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Archive for May, 2012

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

-2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV)

It’s exam day, you studied hard and long for the past few days,

and you still have butterflies and doubt stuck in your gut.

What if I missed something? You wonder, What if I suddenly

forget important pieces right before the test? What about

those “trick” questions? What if I somehow studied the wrong

material and missed a subject? What words do I use to explain

the topic asked in the short answer problems? And so on, so forth.

There are so many “what ifs” in life alone, and tests… oh tests they set a lot of people in a “worry trace.”  Just like you, I worry too; tests, pop-quizzes, and quizzes make me nervous and put me sometimes at the edge of my seat, especially pop-quizzes. I like to make sure everything is just right; I’m a perfectionist with OCD, and in an imperfect world, it’s hard to perfect precisely. With pop quizzes – and sometimes tests – I start racking through my brain trying to replay image of the things I’ve learned, trying to recall how to explain or define. Well, and I’m sure you can relate when you knew something and then forgot it. You first get up set and angered with yourself, and then the wave of panic comes through!

But do this: just stop. Stop worrying for a moment. Breath – in out, in out, in out, in out- and listen for a second. Remember that God is in control of everything. Pray to Him for peace and for a working mindset when you’re in those scenarios. Also, remember that you worked hard – at least I hope you did, for your sake – and did your best possible to know everything you were told or wisely predicted to study. As long as ou gave your best effort, that’s what counts.

Remember the verse above, it says “may the Lord of peace himself give you peace.” Peace is peace; calmness and a clear state of mind; comfort. The Lord, who created everything – feelings, thoughts, emotions – and is “the Lord of peace himself” is able to help you in all ways. So if he can do that, the I assure you that he can comfort you when your nerves are at the edge of a cliff.

Prayer is the strongest tool God has given us, it’s the (or a) way we can communicate to our Father. And just like you would tell your mom or dad the feelings your feel, tell God too, just the way you’d tell your earthly parents. I find when I pray and tell God my troubles and request help or peace, I can almost immediately feel God’s presence and peace. Now, it doesn’t happen, or it won’t happen all the time, but God is there, he’s always there; omnipresent. And he cares very, very much for you.

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“As Christians, we need to remember that God’s perfect love is not only for our benefit. A model wears clothing to attract attention to the designer’s creativity. The model displays the designer’s work, but the designer’s reputation is on the line, not the model’s. In the same way, as Christians we model God’s love, whether or not we realize it.”

-Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (pg 62)

As Christians and displaying his love for all, we have a responsibility to make sure we shine bright with the right love and meaning. The responsibility, at times can seem great and you feel pressured. Remember the story about Satan tempting Jesus in the desert? He took courage; armed with the word, and took the responsibility to show Satan that he wasn’t who Satan thought he was, even though Satan knew better; he’d lose when he tested Jesus. Shining bright, sometimes it seems impossible; you just want to let the light go out and take a break, kids are picking on your, or the person you’re trying to minister to just doesn’t seem to be connecting. But! Remember: with Christ’s help, anything is possible. Showing love towards someone who’s being a pain and showing how Jesus tells us to respond just seems impossible, if anything you want to hit the person square in the gut. But remember what the Bible tells us to “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets,” (Matthew 7:12 NASB). Also remember that the actions to do and the choices you make reflects your heart and gives people the wrong impression of Christ’s true love.

We are the model, God is our designer. If we display his work in a ugly fashion, then what will people think of us? Of Him? I can tell you this: They won’t think of Christianity as a fond religion, they go on thinking, who’d want to believe in a God who acts and shows love like that? Joshua Harris explains in the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, that “People watch us, and what they see affects God’s  reputation for loving His creation. If we claim to follow Christ then wear the world’s twisted style of love, we drat the name and character of our Lord in the dirt,” (Harris 62). Before you take action consider these things:

  1. What would Christ do?
  2. Am I showing His love, or something else?
  3. Is this really going to help me shine for Him, and show that His outdoes everyone else’s?
  4. Am I modelling His work with the highest efficiency or with poor quality?

Be mindful in the actions and words because we are the representatives for Christ.

The Bible says in Proverbs 20:11 (NIV), “Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?” it also says in Proverbs 12:18 (NIV), “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

-Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

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“Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. There are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what that Master wants for you.”

-Ephesians 5:16-17 The Message

Living your life out… as a Christian?

A lot of people get the impression these days (and have for years) that Christians are those “boring, strict, goodie-two-shoes”-like people. People think we, Christians, are the type of people who are always following the law, pointing out other’s faults, acting like we’re perfect, and so on. Well, let me clear one thing up: no one is perfect. People are hypocrites, liars, and so forth, all the time, no matter the belief (if you have one).

You know that scene of where your brother or sister breaks something then blames you?

You go to protest, but they won’t let you talk,

always interrupting, pointing out how you “pushed”

them and the lamp just sort of “fell” and so forth.

You raise your voice, trying to talk over them and

telling them to shut up and stop yelling, and they repeat,

and well, your mom or dad is at that point

about to pull out their hair because of all the arguing.

And then mom or dad start yelling… and well.

It goes down hill, but hopefully not to a physical point,

and then the both of you usually end up getting disciplined.

Now that I’ve proved my point with a common scene of family life in covering what I listed above (hypocrites, lying, etc.). Let me get on with saying that Christians aren’t boring. Comprendé? It really depends on the person’s personality. There are so many stereotypes, I listed a few above: Christians are hypocritical. Christians always point out your wrongs. Christians are stuck up snobs. Christians condemn all who aren’t like them. And so forth.

People think Christians are those goodie-two-shoe-like people. Well, let me tell you that there are Christians all over the world who disobey the law. You may be wondering, “How?!” Well, they gather together and people who preach to others can go to jail, and in parts of the world people are burned on stakes for just mentioning Christ’s precious name. Rebels, right? Top-secret rebels – for Christ’s sake. They live out their life to the fullest, but in a way that pleases God.

Like all other people, we also love to have fun. Most people think of Christians sitting around spending hours studying the Bible. Haha! Honestly, as much as I find the Bible fascinating, one hour is tops for me. Anymore and I think I’d fall asleep. Now, our definition of “fun” is different from the world’s view, especially in a high schooler’s “language.” I personally stay away from parties and all the stuff. Sure, there are Christians who go to parties, etc. But a lot of us think, we use common sense, I’m not saying others don’t use it too, but we try to make sure our choice’s are right in God’s eyes.

A good bit of the teens of this generation usually end up wasting their lives, some literally get wasted. They go off and do things they later regret. All the modern influences are saying “live your life to the fullest,” as in meaning go off and do what you wouldn’t normally do, “go extreme,” in some cases. In the verse at the top it says, “Make the most of every chance you get,” and then a few words over it says, “Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the master wants for you.”

Proverbs 16:17 (MSG) it states, “The road of right living bypasses evil; watch your step and save your life.” A verse later in Proverbs 19:16 (MSG) also says, “Keep the rules and keep your life; careless living kills.”

You need to be careful of choices, but also live out your life – according to God’s plan for you. Whatever calling it may be, make sure you check yourself and make sure your ideas and actions reflect Christ’s.

“But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!”

-Romans 8:9-11 The Message

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…You grant them relief from days of trouble… For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

            -Psalm 94:12-15 (NIV)

Even in the darkest times, he’s always there. God’s love is greater than anyone’s. And it will always be that way. There are so many people I see and am friends with that are hurt from relationships (friend or boyfriend/girlfriend). Looking at the love relationships, one can see on Facebook there are people who post things like: “I wanna be yours forever,” or “I wish I could read peoples minds so I can tell if this is real or it’s fake,” or “Until your mine, I have to find away to fill this hole inside,” and so on. There are people (non-Christians and Christians) of where you can tell that they don’t really know the true definition of love; they are lost in a world of love and relationships, and knowing the love of a human; flesh. And flesh won’t get you far when you’re young and looking for something to fill that “empty void.”

For those other things that people struggle with, there’s emotional, image, and moving on from the past. For image, there’s the fashion sense, how well your body looks, and (for girls) make-up and beauty. As for moving on, whatever it is that you’re holding onto. Let it go. The more you hold on, the more you just tear yourself to pieces. Here’s a insight: Pray to God to help you let go. Tell him everything. Release and allow him to “withdraw” those feelings from you. And emotionally, for those struggling with cutting, relationships, release those. The verse above says, “You grant them relief from days of trouble…” You, refers to God. God grants us relief from days of trouble; vain, envy, sadness, anger, feeling lonely.

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; 

  your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

-Psalm 57:10 (NIV)

Take heart: he has overcome all those feelings; pains; everything. When we have faith and trust, he’ll be there, and even when we lose interest, feel alone, and think he’s left… he hasn’t. That’s a promise. “For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake…” As the verse goes on. And those words right there mean everything.

His love will fill the empty void in your heart, he’ll give you strength when you think of a love one, and help you, when you’re feeling like you can’t compare to the models you see, remember God made you in his perfect image, just the way you are. Don’t try to be someone else. The world sets unrealistic standards, standards that are simply photo-shopped images and models that are way too skinny.

Stay strong. And remember him.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

-Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

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The white tulip symbolizes forgiveness.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

-1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 (NIV)

Just looking through the halls of schools, high schools particularly, you see people holding hands and snuggling up against one another while walking. On the outside of a relationship things can look just fine, if not perfect. But what you don’t see is what is going on, on the inside or peoples emotions or actions. Now some people claim to be “madly in love” or having “sentimental gush,” as Joshua Harris describes in the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and just plainly making out in the halls; open area; open space. The usual high school relationship doesn’t last longer than a few weeks to two months, some longer, some shorter.

What most teens don’t know or care about is their purity. When you keep your purity you save your whole self for the person you are going to marry. You don’t kiss. Or go off to a hotel, et cetera. Because each time you kiss you give that person a little part of you, unknowingly. The only reason people have sex or they want to have someone who loves them is because they are trying to fill the empty void in them – that void can only be filled by one, true person, the person who you’ll spend the rest of your life with. – As well as God.

People believe that kids (teenagers) should be allowed to date in high school, or that’s what society thinks. They are mostly wrong. I say “mostly wrong” because there are seniors, going off to college, and they’ll start looking for “that person.” But until then, you should hold off from dating. Now, I know that there are some who’ll just ignore holding off, so I’ll give you advice on how to date right; or in a way that you’ll keep your purity. The first way to date and keep your purity would be limiting yourself and your partner. Set boundaries and do not cross them. An example of a boundary line would be no kissing; limit yourself to your physical affections toward one another. The more physical you are, the harder it is to not go further. Make sure you devise a smart and well thought through plan, as well as making sure you can keep to the rules your plan’s guidelines set. To give you an idea of a plan, here’s an outline to one that I came up with:

  • No Kissing. Period.
  • Absolutely no renting a room, or anything heading down those lines.
  • Occasional hugging is OK
  • Holding hands is fine
  • When going out, always be in a group

When making a plan, or writing out your standards, check with your partner, make sure they are able to follow and respect your plan, and the same goes for you too. “The Bible tells us the pat of sin, particularly in regard to the wrong use of our sexuality, is like a highway to the grave. We shouldn’t get on it then try to stop before we arrive at the destination – God tell us to stay off that highway completely… Only by keeping our standards too high and killing sin in its infantile stage will we avoid its destruction. Set your standards too high. You will never regret it,” As Joshua Harris puts it. Now, there’s one point I want to particularly point out, and it is the last point: When going out, always be in a group. By group I mean friends, another couple, et cetra. Why? Because you’ll be more tempted to break the guidelines set. When people are alone; secluded, you’re more tempted to be more romantic, if you get what I’m saying.

In the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, mentioned above by Joshua Harris, the author explains that “People date because they want to enjoy the emotional and even physical benefits of intimacy without the responsibility of real commitment… dating is a product of our entertainment-driven, ‘disposable-everything’ American culture,” (Harris 33). Joshua continues onto page thirty-six saying, “When we consider that our culture as a whole regards the words ‘love’ and ‘sex’ as interchangeable, we shouldn’t be surprise that many dating relationships mistake physical attraction and sexual intimacy for true love.” If people alone can keep to their purity who knows how many more will be spared from wrong chooses that can result in grief. Every person is valuable. People deserve the best of life they shouldn’t worry about their past decisions either.

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Music of our generation. Some say it’s got “class” others “meaning.” And it sure as heck has both! But what about the influence? The actual meaning behind those words we call lyrics? The pop, country, rap, and even rock singers nowadays are almost always writing music according to love, relationships, and what happens in them… and example would be Jennifer Lopez’s song Dance Again featuring Pitbull. When you hear the lyrics first time around, you think, Hey, this isn’t so bad. But after listening over and over, as well as reading the lyrics, you start to get these feelings. And you know what the song really translates to? It transmits the message of: “Come and dance (have sex, kiss me) again with me. I really liked it the first time ’round.” Um, whoa. What did you just say? You may be thinking. Yeah, that’s right, you read it correctly. That’s really what the message depicts too.

Now, the influence, it teaches young people (people our age – highschool) that in order to be happy, you have to find love; relationships. Kissing. Sex (gross, right?). Music can be a role model for people on how to act, according to feelings, because that what it conjures. The tune puts you in a mood, the words “speak to your heart.” Music artists know how to get inside people’s heads. Especially those looking for love.

Even music by Disney has that movement. I mean, look at Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Tangled. From Beauty and the Beast there’s the song “Something There,” where both Belle and the Beast talk about something (the hint of love) that they see in each other. There’s something attracting them to one another. In The Little Mermaid, the song Kiss the Girl”, a song of where the lyrics are very direct, are in sung in the scene of were Ariel and Prince Eric are in the boat and they are about to kiss. The Lion King, the song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight, takes place when Simba meets Nala after a while, and they go off with the baboon, Rafiki for a “love adventure.” And finally, in Tangled, the song, “I See the Light is played in the scene where Rapunzel and Flynn are watching the lanterns, and in the movie they realize their true love for one another.

See what I mean? Its everywhere, and you know what, everytime I see Tangled (what? I may be a high schooler, but I still enjoy Disney!) I go off imagining; day dreaming, about my crush, or the perfect guy out there. Each time I hear the song “Kiss the Girl,” it, again, lures me off in the wrong direction. I am a person of purity, and I want to keep it that way until I’m married. Don’t you? I sure hope so.

Why does this happen? Because,we are human beings; flesh. Flesh’s nature is to sin; go against God’s will. But it’s by his grace and constant reminders that we are saved from sin. Society wants us to go against our godly nature. For people that want to be accepted, well they try to fit into society doing things society says “are cool.” For some people who’ve pledged purity, or who want to keep their purity, they push the rules. “Okay, I’ll just kiss this once, it’s OK. Right?” Well, that one kiss turns into a very physical relationship, and people can end up in trouble and destroying their purity.

The influence of today’s music is alarming, that’s why as Christians we need to be aware and careful of the things we listen too, as well as watch. Here’s a small section from Proverbs 2 (2:1-15 NIV):

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding — indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.”

Remember the words of Solomon, through God, his writings are amazing and very inspirational, as well as healthy to someone who is in need of insight.

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Relationship. A four-syllable word that means  (defined by Dictionary.com):

1. a connection, association, or involvement.
2. connection between persons by blood or marriage.
3. an emotional or other connection between people.
4. a sexual involvement; affair.
The most used meaning from the definition would have to be, “an emotional or other connection between people” and the second, sadly, “a sexual involvement; affair.”
I say sadly because that’s what most often do, or come close to it anyway. The modern day relationship consists of a young girl freshman highschooler, some maybe as young at 8th grade) and boy that spend a good bit of time making out, hugging, holding hands, and telling each other, “I love you.” They think it’ll last forever; they’ll never be separated. Well, I’m sorry to burst the “love bubble,” but unless you’re in college or a senior looking for someone to be your potential partner for, well, life, relationships don’t last long at all. Some maybe last as long as a few months, but usually people move on after a few months. And you know all the time you spent telling each other “I love you,” kissing, and acting crazy in love, well it was a waste of words and the meaning of the words. There’s a song by Adele, everyone I’m sure has heard of it, it’s called “Someone Like You.” Part of the chorus goes:
“Never mind, I’ll find someone like you…
Don’t forget me, I begged, I remember you said
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead”
Now, Adele really was looking for that special person, but for you, you’ll just repeat this a few more times, especially the last verse, “Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.” The reaction will just be, at first: I really miss you, please come back. Remember me? Remember the times… don’t forget me. And soon it’ll just be: Him/Her? Please, I’ve moved on. Sure, it was nice, but I’ve found something better. And the process goes on to repeat, like a favorite song.
Girls, please, I know what we do when we’re upset. We listen to songs that  reflect our feelings/emotions. Sometimes we cry and vent to friends or go huddle up in bed and rethink of all the times while crying. Other times, we turn on our favorite movie of a love story and watch that, while watching our thoughts go off day dreaming about that perfect guy, just waiting for a chance to swoop in on his valiant steed and scoop  us off our feet, just like the knight in armor going and saving the damsel in distress. Am I right? Mhm.
Guys, honestly I can’t say much, being I’m not you. But what I can say is that you tend to act strong, yet you keep quiet when certain topics come up that remind you of the past that hurt, or so it seems. I’m unable to say more, but like all, ya’ll have a way of expressing and processing, whether it’s music, the T.V., or talking. Like, us you may day dream of that perfect girl, waiting for a chance to “win” her heart and prove to her you’re worthy. I’ll give you a hint right now: when you try to win a girl’s heart; her trust, she really dedicates a lot to you, she want to serve you in a way. So, do be careful, you walk on very private ground. “‘Kissing and ‘making out’ means something very precious and deep to a woman… it is our way of giving our trust, our love, our heart to the man we love. It leaves us very vulnerable,'” (Harris 93). In the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris (of were I just referenced from) he has various sections that give excellent advice to you guys.
On the site AmericanValues.org, an author by the name of Amy Kass gives an excellent description of courtship in the sixteenth century America. See, back then, the young girl, around the age of 15-16 would be eligible for marriage, if a boy became interested a courting period happened; this was like dating, except they stayed in the comfort of the girl’s home, were her parents could keep a bit of an eye on the two. They really followed the first meaning of “relationship.”  They didn’t jump to the third of fourth. Now, as I was saying, the young man respected the girl, he listening to her. He didn’t kiss her, or touch her in a way that would make her feel comfortable. They most just started to get to know each other by talking. Now, do be aware that they are looking for someone to marry. They didn’t jump to kissing. Hugging. Et cetra. This way of “dating” was effective, it helped them discover that mate for life. Get what I’m saying? I highly suggest you read the article in the link above. It’s highly informal.
So. What happened that suddenly people are at such a stage that teenage girls who are unmarried are getting pregnant? I’ll tell you this: People lost the meaning of dating; courting. They have this void, it’s empty and they don’t know what to fill it with. There’s this little voice going: Pfft. Hey, you. Yeah you. How about a nice, steaming hot relationship to fill that empty cauldron? You think, Hey, that sounds pretty good! I’ll just go ahead and fill it with love. But that love, is just temporary. You want to know who that little voice is? It’s flesh; sin.
Colossians 3:5 (NIV) states:
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
It means put an end to those actions, those thoughts. Sure, we all think those things at some point in time, but with God’s help we can accomplish anything. And I’ll tell you this now: you can only properly fill that enormous, empty void with God’s love and the love of your rightful husband or wife.
 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
-Philippians 4:10-13 (NIV)

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