Finding Common Ground

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I recently stumbled on an article about the DNA test that supposedly proves that there was a man whose DNA traces back further than Adam and Eve (article here). The conclusion that scientists have made is that this debunks the bible, thus making it unreliable. I’m not going to argue with the science on this one, mainly because I am not that informed on the topic nor am I a scientist. But what I can say, is that this is just another “rabbit hole” we tend to go down to debunk the bible. Again, I’m not well informed but after reading the article I’m also not ignorant and going to ignore the science. With that said, I’m also going to look into my own research to see just how solid the scientific evidence is. From the article by Discovery News it does not seem completely solid, thus giving me reason to speculate.

With that said, I’m not writing this post to prove the bible or science correct. I’m writing this post in response to The MadMan Chronicles post. As I read the post, I became aware that how the author sees Christianity is in a very dark light. This is fabricated on the belief that a group of individuals actions goes across the board. For example, the comment was made that:

so now creationists have quite a conundrum to ponder:

a. the entire basis of Judaism (and therefore Christianity) is myth or

b. irrefutable proof that Adam and Eve were Black and created in God’s true image (a true horror to white Christian fundamentalists)

Although the author does specify that this is a “horror to white Christian fundamentalists”, this is not true for the majority of Christians. I go to a bible college, where I study the bible with a few hundred students and I can assure you that we are not on the same boat that Adam and Eve were of white ethnicity. There’s no real evidence in the bible of their race, thus no reason to argue they are not. Neither is there proof that God is white. The minority of Christians hold the belief that Adam and Eve were white. So before we go pointing fingers at Christians because of what a few people believe, let’s check into what the other million Christians say. On the behalf of Christians all over the world, give us the opportunity to speak for ourselves instead of placing words into our mouths. I will extend you the same courtesy even if you did not return the same to me because I’m not going to try to suppress anyone. It’s not what I believe and I know Jesus’s example is one of peace and love. Beyond that, what really set my point of writing this blog was the Editor’s note:

Editor’s Note : please keep your dissertations, short novels, and epic fictions you call comments to yourself. You have an enormous wealth of forums you can Bible thump in… This is not it. If you don’t believe in reality, that is your right, as it is mine NOT to believe in white Jesus, Yahweh or whatever you choose to name the superstition that prevents you from understanding the human genome.

This article is for the people who are awake. I AM that I AM … And that is the person who won’t waste our readers time with your diatribes.

If you truly believed in this god you cry about, you would be out doing charitable works, not trolling scientific articles. Now go in Peace sleepwalker.

The editor here asks us to not respond in comments and I understand their plea. They do not want arguments to be spun and a ruckus to be had. I completely understand why they honestly do not what to have a bunch of people arguing the bible on a post where they don’t want to listen to it. They do not want their blog to become a Christian Vs. Non-Believer showdown. I respect that. What bothers me is how they speak of oppression, but then basically make me feel as though Christians should be oppressed through their post. Maybe I’m taking their words too far, but again they did say I don’t believe in a “reality”. I’m not living a Christian dream. There are many reasons to believe the bible is very real and there are many professionals who can explain why there is logic behind Christianity. The famous C.S. Lewis has a great perspective. The book More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell also offers some insight. The statement that my God is superstitious is obviously going to set a fire in me and to any other Christian. What I believe in is not some superficial fabricated lie passed down for centuries. Christians are not lunatics who have no sense, I bet you know some Christians who are very logical and knowledgeable. To simply state that because we believe in a God who did create a man named Adam and from his rib a woman named Eve unrealistic, I’m sorry but a majority of science does prove that we’ve all come from one line. Beyond that, where is the authors logic that there were suddenly several of beings who procreated? In any respect, I am not trolling and neither are the other Christians that are claimed to in the article. For many of them, the internet and blogging are an outlet to share what we have found. Which is to say: Grace, Forgiveness, Purpose, and a true understanding of Love. A love that so boldly gave up a lot for our species, but has given increasing joy to me personally. What is wrong with wanting to share that with others? Yes, some may go about in the wrong way. That happens because humans are not perfect, I’m sure you have found that out. My plea is that you see Christians are not all the same. We’re all different, we all believe different things about the bible and that’s okay. There are many who want to find reason in every part of the bible, find the answer to all our questions.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NIV)

Solomon was given much understanding and wisdom through the Lord and even he could not explain everything. We’re not supposed to. Some of who God is will always be a mystery. The humbling fact is we do not need all the answers. I’ve struggled with this fact time and time again. It seems so crazy to believe in a God who created everything. I understand why many do not believe. I’m not ignorant of that, though I do hope that someday you may seek the Lord and find what He has for you. This is apart of my faith, if what I believe in is true, then would it not be selfish for me to keep you from a love far greater than we can possibly comprehend. What I’m asking you readers is that we come to some kind of mutual understanding between each other. I do not want to thump a bible on your head, but I do want to express to you that I have a belief that does have supporting science and reason. I want to express that not all Christians are the same and yes, many times we are human. No matter if you extend this courtesy or not, I will respect you as a person and love you for that.

I’m just a college student, I don’t have a degree. I am a normal 20 year old woman, who honestly is still finding her place in the world. I’m not a professional nor am I claiming to be more intelligent than anyone. As one human to another, let’s find a middle ground where we respect where each person comes from in a reasonable way. I’m tired of seeing people unequally represented from all sides. I pray we all learn to go about each situation of differences in love. It might not always be easy because there are debates, such as the one presented in the article. But even through such debates, we can find a common ground to say we respect each other enough to say what we need to say and step back. This is problem on both sides and one we all have to come to see.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16 (NIV)

Posture Dictates Relationship

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Sometimes I can be very good at pushing everyone away. On the same grounds, I think it is easy to push people away. We are in a culture that says “if someone is not trying, then they do not deserve you.” I think that has it’s time and purpose, but if we apply it to everything we would see relationships cease to exist. Everyone has good and bad days, weeks, months, and even years. No one is perfect, but that does not mean just because someone stops saying hi to us every time we pass them or the relationship is not how it once was that you have to end the relationship. It takes one person to change a relationship.

Yet, we see this happen all the time in modern day American culture. We see relationships failing, we see the importance of having friendships being thrown out the door all because we have a culture that is full of self and not selfless. Here’s what I’ve come to realize: Our posture towards someone dictates the relationship. In other words, if I’m turned towards someone I’m giving them my attention, I’m attending to what they want. But when I’m turned away, I’m straining the communication and therefore am making the choice not to attend to the other person.

I find I do this in my walk with the Lord. Most of the time God and I are on a good page and I’m open to what He wants. Other times, I veer off the page and I turn away. It’s not always easy to listen to what God wants for us. The Christian life is not some walk in the park. In fact, it’s a fight.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)

Paul writes to Timothy in verses 11-16 about being above reproach. He calls Timothy in verse 11 to pursue a righteous and godly life, which includes love, perseverance, and gentleness. If we are not fighting this good fight of the faith, then we are turning away in our relationship with God. We’re letting our posture towards God dictate the relationship. Thus, we have to constantly check our posture.

Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you have forgotten me and turned your back on me, you must bear the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution. Ezekiel 23:35 (NIV)

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary connects turning our back on God as the root of all sin. Ezekiel is speaking on God’s coming Judgment on Ohlibah. They’ve turned on God and looked to other nations, who are only going to turn their backs on them in return. It is interesting how it always goes this way: We turn our backs on God and towards something that seems to be turning towards us. But somehow the thing we leave God for always turns it’s back on us. Yet, we have a God whose posture towards us never changes. He is always facing us, we are the ones who chose to turn away. In the Lord’s grace and mercy He constantly pursues us and tries to remind us of how much He loves us. But it is in our court if we are going to choose to receive it.

God gives us a great example of how to be in relationship. We see that He constantly pursues us and He never stops. Yes, He gives us space, it’s important to give people space. But even in giving us space, He is still attentive to what we are saying. I think many of us take giving someone space as getting out of their hair, we tend to stop caring about what they need because we fear making things worse. In that, we only deepen the space between us and the other person. It’s important we make it known that we’ll give someone space, but also that we are here to talk when needed. But don’t stop there either. Continue to check in and remind them that you care, just as God does. God doesn’t just check out and wait for us to call on Him, He places reminders in front of us daily. With each day, we are reminded of His grace.

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments ” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.  Joel 2:12-13 (NASB)

Joel speaks to the Israel people in a time of a plague of locust. Joel goes at worship in a different way than other earlier prophets because previously they had denounced temple worship. But Joel calls us back to it, to worship with a sincere heart that is fully open to God. In other words, that our posture is facing towards God. Our posture cannot be deceitful in any way, we cannot come to the cross without confessing our sins. That is exactly what Joel reminds us of; when we come to worship the Lord we must come with a pure heart. We must check out posture daily. Everyday we must ask, Am I facing towards God today or away from Him?

I pray that you do not stiffen your neck towards God. Let God in, let His love be poured out on you. Continue to work on your relationship with Him. No, it’s not always easy and yes, you have to fight for it everyday. The world will try to offer you things, but God has something greater for you. Step into relationship with Him, seek it just as He seeks it with you. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Competence from Christ

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Man, does God has a miraculous way of speaking to me. I came into my apartment after a dinner tonight and I just felt like I wanted to give up on some relationships in my life. I plopped down on my couch and said to God, “God, I just can’t do it, I want more of you and it would be easier just to give up on these relationships and focus on you. I should be single for the rest of life and then I can just be with you and never stress about a thing. I could do it.” Of course, I backed up and was like, “but I love Your people and I definitely want to be a mother and being alone for the rest of my life does not sound like a thing I could do.” But a part of me was still feeling as though the weight of putting work into all these relationships was draining. I’ve felt like I have been personally responsible to please every single person I’m in relationship with and that’s just not true. Don’t get me wrong, people are so important. But if people are straining your faith, or making you go back into old habits, they are just not good for you. They’re hindering you and it’s not that it will always be that way, but sometimes you just need to take a step back.

This might not be completely relevant for everyone, but I know for me I strive for perfection a lot. Which is silly because there’s no way I will ever be perfect. There was only one perfect person to walk the Earth and that is Jesus. Sometimes it’s good just to remind myself, I don’t have to hold myself to those standards. But in honesty I don’t always remember and so I want to be perfect for everyone. I strain myself to fit to every person’s expectations and most of the times that’s just not possible. Thankfully, I have a God who no matter how much I fail, no matter how many times I miss the mark, or make a bad decision, He still loves me. To just meditate on that rejuvenates me so much because I do fall often.

22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:22-24

These verses are such a great reminder for all of us perfectionists. Nothing that we do will ever make us right with God. We are made right through Jesus Christ. Though we may fail at times and fall short, God is so gracious. It’s good to humble ourselves and completely surrender to God. The honest truth is that we won’t match up to everyone’s goals for us. Yes, we should strive to meet those goals, but we should only be doing these things if they are for the right reason. We strive to be better because of who we are in Christ and what He asks of us. You should never bend to every persons will because ultimately they are not the Creator of the universe. God’s will is what you should desire in every moment. It’s not always easy to put aside our own agenda’s. As humans it’s natural to desire what we want. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. So what do we do? We hold onto what Christ has done for us and through Him, and only through Him, can we accomplish what God wants for us.

Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

If I’m honest, I love the Corinthian Church. They may have had a lot of issues going on through the church, but without them we would not have two amazing letters. The letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians were full of love and teach us so much. What I love about this specific passage is that the Corinth Church must have been having issues using the law as a merit. They were holding the laws from the Old Testament and finding their security in that. I love how the NIV uses the word competent. The dictionary defines competency as: having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully. So basically what Paul is saying that we get all our skill from Christ. Nothing we do is done without God. Whatever skill you have, God’s given it to you for a purpose. Allow Him to use it, give it up to Him so that He gets the glory. Normally, when I blog or when I write something I always remind myself that this was not my own. God put something on my heart and spoke through me. When we do remind ourselves, it glorifies Him.

I think sometimes it’s easy to get lost that doing the things Jesus asks of us equal our eternity in heaven. We mix it up sometimes. But the real equation is: Jesus equals Salvation. The whole point is we cannot do anything on our own. Our qualification comes through Christ and from Him. We are His. Delight in that! You are chosen by God! He did not choose you because you memorized bible verses, or that you go to church every Sunday. No, He chose you when you failed that test, when you yelled at the person, when you wished for something bad to happen to someone. When you were at your lowest and when no one else thought you deserved a chance, God said “I want you, You get another chance, You are free from your past.” He cleaned you up. It may have taken some time and sometimes you may still get messy, but each time he’s there to help you up. That is your story. You’ve been set free because of Christ. He died on the cross, but death could not hold Him and He rose on the 3rd day victorious. That’s why we are to always be thankful. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.

Needless to say, God has obviously changed my perspective since plopping down on the couch. I think it’s so funny the way God speaks to me sometimes and how perfect His timing is. I was watching the newest sermon series from Elevation Church and decided to go ahead and watch one of the older ones I’m going through with a friend. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Furtick looked at the screen and said something along the lines of, “And I want someone to know not to give up on that relationship.” The sermon had nothing to really do with relationships so it was unexpected. I literally just burst into tears because when God speaks, man oh man does He speak! I had just been entertaining the thought and God just solidified for me to not do so. It’s amazing how refreshing it is to hear God speak. I had been really down about everything, but hearing that lifted me up. It reminded me of how God can bring me through everything. That I’ve gone through the valley before, but He will always bring me through. I want you to be encouraged that God has great plans for you, but you have to depend on Him. He needs to be the source of your strength and when He is, you can make it through. When you let the Lord lead you, He will do things you did not even know you could do. But it’s only through Him that it can be done. Depend on Him. Lean on Him. Allow Him to open your eyes to the great things He can do through you!

Entitlement Issues

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Sometimes I have really great devotions, like for instance today. For one, it is beautiful outside right now. There’s very few times in Florida where the weather is just warm enough with a chilly breeze. Today was that day and I couldn’t resist being out in the sunlight and feeling that cool breeze. It’s such a calming atmosphere, then add on top of that time with the Lord and it makes for a great day.

Currently I’m reading through 2 Kings and it’s been an experience. Some days I read and I’m searching for something for God to give me and I just don’t get anything. Those days, I turn to the New Testament to at least reflect on John 17 or any of the letters. It’s interesting how when I just read and enjoy what is in front of me, God shows me something. As I read 2 Kings 5:11-14 my eyes were opened to how amazing the ways of the Lord are. Naaman was a mighty warrior, he’s a strong guy but he suffered from Leprosy. His wife’s servant one day just speaks about wishing he would see the prophet in Samaria. Hearing this, Naaman goes to the King of Aram who sends him off with all these gifts and a letter. Naaman ends up in Israel and gives the letter to the King of Israel who says that he cannot do anything. Luckily, Elisha overhears and says to send Naaman to him. When Naaman arrives at Elisha’s home, Elisha does not even come out. He has a messenger greet him at the door and deliver what he wanted said. Naaman of course gets angry, who wouldn’t. You come out all the way to see this guy who told you to come see him and he doesn’t even show his face.

I think we see this a lot in the church. We come in and we expect that the pastor will attend to our needs. We want them to bend to what we want in the church, we want them to come running when we have problems. As a church, I think in someways we expect too much of our pastors. They are called to great responsibility and they are there to care for the people in the church. But if your dog dies and you desperately need your pastor to come pray over him, I’m sorry but there’s some issues. I think that’s what Naaman experienced here. He felt entilted to see Elisha, when Elisha had given him what he wanted. He was answered with what to do, but Naaman wanted more.

This is where we slack in church. The pastor is not the only person who pray. Your pastor is not the only one you can talk to. You have a whole body of believers to talk to and form stronger bonds. For Naaman, he learned this through his officers who reasoned with him. They were able to convince him to go to the Jordan river and wash himself seven times. Naaman did this and he was healed. The bible says his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s. I mean that’s pretty awesome! Not only was his leprosy healed, but his skin was even renewed. It’s amazing how when we just obey God does beyond what we thought.

What really spoke to me through this passage is entitlement. Here we have Naaman this great warrior who is favored by the King of Aram. I expect that he’s popular back home, has many friends who throw parties for him. Everyone wants to see this guy, he’s winning battles here and there. So there he stands at Elisha’s door, thinking this prophet is probably going to invite him in and heal him personally. I think Elisha had to know this in some way, the Lord worked through him and so he knew exactly how to minister to Naaman. I think it’s easy to feel entitled to things. We feel like our professors have to give us more time on this project, or our roommate has to clean the bathroom cause we’ve done it every time. In reality that’s not a way to think about things. When we think with thoughts of entitlement, we poison our soul. I know for me, when I feel entitled I can feel my whole attitude change. But just like Naaman, who had people there to discourage his entitlement issues we have people around us who can do the same. If Naaman did not have those people around him, he would have suffered from leprosy and never realized what the Lord had for him. The same goes for when we get stubborn. We miss opportunities to be blessed by the Lord. The way to change that is to keep people who are going to call you out on it close. Surround yourself with close relationships that our founded in the Lord.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6

Today, not many friendships are given to God. We have friendships to be more popular, or to not be alone. But the bible gives us examples of what a true friend is to be. We need to look for friends that are digging into God’s word and seeking wisdom. A wise friend is always a need. We can trust friends who are honest with us, even when what they are saying will feel discouraging. It’s never fun to be told, “hey you’re a little messed up right now.” It does hurt and I’m not going to down play that. But to have friends who want to see you be a better follower of the Lord, or encourage your relationship with the Lord, you really can’t ask for better. Beyond that, this is something we should all strive to be. Just as difficult as it is to hear a rebuke, it’s hard to give one. But we can’t hide our love for someone, if we care and see that our friend is going down a bad path we need to open and honest with them. To be honest in what I see is a struggle for me because it’s not fun to point out flaws. What fuels my desire to be honest is that I wish to see my friends have stronger relationships with God.

We have to learn to swallow our pride sometimes, like Naaman and listen to those around us. We don’t always need a Pastor or church leader to help with every issue in our life. Pastors are important and we should listen to them, but we shouldn’t expect them to be at our every beck and call. Call out on your friends, they’ll know you better and know exactly how to tell you like it is. Listen to those around you because you never know when it’s God speaking through them to bless you.

Don’t forget to send some appreciation to your Pastor this month for all they do. Happy Pastor Appreciation Month!

A Boundless Grace

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There’s times in life where things get crazy hectic. When it feels like everything is already stacking up. There’s so much to do and when you look at the calender they’re approaching fast. It makes us stressed and caught up in a tangle of everything. You think, it can’t get any worse than this. But yet somehow something else comes up and adds to the pile of things going on in your life. This is where I find the boundless grace of the Lord.

It’s in those moments where I lose myself in the chaos happening around me. I feel like I’m sinking and it’s hard to see over the waves crashing over me. Sometimes a small portion of me asks, “how could this be God?” Then immediately I regret it. The Lord has a plan for me. His plans are ones of prosperity and not of destitution. I’ve seen the Lord work in so many ways, yet how can I doubt when I’ve seen this. It’s in these moments in the doubting and the guilt that I truly get a glimpse into the love and grace the Father has for us.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3

I’m currently going through a family situation in which I’m leaning heavily on God’s love. Though I want to be afraid and worry about this all, I know that I must trust in the Lord. God has a miraculous way of working, His ways are greater. He has this in his hands and I know instead of feeling hurt, I should rejoice. I can see God’s fingerprints in the situation and I trust that no matter what, this has been God’s plan. It may be hard to look at in the moment, but taking a step back and breathing I can see a little more clearly.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:6-8

I know very seriously that this is the type of situation the devil wants to take advantage. He wants to stick his foot in the door and get all up in my business. Not to just hurt me, but to in some way mock the Lord. But I won’t let that happen, though there is injustice and sometimes it feels like “this can’t be God”, it is. God is making a way for something. He loves and cares so much for us and I refuse to believe anything but that. Instead, I bask in the endless, boundless grace He so freely gave. I love that Peter reminds us to cast ALL our anxiety on God because He cares for us. It’s not just because God is a great God and He can handle it. But because the Lord loves and cares for us, He wants relationship with us. He wants to be the one we take all our worries and cares to. I’ll tell you a little secret that I’ve learned, God is also the best listener. He also always has the best advice and is the one who will always be there to pick you up. All because He loves and cares for you.

As I listen to “How He loves” by John Mark McMillan, I reflect on how this accurately describes my thought process right now. There’s a specific part that pertains to exactly how it feels when the world confronts the problem of evil.

I thought about you
The day Stephen died
And you met me between my breaking
I know that I still love you God
Despite the agony
See people they want to tell me your cruel
But if Stephen could sing
He’d say its not true
Cause your good

How He LovesJohn Mark McMillan

Even though we may be at a breaking point, we lean on our love for God. Despite how it hurts and how it feels like the easy out would be to blame God, we know that’s not true. God loves us and it’s so beautiful, so long, so wide, so deep, so high that we can’t even adequately describe it. It’s not an earthly love that’s for sure. The same goes for His grace, which casts away shame and our fears. The Lord is for us not against us. Don’t ever forget it.

Be Silent, Be Still

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Lately, I’ve been completely busy. The school year has taken off and it’s been a fun adjustment. I definitely feel the major difference between Freshman and Sophomore year. Freshman year I had so much freedom to socialize and bury myself in God’s word. Sophomore year thus far, I’m trying to figure where there is time for that. Currently I’m involved in the following commitments: 5 classes (two of which are online), Cross Country, Sophomore class secretary, IJM Campus Chapter President and D-group leader. All of those take time out of my schedule and I did not include trying to find time to study or a devotion time for each day. It feels like I’m juggling a ton already and the pressure to do these to my best weighs on me a lot. As someone who likes to be scheduled and have things planned months in advanced it’s a major struggle. I’ve been seeing parts slipping and all these things are important to me. I hold myself to high standards and to see that I’m slipping well, it frustrating. My health wellness is going down the tube and probably my sanity next if I don’t figure out how to control this all.

While all these thoughts roll in my mind, I realize how incredibly absurd I am sometimes. I think at some point we all look at the story of Solomon and go, “well how could he start worshiping other gods, when he had been given so much wisdom?” Or, “In the OT God actually spoke to them, how could they ever turn away?” I know I’m guilty of it. I’m realizing now I would do just as they had done. Though it shames me now to think I could ever not be yearning for God’s heart, I see that it’s possible. I’m just as sinful, if not more, as people from the OT. The past two weeks I have struggled to just get in a once a week devotion that’s apart from my school work (bible college struggles). If I were to just lose myself in my schedule, I would slowly lose what relationship I have with God. Not that He is the reason for that, it’s completely on my own self. I think that’s one of the major struggles for Christians of all time periods. We get lost in the world. It’s not like God is going to make a reminder for me everyday, “Hey, Sara it’s time for you to spend some time with me.” Then free will wouldn’t make any sense. Instead, God is there the whole time. He has answers for me and peace to soothe my stress.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

Isaiah reminds us that though we may stumble and grow tired, if we have hope in the Lord, He will renew us. But we have to set our hope on Him. One thing that has really became important to me in my time with the Lord is being silent before Him. Probably more than anyone else, I just need to turn off my crazy train wreck thoughts and just rest in the Lord.

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. Psalm 62:1

As I read David’s words, who was a man after God’s own heart, I see that part of seeking God’s presence is waiting for Him. He doesn’t always need my chatter, after all He is omniscient. He already knows whats going on in my life. Sometimes it takes a considerable amount of effort just to shut everything down and sit still. Last night, as I knelt on the floor and tried to just be silent, I realized how difficult it can be. It was as if I just couldn’t sit. I wanted to keep moving, I wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep. I found myself repeating, “The spirit yearns for this time with God, but the flesh is unwilling.” It was a real battle for me just to pray. I was so caught up in everything that it took everything to just shut that side off.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Isaiah speaks for us the words of God and I think these are so true. I have to remind myself that silently trusting the Lord is strength. I don’t need to add all the ruckus about how it’s such a struggle. It’s better to be silent than to babble on. Further, it’s God’s loving character that leads us to trust Him. So being quiet and reflecting on God’s character gives us strength. Strength that I most certainty need everyday.

So even as the year continues on and my schedule builds, I need to find times in that schedule to fit in silence. Just because my schedule is booked, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a place in it. I can find time to be silent before God as I run. Though sometimes that seems near impossible because running is never a walk in the park, to just reflect on God’s goodness and how great and mighty He is as I run is a change. It might even help me as I run. Find time for God, make time for Him because He is your strength.

Perspective: Endurance

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One thing I have come to learn these past two weeks is endurance. I recently decided to join the cross country team at my college. Now let me tag this with a note: I’ve never done a sport, ever. I’ve been a theatre nerd my whole life. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot about my body in just two weeks. For one, I can run three miles without stopping. It may look like I’m running in peanut butter, but I can do it. Two weeks ago I couldn’t run one mile. Another thing is I have more strength than I thought. People always say it’s mind over matter. You have to teach your mind that you actually can do more. My mind, which I don’t blame it, isn’t used to my legs moving so fast or for a long time. It’s been a very encouraging journey to see that I’m capable of something I never thought I would be doing. 

With all that said, there are days like today. The sun is beating and I can’t seem to even swallow, nonetheless move my legs. It’s then that I see endurance is something that you really do have to build and it won’t always be easy. It’s not something you read about and can suddenly go, “oh, I know how to have endurance.” But it’s in the time where we struggle the most, that we build that endurance. On top of that, I’ve learned even more to depend on God to give me strength in those times when I am running and it seems like I can’t do another yard. There has been several times these past two weeks where I thought, “I’m killing myself, I can’t do anymore.” Only to pray out to God begging for any sort of strength to just keep me moving.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (NIV)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. (KJB) Hebrews 12:1

This verse is my encouragement through most trials and even when things are easy going. But since I’m redefining how I see endurance, I thought I’d look into this verse specifically to find a deeper understanding. These are 3 ways different versions of the bible have translated the original language. I always find it interesting to see how people have translated the Greek. It incredible what you can find when you pick words out and studying how that specific word ended up in your bible.

ENDURANCE – 

1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
2. the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue,stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina:
3. lasting quality; duration:
4. something endured, as a hardship; trial.
       PERSEVERANCE – 
1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc.,especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
2. Theology. continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
 PATIENCE –
1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance,misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.
 
 
After taking these three words and defining them through the dictionary a few of the definitions really helped me define what kind of endurance Paul was speaking of in Hebrews. For one, it’s endurance that you bear with despite the pain or the stress or adverse conditions. I can’t think of how many times the situation I was in was not easy, the conditions were adverse but despite it being difficult and wanting to give up, I kept up. In terms of faith, there is many times were the endurance to defend the faith or just to believe in something you can’t see or can’t reach out to touch isn’t there. Sometimes I just want to hug God, I want to be surrounded in His love and know what it physically feels like. The love of a Father who despite how many times I turn away and show how undeserving I truly am, still is right with my waiting with arms wide open. That’s the part that makes this generation that believes without seeing so great. Because that takes great strength to put yourself out there and defend someone you can’t say you’ve seen in person. Several versions use the word perseverance, so despite the obstacles or discouragement you keep going on. Despite what is thrown at you in life, the death of a family member, a broken down car, not sufficient funds you still find a way to keep believing. Even when people discourage your faith, telling you that God’s dead or you’re too weak to depend on human logic, you stand firm. You tell them God is alive, His word is active and you are strong because you see how flawed humans can be and have decided to fight against pride and depend on someone greater than the universe. You continue to lean on God’s grace till the end because it’s not always easy through the trials and pain, but eternal salvation is waiting for you at the end. Other versions use patience, which I find extremely interesting because it’s not something I would think goes hand in hand with endurance. But we need patience when we’re annoyed with those around us to show them love. We need patience in misfortune because there’s nothing like not having what you need and having to wait around for God’s plan to make things right. 
 
It’s amazing how just one word can redefine your perspective. Paul is using endurance to describe the type of run we are doing. It’s not a walk, but a run. Not only is it a run, but it’s a run that will bring on pain, stress, obstacles, discouragement, annoyance, and adverse conditions. He tells us in that verse that it will not be easy in fact there are points on the run where somethings are there to make us trip. We may fall, but that’s the thing we have to learn about endurance. You brush yourself off and push on. In fact, after getting up you realize you are stronger and you run even harder. 
 
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a]Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2
 
Verse 2 talks about how Jesus endured the cross, he persevered because (now please catch this), BECAUSE of the joy awaiting him. The whole point is Jesus died on the cross for the very sins that trip us up in this life because he knew he was winning back his people. He won us grace and mercy that we won’t ever deserve. And when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we recognized he did that for us. He did that for you! So we fix our eyes on him because he already won! He is the champion. In despite of the adverse conditions and the obstacles that are placed before us we can overcome them because we have a Savior whose already ran that race for you. He’s telling you come on, just lean on me! That’s enough for me to keep moving to have patience, perseverance, endurance, to never give up. 
 
So despite how tough the race gets, when it looks like you won’t ever make it up the hill remind yourself the race is already won. Jesus is there as a crutch to help you through it, you can’t do it on your own. Keep your eyes on him, remind yourself of the joy waiting for you. 
 
I hope this has encouraged you and gave you some perspective on just how great of a Savior we have! I hope to do some more perspective blogs on different verses in the bible. Have an amazing week!