Here in this waiting room yearning for You to say go
And though I’m convinced that a yes would be best
This time You’re telling me no
It’s not that I don’t have an answer
It’s just not the one that I’d like
But through this time Lord I must keep in mind
You’re always wiser than I
You have a much better purpose
And You have a far greater plan
And You have a bigger perspective
Cause You hold this world in your hands
The things that I seek are from You
Like the strong healing touch of your hand
But when You say no help me trust even though
There’s a reason I can’t understand
When that miracle comes cause Your answer is yes
I will praise you for all of my days
But when Your wisdom declares that a no is best
I will praise You just the same
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the weaponry to make the difference."
I've heard before that the one thing people fear more than death is public speaking. I've also been told that grape jelly tastes good on chicken. Whether either of these things are true, I am not sure - I will note that I'll never test the latter, though. Grape jelly on chicken? Seriously?
Anyway, back on topic (or, time to get on topic): whether it is true that people fear public speaking more than death or not, it illustrates how difficult we humans find many situations in our lives. As a Christian we can often find ourselves is the midst of fear. Fear of rejection when witnessing, fear of telling someone about Jesus, fear of making the wrong choice in a hard situation, the fear of appearing weak in faith to fellow Christians or friends...
We have a lot of things we can be afraid of. One of my biggest fears is misquoting the Bible - using the Word of God to suit my purposes, rather than God's. I also am always afraid when witnessing. There have been many times where I have felt the Spirit telling me to tell someone about God, to talk to them, and I have walked away, giving myself one of many excuses like, "Well, the person looked busy," or "That's a girl. I can't witness to a girl."
I've also been afraid when the world seems to be boxing me in. Bad stuff just keeps happening. I can't get a job. My grandfather just died. I get a huge bill from my student loan in the mail. Some of my old friends want me to hang out with them again, those friends who were a part of my life before I changed. When stuff like tis happens, it just always seems to feel like the world is crashing in on me, that someone or something is out to get me. When all this happens, my first reaction is to blame someone else. God is an easy one to blame, "God, why do you let all of this happen to me!" Or I blame my parents, "If they had raised me better, given me more chances, this wouldn't be happening!"
You know what I've found blaming someone does? It distracts me from overcoming my fear, from getting past those issues or problems in my life. It takes my focus off God, and His Word; the one book that has the answers I need.
During Wednesday night worship at my church we sang the song, "I Will Lift My Eyes" by Bebo Norman. The chorus of the song starts out with these lines:
I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb, I will lift my eyes to the Calmer of the oceans raging wild...
When we come to a situation that we fear, such as witnessing or making an important choice, they often are like huge, rocky mountains that can't be climbed. When things start happening in our lives and just keep piling up, and we have not idea what to do, and it seems like we are being boxed in from all sides; that's like being in a boat in the middle of an ocean, and it is raging wild - the boat is tossing and turning and we don't know what to do - we are afraid.
Pslam 16:8 says, "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
All of the mountains in our lives are smaller than God, no matter how big they may seem. When we put the Lord before us - when we focus our eyes on Him (by staying in the Word, praying and worshiping), He we lead us through those mountains. Whether He does so by moving the mountain, taking us around it or showing us the way up the mountain, He will get us past that feat, that mountain in our life (Matt 17:20).
In Mark 4:35-40 we read how Jesus calms the storm on the sea of Galilee. In the same way, God has the power to calm any storm that is causing the sea to rage in our lives. And sometimes the storm won't calm all the way, but Jesus will keep us safe until the seas settle once again.
If you are going through times of trouble, or find a fear in your life that looms above you like a giant mountain, focus your eyes on God and follow the path He sets for you. Know that as a Christian, He is always with you.
In Christ's love,
Here is why. When entered high school I was young an innocent and very naïve and I had just transferred from a Evangelical Christian School, a private Christian school, to Riverdale High School, a stereotypical redneck school. And I was your classic prep school graduate who liked video games and reading, so it could be said that I wasn't exactly well known among this crowd. So it was only natural that I was a little desperate to make friends. Unfortunately I was not very discerning about who I became friends with. So I made friends with just about anybody that would talk to me... and pretty girls.
Whats so wrong with this you ask? This is how friends are made, you say, well just listen.
Like I said I was the innocent and naïve one, and it showed. In fact it was so bad, that I was told I shouldn't curse because it sounded wrong coming out of my mouth. So my friends, being so kind and considerate, decided to take it upon themselves to corrupt me. Hence began their campaign to dirty my thoughts, pervert my speech, and sour my mood. Soon I was listening to Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams, cursing like any other high school student, and had become talented at crafting dirty jokes. Exactly the kind of person you would expect a son of God to be, right?
The problem was that I didn't head the advice of Psalms 1:1 - Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; - These people were not people of God and where not concerned with Him nor His statutes an where thus evil people. It was in there counsel I walked, I stood among them, and I sat in fellowship. I partook in there deeds, as they would partake. Now I live with the consequences. What they did to my mind can not be undone only subdued.
But there is a flip side to this story.
I now have great friends, who love God and encourage me in my walk with God. They keep me focused on God and confront me when I am in sin. These are the truest friends I have ever had in my life. They are legitimately concerned with my well being, not how far into depravity they can pull me. Instead then pull me into righteousness by being righteous themselves. These are the types on friends you should have.
So what now? What should you do with your depraved friends?
I wish I could say that the best thing to do it to dump all the bad influences in your life and marginalize friends who don't care about God, but I personally know that sometimes this isn't an option. For example, I have a friend whom if I were ever to abandon would curse God and my religion. Its a catch twenty-two, if I remove the this person from my life I would tarnish the name of the One whom I am trying to worship by leaving this friend. So I can personally attest to the fact that it is never as easy as it sounds. So I give you this advice, put your Godly friends above those who are not, but do not abandon the others, pray for them and witness to them, so that one day they might become a friend that is as close as a brother.
Have you ever doubted your faith?
I did it this morning, in fact. It happened while I was listening to one of my favorite podcast; the subject was morality. They were telling a story about primates and how they settle arguments in the end it was concluded, with enough evidence to compel me, that primates have a sense of morality. It had always been my belief, though I won't go into the details now, that the one quantifiable quality that separated us from our animal friends was the ability to understand right and wrong as is seemingly stated in Genesis. I was wrong.
Right then an there, like a swift punch in the gut, doubt exploded in my mind.
How can primates know the difference between is right or wrong? And yet there it was, proof that they do. How can this be?
The sting of doubt is one that is familiar to us all. At some point in our lives we will doubt God and religion. We will read something, hear something, or experience something, that will bring doubt racing into our vulnerable minds. If you try to prevent it you will fail, it is a fact of life that doubt will come. Like a weed it will grow rapidly and fill your thoughts and try to choke out your faith.
So how do you fight it?
Simple. You don't.
Well sort of. After hearing that story about the moral capacity of primates, I was filled with doubt, but I used that doubt to fuel my search for answers. I began to dive into science articles and news reports and found a few very exciting fact. Humans are the only animals with the capacity for moral judgment. The primates have only instinctual understandings of morality. (I will be talking about this experiment in a later blog) As soon as I learned this that cloud of doubt disappeared. Replaced by a stronger faith and greater understanding of God and the universe he created.
Doubt doesn't have to be evil, sometimes it can be the very thing that leads you into a deeper relationship with God. If you ever doubt your faith in God, or anything for that matter, just use that doubt to fetter out the truth and then be even stronger in your beliefs.
Sometimes I spend hours upon hours trying to think of a story or a situation in my life that I can use to help illustrate a point I want to make. Ask pastors/reverends/ministers about it. Ever notice how they always seem to have a story that fits? Sometimes I just can't think of a good story to fit my point, and it takes forever.
This week I didn't have that problem, because I can think of hundreds of times I have been in need of encouragement. Every one of us has those stories - times when we were broken and tired physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes we tell ourselves: "If only someone would encourage me. If only someone would give me a boost."
Sometimes things happen - sometimes a lot of things - that seem to drain us. The death of a family member, the "big breakup," losing a job or a hundred other things. These things almost always seem to just pile up an accumulate, and we just don't know what to do. We just... need something, some one.
I like to consider myself pretty close to God. I have a long way to go, no doubt about it, but the Big Guy and I have a pretty good relationship. That being said, sometimes it is just hard to turn to Him for help, for support. In fact, the more discouraged I get, sometimes the harder it seems to focus on God. It is like the discouragement has clouded my vision, making I hard to see the truth I know.
Psalms 34:18-19 - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are
crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
God is and will always be the ultimate encouragement. Know this: That no matter what happens, how terrible things seem to be turning and how much you think you can just not do it on your own, God is there! He is close to the broken hearted - it is as if when you hand fallen, he kneels next to you, holding His hand out in an offer to help you out. Sometimes it is hard to see that hand through the tears and the pain, but He is there! Accept the hand!
Not only that, but God has given us other Christians. The Bible tells us that we are all members or the same body, so when on part is hurting, the whole body feels the pain. We are to help and support and encourage each other. One of the kindest things someone had ever done for me I remember as clearly as it was yesterday.
I was going through a very tough time in my life. I didn't tell anyone - I was holding in all the pain, hurt and despair. No one, as far as I had known, was any the wiser - they had no idea. In fact, I always seemed extremely happy. Anyway, one day a man at my church handed me a small, folded piece of paper when he shook my hand. I knew him, but not extremely well. He didn't say anything, but gave me a kind smile. I opened it and read the simple, powerful message. It said something along these lines:
"Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be moved. - Psalm 52:22
I have and will always be praying for you.
Love, One who also struggles"
I didn't start crying, but I had wanted to. The note seemed to open a flood gate that I had built in my heart. That night I went home and spent a long time praying, giving my burden to God. I had heard that verse before, had known it... but for some reason, being reminded of it by a fellow Christian just broke me down. The following day was my first day free from the slavery of the despair I had been experiencing. It was the first time in what seemed like months my spirit was renewed.
If you are at a point where you are doubting or experiencing a situation where you are discouraged know that you are not alone. You do not have to struggle by yourself. Not only do you have the body of Christ here to support and love you, but you have the creator, the Father - God.
Be encouraged! Be encourages because, no matter what you are going through, God is right there to help you. Be encouraged because, whether or not people of this world acknowledge and thank you for what you do, God knows. So don’t grow tired while doing good! Be encouraged because you have a body here on Earth that is going through some of the same things you are – you are not alone. That is where despair comes from, the thought that we are alone – but we aren't.
John 16:33 - These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
In Christ's Love,
I was ecstatic as we drove to Ann Arbor, listing in my head the bands which they would surely play. Relient K was a must, probably Switchfoot and Audio A. They just *had* to play Sadie Hawkin's Dance. We got lost half a dozen times, and by the time we found parking we had to hoof it a half mile in the snow to the hall (in heels, no less), but it was all worth it. Because this dance was going to be clean, and fun, and there was going to be awesome Christian music.
Imagine my chagrin as we walked into the dance and the music was blaring, "If you wanna go and get high with me/ smoke an L in the back of the Benzie." As the night progressed the DJ blared "Baby Got Back," "Tubthumping," and even "Let's Get it On." In fact, there were perhaps only a handful of songs that did not encourage sex, excessive drinking, and/or drugs. I was furious, beyond furious. My friends said, "It isn't a big deal Meg, just try to have fun."
"But God hates these things," I said. I went to where they were collecting tickets and demanded to speak to whoever was in charge. They finally found her, and I (lovingly) gave her quite the tongue-lashing. I was so furious, I was shaking.
Back then I still wore rose-colored glasses, and I had expected so much more from a Christian ministry. She offered to refund my ticket. "That's not the point," I said, "God hates those things." The woman just shrugged, said she no control over the music, and that it was an outreach ministry. She did say that the swear words were censored. Small comfort, indeed.
As the night wore on I danced a few songs and tried to have fun, but I felt sick to my stomach. Not only was the music encouraging and glorifying sinful acts, it reminded me of many memories from before I was saved, which I would rather forget.
And then, here is the kick in the pants. As the evening was coming to a close, they turned on the lights and gathered everyone together. They presented no Gospel message, but instead one of the leaders came up and simply said, "Hey everyone, I hope you guys had fun tonight. We want you to know that this is all for the glory of God." And then we closed singing the Christmas song, "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him," (it was right before Christmas break). I sang, but at the point I was so angry, I felt sick.
Tears dripped from my eyes as I sang, and I wondered at the hypocrisy of this group, who encouraged all in attendance to spend the night in lascivious revelry, and then attempt to honor God at the end.
Was I over-reacting? Absolutely not.
Listen, people: use your heads! How can reach a lost and dying people, bound for hell, by pouring more sin upon their lips? This dance was meant to be an evangelistic outreach. But we could have gotten the equivalent experience at the local club, better perhaps. There was absolutely nothing about that night that made God seem better or different than the world.
Those who are unsaved are living in a desert of death. It was like we were giving them more sand instead of Living Water. This is an issue I have seen over and over again at evangelistic events. It is even a trap I have fallen in myself.
I am not here to stand on my proverbial soap box and decry all the evil churches who have made poor attempts at becoming relevant to a new generation. What I am saying, however, is that we need to get on our knees and beg for wisdom from the Lord on how to go about reaching a culture who vehemently hates the things of God. It will not be easy, nor are we capable of our own volition.
Being relevant to our society is one of our responsibilities as good stewards of the Gospel. We are to strive to share the truth in a way that is both accessible and understandable. However, we cannot celebrate sin or submerse ourselves in vices in the name of "bonding with unbelievers."
How much greater will we shine when we can have fun, genuine fun, listening to clean music, that does not encourage us to get caught up in the throes of lust? How much greater will we shine when we can do things differently than the world and still enjoy ourselves? How much greater will we shine when we can be jovial whilst obeying the commands that God has placed before us?
That is what makes the God we serve seem different. That is what people see, and there hearts are stirred. Relevancy is a lot of things, but it certainly isn't rejoicing in iniquity.
Picture from: http://itawambahistory.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html
Name: Jesse Brohinsky
Age: I’m gonna go ahead and say 20, because my birthday is in 3 days.
City of Residence: City? No cities here. I live in the village of Hanover, CT.
Home Church: Christian Fellowship Church in Scotland, CT.
Church where my heart is: Honestly, Christian Fellowship Church. They are as close to Ekklesia as I’ve ever seen a church be.
Plans for the future: Getting married to my best friend, and working as an IT Technician for Wycliffe Bible Translators through their service branch (JAARS)
Favorite Pizza topping: Pepperoni, Mushrooms, and Black Olives.
Is there something others would say you say too much? Not really, my vocabulary tends to be exhaustive enough to avoid unnecessary repetition. I do talk about Computers too much though.
Where you feel God is calling you: I know I am called to the missions field as an IT Technician, but I cannot say where God wants me geographically. There’s always the possibility of traveling to many different places, but it’s hard to move a family. God has something epic planned, that’s all I know.
Bad habit: Fingernail biting. I do it when I get nervous, or when something is going wrong. This happens at least 47.6 times a day in the Information Technology field.
Pet Peeves: People assuming that I have more capabilities than I really have, or worse yet, signing me up for some task that I don’t have the ability to complete.
Bad online habit: Cycling through my favorite sites, hoping to catch a new post… instead of actually living a healthy and normal life.
If you had one super power, what would it be? The ability to manipulate energy in all its forms.
Something people don't think or know about you after they meet you: Even though I am a massive nerd, I barely ever read anything other than news.
Is there something you do that you wish you could change? I need an extra helping of humility, but I’m too proud to ask for it.
If there was one thing you want God to give you while you are on Earth, what is it? Dates and times of His plan for my life, so I can move without fear of going against His will.
If there is one thing in the average church today you could change, what would it be? Rumor mills, and bickering over useless things like musical style. Oh wait, that’s two…
What did God use in your life to bring you to Him? A Sunday School teacher and an older brother.
Life Verse: I’m in between Life Verses at the moment. (Which is funny, because a Life Verse should to last a Lifetime, I suppose.) My previous LV was Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.) I had focused on this verse when I was confused about God’s will for my life. Now that God has made most of it clear to me, it’s just a simple (haha) matter of obedience. It’s funny how the simple matters are always the toughest to achieve.
One thing you'd like people to know: The only thing the world needs (other than an Ecclesiastic revolution) is a Linux uprising; then the world will be made complete.
In your opinion, what is something missing in most Christians today? A desire to be truly happy in what God has provided freely for them.
Mel Gibson or Kevin Costner: William Shatner.
Cat or Dog: Cat. Specifically an evil cat… The sort who lies awake at night, waiting for the most opportune moment to remove your eyeballs with her claws.
White or Black: I was told once (by an African-American woman who had just hit on me) that I would “hook up with a black chick someday.” I certainly wouldn’t have minded dating a black girl, but God had a beautiful Irish/French Canadian girl planned for me instead. I’m sure that’s not what you meant by that question.
Wood or Carpet (floors): Wood is best when it comes to appearance. But when I was younger, I was always envious of those people who had the carpeted stairs that you could slide down without hurting your bottom.
Intel or AMD: ARM Cortex A8, overclocked to 900Mhz. If I have to stick within x86-64bit, I must say I have never had an AMD chip fail on me, but Intel is teaming up with Nokia, so they get points too.
Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter: Lord of the Rings. Definitely.
Angels or Demons: Daemons. Ha! I just made a computer joke! (Daemons are background processes in Linux based operating systems. They’re kinda like Services in Microsoft Windows.)
Hymns or Contemporary: Contemporary songs are great in staying musically relevant to today’s age, but I just haven’t heard many contemporary songs with the same theological impact as Hymns… I’m gonna have to say Hymns in a contemporary style.
Whole or 2% Milk: Whole
White or red meat: Red meat.
Paper or Plastic: Paper, because my evil cat loves playing in paper bags.
High heels or Flats: High heels, so I can be taller than my girlfriend. Wait…
What is something you prayed for the last time you prayed? Help in mixing the third service at my church. (I’m an audio engineer. More about that in a future blog post)
How 'bout a closing one-liner you know? "You are kidding me! Did you just stuff that Aperture Science Thing We Don't Know What It Does into an Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator? That has got to be the dumbest thing that- Whoa, Whoa, WHOAAA... Heh heh heh heh... Good news. I figured out what that thing you just incinerated did. It was a Morality Core they installed after I flooded the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin to make me stop flooding the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin. So get comfortable while I warm up the Neurotoxin Emitters." -GLaDOS
Ok, so I guess that was more than one line.
Last year I attended the Word of Life Bible Institute, as did some of my fellow bloggers on this site. Part of the program of this particular school is a summer ministry with their youth camp. Just about everyone involved with Word of Life gets involved with the camps during the summer. It is a hard time- you work extremely long hours six days a week, and don't get much time for yourself. I was a counselor, and our job was to be with the campers 24/7, six days a week.
So when you go throughout your Christian walk, know that sometimes God asks us to pray for those things or people that appear strong. Do not forsake praying for someone or something, either, simply because no one has asked you to! The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17). Though, don't forsake praying for those things you normally pray for. Just remember those things you don't usually think of. :)
In Christ's Love,
Picture © not to me.
Eph 2:8-9 - 8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.