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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eyes Wide Closed

How many times a day do you pass people and say something along the lines of, "Hello. How are you"? Five times? Fifteen times? Thirty times? How many of those times do you actually stop to acknowledge their response? I don't mean how many times do your ears hear what they're saying, but how many times do you actually look into their eyes to check if they're simply giving you the socially acceptable (and expected), "Fine, and you?" or if they really, truly are alright.

Certain people pass me in the hallways of my college every day, and they always look me in the eye as they pass and say, "Hey! How ARE you?!" I can reply with any random conglomoration of words such as, "Pink elephants love purple and green Skittles, and you?!" and they will, without fail, respond with, "Good! Thanks!" I always walk away from them wondering why they bother to ask when they obviously don't care about my response. They make me feel invisible.

Over the past several months, I've been carrying some heavy burdens. After the death of a friend last semester, I began to realize how focused I'd become on my problem and how little care I was taking in helping my friends to bear their burdens. I was listening to their troubles and even praying for them, but my heart was tricking me into thinking that I was being selfless. In reality, I was still so focused on my problem that I was neglecting to reach out to others in the smallest of ways that's available to each of us everyday. Sure, I was praying for them. Yes, I was greeting people and asking how they were doing; but my heart was far from truly caring about their responses! I was seeing them physically with my eyes and hearing them with my ears, but that's as far as it went; it was like I was looking at them with my eyes closed!

God brought to mind 1 Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." I began to realize how I'd been clinging to all of my hurt and my burden instead of casting it at His feet and allowing Him to care for me. By taking my burden upon myself, I was telling God that I didn't want Him to care for me, to help me, to guide me, and I was crippling myself when it came to seeing and helping to bear the needs of those around me.

Sometimes, it isn't a burden in our life that blinds our heart to the needs of others. A desire for a certain thing or relationship can so consume our time and energy that we forget about people. Whenever we allow one thing in our life to become our focus, we'll lose sight of everything else and when our focus is on something in our own life, our entire world will revolve around that one central thing or idea. How much better would it be if we were completely centered and focused on Christ? With our focus on our Heavenly Father, He would be free to bring people across our path who need us to be focused on Him so that, by our testimony and the grace He's given us in our own trials, we can help them bear their burdens. This can only be accomplished when we are stayed on Christ.

When we give our burdens and worries to God, He gives us people to whom we may minister. After the death of my friend last semester, a seemingly random girl came up to me and asked me to pray for a health need back home. Last night, someone asked how my mom is doing with her Lyme Disease; I was able to explain to her what is happening and what the doctors are looking at for treatment options. When I finished, she asked how God could do this to my mom and I shared with her how Job had horrible things happen to him but it was God allowing it in his life that He might receive glory. I talked about the man who was born blind, not because of his sin or his parents' sin, but so that God might be glorified in him. After some time, without me prompting her, my friend looked at me and asked if she could come to church with me. This wasn't an opportunity that I was seeking or one in which I was necessarily even thinking about inviting her to church, but God used this trial to touch her heart. Had I been focused on how horrible it all is and how 'wrong' it is that God is doing this 'to' my mom, I may not have had the chance to see my friend come to church. If I'd been consumed with my burden, instead of having cast it at my Abba's feet, I would have lost an opportunity to be a witness.

I'm learning through all of this to look at people with my eyes and my heart wide open. I am asking God to keep my heart and mind stayed on Him. With my focus on God, I am ready to be used by Him. With my focus on myself, I behold the world and those around me with my eyes and heart "wide closed"; I'm seeing them physically, but they are invisible to my spirit. I never want to walk one more day without being focused on God that I may see the needs of those around me, and be thankful for the things God is doing in me and through me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Excuse me, but you have a nuclear explosive in your mouth......

I am a firm believer in the power of both the spoken and the written word; words have broken apart families, merged corporations, brought war to countries all around the globe, unified countries in times of trouble, and comforted the hearts of many. I think that we sometimes forget the power of the tongue. We see power corrupted by financial giants and misused by Hollywood stars all the time and we fail to see how the lesson relates to our own lives. Each of us has power. How we use our power greatly effects the rest of our lives.

My Bible says, "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" James 3:5 The tongue is small and seems so insignificant, but in that tiny muscle lies the power to tear down and destroy lives by one careless word. How many people are no longer in ministry or even in church due to the careless words of a fellow believer? How many new Christians have stagnated after a brief time of being saved because of some wise old bat who decided it was their place to set them straight and not allow God the time to work in His new-found child's heart? I've seen people destroyed based solely on the exaggerated stories of one young person and it's devastating to those involved! Not only is that person's life destroyed, but when the person spreading rumors comes to realize the full effect of their words, the guilt that comes over them is almost crushing in some cases and can cause health problems and hinder God's working in their life. We need to watch our tongues and consider the end of the thing BEFORE we speak!

You've heard the old saying "Look before you leap"? Well, I say it's even more important to "Think before you speak"! If you leap without looking and sprain your ankle when you land on a rock, you're hurt; if you speak something cruel without thinking, you not only hurt the person at whom your comment was directed, but you also cause those listening to think less of you and set an example for the less mature hearers that it's 'ok' to be cruel. You damage your testimony and reputation with one careless word.

Controlling your tongue is NOT the easiest thing in the world. Just this morning I made an offhanded comment to a roommate that I thought was harmless. I was so grateful when she paused and said, "I'm not gonna lie, that kind of offended me." Because she wasn't afraid to tell me how my careless words made her feel, I was able to apologize right then and there and make things right! Had she not said anything and allowed that hurt to fester inside of her, we'd have a bomb in our room just waiting to go off! Our tongues are like grenades being thrown out, planted in the minds and hearts of those around us, waiting for the moment their true meaning will soak in and change that person's life; whether they'll explode and cause devastation or break through the gloom and push that person on toward higher accomplishments and dreams is up to us.

Don't destroy those around you by being dumb and throwing out your words carelessly. Watch your mouth. Build people up. Look for the complimentary aspects of those around you and SHOUT THEM FROM THE ROOFTOPS!!!!! Definitely something I have to work on, and, hopefully, it's helpful to you too.

Ok. Coffee time.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

McDonalds & Marriage

One of my greatest delights of late has been listening (some may call it eavesdropping, but..... whatever) to conversations around me at school. The majority of them seem to be centered around finding their 'significant other', but you always have the random doctrinal, financial, and philosophical debates going on - those never interest me. My focus has been on the marital discussions.

I find it humorous that Freshmen and Seniors alike are so focused on being in serious relationships that they'll allow their grades and practically every other aspect of their lives to suffer because they are consumed with this one thing. These guys can't seem to hold down a part-time job at McDonalds and yet here they are, considering their list of "possibilities" for their future Mrs. Loser. What in the world?!?!?! If you are unable to hold down the simplest of all jobs, turn in papers on time, do your homework, pick up your dirty socks, and remember to brush your teeth and apply deodorant, you PROBABLY shouldn't be thinking about marriage yet. Just sayin'.

Second really funny aspect of these "Marriage Counselling" sessions is when the poor, unsuspecting Freshman is asking the STILL SINGLE SENIOR for dating advice! Two friends of mine were shopping just before Christmas. The Freshman, whom we shall name Herman, had recently developed a crush on a certain upperclassman and Herman's brother, whom we shall name Marvin, seemed to be just the type of wise upperclassman to help him choose an appropriate Christmas gift. Marvin is a decidedly single guy who is tired of being at the mall by this time and wants nothing more than to be home. Herman chooses this particular time to ask Marvin what he should buy for his sweetheart that wouldn't be too serious or suggest their relationship is deeper than it really is. Marvin suggests a certain item he is SURE she'll LOVE and insists it's the perfect gift to give a girl who's your friend but not your girlfriend; Herman, the poor, clueless Freshman purchases said item and takes it home, rather pleased with himself for having heeded the advice of his wiser, older brother. One word for you: DUMB. Marvin chose the closest thing at hand to suggest for his brother's sweetheart in order to save himself the trouble of putting actual effort into choosing an appropriate gift. In the end, Herman purchased a Foot Bath (the kind your Grandma uses to soak her bunions) as his first Christmas present to his beloved. This could have been avoided had Herman sought advice from someone actually IN a relationship! Just sayin'.

Yesterday, I spent quite some time locked in a bus full of college students. I had the opportunity to listen to a couple of these conversations going on around me simultaneously and was seriously having to hold back the laughter. After a bit of time, the Lord started to speaking to my heart and began convicting me. No, He wasn't convicting me about my eavesdropping; He was convicting me about my level of contentment. As I sat there, listening to the friendly banter and advice swirling around me, I suddenly realized that I was caught up in the same kind of obsession as those around me. No, I am not consumed with finding a boyfriend or husband but I'm essentially partaking in the same folly! Allow me to explain.

Any time I seek after or attempt to obtain anything that God has not given, I am withholding the blessings of God on my life! Until I can honestly be content with what I have physically, relationally, and monetarily, God will not be able to give me more. The Bible tells us to be content in whatever state we find ourselves and yet here we sit, always talking about the future and how we're striving to gain ground in our lives and listing all that we think we need in order to be happy. Sometimes, McDonalds IS God's will for this time in your life! Perhaps it's His will for you to remain single for another year or two. BE CONTENT! Look around you and start writing down all that God's blessed you with and start saying thank you; giving thanks goes a long way in reminding you of just how unworthy and blessed you really are.

There is so much to be learned in every stage of our lives if we'll just sit up, grab a notebook, sharpen a pencil, and take some notes. I'm excited to learn all that God has for me in my single life and I can't wait to see what's coming up next! I hope that I never exchange my 'McDonalds' for 'Marriage' before God's time!

Why Blog?

I have been avoiding the world of bloggers for quite some time based on the idea that it was ridiculously needless; anything I needed to say I could say in a note on Facebook, or so I thought. Over the past several weeks, I have been feeling the urge to write more and more regarding things I believe to be important subjects needing to be addressed by someone of my generation. Whether in frustration or elation, I find myself writing everything in this little pink book of mine. The pages of said book are now filled with ramblings, rantings, and revelations. I'm hoping to save myself the trouble of attempting to read my own handwriting years from now by simply sharing these things with you all in blog form; you may never read anything that I write, but at least I'll feel better for having written!

And so..... I shall leave you for now. However, believe you me, I shall return shortly!!! :D

What?! Everyone deserves a coffee break now and then!