We have all heard the phrases “that’s the last straw” or “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Well the weekend before last this camel’s back was broken clean in two. Under the weight of school, finals week, grades, assignments, my younger brother’s wedding, my fiancé’s emotional rollercoaster (due in part to my brother’s wedding), planning for my wedding, the throw out bearing on my truck went out and lastly, which was by far the hardest on me, my dog Lilly had to be put down. I could not take anymore and finally collapsed. So there on my knees with a broken heart, I learned some very valuable lessons. The first thing I learned, silly as it sounds, is that it’s okay to cry. I have always thought that emotional men were weak, but after this I found myself thinking that being able to express emotions makes us stronger than feeling like we have to keep them locked up. Building off that, the second thing I learned is that we can’t bear it all on our own. This I think is particularly hard for men, and even more so to me because of my personality. We all need to learn that no matter how hard things seem there are always people we can lean on and trust. Lastly, I learned that God is always there to help bear the loads of this life when no one else will help. Looking back now I wonder if God lined those events up to humble me… to help remind me that He is in charge and to not put my faith in my own strength but to put all my faith in His.
Have you ever been laying in bed at the end of a long day and thought to yourself, have I really done anything today, did I really accomplish anything worthwhile? I am sure you have at least once or twice. I imagine quite a few people have the unsettling problem of feeling like they should be doing more in a day’s time, like they are not doing enough. But what most people do not realize is how much time they waste doing other things when they could be doing other things that are more important and rewarding. Did you know that in August of 2011, the average American spent 30 hours on the internet, 8 hours just on facebook alone, 3 hours a day watching television and 30 hours a month on video games? That’s almost 6 hours a day the average American spends doing virtually nothing but wasting time. Time that they can never get back! Now I am not saying these activities in and of themselves are wrong, I am only wanting you to consider how you use your time on a daily basis.
Out of the 24 hours in a day how much time do you spend in prayer, evangelizing, helping someone in need, or reading your Bible? Just think how much better of a Christian we could be if we spend 6 hours a day in some form of serving the Lord, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Romans 13:11 says, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than we first believed.” We never know when this may be the last day we spend on the earth. How are you spending your time? Are you living so that others can see God in you? We can come to the end of the day and regret everything we have done, but until we do something about it and spend our time as we should it will not change. Time is precious, do not take it for granted.
It seems a little late in the season but snow is falling outside my window this morning. Although it’s not enough to cover up much today, in the past I have seen roads, grass, cars, and pretty much everything covered in a blanket of snow. Even though most of the time snow is used in reference with Christianity in the positive sense of when you are baptized into Christ “your sins will be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18), this morning something else hit me about snow.
One of the most devastating sins out there that all of us are guilty of is lying. Lying, just like the snow, covers up things. We do something we know is wrong and we are afraid someone is going to find out about it so we lie. We think that we have “covered” up what we have done; we think we have gotten ourselves out of trouble but just wait.
What happens when snow sticks around and the temperature drops? It freezes causing ice to cover everything, including where other people are traveling. In the same sense, what happens to our lies when they start to find us out? People around us start sliding, they get hurt and just like people driving in the snow, they do not trust us because we are slippery and unreliable. Don’t get me wrong, the snow is pretty when its falling, but when you have to get out in it, it can be very dangerous. Sin might look good from the beginning but when you have to “weather” it, it can not only get you into trouble but it can hurt others as well. Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thought…false witness…These are the things which defile a man.”
Lying is never a good way to handle a problem. Yes, you may get away with whatever you did, but God knows the truth. Just remember, snow melts and one day all of your lies with be uncovered and those consequences will be much worse that just telling the truth now.
I don’t know how many of you have played the game Minecraft but this is an intriguing game about making a “life” for yourself in a virtual world and ultimately about survival. A nerve racking aspect of the game is that when you discover caves or hidden mines you have to illuminate them with torches or before long zombies, creepers and spiders will spawn in them because these creatures thrive on darkness. And let me tell you, it is very difficult and dangerous to get rid of them once they come to life. The torches of course create light and keep these awful creatures from dwelling here and possibly killing you if you happen to run into them.
The other day while I was playing, I thought of a great connection for us as people living in the world. Just like in the game, harmful and deadly things live in the dark places of the world that we strive to stay away from. The devil and people who chose to follow him thrive on darkness, on sin! If we spend too much time in the darkness, we will die. We read in John 11:10, “But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (ESV)
It is very important for us to not only stay in the light ourselves but bring the light to people who are struggling to live in the darkness. How can we bring people out of the darkness? We, as Christians, have to be their torch; we have to fill their life with the light, with Jesus. We also read in 1 John 1:5-7, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all…But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (ESV) Be the torch that a lost soul needs, don’t let them die in the darkness, show them the light.
Sickness is a funny thing. Sometimes it comes on slowly over a couple of days and sometimes it slips up on you when you least expect it. And the second situation is sometimes the hardest to deal with. This time for me it was not that the actual ailment was hard to deal with per say, it was the emotional uncertainties that came along with it. The night before I went to the emergency room with a severe migraine, my fiancé and I had had an argument that did not get resolved before we both went to sleep that night. When I woke up at 4 am with the migraine, all I could think about was what if I never have the chance to tell her how sorry I am and how much I love her.
After I left the hospital and was assured that I was alright, I made it a point in my mind that we would never take things like that for granted and more importantly, that we would never leave each other for the night angry and upset at each other again. In instances like these I think of Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger.” As we read in this verse, God never said that we, even as Christians, would not get angry at some point but He did make it clear that we need not sin when we do get angry. How would it make us feel if we had had a serious argument with someone we really cared about and then we never had the chance to make it right with them, our entire life would be full of regret. Always make things right with people before you part with them, and be careful when you are angry and handle as God would have you to.
I’m happy to say that I am feeling much better and that my fiancé and I are good, this has just been a lesson that I learned the hard way and that I thought I might share it with you.
I’m sure most people have seen the classic television show Andy Griffith or heard the song “Mayberry” by Rascal Flatts. It took me a few listens to put the two together but as I listened more closely to the words a certain part of the song stuck out to me. It says, Sunday was the day of rest now it’s one more day for progress. And we can’t slow down cause more is best, it’s all an endless process. It’s sad, but I think it is the common feeling in our society today that Sunday is just another day of the week, a day to sleep in, or another day off work for most. But to the Christian, it should be the complete opposite. Sunday, the Lord’s Day, in our eyes should be the best day of the week! After all, it is the day that we have the opportunity and the privilege to worship God.
How often do we wake up on Sunday morning and drag around the house trying to get ready in time to rush in the back door and sit on the back pew? We should be excited to be able to come together with fellow children of God to spend time in His word, praise Him and honor Him for all He has done for us. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we read, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.(ASV)” This verse tells us that we should feel blessed to be together as God’s family; it should encourage us and revive us when we get caught up in the world.
So many people focus on what they can gain for themselves. They want to skip out on God to make an extra dollar or to sleep a few more hours. Let us remember the importance of being active in the church and being there each and every time we can. It’s about God.
I was in the gym a couple of days ago and it hit me that in just a week or two I will have had a membership there for a whole year! Following this line of thinking I began to reflect on all the gains that I have made since I walked in and signed up a year ago. The first thing that came to mind was the numbers of course. How much I could lift then in comparison with how much more I can lift now or how big I was then compared to how big I am now. But the thing that really hit me was how much I had learned about fitness over the last year. All the different muscles and what exercises worked which ones, the weight and reps needed to get particular results, what nutrients the body needs to grow and the list goes on. But the two things that I have learned the best, so to speak, are 1) there is always more, more to learn and more to lift. There is always just more, you never really “get there.” And 2) consistency is key, the real gains aren’t made in the gym lifting a million pounds, they are made by all the stuff you don’t do in the gym. What you eat, how much and how often, getting a good night’s rest and so on. These truths also parallel our life as a Christian. There is always more we can do in our Christianity. There is always more we can learn about God and His will from His word. We as Christians should be giving everything we are to Christ just as He gave His everything for us. Likewise, consistency is key for Christians. Even though what we do in the church building is of the utmost importance it doesn’t stop when we walk out the door, that’s when the real work begins. Living for Christ not just worshiping Him, it’s a lifestyle. Anything short of everything is nothing…