Community

As I was sitting on the bus yesterday, my phone buzzed in my pocket. The short buzz meant it was just a text, 3 longer buzzes or The Office ringtone would have meant someone was calling. But the fact that my phone buzzed at all made me really excited. Eagerly I flipped open the phone to see who had texted me. Some names I get really excited to see and can’t open the message fast enough. Others I sigh and delay opening till I’m in a more social frame of mind. When I was thinking about how funny this is, I realized the same applies to e-mails. Certain people have filled certain “spots” in my life which determine how excited I am to hear from these peope. For instance:

  • Shannon–a very good friend, but often goofy. I’m excited to hear from her, but she’s not one of the top
  • Amanda–a friend from youth group who has a lot of tough things going on in her life. Generally her texts are telling me the latest problem she’s having, so I have to gear up to read them.
  • Caroline–one of my all-time closest friends who happens to live all the way across the nation from me. I’m happy to not have a sister, but if I HAD to have one, I’d pick Caroline. I love her to pieces. I open her messages really fast.
  • Steven–I have 2 biological brothers and then there’s Steven. We adopted eachother in highschool. He’s my 3rd brother, and I love texting him, as his girlfriend is really protective of him in public.
  • Josh–One of the most godly young men I know. We’ve shared life together over our online school for the last 2 years and this summer have kept up over text and e-mail. Like Steven, he’s really encouraged me in my walk with Jesus. I love hearing from him.
  • Becca–Another friend across the nation from online school. Lovely Becca is a very sweet and caring friend. She doesn’t e-mail me often, so when she does I skip everything else and open that.

While I was thinking this through, I kept thinking “I couldn’t imagine my life without this person” or “man, I’m SO glad I have this person in my life”. That led me to thinking about the importance of fellowship and community with other believers. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “two are better than one, if one falls the other can help him up.” Youth group and church are the highlight of my week. As I mentioned yesterday, life can be tough. Having other close friends who care about you and can give you good advice really helps. The more I surround myself with good Christian friends, the more I find myself looking to Jesus for everything, and not worrying about pleasing other people. If you’re not involved with a good youth group, small group, Bible Study, or whatever for your own spiritual well-being, DO. Get involved with a community of believers. Grow your faith.

August 19, 2008. Lessons from God. 1 comment.

Keep On Keeping On

Does it ever seem to you that life is overrated? I’m not suicidal or anything, but that’s the way I’ve been feeling recently. Weekdays just get on my nerves, and weekends have lost their charm. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that I work every week day 8 to 3 and then some nights. Maybe it’s because early Saturday and Sunday mornings don’t agree with my sleep schedule. Or could it be that since my Zune broke I’m music-less until it comes back from being repaired. (it’s on its way!!) Or maybe it’s that I’ve slacked off on doing my devos every morning…hmmm….bingo.

Funny how as soon as I stop reading mi Biblia and spending some time in prayer for my friends, family, and community, I stop seeing the purpose in getting up every morning. That’s my personal lesson for the week…But knowing myself, I’ll have to re-learn it all over again once my summer job is over. (usually I read my Bible and pray on the bus ride to work) But then again, I’ll be going to CA for a week and a half and possibly to a friend’s cabin for 3 days, so I’ll have plenty of time to do devos on those days, hopefully.

The moral of the story: When you find that life gets boring, keep on keeping on, and looking to Jesus. He’ll get you through.

August 18, 2008. Lessons from God. 1 comment.

Competence

Something struck me as important today, and it made me think of a post from Alex and Brett Harris’ blog. One of the “C”s of the Rebelution is Competence. That hit me as important today when I came home from a shift leader meeting at my Cold Stone job. One of my friends and fellow shift-leaders and I are being promoted to Assistant Manager. Why? Because we are competent in our job, work hard, and honest. Far too often, Christian people (and teens in particular) give a half-hearted approach to life. Let’s face it–living for God is tough. Sometimes that part of life just makes you want to give up, when you see the hopelessness in the world, the amount of persecution and struggling. But on top of that, we must work hard (Do Hard Things) because we are labled as “Christians”. That label has carried a negative conotation for so long that the world’s eye will be fixed on you as soon as you call yourself “one of them”. So what do you want people to see when they look at you? Perhaps more importantly, what do they see when they look at you, at that Christian kid (or teen or adult). Is it someone who does just what they have to to get by? Someone who puts out some effort, but isn’t too concerned with getting the job done really well? Or is it someone who doesn’t even put out any effort? Who wants to be a Christian if the Christian they know is the 18-year-old senior who has played football for 4 years, and is STILL on the jv team, who gets Cs consistently, and rounds out his busy life with a slutty girlfriend? Wouldn’t it be such a great witness to the public view if the Christian is the 14-year-old girl who gets hard-earned Bs, worked her way up to leadership in her community, and chooses friends carefully? That’s what I’m aiming to be–the senior who leads in her youth group, puts all-out in school (even if I don’t get A’s), and lives wrecklessly for Jesus. That sounds so much more attractive, but so much harder.

Again, I ramble. But let’s try as a generation to not only do hard things, but to do what we do well.

Some pictures of my lake to leave you with…nothing particularly holy about them, I just LOVE the sun, heat, and water! 😀

One thing I thought of as I posted these…it’s important that you don’t gain competence and do things well to compete with others. That defeats the purpose.

August 16, 2008. Lessons from God. 3 comments.

But As You Will…

A familiar line from Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. “Not as I will, but as You will.” Mark Dricoll preached a very moving sermon on this prayer. (the sermon will be here soon) It led me to think about blogging, which I haven’t done in a while because life hurts too much to dig too deep.

I’ve always been a prayer. I love talking to Jesus, and when walking through pain, I discovered how refreshing it is to be able to offer up everything to Jesus. Most of the time it’s prayer for other people, but frequently there will be the desperate, “Jesus, I’m at the end of my rope with life, show me how to survive.” And of course there’s the “God, please let ______ happen.”

As Mark pointed out, Jesus’ prayer in the garden is his human plea to escape what was coming. He knew he would be brutally tortured and eventually killed for the sins of the world. Since he was fully man, he wasn’t going to feel it any less or somehow escape from the body until it was over–no, he had to suffer through it like any common criminal. So he prayed desperately to the Father.

If there’s any way you can save the earth without making me go through this, I would really like that. Really a lot.

But the prayer didn’t end there. The “but not as I will, but as You will” line wrapped up his desperate plea. Even though it will be tough. Even though I’ll hate it, if it is Your plan for me, Father, I’ll do it. That’s what that line is all about. That line should be in our  prayers, too, and we should really mean it.

One of the hard things about praying that, for me, is that first of all, I’m actually putting the whole situation in God’s hands. In life it’s so easy for us to think we know what’s best for ourselves. Let’s face it. Our entire lives revolve around keeping #1 in the best position possible, never getting hurt, and having a good life. After years of self-preservation we think we know pretty well how things should or should not go. After milleniums of loving people and directing their lives, I think God knows better. The other great thing about acknowledging God has control is that God loves us, so he’ll do what’s best for us, but he’s also all-powerful, so he can do what’s best.

The other day I took my friend’s dog to a BBQ and she saw an ant. She was so entranced by the ant she watched it as it walked around the pavement, behind a shoe, under a table, she was so glued to it. Eventually I told her she could go see it. I knew what she’d do. She’d eat it. But I didn’t love the ant so I didn’t really care if it got eaten. (yes, she did eat the ant). Not so with God. God actually loves us so much that he sent Jesus to save us. That’s the greatest sacrifice ever, sending your son to die for people who did nothing to deserve it?? That’s love. And that love directs the way He plans our future, only wanting the best for us.

A couple of days ago I called a friend who had just gotten back from camp. I asked her how it went, and she said it was great except for these few people and went on to tell me how one guy had really hurt her emotionally. I would have given anything to have gone up to the guy and punched him in the face. (good thing for him he lives on the other side of the US) But I’m not able to do anything, I can’t control people’s words, motives, actions, so I couldn’t have made it better even if I had been there. God can. He’s everywhere and can do anything. How cool. Not only does he love us so much that he wants a productive and fruitful life for us, but he can also make it happen!

That’s what happens when you submit your situation to God’s ultimate authority. Not that he needs us to say “ok God, I’m giving it to you” before he is able to take control. But surrendering your situation works on YOUR heart.  And there’s a difference between saying “I surrender” and actually doing it.

The moving to Alabama scare really shook my life up. Nothing was firm after that, all my plans could be washed out the window at any second. I knew it should be easy for me to accept it. I had an epiphany a few years ago that God always knows what’s best. “I surrendered my life to Jesus last year” so why was this so hard?

Answer: I hadn’t REALLY submitted. I again fought over the emotions related to surrender. “NO God, I can’t move, it ruins everything.” (by the way, don’t ever say no to God…baaaad idea) “If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t make me move since I know I wouldn’t be as happy there” (Oh, since I know so much more than God…riiiight) So once again I pushed and pushed until I gave in.

So why all the random ramblings? I dunno. Just my thoughts on surrender. I think I’ll be due for another “lesson” in a few months. Seems that I learn to give up EVERYTHING to Jesus, and then I slip back into my comfortable routine of planning everything the way I know it will be best. I can imagine God laughing at me and my feeble attempts to have a good life because he doesn’t want me to have a good life–he wants me to have an awesome life which will only happen when HE guides it.

August 4, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Church, Lessons from God. 2 comments.