Lessons I’m Learning Through the Move

It’s easy to tell others what to do. I’m pretty sure my brother would say I’m exceptional in the art of telling him what to do  and how to do it. However, it’s harder to do what you tell others to do, or to “practice what you preach”. This blog is about  the things I’ve been learning, yes, but there are times when you are really tested on how well you know them. Just like in  school – you may think you know something, but until you’re tested on it, you don’t really know how much of that knowledge  you’ve retained. Thus is the case right now, in this certain time of my life. I think in writing previous posts, it’s been  preparing me for this season. On influence, self-centeredness, love for others… I’m having to put that into practice daily.

As I’ve said before, I’m not happy about having to move to PA. I don’t want to leave my beautiful state and everything in it  I love. I’m quite content where I am. But I’ve been subconsciously having a bad attitude about it and pretending not to. I  finally came to this realization a little over a week ago – I’m behaving just like a child! Since I don’t get what I want, I’m  going to pout about it, so my attitude has shown. All I’ve done since I found out we were officially moving was complain. I  haven’t had one truly positive thing to say about it. Until a week ago. Yes, I’m going to have to leave everything, but isn’t  that an example of what we’re called to do for Christ? Leave all we’ve ever known to follow Him?

So, how does the move tie in with the lessons I’ve supposedly learned in the past? It’s quite simple, when I break it down  and look at it clearly and unbiased. Also, this is to be a “disclaimer”, if you will – I’m just as flawed and sinful as everyone  else. Just because I have a blog doesn’t mean I’m any better than anyone else. In my blog, I’m not trying to beat anyone  down, or criticize, or be mean. I only show the lessons that I’ve learned; not how I’ve learned them. I’m going to burst the  bubble of the goody – two – shoes I realize that I might have made myself out to be. So here is an honest view of what I’ve  been struggling with.

I have been self – centered beyond what I ever realized. I was focused on how I felt about moving, what I would leave  behind, what this meant for me. I completely forgot about everyone else in my family. They’re all dealing with the same  things that I am, and I’ve been too self – centered to bear that in mind. Instead of remembering that, I’ve been wallowing in  self – pity, moaning about how this is going to affect me. Big deal! I’m not the only person who’s being affected, but I sure  have acted like I am. And I’ve blown it up out or proportion in my mind (I am very dramatic and tend to over – exaggerate,  as those who know me can tell you). I’ve ignored and neglected those who are going through this move with me, due to my  own selfishness.

I’m supposed to be a good example for my brother during this move. I’m supposed to be an encouragement to him, be  positive about the whole ordeal, and not complain or gripe about it around him. Can you guess how well I’ve done in that  area? If I can’t get over my own issues, how am I going to encourage him through his? I’ve failed miserably at being a  good influence on him through this move. For all that I know, I’ve been the prime example of how not to act. How’s that for  someone who’s supposed to be encouraging others? Not only am I supposed to be a good influence on my brother, but  I’m supposed to be encouraging for my whole family, to show them that I’m accepting this with a cheerful heart and good  attitude.

I’m not loving others the way I should be. Instead, I’m hoping that they will “miss me when I leave”, and “notice that I’m  gone”. In other words, I want others (mainly my friends) to love me. Haven’t I been talking about loving others with a  selfless love? How am I demonstrating that? I’ve been convicted, yes, but this is the true test for me. I though it would be  the other way around. I thought that this would be a true test of who will stay with me even though I’m leaving and moving  cross – country. I was wrong. This is the test of how I will love others even though I’m leaving. Have I been selfless in my  relationships? I told a friend recently, I’ve started to turn my friendships to be more about me. Shame on me, yes, I know,  but true. I’m just as sinful and flawed as everyone else. I may know something in my head, but as I heard it put once, from  the head to the heart is the longest distance in the world. Actions speak louder than words. I haven’t been living what I’ve  been learning. I haven’t been loving others the way that I wish that they would love me. How can I expect something of  someone else when I haven’t demonstrated it myself?

Most of all, I haven’t been putting Christ first. I have put my own worries at the top of my concerns, and have neglected my  relationship with Him. I don’t have any excuse. He should be first in my life, my priorities, my thoughts, my heart, my words,  my actions… and I have crowded Him out by my own struggles. This is a hard time for me right now, this is when I really  need a hand to hold, someone to remind me that they’re there for me. Jesus has been there for me this whole time, and  I’ve ignored Him.

So there you have it. Those are my problems, the lessons that I’m having to live out. This wasn’t meant to be a complaint  or an appeal for attention. This was merely to show you that I’m no different than anyone else, that I have a sinful nature,  too. I realize that a lot of my posts can be “preachy”, and I want to try to dash that view. I’m just another sinful human  being who’s sharing my lessons with whoever takes the time to read and (hopefully) learn from them. Thank you so much  for the prayers, the comments, and the encouragement.

Advertisements

Guest Post

Today I have a guest post from my friend Mikayla over at The Bubblegum Ballerina (see my “Quick Note” post).

                                                                       When to Pray

First off I’d just like to say thank you to Lauren for letting me be here today. I’m not very graced in the art of making my spiritual thoughts coherent so please forgive my awkwardness.

When is the right time to pray? I’ve heard a lot of people ask this question and I’ve asked it myself sometimes.  I think the biggest section in the bible about prayer is in Matthew chapter 6 where God tells us to pray in our room with our door closed.

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

I think this has been one of the best chapters for my spiritual growth because I often feel uncomfortable praying aloud in front of people, not because I’m ashamed to pray but because I always felt like I was expected to say a long prayer and one that sounded correct but in this verse we’re encouraged to pray where no one can hear us but God.

We’re also told we “should always pray and not give up” in Luke 18: 1.

I think that God wants us to talk to him whenever we can because he never gets tired of talking to us and as long as you’re not praying just so people will hear us and think we are spiritual, I think you should pray no matter how small or big and no matter where you are.

Thank you for reading this!

-Mikayla-

What Christianity Has Become

I have become disturbed with what Christianity has become in today’s society. Christianity is now just a  label for those who do good works; those who usually go to church every Sunday, who volunteer with the  Salvation Army every Christmas, and have a fish sticker on the back of their car. But they get no deeper  than that. The only thing that makes them “different”, is their Christian label. But the average “Christian”  does not own up to this label – at least not by their lifestyle. I’m not just saying this because it’s what I’ve  heard before. The church that I attended for seven years of my life was full of these kinds of Christians.  They would spend all night at the local small – town bar Saturday, blaspheme the Lord’s name (amongst  other profanity), engage in sinful activities, and get up early for church Sunday. They were only hearers of  the Word, if even hearing it at only, and if not only attending to fulfill their felt obligation to feel justified to  bear their Christian title. And this is what so many do. So many use profanity, read and watch sinful  material, participate in wicked activities, and still show up every Sunday morning. They’d listen to the  message, then get up Monday morning to assume their weekly life-style.

How can they do this? How is it possible that they don’t feel the guilt and shame of being that kind of  witness and testimony to Christ?

They’ve forgotten, assuming they ever knew, what it means to be a true Christian: to be a believer in Christ.  I know I say this a lot, but it remains true: following Christ isn’t easy, and it wasn’t intended to be.  But isn’t  following Christ only half of what He deserves for dying a cruel death for us to be free? Isn’t obeying His  Word something we should automatically be doing, as He is to be our First Love? Yet we’ve ignored this to  our own benefit. How are we surrendering ourselves to Christ and making Him first in our lives when we  still cling to the things of the world we were supposed to leave behind when we decided to follow Him? It’s  simple: we can’t. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will  be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”. (Matthew 6:24)  Insert anything else for the word “money” – the same principle applies. What do we love? What consumes  our time, energy, and thoughts? This is the true test of where we have placed Christ in our lives. Either He  is front and center, or He is sitting on that dusty shelf in the back of your mind, where He has eagerly  waited for you to repent and return to Him.

So what is the true meaning of “Christian”? It’s defined in the Webster’s dictionary as “Believer in Christ;  pertaining to believers in Christ or to their churches; consistent with the teachings of Christ”. Believe means  to “ accept as true or truthful; have faith; accept the existence of something.” So to “believe in the Lord  Jesus Christ” is to have faith that He is the Truth. We seek after truth (who wants to be lied to?); so why  don’t we seek after Christ? “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given  to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Because it would mean giving up our desires, our fleshly wants. It would mean surrendering our life to  Someone we can’t see or touch. It would mean putting something else before myself. It would mean loving  something besides me.

We instantly recoil at the thought of it. Why would we, as selfish, greedy, prideful as we are, want to give up  our rights, our dreams, our hopes, our fears, and give them to the Lord? Yes, I know I talk about selfishness a lot, but it seriously is our primary focus. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved  you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you show love  to one another.” (John 13:34 – 35) “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12  “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17) We are so self – centered that we have to make  ourselves love others. We frequently make friendships for how we benefit from them. Jesus had to  command that we should love others! What should that say about us?

Christianity is a very misunderstood thing. It’s thought of as a religion, a life – style, a way of thinking. Those  are all true, in a sense. But Christianity is more than just a religion. It is simply following Christ.

Following Christ is hard. You will be persecuted, scorned, mocked, lonely. You will be hated by man. But  this is what you should expect. Jesus said “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands  firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13) We should desire to be hated. Why? Think about it: the only  reason you wouldn’t be hated is for not living a life for Christ. If we are hated, we are living for Christ, and it  is evident. We are shining our lights, and this generation of darkness does not want to be brought into the  light. If we are accepted, we are making no difference in the world whatsoever.

So Christianity is simple: following Christ. Obeying His commands. Being a doer of the Word, and not just a  hearer. On paper, it’s not that hard. But it’s faith that keeps you persevering and pressing on through the  trials you will face in this world. Christianity is truly a test of faith.

Update

As sorry as I am to say it, our family is in the process of preparing for a cross-country move to Pennsylvania. Though this is my sixth move, it is going to be one of the hardest for me. Leaving Texas is no fun; I have a lot of pride in this state, and it’s all I’ve ever known. Leaving my friends is going to be tough; I finally have made friendships that are meaningful, friends who encourage me, challenge me, and help me grow in my walk with the Lord. So anyway, all that to say two things: 1.) Prayer for me is greatly appreciated at this time in my life right now. 2.) My posts every Monday are probably going to change. I will try to continue to post then, but I probably will not be able to make it every Monday. And as a final note, thank you so much to anyone who reads my blog. It is an encouragement to me that others take the time to read it.

Starting Over

Though this is a very short post, I think it says everything it needs to. It doesn’t take a bunch of big, fancy  words to get the point across, in my opinion.

Though this might be an obvious fact, sometimes we stray off the path. Sometimes we lose sight of the  crown ahead and compromise for earthly values. Sometimes we forget who we are in Christ and that we  are here to make a difference and create a change.

We get so far off that when we look up, we wonder how we got here. Where did we first begin to wander?  When did we first start to stray? This is when we have to push aside our pride, humble ourselves, and start  over.

It’s the small compromises that lead us down the wrong path, and sometimes we don’t know how to get  back. It’s the little choices we make, choosing wrong over right, that get us where we are now. It’s by our  own reasons that we’re doing the things we’re doing, thinking these things, saying these things, believing  these things.

A little over a year ago, I was doing great in my spiritual walk. I felt closer to God than ever before. And then  one day, things changed. I suddenly found I wasn’t getting in the Word anymore. I wasn’t praying as much.  And with those changes, I realized God felt farther from me than before. It was a sudden realization; I didn’t  know what went wrong. Where had I slipped up? What had happened?

It was the little things I had been compromising for, the temptation I didn’t flee from, the things I let creep  into my walk with God little by little that had overwhelmed me. I hadn’t been firm, I hadn’t stood my ground.  I caved. And as a result, it felt like the gap between myself and God had suddenly widened.

But though we change, God never does. He remains the same always and forever. He is the same God  today that I knew a year ago. We’re the ones that change. Now we need to go back and start over again.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that  neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God  that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:37-39)

For those who are lost, for those who have failed: there is a way back. Don’t let your pride hinder you from  starting over. God will never leave us nor forsake us. (Joshua 1:5)