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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Those Nights

 Before you scroll down, please listen to: Those Nights by Skillet

I remember when we used to laugh
About nothing at all, it was better than going mad
From trying to solve all the problems
We’re going through, forget ’em all
‘Cause on those nights we would stand and never fall
Together we faced it all, remember when we’d

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

I remember when we used to drive
Anywhere but here, as long as we’d forget our lives
We were so young and confused
That we didn’t know to laugh or cry
Those nights were ours, they will live and never die
Together we’d stand forever, remember when we’d

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Those nights belong to us
There’s nothing wrong with us
Those nights belong to us

I remember when we used to laugh
And now I wish those nights would last

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Those nights belong to us
There’s nothing wrong

From: Metrolyrics.com

Sometimes a song’s lyrics can describe my feelings more than my own words can. Especially songs that have that melody and instrumental component.

There are nights where I just want to cry. Sometimes I do, sometimes it feels like a dam is blocking the tears’ flow.

This isn’t the sort of post I normally do. It’s personal. I really am not one who expresses my feelings to people, though there are a select few in my circle of friends.

As of late, my life, well, let’s just say hasn’t been easy. I’ve done, experienced, and seen things that no one should have to go through. But that is the result of a fallen world. I know many people around me are struggling, suffering, trying, coping, and/or hurting. I know I am one of them.

This is going to be one of my longer posts, just to fore-warn.

An excerpt from my journal.

2/14/14

These past few months I’ve grown sick and tired. I can’t stand it anymore. The yelling, the drama, the list could go on and on.

This really should be spoken aloud, but for now, writing it down will have to do.

My brother, [Younger Brother 1] is almost out of control. He yells and blows up at the smallest of things. ‘Things’ is a broad term. I used it properly. He bad talks and back talks to everyone. He bullies [Younger Brother 2], but then again, somethings [Younger Brother 2] just asks for – baiting him and watching him take the bait. I’m not justifying my brother’s actions, if that’s what you’re thinking.

I am so. fed. up. I’m so done, irritated. Et cetera. I can’t handle it anymore. I can’t remember the last day where there wasn’t any yelling, arguments, people laughing and smiling.

I am torn. I cry almost as much or more than I genuinely laugh. I’m sick of drama. 

[Younger Brother 2] disses me and calls me awful names. I act like they just bounce of. But they hurt.

I set my alarm this morning for 8:00, but turned it off and slept in. Around nine I’m awakened by yelling slamming, and screaming. My door is closed. From the moment I woke up my day has been rotten, even considering it’s a snow day. There is no peace. I just feel tension. I just don’t known anymore.

I jump at the slightest of sounds, I cringe and almost crumple at the raising of voices. I’m afraid. Though, I hide it all away. I put on a facade and keep calm and try to carry on.

I act happy, like I’ve bounced back from a down mood. But I don’t.

I often sit in my room alone, door shut, music either plugged in or not. But I sit there deep in though. I try to think about all the ways I can help my brothers; help [Younger Brother 1]. What’s the psychological factor? His heart? Emotions/real thoughts?

Truth is: I’m desperate.

Yeah, I’ve been going to God more and more, which is a good thing. He’s drawing me nearer to him. I need that.

Through trials, there is happiness at the end. They can be long and tedious or short and over. We can be at the end of the rope and that’s when God seems to pull us out.

I’ve been at the end for awhile.

I’ve been done.

I’ve promised not to ever cut again – I slipped just before New Year’s, but after I said I said I wouldn’t cut myself anymore. My wrists are so far, as clean as they’ll be.

Relapse is real. Addiction is real.

If I said I wan’t angry at God, I’d be lying. I know I shouldn’t be, I feel guilty and like a bad Christian for saying and thinking it.

But he knows all my thoughts and actions even before I think them. He knows exactly what I’m going through. He has a plan for my life. A road that is hard, slim, and narrow, but in the end and grand picture of life, there is an un-explainable or indescribable reward and treasure waiting for me.

I often find myself trying to help others first and pushing my feelings off or not wanting to trouble people.

Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.

— Unknown

Despite his bad times, [Younger Brother 1] has the occasional happy moment (as of late he’s been better than just have the occasional happy moment). There’ll be moments when we both are laughing so hard we cry.

Those moments can change quickly. They are also forgotten fast.

I love my brothers, I really do. I try to cope, I try to help. I try to act strong and fine. But every argument, every tear, every yelling/screaming word tears me apart slowly. There’s a wound try to heal, but each time it’s just ripped back open, even bigger. 

Why do I tell you all of this? To have you pity me? Never. Worry over me?  Don’t even. Post this so all family and friends could see my true thoughts and land me with a counselor? Nope. Cause drama? Didn’t I say I hate drama?

I tell you this because I want to give encouragement out to people who are going through the same, similar, or just tough situations. I want to tell them that there is hope. I’m living, breathing proof.

Those nights? Well, it’s these sorts of nights that causes me to pray even harder.

Pray hardest, when it is hard to pray.

— Unknown

These sorts of nights are what deepens my faith and causes me to hold on, trust, and believe in Christ. These nights belong to us. These nights keep me alive. They keep me alive in God’s word and the Spirit. They help me get stronger, even though it may cause disruption in me for a time.

God is My Lighthouse in the darkest night. He never fails. He never leaves.

One night I dreamed I was walking
along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only
one set of footprints in the sand, is when
I carried you.”

— Mary Stevenson

I can make it through anything. Anything is possible with God (Matt. 19:26). I know that with him I can be strong and courageous, facing each day knowing he is by my side and he will never leave it; I’m not alone (Josh. 1:9).

For an ending:

7eventh Time Down’s song “Just Say Jesus

If you have any questions, feel free to drop an email, you can see the email on the Contact Us page.
If you want a list of encouraging or just plain good Christian songs, email or comment, I’d be happy to provide a list for you of my favorite artists and songs.

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The Bravery of Your Ordinary Girl

   Date: March 1, 2014.

   This morning I read the book of Esther. I had always known it was a story about a girl who saved her people from annihilation. But up until now, I hadn’t really read the book of Esther and thought about what really went on in it.

   First off, for those who don’t know or aren’t familiar with the story, it is about a Hebrew girl who becomes the queen of Persia and saves her people from being destroyed by a powerful man in the king’s court. Esther is aided by her gifts of beauty, faith, and wisdom from God along with her cousin and guardian, Mordeci. If you want to really read the whole story (which I strongly suggest you do, it isn’t long), it is found in the seventeenth book of the Old Testament, called Esther.

   Now, I know when I was little, I always thought of Esther as a grown woman, maybe in her 20s – in all the movies, pictures, etc. that was how I had seen her depicted. In which, she was, though she wasn’t in her 20s, but in her time she was considered to be a grown woman. In our day and age she would’ve been considered a girl. Esther was a young woman – a virgin woman – who was probably no older than seventeen. Scary though, huh? (To those teenage girls out there reading this)

   Esther or Hadassah was an orphan. The Bible isn’t specific as to how old she was exactly when her parents died or how they died, but it says she was very young when Mordeci took her in as his own. You may be wondering about the name Hadassah, which means “myrtle” – Hadassah is Esther’s Hebrew name. Esther, which means “star” is her Persian name. When the Jewish people were exiled and captured first by the Babylonians, who fell to the Persians, they were given new names or names that were easier for the Persians to know and with these re-namings, it wiped the Jewish heritage in a sense or covered it up. It was like a supremacy play – renaming was like changing one’s identity.

   As I read further into the book of Esther, parts became familiar. These were the parts of the story that I had heard in those childhood stories. What I didn’t fully recognize was how truly terrified and brave Esther truly was. She was, and can be, definitely deemed as a heroine. In order to saver her people, who Haman was plotting to rid the world of. Esther had to go to the King and plead his blessing (please him) and ask him to reverse a decree Haman had put out. Now, we all may think – or I know I did – she’s the queen, he’s the king, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Customs were different then, unless the king called for the queen, she wasn’t welcome (or anyone for that matter) into the throne room. That idea of the Queen doing whatever she pleased is bologna. Yes, she did have freedom to do as she wished, but she had to obey the King’s laws – when he did summon her, she had to come. No ifs, buts, or whys. If anyone – or the queen – entered and the king didn’t find favor or holds “out [his] golden scepter so that [whoever] may live” (4:11), well it was death for the poor soul that entered.

   Esther was willing to risk it all – she was willing to give up her life to save her people. She had requested prayer and fasting from Mordeci and the Hebrew people three days in advance. God was watching over her. The event that took place wasn’t just chance or luck, it was a God moment. Not only did she gain his approval and kept her life, “she won favor in his sight” (5:2). He even showed compassion and sought to please whatever desires she wished. I think I would’ve fainted out of relief. Her request – well, she asked if the King and Haman would feast with her. She could’ve bailed completely on her plan at that moment  and instead requested riches, luxuries, etc. but she didn’t. She stayed loyal to her people and focused on her plan as well as determined.

  At the feast, or when it was finished, the King asks Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request?” (5:6). I think this threw Esther off a bit – as she was not expecting it, even though in the text she seems calm and collected. She asks that King Ahasuerus (or Xerses I) and Haman dine with her the next night.

  During the course of the night Haman plots to hang Mordeci, though God doesn’t allow it. For what seems like a coincident, wasn’t at all. That same night, after the feast, the King cannot sleep and calls for “the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles” (6:1) to be read to him. He learned that Mordeci had saved the king’s life from two of the gate eunuchs and had not  been rewarded.  The next morning, he calls for Haman, but doesn’t mention Mordeci’s name, and asks what should be done for a man who has essentially saved his life.  Haman tells of the extravagance this man should be clothed in and honored, being paraded down the roads with a high ranked official proclaiming the favor the man has sought from the King. I love how God has such humor and knows how to knock someone off their high horse. The ironic even occurs: Haman must do all he told the King for Mordeci. And he must lead him down the streets proclaiming. This is what saves Mordeci’s life.

  Meanwhile, that even after the feast Esther really confronts the King, or answers his question of how he can grant her wishes.

This is the part that just amazes me.

Elegance. Bravery. Grace. Courage.

Understand that Haman is essentially the second in command; a little below the Queen. He is very powerful. Esther tells the King that there is a person plotting against her and her people – the Jews.

   She had not told anyone of her heritage. Naturally, the King asks who (or not naturally, but relieving). Esther stands up (not literally) to the bully – she says rather boldly, “‘A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!'” (7:6). As I write this, I never realized why Esther invited Haman. I mean, yes, he was basically the King’s right-hand man, but she needed him there to be able to really point out who, physically. For in the Bible, after Esther breaks Haman’s plot, he is immediately “terrified of [of] the king and queen,” (7:6).

   King Ahasuerus, instead of being enraged by Esther’s reveal, he is enraged ay Haman. Haman doesn’t even try to plead his case – he had enough power, he could’ve. Esther was a Jew. Even the King could’ve thrown her out and called her crazy. But he wasn’t. Haman’s plot in the end becomes his own demise. Esther saves her people and has truly won the heart of the King.

  The application – if that’s what you want to call it – is that anyone, especially girls, can do more than just look pretty. We have voices and are more than able to speak up. Esther was a 16-17 year old girl who became queen and saved her people because of how God worked through her and gave her bravery and courage. In the ancient times, women didn’t have the same freedoms or rights as men. They were seen more as property. In the Twenty-First Century, we have the same rights as men in America. We have the equality. It’s a privilege, too. The fact that the King loved and valued her and listened to her is miraculous, literally. She was respectful. Through God anything is possible (Matt. 19:26). We, as girls, women, can be inspired by Esther – her bravery, faith, and dependence on God is awing. She was just a Hebrew girl. She was not famous, she had no real status. God could’ve pick anyone. Kind Ahasuerus could’ve chosen another woman to be queen, but he chose Esther (mainly though because of her beauty). She really was the star at that time. A star twinkles and stands out against the night sky. She did that.

   We are called to stand out, not only as Christians, but as individuals. The bravery, courage, love, kindness, and so on of one person can change either one person’s life or many people’s lives. God had a plan for Esther, she trusted him – gave him her all. We don’t know what our calling is at first. Some learn early on, some later. Whatever it is, it is amazing and perfect for you. We just have to full believe and trust.

Be brave. Be courageous. Be bold. Be you. Trust Him. Reflect Him.

Invite Him to live in your heart. Watch as your life unfolds and how we works wonders in your life and those around you.

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What's a Part Compared to the Whole?

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

– Romans 12:1-2, 4-5 (ESV)

Most of my life I have been taught to view the church as the body of God. When I was younger, at first, I thought it was the building that made up the body, for it was the place everyone gathered, where the pastor spoke, and the people sang. But as I grew, I learned that through attending Bible study and youth group, the body wasn’t the church building it was the people; the congregation. My youth group’s “slogan” or theme, is “We don’t GO to church, We ARE the church.” This is were it comes from – the idea that it’s us, we the people, who are the church, we don’t necessarily need a “special” building, in fact many people around the world worship in houses, caves, or even out in the streets. I will admit though, that it’s nice to have a roof over your head, sound equipment, microphones, and air-conditioning when it’s hot in the summer and heat when it’s cold in the winter. But those are just necessities.

The verse that I thought of that goes along with what I’m talking about. It talks about us, as individuals and us as a body of the Christ. In the first couple of verses it refers to us as individuals, how we must present our bodies as living sacrifices. Before you freak out at the phrase “living sacrifices,” let me assure you it’s not as if we’re putting ourselves on a physical alter and tearing our hearts out for God (like the Aztecs did)! The phrase means that we offer ourselves to God holding back nothing, and allowing him to control our lives; we enjoy a new life – for we are dead in sin, but alive (and worshiping) in Christ. Continuing on, we are warned in the second verse not to be allowed to be conformed to this world’s ways.

By just observing and using our senses we can pick out that this world is corrupt – full of hurt, poverty (both materialistically and spiritually), loss (and much more). Our peers, the press, and marketing all put pressure on us. We must act a certain way, dress a certain way, wear this brand of clothing, etc. to be accepted or deemed worthy enough to be considered to be “cool.” I know a lot of people, including myself, struggle with how people think about us. For the teens reading this: our generation/age group is the most targeted group out off young children, adults, and seniors for marketing. We are emotionally unstable, trying to find that “group” we belong in, and we also have jobs – jobs that really just support ourselves, we don’t have to take care of a family or pay a mortgage. People study psychology and they know all we want to do is conform or fit in. Referring this to our faith and mindset, we need to break away from that longing. We must stand out and not follow the crowd – we must allow Christ to transform us, so that our minds and bodies can be renewed; revived. Trust me, standing out is hard, especially when most of the time you’ll get picked on or casted out. But that is what is to be expected – we will be tried, we will be tested. We’ll be tried and tested and through it all, hopefully, we’ll be able to pick out what is right in God’s eyes and plan for us, which is perfect in every aspect.

In the last couple of verses of the passage given, it talks about us as a body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12 (verses 17-20, 22, 24-25) Paul references the church body to the human body. After discussing the importance of each part of our body, he makes the comment of, “‘If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?…God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. On the contrary…God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another… For the body does not consist of one member but of many.'”

Just as a human body has many parts to it -all of them extremely important for the body to function – so does the church. Each part is significant, though some parts may operate in different ways – the brain telling the body what’s going on, the heart beating oxygen and blood through our veins, the lungs allowing us to breath – they all serve the same purpose; to keep us alive. The church just like that – there’s the pastor, elders and deacons, volunteers, and missionaries – all serve in different parts of the body of church, some in different parts of the world, and though there are many of us – we make up one body of Christ, living to serve him and spread about his love and sacrifice he made to make a way for us to live eternally with God in heaven.

To answer the question of: What’s a part compared to the whole? A part compared to a whole is small, but that one part is what makes up the whole (the whole body of Christ). Without that one part there would be no whole. We, as different parts of the body, make up the whole body of Christ. But for us, we would be no body without Christ at the head of it.

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Prayer & Perspective

A verse that I’ve thought of on and off lately is the Lord’s Prayer – or as I like to call it ‘The Disciple’s Prayer’ – since Jesus gave the prayer to his followers as a guideline of how they should pray; Jesus already knew how to pray. I’ve always thought of prayer as something more than “special wording meant for Jesus.” It’s a personal thing; and that’s how God intended prayer to be – he wants your true thoughts and word, coming straight from your heart. A prayer shouldn’t be something you memorize and recite each night; it shouldn’t be like a script for then it loses its whole meaning.

I am only using the first four verses of the passage (Matthew 6:5-9), but the whole passage can be found in Matthew 6:5-18. I use the ESV version for verses.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward,” (vs. 5).

Pause there for a second. Before I go on, I want to point out these lines alone, are the first verse. This is a crucial verse. For oh-so-often, too many Christians get caught up in themselves – believing they know it all. The modern day “Little Christ” is not like the early, first Christians. “Little Christ” is what Christian means – it was coined when the first disciples were teaching, and actually the word Christian or “Little Christ” was meant as an insult.

The modern day Christians often think highly of themselves; thinking of how much better off they are because they know Christ and others don’t. They don’t care about the poor and needy – their focus is on money, while they teach Jesus’ sermons on how to care for the poor, broken-hearted, and lost souls. This is wrong, wrong, wrong; the opposite of how a Christian is supposed to act. Sadly, by preaching and having people look at them and either marvel or scoff, they get their reward of satisfaction. They are not true Christians – they do not live up to the definition of a “Little Christ.” Because these Christians are so caught in themselves they do not receive or get to experience the amazing wonders, things, and feelings that Jesus has to offer us.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who is in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” (vs. 6-8).

It is true, often it is the short, simple things that work best. Long, drawn ouutttt things make people lose interest, especially if they aren’t to the point. When people ramble on and just add “fluff,” they really don’t know what they are talking about. As it says in (some concordance to) verse 7, they are just wasting their breath and their words are “heap[ing] up [like] empty phrases” – they have no meaning.

God knows what is on our hearts and minds, he’s more than aware of our needs – but he also knows that we need a way to communicate our feelings, needs, and what is on our minds and hearts to him (not just other people). He gave us a way to do so: prayer. This, to me personally, meant so much, knowing I had a way to connect to my Father in heaven. Knowing there was someone, someone who was so powerful and perfect, was always there for a sinful ridden and hurting person like me… is just indescribable. He always listened. He always comforted in some way. He won’t tell anyone. And to me, that meant a lot, as my trust to certain people has been cut. I know that when I can’t find the words to express how I’m am feeling – he knows exactly what I’m feeling and going through. All I have to say in my mind, in the quiet of my room, is: “Father, help me – you know my heart and thoughts. Please help me to get over this painful feeling that’s tearing me apart in an indescribable way.”

He’ll always listen to you in your hardest moments.

It is comforting to know that my Father knows what I need before I ask him, that relationship between Father and daughter (or son) is unbreakable and imaginable by people who don’t truly know what it is like to know such a force. Those people who stand on the streets proclaiming out loud don’t hear when God calls them, like we do, they don’t hear it because of all the noise they’re making. For God doesn’t normally communicate in the form of a thunderstorm (per-say) – loud and noisy, but he comes like a soft wind, blowing gently. Only those who are quiet and listen can hear it.

When God calls to those lost people out proclaiming on the streets or elsewhere, they don’t hear him, or if they do, they ignore him. Even when fellow believers try to humbly point out that their ways are wrong or try to kindly help them in the right direction, they most often push them off. They point their finger at them, saying they are the wrong-doers; they are the false believers. And it is sad, but it is reality. We live in a fallen world and we are waiting desperately for our Savior to return to take us home.

Our Lord is like a shepherd – he calls and pulls us back when we are lost. He is most persistent and never gives up, even with those who are stubborn. But there are cases when flesh must die and their time to be redeemed runs out or the sheep don’t want to live under the wing of their shepherd. They believe there is something better; they get lost in the ways of the world.

I hope you all got as much as I did out of this verse – if not more.

I am no longer eager, bold, and strong

  All that is past; I am ready not to do

At last, at last, 

  My half day’s work is done,

And this is all my part,

  I give a patient God

My patient heart.

p 265, March by Geraldine Brooks

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Discipleship in a Broken World (pt 2)

Part 2 of How Following Christ Transforms Everything

“Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you–I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus– I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.
For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved bother–especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

– Philemon 1:8-16 (ESV)

In these verses, Paul is talking about how a disciple intercedes in broken relationships. When Paul wrote the letter, he put the greetings and who was sending it at the top – that’s how people sent letters then. Unlike us, where we sign a letter at the bottom. Paul has the heart of a forgiven man, if you don’t know what this means – he knows what it’s like to be forgiven and is able to forgive and have grace. If you’re still unclear what this means, read part one of this series.

Paul, as we see, loved Philemon as a brother. He (Paul) has a high regard for Philemon, as he was an established man of power in the Roman Empire. Paul knew that Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, had run away and he had met him.

When Onesimus ran away from Philemon, Paul realized that he wasn’t running away from Philemon, but from God. Paul told him that he could go on and try to run away from God for all of eternity, but it’s useless, because God will always call and chase after us, only to pick us up in his arms and reassure us that we cannot live without Him.

Side Note: You may be thinking – running away. It’s not that big of a deal. I beg to differ. In the Roman world, running away as a slave was a huge deal, as it was punishable by death if you were caught, and you could be put to death right then and there. It also often meant that the master was cruel and such. It was quite a big deal and a huge demeanor to the master in the social realm. Philemon was no such master, he was kind, gracious, and caring towards his workers. But because Onesimus ran away, Philemon was ridiculed and mocked; he was put down by his fellow Romans. Philemon was willing though, to be a teacher. For when Onesimus returned, he was not going to punish him, but teach him.

God asks us, despite being ridiculed and mocked (etc.), to minister to the people who want to be taught. We need to pray for those who do not want to be taught – that their hearts would soften and they’d be willing to hear God’s word.

In verse 11, there is a play on words that the English translation misses. “Onesimus” means “useful” — and in verse 11, Paul said he was once useless to you, but now he is useful. In verse 13, Paul talks about not wanting to send Onesimus back, as he wants Onesimus to serve him while he is imprisoned, and in verse 14, Paul said, “but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.”

Paul is saying we need to look from God’s perspective, forgiveness is the key to restoring a relationship. When we accept Jesus, it changes our life, and though you may not feel like their life is changed, God is working in you and you have to have faith and trust and obedience. A kind of forgiveness, the highest form, is when we have to forgive someone, and they know not what they have done. In Luke 23:24, Jesus cries out something similar like this as he is dying on the cross. Bloody, in pain, and suffering the world’s sin, as well as processing the emotional pain of his father turning his back on him, he said these words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

A lack of forgiveness impeded your joy as a Christian, if you hold back forgiveness you will not enjoy the forgiveness God has given us. Letting go of a wrong someone has done against you – whether intentionally or unintentionally – means more than just the words “I forgive you.”
A lack of forgiveness impedes your joy with other Christians – you lose the joy of fellowship.
A lack of forgiveness assumes against the role of God. In Matthew, Jesus says, “Do not repay evil fro evil.”
A lack of forgiveness makes you unfit for worship.
Lacking forgiveness misunderstands the nature of trials.
We need to have a good perspective of ourselves, and it is pride that often gets in our way – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV).

Before wrapping up this post, I want to impose on you a few questions.

– Is it worth being miserable for the rest of your life because of the lack of forgiveness?
– How should you counsel someone who was finding it difficult to forgive someone else?
– What biblical principles apply?

Don’t just read through the questions and answer them in like a three-second answer. Take time, think about it. Write the answer down, if needed to help you truly answer in a truthful and honest way.

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How Following Christ Transforms Everything (Part 1)

“Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy, our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from you love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”

– Philemon 1:1-7 (ESV)

In this verse, Paul is writing to fellow believers. His topic is on trusting God. In verses 1 to 3, he talks about how it causes us to trust God in our own broken circumstances.

Helpful Note: In many circumstances, take family relationships for example, when someone hurts someone, they apologize; they mend that bond that was broken and they take care of it tenderly, making sure they are more careful.

What Paul is talking about is when we are in broken circumstances – or situations the first relationship that must be mended is ours and God’s. A forgiven heart will seek forgiveness and reign in the heart. So if one person apologizes and the person who was hurt forgives, the person who apologized will be forgiving and more lenient themselves.

In our broken circumstances when we mend our bond or create one with God, our situation doesn’t magically get all better and our lives become easy and perfect. God does not immediately release us from our circumstances when we become followers. This is important to remember, because many people who convert or who are skeptical look around and pick out people whose lives do not seem changed. People are aware of the wonderful and mysterious things God does, and they want that to happen to them. God does provide and miracles happen, but they are often small, yet important, or they will happen in time. God is not predictable.

In the last remaining lines of the verse, verses 4 to 7, the apostle explains that even when we are struggling, it causes us to love and appreciate others even if they are in broken relationships.

Life changes when you meet Jesus Christ.

It just does, when you first meet Him, there may be a noticeable change in your life, a small change, or a feeling of fulness. It depends on the person.

When the light of the gospel break through on your own struggles, it shines in other place, too. These other places can be the darkest depths of your heart, or in areas of your life that you weren’t open to changing. It is different for everyone.

There are those people who only see the part of your life where God has not worked yet or is working on, and it can be hard as they will judge you. But we have to live a higher standard – not judge them or pity them – but show mercy. In Matthew, Jesus says, “Judge no, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you,” (Matthew 7:1-2 ESV). Pretty straight forward, huh? But also, as a Christian you are a representative of Christ. You need to be an image of Christ – just like a child looks up to his/her father and tries to do as he does, we need to look up to our Heavenly Father and try to match and follow his example.

All of us have residual sin and we can see it through the products of our culture.

Those who truly seek to follow Christ understand that God has control of our situations, and he has control of our lives and brokenness. Of all human qualities, forgiveness is the closest thing to God. The God who is forgiving, and all abounding in love, as well as slow to anger and fair in judgement.

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What Is Love?

There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about love.

It talks about how love is essentially perfect – or the love shown by Christ and how Paul explains it in its true context.

People today think love is envious – that we are to envy those in love or love itself. Some people think they need to boast about their love lives and how they’ve found “that perfect person” (at age 16), when in reality they haven’t. They become full of pride and their hearts turn haughty — “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18 NIV).

These days you see so many people – young people broken and ruined. They chase after lust, not love. Their “love” is self-seeking, it seeks to please them and only their desires. It becomes dishonorable. Their love doesn’t seek to protect or look out for the other person’s interest or their own.

You may be thinking, This is  all ridiculous – outrageous. Where on earth are you getting these ideas – this verse?

Well, were am I getting all these ideas — these references? By simply looking around the halls of the high school and even in public. Social media is also a good source of information. Pictures, videos, even songs. Examples of the type of fake “love” I’m talking about in pictures can be seen on these two:

A few examples of the type of fake “love” I’m talking about in pictures can be seen on these two: Make Them Hate Us (found on Tumblr.) and Make My — (found on We Heart It). Examples of these in songs — Well I could make a huge list, but some artists I’m sure you all are familiar with are Rihanna, Neon Trees, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Karmin, Krewella, and so on. And videos are pretty self explanatory – or their covers and title are.

“This verse” is Corinthians 13:3-8. I’ve used this verse before in a previous post – but it was about God’s love. For Bible translations, the two primary translations I use are ESV (English Standard Version) and NIV (New International Version). I tell you this because for this verse, though both translations are good, the prefer the NIV, as the wording is better – or more meaningful to me, at least. Here’s the verse:

If I give all I possess to the poor and I give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn’t not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

It’s a beautiful verse. The part that jumps out to me, personally, is the last verse – verse eight. It’s the first sentence, though it’s short, it’s powerful.

“Love never fails.”

Or in the ESV version:

“Love never ends.”

I don’t know what part may have jumped out at you – or if anything did – but I encourage you all to read it over a few times, memorize it even. It is an amazing verse, and to me it is one of the verses that I treasure in my heart.

In the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris, Josh talks about this topic – love – he talks about it very seriously, too. In chapter 4 (or 5, depending on which version of the book you have), the chapter’s title is: Looking Up “Love” in God’s Dictionary. And in the chapter, Josh mentions the verse I just told you about – 1 Cor. 13:3-8 – but he also talks about what true love is.

“God’s definition [of love] can be as startling as an unexpected slap in the face.

The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, ‘This is love.’ God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, ‘This is love.’ 

God always defines love by pointing to His son,” (pg 64).

Amazing, isn’t it? When I first read this, I had to do a double-take. It really was – is – a slap in the face. You know on the second page, Josh writes, “Christ taught that Love is not for the fulfillment of self but for the good of others and the glory of God.  True love is selfless. It gives; it sacrifices; it dies to its own needs,” (pg 65).

Guys, girls – “as we seek to love according to God’s design, we must pursue sincerity.’Love must be sincere.’ – this brief command given in Romans 12:9 leaves no room for misunderstanding,” (Harris 67).

Love these days isn’t sincere, it’s actually a joke. Rarely do you see people saving themselves for marriage – protecting their purity. Rarely do you see (unmarried, young) couples protecting one another’s purity and hearts.

Obedience is key. Listen to God and the people (committed Christians) around you. Listen to the wise and experienced. Learn from their mistakes, don’t let history repeat itself in your life.

Even if because of selfish or envious love you’ve sinned, God is there, waiting to forgive you. But you have to be willing to change, listen, and repent. There’s still hope and time to truly love again. – Even if you’ve messed up whether it be major or minor.

It’s all by God’s grace and love.

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