Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Light and Momentary

Okay friends, I came across this verse the other day and had to share - and it's especially true in my life right now.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." - II Corinthians 4:17.

So lately my life has seemed pretty much non-existent. I wake up every morning realizing that my day won't even end with me at home before 10pm. Often I am overwhelmed by the extreme amount of school work, business work, Cheer work, and personal relationships - and it gets to the point that I feel as though I can't even function. There are days that I sit in my bed and think, "whats the point of me even waking up anyways?" or "What do I have to look forward to?" I even sometimes despise the fact that I'm an adult now and can't have all the fun I had in my youth. It's frustrating and scary and often just plain annoying to be at this place in life.

However, this semester I'm taking an International Film class that is throwing me back into reality and making me be GRATEFUL for the life I lead. In the past two weeks we've watched "City of God" and "Innocent Voices". Both films depict the lives of children who are either thrown into armies at the age of 12 and told to beat, rape, and kill their own family members or are turned to gangs for their own survival. These films show the extreme poverty of 3rd world countries like El Salvador and many African countries. I can't even put into words the emotions that come over someone when they realize that innocent children are living lives of "normalcy" - which to them means someone close to them either dies or gets hurt everyday. There is no value in human life and the poverty just makes things worse for them. They hide on their rooftops or in trees from the army officials who are coming to steal them away from their childhoods. The cycle is never ending and each generation keeps it going. The children get younger and younger when they are recruited and seeing an 8 year old kill his 5 year old brother will definitely give you a wake up call. It's devastating and it's happening more now than ever before. But as Americans we always seem to put a blind eye to the "problems of the world".

It's after seeing films or reading newspaper articles like this that I literally sit and look at myself - almost disgusted for even complaining that I have can go to school or I have a job. What gives me the right to complain when there are people whose lives are thrown away so easily? What gives me the right to whine because I didn't get enough sleep last night? There are children and mothers around the world who would give anything to sleep peacefully for one night. What gives me the right to be frustrated with the "overwhelming" amount of time I've lost on furthering myself? There are families all around the world that give their OWN lives to save someone they love. I'm beginning to realize that my light and momentary struggles with school, work, and relationships are absolutely NOTHING compared to the extreme fear that more than half our world deals with every day.

Praise the Lord for giving us the eyes to see and the ears to hear so that we may change our outlook on life and instead of being frustrated - being grateful and thankful for the many blessings He pours out on each of us everyday. For our struggles are "light and momentary" compared to our eternal life with Him after this world passes away.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Love Actually - Teachings from the Pulpit

Love actually is all around. It's in the glance of a lover to their love. It's in the eyes of a mother hugging her children. It's in the hugs of a father for his son. Love is everywhere - if you just look close enough you will truly see that it's all over this world. This week Pastor Mike discussed the love of Christ for His Church in his message entitled, "Stranger than Fiction".

Often times we find that we reject the love of another, and especially God's love because of our fear. Fear is a paralyzing emotion that forces everyone to freeze. Recently, in my own life I've found that fear has held me back from accomplishing the things I've always wanted to do. Looking back over the past two years or so, I've seen me go from a confident, enthusiastic girl into an extremely fearful, stressed, and emotionally drained woman. I feared everything from food poisening, to failing at something, to losing someone I loved, to bridges, even to the point that I was afraid to drive my own car. I don't know where the fear came from, but often times hindsight is better than foresight. I now realize that the reason I was so fearful was because I had put Christ out of the center of my life and into a closet somewhere. I started depending on people instead of God. I started trusting only myself, not Christ. And through that I went into a depression, truthfully loaded with crippling fear.

However, over the past few months I've begun to realize that I have nothing to fear except a life without God. Pastor Mike put it this way today, "Where there is sin, there is bondage". And I was sinning against Christ by pushing him aside and by my own pride deciding that I knew better than Him. Hebrews 4:15 puts it this way, "For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet is without sin".

The first step to get out of bondage is to 1. Recognize where you've falled short of God's Best for your life - get real an evaluate your life choices. "When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long... Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the Lord." And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone!" - Ps. 32:3-5

The second step is to 2. Replace your agenda with God's - agree with God's plans for your life - not your own. Living with your eye on the past only hinders you from achieving great things in your future. "There is no fear in love. But perfect lvoe drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." -I Johns 4:18

And third, we need to 3. Receive Healing by forgiving yourself. This is vital to being able to understand the great love of Christ. And before we can forgive ourselves we have to forgive those who have hurt or abused us in the past. For me, that's forgiving my own father who for years held me in bondage of emotional and physcial abuse and one who choose to find another woman to satisfy his "needs" instead of coming to his own wife. His addition to hurting us has made me so bitter towards men in general. It's made me not trust any man. However, bitterness is not an option - because it's only holding me back from living my life while my dad lives his without a care in the world. And often times when someone is abused for years we blame ourselves for the abuse by reciting things like, "it's my fault because I'm not good enough" or "he's doing this because I'm a disappointment". The questions roam in my head, even to this day, "Why doesn't he love me?" "Why am I such a disappointment?" = the fact of the matter is that it's not about me - it's about my father's insecurities and problems.

So finally, we need to realize that love covers a multitude of sins. Once we have taken the steps to get the healing we need - we need to "love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins" -I Peter 4:8 And God loves us always, unconditionally, deeply, and forever - We are loved!! :-)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Teachings from the Pulpit

Marriage- we are gathered here together today to speak about Marriage. That's right kids, Pastor mike has discussed the institution of marriage and how we are to act within the sacred relationship between man and woman. There were some wonderful insights spoken today and new light shed on the importance of marriage and how we are to work together to make a marriage successful.

First off, each and every one of us has desires in life - owning a home, having a nice car, traveling, raising a family. Often times when we take the step into the convenant of marriage our desires turn into expectations. We expect our spouses to provide a house or a family or a car, instead of going into marriage with mutual goals and wants to work towards together. It's selfishness that leads to our expectations in marriage- because too often, as humans, we want what we want when we want it.

Selfishness - that is the number one reason that so many marriages have problems and fail in the world today. Selfishness. Isn't it incredible to realize that we have the ability to make or break any relationship in our lives by the amount of selfishness we carry into the relationship? What's the point of bringing someone else down for our own gain? There is none - we are here, as Christians, to build each other up and touch lives around us that don't know Christ - and how are we going to do this if all we can think about is ourselves? Interesting...

Now for the wives. We all know the scripture found in Eph. 5:22 - "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord." What does this really mean? Is it that women are called to be men's doormats in the world -to serve them and clean up after them, in essence being their maids? No - absolutely not! What Paul is teaching us is that our of Reverence for Christ we are to submit to our husbands. Out of love and respect to our Savior we are called to love and respect the man we are given while here on earth.

And husbands - the verse for your lives is Eph. 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." What this verse means is to literally sacrifice your life as Christ sacrificed his life for every human on earth. That means loving your wives self-LESSly and communicating to her by your words and actions that she is a priority in your life and of utmost importance. This means, in essence, choosing your wife over the duties this world calls you to (work, sports, friends, etc). By loving your wife sacrificially you show your love not only for her, but for Jesus.

Mike closed with this question "What does your spouse owe you?" The answer? Absolutely nothing. Christ placed our significant others within our lives to display to His children His sacrificial love for us - so that we may understand first hand, all that He does for us.

The best part of the whole sermon was the example Pastor Mike gave about keeping our spouses on a "short leash". He literally had a leash on the stage and depicted how we treat our spouses on a daily basis "Oh, you got home on time tonight, good boy!" or "Oh, you actually were smart with the money I gave you - good girl!". We literally try to parent our spouses instead of loving them and working with them on an equal playing field. A good marriage is precious and it needs to be tended to and cultivated in order to flourish, especially in today's society. And prayer... prayer is a powerful tool at keeping any relationship alive and well today - a couple that prays together stays together.

Love and Respect. It what it all boils down to. Men love your wives, women respect your husbands. It's actually all found in a great book too - ironically called "Love and Respect". I hope that each and every one of you find the person that demonstrates God's love and Respect toward you. That we may each be extremely blessed in every relationship within our lives - and never take those around us for granted.