Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Pondering 18

Okay, so I won't even lie about it. I've been anticipating my birthday this year for far too long. I know it's just one day of the year where I officially turn over from 17 to 18, but it seems somehow more significant this year, almost as if it's a small milestone in my life that I will always recognize. I'm legally considered an adult and I only have two years of my teens left. And although some would beg to differ, I like having my birthday right at the end of the year. There's Christmas, my birthday, and then New Year's; a perfect time of year to look back, reflect, and rejoice in the Lord's goodness and all the blessings He has bestowed upon me that I don't deserve.

When I look over this past year, I can hardly believe what it's all held. Last year had it's own share of blessings: I began to drive, I met some amazing new friends, I was baptized upon my confession of faith, and made many memories. This year, I began a job that I love, met some amazing new people again, read some awesome books, and above all, I finished school. Completing my last two years of school through correspondence was no easy task. I always had a bunch of other things stealing my time and other difficulties arose, so I think I consider it a bigger accomplishment than most graduates would.

And having said that, I can't count how many times I have heard the question “What are you going to do now?” Oh, how often I have wished that I could provide more confident, intelligent answers than those along the lines of “I don't know.” I knew all year that this was coming and thus it has been a year of eagerly anticipating change and fearing it at the same time. In all honesty, I probably have to admit that I'm a fan of consistency, and although I feel somewhat thrilled at the thought of the unknown, it also terrifies me. But it wasn't until just lately that I actually began to feel content about it. Staying in that state of contentedness has at times proven to be more difficult. Only time will tell what I end up doing with my life.

Looking back on this year, I can't help but wonder if I have changed and in what ways. I'm sure I have. I've been asking a lot of questions: Who am I? Do I really know what I believe and can I confidently defend my beliefs? Are my convictions really mine, or are they merely adopted from other people? Because if they're not, then I'm going to sway like a tree whichever way the wind blows and have no real stability as a Christian. I have been deeply challenged in these things, so you could say that I'm also on the road of self-discovery. I've learned the importance of grace (thanks to Pete and The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll), of Set-Apart Femininity (Leslie Ludy), The Bravehearted Gospel (Eric Ludy) and oh, so much more. Putting these things into practice is a daily effort and I can do them only because of Christ. It's His work in my life and His work of sanctification and consecration will continue until the day I see Him face to face. It is my sincere desire to be a holy vessel, a woman of honour that God can use.

I have no idea what I will be writing one year from now and that's okay. I have confidence in God that it will be good. Until then, I thank all my friends for the blessing you have been to my life. May God bless you in turn beyond anything you could ever imagine!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

If It Can't Be Done, Then Do It

Last night I was speaking to my youth leader about what my next plans are. The fact that I had finished school through correspondence also came up. He mentioned that it was good to see somebody stay committed to it and actually finish, because many people that start don't. When I started, many people questioned whether or not I would really follow through with it. They pointed out that many people they knew started and didn't finish and some just really didn't think I would either. This really frustrated me. I didn't like having my commitment doubted and I was determined to do it and prove them all wrong. My youth leader asked if there had been pride in that, and to be honest, I had never given that a thought there. Maybe there was some pride involved, but that's not what I'm going to talk about.

When I thought about that later on I came to the realization that people need to do what I did more often. Prove people wrong. Often people come up with these great, brilliant, wonderful ideas that would be of so much good, until they tell someone else. Of course they're excited and want to tell somebody and rally some support, but instead, they get a response something like this: “Are you sure that's such a good idea? You aren't exactly qualified, don't have the resources, support, and would it really make that big of a difference? I mean, what if it doesn't work out in the end? You would have wasted all that time, energy, effort, resources, and good talent that could have been better used elsewhere.” And the person responds something like this, with a bit of a discouraged sigh: “Yeah, I guess you're right. If you think about it, it is quite risky and there's a lot to lose. And if I failed, I would just look like a total loser. I'll just forget about it.”

I think this is pretty common. Chances are, most brilliant ideas don't even make it into the world for fear of rejection. Can you relate to this in your own life? The truth is, we weren't meant to give up on ideas or settle for it-probably-won't-work-out-anyways. As Christians we are meant to step up, fight, and conquer, to live a victorious life and do great things for God. This is the Rebelutionary life.

Maybe that some brilliant idea that you have does look, according to all reason impossible. That's why we serve a great God who delights in doing the impossible and coming through for us, ensuring that all the glory goes to Him. If you look into the Bible, we see God constantly doing the impossible. He parted the Red Sea, defying the law of gravity. The virgin Mary conceived the Lord Jesus, which is physically impossible. Jesus fed 5 000+ people with five loaves of bread and two fish, which goes against all human reason. We have a God who delights in doing these things. And if we are called to be like Jesus, then we must do so as well.

Now, I don't want to throw away the issue of godly counsel, because it's often very important. There may very well be cases where God uses individuals to tell you something is not such a good idea and I don't want to make that void. But all too often, I think we could do a lot more great things in life and for God if we really just aside the can't-do-it attitude and just did it. And when it's done, give God the glory. I wouldn't have been able to finish school on my own. I relied heavily on God's strength and grace and devoted much prayer time to the matter. But I put forth my best, and praise God for what He did.

Music artist Jason Gray once shared a story of a time when he was discouraged and ready to give up. He called up a friend hoping for some sympathy, but instead, he told him the truth. He said “Jason, if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, then you're on the Lord's side. And if you're on His side, then you're on the side that's gonna win. And if you're on the side that's gonna win, when exactly do you think is a good time to give up?”

If it looks too hard, then do it. If it can't be done, then do it. If it's impossible, then do it. Do hard things. Be a Rebelutionary and give all praise and honour to God.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Christmas Carol: Parts 3-5

Part 3:
"His wealth is of no use to him. He don't do any good with it."

This, I believe, is a good piece of wisdom. Unless we use to our wealth, possessions, talents, skills and abilities that God has entrusted to us for good, they are of no use to us.

"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

Part 4:
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

Part 5:
If everybody was like Scrooge was that Christmas Day, we would live in one happy world!

Monday, 7 December 2009

A Christmas Carol: Part 2

Part 2 of A Christmas Carol didn't have as much for me to chew on, but there are still definitely a few things worth thinking about. So, this post may be shorter, but that's surely not a bad thing.

In Part 2, Scrooge is visited by the spirit of Christmas past. He takes him to different times in his past. As he sees these various shadows, he's at times filled with great joy at the happiness and kindness of people. At other times, he is brought to tears. Some things cause him to wish he had done things differently the day before. Eventually, he is so overtaken with grief that he begs the Spirit to show him no more.

This brought an interesting thought to me. When I look back on my life, well, at times, I would just rather not. My past has not always been so peachy and I'm not proud of some of the things there. But today will be the past tomorrow. How am I living now? Am I creating a past that I will one day look back on and be able to laugh and smile? If I haven't so far, it's never too late to start.

There were a few portions that particularly stuck out to me:

"He has the power to rend us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune."

I think people often forget that they have real power and influence, even just in the little things. We have the power to make people happy or sorrowful; make their work easy or hard; give them pleasure or pain. The truth is, we have this power, and the way we use it is up to us.

"I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?"

Do we possess noble aspirations? Are we putting noble passions into action, or do we allow them to fall away and be taken over a selfish, worldly passion? I think it's really important that our lives are driven by godly passion and we don't let anything to creep in and take over our noble aspirations.

In Christ,

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Christmas Carol: Part 1

Now that I've finished school, I've been wanting to take more time to catch up on some reading, and also read some of the classics. With the upcoming holidays, I decided I ought to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. After finishing the first part this afternoon, I realized there were many insightful things in there to think about, and decided to start a short blog series on each of the five parts. So, this is Part 1.

In the first part of the book, which takes place on Christmas Eve, you get the idea or basis of the story. You meet Ebenezer Scrooge and learn that he's a grouchy man that has little compassion and cares only for making money. Much of his time is spent at his firm. And he certainly does not like Christmas. He's constantly upset by the cheery greetings, people asking him to give, his nephew inviting him to Christmas dinner, and he's even reluctant to give his clerk the holiday off. You also learn that his business partner, Jacob Marley, died seven years ago, on Christmas Eve.

Later that evening, he is visited by Marley's Ghost. For awhile, he denies the reality of the apparition, but soon has to admit it to be true. You see, Marley's Ghost is quite the sight, and definitely not the most welcome one, especially due to the chain attached to him:

It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.

When Scrooge asks about the chain, this is what Marley says:

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on my own free will, and on my own free will I wore it. Is it's pattern strange to you?”

Scrooge trembled more and more.

“Or would you know,” pursued the Ghost, “the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”

All of Marley's life, he was building his chain. He shows Scrooge that he's doing the same thing, only he's been working on it for seven more years. Chains of selfishness, greed, and money-making. I think here's an appropriate place to ask ourselves some questions. Are we building ourselves a chain? What is binding us and dragging us down? Is it selfishness, greed, an unforgiving spirit, harsh words, or bitterness? Or is it other sin that we indulge in, whether it be ungodly entertainment, lust, or whatever? If you examine your life, I think you'll be able to see what's building your chain, binding you, and dragging you down.

Thankfully, we are not required to live in chains and that we have a God that sets us free. May we repent in humility and ask God to loose us from whatever binds us and keeps us from living the life of freedom that He desires for us. At one point, the ghost says, “No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.” I, for one, do not want to come to the end of my life only to be tortured with the regret and remorse of the wrong choices and paths of my life. Although God does set us free and grant us His loving mercy and forgiveness, we do still bear the consequences of our actions. I surely want to keep them at a minimum.

The next thing Marley brings out is an idea I thought to be wise words, which, if applied, would make an enormous difference upon our lives:

“Any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

It held up its chain at arms length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.

Oh, so much is said in this passage! It's so true that this life is far too short to accomplish all we can do and no regrets later on will ever make up for the opportunities we missed. I must look at my own life. I'm far too content to do those things around me that require my attention and I'm far too concerned that I get adequate leisure time. This is not the way we're supposed to live!! There is so much more if we'll only grab onto it. And yes, you may have a good job or career and do what you do well, but if the good of others is not what you give yourself to, it amounts to but a drop in the vast ocean.

The truth is, when this life is over, we have no second chance. When we die, that's it. We cannot go back, do anything differently, take back any words or actions, and can't add anything to the meagre list of things we have accomplished. We must come before God as we are and with what we have, and I must say I would but hang my head in shame, unable to look up at my Lord, unable to speak or give an account for my life, as the Bible says we must do. And most of all, I fear that I will walk away from writing this and triumph over my insightful thoughts, or you will walk away from reading this and think how good it was, and nothing will change. I fail in this so often. I'm fed so much and am often so inspired, so challenged, but very seldom changed. "The question isn't were you challenged; the question is were you changed?" (Leonard Ravenhill)

I hope to get Part 2 up later this week and have this series finished by Christmas Day. May God's blessing be upon each and every one of you.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

What is My Cry?

Last week one day, I hopped into my sister's car to make a quick trip to the store, as I needed a few things to make supper.  I could have walked, had it not been for the rain.  I turned on the engine and the radio came on with it.  What I heard were the final stanzas of a secular song that I hadn't heard in years.  And I must say they hit me hard.  Now, I stopped listening to secular music a long time ago, but I clearly remembered this song.  Just to make things clear, I still generally don't listen to secular music, nor do I encourage it.  However, that night, after trying to place the title of the song, I looked it up.  The song is "Where is the Love?" by the Black Eyed Peas.  When I listened to this song again, I found myself wondering, "Why isn't this the cry of the Church?  Christians could really learn a lot from this song!"  Pretty sad, isn't it?  (By the Church, I am referring to the body of believers around the world as a whole, but I guess my thoughts pertain more to the North American church.)

"Where is the Love?" is a song that really speaks about the injustice of the world we live in, and throughout this post, I'll be quoting various lyrics from the song.  The chorus of this song probably has the strongest Christian tone, although I don't think it was written from that viewpoint:

"People killing people dying
Children hurtin you hear them crying
Can you practice what you preach
Would you turn the other cheek?
Father Father Father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
Where is the love?"

I think here we already fail.  The world around is lost, dying, and crying out and yet it seems like we fail to hear.  How often doesn't our walk contradict our talk?  How often don't we rather want to get even than turn the other cheek?  The song also speaks of how we discriminate and the things it leads to.  There are many lines that divide Christians, although God never intended it that way, and we often tend to be critical of others, Christians and non-Christians alike.  I must confess that I fall very short on all of these matters, and it should not be so. 

Why isn't this the cry of the Church?

"So I can ask myself really what is going wrong
With this world that we living in
People keep on giving in
Makin wrong decisions
Only visions of them livin and
Not respecting each other
Deny thy brother
The wars' going on but the reasons' undercover
The truth is kept secret
Swept under the rug
If you never know truth
Then you never know love"

And all too often, we give into the pressure around us, fail to stand our ground and rather compromise our convictions, make decisions we know are wrong, have a vision that only includes ourselves, and we bear lies and do all we can to cover up the truth.  But until truth, God's Truth is brought out, applied and lived out, we'll never get anywhere.

Why isn't this the cry of the Church?

"Most of us only care about money makin
Selfishness got us followin the wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting their young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what the see in the cinema
Whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love, we're spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity"

Sadly, we often see in the lives of Christians a strong desire for the gain of material wealth.  There is nothing wrong with money, and if God has blessed you financially, praise Him for it.  But also use it in a God-honouring way.  The Bible speaks way too much about giving to justify hoarding everything you make.  Many of us live self-serving lives.  I myself having realized lately how self-serving my life has become, how I think I should have it this way, have that, be able to do that, having special privileges and exemptions.  But this is far from what the Christian life is all about.  It's a life of service and sacrifice.  That's what we have been called to.

Why isn't this the cry of the Church?

Media is a subject all of its own.  We are surrounded by it: magazines, billboards, radio, music, television, movies, internet and the list goes on.  We live in a world that screams sex; live for yourself; if it feels good, do it; if you've been wronged, get even; you deserve more than you have; you need more to make you happy and this list goes on.  This is an area that I have a strong opinion on, because I've learned from experience and still feel the effects all the time.  Growing up, I listened to all the secular music, watched all the TV shows and movies, and just soaked it all in.  When I became a Christian, entertainment was one of the hardest things for me to break free from.  I knew most of it was ungodly (evil, really) and that it had a very negative influence on my life.  I would erase many things from my memory if I could, and all the years of entertainment is one of them.  I still have lines and images coming back to me all the time, often at random times as I go about my day and I hate it.  So yes, I can definitely say, media is a big problem in our society, and it does ruin children.  I'm not against these various forms of media in themselves and I still watch movies and such sometimes, but I'm careful about my choices.

Why isn't this the cry of the Church?

What happened to the values of humanity?  How about what happened to the values of Christianity?  Our society is in rapid moral decline, but so is the Church.  As we see all the things that are wrong in this world, are we setting a different example?  Many are not.  But God's call for our lives is a set-apart, sanctified one that is distinctly different from the lives the world leads.  Many Christians and churches nowadays are doing things in order to attract unbelievers or be culturally relevant.  However, I don't believe this is biblical.  I read a book this year called Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different by Tullian Tchividjian, which I would definitely recommend.  I was surprised to learn that non-believers that are seeking are actually not attracted by Christians who take part in many of the same or similar things the world does, by rather repelled: "serious seekers today aren't looking for something appealing and trendy.  They're looking for something deeper than what's currently in fashion." (p.9)  In other words, if they want their life to change, they will want a complete turnaround, not just "Christianized" versions of what they already have.  Tullian also included a reader's response to a magazine article about modern churches trying to reach people by “fitting in”, and a portion reads as follows:

"I can't stand the phoniness, or trendiness, or sameness--or whatever I'm trying to say here--that the church seems to catch onto at the tail, not even aware of how lame it is....It makes me want to throw up.  It's buying into some kind of lie or substitution of cool culture as being relevant when it isn't." (p.16)

There's more to that where she describes the kind of Christians she can't stand, but I think we can say the world has spoken.  The world wants change too, but we often fail to deliver. And we definitely aren't always the best examples of love and unity.

I never would have thought I could learn so much from a secular song. I never would have thought that it would bring out so many problems in the modern church or areas of my life that needed to change. But the more I think and talk about this, the more I see how wrong I really am. I've asked the question “Why isn't this the cry of the Church?” But what it really comes down to is “Why isn't this my cry, or rather, what is my cry?” The more I look at the Word of God and learn about what it means to follow Jesus, the more I see how very far away I am. I can only point to myself. Nor is what I have thought about and said here enough. No head knowledge is worth anything until it is put into practice and lived out. My earnest prayer and desire is that I would not just think and talk about things, but actually do something; not look at anyone else, but to myself and how far I fall short, because before I can do that, I will not see change. May this be the earnest desire and prayer of each and every one of us. Blessings to you!

And my sincere apologies for making this so long, although I could have said much more.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A Peek into my Life

A lot in my life has changed this year while my blog has been neglected. I'm currently working part-time as a sales associate at Words of Life Christian Bookstore. I finished school a couple of weeks ago, which was a huge sense of accomplishment. I had been working through correspondence for over two years now, and although it wasn't nearly always easy, it has definitely been a rewarding experience. People always ask me what I'm going to do know, and I really don't know. I'm definitely enjoying some free time at home, and I'm going to be working more closer to Christmastime. In the new year, I'll definitely be looking for the next step, but I'm pretty clueless right now as to what that will be, and I'm actually content about that. I'm actually okay with not knowing yet, but I trust that whatever God has for me next, it will be good.

My life at work is always exciting and I absolutely love my job. Going to work in the morning is often a mystery, because I usually don't know what I'll be doing that day. Typical days include taking care of sales, answering customer inquiries, maybe some cleaning, and other things involved in running a store. Sometimes we'll get orders in from suppliers and I'll enter and label products and call customers. Orders are generally big so this often takes up the better part of my day. I've also learned to eat on a schedule when I work, having breakfast at home at 8:30, and then I generally always have a snack between 11 and 11:3o. This is because it generally always gets very busier over lunch time, and I'm generally not able to eat until 1:00 or later, and then I generally still have a few interruptions.

My days at home vary a lot. Right now, I'm working on compiling a bunch of loose recipes and ones I've collected online, which may still take me a couple of weeks to finish. Otherwise, I help out around the house, cooking and baking, and hopefully do some more blogging. These days are hard to describe accurately because they're so varied and different things always come up, and days usually don't go as planned.

If finances will allow, I'm planning on attending the Set-Apart Girl Conference 2010 in Greeley, CO in the spring. If any of my readers are going as well, please do let me know so we'll be sure to meet each other.

So there you have a general peek into my life, for those of you who care to know. Blessings to all of you.

Monday, 23 November 2009

So Much to Learn at a Concert

So, I went to see The Glorious Unseen in concert last night. If I had the choice to go again, I probably wouldn't. I like their albums, but the concert was just not my thing. Altogether, it was really, really loud. I think I felt just about every organ in my body vibrating. And although many of the songs had beautiful lyrics, the singer's voice was at times drowned out, and all I was hearing at times was just a bunch of noise. Some people may wonder why I don't like the really hard Christian music, and it's really just that; a whole ton of noise.

Now, I'm by no means "dissing" this group; I like their recorded albums and will continue to listen to them. They have some beautiful, very prayerful songs. But the thing was, I found myself thinking, how is God possibly going to speak and make His presence known through all this noise? However, I prayed that God would allow me to not be judgmental and show me something through it; to truly look past what I saw and heard around me. He didn't speak to me through the music, but through other things and in thinking over things later on in the evening.

Actually, the first thing was really the noise. I didn't think the Spirit could speak through the noise, and although I'm sure He can, I believe there is some truth to that. I was reminded of an account in the Old Testament where God displayed some mighty things to Elijah:

"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD, And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
--1 Kings 19:11, 12

When I read this passage, I hear a lot of noise, but God didn't speak in the midst of any of that. He waited until it was calm and quiet. And seeing as He spoke in a still small voice, Elijah wouldn't have heard it anyway. Now, music aside, what kind of "noise" do we have in our lives that may prevent God from speaking? Maybe it is literal noise, maybe you always have music playing, whatever it is you're doing. But what about the other things that fill up and clutter your life, things you constantly have going on, things you're always busy with? These things may not necessarily be bad; they may actually be very good. But could it be that you're surrounding yourself with so much "noise" that God is unable to speak, or that you are unable to hear Him when He does?

The other thing that stuck out to me was the Gospel message shared at the concert. At first, I kind of groaned within myself for several reasons: the man used a different Bible translation I wasn't familiar with and wasn't sure I liked, I wasn't crazy about the way he started off, and it was based on the parable of the prodigal son, which I was all too familiar with and hear the passage spoken on all too often, or so I thought. But I learned something very unexpected: it's great to hear the same thing again from a total new perspective. He brought out new points and insights that were totally new to me, things that I had never thought of or heard anybody speak on before. It gave me a new appreciation for the passage and for the insight of other teachers.

Last, was not really something I learned, but rather something I was amazed and challenged by. During the concert, The Glorious Unseen sang the song How He Loves Us, which was not written by this group. It was not my favourite song, but has an amazing story behind it, which you can hear from the writer personally here if you want, but I'll share the gist of it as well, as well as my thoughts. The morning before the person wrote this song a few years ago, his best friend who was a youth leader was in a prayer meeting. And he prayed that if God would shake the youth of the nation, he would give up his life. He said he would die today if it meant that God would shake the youth of the nation. He died that night in a car accident. The writer of this song trusted that if God heard the first part of the prayer, he would follow through with the second. And although this man, who became a youth leader himself, saw many wonderful things, he didn't see a movement happen. This song that he wrote the morning after his friend's death, actually did end up changing the lives of many teens.

I believe this song is only a small part of that man's prayer. I mean, here was a man who not only prayed for change, but laid His life before God, ready to die, if it only meant that God would bring change. It's amazing for me to think of the possibility of our generation turning their lives over to the Lord and living lives surrendered to Him is because of a man's prayer and sacrifice. I also believe that the Rebelution is one such movement that is an answer to this man's prayer and death. I believe that God is working and He will fulfill that man's request. His death shall not be in vain. How will you respond? Will you surrender up your life to God, living it fully for Him, laying aside all the cares and things this world has to offer, and follow Jesus no matter what the cost?

To close, I apologize for my lack of blogging this year. It has been a busy one, but it's also been a good one, in which I have seen many amazing things. I'm done school now, and with having some more free time on my hands, I hope to post more consistently, if anybody's still paying attention. Blessings!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

"Just Do Something" in a Nutshell

I recently finished reading "Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will" by Kevin DeYoung. The alternate title sums the book up quite well: "How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc." How's that for a change? Few books have caused me to think as much as this one has, especially on such a wide range of topics. I could talk about the inability to make decisions, because it often seems that when we have two options put before us (generally with the idea of here's what you give, here's what you get), a signal goes off inside of us that consists of red lights flashing, sirens blaring, and a frantic cry for help, like the whole universe depends on this one decision of ours. I could talk about Kevin's points on job hunting and marriage, which I really happened to like, particularly because I discovered that there's actually a man out there who understands my hesitancy to pursue a career. I could talk about how so many of us pray for God to reveal His will for our lives (which he isn't exactly going to do) and all end up doing nothing: "At the rate some of us are going, we will be exploring our future career at thirty , entering adulthood at forty, trying to find ourselves at fifty, questioning everything again at sixty, pondering a career move at seventy, wondering what we were made for at eighty, and still waiting to discover God's will at ninety. And then we'll die, never having done much of anything." But that's way too much ground to cover in depth, and I really believe that all these things are just a small part of a much greater, yet simple principle.

This one principle is found in the last paragraph of the book: "So the end of the matter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you'll be walking in the will of God." So if you want that in even simpler words, the principle is this: Love God with all your heart, obey His Word, then do what you want.

The more I've thought about that idea, the more I've come to like it and the more I've come to see how practical it really is. I actually really believe that if we lived by this, life would be a whole lot easier and things would go well with us. If we love God, we will do those things and make decisions which we know will honour and please Him, just like a woman who loves her husband will seek to live in such a way that honours her husband. If we obey God's Word, we really don't have much room to err in life. Not only are our actions and words accounted for, but also our thoughts, motivations, and intentions. Even some of those things which we don't do as we see in James 4:17: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." So if we are truly living in obedience to the the Word of God, and loving God with all our heart, there's really not that much room for us to fall.

No, the Bible doesn't tell us exactly tell us who to marry, what career to pursue, which car to buy, where to live, and if we pray, God isn't going to always tell us exactly what to do either. But the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word and instead of asking God exactly what to do, we ought to be praying for wisdom. Proverbs does speak a lot about it for a reason. Job 28 is actually one of my favourite chapters for wisdom: "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job 28: 28) And the will of God is really not as complicated as Christians try to make it, but rather quite simple. As you read through the New Testament, simple things come up like the giving of thanks and sanctification as being the will of God for us. And if we started living out the simple things we understand, pursuing sanctification and holiness, and stop fussing over things we don't, or things that Christians can't agree on, we would come a long way.

And has it ever occurred to you, that there might not just be one right choice?


Thursday, 11 June 2009

Are You Satisfied?

Are you satisfied with your life? Are you content with what you have? Are all the blessings and gifts God has given you enough? As I have been reading John Piper's book Desiring God, I have been forced to ask myself these questions. He shared something by C. S. Lewis under a section titled "We Are Far Too Easily Pleased" while speaking on the matter of worship. In a sense, in that statement he's saying, "You are settling for too little; what you have is not enough; how can you be satisfied and content with what you have?" Doesn't that sound horribly selfish, unthankful, unholy, ungodly, and unrighteous? At first glance, yes, it does. But as I read this portion, I was inspired but what he had to say and I felt the longing to share it.

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that the Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
--C. S. Lewis

In response to this, here is what Piper says:

"That's it! The enemy of worship is not that our desire for pleasure is too strong, but too weak! We have settled for a home, a family, a few friends, a job, a televison, a microwave oven, an occasional night out, a yearly vacation, and perhaps a new personal computer. We have accustomed ourselves to such meager, short-lived pleasures that our capacity for joy has shriveled. And so our worship has shriveled. Many can scarcely imagine what is meant by "a holiday at the sea"--worshipping the living God!"
--John Piper, Desiring God

What I hear Lewis and Piper saying here is that man is content with the pleasures this world has to offer that only provide temporary satisfaction and fail to delight in God at whose right hand are pleasures evermore. We fail to delight ourselves in the Lord--which we are commanded to do--and rather seek the things in this world that will all be gone when we die.

Do you long and thirst after the living God? Is your treasure found in Him? Has He captivated your heart that you just can't get enough of what He has to offer? Is He your desire and delight, the source of your joy? Or are you still shopping around for the next new thing, trying to find fulfillment in the newest gadget, keeping up with the latest fashions, a relationship, having the perfect body, and all other things that satisfy temporarily and only leave you feeling empty and discontent again?

The truth is, there is so much more to be had, and that we can claim it. God offers us Himself, and He alone can fully satisfy our longings and desires.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Press On

What do you think about rash decisions? I've concluded today that for the most part, they're not a good idea. I was very close today to dropping out of my chemistry course. Save me a lot of stress and headaches, why not? It's super hard and I'll be very lucky to pass this course and I don't need it. I talked to my guidance counselor for 15 minutes and my options are actually not too bad.

But then I started thinking about this a little bit more. I still need another credit in place of that and that would mean more time and possibly not being able to finish this year and more money, all for something I'm not sure is going to be any better. And I'm almost three-quarters of the way through and if I worked consistently it may only mean about two more weeks and then my exam. So realistically speaking, the whole idea was a pretty stupid one. But I just about did it to try and get out of something I don't like.

I said I couldn't do it. In and of myself and my own strength I can't. But Who do I serve? I serve a great and awesome God that can do a whole lot more than help me pass a chemistry course. By His power, I can. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. How can I share with others this incredible God when I can't put my trust in Him in such a matter as chemistry? What else do I promote? I really enjoy telling people about the Rebelution and Do Hard Things. And here I'm throwing in the towel for schoolwork that I don't understand. Where's the perseverance? Why am I not striving for excellence and doing the hard things God has put in my life?

Overall, I didn't have peace over withdrawing from this course. When I got to the store this afternoon, I flipped through the book Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, which I bought today, and began scanning chapter titles: Determination; Standing Tall When Tested; Standing Firm When Discouraged; Standing Strong When Tempted. Over and over the words ring. Press on. Persevere. DON'T GIVE UP! This is what God has called us to.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Your Life

The video I posted earlier on this week of Clayton McDonald has brought new thoughts and questions to mind. Why is it that we often assume we have a long life ahead of us? Why do we often automatically think we have 70 or 80 years to live? To be honest, I think many of us go throughout our days with this mentality. Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder if that may be your last day? Most of us would probably have to say no.

I think we often have a more fairy tale idea of our lives, especially girls. We dream of meeting some wonderful person, getting married, and living in a cute, cozy little home with lots of flowers and a white picket fence. So we have a nice, happy life, raise a family, whole-heartedly serve the Lord and one day we'll sit in a rocking chair and tell our grandchildren stories of when we were young'uns.

But what if we don't see tomorrow? Or what if God decides He has different plans for our lives than we have for ourselves? What if He decides to take you home before you're out of your teens? What if He, after one blissful year of marriage, He were to take your husband home, leaving your unborn baby fatherless and you a widow at age 22? What if your wife died in a car accident and left two young children without a mother?

Suddenly, our perfect dream world is shattered and we are ready to ask God "Why?" But He never told us we would have 80 perfect years. What we do know, though, is that His will is the best and it is there we are safe, as Clayton McDonald said. No, it won't be easy, but it is the best.

So, keeping this in mind, how do we live our lives? What if today was your last day?

Sunday, 3 May 2009


I would like to encourage everyone to watch this video. I have been incredibly blessed and challenged by it and I pray that you are as well. It's about half an hour and well worth your time.

Clayton McDonald

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Pain: An Opportunity

Ah, after over 3 months of absence, I have returned to the blogging world. The explanation for my absence is quite simple: I have lacked time and haven't had anything worth writing. But this week I have been reflecting on pain and supposed I would share my thoughts, although I doubt anyone will read this.

Pain. Whether physical or emotional, pain is a God-given opportunity. That sounds strange, but I personally have come to see the truth in this wonderful concept. No, it's not easy. In fact, it's often very hard. But every time we encounter hardship and pain, we have a choice, and our decision may have a greater impact than we may think.

The first choice we can make is not a very difficult one, but results in even more pain and hardship. We can choose to give into pain and everything that comes along with it. We can allow fear to take over the situation and makes things seem a whole lot worse than they really are. Of course, that's what the enemy wants. We can despair, wallow in self-pity, whine, complain, and try to get others to feel sorry for us as well. We can allow our emotional hurts bring us down into depression and feelings of hopelessness. But this choice only makes the hurt more painful and the situation that much more dismal.

The second choice we have when encounter pain and hardship in our lives is to draw closer to our Lord and Saviour. It's an opportunity to come before Him in prayer, seeking Him, being bold before the throne of grace, casting our cares upon Him who cares for us. It's an opportunity for God to show Himself strong in our lives and demonstrate His awesome power and might. We can take refuge and lean on Him. He can be our strength in weakness, our courage in the midst of fear, our bread when we're hungry, and our water when we're thirsty. We can choose to remember what He did for us, how He went to the cross of Calvary, suffered, bled, and died. We can remember the pain and humiliation He endured to save us. I can be thankful for the great price He paid to save me, a wretched sinner, from sin, death, and hell and grant me eternal life and an inheritance undefiled and incorruptible. This is only a fraction of what I can do.

Something that God has been opening to is the fact that I have an influence on others. Right now, my sphere of influence is small--although maybe bigger than I am aware of--but it exists. And as I get older and experience more things, that sphere of influence is going to grow. When other people look at my life, what are they going to see? What will they notice about the way I act, speak, and the manner in which I relate to others? What will they notice about the way I handle trials that come my way? Thus, pain and hardship is an opportunity to shine for Jesus, to display His power, His glory, His love, and His grace to a world that doesn't understand why a loving God allows us to suffer.

This is my earnest prayer: that I may use my trials and pain as God-given opportunities.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

All That Really Matters

I know that my blogging was really weak last month, and I'm not intending to make any promises for this year, as I know it will be busy enough.

This week, I started reading John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life. I believe that I'm in a very fitting time in my life to read this book and a few passages have particularly caught my attention. Not only is it a new year, but a time in my life where I have many trials ahead of me, where I trust God will show Himself strong and I will learn to love Him more.

You don't have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, perhaps just one, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by one great thing. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on into eternity, you don't need to have a high IQ. You don't have to have good looks or riches or come from a fine family or a fine school. Instead you have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things--and one great all-embracing thing--and be set on fire by them.
--John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life (emphasis in passage mine)

In the end, all that will really matter, is do we know God and does He know us. This is what it will all come down to: Do you know Jesus and does He know you? That second part is as important as the first. No Ph.D, no houses, land, or other accumulated possessions will matter. I like how Jim Cowan says it in his song When It's All Been Said and Done:

When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth
Did I live my life for You
When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I've done for love's Reward
Will stand the test of time

This year, I long to live for Christ and Him alone, because knowing Him is all that matters. No matter what I accomplish here on earth, unless I know Him and live to love and glorify Him, I have nothing but wasted my life.

John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Knowing God is eternal life!

And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life--the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.
--John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life

May we remember these words this coming year.