May 30, 2008

Mutually Encouraging

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. -Romans 1:11-12

I think because everyone is so different and responds to words, actions or gifts differently, we may never be sure of how to really encourage someone. I mean, you might tell someone they did an awesome job when really they wanted a high five or a hug. Or you might give someone a gift to show encouragement and appreciation when really they just want you to spend time and talk with them. There are people in my life that I haven't figured out yet, so I have a hard time encouraging them because something that may work for me may not work for them.

But in the book of Romans, Paul wants to meet with them so that they can be encouraged by each other. Not by their words or gifts or actions or time, but by their faith. They're example of faith in God is enough to be an encouragement.

I can think of tons of ways to try and encourage those around me, but the simplest one is to continue to have faith in my God. I know this is true because I am most encouraged when I see my closest friends continue to have faith in Christ through everything in their lives. It is by their own example of faith that I find encouragement to continue on in mine.

May 29, 2008

Lost and Found

One of my favorite blogs to read is Stuff Christians Like. Most of the time it's just sarcastic comments about the ridiculous things that churches and Christians tend to do out of habit, but every now and then he sticks in a post that teaches me a lot or speaks on an issue I'm dealing with. Today's post is about faith as an event. The post was good, but the last 2 little paragraphs got to me.
Lately I've been feeling lost. Not only that, but I haven't felt like anyone has been trying to find me; not God, not my friends or my family, no one. And that's hard for me to deal with. I agree with Jon when he says that we all want to be found. I've found myself "hiding" in the past in an effort to get anyone to notice I was gone just so that someone would come looking for me. It usually doesn't happen.

"We need to be found. Not once in a single moment of salvation but daily. Hourly even, we need the God of the universe to come running. To find us. To know us and love us."

I really agree. I don't know what it takes to get my mind wrapped around the fact that I do have a Father who is looking for me and loves me and wants to find me. Maybe if I can figure that out, I'll actually be found.

May 22, 2008

Before Anything Else

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
-1 Peter 4:8

"Love" has been popping up in front of my eyes all over the place since I started reading the New Testament. It's put first all the time. Jesus says the most important commandments are about love. Loving God and loving each other.
Love, at least in my world, isn't important enough. It's not valued and practiced. I mean, trust me, I love plenty of people. I love my entourage (as small as it may be these days), my best friends, my family, my "family" (even if they're leaving), my God. But I still don't love enough. I don't love the people who don't love me, the people I'm not close to, the people I don't respect, the unlovable. I don't often reach outside of my comfort zone to offer love and mercy to those who hurt or offend me. I don't speak out of love all the time. Actually, I probably speak more out of hurt and anger than I do love. My actions don't show love all the time, either. I don't serve others in love as much as I should. Really, I have the potential to do everything and always speak out of Love. The least I can do is make the effort.

we were bought with Love, so we walk in Love
You're calling us out of ourselves to Love a world that's broken down
so we walk in Love

May 20, 2008

Baby Steps

In James 3, it talks about taming the tongue. I think one of the first and most helpful things I could do to submit myself back to God would be to tame my tongue. This involves cursing, yelling, fighting, gossiping, etc.

The most interesting part I see in this is:
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have een made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? [James 3:9-11]

We find it really easy to praise God, and we find it really easy to badmouth each other. One of the things my girls and I talked about tonight in small group is how people make "noise" by acting and claiming that they are Christians and turning around to gossip and talk about things they probably shouldn't be talking about. So instead of building each other up to become one body worshiping God, we create "noise" that tears us apart.

Step one: tame the tongue.

May 19, 2008

James 4:1-10

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.

I find myself fighting a little bit more with the people I love the most (one in particular) lately. I just find myself being short and easily angered or annoyed. Then I end up snapping, which hurts someone else's feelings, which makes me feel like crap, and then no one wins. Nothing serious has happened lately, but my selfish desires in my heart don't build up a sense of peace and joy, they leave me empty and wanting. Things that don't even seem to relate to my anger have been causing me to fight. I try and I try, but I cannot have what I want.

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

In all honesty, I haven't really been asking God for...much of anything lately. Haven't asked for peace, joy, strength, a better temperament. I haven't been asking Him for a lot of things I would do good to have. And if I do ask, it's not because I'm thinking of how I want God's glory to be displayed through my life or because I want to better serve those around me; it's because I'm uncomfortable and unhappy with the condition of my heart and I want to be happy.

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?

I feel like the world and I have a great friendship lately. God and I? Not so much. I'm just really good at being lazy; at lowering my standards to this world's. I've always loved thinking of God as jealous of our love. It's easy to relate to and understand. I'm often jealous when the people I love would rather spend time with someone else. My God must miss me when I spend all my time with someone else.

Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your day to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

I just need to let go. To submit my life back to God where it belongs. Because in my hands, in the world's hands, I'm dying. The Bible makes it seem so simple. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Simple solution: if I would just make the effort. If I would just submit and do what He tells me and reach for Him, then He would reach for me, too. So easy, and so hard. Wash your hands. I like that. It's time to wash myself of my laziness and stubborn tendencies. Time to refuse to accept that I can go for weeks at a time without really hearing from God or making an effort to.
It's so funny, writing all of this makes me think of Jess and how I absolutely love her honesty and openness in her blog. I love her spirit about what God has done and is doing in her life. Her willingness to admit her struggles and her humility. And I especially love watching her worship on Sunday mornings while I'm on stage. I can always see her and she always looks free, and I envy that a little bit. I think of her because her blog is titled "Mourning into Dancing," and this passage tells us to humble ourselves by turning our laughter and happiness into grieving. But it's about submission to the only One who can lift us up because of it.
Submission and obedience are the problems I've had in the last year or 2, so it all fits together. Really all I could ask for right now is for God to give me an attitude of humility so that in the end, He could lift me up again.

May 16, 2008

Freaking Hilarious

I've been lacking in the blog area lately (the only reason I've even had my last 3 posts is because of events or happenings going on in my life); sorry.
I also don't have a real reason for this post except to say that I have been laughing with 4 of the most amazing people ever tonight. To the point that my stomach was starting to hurt in this last half hour. I'm not sure if it's the pure sugar found within fun dip (crappy lime utensils and all) or just the fact that right now we're allowed to not think about moving or school or jobs or anything else besides the movies we're quoting. I seriously can't remember the last I've gotten to laugh this hard. I'm not sure if I'm ruining it by actually typing it out, but I couldn't waste this. It's worth remembering to me. Amazing.

May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

That's right, today is my best friend's birthday!
He's already gotten several facebook messages about his "old age," and I'm sure he'll get many more. But he's 26 today (and not extremely excited...except for escaping the draft. There's always a plus side). So for his birthday, here are some of the things I enjoy the most about Rob:

-His faith and his walk with God. Just in the past 6 months, I've seen him move, quit a job, spend months unemployed waiting for an answer and get another job. Not to say he hasn't struggled through some of those moves, but I've watched him remain solid in his faith that God has big things planned for his life.
-His story. He's been through some hard times, but he is one of the few people I know who is now able to brush things off and keep a positive, happy outlook on life. He's let God shape him into someone with an easygoing personality who doesn't really ever hold grudges and who handles hard times well, which definitely encourages me and helps me handle my struggles better.
-His sense of humor. This kid makes me laugh harder than almost anyone else I know (except maybe Michael and Jennica when they're together talking about the most ridiculous things). He's incredibly inappropriate sometimes, but I'm learning to deal with that haha.
-His heart to serve, especially children. Watching him work in Ekidz is awesome for me. Seeing the work and effort he puts into getting kids excited about coming to church is such a blessing. Hearing him get excited about his middle school small group is incredible, too. I know it will get harder for him to continue to serve to the same extent with his new job, but it's just another example of him being faithful to God.
-His attitude of encouragement. He's been a great source of positivity and encouragement in my life in the last 6 or 7 months. His ability to make people laugh is a source of encouragement in itself, and he does that often.

Trust me, there's more, but that's my best friend in a nutshell. He's encouraging, funny and full of energy; a LOT of energy. So Happy 26th Birthday to him. I hope it's a great one.

May 8, 2008

Chuck town

So it's already been an interesting trip to Charleston, and we've only been here for 24 hours. Here are some highlights:

-Managed to get an awesomely horrible flat tire on the way here. But Phillip changed it and drove my car the rest of the way while I chilled with Anita and the girls (that helped me and my nerves more than they realize).
-Made it up here and hung out until Phillip spoke (on restoration, preservation and conservation. Pretty awesome, in my opinion. It only took me about 5 minutes to realize it would ridiculously beneficial to take some notes).
-This morning, Lolli, SG, Rylee and me went to a small park on Daniel Island. Completely threw off the girls' schedules by not eating until almost 2:30. Thankfully, Rylee is still sleeping (though I'm not sure how, considering we both woke up at 11 this morning).

I've got a constant headache (partially from hitting my head on a large, wooden, toy boat) and I'm pretty tired, but so far this trip is awesome.

May 6, 2008


I'm having a real issue with God lately. One of us isn't completely "there," if you know what I mean. And I'm sure it's me. I just don't know where I am, but I know I'm struggling daily to understand His love for me. Because lately I just don't feel it. At all. Trust me, I still know He loves me, I'm just not feeling it or living like it, I guess. I feel out of it.
But James 1.3-4 says that "the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."
Which makes me realize that maybe I just haven't learned how to persevere yet. Maybe my faith just hasn't been tested to that level yet. It's discouraging for me to walk through life not understanding or feeling God's full love for me, but if I persevere, I might find it.

On a positive note, I get to go to Charleston this week with my "family." I'm excited to be a nanny for four days and spend some quality time with them while I still have the chance. Now if only I could just finish packing and get all of my crap out of my dorm room.
Goodbye, sophomore year.

May 5, 2008

Here I am to Worship. Just Worship.

I think it's safe to say that doing background vocal stuff on Sunday mornings is my favorite way to serve at church. I love singing, and I love being on stage. However, I know it's really easy for me to get caught up in being on stage in front of people and forget about focusing entirely on worship. The hardest part is making sure I'm not focused on the actual singing and how good I want to sound or how the harmony blends or how loud I am.
This week I experienced exactly what my job is on Sunday mornings when I'm on stage. For warm-up, run through and all 4 services at Providence, my microphone was basically inaudible (don't ask why I didn't get it fixed). It might have been on a little bit. Maybe not; I really don't know. It doesn't matter. My point is that there was absolutely no point in me being on stage yesterday in terms of singing because no one heard me. But when I consider what my "job" is on Sunday mornings -- to simply worship and encourage and lead others to worship a phenomenal God -- I did exactly what I needed to.
There are times when I get so caught up in singing. I love singing and I feel like it's one of the most active gifts God has given me (as in, I use it and people see it and it's a working gift). I know I'm good at it, too. I'm glad yesterday was a lesson in humility for me in that. I'm glad that God uses us on Sunday mornings for more than just superficial showboating. And I'm glad that he can use low microphone volume to teach me a lesson in what it means to help lead worship.