Busy?

•September 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

As a college student, one of the most common reasons to not do something is because you’re too busy for it. For a lot of things, that’s perfectly fine, but when it comes to God, it may be more of an issue of priorities and time management. I’ve had multiple people suggest the schedule concept, where you write down all you do in a day and when you do it for the sake of seeing what time is available. Other people use that as a way emphasizing that God should have the most time of our day, but usually does not.

Now, I certainly am not one who has perfected this. Just look at how long it’s been since I’ve posted here. I have a list of ideas to write about rather than writing them, I haven’t been caught up with email devotionals in two years, I stopped my reading plan after a few months, and I certainly don’t set aside time to read the Bible for myself.

But…

How much of that do we really need to burden ourselves with?

This post is about managing time, and how there should always be space for God in that. However, that does not mean we have to take the days we have more time (like today) and try to start a thousand “daily” projects which will ultimately fail. Just like the “camp high“, there are times we feel we can do anything for the Lord that we just set our minds to, but life quickly sets in and reminds us that we have to live on Earth, too. Based on what Scripture says, God understands. Jesus said the greatest two commandments are to love God and love people, not to read God’s word for an hour every day and spend five hours at church each week. There are plenty of Biblical ways to live for God in everything that happens in life.

We are called to speak those who do not yet know Christ,

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

-Colossians 4:5-6

to rejoice and pray continually,

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

to join other believers in fellowship,

 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

-Hebrews 10:24–25.

to walk in the light of God,

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

-1 John 1:5–7.

and to study Scripture, remembering what we have learned.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

-2 Timothy 3:12–17.

If we pull these fairly simple concepts into our daily lives, no matter how much we have to do which makes us busy, we will be using our time for God.

The Balancing Act

•August 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

“I have a friend who’s a Christian, but they aren’t judgmental about anyone and never try to convert me. This is how you should be.”

“If that’s what you believe, how can you hate someone so much to not tell them the way to salvation?”

“They were asked for their opinion, and this is what they said. I’m never going there again.”

“Canon Jesus is better than fanon Jesus.”

“Sure, they say they’re Christian, but they really don’t act like it.”

Okay, it’s true. People have extremely varying views, and we can’t change that. It’s not anyone’s job to make everyone think the same. However, the way one person or organization acts can, and will, be used as a stereotype for Christians. The same happens for any large group. The problem is, people have a tendency to remember the bad, while taking the good for granted. To completely change the view of Christians as a whole, everyone has to be exactly the same. Obviously, this can’t happen. But what can we do?

Be Christ to Everyone.

You see someone come into your work who looks a bit… odd. Oh well. Don’t assume anything, just do your job, and do it willingly. If they look upset, talk to them. Minister to them. If they’re in a bad mood, let them have their space. Serve as you know how.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

-1 Peter 4:10

Your boss is, well, not in a good mood. Neither are you. You really don’t want to work today, and you especially don’t want to have to do extra… but were just told to. It makes sense, it has to be done and the usual person isn’t here.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing

-Philippians 2:14

Does that mean letting them overwork you? No. But you can have a kind response and be a “go to” person without being walked over.

Someone absolutely will not understand your point of view, though you insist that you understand theirs. Don’t ruin your reputation by attacking them, explain as best as you can, calmly. If they want to understand, they will. If not, let them not.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

-Romans 12:18

Maybe you don’t have the money or help to give to that person that needs it- pray for them. Share a smile. Don’t turn away and avoid them. If you do have something, serve them with it as is reasonable.

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

-James 2:15-16

I admit- I always feel kind of weird when I see a homeless person walking along the road. Not just them specifically- I feel weird when I see anyone along the road. Why are they walking? Where are they going? How do they feel so comfortable talking to strangers? However, my sister (who will more than likely read this, hi sis) actually knows some of these people by name. If she has food, she offers it while stopped by them. There are two men who frequent a specific corner, and she knows their names, their families’ names, how they got into their current situations, and that they really, honestly want to earn money by working for it. And, knowing her, I’m sure she’s mentioned Christ, asked if they go to church, something along those lines. Which brings to the next point.

Tell, Don’t Force

We are to be prepared to explain our faith, and able to point out misunderstandings about it, but we can’t force people to believe it.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

-1 Peter 3:15-16

See that? “But do this with gentleness and respect”. Yes, we may get upset by people with closed minds. They do the same thing toward us. Not letting our emotions get in the way of our answer is very important. Knowing what we’re talking about is also very important. Reading the Bible, asking others for opinions, and researching both sides of a question are large assets. “Always be prepared”, but also don’t forget to “give the reason for the hope that you have”. It’s not always about being right, sometimes we just have to give the reason for our hope so it has a chance of spreading to them. The best way to show hope? To live it. Life your hope, live your faith, and live God’s love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

-1 Corinthians 13:13

Read: Romans 12, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

To Err is Human

•December 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As Christmas rapidly approaches (So close!), I’m sure there have been plenty of things relating to baby Jesus in the manger, and how the wise men really weren’t there that night, and it probably wasn’t in December etc., etc. On the other hand, there are also things talking about how no, we aren’t really celebrating his birth, we’re celebrating him because he came to save us. Again, a common way to describe Christmas. However, one thing I feel is overlooked is that Jesus was fully God AND fully human. Human… like us? Precisely.

There isn’t much info in the Bible as to how Jesus was as a child. However, being the first-born child, he was dedicated to the Lord.

The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the LORD.”

-John 2:23

For Jesus, of course, that couldn’t have been hard. He was naturally inclined to obey the Lord! 

After the temple visit with Jesus as an infant, there isn’t much said about his childhood. At about the age of 2, the wise men reached the house in Bethlehem where the family was living.

They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.

-Matthew 2:11

Then they left, and soon after, the family moved to Egypt for an unknown time.

Think about it- this two-year-old child, playing with his mother, when suddenly these men in very fine clothing come in and present expensive gifts. Then, later, asking why they were moving, why they went so far, and why they were going back. He was, after all, a child. And all we know of his life after they returned to Nazareth is that he grew up.

There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.

-Luke 2:40

A later mention (Matthew 12:46, Mark 3:31) tells us that Mary and Joseph had other children. Technically Jesus’s half-siblings, it’s much easier to call them his brothers and sisters. They probably all heard the stories of Jesus’s remarkable birth, the shepherds that visited, and how these foreigners brought presents. More than likely, they were jealous of Jesus. He was perfect. However, he could be picked on.

Think about this: children love to play pranks on their siblings. They love to have secrets and hide things from their parents. Jesus, however, couldn’t be included in this. He’d tell the truth if someone did something. If his mother asked him a question, and his sibling glared at him with this menacing look, he wouldn’t be able to lie to save himself. Granted, Mary and Joseph probably raised wonderful children. What about the others in the neighborhood? 

Jesus was human, too. He was tempted, he was threatened. He probably was picked on by other kids because he always did the right thing. He had to be taught that you can’t always say what you think, because the truth can hurt. He had to be taught to stand up for himself and what’s right, while still loving people. What he taught others, someone had to teach him. Regular, everyday human things. So when people say that he knows what we’re going through in hardships, they mean it. In today’s society he would be a major target of bullying. 

Imagine being one of his siblings. He’s the oldest, obviously, and he’s about 12 now. You go on your yearly trip to Jerusalem, and on the way back you hang out with your friends, in the women’s side of the walking group because only males walked with the men, starting around age 13. Someone comments, “Where’s Jesus?” You shrug, say he’s probably with your mother. But he’s no fun, anyway. Later, your mother comes back and asks you the same thing. Maybe he’s with your father, he’s close enough to the right age. There’s no way to find out right now. He’s somewhere around here. That night, you stop to rest, and he still doesn’t show up. Mom and Dad are frantic. They go around to other families, sending you to search, too. No one has seen him. The decision is made to go back to Jerusalem, so you leave your friends and walk back all the way you already went, just because Jesus left the group. You search everywhere you’d been, for three days. Three whole days. What is wrong with him? Your parents lead you into the temple, where your brother is found, talking with the men who know everything there is to know. He actually has them thinking, and they… they… respect him. 

His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” 

“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart. Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Luke 2:48-52

Oh, mother loved him. This wasn’t the first time she’d stored things relating to him in her heart. After all that trouble he caused, he just was obedient and made up for all of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all do that? Of course, he didn’t sin, but that’s what our problem usually is. And thanks to him, we can be forgiven of that. After all, when he died on that cross, all the pain of his life, all the memories, all the sins of the world, piled on him. And he erased them.

What’s After Life

•April 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The lack of punctuation is on purpose. It can be filled with a question mark, or a colon. Now, the background.

One of my most commonly used phrases is “Prove it”. It’s partially an automatic response to what’s been said, and can be used in most cases. During school one time, a friend dropped all he was carrying, and, as he commonly does, joked “I hate life”. My response was “Prove it”, which he took in stride, the way it is. Then, an answer. “Actually, I don’t. I love life because I don’t know what happens after.” I simply nodded and accepted it.

Why didn’t I say anything?

My best guess is that I didn’t think there was time for a theological discussion. No time to tell him what there is after death. He knows I’d tell him, right? Or does he?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.”

2 Timothy 1:7- 8a

This verse popped in my head almost instantly. A spirit of power, love, and self-discipline, not of timidity. Therefore, we shouldn’t be afraid to speak for our Lord. I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. If you’re worried about nagging them and never tell them, do so at least once. Speak that they might hear. And tell them what’s after life: An eternity of either Love and peace, or a horrendous place of death. They may not realize the choice if you never say.

The Infamous “Camp High”

•June 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Being summer once again, we’ve gotten to the point where people will go to church camps. Being surrounded by other Christians, reading the Word every half-hour, and hearing powerful testimonies and sermons can really get to a person’s belief system. But what happens after that?

One of two things. They might go home, follow their new habits from that week, and stay with God. Maybe they increase that connection with Him. Maybe they even commit after working on it for another month. They drop everything and run at Him, full force. Or, they lose it. Going home can be challenging after this week. Without having people constantly reminding them to read the Bible, sing worship songs, and pray, everything can easily backtrack. 

How do we stop it?

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

— 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-22

A Place to Belong

•March 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I have a pretty good idea of who you are.
Here are my findings:

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worried and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself on being an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

Does this sound accurate? Does it describe you?
It should. It describes everyone.

Ok, so I obviously didn’t write that. It was quoted from a book I’m currently reading, You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. And he didn’t write it all, either. The statements were from a 1948 experiment by Bertram R. Forer, created from a bunch of horoscopes. And now that credit has been given…

Did you notice one of the most common things in there? A need for others. An insecurity as to what they think. Everyone has them. Everyone has the question of who they are, where they fit in the world. Now let me tell you something- your place is decided, and it’s very important.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope

-Jeremiah 29:11

God knows where he wants us, where we’re going. He knows how things are now, but His plans for the future are for good things. His place for us is, well, a hopeful future. The real question is how to get it. Part of this is to start working. Not getting a job, but starting to form your future. God will work with where you go. The other part is to ask Him. As odd as it may be, He has a plan for you, and He can tell you what it is through opportunities.

Whenever you feel like you don’t fit, just remember that everyone’s been there, and everyone’s supposed to be where they are.

Love Changes Lives

•February 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Many people go through their lives not really knowing what love is. They just think of it as being there, something they’ve heard about. Once it gains meaning, however… Everything can change.

“Don’t you think your life’s worth saving?

Don’t you know that love’s amazing?

Don’t you want to lay your troubles down?

Lay them down.

If I thought love was just a word, I might feel the same way too,

But there’s so much more than that, and it’s waiting here for you.”

-Newworldson, There Is A Way

Have you ever been the example of God’s love to someone? I’ve heard stories of people asking if someone was an angel, or distinguishing them as a Christian, or feeling like they matter, just because someone else loved them. Simply caring for someone’s life and being can bring them out of depression, as long as you’re sure to show them. All you have to do is tell them what they mean to the world, what they mean to their family and friends, what they mean to you.

“Oh, oh, here you go, three little words.

It’s all it takes, gotta make them heard.

Raise your voice and say I love you.

Oh, oh, here you go, one simple phrase.

It’s all it takes to make a change today.

Raise your voice and say I love you.”

-Press Play, Three Little Words