Thursday, November 11, 2010

I have this thing about writing what ever it is that is on my heart at the moment, and this one is no different. So gentlemen, consider yourselves warned, this one is for the ladies…not that you can’t read it, it’s just geared more towards the females, who knows, you might learn something!
I don’t know why I am writing about love, I guess it’s just something that has been on my mind lately, and I don’t have an answer as to why that is. It seems that as girls we are programmed practically from birth to start thinking about that day when we find “our other half,” the person we were created to spend forever with, I mean, what girl doesn’t fanaticize about how she will meet her “knight in shining armor”? Go ahead, admit it, we’ve all done it, we’ve all dreamt of how our wedding will play out, what our wedding shower will look like, it just seems to be innate in every girl, something guys will never understand. Let’s face it, love is a confusing thing for everyone….even us ladies. It’s been said that falling in love is not finding the perfect person, but it is learning to love an imperfect person. And this is true, because no one is perfect, not even “prince charming.”
I guess this topic has been on my mind a lot lately because I have recently come to the realization that I am now, by law, considered to be an adult. Well I’ve known that, but it just hit home a few days ago for some reason. I have realized that the day that we all dream of is no longer impossible for me, that if I were to fall in love with someone, and we decided we wanted to get married, there really is no stopping us. And that thought, to be quite honest, is a bit overwhelming, in fact, I’ll go ahead and admit that it almost literally scares the crap out of me, because I still feel so much like a child. The thought of growing up and having the responsibilities that come with that in general scares me. I suppose you could call me somewhat of a hopeless romantic, but hey, I don’t care, because that is who I am, that is who God created me to be.

But, as there is with all things, love can have its downsides, it has its own “dark side” to it. Think back to when we were little, remember how many “crushes” you had? Well they were just that…CRUSHES. You would “fall in love” with a certain boy one day, only to find out the next day, that he liked this other girl, or maybe he would say something mean, something that made you cry, and you would be crushed. Well that’s the downside to love. Now I am not saying that love is a bad thing…that is not at all what my point is! I’m just attempting to enlighten you somewhat on the subject.
Now we’ve all seen those romantic movies, where a girl falls in love with this guy, and vice versa, and everything plays out so smoothly, so perfect, and the happy couple lives happily ever after, then we think to ourselves, “if only loving someone was truly like that, then life would be perfect.” Well friend, we all know reality doesn’t play out that way, relationships with people in general have their ups and downs, their good days and their bad. The best book I have read so far on the topic of dating, and relationships in general would have to be “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris. Where he talks about the pit falls of dating in general, and about looking at the idea of dating from the viewpoint of commitment, backed up with the purpose of the relationship ending in marriage. I love the verse he uses, it’s found in 1 Corinthians 7:32 and says: “I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When your unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life, and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming….holy instruments of God.”

What I really want to write about hinges off of this verse that was just mentioned. First off it says “I want you to live as free of complications as possible,” well that makes sense, if our lives are full of complicated things, then there is no way we can possibly focus on God, and on His plan for us. It seems like it’s pretty easy for our lives to become complicated, especially in the area of relationships. But God wants us to live free of complications so that we may better focus our attention on Him, and if our relationship with out boyfriend or our girlfriend is hindering that, then we need to re-evaluate our reason for being in that relationship. Because what is of God will not take away from our relationship with Him. One of the things that society today tries to cram down our throats from a very young age is the “need” to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. But by looking at this scripture, we can see that this idea is contradictory to God’s word. “When you are unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master.” The world presents singleness to be almost somewhat of a disease, but we see through the Bible that singleness is a gift from God. It allows us the freedom we need to focus on Him, and what it is that He would have us doing in order to better serve Him while we are hear on the earth. We all long for that security that comes with having that boyfriend or that girlfriend, but the truth is, unless we are at that stage in life where we are ready for the commitment of marriage, there really is no point in pursuing a relationship, knowing it will eventually end, and possibly in heartache. By jumping from relationship to relationship before you are ready for the commitment that comes with marriage, you ever so slowly begin to give your heart away, piece by piece, bit by bit, until there is very little left. And no one wants to stand at the altar on his or her wedding day, and have but a fraction of your heart left to give to his or her spouse…even guys will admit to that. God’s gift of singleness is just that, a gift, and during that season in your life God will grant you the grace you need to walk through that time. Am I saying that it will be an easy thing to do? Well if I was, I would be lying to you! I know how hard it can be to see the people around you, your friends, having that relationship you so desire to have. Sometimes it can be especially hard for me because, not only do I have friends that are my age, but I also have friends who are also married, and many of the ones that are married also have children. I know that I am to young, at least in my book, for marriage, and far to young to be having kids, but that doesn’t mean that those desires aren’t there.
The point I just made are again stated in the next few sentences of 1 Corinthians 7:32, “Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life, and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming….holy instruments of God.” The time we have now, as single, unmarried people we can use to better serve God, to become His holy instruments. So be thankful for the time you have now, and use it to build strong, lasting friendships, and to build a strong intimate relationship with the Father Himself. And when the time is right, rest assured that God will bring that special someone into your life.

Thoughts on Christmas

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So I was talking about this topic with a close friend recently, and I've been thinking about it since then. What is the first thing you think of when you hear Christmas mentioned? I bet you thought of snow didn't you? Or of Santa Clause, and reigndeer? And that is typically what we all will think of, because that is what we have been taught. Most of us can recall our parents telling us that if we were good kids that on Christmas Eve Santa would climb down the chimney, and deliver toys and presents to us. Then he would climb back up the chimney, get into his slay that was pulled by flying reigndeer, and take off to the next house...delivering all the toys before Christmas morning. Now I don't know about you, but I always wondered how it was that a man as fat as Santa could squeeze into such a small space. But that is not my point here. The idea behind this blog is to get you thinking, and I hope I succeed.
You see, we have a great problem here, we teach our kids almost from the day they're born, all about the story of Santa Clause. We build him up to be this great and glorious man, when he is just a man; in fact, he's not even alive anymore. Yes, there was a man who was called Saint Nicholas...FACT! Yes, he did believe in giving to people, especially those who were in need...FACT! But truth supercedes fact. And the truth is that all though he did exist, we, in our human nature, have blown the story way out of proportion! The truth is that we all face that day when our kids grow up, and become "to old" for the Santa story. That time when we have to sit them down, and look into their hope-filled eyes and tell them that everything we have told them about Santa isn't true, that there really is no Santa Clause. No fat man in a red suit delivering presents to all the boys and girls. And then we watch as confusion comes over their face as we attempt to explain to them the true meaning of Christmas. Oh! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas just as much as the next person, but we should love it for what it is and not for the "fluff" that the world makes it out to be.
Christmas is a time that we set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ, though most of us know He wasn't actually born on Christmas Eve. Sure, there's nothing wrong with setting up the Christmas tree, and decorating it, but instead of using that time to tell our kids about Santa, why not use that time to explain to them the birth of Christ? You say, "But my 2 year old doesn't understand that though." Oh, I would beg to differ, they seem to understand the Santa garbage just fine, and you don't have to go into grave detail. Just have a simple conversation with them. I personally believe that one of the reasons Youth Pastors and Children’s Pastors have such a hard time getting our kids to believe the story of the Virgin Birth, and the life of Jesus, all that He did while on earth, and all that He will do, is because from a very young age we fill the kids heads with garbage, with nothing but trash. And then as they get older we look at them and tell them, "Oh, Santa Clause doesn't really exist," "yeah, there's no such thing as the Easter Bunny," "but Jesus Christ, yes, He is real. He really did come to save us." How are they to know what to believe if everything else they have been told is false? Personally, I do not plan on teaching my kids anything but the truth from the absolute very beginning, no "fluff." Because I believe that it is important for them to know and understand the truth of Christmas, like I said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with joking about Santa, just as long as the child knows it's just a joke. Yes, I know, my thoughts probably seem crazy and out there, so what? Call me a scrooge if you would like to, but that doesn't change what I believe.
I hope this got you to thinking about what you are teaching/have taught/will teaching your kids, and even possibly your grandkids.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Romans 12:1-2 “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.”

Worship is a way to honor God, to simply love on Him. And people worship God in different ways, to some people worship may be lifting of the hands, for some it may be doing a crazy dance. But either way, they’re bringing glory to God. There are people who are so totally overwhelmed by God, that His glory brings them to their knees, or even down on their face before Him, and yet at the same time worship for some people is just standing there quietly. Just because one person appears to just be standing there, while the other one is on their knees, doesn’t mean that neither of them aren’t worshiping God, they’re just worshiping Him differently.
Worship can be expressed through the arts, through music, through dance, through acting, through painting, and even through what we say and how we say it. In everything we do we can worship God, whether it be all out, hands raised worshiping, or it can be simply doing our very best for God, the Bible says that all we do should be done unto Him, for His glory (1Cor. 10:31), and by doing this we are offering worship to Him.
We were made by God, for God (Colossians 1:15-18), and God has created us to worship Him, (Isaiah 43:21 “This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.”). We were formed for the specific purpose of bringing glory to God, Isaiah 43:7 says “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Praise is the external form of worship. In Psalms we are told that His praise should constantly be on our lips, we are to worship Him with our voices. Psalms 34:1 says “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” We are to continually speak His praise throughout the day, even in those times when we don’t feel like doing it. Aside from praising God vocally we can also praise Him with instruments. Psalm 150:3-5 says to “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet, Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!”
Praise accomplishes several things; first off praise welcomes Gods presence. “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3). The Amplified says it this way, “But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].” God inhabits the praises of His people, praise draws God it, and it welcomes Him.
Secondly praise is obedience to God Himself; Psalm 150:6 says to “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” God created us to praise Him, if we keep quiet and do not praise Him, the very rocks and stones we walk upon will cry out and begin to praise Him (Luke 19:40 “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out”).
Praise and worship is a beautiful thing to God, He finds pleasure in it. In Psalm it says “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1). “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful” (Psalm 135:3). It also transforms the worshiper. If we have truly worshiped God, we will not leave the same way we came in, something within us will have changed, we will be someone else, or we will think differently. We become like what we worship, and the more we worship God, the more we become like Him; “Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them” (Psalm 115:8).
The very essence of who God is, is worthy of our worship, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3). Psalm 48:1 puts it this way “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountains of His holiness.” Just His name is worthy of praise, and His holiness causes us to stand in awe before Him. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 8:10). Who is God? And why is He worthy of our worship? Glad you asked. First of all God is all-knowing, meaning He knows how everything works, He has the answer to every problem we face, and He knows every fact, and every detail. God knows all about us, He knew us even before we were formed in our mothers womb, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
God is ever-present; He is every where at one time. He knows the past, He sees the present, and He has seen the future. God is not bound by time. He cannot be contained, or formed. In Psalm 139:7 the question is asked, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” The answer is no where, He is the source of all that is, He created everything, and He has always been, and always will be. “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:24-28).
God is much more than just all-knowing, and ever-present, He is powerful. He is the Lord God almighty, and is worthy of all our praise. There is nothing He cannot do; He healed the sick, made the blind to see, and the lame to walk. The mute to speak and He raised the dead. His character is flawless, there is none as perfect as He is. He is unchanging, and faithful, He is consistent, true to His Character. His love knows no boundaries, and He is wise. There are no other gods, Isaiah 45:22 says “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.”

Lifting of the hands is an outward showing of praise, by raising our hands in worship to God we are expressing our love towards Him, we are receiving Him into us. The raising of hands is also a symbol of our surrender towards Him. In Nehemiah 8:6 “Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” They raised their hands towards heaven as a way to express their love to the one who created them.
Shouting and the clapping of hands is used in worship to show victory and triumph, to let Satan know that we are victorious. It intimidates him. Psalm 47:1 instructs us to “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” Psalm 66:1 says, “Make a joyful shout unto God, all you lands,” and in Psalm 95:1-2 the Bible again says, “Oh, come; let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” The word “psalms” means “a song of praise accompanied by a musical instrument,” therefore we are again instructed to use both our voices and instruments to worship Him.

“O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:6). Bowing or kneeling before God in worship expresses humility and submission to His authority. It also shows surrender to Him. Revelation 19:4 says that “The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne saying “Amen! Alleluia!”


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