Sunday, August 28, 2011

milk to meat.

So lately, I've been reading Hebrews. and man! There is so much big stuff here that I have missed in the past. not too long ago, God blew my mind with the concept of Atonement and His Mercy Seat (I really don't have time to go into detail about that now, though, so if you wanna know, Read Heb. 2, especially v. 14-18. look up atonement in a bible dictionary. and mercy seat. it'll exhaust you.) so anyway, last night I was reading and came across chapter 5, verses 12-14. listen to this.
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."
the crazy thing about Hebrews is that it pretty much speaks for itself. there is little metaphorical action going on, no hidden messages. it's just right there for you. like in this passage. 
and geez, Paul, way to convict me.
you should be teaching people by now, he says, but instead what are you doing? you're still being spoon-fed this basic faith. you're still on processed food, not good, solid, substantial meals. that means you're not familiar with living out your faith and striving for godliness each day. good food is for the people who've spent time and energy training themselves in godliness, and training themselves to tell good apart from evil.
and for some reason this impacts me even more because of my recent soft-foods-only-diet because my wisdom teeth surgery left me sore and now, a week and a half later, it's STILL hard to chew anything harder than fresh bread or a soft cookie. it's weird, because even after day one I was tired of eating yogurt, pudding, and mashed potatoes. and here I am, still eating them (though I feel like I probably could get away with harder foods, it hurts to eat them). 
yet isn't that how I am spiritually? being spoon-fed Christianity by going to church regularly and attending a Christian university is all too easy. I should be out there, helping others lay the basis of the faith and striving for godliness, but I am still staying on the safe side. I'm avoiding things that make me feel awkward, uncomfortable, and inadequate, instead of embracing them and how they sharpen my faith. I avoid them because they hurt. I find it easier to settle for the sermons and chapel discourses. I find it easier to get my daily Word from some song on the Christian radio station.
and while those things ARE good, I find myself quickly replacing the Best thing (God's Word and my daily quiet time) with good things (volunteering at service organizations, listening to Christian music, and reading devotionals). I've stopped training myself in godliness. I've gotten 'out of shape' spiritually and I need to get back.
last week at church, Brother David was talking about getting healthy- both physically and spiritually. he mentioned briefly how we are far too easily satisfied with eating spiritual 'junk food'. while I don't consider myself on to feed on spiritual junk food much, I all too often eat the processed stuff. I trick myself into thinking it's still good for me- it's DERIVED from the Bible! that makes it healthy. well, friends, there are plenty of foods out there that are DERIVED from healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins, but does that make them healthy? Not in the least. Sadly, we Americans often feast on the spiritual Mac-n-Cheese and Burgers and Fries, while we are being offered Steak & Steamed Veggies and satisfying, stick-to-your-stomach Oatmeal. 
my question is simply this, friends: what are you feeding your soul?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid?

yesterday was one of the craziest days of my life. I woke up at 5:30 because I was getting my wisdom teeth removed, as was my sister. we left the house in time to get to the oral surgeon's by 6:30, our scheduled appointment time. of course it was still locked up because we were the first appointment of the day. finally, the receptionist came along and opened and we sat in the waiting room a few minutes before they called me back. I was scared to DEATH! Not only did I have zero medical history before this, but I'd also never had an IV or anesthesia. I sit in the chair, and they start trying to find a vein for my IV, and couldn't find one in my right arm (making me even more nervous). finally, they got it in my left arm, and right about the time the doctor said "You're gonna start feeling a little more relaxed..." I was out. Before I knew it, they were waking me up and moving me to a small recovery room, where my dad met me. We sat in there while my sister woke up (I got done a few minutes before her)... as she woke up she got nauseated and began throwing up every 10 minutes or so. For those of you that know, throwing up is like my number one fear/most hated thing to do in the entire world. worse than spiders or heights or even needles. so naturally that made me very uneasy, but we eventually made it home without vomit all over the car (haha?) and sat on couches and conked out. The day was going really well between around 10 and 2- Lauren had recovered from her nausea, and I was sleeping off and on with no apparent effects from any medication. Then about 2:15 I woke up and went to the bathroom... as I was washing my hands, I started feeling light-headed and realized I needed to make it back to the living room so I could sit down before I passed out. on the short walk from my bathroom back to the living room, my vision started getting dark around the edges. I remember knocking over a cup of juice that was beside the couch I'd been sitting on, then saying "Sorry, I think I knocked that cup over" to my dad. Then apparently I passed out- which is really weird for me. I've only passed out once before, and it was right after I witnessed a fellow gymnast suffer a compound break to her right arm. Anyway, I awoke later (Dad said it was about 40 seconds that I was out) to Dad patting my cheek and calling my name, and asking if I could hear him. I faintly heard him talking to a paramedic on the phone and giving them our address... the next 5 minutes is pretty blurry, but just after dad called the ambulance, our oral surgeon's receptionist called to see how my sister and I were doing. The ambulance arrived shortly after, and I started crying. "I   don't wanna go to the hospital!" I insister to my sister and dad. They calmed me down enough so I could talk to the paramedics when they came in. Dad told them what had happened, part of which I hadn't heard, involving the part where I turned ghostly pale and my eyes rolled back in my head and my whole body became limp. When he finally woke me up, my heart was pounding and I started sweating profusely, and he says my face turned really red, probably because all my systems were coming "back online" and trying to wake me from unconsciousness. Anyway, the paramedics asked all these questions about my surgery, and the anesthesia, and my medical history, and the medicines I'd been taking, then took my blood pressure, and it was super-low- 96/60 I think. my pulse was a little low, and blood-sugar was normal, but they recommended that I go to the hospital to make sure there wasn't more wrong than just a low blood pressure. They said I was stable enough that I could ride with dad if I wanted to, instead of taking the ambulance, but he was scared that I would faint again and recommended that I take the ambulance. In the midst of being scared of riding in an ambulance, with some strange paramedic guy, and no family members, I was a little bit excited, secretly. I'd always wanted to see what it would be like to ride in an ambulance, without really NEEDING one, and this was probably the best situation for me to do so. lol.
Anyway, the ambulance ride was pretty cool, given the situation. they even buckled me into the stretcher and hooked me up to an oxygen machine, and put these sticky things on my forearms and calves to keep track of my vitals, and checked my blood pressure every 5 minutes. the paramedic that rode in the back with me was extremely nice, and we talked about my degree and classes and books, and how long he'd been an EMT and I asked him if he knew a man that used to be an EMT whose kids I babysat the past two summers. Then I rode in the dinosaur wheelchair to triage (RAWR!), and back to little room #5 of the ER, where I remained for about four hours. they checked my blood pressure more, and asked lots of questions, and forced Gatorade down me (which I later threw up), and got a urine sample... all to conclude that I was severely dehydrated. I felt a little stupid having to go through all that, only to find out that it was dehydration and not some intense medicinal allergy or something, but my parents both pointed out that they were glad it was JUST dehydration, and that we knew for sure what the problem was and how to rectify that.
After they dismissed me, the day got boring again. more movies that I slept through. more juice and gatorade. more pudding and ice cream.
I guess the point of this whole story was that I didn't freak out that much. Except for my initial reaction to having to go to the hospital and ride in an ambulance, I was calm. God kept bringing scriptures to mind, such as one of my favorites to remind myself of when I'm scared: "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1). and He sang over me. it was weird, not an audible singing, but a song in my spirit; again, a favorite song when I'm afraid, which is Zephaniah 3:17 set to music by Glory Revealed: "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet You with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing, He will rejoice over you with His song!"
Thank you, God, for singing over me and keeping my spirit at peace in the midst of the craziness. Please continue healing me- "I believe You're my healer! I believe You are all I need, You're more than enough for me."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

wait, My daughter.

having my quiet time tonight... currently working on Ruth. 
Reading this beautiful love story, watching it unfold. and right as it's about to get to the good part, Naomi tells her daughter-in-law to wait. She replied, "Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today." (Ruth 3:18) {whoa, total God-thing that 318 is kinda my number}
But isn't that odd? They're trying to find out if Boaz, their kinsman-redeemer (basically a relative who would financially support widows), is going to take them in and care for them. I don't know about you, but when it comes down to my well-being, I don't like waiting to find out urgent matters like this.
but wait, my daughter, she says.
and God speaks into my heart, as I'm trying to discern his plan for my week, my semester, my year, my life... "wait, My daughter." his timing is perfect. his plan is perfect. 
confusing? yes. troubling? yes. puzzling? yes. nonsensical? yes.
but perfect. always and forever.

I'll fight for those who hate me.

so, tonight I went to see X-Men: First Class. If you've seen any of the X-Men movies, you know it's about mutants who basically have superpowers, and these two teams of mutants, basically the good and the bad, led by Charles Xavier and Magneto, respectively. "First Class" is about the beginnings of the X-Men teams, for the most part. and at one point there's this bad guy, Sebastian Shaw, who's trying to convince a team of young "good" mutants to join him in creating the third World War, so he can destroy all the non-mutated humans that think all mutants are evil. and he says this line that just caught me... and for a couple minutes I was so focused on this line and all its analogies, I couldn't even understand what was going on in the movie.
are you ready for this?
he says, "When mankind discovers who we are, what we can do, each of us will face a choice. Be enslaved or rise up to rule. Choose freely, but know that if you are not with us, then by definition, you are against us. So, you can stay and fight for the people who hate and fear you. Or you can join me, and live like kings and queens."
WHAM! SMACK! Right in the face.
Do you get it?
Satan's lie is almost exactly that, so often. 
As Children of the King, the Light of the world, we are different from the Lost. We have the power of Christ in us and we can do so much more than we or anyone else realize. Satan loves to make us think that when we die to ourselves and are crucified with Christ, we become enslaved to his rules and regulations. While God does call out His Children to be different (consecrates us), He also knows we are human and He "will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" when we come humbly to him confessing our sins and repenting. Somehow, though, we are often tricked into believing that this faith in Christ requires living a boring, legalistic life (which is so far from the truth). Satan likes to tell us we can either "be enslaved [by faith in Christ] or rise up to rule [with him in darkness]". Which sometimes sounds good... especially when it comes to "You can fight for people who hate you, or you can come on my side and live the good life". 
But think about it, friends. Christ already warned us that the world would hate us! "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19, ESV) And again in 1 John 3:13-14, "Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." Collectively, we get this sum: Christ has consecrated us to Himself, and therefore as Christians we are not of the world, and this difference makes them hate us. They see our love for God and others (though we fail often) and realize that it is no ordinary love, and they hate the fact that they live in death while we live in love. 
So the question is, do we fight for the salvation and protection of this world that indeed DOES hate us and fear us? Or do we "live like kings and queens" with the ruler of darkness, who secretly doesn't have much to offer but wasted dreams, bitterness, guilt, and death?
I suppose when you put it in terms like this, the choice is easy. Fight for the underdog, the lost who don't always know they need rescuing. But what if you put it into reality? Let's say there's this girl you work with that you really don't like. She's a little bit of a potty-mouth, sometimes snooty, probably gossips about you, and pretends to be nice to your face. Maybe she needs a couple extra bucks to buy lunch, or a ride home after work. Isn't it easier to say "Ah, I forgot to bring cash with me today! Sorry!" or "Man, my backseat is full of junk, I really don't have room for anyone to ride with me"? That spares you the awkwardness (and even anger) of being nice to someone you can't stand. Satan may convince you that it'd put you in a bad mood for the day if you had to go those 10 minutes out of your way to take her home. And you were gonna use those five bucks to buy that CD that's discounted on iTunes this week! It would actually be better for both of you for you not to help her, he may say. 
Well I say BALONEY. 
Maybe this doesn't ring true with you, feel free to comment thoughts and even Scriptures. My thoughts are Satan is the Great Deceiver, and he wants to steal your joy, kill your faith, and destroy your life (John 10:10). and he may use something very much like "So, you can stay and fight for the people who hate and fear you. Or you can join me, and live like kings and queens." to hold you down.
Be on the lookout, friends. "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." (1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV)

Friday, August 12, 2011

decisions, decisions... are stinky.

whoever it was that initially decided grown-ups have to make tough decisions deserves to die a slow and painful death. I mean, I guess it's just kind of understood that once you're an "adult" and out on your own, you just... well, have to. But still... I think it's stupid. especially on days like today when I'm really indecisive and scared and would prefer to be a baby about it and make my mother do the hard thing for me.
I wonder if Jesus ever hated making decisions. I wonder if he ever found himself dreading the next day because he knew what was coming and didn't want to go through with it. I mean, he was human... so surely he had some of that, right?
Agh. I don't know.
Anyway. I guess the main point of all this is simply that growing up is tough. I'm not so sure I enjoy being responsible to send payments on time and decide even simple plans like how I'm going to schedule moving back into the dorm. Actually, scratch that.
I mostly hate it.
It's confusing and stressful and just plain ol' hard. But then that's what makes us better, sharpens us, blah blah blah. (I'm sounding awfully cynical tonight...) Right now I'm tired of being made better, of being molded and changed and sharpened. I would really rather be left alone and not have to make these big-kid decisions, quite frankly.
God, help me to have a better attitude about the way you're changing me. I know it's good and I know it's your will, but I just really don't like it right now. I don't like feeling so distant and cut off from everything. I don't like being alone in tough decisions, and I don't like feeling so void of optimism. Change my mind. Own me.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

warning: this blog contains raw honesty.
1- you know that grabby, tight feeling you get in the pit of your stomach? like in the chick flick when they finally kiss? or when some guy does something really sweet and you just really want him to like you? yes... my stomach has been containing a lot of that lately. which is really weird, mostly because A) I haven't been watching a lot of chick flicks and B) I don't even like anyone legitimately.... well, let me rephrase that. I don't REALLY like anyone. eh, that's not much better. it's hard to word, but the root of it is I'm just ready to have a boyfriend again (which probably means I'm really NOT ready for it, since I'm so sure of myself). I just want to like someone and be liked and for the world to be rosy and romantic.
BUT... tonight in choir practice we were singing this song, Sold Out. the bridge says, "My heart is fixed, my mind's made up. No room, no vacancies, I'm all filled up. His Spirit lives in me and that's the reason I'm sold out." and as I sang, and worshipped Him for fixing and filling my heart, I realized... my heart *IS* full. there is no more room for affection of anyone else, other than Christ. and I love it that way, I don't want to change it.
2- so basically it comes to this: I don't know what I want. the number one secret of the females of the human race. I never know what I want! I guess that makes it that much better that God gives me the desires of my heart... He gives me desires FOR my heart, then fulfills them. how awesome is that?
I know my writing is ramble-some tonight... but it seems I'm falling back in love with my First Love. how wonderful that is.
"and like a child, I will dance in Your presence! O, let the joy of Heaven pour down on me. I still remember the first day I met You, and I don't even wanna lose that fire, my First Love!"
"It's more like falling in love than something to believe in. More like losing my heart than giving my allegiance. Caught up, called out, come take a look at me now. It's like I'm falling in love."

welcome to midnight.

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