What is the price?

March 2, 2010

Money.

Oh we love it, we hate it, we love to hate it.

Every one of us will go through a money struggle in our lives at least once. And i say AT LEAST once because I know better than to think we can learn our lesson with money so easily. Money sucks. As Christians we think that we have some higher control over our cash flow. We know that money is not supposed to have any power over us, and so we just believe that that is true without really thinking about it. Money rules over our heads every day. I don’t meant that it rules over our lives like God does, I mean this: We use money every day. There is not one thing we can do without it involving money. You wake up, you turn on a light, you take a shower, you flush the toilet, you use the microwave. You leave your house and you need to buy gas for your car, which has to be insured, and anywhere you go in that car you are probably going there to buy something. You are doing all of those actions in exchange for money.

So did those last few sentences get you worked up? Im shakin at my keyboard! But, we never really have to think of money this way. We don’t have to get worked up about every swipe of our card because, we don’t think about money so tediously. The real struggle for us with money is when we come across major money woes. When we face serious financial challenges we understand money and its control over our lives. Now, this is what I call the money struggle. When something happens to our cash flow that really shakes us up. It can come to us out of no where in a large sum! And that is when we face our dilemma. Is money bigger than God? We look at this sum of money staring us in the face and our reaction is our eyes widening, mouths gaping open, and yes sometimes A LOT of tears and panic! I’ve been there! My reactions to this are usually to think ‘How do I fix this?’ But the reality is I can not. I can’t fix something which isn’t mine. Our money is not ours. It is in our bank accounts, with cute little cards that say our name on it, on checks written to us. But is is not ours. We are handling God’s money. It is so funny to think that money belongs to God. Money is something we Christians see as this dirty earthly thing that we are burdened by. But the reality is this: Money is something God has given us to use responsibly. Money is what we have on this earth to provide for us in our earthly needs. Food, soap, water, electricity etc. Yes, those are things God provides for us, but unfortunately they all come in an earthly exchange which is money. So, I hate even thinking about this, don’t you? I mean I feel kind of gross just talking about all of this need for money. I wish we could do away with it all! Go out to the wilderness and build myself a cabin and live off the land! Doesn’t that sound beautiful, doesn’t that sound right? Well, it’s not. We are a part of this world and God has placed us in it, right where we need to be. So, instead of being in the wilderness, we are in this world surrounded by non believers and yes, money. Hah, there is more than that, but here is my point:

How are we going to use our money, and our financial situations to glorify Him? Are we going to go into a panic downfall and try to control our money, or are we going to give it to Him and understand that this money belongs to God. Sometimes we have these scary financial burdens to realize it isn’t ours! It is only ours to use responsibly. To use a benefit to our needs, and others’ needs. Are we going to go buy a new shiny black infiniti M45 with low profile chrome rims, or buy a car that will provide for what we need? Maybe we have the money to buy that shiny expensive car, but do we need it? Aren’t there greater needs in the world? God has given you what you have. Every penny of it God has given you, or taken from you. because He knows what needs can be met with that money.

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We only have so much time on this earth. Do we want to spend it trying to hide from the world and closing ourselves into a protective bubble? Do we want to spend it stuck in the dramatics and hurt of the world? Do we want to spend it fighting God’s will and fruitlessly making up our own rules? I mean, as Christians we are supposed to be radical. We are here to be an example of Christ. Therefor, we should not avoid the world around us and pretend it isn’t there. Who did Jesus hang out with? He didn’t hide out in his church and only hang out with his disciples. He did quite the opposite. When Jesus was spending time with people he was spending time with people who were caught up in their culture. Yet, in His time with them he wasn’t joining them in their sin. His interactions with them were to love these people, and to reach out to these people. So, as Christians we aren’t to hide out in our churches or small groups. We can have non-Christian friends. We should have non-Christian friends. Now, this is hard for a lot of Christians because they want to have these relationships, but we don’t know how to have them. Mostly, because they’ve been sheltered from the ‘secular’ world and don’t know how to interact in it. Now, I understand that many people raised in the church don’t feel the need to leave their church. They are surrounded with longtime friends, it’s formilliar territory, and they are surrounded by people who share their beliefs. But, think about this for a minute. By staying in your church who are you impacting? Your surrounded by believers, and your in your comfort zone. I don’t remember Jesus being in many situations i’d consider a ‘comfort zones.’ This is why I think it is so important to be able to have non-Christian friendships. And I’ll just say this once but I mean it: People are not projects. Don’t ever think of someone as one, and do not ever call anyone your project. Now, this is where it gets hard. People think if they have relationships with non-Christians that they will be influenced negatively. This is so false I can’t even tell you. I have gained some of the most interesting insight from my non-Christian friends. By discussing my beliefs with them, answering their questions, and challenging each other with intelligent conversation it has caused me to grow, and figure out a lot of things about myself and my beliefs. And I know that it has an impact on them as well. It is great for them to see someone they respect and know be a believer and be willing to share some knowledge with them. These relationships are great opportunities for me to share my beliefs with non- believers which is a good thing to practice. For most believers the idea of sharing their faith is a pretty intimidating thing. But, if you have these interactions with people you know and trust, after some time it becomes second nature to you, which it should be! It is just so frustrating when I see a group of amazing Christian kids, living out the word and wanting to grow in their faith. But, they keep it between themselves. Maybe the occasionally talk to a kid at school and the religion topic comes up in a conversation. But, that’s about as far as their outreach goes. What good is our faith if we aren’t willing to express it and share it outside of our comfort zone? So many people call themselves ‘Missional Christians,” but they are not pressing themselves to go outside their comfort zones. They are just comfortabley sitting in the church and talking about these ideas. I once heard a pastor that I greatly respect talk about this. He was discussing the idea of being an example of Christ, and our responsibilities as Christians, and how our actions should reflect our beliefs so that we can share our beliefs honestly and openly. He said that if we aren’t influencing people we are harming them. That by our actions, or lack of actions we have the power to do them harm. He asked, “Whose life are you willing to risk?” Man, that struck me hard. Whose life are we willing to risk because we didn’t reach out to them? Whose life are we willing to risk by setting a poor example? This is radical, but it is true. Now, there are some people who think ‘stepping outside of your comfort zone’ as a Christian mean making other people uncomfortable as well. I cringe at these people’s tactics. These are the kind of people who confront stranger in parks by asking them, “If you died today would you go to heaven or hell?” Though these peoples’ intentions might be good, I’m not sure they are doing much good. Scaring people into religion is no way to go about this. I mean, these people are being confronted with scare tactics of course they will comply with your little booklets and take the pamphlet for your church service. But, in reality they aren’t building a relationship with God. After all, Christianity is a relationship not a religion.

Life and learning.

October 29, 2009

I have recently come to a cross roads.

I’ve been going back and forth on this strange battle of control. I control things too much, then I let go of control and things get messy.  It is so hard to know what is right and wrong. I mean, I’m young and I’m trying to find that balance between having fun and being stupid. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like a serious issue, but at my age these little things become tough. You want to be doing the right thing and sometimes you don’t know what that is. So, it’s basically been a live and learn at this point. Especially when I don’t have people near me with the same beliefs as me. But I came to a serious conclusion the other day. I was asking myself  ‘how do I live in this world and keep my grounding in God?’ I realized that the satisfactions of the world aren’t things to be avoided. But, they can easily take priority over God in your day to day. I came to see that if I am not first and formost satisfied in God, that I can’t be satisfied in the world. That if I’m not in a good place in my spritual life, I will fall victim to earthly issues.  So, right now I’m just tyring to figure that out. I’m trying to find satisfaction in God, know who He is and learn more about Him. It’s complex, it’s not easy, and it’s going to be a big lesson.

I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I haven’t really written much lately at all. Dry spell, maybe. I looked back through my notebook the other night and i’ve written one poem per month for the last five months. I’ve journaled here and there but, mostly just about something important happening or when I need to record some thoughts from a quiet time. Tonight, i’m trying really hard to write something important and deep and meaningful but im just empty. I had a really stupid past two weeks. I basically set myself up for some really dumb things to happen. And, yeah I learned my lesson but, I’m stuck here wanting to have some ‘moral of the story’ to tell. And, I don’t because what happened was so obviously stupid that there is nothing more to it than that. So, maybe I can go somewhere with this. I’ll just say this: sometime we need to do something stupid. Nothing destructive or harmful to ourselves or others by all means. But, sometimes stupid things happen, and we realize they were stupid and that is all we were meant to learn. We are all just children after all. When we’re young we fall down and learn not to run so fast. We burn our hands and learn not to touch a curling iron. Then we grow up a little more and make some bigger mistakes. Maybe we cheat on a test and get caught. You learn not to do that again, or maybe to do it better haha. Maybe we lie to a friend, and we realize our responsibility as a friend. These are things that shape our entire future and our growing up, but they aren’t deep and meaningful. They are things that we have to do in order to learn a basic and yes, stupid lesson. 

So, I guess I need to stop beating myself up or stop thinking all my mistakes are so important. I’m just a kid.

Where is love?

May 4, 2009

I love thinking about Adam. Adam, wondering around Eden just sort of bored, and lonely. Him and God would talk here and there, Adam would go swim, hike, and still he was lonely. I think about our comparison to Adam being lonely, and desiring a partner. Adam was by himself, but in his lonesomeness he didn’t know what he wanted. He didn’t know what he needed, and that is beautiful. God knew Adam needed a mate, someone to love and understand. I think we get too carried away thinking about what we want in a mate, instead of thinking about what we need. Adam was alone, but not knowing what partner he needed in his own mind he had no perceptions of was right for him. I mean Adam had never seen a women. Really think about the pure beauty of this situation. He didn’t think about a sporty blond, with a nice figure, nice hair, nice legs etc. His desire for a companion was unadulterated and absolutely loving. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we didn’t spend so much time desiring our ‘image’ of our mate? We don’t look at Brad Pitt and say, “He has such a caring personality,” we say,”He has a beautiful smile and rocking abs.” We want the image, not the person. A visual culture has been spawned through the media of course. We accept images easier than concepts. But, I can’t get over the idea of Adam. I can not think of a more beautiful concept in love. This is what we were meant to desire. God created this longing for a partner in us as a natural force. But, we need to really realize the beauty of God’s nature and want more than just a guy with a great smile and rockin abs. This lust for an image has created a disastrous pattern amongst our generation. The image of a perfect couple has overcrowded that original idea of -love. We need money, success, social popularity, and rockin abs. But that deep connection of love, the feeling of needing nothing as long as that partner is with you, is shoved aside.

I like feeling that a genuine desire exists- that we need not lust after our idealized images- but to allow God to bring someone so special to us, and to trust in that. That is love.  Think about it, feeling connected to a person so deeply that nothing else matters. Knowing that God created this person for you, and you for them. That is such a huge concept. That you two are meant-for-each-other. How can this be lost? How can we not hold onto this desire tightly? I can’t help but think that people can’t see God’s love. Through His love we receive so much beauty. The nature of God’s creation is pure beauty. The sun rise, the spring flowers, the holy desire of our hearts. Nothing can compare to this love. I find that no beauty exists out of the foundations of God’s love. Until we see real beauty in life, and in his creation, we have nothing. I feel like until we can desire the depth of God’s love and beauty, we have nothing to fulfill our soul.

We Will See

March 26, 2009

Offer her a story, Tell me your lie. She has mysteries burned in her eyes. If you tell me, I can hide your fears. Hers are all around us, We can only hear them in tears. But when she sings your fable will spill, into her heart and your eyes will rest still. Scream into the trees of time, she will clear your stirring mind. Please share your honesty, Please feel what she holds honestly. And exchange the deepest thought, we will know it was He who brought. Us, into a world of beauty.

We will see. We will see.

Morning

March 26, 2009

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.” James 4:7-10

I have seen this verse so many times. I just overlooked it because I never saw what it really said. Before I just thought humbling yourself meant you needed an ego check haha. But, now I see this verse in a whole new light. Suddenly I see it as very important. Humbling yourself is submitting to God in a deep way. It is an emotional acknowledgement of your own weakness and mistakes but, as well as giving that up to God to glorify His forgiveness and His love. It is drawing close to God. But what does this mean? I easily look at a verse that I find powerful but forget that it has to be acknowledged as a reality. I don’t think of it’s implications to ME.

I think it starts with prayer. Asking for forgivness. It means thinking about my actions and making efforts to change and be constant in that. And to be willing to change. It means remembering to see God’s beauty around me, in me, and in people.

Drawing close to God.

It means making an effort to feel Him. Seeking Him, desiring Him. And desiring what He wants to reveal to me, and what He wants to change in me. It means not being afraid. It means not letting the things on this earth bring me down. Because things on this earth are temporary problems. And I admit that I get down about things that have a hold on me. Things that scare me, or worry me, things I can’t control can take power over me. And I come to realize a terrifying truth in times like this. I realize that I can give up. I have the power to not talk to God, I have the power to be selfish and try to fix problems on my own. But, it is amazing to me that time and time again He calls me back. It is His voice and His will.

“I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” “Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” Isiah 41:9-10, 41:13

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now, rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Let go of it

March 3, 2009

Days like today I can’t help but remember how human I am. I say that realizing it sounds strange but, really think about it. Do you live every day in constant acknowledgement that you are human, that you are capable of making mistakes, capable of second guessing, capable of forgetting the realities of life? I spent the last week thinking about of a lot of big things.. things that just itched their way into my thoughts and I just let these ideas stir around in my mind and didn’t do anything about them. Eventually this all built up and today I found myself feeling drained. I allowed all this crap to build up and just stew, I didn’t realize how much it was taking out of me. I have felt like an emotionless zombie the past two days because I had been refusing to acknowledge my problems and talk it out, or think it out. I’m so lucky that my friend called me tonight and made me talk to her. I was so reluctant at first because I just simply didn’t know how to seperate out these ideas and communicate them to her. I still sort of feel  like I just babbled random sentences that made no sense..  physically getting those things out and talking about them really did help. I am now feeling re vamped. I feel like a computer who had a full hard drive, moving slowly and unable to process anything and now I have emtied my trash and cleared up room to move!

Refreshed.. and inspired!

I can’t help but realize how much I don’t know. It is pretty amazing, that us humans have this incredible ability to gain an infinite amount of knowledge, but there are so many basic things we can’t teach ourselves. We can learn the history of the world, we can learn twelve languages, we can teach ourselves to perform tasks, but we struggle to know how to trust. It is almost something life teaches us against. Maybe experiences shape this idea, or we see it in the society around us. Trust is something people universally struggle with. To fully trust in something is to put yourself in an extremely vulnerable situation, which is terrifying and beautiful all at once! Some of us have allowed ourselves to trust.. maybe without even realizing it. There are times when you can get so wrapped up in something that the facts are impossible to see. Then, there are other times when we are so aware and afraid of trust, that we paralyze our relationships. How do you learn to trust? You can’t open up a self-help book and gain a sudden ability to open your heart and let someone in. Yet, our world has given us thousands of these books. Go to amazon.com and type in self-help and you will receive 189,808 and counting results. Wow, that is a lot of help. But, if there has to be that much advice compiled over the years, it must not be working. So, I must offer up a simple solution. Throw out the self-help books. They may offer up some really great advice for small issues sure, I can agree with that. But, that is a quick fix. It is a simple solution to a really complicated problem so, why bother? And how does one choose from 189,808 self-help books? Well, you don’t I mean, you can’t!  I offer up this: Sort through the 189,808 books full of temporary, quick fixes or, open up the bible. After all, there is only one of those. Yes, there are different translations, but its all the same bible.

So, trust. How does one learn to trust? We have a hard time with this as humans. It is really hard to be vulnerable. We are told to be strong, to be leaders, to be better than others. None of those teachings allow you to make yourself vulnerable. Our relationships struggle because of this. Instead of abandoning our fears and apprehensions, we try to create a false ability to fix these problems. We lose trust in the search for answers that put us in the power position. We try to play God. We humans are control freaks after all, whether we admit it or not. So abandoning all the teachings of our society, and really looking in the bible we will see how our world has taught us to fear trust. Our world teaches us to help ourselves, the bible teachers us to seek help from our GOD. (“Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you”). The world says you need to hide your problems, and keep a confident facade, the bible tells us to be humble and honest. (God opposes the proud but favors the humble). So, looking into these false teachings of our world I see that they surround us. They are in our every day encounters. At work, at school, in television, in our books. It is so hard not to fall victim to these falacies!

How do I learn to trust in something real, and not accept what my society is teaching me?

Trust.

The impossible task! We just spent all that time debating why trusting is so difficult, but how we find so many problems when we don’t do it. So we need to learn to trust. We need to be able to trust GOD. When we can trust God, we are trusting in the life he has laid ahead of us. If we can truely trust in God, we are trusting in the job we have been given, the friendship we have, and the relationships we will build. And that is something beautiful! The fear is gone and the love and knowledge we are allowed to gain from trusting is born! It sounds easier said then done, so I can only encourage you read the bible. After all, it is there to teach you and be an example of encouragement! Get rid of the world’s false teachings and live a life of love and ability. God gives us an incredible ability when we trust in him and love him. He gives us the ability to love others.

I have dedicated 2009 as the year I learn to love. I gained a realization that I have fallen victim to false teachings and shaping of our society. I never had an example of love growing up with divorced parents. I was taught to build a wall around my heart so that my heart couldn’t be harmed. I was hurt in a relationship once I finally did let someone in. And all of this is because I didn’t know how to love God. I didn’t know how to see through to world’s problems and know God’s love is infinite and true. Learning to love is the same as learning to trust. You can’t have one without the other. So, take time for yourself this year and learn to love and trust! It may be the most rewarding thing you do for yourself. This may mean different things for different people. Maybe your marriage is suffering? Maybe you’ve grown despondent in a relationship or towards relationships in general. Maybe you are afraid. Let it go, trust in God

And of course read your bible! 1John 4:7-21 is a great start.

Struck

January 29, 2009

scape1

The heavens declare the glory of God,
   and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2Day to day pours out speech,
   and night to night reveals knowledge.
3There is no speech, nor are there words,
   whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
 5which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
   and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
   and its circuit to the end of them,
   and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

 7The law of the LORD is perfect,
   reviving the soul;
 the testimony of the LORD is sure,
    making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
   rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
   enlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the LORD is clean,
   enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
   and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold,
   even much fine gold;
 sweeter also than honey
   and drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

 12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
   let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
   and innocent of great transgression.

 14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable in your sight,
   O LORD, my  rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19