Where are we going?

James 4:13-16

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why? you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.

Ouch!
I read this verse at my high school baccalaureate. It was a real hit. I believe my best friend may have even thrown me an elbow and asked why I didn’t throw the happy verse in there instead. People love when you try to live by it, too. They think you’re crazy because you “don’t have a plan”!

Well, I can tell you what my plan is. I am going to do the will of God. Many doors will open in life, and you should know that God is okay with, and even encourages us to take it one step at a time and trust in Him. (Matthew 6:34) Tell them the plan is to follow God, because if you’re truly living for him, your life will not be wasted no matter how you spend it.

A side note: Usually plans don’t work out anyway. It’s not bad to have a “rough draft” of how life might be, just be sure it’s not set in stone in your heart and you’re not telling God, “The leg work is done, now I just need your blessing!”

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The Hard Facts (Or maybe a rant…)

hard fax

Reading Facebook news feed can often be very frustrating. So many people are saying things like “Not all Christians are against homosexuality. I love God and drugs. I am a Christian and living with my boyfriend and that is totally okay.”

Let me just say, all at once to you all, as to not be offensive. NO.

NO!  

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

This doesn’t mean that if you aren’t perfect you are going to hell. That means you should working on being the person God created you to be, and that you believe what is in the Bible, and that you are saved by grace.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

So many Christians are afraid because they have sins they are working on that they can’t stand up for what they believe in. We are so afraid of someone looking at us and saying “Fix that plank in your eye before you go after my speck.” (Matthew 7:3)

But you know what? I am worried for my facebookian friends out there. They are out there getting pink eye, and all of these non-Christians are looking at their gooey-pinkness and thinking “What’s the difference? My Atheist friends’ eyes look just like that. Who cares if I am living it up for myself or some God. We all get the same creeping-crud in our eye-balls.”
NO! We have obligations as Christians to tell our fellow Christians when they are screwing up! (In a loving way, of course.) We all contribute to how people view all Christians.

Lets all take the first step by believing EVERYTHING in the Bible, and not being afraid to tell our neighbors, in love, when they are screwing up.

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Something Random…

So I opened my Bible this week and glared at Ecclesiastes three… And then I decided I wanted to talk about something else for a while. (My pinkie is broken anyway.) 

ho·ly         adjective \ˈhō-lē\

1: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.
 
Now… Merriam Webster told me to look at Psalm 99:9, but I am a rebel and had the verse before the definition… Therefore I refused.

I was reading 1 Peter and I stumbled upon where it says “All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)

 
WHOO! Does that sound like what we have been going over in Ecclesiastes, or what? Buuut, I decided to figure out what the context was.. Because that is important. 

Then I stumbled on some tough verses… Like.. All of them. It all sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? “..do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” -1 Peter 1:14-16

 
What!? My thoughts, motives, hopes, fears, actions, habits, addictions…. All have to be perfectly righteous? I can’t do it. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Haha.. I bet you didn’t see that one coming. 

 
But really. If we have a real relationship with Christ, we REALLY love him, we should be willing to pick up our crosses and serve him the way he has commanded. 

Because we are stupid, though, we will screw up. The key is what my wonderful mother always told me; Better tomorrow than I was yesterday. You can’t change what you have done, but you have a choice of what you will do. Our goal should always be of Christ.

Are you better today than you were yesterday?

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Broken Pinky #1.. Sorry about last week.

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Alright.. So I forgot to write last week.. But here is Ecclesiastes Two!

Ecclesiastes two is divided into three main parts. 

#1. The Vanity of Self Indulgence:

    This is probably the easiest of the three vanities expressed in the chapter for us to understand. It is pointless for us to indulge ourselves. I.E.- The bon-bons you eat on Friday nights doesn’t help the Kingdom of Heaven. 

    You may be thinking, as I have many times before about my tea and my nail polish, “WAIT!!! If I don’t indulge every once in a while, I will go NUTS!” 

    This is very true; In order to live healthy spiritual lives, we do need peace. (Galatians 5:22) However, true peace does not come from “Modern Family,” OPI and Bigelow, but from God, prayer and His Word. (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

#2. The Vanity of Living Wisely.

    “WAIT! So I have been working my whole life to live wisely, and the same thing is going to happen to me as that idiot who sits next to me in English?” (I love you, Jessie. 🙂 )

    YES! And isn’t it a beautiful thing?

     Have you ever felt like a dog that comes back to it’s vomit? Let me rephrase that. Have you ever found yourself going back to the same sins over and over again? If there are any humans out there, I should be hearing “Amen.” 

    “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool that repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11

    “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of god.” Romans 3:23

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein

   Need I say more? Instead of living wisely being our goal, pleasing the Lord should be our goal, because quite frankly, we are all losers and fools, and just because in my opinion I am less of a fool than the stupid kid in English (I really do love Jessie 🙂 ) does not mean I am any more worthy of God’s gift. (If you are following after God, your sins are covered, no matter how foolish they are. “But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24) But, keep in mind that your goal as a Christ follower should be to bring Glory to God with your life, and there for the phrase “I will repent later” should leave a very bitter taste in your mouth, and you should make it your goal to never have it fall from your lips. (Or cross your mind… No loop-holes.)

#3. The Vanity of Toil. (Colossians 3:23)

   Have you ever felt as though all your work was “a chasing after the wind? Well, it is. But! There is good news! God is giving us permission to enjoy ourselves in Him. 

    “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy..” – Ecclesiastes 2:24-26a

    So.. There is room for bon-bons in your spiritual diet; but make sure while you are enjoying the fruit of your labor, you are acknowledging it is from God, not from your own works. Because to the one who pleases him, he gives joy, but to the sinner he gives extra work to do, and then all the good that comes out of what he does, goes to the one who pleases God. Bummer for him. 

 

So, to sum it up, if your joy, peace, and wisdom don’t come from God- they are vanity and a chasing after the wind. But if they do come from God, you are GOLDEN! 😀

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Ecclesiastes One

The first book I am going to be writing about first is my very favorite; Ecclesiastes. The book was written anonymously, but traditionally it is believed King Solomon wrote the book because the Preacher introduces himself as “The son of David, King of Jerusalem.” (Pretty un-anonymous if you ask me… But I suppose it could be any decedent of David.)

The Preacher uses the refrain “Vanity of vanities” over and over again throughout the book. pretty much meaning “everything here is meaningless” and even later calls life “a chasing after the wind.” Which, if you were ever a senior in high school you will find that you have thought this yourself many times. “MANNNN! Why did I even come today? This teacher just gave me a worksheet and wandered back to their desk. No one cares if I do this. Not even me.”

WOW! Bringing back memories? While a grade on a worksheet may not help you in college, the information on the worksheet will. The work ethic you have in high school may not help you in college, but the habits formed by the work ethic you have will. And while the toil at which you toil under the sun does not help you in heaven, the souls you help lead to God, and the appreciation that you will have for heaven after living on a fallen earth will make the experience far more valuable to you than you can fathom.

Although it seems this is a depressing book, a great deal of hope can be found in Ecclesiastes, but like anything of God, in order to understand it to it’s fullest, it takes a lot more work than just skimming the text.

For example, in verses thirteen and fourteen, The Preacher says, ” I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.”

This is not at all saying seeking out God is pointless, unhappy business; it is actually saying quite the opposite. The Preacher is saying “to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven” is an unhappy task.

Have you ever been sitting by someone who is extremely nice and just when you were getting to like them, they have to go and ask you if they should stop sleeping around, or just keep doing what they are doing because “it’s their reputation”? Or maybe they tell you their boyfriend is beating them, but they love them so much they can’t leave. Or maybe it’s a part of your life. Maybe you lose your job and can’t feed your family.

Ouch. It is almost unfathomable to think about trying to speak or act in these situations without God’s wisdom. That is what this line means to me. Discovering the things of this world, or trying to find out what to do in a hard situation on your own wisdom and strength is an impossible task, and you will never feel you are where you are suppose to be.

But wait! It says God gives this task to the children of man! (Meaning… Us.) If God says he will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5b) why has he given me the task of facing this on my own? Perhaps this is the most beautiful part of all. As Pastor Cooper at First Wesleyan would say, “God is such a gentleman. He is always pursuing us, but He doesn’t force Himself upon us.”

When The Preacher says “What is made crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.” He is saying you will find things in this world that are not repairable. (Because, quite simply, we live in a fallen world.) These things may break your heart, The Preacher even makes the promise ” in much wisdom there is much vexation,” but you can find hope in the fact that you are following the light of God through the broken world, and there is a perfect place waiting for you in Heaven.

(“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me;…” Psalm 23:4a)

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My First Pinky-Promise.

 

Dazing off in Sociology, I was awakened by the word “homework.” The teacher said  in order to gather a better understanding of values, we had to make a list of ten priorities in our lives and rank them in order of how valuable they are to us. I thought to myself, “Oh, this will be so easy. It’s just what things I would cut out of my schedule if I didn’t have enough time in a given day… Let’s see, can’t get rid of Nick, can’t get rid of homework, probably should make time for Jessie…”

 

Then it hit me- and not lightly like when you accidentally run into a wall. (Well, maybe that is just me..) It hit me hard, like making a bad choice to go around railroad guards.

 

I hadn’t even began to think about God! That was a tough one to swallow. Not that it should have surprised me; I have found myself cutting God out of my schedule on a regular basis lately, but still, it didn’t sit well. At that moment I made a pinky swear and spit shake with God to make him more of a priority in my life.

 

Later, I was talking to a different teacher about starting a blog. He suggested writing about different passages I read in the Bible and any other random thing I find interesting to start out.

 

So… here I am! Now to you, I make my pinky-promise to write about my Bible experience every Thursday, and I promise to try to stick to one chapter at a time.

 

pinky-promise-close-up

 

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