Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Ok. Now for the remainder of what I learned this semester.
I mentioned grace in my previous post and I learned how valuable grace is to me specifically and in the life of every believer that seeks to follow Christ, only this semester. I definitely don't deserve grace but am exceedingly thankful that I it has been extended to me. You know when you've done something wrong and you deserve to get the consequence of what you've done wrong but instead you are forgiven and not made to undergo the consequences, you've received grace... That's what I got. Intervarsity or IV's main vision is partly to be an "invitational community of grace". This means that when a person has a certain struggle in life and wants to gain victory over that area of their life, IV will through the people that are part of it, help back you up and support and pray for you as you deal with that struggle and either remove it from your life or look at everything from a different perspective making it easier for you to give that struggle up, instead of criticizing that Christian for doing something he or she is not supposed to do, tell them "I'll pray for you" and leave it at that.
I couldn't tell you what that approach meant to me as a Christian who was trying to give up the idol in her life. And I'm so thankful for the strength I have in Christ. When I attempted to give it up before, it's not that Christ wasn't working in me at that time, it's just that I didn't want to let Him work in me. I was trying for it all the time without completely letting Him take care of it. Anyhow, I've given that area of my life completely over to the Lord now and wish and pray that He will bring the right opportunity in my way when He thinks it best for me.
The next thing I'm about to talk about is something I've heard a few times but never actually put into practice. I've known for some time now since last semester that the best way to get something that you love, or consider an idol, out of your mind is to love something else even more. For anyone out there struggling with something, take my word for it. It's the best strategy ever and it works! The more you give yourself time to think about it, the more you fall slave to it. Stop thinking "What do I do to stop doing this or thinking about this?" and instead do something else! Don't give yourself a chance to think about how to stop thinking about it. Just do something else that will keep you busy and thinking about the things you should think about. Wow! =p Just felt like laughing at the way the latter part of that last sentence went. lol.
Anyhow, I have a feeling there are some things I'm missing out of the things I wanted to talk about. If I remember, I will post them. Until then, "think about these things" (Phil 4:8) ;-)
I remembered... just wanted to add something to what I've already mentioned in this post. Talking about loving something more in order to give up something you love so much that your focus gets shifted from where it's supposed to be - on Christ, I just wanted to also say, the best thing to love more is Christ. Shift your focus from what you struggle with and put it on Christ. Devote yourself to loving Him like you would that idol of yours, whatever or whoever it may be. Don't stop to think about it. Just love Him! Get to know Him (read your Bible), spend time talking to Him (pray!), spend time with other people that love Him (get involved in a Bible study, attend church meetings other than on Sunday, get lunch and have good spiritual conversations with Christians that love Jesus), come up with your own ideas... Let me know if you want to talk to me about a struggle you may have. I hope everyone's having a good summer.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Nearing the end of this semester... felt like I should put up a post on my thoughts about this semester. First let me tell you about the one thing I consider very important to me - the people I meet and form deep relationships with. I'm generally very reserved, but the ones that do get to know me a little better than most people I've met, know that once I get started talking, I can go on until he or she takes initiative to stop me, unless they wanna let me realize it themselves. I eventually do realize it but by then, I'm already feeling guilty about having talked too much, so usually I prefer when people stop me. However, if you could stop me with grace, without being hurtful, I'd appreciate it a lot more., because I can be unpredictably sensitive and silly at times and it's awkward when it gets that way.
Anyhow, two of the people I'm talking about are Becca and Dani (the order of names don't necessarily imply that I'm closer to one than I am to the other, I love each of them more than the other). I met these two precious girls this semester, here at ECU. I couldn't explain how thankful I am for girls like them that love the Lord and are so much more mature than I am, even being more than a couple years their senior. How the Lord brought about my meeting each of them separately and then finding out that the two of them were good friends too (making it an awesome threesome of sisters in the Lord), I really cannot explain here. I'd put you to sleep if I did. If you know the value of having a "bosom friend" (or friends) that love(s) the Lord and you, and are willing to put in their best and pray with you to help hold you up or help you stand up when you fall or are prone to falling spiritually, you know what I'm talking about. Through these two, I learned how to deal with a Christian brother or sister with grace when they're heading downwards spiritually.
So yes, there was a point in my life earlier this year and late last year when I was going through a serious low in my relationship with the Lord. I had no desire to leave my ways and come back to Him. That's the next thing about this semester I'm gonna talk about. I had something I loved and didn't want to let go. It was an idol that I never wanted to let go of - ever. This unwillingness, in one word, is called disobedience - which I had happily adopted as part of my life in order to please myself. I didn't care anymore about what the Lord wanted. I had gotten so caught up in thinking about justifying my sin and looking at it "optimistically" that I forgot that I was not being true to the Lord, that He knew my heart, and that ZERO glory was going to Him through all of this as long as I was being disobedient. But then Romans 8:28 comes to mind and I'm reminded that everything works together for good to those that love Him. I wish I could say now that all that happened during the past few years was good. Thinking of the million ways I have failed, I can't say that everything that happened concerning this idol was good, that easily, but I have do believe that God has changed me in certain ways of thinking. Christ has forgiven me, which is why I'm so thankful for the Gospel. I used to take pride a long time ago, in who I was, but all that changed a few years ago, and I didn't share that close relationship with the Lord anymore. I didn't need Him anymore because I had this idol.
You and I need God. We were made to need Him. In thinking that we don't need Him, we're proclaiming ourselves as God, thus making that a sin. The first and great commandment, Jesus said, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If all I really care about is myself and feed my desires selfishly, and in the process, change myself to become someone so foreign to the Lord that I can't recognize what His calling for me is anymore, isn't that considered my idol? Or my god? That's exactly what I was doing! Worshiping my idol more than God - I was in sin, because of which I had sin in other related areas of my life too! I've triumphed in these areas though, wait, JESUS won the triumph for me! The reason I wouldn't talk about these things openly and more specifically is because I don't trust people as much as I do God. I don't need to put information here that people can use against me for whatever reason. However, that does not justify my sin. I do not deserve forgiveness for what I've done in the past, but I do require restoration and I'm in that process right now.
Another thing that caused a change in me this semester is the desire to bring back several things in my life that had stalled due to my sin. Some of those things are reading my Bible and praying regularly while getting to know Him better, a passion for reading books, being there for friends, loving them like Christ, being there for my family, and bringing back the gentleness and humbleness that Christ would have had He been in my place while dealing with my family. Surrendering is the key. I need to give in to Him - let Him work in me instead of keeping the reins of my life in my hand. He's my pilot after all. If I don't trust Him, who will I trust? Pray that I will "trust and obey... to be happy in Jesus" because there's nothing else in this world more worth it than trusting in the Lord. Such immense peace, hope, and love becomes apparent in life, that it starts flowing out of your life in such a manner that people who don't know Jesus personally see that there's a difference. But first, you have to be in tune with God and have the willingness to be that way. Will you pray for me?
I will post more about what else I learned this semester. I feel like half of my learning was not from the classes I took this semester. But until then, whoever you are, God be with you!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Being a part of our materialistic, money-focused generation, in many areas of life, I have watched, learned, and practiced at least some pride in my everyday dealing with people, be it asking someone for a favor, a romantic interest, changing one's major, business decisions, giving out information, apologizing, forgiving (others and ourselves),... the list can go on... Why waste time for attitude and pride when you can have it all the honest way? Not only is it easier to tell others (wisely) what is on your mind, but it also saves a lot of time and misunderstanding and can help bridge gaps between two people when they relate to each other.
I know everyone has their own way of saying and doing things but as far as I've observed, straightforward is the best way. No beating around the bush, no pride nonsense, just simple, plain old-fashioned truth. Okay, reconsidering what I just typed, I feel like the old-fashioned part of it may not be true, since it was the same way in "old-fashioned" times too. What I'm driving at really is the fact that we need to be more real in our lives instead of putting up a face when it comes to making decisions. That doesn't mean jumping into conclusions as a result of every possible thought that occurs in your head, however, it only means that life might be a little bit... no... a lot, harder most of the time because it'll probably make it harder for people to see that you mean what you say and say what you mean, but it'll totally be worth looking back at with satisfaction and thinking that it was worth it!