey! She’s not doing what I wanted!”  (I am discounting, of course, any decisions that I make to do sinful/foolish things.  Obviously, those are not in God’s will for my life.)

I am beginning to wonder: what would happen if I did what I loved? What if I pursued my passions (with wisdom and discretion, of course)?  Is that outside of God’s will?  I have these passions for a reason.  Is it possible that God gave me these passions for a reason?

If I did something completely out of the box with my life, would I still be standing in the river?

Paper or Plastic?

 

Two or three days a week, I work at a grocery store.  The part I enjoy most? The customers.  The part I enjoy least? The customers.

There are lots of things that I am supposed to say to customers. How are you? Paper or plastic? Do you have any coupons? Have a great day.

There are also a lot of things that I am not supposed to say to customers, but would still like to. For example:

  • Yes, I can get you cigarettes, but I hope you know you’re probably going to die from them.
  • No, you may not have paper inside of plastic.
  • Actually, no, I won’t take your wallet out of your pocket for you, pervert.  (True story.  Some old guy asked me to take his wallet out of his pocket for him. And I actually did refuse.)
  • Really? Is it actually snowing? My last thirty five customers didn’t mention that, actually.
  • Thanks for spilling the grapes all over the belt… I’ll save those as a snack for later.

I could go on an entirely separate rant for several minutes about the lack of respect that is shown to clerks, waitstaff, et cetera.  Yes, we are there to serve, but we are still human, and deserve the base respect that you show all other homo sapiens.  So when we ask you how you’re doing today, ask us the same thing. And if we accidentally mess up occasionally, trust me, you’ll survive.

I realize that I may sound snotty and arrogant; if I do, I probably am.  I’ll readily admit that.  But I’m working on it.  Lately I’ve been focusing on how to love people, particularly difficult customers.  Love is crucial, especially for Christians.  We are commanded to do it, even to the extent of loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  We are also told to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18 and Mark 12:31).  (I love this verse, because we are not told to love Christians or non-Christians.  We are to love our neighbor, no matter who they may be.)  Sometimes that I think both of these verses apply: these people I am serving are my neighbors, but at times I feel that the difficult ones are my enemies.  If I love and want to serve God and do as He commands, however, it is important that I show them love at all times.

But I’m still not taking a wallet out of anyone’s pants.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a blog post!

Hello fabulous readers!

I know, it’s been a while, and I sincerely apologize.  But it’s a new year! New beginnings! Cut me some slack. I’ve been busy.

Actually, the reason I’ve been thinking about revising this blog is because I’ve been busy.  I stopped writing because I began running out of things to write about.  At the time I thought that each blog post had to be a new revelation in my life and the life of my readers.

If you look at the material of many blogs today, you’ll realize as I did that this is boloney.

I am beginning to see that my Christian worldview affects every part of my life, big or little.  It affects what sports I choose to participate in, and how to participate.  It affects how I deal with pleasant and difficult customers and coworkers at work.  It affects what I post on Facebook, what I say when I’m upset, and my attitude towards my parents.

From now on, those are the types of things this blog will deal with.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts and feelings about living a Christian life with you!

Idolatry

    First off… sorry to all of my readers for making you wait so long for another post! I went through a bit of a spiritual valley, and inspiration is hard to come by during those times.

    On to the post!

    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about idolatry.  What exactly is it?  When am I guilty of it?  How is it stopped?

    Immediately my thoughts flash to the first of the ten commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  This made total sense to the Israelites; after all, during Bible times, this meant worshipping the false god Balaam or setting up a golden calf and bowing down to it.  (Weird, huh?)  We don’t really see this too much anymore, so I get the feeling that the meaning of this commandment has morphed a little bit for us. (Although, if someone asked me to pay my respects to their little Buddha, I’d have to decline.)

    If you visit any children’s or teens’ Sunday School class where the teacher asks, “What is idolatry?”  The inevitable answer will sound something like, “Putting something before God.”

    But what exactly does this mean?  Obviously, the literal meaning doesn’t apply; I can’t see God, nor can I physically put something before Him.  So how does this work out?  What does it mean to put something before God?

    I recently heard a definition that is a bit better: idolatry is something that I would be unwilling to give up for God.  This makes more sense.  So if fasting is totally out of the question for me, maybe food is an idol for me.  Or if I just can’t put down that romance novel I got from the library, I’m idolizing the idea of a relationship and romance.  Or (let’s go a bit deeper) if I feel like I need to take on all of the responsibility for a youth group event, then maybe I’m making an idol out of the opinions that others hold of me.  If I throw a pity party after I fight with my parents, then I’m idolizing my pride.

    Eeps.  Maybe this idolatry thing has more to do with me than I thought.  So what do I do about it?

    Prayer and repentence is first on the list.  On my own, my sin nature is unbeatable; unless I get some outside help, it will completely overwhelm me and I have no hope of ever overcoming it.  But with the God’s forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s help, I can do things that are truly good in God’s eyes.  Instead of getting mad at my parents, I can apologize for the way I acted and try to see things their way.  I can stop obsessing over what other people think of me and know that God loves me even when I mess up.

    Idolatry didn’t stop when the Israelites stopped making little statues, but forgiveness and resolution didn’t stop when they stopped sacrificing animals.

Missing the Sunrise

  For the past couple of weeks, it’s been dark when I get up in the morning.  I stumble into the bathroom, squinting in the light, and perform my ritual: teeth brushed, contacts placed on eyeballs, make-up applied to face, and hair managed.  By the time I am dressed and ready to go to school, the sun’s up, and I’ve missed the glorious colors that light the sky during sunrise.

  Sometimes, I fear, this happens to me spiritually.  I get so caught up in ministry, in service, that I miss the glory of God in my daily life.

  I’ll admit it.  I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie.  Not the jumping-off-cliffs type, but I like the pressure of having to make a website for our next youth group outreach, or communicating with and leading a small group on Sunday mornings.  I like the responsibility of hanging up posters for a church event and maintaining a blog.  But sooner or later, I say “yes” to one too many things, or I become too engrossed with a single project, and– whomp! -suddenly I’m worshipping my responsibilities instead of my God.

  “Worshipping?” you say.  “That sounds a bit harsh.”  Well, no, not really.  What I am doing is taking the things that God has given me to do and putting them above Him, giving them more thought and devotion than I give to my God.  Too much thought + too much devotion = worshipping = idolatry.

  How is this problem fixed?  Do I just stand back, not take on any responsibility, and watch TV all day?  No.  These things, in and of themselves, are not bad.  After all, God has created me to be a servant.

  Firstly, I be careful not to overload.  Overload = stress.  Stress (the bad kind) is never good.  It can make me cranky, selfish, and uncaring.

  Secondly, I prioritize.  I read God’s Word before I hop on the computer to message a friend about youth group announcements.  I focus on God and the things He has done during worship, instead of constantly reminding myself that I need to speak with so-and-so afterwards about a leadership meeting.

  Most importantly, I remember that God has created me to worship and serve Him, and nothing and no one is more deserving of my attentions.

A Bit of Encouragement

As I looked down at the water that washed over my hands and rinsed away the soap, my eyes blurred with sudden, unexpected tears.  Jesus, I can’t do this anymore!  I sniffled as I dried my hands.

I heard someone say something to the effect of, “Life is a long cycle of falling down and realizing that we need God to pick us up again.”  I’ve been learning this lesson the hard way, and although it’s painful, I’m determined to get through it.

My source of encouragement is several Bible characters who, though they sinned, were still used by God.  Moses, whose anger problem was exemplified by his murder of an Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-12) and when he struck the rock twice after God told him only to speak to it (Numbers 20:8-11).  But God still chose Moses as the leader of His people.

And what about David?  He committed adultery, and as if that wasn’t enough, he killed the woman’s husband!  Yet we are told that David was a man after God’s own heart.  (Acts 13:22)

A New Testament example would be Simon Peter.  Brash, bold, and outspoken, Simon scolded Christ and denied his own affiliation with Christ.  And yet Jesus called him Peter, or “Rock,” the rock upon which Jesus said he would build his church.  (Matt. 16:18)

Does God condone our sin? No, never.  God is holy; He abhors sin.  But He readily offers forgiveness and lifts us up after we trip and fall flat on our face.

Despite our shortcomings and sin habits, God will use us to accomplish His purposes.