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Posts Tagged ‘sin’

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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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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How to: Pass the Test of Faithfulness

If you do not wish to read the passage in this post, 
you can also read it here (for those visionally challenged): Daniel 1:1-21 (ESV)

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.  Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate and of the wine that he drank. they were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for tens days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

– Daniel 1:1-21 (ESV)

In this chapter of the book of Daniel and observing and dissecting it, before we dive in, let me point out that in verses 1-2 we are given a brief history lesson. And in this history lesson, we see that the year is about 605 B.C.

Now, discussing Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. All of these names are names of teenagers. And these teenagers’ names were changed into Babylonian names; names that were linked to the Babylonian gods, not Yahweh. The boy’s Jewish names mean (in order that they are listed above): “God is my Judge,” “Yahweh is gracious,” “Who is what God is?,” and “Yahweh is a helper.” As for the Babylonians names, they invoked the help of the Babylonian gods Marduk, Bel, and Nebo: Belteshazzar means “O Lady [wife of the god Bel], protect the king!” Shadrach means “I am very fearful [of God],” Meshach means “I am of little account” or “Who is like Aku?” and Abednego means “servant of the shining one [Nebo].” The Babylonians wanted to change the Jew’s identity completely; they wanted to extinguish their faith.

Testing reveals who and where you are. Daniel 1:8 is the key verse in the who chapter. The word “defile” means “polluting or staining.” When Daniel didn’t accept the food, he wasn’t rude in any manner, he just simply said, I don’t want to be defiled. Daniel knew that if he took this little step and did eat the food and wine of the king, it would eventually lead to bigger problems. We have to be steadfast and keep those good little things near, practice them and keep them close, for if we don’t and we slowly take little steps away from what is right, it can lead to bigger problems. When Daniel didn’t accept the food, he knew that he was taking a risk, as Nebuchadnezzar was not the type of guy one stood up to. Daniel and his friends had made up their minds before that they wouldn’t compromise – no matter what the consequence would be.

People fail because they don’t plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Those things that we count valuable cost us.

The top four things things that Christians struggle with are materialism, laziness, staying accountable, and staying true to the word. When people are accountable, and they plan ahead, and realize that they need to stay focused on God, they stay on the right track. When trying to pass a test, you want to have confidence, but if you have too much confidence, things can go awry. For example, you didn’t study, but it was because you’re confident you know the material, you set yourself up to fail. Studying is crucial; especially studying God’s word.

Making your faith stronger is just – if not the most – important thing to do. God is the one who is the strongest and will help us overcome the tests of life. We need to be able to stand up to people who try to change us. We need to refuse to “bow down” to the worldly things and stay committed to our relationship and journey with God.

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Discipleship in a Broken World pt 3

Part 3 of How Following Christ Transforms Everything and Discipleship in a Broken World

“So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it–to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

– Philemon 1:17-25 (ESV)

In verses 17 to 19, Paul talks about how a disciple sacrifices for broken relationships. In these few verses, we see that he (Paul) is asking Philemon to set aside his rights as a Roman and accept Onesimus and consider the higher calling to be like Christ. Paul points that, when you get involved with helping and living for Christ, it does cost. Sometimes you, as the offended party have to stop up first and forgive. God sent his son to be among flesh, he paid the debt we could not pay. He intervened, because we could not. This is the appendix of the Christian teachings.

When Paul wrote the letter to Philemon, he left a P.S. In this, Paul said, I will repay you. He also says an “I owe you” to Philemon – as Philemon owes Paul his life.

Forgiveness and intervening is costly, and the reason disciples like to intercede is because it is refreshing and healing, and it works. All the skinless–bloody–knuckles are worth it.

In the last set of verses (verses 20-25), Paul makes the point that a disciple is confident that Christ can heal broken relationships. In the original text (Greek), “refresh my heart” was written as (excuse the bad spelling and unknown ‘pronunciation’) “shplankma,” which means “refresh me.” It is refreshing and rewarding when a person’s heart break – and when I say break I don’t mean in the “love sick” like break. I mean a heart breaking, like a when someone is breaking a horse and the horse gives in, it is a happy moment.
Paul is sure that Philemon will do the right thing, he is also confident that Philmeon will go above and beyond. There is a great deal of creativity we do when we forgive; there just isn’t one standard way of forgiving. When we forgive, we are also accountable to others. We do not live in a vacuum; unlike a vacuum and how it only sucks things in and not out, the way we live our live does affect others.

A root of bitterness in forgiveness and stubbornness in willing to let others in affects the whole body. You can either shatter the faith, break it down, or pump life into it. People will see it and see the grace of God. People will see the spirit working in you; God has dumped his grace on us, and we need to do the same for others.

Forgiveness is one of the most god-like acts we can come close to doing or perform. When we go the extra step; intercede and help out, people will see it – they will see that we have hope, and love, and grace, it is through the grace of God that we are able to show these ‘characteristics.’ The world’s hope – that people will forgive. The reason we still have so many broken relationships is because someone isn’t willing to step up and forgive.

Each one of us here is in debt to our parents, teachers, and obligations to repay, though they don’t expect it, it is our duty to forgive whether or not they have blatantly wronged us or didn’t mean to wrong us. When we don’t forgive, we thwart the plan of God.

“Prayers are the nerves that move the muscles of God’s powers.” – Unknown

Before you close the tab or go back, take a minute to answer these questions. And please answer them full-heartedly, not a third, or half, or five-sixths heartedly – make sure it’s 100% full-hearted. There are only two questions, and one I wrote down an answer, but see if you can come up with your own.

– What is the nature of forgiveness?
It is promising that you will not take revenge on the person who wronged you. It’s saying I won’t bring it up to you, myself, and other people.
– As a disciple, how far should I go to intercede in a broken relationship?

Some relating verses:

– Isaiah 2:4

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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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Oh so often we often question ourselves, “When will I have time to do anything?” Oh so often we are running around from place to place, watching the time carefully and making sure we are where we are supposed to be at a certain time. I know too many people who are away from their home almost all day (excluding school); they get back around 11:00 at night and don’t go to bed until 1:00 am, because of how their day was scheduled. It’s crazy and a little insane how our society has that constant push to go, go, go. There’s never a break, or leisurely pace.

I can say when me and family went to Ecuador, I could care less what time it was. I go up early in the morning and went to bed whenever. Our days went by according to what we did, and the projects we helped out with were finished whenever they were finished; there was no set date or time. We took each day accordingly. I can admit it was hard to adjust back to my “regular” pace of life. I suddenly had to be places right on time and and leave when it was over almost immediately. I suddenly had to get up for school; set my alarm clock, and make sure I stayed on my morning schedule.

I tell you all this because once in a blue moon do we sit down and read God’s word. We tell ourselves, “I need to make time for Christ.” And maybe a few mornings we read the Bible and study a passage, but rarely do we continue this in an appropriate manner. We get caught up in life. We get caught up in this day and age’s way of how things are thought to be; not how they should be.

Are you familiar with the questions like “how do I make room for Jesus when my life is crazy?” and end up answering it with: “I should make time, maybe the down time later before practice, but I planned to go out and practice earlier with my friends…” and after that, it becomes a “should I or shouldn’t I” situation? For me this is, all too often.

I know we’re not perfect; no one is, but this is the very reason why we need to study God’s word and take and apply it to our lives and store it down in our hearts. That extra time you have before practice? Tell your friends you made another commitment. This isn’t lying, it is the truth. You made a commitment to God way before you made a commitment to your friends. I know it may be hard, trust me, but the rewards are worth it. Taking that extra time to spend with God will be the best thing you ever chose to do.

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