30 March 2012

Content Enough

Once you're content than the good times will still not come.

I hate to break it to you.

To be honest, I hate to break it to me.

It would sure be nice if that's the way life worked.

If I do good, then I get good. That's only good until you do bad, because suddenly you're screwed. That's not the gospel I want to live my life upon.

I really don't want to have a life where it's life that gets to decide. I rest my life on Jesus.

    "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,
so that whether I come and see you or am absent,
I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit,
with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel"   
(Philippians 1:27 ESV)

Is anyone else blown away by that? And I mean the really good type of blown away.

Commonly among Christian circles is an idea that once we've spent enough time "readying ourselves before God" and "just taking some time for me and God" that suddenly we'll be in a good place. That is atrocious. I promise you, if you look at anyone in the Bible outside of Jesus, you'll see that they never got to a time where they were in a good place. David, a man after God's heart, had a man killed in order to get with a girl after he creeped her bathing in the buff. Does that not make your skin itch? How could God use that kind of guy to fill an entire book of Psalms in the Bible where I find myself constantly in? Shouldn't I only read the books in the Bible by the good guys? Maybe I'll just read the books by Paul, since everything he ever did wrong was before he knew Christ right? Or, I'll stick with Peter - he walked on water. Obviously he's got a lot of faith ... until he betrayed Christ.

It's important to remember that Christ forgave Peter. God forgave David. We're forgiven as well. Wow.

Are you catching my drift here? I think we've got to stop preaching this idea that we can rectify ourselves; there is this idea that we're suddenly going to have it all together. We're not. Well, you might right???, but I won't.

This video relates mostly to singles, but I think it is applicable for all areas of our life where we feel discontent. Whether it is singleness, job issues, school issues, family issues, faith issues, etc.

I also super suggest a read of this blog I just read which I found stated some quality ideas. I think it applies for both females and males. Let's give up the fill-in-maybe.

A friend and I were conversing on a drive this morning about how it seems like everyone we know is in a season of getting good with God. I'm not against this, in fact, this season is one that all Christians should pursue always. I should always be living life in such a way that pleases God, aware that I sin often and need His grace all the more.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
(Romans 8:5 ESV)
I recommend a good read of Romans 8. 
I went there today to grab this verse, and was struck by the amount of good stuff there.

The problems lies when this desire to get to a good place is talked about as if it is just for a season.

I've always had an issue with people who call Bible school their "year for God". Seriously?  Lucky God, He gets one year of the very life which He provided.

This is the Jesus I know:
"Then Jesus told his disciples, 
“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
(Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)

Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I don't see the ...for a season... addition anywhere in there.

I do think that there are specific times in our lives when God calls us to give up certain things for a season or to do something very specifically in order to gain knowledge in a certain area. I'm not saying that seasons are completely wrong, but I think it is wrong to act as though we're just waiting dispatiently (remember when I talked about my love for adding "dis" in front of words - yeah!) for God to let us off the hook and be able to do what we used to do.

Part of me lives in fear of writing a blog like this. God's been walking me through the sin of living in fear. He constantly reminds me to live in faith rather than fear. God's filled my life with friends who aren't fearful to call me out on the issues where I live in avoidance of conflict due to my fear of the consequences.

So if I fear it, why write it? What is it I'm afraid of?

There's a fear about proclaiming the gospel. I know I don't stand alone in it, because I hear it from others. There is legitimate fear in proclaiming what you believe because this world we live in is filled with people who don't know Christ.

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord,
nor of me his prisoner,
but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,
who saved us and called us to a holy calling,
not because of our works but
because of his own purpose and grace,
which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
and which now has been manifested
through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,
who abolished death and brought life
and immortality to light
through the gospel" 
(2 Timothy 1:8-10 ESV)

But if I'm actually being honest, I live more in fear of the Christians sometimes.

What if someone reads this, and feels that it is unkind?

What if a friend feels like they are in such a season as what I've seemed to disagree with?

More importantly though, what if someone reads this and it pushes them to pursue Jesus?

Do I want to please people, or do I want to give glory to God?

I choose glory.

My heart will always sing I love You.

As my friend and I concluded, rather than pursuing contentment so you can find Jesus, seek first the kingdom of God. As Tami of The Cloven Heart commented on my last blog (I've condensed it by using "..."'s btw)

"I find 'comfort' the scariest place to be. As Christians we are responsible for studying and growing in our faith. It it our duty to push in, to be stretched, to be on guard so that we are not led astray ...  No, it's not easy, it's a constant effort and conscious decision to study, every time... "

Love Jesus, and then love people, and then you'll realize you actually are living well because your heart is so passionately pursuing Jesus. This does not mean that the good times will roll along. You won't be filled to the rim with happiness (and dates). But you will have the peace and hope of Christ deeply woven into each moment of your day, guarding you as you live each day as He called you to live. You might not even be content, heck, hopefully you don't want to be content.

Instead of pursuing contentment, let's just pursue Jesus.

Our contentment should be based on Christ, not circumstance.

Oh, okay cool.

26 March 2012

Scripturally Honest

Does anybody else really struggle to get into the Bible? 

After a few rough weeks (or months) of life, I'm realizing that the reason I'm feeling permanently overwhelmed is my limited amount of time spent with Jesus lately.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
        for I am lonely and afflicted.
    The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
        bring me out of my distresses.
    Consider my affliction and my trouble,
        and forgive all my sins.
(Psalm 25:16-18 ESV)

I love talking to God. Prayer is fun for me. I love discussing every aspect of my day with the Lord. I actually trust that when I ask Him to help me find a parking spot when I'm struggling to find one that He will, and that when I ask Him to help me find a few more dollars to make something work, that He will. I also trust that if He doesn't, I probably need to walk a few extra blocks or go without. I feel that when I chat with God throughout each day, it makes it harder for me to feel far from Him because if He's a part of the little things, He'll be around already for the big ones. I feel that God's really given me a joy in this discipline. Sometimes I'll take a morning, and just spend it in prayer. Those mornings are the best.

And normally this works.  My conversations with God get me through along with reading faith based blogs, listening to worship, and conversing about faith with others.

May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
        for I wait for you.
(Psalm 25:21 ESV)

Spiritual maturity is so interesting isn't it? As we grow, we need more. The needing more is painful because the time spent being disciplined takes away from other things - things of the flesh that so often seem to satisfy for at least a moment.

    Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
        according to your steadfast love remember me,
        for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
(Psalm 25:7 ESV)

Honestly though, lately I've been feeling plastic when it comes to religion. My faith is real, and I know God is with me in everything, but life is overwhelming. It's hard to go to scripture and to listen to a sermon, when I know that a glass of wine or a tv show will lighten my mood. Does that make sense? I've had a lot of conversations with friends where they don't act like sin is enticing to them. It's bothersome to me, because I struggle with their authenticity. I'm fully aware that I'm drawn to sin like a moth to any source of light. I know I need Jesus and I trust that temptation resisted will lead to spiritual strengthened.

I've felt convicted about my desires to watch tv amongst other things. I was chatting with a friend this morning about it. I'm trying to sort out if I need to give up tv or something else? Is my issue simply that I'm watching tv, or is there something deeper? There obviously is a deeper root issue, but what is it?

Good and upright is the LORD;
        therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
   (Psalm 25:8 ESV)

It's hard too because getting to the root of an issue doesn't necessarily solve it. There is anther big sin in my life that I recently figured out where it comes from, when it started - but that just means I know where it comes from and when it started. I'm still sorting out what it all means and how that changes things.

Am I alone in this? Do others find Spiritual discipline hard? I feel like everyone I talk with seems to either not study or to study and love the Word.. People always say things along the lines of, "I used to really not be disciplined, and then I got disciplined, and now I can't go a day without it". I get that, and I want that, but it's complicated. How do I get there? Is my guilt a good place to start to get myself into the word? What is the motivation? How do I get motivated by something other than guilt? Guiltism doesn't seem like the best bet.

    For your name's sake, O LORD,
        pardon my guilt, for it is great.
(Psalm 25:11 ESV)

I don't know if this is encouraging or disencouraging (sometimes I like to add "dis" to words - and I'm aware that they're fake words - but try saying that aloud - it's quite fun).

I want to end this with a portion of scripture that I do read often. Psalm 34 (below) and Psalm 25 (portions above) fall under my category of most read most definitely.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
        his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
    My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
        let the humble hear and be glad.
    Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
        and let us exalt his name together!
    I sought the LORD, and he answered me
        and delivered me from all my fears.
    Those who look to him are radiant,
        and their faces shall never be ashamed.
    This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
saved him out of all his troubles.
    The angel of the LORD encamps
        around those who fear him, and delivers them.

    Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
        Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
    Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
        for those who fear him have no lack!
(Psalm 34:1-8 ESV)

It's interesting. I added Psalm 25 into the blog once I was done writing what I had before. The amount of comfort found even as I reread my favourite Psalm and copied it in here was great. But is comfort enough? Do I just want to be comforted by scriptures, which I am often in the Psalms, which is where I camp most often? Or do I want to be stretched?

The Lord is my strength and my song.

04 March 2012

A Nautical Night

Last night I filled my home with a lot of friends, decorations, costumes, food, music, and fun.

I turned 23 on Thursday and had a lovely birthday party last night! A few friends came over earlier in the day and helped with food and decorating prep (I basically did very little decorating other than maybe moving stuff around to accommodate much of the food).

I know most people might have viewed the pictures on facebook but I wanted to share the pictures I took. I really wish I had taken many more, and if I had been smart I would have taken really good ones before everybody came and when the table was full, but boo-hoo I did not.

The theme was nautical. Costumes were mandatory.

When I saw that child size life jacket in a thrift store I knew it needed a home. I asked for that mat for Christmas and though it wasn't the inspiration for the party, it certainly helped the theme along!

These lovely ladies are new friends I've made in the past couple weeks!
This picture was taken before even half the food had arrived! It was a tasty night.
So I found these pictures online of licorice knots. They didn't turn out quite as I had hoped (as they kept falling apart) but when I first did them, they looked great! Haha.
My friend Kaycee had the brilliant idea of hanging the rope with the pictures and adding the "Welcome Aboard!"
I found these amazing pictures at a thrift store!

This lovely lady is Tami Knepper of The Cloven Heart. She writes a lovely blog and sells beautiful vintage stuff on Etsy. Check her out for sure. She just opened her Etsy shop this past month so now is a great time to get stuff before it all sells out.

This net belongs to the above Tami and her husband Josh. Josh has owned it since he was about 13! Many crabs have been caught in it. I was delighted to borrow it for an evening of fun.

I found this sword on my bed. I took the liberty of sleeping with it. I'm going to keep it for safety reasons in my room at night! Hehe.

This lovely lady made the stenciled brownies below!
She used a stencil and sifted baking sugar! She also had a gooey layer inside. They were the BEST!

I found these awesome glasses/glass containers/awesomeness at a thrift store!

My friend Megs made these awesome jello/orange pirate ships!

The one thing I knew was that I was going to find a fish bowl and I was going to serve goldfish in it! So I did.

Taken near the end of the night.
You can't tell because the picture is black and white but that shelf is blue! I just found it thrifting this week and love it!
I took these last two pictures right before bed. I kinda like how creepy my hallway looks at this point! It was time for bed!