Monday, June 27, 2011

Let's Face It. We're All a Little Clumsy.

I am a clumsy person. I am constantly bumping into things, stubbing my toes, stumbling over things, dropping things, breaking things…not to mention I fall more than the average person, and have been in the emergency room numerous times.

So of course, a few days ago, I got myself into quite a pickle. I am currently on vacation, and I went to visit a friend from the congregation up here. She was having a small pool party for some girls in the congregation who wanted to come. Later, some of the girls decided that they wanted to play volleyball for a while. I wanted to stay in the pool, but, if I didn’t go, I would be left by myself. The steps (already being quite narrow, and steep) to get to the pool were pretty wet. I stepped down, and when I did, my feet came out from under me. My left leg and part of my arm slammed into the wooden steps.

I fell to the ground, and my entire left leg just exploded with pain. I just remember being scared that I had broken something. My aunt and the lady running the pool party came over to check on me, and helped me to my feet. Thankfully, I was able to walk. I didn’t have a break or sprain, but, later that day, a very large spot started to turn purple on my leg. My arm too, had a bruise. I was so sore the first few days, and it hurt to move.
I still am sore, actually. It’s not nearly as painful as it was, however. The bruise on my leg looks awful, and the absolute worst one I’ve ever had. (And, thankfully, I did not need a trip to the emergency room!)

You know, being a Christian is a lot like that. Each one of us is very clumsy in our spiritual life, are we not? When we mess up, we get injuries which turn into scars that we carry with us for a very long time. The pain can be long-lasting and can take a long time to heal.

I would like to point something out that I didn’t realize until much, MUCH later that I hope can help you. You see, I used to think for some reason that if I believed hard enough, and trusted God enough, that he would take the issues I was dealing with away. What a silly notion that was! The truth is, God’s not going to take our problems away. We’re always going to be clumsy people stumbling around getting ourselves into trouble in one way or another. I realized that these issues that I dealt with were there to help me become stronger. (Romans 5:3)

Thankfully, as Christians, we have God on our side to help us become stronger and overcome trials that come upon us (Philippians 4:13, Colossians 1:12). With Him on our side, our spiritual injuries become less as we grow and persevere. We will never be perfect, but we try anyway (Matthew 5:48). When you do stumble, ask for forgiveness, and pray for strength. Don’t doubt as to whether or not God can hear you! That doubt is Satan trying to get to you and bring you down. Just remember that the times that you feel most weak and vulnerable is when he will attack (1 Peter 5:8). When you’ve messed up, don’t make your “wounds” worse by focusing on those regrets. Do your best to shake it off and go back to what you know you need to be doing.

It is true that pain gives birth to beauty. It’s really the tough stuff in life and how we handle them that shapes us as people most of the time. Allow your mistakes to transform you rather than bring you down and remember that we’ll all be clumsy for the rest of our lives…and that’s okay! Don’t forget, that is exactly what the blood of Christ is for; as long we keep Him in our hearts and hold Him near (Romans 5:9). Allow God to work in your life and make you stronger. It’ll get better, I promise!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lessons on Love

Part 6: Love for the Lost

I remember how tough it was to be a Christian in high school. There were very few that I remember who were actually Christians in my school. Some (note that I said SOME) of my friends really weren’t good friends for me-although in some ways they were. Some of them weren’t good for me in the fact that it really broke me down sometimes just having to deal with them. It really hurt sometimes knowing that they openly rejected Christ, and that they would probably never know His love. I remember a debate with a particular friend that left me in tears for about two and a half periods of the school day. Luckily, three of my other friends were there to cheer me up and comfort me.

In the way that they were good for me was that, in a way, my relationships with them actually strengthened my faith, and helped me to hang on to the Lord and persevere. But I also have learned better how to deal with people who don’t share my faith.

First, I’d like to say that allowing yourself to get super upset will break you more than help you. The day that I got upset over the issue with that particular friend, it broke me some. Looking back, what I should have done is to do my best not to let it get to me. I should have remembered what Jesus said: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) Also remember that you will be persecuted for your faith. If you are living the way you should and proclaim the Lord’s name, you will have issues with those in the world (2nd Timothy 3:12).

Knowing this, how do we deal with those who are lost, and possibly persecute you? Again, as we’ve said in previous lessons, we still love them. Continue to treat them with respect and kindness (Luke 6:35), and don’t forget to pray for them (Matthew 5:44).

It’s definitely not an easy task to deal with non-Christians sometimes, but if we choose to love the way the bible describes, being gentle and kind, just think of how many souls could be won for Christ. I believe that the love of God will win people more than anything else. We need to stop and realize that our actions have a definite effect on how people view the Church and Christianity. Let us all remember to do good to everyone, and to love others.
I pray that all of you have been uplifted by this series of lessons!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lessons on Love

Part 5: Just a Crush, or Real Love?

I’ll be honest…young people being in love seems to be one of the most glorified things, as well as one of the most rejected things. You see, young people have gotten this reputation for being terrible at relationships; and no wonder. Many of them jump in and say ‘I love you’ when they don’t even know each other all that well. Then, they break up less than a week later (Maybe a little less, maybe a little more). On the other hand, being young and in love is possible…depending on the maturity of the couple.

For the young Christian couple, a lot of the time, they might have a better understanding of how to love a significant other better than those who aren’t Christians (Not all the time, however. Like I said, it depends on the maturity of the people in the relationship…even some Christian young people might not be at the level they need to be)

In this article, I want to explain what comes with a truly loving relationship. But, let me just be honest...I haven’t been in a real relationship yet (I’d like to though!) but I’ve been studying and preparing myself for when that time does come. I’d like to share a few things with you that I’ve learned that show what love actually is in a relationship, and for some things for you to remember.

1. You must be willing to communicate openly, freely, and in a loving way to him. It is a huge pet peeve of mine when I see couples break up over one silly fight…or they let the fight break down their relationship. Try this instead: attempt to avoid fighting and arguing in the first place. Train yourself to keep your emotions in check. When you allow anger to overtake you, and your words to flow out freely, you’re not exercising self-control, which is a commandment that we develop. (2 Pet. 1:6, Gal. 5:23, 2 Tim. 3:3, Proverbs 25:28) When you love someone, you will strive to exercise self-control, and to not let our anger produce words that hurt them.

2. You must put his needs above your own. Selfishness has to be one of the main problems that arise in relationships today. You must think about what is best for the other person, not only yourself (1 Corinthians 13:5). You must treat them the way you’d like to be treated (Luke 6:31). Also note that he must do the same. If he doesn’t respect you, then he’s not a good person for you to be with.

3. Don’t gossip about him to other people. Gossip is wrong, as I’ve said before (Prov. 20:19, 1 Tim. 5:13, Jas. 4:11). Don’t talk negatively about him behind his back. Do you really want to hurt him like that? I’m sure you don’t.

4. Be patient with him (Gal. 5:22). Guys are different than us. They do things differently, and their minds are wired differently. They’re not stupid, and God made them to be different than us because they have different jobs to accomplish than we do.

5. Last but not least, PUT GOD FIRST! Doing all of the above things is only part of having a fulfilling relationship. One thing that I’ve learned from watching others in truly successful relationships is that all of them have their eyes on the same prize! Look for a guy who is going to help you get heaven-a man who is genuinely serious about His faith and will love you “as Christ loves the Church” (Ephesians 5:25). Be willing to pray together before, and after dates (or even before the meal at the restaurant!). You should even try to study the bible with him.

When two young people love each other in the way the bible says to do, I’ve seen how wonderful and how strong it can make their relationship (I can’t wait to experience this myself!). Keep praying for the young man who will eventually come into your life. I’m in this too, waiting and praying for my future husband. While you’re praying, prepare yourself and study so you’ll know how to be the best girlfriend (as well as wife later) that you can be.