Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yes...She's Human

I struggled as to whether or not I should write this blog. I don’t normally write anything related to my opinion on celebrity life, but this one got under my skin. Oprah Winfrey’s recent weight gain has made it to a top news story. It’s being published by all news sources as some major late breaking news event. To me, the only late breaking piece of that story is that it proves that she is HUMAN. Yes, she gained weight. But I have to wonder if this was a true weight gain. They are claiming it is a thyroid problem, which may very well be true, but she said in an article that her struggles with an out-of-balance thyroid made her develop a “fear of working out”. She stated that she is “embarrassed” and “mad at herself”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many people that wouldn’t be embarrassed at weight gain and be mad at themselves for allowing it to happen. Now, I don’t TIVO Oprah or give much credence to her advice because she has had too many conflicting views over the years. I don’t believe in the idolization of Oprah. She is human, and she is flawed just like the rest of us. I respect her success and would never bash her as a person, but I don’t think her weight gain deserves the media attention it is getting. Her plan for 2009 is to “get back on track”….the same resolution many of us will commit to. What is most disturbing to me is that there are millions of women out there who faithfully watch her show. They will identify with her weight gain, and those who truly do have a thyroid problem will try to fit into the mold called “Oprah”. They will try whatever weight loss program she endorses and may or may not loose the weight. Oprah is one of the wealthiest people in the world, who has unlimited resources at her disposal, unlike the majority of us. We are commanded to not make idols, and I believe this is exactly what Oprah has become. Whatever she endorses, many people buy into and this is dangerous. There is only One Truth…Jesus Christ.

And by the way, you don't think Oprah gained weight just so she could take it off again for ratings and magazine sale’s, do you? We’ll see if she wheelbarrows in another 67lbs of fat onto her show in 2009…my money is on the wheelbarrow.

One Day at a Time

So, this week I decided to start exercising again. Now the key word there is AGAIN. Now, I will admit that I have never been the most athletic person God created, but I can do a few things here and there when I choose to. Recently I stopped exercising because of some health issues, but even after the issues stopped I managed to sleep in for far too many days instead of getting back on the treadmill. There’s nothing worse (ok that’s an exaggeration, but it feels that way right now) than starting over trying to get in shape. It’s a weird combination of “Yay! I’m back to working out! Weight loss here I come!” and “I’m a complete looser that I can’t run longer than 5 minutes without a cramp!”. I really have never been one of those people that enjoy exercising. I see it as a chore with future benefits. I have said so many times after day one of exercising, “I’m never going to stop again, getting started is so much harder!” And what happens? I stop for one reason or another. Just like with most things in life, it takes much more work to do something positive, than to quit, or give up. Quitting is always easier than starting something new because the amount of work it takes to quit is very little; the amount of work it takes to maintain something (a healthy body, a marriage, a friendship, a job) is not easy. I’ve been thinking about my complete lack of discipline in my life. I have found that I have never regretted sticking something out. I’ve never regretted working hard. I’ve never looked back and wished that I hadn’t tried as hard as I did at one thing or another. But I have regretted quitting; I have regretting taking the easy road…because the easy road has always lead to a more difficult path. And I am travel weary.

The easy roads of marriage lead to difficult paths of resentment and pain. The easy roads of friendship lead to acquaintances. The easy road of not taking care of yourself lead to a difficult
path of poor health. Life is a domino effect. Everything crumbles if you don’t do the continual work to maintain it. For me, my self- discipline is lacking in most areas because I have an overriding fear of failure. It is something I battle everyday. I realize that not trying and not failing is a greater failure than trying and failing, however, sometimes that is a difficult thing to do. I am not a task-oriented person; I am a feeler. And if something doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. This is not Christ-like, it is of the flesh, and I know this. I know that Christ has a higher expectation for me than for me to sit back and coast. I can’t coast my way into a better body, I can’t coast my way into a better relationship with my husband, I can’t coast my way into a successful career and I can’t coast my way into a strong relationship with Christ. The best thing I know to do at this point in my life is take it, as they say in 12-step programs, “One Day at a Time”. Recommitting (or Committing period) to a self-disciplined life is not something that can be done over night, especially for a non-task oriented person. But, I know that I can commit to waking up everyday and making a choice to be self-disciplined that day. I know that I’ve exercised the past 2 days, and I will wake up tomorrow and do it again. I know that today I haven’t snapped at my husband, and tomorrow I will try to do it again. I know that today I was efficient at work and tomorrow I can do it again. I know that I can do things one day at a time with His help…because He knows I cannot do it alone.

So Today I’m back in the proverbial saddle, ready to take things one day at a time.

"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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12"1-3

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Believing God, Imperfect Faith, and Impatience

It’s hard to put together a title for a blog that is over Genesis 15-25:11, because of the various topics that are important in those chapters. But, if I had to sum up all of those chapters into one title, this would be it. In Genesis 15:6 it says, “"Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." What does this mean? I think that the key phrase in this passage is "believed the Lord". Many people believe IN the Lord, but believing Him is an entirely different thing. Because Abraham believed God, and believed in His promise, God credited Abraham righteousness. This was a gift, not something that Abraham earned. This gift was given because Abraham believed that God would do something for him that he could not do for himself. In Romans 1:17 it says, "…the righteous will live by faith". Abraham did this by believing in God's promise, and God credited him righteousness, which he did through grace. Abraham's faith was fulfilled by believing God, not simply believing IN God. This is the most difficult thing for me to do sometimes. What I find interesting is that Abraham did not live out his faith perfectly. Abraham was impatient (he didn't wait for God's promise about having children); Abraham lied about Sarai being his sister. His faith was not perfect, but God still credited him righteous, which shows believers today the power of His grace.

Now, all this being said, it is so much easier for me to give advice than to take it. Sometimes I don't even believe my own hype. I am one of those who believes IN God and for the most part believe what HE says...with one exception...when it comes to things HE says about me. Now, the rational side of me, and the side that knows better says, "who are you to put yourself in your own category? Why would God single you out individually and make it so that you can't be forgiven, or changed, or mended, or happy?" If another person told me the EXACT same thing about themselves, that they "are broken and can't be fixed" I would tell them "God is good...God is great...and He can do anything"...but telling and applying are two completely different things. The emotional, irrational side of me says, "I have all these emotional hang-ups, so many problems, have done so many things. I have been given so many chances, and yet I still don’t believe? I still think that I can't get through this??" It's a completely backwards way of thinking. I think that "why can't God make it easier for me to believe? (Emotional)" "God has made it easy...look at all you just have to choose (rational)" It is a constant battle in my head. Take for instance counseling. I have been to counseling many time, and I know that if I just BELIEVED that counseling would help vs. believing that it is one big waste of time and I can't be helped that maybe it would actually help. If I stuck to what the counselor told me to do then it would help. Counseling is a bit like getting an antibiotic from a Dr. Once you start feeling better, you stop taking the antibiotic...when they doctor (and the prescription label) clearly says "Take all until finished". Maybe counseling will be a lifelong thing, I will have to "take all until finished"...I have to keep running the race, which Christ has set out for me. Problem is, sometimes I don't know which race I'm running, or I don't believe the goal is really for me. If I didn't have this battle of emotional vs. rational in my head it would be easier. I guess a better way of putting it is God vs. Satan. It goes on so much I feel it physically. So all this being said, am I unrighteous because my opinion about myself affects my faith? Is my faith too "imperfect"?

There are two women in these chapters of Genesis that really stand out and I am able to easily relate to. Both Sarah (Abraham’s wife) and Lot’s wife were a lot alike. They were both impatient and looked to the past. Lot's wife was impatient because she couldn't simply wait until they got to where they were going; she had to "break the rules". Obviously she looked at the past, hence her pillar of salt instance. Sarah was obviously impatient because she didn't wait for God's promise to be fulfilled. She lived in the past also because she remembered all the times she wasn't able to get pregnant...instead of what she had promised for the future. Sarah was an impatient woman and she didn't wait for God's promise to be fulfilled. Her impatience turned into unbelief. Because of her impatience and her own human desires, found a way for Abraham to have a child through Hagar. Sarah did not pray about this decision before she did it and the results of this human mistake were family strife, chaos, jealousy and hatred. Often times, I find myself being impatient about things in my life. Because I often act on impulse and don't pray (or think) about my decisions, I find myself in "self created" chaos.

Lot's wife is an interesting character. Although not much is said about her, there is a lot that can be learned from her. She comes into the story and she goes out with a bang. The punishment of being turned into a pillar of salt seems a bit severe, but necessary. In Luke 17:32, Christ warns "remember Lots wife…whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" It doesn't say in the scripture why she turned around. It could have been for various reasons: curiosity, fear, not wanting to leave things she loved behind. I believe that she didn't just turn around out of curiosity. I think that she did it because she didn't want to leave her things she knew behind. God provided a way of escape for her, just like He has for me. Before her lay a life and hope, behind her death and destruction. My life has been very similar. I have not only looked back to the past, but have lived my life in the past for a long time. I know that God has promised me a life of hope, but I often choose a life of destruction because it is comfortable and what I know. We are warned several times in the New Testament about living life now and not in the past. In Philippians 3:13-14 it says, "…forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead…I press on" It seems like a simple idea, forget the pain, leave the destruction, move ahead to a life of hope and promise. But it is like the analogy of driving while looking in the rear view mirror, eventually if you do this long enough you are going to crash…or turn into a pillar of salt.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

In the most unlikely places...

Ok, so I fell off the map again. It’s been over a month since I last posted, and I really could name a thousand excuses as to why I’ve gone AWOL, but none of them are very good. But in the time that I’ve been out of the blogosphere, I have begun a new chapter in my life, one that I hope becomes a blessing to others, because in just a short amount of time it has blessed me immensely.

Three weeks ago I began going to an apartment ministry in Mesquite, TX. This church was started a little over a year ago for the residents in a low-income apartment complex and on Wednesday nights they have Bible classes for the children and teenagers of the group. All of these teenagers come from very unhealthy backgrounds. Most of them come from single parent households, some from households where drug and alcohol abuse are an everyday occurrence and where Christ is rarely mentioned. I have a heart for these kids, especially the girls, because I grew up in very similar circumstances to most of them. The first night that I went they went to visit a new church building where they would be able to meet on Sundays for church. This church building was a big step up from where they have been regularly meeting, but still needs a lot of TLC. The beautiful thing about it is, they were all so excited about being able to fix up the building themselves, they saw this building as an opportunity rather than a hindrance to their worship. We sat in the auditorium and sang a few songs, discussed future plans for the church and prayed…all without any air conditioning on (and if you know anything about Texas summers, you will know that is a bad thing). But in this hot auditorium, where teenagers from varying backgrounds, and teachers who have a love for these kids gathered, Jesus was there. Last night we took the kids to a Texas Rangers baseball game. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but being there with these kids made it so worth it. A few of them confessed to me that they were only there so that they could get away from their house for a little while. We smiled, we laughed, we cheered, and before we got back into our cars to head home we circled around together in a packed parking lot and we prayed…and Jesus was there.

I think that most people feel that God is present at church and at certain points in their lives, but do we really believe that He is always present no matter where you are? I know that for me there have been times in my life where I tried to push God out because I didn’t want Him to be aware of my sin. (It even sounds silly to me as I type it) I have learned that even in the darkest of places He is there, we just have to look for him. In these small, run down apartments many people wouldn’t immediately think “I feel God in this place”, but lining the windows in the apartments where the church is held, is the name “Jesus” on various posters, signs, and drawings. On the faces of the teenagers, children and adults is Jesus. He is there, always watching, always loving, and it is a Beautiful thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cheese to My Macaroni

I’ve always been much better at expressing myself in written word instead of verbally. It makes for a good writer, but a poor partner in any relationship. Because my husband has developed an uncanny ability to know exactly what I need to either feel better from a bad day, or what the best decision may be in any given event, or how to guide me through certain situations, I have grown to assume that he must have become a mind reader as well. But alas, mind reading is one of the few superhero powers that he does not have.

It is usually in a light-hearted way that I refer to him as a superhero, but deep down I mean it. Not in the sense of the ‘movie’ type or comic book, but in the way that he impacts me in my life. Your typical Superman, Spiderman, Hulk superheroes are all invincible, they all have some sort of super strength and invulnerability that has given them the name “superhero”. Kids love it, and part of us as adults do too because those comic book characters who seem so strong and invulnerable also seem to possess more of the heroic traits of courage and heroism. And yet, how tough can it really be to act brave and courageous when you are pretty much invulnerable? It has been through watching my husband through conflict, through trials, and through suffering that I have realized what true strength really is.

For years I had a very backwards view of what strength was. I didn’t understand why or how my husband could have so much contentment and peace during the trials that he has endured. I came to a point of jealous envy and wanted what he had so badly, I too wanted to be invulnerable. It wasn’t until God broke me down that I was able to see that it wasn’t invulnerability that gave my husband his strength, but vulnerability and his faith in Christ. It was at this point that I began quietly watching and learning who my husband really was. I realized that his bravery and courage came from his vulnerability and that completely blew my mind. I would have never put myself out there to be hurt that way. To this day, I don’t. My faith is still growing. I admire that trait in him immensely. He is a fascinating person to me because most of the people that I grew up around waited for others to comfort them, waited for the right word of encouragement, and if that never came in the form of another person, then they would stay withdrawn within themselves. Everyone I have ever known relied on others for their own ability to be happy. And people will always fail other people. My husband does not rely on other people to make him happy and circumstances don’t determine his life, which is why he has such a joyful spirit. His happiness comes from his security and faith in Christ. I also know that God is the lifter of his head in times of difficulty and sadness. And there have been many, many times when Christ has worked through him and he has been the lifter of my head. It is a beautiful thing to witness and have a part of my life and to learn from.

Because I am so proud of who my husband is, who is has become and who he is to our family, there are times where Satan attacks with thoughts of doubts about whether or not I am a good enough wife for him. They are the same doubts that have plagued me for so long. No you are not wanted, no one wants you, no one will really fight for you But as my faith has grown and as my eyes have been opened to who the man is I am married to I realize that God has given me someone that will fight for me, that will protect me, that will pursue me, and that will love me and for me to question that is really an insult to God and to my husband. God chose me to be his ezer kenegdo, his helper, and to never leave him feeling alone. I have not always done the best job at being the best corner man (woman) in our marriage. At best I have been the cut man (woman) and cleaned up the damage incurred during the battle. He however, is always there, always coaching, always guiding, always loving.

I have learned many things from him. True strength is in weakness and not in invulnerability. It is in the self-sacrificing nature of loving another person before yourself. I know that he loves me because that’s what he wants to do, and what he has committed to do. He has taught me that it is ok to bleed during the battle because we don’t have to heal our own wounds. He has taught me this by being a knight that has fought for me and he has certainly bled for me, but has turned those wounds over to Christ for His healing power. I cry for the wounds he has taken and continues to take for himself and for our family. He takes his role as head of our home seriously and I appreciate and respect that.

I will continue to quietly watch him and learn from him daily, but will do a better job at not assuming he will be reading my mind and simply tell him how wonderful I think he is. I will not just tell him that he is wonderful but also that he is appreciated, and not alone. I will be his corner (wo)man and we will fight the battle together.

And in the words of the movie Juno, “as far as [husbands] go mine is totally boss. He is the cheese to my macaroni”.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Honor God with Your Work

I read an interesting article today by Max Lucado about honoring God with your work. My job, and especially my growing irritation and bitterness towards it, is not something that I really consider particularly easy to honor God with. I know that if I changed my mindset, then my attitude towards my job may change. I view my job as a means to an end, a way to pay the bills, and ultimately, a huge stress. We are called to imitate Christ in all aspects of our lives, our careers included. Because so much of our time is spent with working, shouldn’t we use those hours to honor God and not to let those hours bring us down?

Here is part of what the article said, “Whether you log on or lace up for the day, you imitate God. Jehovah himself worked for the first six days of creation. Jesus said, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too” (John 5:17 NCV). Your career consumes half of your lifetime. Shouldn’t it broadcast God? Don’t those forty to sixty hours a week belong to him as well?” I know that for me, when the alarm clock goes off at what seems to be an ungodly hour of the morning and I complain about how sleepy I am, and my first thought is about how much I don’t want to go to work…I am already off on the wrong foot. My first thought at the first sound of the alarm should be… “Thank you God for blessing me with this job, and please allow me to use this job to further your kingdom” It’s never too late to start.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stress...The Proverbial Monkey on my back

As you can see, I haven’t written in well over a month. This hasn’t been for a lack of trying. I have sat down many times and have had things written but they have all ended up in the recycle bin. My creative juices have been sucked into the stress vortex of life. So, instead of trying to come up with another thing to write about that would join the other long lost blogs in my recycle bin I would write what’s truly been ailing me. I’d like to believe that I am pretty good at brushing things under the carpet and not letting things affect me, which is where I think I’ve kept a pretty good handle on my level of stress…ignore it and eventually that monkey will go away. When in reality I’ve come to realize that by ignoring it, I feed it and that monkey grows into a big looming creature that beats me down. To put it another way, the little gnat that I’ve been swatting away has become a buzzard that is feeding on my soul. I feed my level of stress by constantly being on the go, constantly spinning the proverbial wheel. I do get plenty of sleep, which is more than what most people can say, but I never rest. If it isn’t work that I am spending 50 hours at a week, then it’s trying to fit hours in at home (totally backwards), or wrestling with my own constant worry in my brain that never allows rest even when time might allow it. So, what then is the answer?

Matthew 11:28-30 "Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Choose to Change

Looking back through my life there have been many times where I would say I was going to change, but never did. I truly believed that I wanted to change, that no rational person could possibly want to be as miserable as I was, but I could not make myself do it. I was completely unable to change my thoughts, change my actions, or change my feelings. However, over time the only thing that I realized I couldn’t change was my past, but I could change how my future would be. I fought for years to change myself, completely oblivious to the fact that I wasn’t able to change anything about myself on my own. The ideal that I was responsible for changing myself alone was what held me back for so long. It was never supposed to be my responsibility to begin with. It was, however, my responsibility to make a choice to change. I finally knew that I wasn’t alone in the world; I certainly wasn’t important enough to think that God would single me out and not allow change to occur in my life. I am His child, just as we all are.
No matter what the circumstance is, change occurs in our lives when we change our thinking. Our mind is the battlefield where the war with the enemy is either won or lost. And it is not a fair fight. Satan will attack us with all that he has, but God will overcome all our attacks. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith”. (1 John 5:4) Change is inevitable, either those around us will change or we can change. And it isn’t until we change our thinking that we can find true victory over the strongholds of depression, anxiety, anger, and many others. The Truth can and will set us free.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prioritizing Life

So as you can see, I haven’t blogged in almost 2 months. I’ve been busy, with work, with stress, with all the (in the grand scheme) unimportant things in life. Not to say that work is by any means, unimportant, but when it is high on your priority list and takes precedence over time with family and Spiritual growth then it becomes meaningless. I have however, learned some thing about myself through this process. The most significant thing is that my priorities were not what they should have been. Trying to find balance in your life isn’t easy when you are focused on the wrong things. In all His wisdom and grace, God is the Master at meeting you where you are and finding the most impactful way to get our attention. For me, it was showing me that my priorities were way out of order by allowing me to work a 70-hour work week to realize how much I truly enjoyed being with my family. As silly as it is, this is often the way I learn the best lessons…the hard way. If I didn’t learn anything the hard way, I probably wouldn’t learn anything at all.

I’ve realized that life really doesn’t have to be this chaotic, this out of order and unfocused, this completely wrong. When you do the same things over and over and expect something different to happen each time, you are by definition insane. You know that little worn path in your carpet that has been put there by constantly walking the same direction when you walk about your home, a/k/a a rut? This is the same thing that happens in our lives when we constantly do the same things over and over and do nothing to change. We get in a rut spiritually, relationally, emotionally, and mentally. We walk ourselves into a rut instead of into the freedom of Christ. Slowly but surely God will lead us out of our ruts IF we ask for help. He still hasn’t shown me exactly what His plan for me is, but as long as I hold onto His hand He will take me there step by step.

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth” Psalm 86:11

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Paying back to others what has been given to us...

I received this in an email, and thought it would make for an interesting post...enjoy and be blessed!

A few years ago a group of Salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be Home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In Their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen Inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of Apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking Back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their Nearly missed boarding. ALL BUT ONE! He paused, took a deep breath, got in Touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of Compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been Overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, Told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their Home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then He returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the Terminal floor. He was glad he did. The 16 year old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, Tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at The same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the Crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care For her plight. The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, Put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As He did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered And bruised; these he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the Girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we Didn't spoil your day too badly." As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl Called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back Into those blind eyes. She continued, "Are you Jesus?" He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he Made his way to catch the later flight with that question Burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?" Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the Difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace. If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He Would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and Going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds Day to day. You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been Bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up On a hill called Calvary And paid in full for our damaged fruit. Sometimes we just take things for granted, When we really need to be sharing what we know...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mirror of Relationships

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

- Carl Jung

There have been many times in my relationships with others that I have found this quote to be true. This is the basic idea called “the mirror of relationships”. This idea comes down to seeing what we don’t like about ourselves in another person, and the unwillingness to accept that this is part of who we are. It is difficult to accept the intolerable parts of ourselves without projecting those parts onto others as part of their flaws. When we are angry with someone or irritated at him or her, we don’t want to see them as a “mirror” and accept that this emotion is telling us something about ourselves. By attributing these traits that we do not like about ourselves onto whomever we are in a relationship with, we take the responsibility of these emotions off of ourselves.

Once I realized this idea, I was able to come to a place of forgiveness for those whom I was angry with. I became more accepting of others faults, because I realized that many of the things that I didn’t like about those I was angry with were the very same traits that I hated about myself.

"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." - Romans 15:7

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Rolling Waves of Predictability, The Flowing River of Life

Why doesn’t God allow us to lead a predicable life? This is of course a rhetorical question, but one that I have pondered over many times. I want a structured, stable, predicable life. But, as usual, God’s will isn’t in line with my own. I have found that throughout various stages of my life, that God has allowed me to suffer through “trial by fire”, many through my own making, because I am being refined. And even though I know that He is always there, I still fight the temptation to want to control my own life and create my own stability and find my comfort in human form. For me, the fear of unpredictability is the fear of losing control. But what control do I, we, ever really have to begin with? It is the idea that we have created in our own minds and a seed of deception that Satan plants within us. Many of us are afraid of extremes; we are afraid of chance and afraid of risk. But many times, with risk comes reward. As Christians, we have to take risks on leaps of faith. Our patterns of thinking sometimes don’t leave room for the Spirit of God to flow. If we resist the things that we perceive as uncomfortable, then we may be resisting the initial push that God is trying to create within in us to get us out of our comfort zones and into the delights and comforts of the River of Life that HE has given and away from the rolling waves of predictability.

One thing is certain, LIFE IS NOT PREDICTABLE, BUT GOD IS CONSISTENT. “For I am the Lord, I do not change” Malachi 3:6 He may not always answer prayers in the manner to which WE want, but He knows what is best for us, and He answers them according to His plan for our lives. God has taken some ordinary people in the Bible through some extraordinary and trying experiences and turned them into incredible leaders, simply because they believed in what HE was doing. This is difficult for many people to do today, including myself. Amidst all the changes that occur in our own lives and in the word, He is a never-changing God in an ever-changing world.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." - Hebrews 13:8

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Celebrity Rehab

Celebrities in rehab; it has become a common mockery of a real problem that millions of people face today, addiction. There is a new “reality” show called, “Celebrity Rehab”, that I found disappointing to put it mildly. It was rather difficult to watch, and ultimately very sad. Here’s a partial description from what the producers tell about the show,

“'Celebrity Rehab' is the first television series to chronicle the dramatic, unscripted real life experiences of a group of actual celebrities as they make the life-changing decision to enter themselves into a drug, alcohol and addiction treatment program with the sincere desire to achieve true rehabilitation and recovery…At every step in this challenging process, viewers at home will witness the real true life struggles of these celebrity patients, who ultimately appear in their sincerest human form as regular people in need of a helping hand and earnestly striving for recovery, health and future happiness.”

This show in my opinion is nothing more than a heartbreaking exploitation of a problem, a sin, which haunts so many people, these people included throughout the world. Now, there has only been one episode to watch so far, but I can’t help but wonder if there will be any mention of Christ, God or the redemptive power of His forgiveness during this show? Most often times they mention a “higher power” during recovery, but who that higher power may be is left up to interpretation. There is only one way out of this problem, Jesus Christ. “…I am the way, the truth, and the life…” John 14:6. I will not discount that it is possible that these celebrities can come out of this thing clean and sober, but clean and recovered are two completely different things. It is a change in lifestyle and a change of mindset. Many of these celebrities that have done stints in rehab end up back on the same path because they never address the true root of the problem. It all begins in the mind. If you don’t address this problem, and you don’t accept the WAY out, Christ, then you will fall back on your face time and time again. This is seen so many times in Hollywood, and not only there but in those outside of the spotlight. We will see what this show will entail…I pray that no matter how “unscripted” it may be, that God will have His hand in each one of His children’s lives.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Actions vs. Words

At the beginning of the year many people make resolutions. They “resolve” to change things. Things about their life: weight, money habits, health, spiritual growth, the list goes on and on. But how often do these resolutions get thrown to the curb because they were really only lip service to begin with? Perhaps they really were made with the right intentions, I know that I’ve made my fair share year after year, but why is it so much easier to give lip service than to put words into action? There are many things that could answer this question, but the big one that stands out in my mind is the fear of failure. This is definitely the case for me. The fear of failure is a true paradox. From a Christian standpoint, when you live your life with fear, you have already failed. You have failed yourself, potentially failed others that you may have helped, and certainly failed GOD. The idea of action is scary for some people because of this very idea. Lip service is natural, it is talking. Most of us have things that we want to accomplish, relationships we want to cultivate, things about ourselves we want to change, but all of these things take work, they take discipline, they take faith. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Our faith without comparable action is dead and devoid of life. Mark Twain said, “Actions speak louder than words but not nearly as often”. How so very true this is. Once a person says they are going to do something and continuously fail to follow through with those actions, mistrust is formed and that relationship suffers. Or if a person tells their spouse that they love them but fails to show that love, then the words mean nothing. It seems like a simple, almost silly statement, but I have found it to be true in my life…Words really are meaningless unless there are actions behind them to support what you mean. Sometimes it may be difficult to follow through things that you say you want to do because of fear, but remember "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?"Psalm 56:11