Archive for June, 2012

The rose in my heart,

you see represents the beauty and elegance of me.

The smooth green, pure, and spotless petals,

represent Christ’s work in me.

But the thorns that cause pain and hurt are the part me,

the part of me that’s fallen,

The me that’s the monster hidden deep inside.

In Hebrews 8:26-27 (NIV) it says,  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” 

God searches are hearts and cleans them in a way, searching for the good inside us that he knows exists, and without him it’s just about impossible to do anything. The Spirit itself even intercedes and helps us accomplish and in a way communicate to God.

In relation to the second part of the poem another verse in Hebrews 6:8 (NIV) says, “But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”

Think of our heart as the land, if it produces thorns and thistles then what good is it? Out of the overflow of our hearts comes good or evil. So if our hearts are all gross and filled with sin instead of God, then we will most likely struggle with doing bad things verses good things. Which results normally in discipline, the thistles and thorns will be burned down to the ground. When the gross and icky stuff is burned and out of the way it leaves a place for good to grow. If our hearts are filled with good fruit, like ripe apples, pears, and peaches, to say, we will struggle with bad things, but with God’s help we can accomplish a bounty of “healthy” things!

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“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

– James 3:2-3, 5-6 (NIV)

Since we are flesh, we all will stumble at some point in the day, week, etc. We need to check ourselves each day and make sure that we stay humble and true in what God’s standards are for us. When we keep our mouths from evil and our tongues from lies, we are able to keep a pure heart. Like a bit in a horse’s mouth, we are able to have control over them (though it helps if they are broken-in).

We need to “pretend” – in a way – to have a bit in our mouth, we need God to steer and direct us so we can make the right decisions and speak kind things. Of course, we slip like all, and like a horse who doesn’t want to respond to the bit (no matter how hard you pull -which usually doesn’t help) we don’t check ourselves and make sure what we say is kind and considerate.

The tongue is one of the most powerful weapons in tearing people down. Words, the language we use, all of that, it can cause destruction or uplifting. We have the choice and need to be aware of what we say so that others aren’t offended or hurt, and if we accidentally hurt someone, we need to go and apologize. A verse to finish this post off is found in Psalms. Pay attention to the bolded parts of the verse, ask yourselves questions and reflect on what you’ve said in the past day. Has it been kind? Rude? Inconsiderate? Considerable? Think about it…

“Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
  seek peace and pursue it.

– Psalms 34:12-14 (NIV)

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“Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.”

-Psalm 25:20 (NIV)

Suicide. It’s a sensitive topic, to everyone. Before I go into the biblical study of the topic I want to share some statics, ways to prevent, review, and at the end, story with you. A site called TeenDepression.org, which is a site that has information on teen depression and such, states,

“Teen suicide is a major cause of death among teens, though many do not recognize suicide as a serious threat to a teenager’s well being. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and teenagers. According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), about 8 out of every 100,000 teenagers committed suicide in 2000. For every teen suicide death, experts estimate there are 10 other teen suicide attempts. In a survey of high school students, the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center found that almost 1 in 5 teens had thought about suicide, about 1 in 6 teens had made plans for suicide, and more than 1 in 12 teens had attempted suicide in the last year. As many as 8 out of 10 teens who commit suicide try to ask for help in some way before committing suicide, such as by seeing a doctor shortly before the suicide attempt.”

It’s surprising and sad. For everyone. I know a friend who experienced almost losing a friend while talking to her. I won’t say what happened further, but  I know for people who see, hear, add to the cause, or are actually the ones who hit the person (like with underground subways) it’s very depressing and can send that person into a total shell shock. It requires a lot of strength and help to overcome, and even with professional help, it can still be hard. People nowadays go to the furthest extent to keep teens from slipping up, people too. In high school there are counselors who keep up with you and check in, or who you can go to vent to. There are “procedures” you can go through to attempt your best to prevent someone from committing this undo-able act.

The Teen Suicide site lists warning signs of someone who may attempt or is thinking about suicide.

Somethings that can lead to suicide:

  • Emotional distress brings on physical complaints (aches, fatigues, migraines)
  • Hard time concentrating and paying attention
  • Problems at work and losing interest in a job
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug (illegal and legal drugs) use
  • Behavioral problems
  • There are also verbal hints that could indicate suicidal thoughts or plans. These include such phrases as: “I want you to know something, in case something happens to me” or “I won’t trouble you anymore.”
  • Creates suicide notes.
  • Expresses bizarre or unsettling thoughts on occasion.

Also, verbal things like “I want to kill myself,” “I’d rather die,” “I wish  I could just die,” etc. are also things to take note of and investigate with seriousness.

In Ecclesiastes 7:17 (NIV) it says:

“Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?”

For those struggling: remember: God has a purpose for you and you alone, no one else can fill that spot where your life is. He also has numbered your days specifically to what you’ll do and what’ll happen in your life. Let me ask you some questions –

Do you really think there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to live for? 
What “evidence” do you have to have the right to kill yourself?
Is there no hope left, no “second chances?”
Are you willing to give up everything for something you’ll never live to do again? Because there aren’t any second chances.

If you answered, “yes” to the first question, I’m going to say you’re wrong, you may think that, but there’s plenty to live for. What would your family do if you left the planet? They absolutely adore and love you. What about your friends? They wouldn’t know what they’d do if you were gone. For who’d fill that hole when shopping or playing a sport together? None, but you. Even your pet(s) love you. And there’s someone who loves you more than you can imagine; God. He created you in his amazing, and perfect image. There’s a verse that goes:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?”

-Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

What shall we fear? People? No. Not fitting in? No. Death? No. What will my life be like? No. It says, “The Lord my light…” he’s the one we need to be focused on. [He] “Is the stronghold of my life,” he’s the one who’s holding down your life, my life. Keeping it safely in his hands that comfort and help. The Lord has many names of different meaning, but they all refer to the same person. There’s El Roi – the God Who Sees Me. He sees you in your worst and best moments of life; the most depressing and joyful. Yahweh Raphe – God Provides. I have this written on my right wrist. And on my left I have written in Hebrew, “Yahweh Nissi” which means “God is My Banner; My Refuge.” He’s the one I go to in time of trouble, the one I let all my anger, sadness, and feelings go and let him guide me.

God didn’t make life perfect, I can testify to that. But he made it so that in times life would be easy; leisurely, but God knows when you start to stray, just like he knew that Adam and Eve would leave; human would leave him because who needs a God when everything is perfect, no granted, God didn’t create sin. He didn’t make Adam and Eve sin, it was their faults that got them to sin and fall. He creates those hills in your life that can test your faith and trust, making you run to him.

Now, for the second question that you may have answered “yes” to. There’s no evidence you can say that makes it right for you to kill yourself. Or for anyone to kill themselves as a matter-of-fact. You may be thinking, No, you’re wrong. My life stinks. My friends abandoned me. My family hates me, my parents are divorced. School is so hard, I’m not sure if I can bare it. No one cares for me, who’d care that I was gone anyway… no one would notice... Stop.

Yes, your parents would notice. Your friends would notice. People who are aware of you and know you would notice. God would cry at what would happen. Sure, sometimes there are friends who leave or ignore you. I know the feeling. But there’s always at least one friends who’s your real friend,you can tell that friends are real friends when they stay by your side no matter what, and care about you like a sister or brother, when they express concern. Sometimes, though you may not notice, but that people push others away, instead of you thinking they blocked you out, make sure you’re not the one actually blocking them out.  Now school. Oh boy, no one likes it. Especially when you have to wake up at (what seems) the crack of dawn. You may be failing your classes, or suffering with some part, but never fear! Most teachers are eager to help if you seek it and are willing to work hard. People care for you, for who you are- fun, energetic, intelligent, kind, silly, etc.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”

-2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)

There is hope. There are counselors, your parents, youth leaders, and people who are trained to help you and want to make sure you live a life that’s amazing, even God wants and makes sure your path is made for you! There is always room for second, third, and fourth, (so-on) chances. God gives us hope and tells us to live a holy life, one made possible by his death on the Cross (and rising again).

Would you be willing to give up everything? Your amazing and precious life, love, and future. The fun, spending time at the amusemet park, riding the roller coasters, going to the mall, or going to that concert you dreamed of going to? You may think it’s your fate – well Humph! Fate. Only God knows your fate, not you, remember that. He’s in control of everything.

Now, I’d like to tell you a few stories, one I heard, or watched at my Youth Group meet, and the second will be a personal story; journal, from my life…

There’s a story of a woman, who’s two daughters where abducted and killed; murdered. And the woman couldn’t let go of what that man had done, she started to turned from God. Thoughts like, Why did he…? and How dare he… started to course through the mother’s mind. She suffered depression and the feeling of lost. It was when someone came and helped her realize, praying to God, confessing and handing over; letting go, of those feelings she felt a weight be lifted and was able to forgive the person who was responsible for the murder. This was about 10-20 years (if I remember right) after the incident.

Amazing, huh? God provides and he’s all sufficient; El Shaddai.

There’s a song by Matt Redman, actually a couple songs, one called You Never Let Go and 10,000 Reasons.

I’d like for you to listen to them – You Never Let Go and 10,000 Reasons.

Remember and “absorb” the lyrics, when I find myself in a situation that seem hopeless, if you will, I remember theses songs, and repeat them in my head.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

-Romans 12:2 (NIV)

“If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.”

-2 Corinthians 1:6 (NIV)

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

-Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

If you or you know someone thinking about Suicide, call the National Suicide Hotline at: 1-800-273-TALK

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In Philippians 2:6-11 (NIV) it states,

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Equality. There are many different views on how people and things should be treated and distributed equally. Like treating a person of a different skin color like you’d treat a friend the same color as you or splitting the cookie in half so you and your friend can have a half.

Me and a team of teens from my youth group at the church we attend just finished a mission trip to Boston, Massachusetts. Being where we all live we don’t see much diversity, people in need, and the other things that come with living in the inner city. While there we were shone the different places of living and the different people living within the city in different neighborhoods. Since it was a mission trip we helped out a great deal with the homeless, people in rehab, and children.

The first place we visited was called Place of Promise, a rehab center. We all connected, met, and helped out the men and women in the houses (girls in the girls’ house, boys in the boys’ house). While we had lunch, we heard some people’s testimonies. It was just absolutely amazing. The second place was called Boston Rescue Mission. A mission that helps the homeless and does food distribution. We also got to meet some the of the residents there and learned about their past and how they were doing rehab and other such things to help themselves.  The third place was called Girls Inc. a place of where girls ages 6-13 attend a summer school-like program. I just happened to help out with the 9-10 year-olds. They all were so lovely, a pleasure to be with, and an absolute blast — they never ran out of energy, while we did! The fourth place we went to was Eagle’s Nest Learning Academy, this was for boys at risk of being joined in with gangs and such. All of them were such fun!

The last thing we did was a thing called Immersion on the mission trip, with this you go around a certain place in Boston and ask people directions to food, help someone in need (kindly and cautiously – not making them feel poor or needy), and talk with people who know the area and to just connect with them and see their viewpoint on things. It was just a real eye opener – the whole experience was – for me and the other team members.

I tell you this because I want to tie in that while there we encountered the homeless, people who used to to drugs, drink, where in gangs etc., and also, who’s ethnicity was different from ours. We think of them as lesser people. We sort of disown them and treat them as junk, like the condition the seem to be in right? And you think, Well, if they stopped buying the stinking drug they wouldn’t be in that mess. or Well, if they stopped drinking so much, they’d actually save money and be able to provide for themselves and not be a disgrace. Well. I say, think again. Stopping a drug isn’t easy. It’s addicting, and with just one, like a cigarette, you’re hooked. And it’s just not because they are a gang member or some sleaze-bag, some people get depressed, lonely, and they look for ways to settle the pain. It’s just the same with alcohol. Once you get started its hard to stop when you don’t have anyone around, etc.

What’s the first thought and image that pops into your head when I say “gang” or “alcoholic?” Be truthful. Not some goodie-two shoes Christian answer. Honestly the first thought and image that pops into my head for “gang” and “alcoholic” is I picture, for a gangster, a guy who’s rude, carries a gun (which they really do…), has tons of tattoos and cares nothing about others, causes trouble, and really has no feelings. As for an alcoholic, I picture a rather large man acting quite dumb, has no sense, and smells horrible, while laying at the side of a road who’s lost it. Harsh right? Those Hollywood  movies and other movies about gangsters, people who do drugs, and drink are quite contradicting. Now, of course there is some realness to them, for example gang members are quite harsh, but that’s only when you first try to jump into a gang, etc. They do carry guns, and most have tattoos. But I actually got to meet an ex-gang member. He was quite friendly, quiet, and kind. Nothing to what you’d think.

For alcoholics, or ex-alcoholics, they aren’t poor people who get caught up and waste themselves, now sometimes that truly is the case, but one person I met was a successful business person, had a great job and position, but the thing was, they were travelling so much that they got lonely and started just drinking, at first it was like a pleasure thing – one a night or so. And then it became two, three, four, to the point that they got so drunk people had to carry him to his room. It was all because he was lonely that he became addicted. And thus, he also became homeless. All the people we met were in rehab or had finished and moved on, all had strength and faith in Christ. For he was the one who really called them out of their “slum.”

We overlook and just think ahead most of the time, if not all the time. We normally don’t take time to ask or think of these peoples’ back stories. Like for gang members, most boys join gangs (at the age of 8 or so) because they have no father figure, they go and look for a family that loves them, and once past the entering part of the gang, they are treated like family. But these men have no good influence on the young boys and teens.

Can you see the point I’m making? As Christians, we need to go out and work; labor for those who need God’s love and guidance. We need to work with all our might, even if the task is hard, for we are doing this for God. We are all equal, no matter what may happen, yes we all act different but next time you see someone homeless, laying on the streets or asking for some help, offer, do have caution, but offer to serve them, in a way. Next time you hear of a gang rally, pray for those members, or you see a child with only one parent pray too and maybe offer help if they need it. Even for the prostitutes, or black market, the human traffic branch, think of the girls who, with most, were sold into slavery or prostitution because their families were so desperate for money and were, in a way, greedy, not regarding the honor and well being of their family member(s). Remember to bring honor and glory to God in all you do, in all your actions, thoughts, and speech. For you are an example of Christ, and want to show it well so that others can become interested and too, come to the Father.

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Christ’s Love

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:11-15 (NIV)

In the first verse, it tells us something about Christ, and how the Lord has given us someone to fear; him. It tells us that we are “plain to him,” and how he is mighty beyond all things. The second, tells us about the flesh; human nature. As humans we want to be accepted, so we offer ourselves to God and try to follow his wonderful teachings and example. The third is something we discover, and that with the right mindset and heart “attitude” we can be with God aw well as function well and for him. But if we aren’t living for them, then we need to ask ourselves, “What are we living for?” Something that pops out in meaning is the fourth verse, that because of Christ’s love , we are all saved, for his death made it so we didn’t have to die… he paid the ultimate price. The last verse tells of an application, one we need to take to heart and act on, and it is that since Christ died, we need to believe, for it was because of his death that our faith is built upon. We need to remember not to be selfish, and like Christ, compassionate and selfless, for it was his selflessness that saved us.

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Fixing Your Eyes

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

– Hebrews 12:2-3 (NIV)

When we fix our eyes upon Jesus and focus on him through trials and tribulations, he makes sure our faith isnt destroyed. For he is the perfecter of faith. When people persecute and hurt us, like they did hundred times worse to Christ, who overcame death, we turn to Christ, he who is now in heaven with his Father, take heart and remember what Christ endured for us. Do not become down hearted, instead take heart and see it as an opportunity to minister to the lost people of the world.

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“Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.”

-2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV)

It’s amazing how when we lack faith or can’t understand what God is trying to do and we stray, he’s still there, for he will not let us go. We are like sheep and he the shepherd. When we stray and run-off he searches and calls for us, never abandoning or forgetting us. He’s such an awesome God – that we have and serve.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

-1 John 3:1-3 (NIV)

We are called the Children of God, as our Father above calls us. As the world has evolved – to say- it has turned away from Christ, in fact the people of the modern day world despise Christians. They do not truly know us, because they don’t want to know a God who created us, for the portrayal we show is important on how people view God nowadays, in which we must be mindful of our actions. Even though what people think of our God isn’t true at all. When God comes to set us free from the sin-marred world, we will recognize him within less than a split second and we will be like him; pure.

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