Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Children & heirs

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir." Galatians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Just think about. We are God's children and heirs. Isn't that something very, very, very amazing?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Call on Jesus

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Call on Jesus" is a song by PureNRG. Here are the lyrics

"“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."" John 15:5 (NIV)

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]" Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

How about you? How has God helped you this year? 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Jupiter Winds by C. J. Darlington

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Grey: "... her fourteen-year-old sister was the only reason Grey had taken these smuggling jobs in the first place. Alone, she might've given up when Mom and Dad disappeared, but Rin gave her a reason to survive."


For five years Grey and Run had survived by themselves, smuggling goods and managing to stay unconnected from the Mazdaar government. But then it happens: Grey is captured. And this is about more then her smuggling, staying unconnected, and killing a border patroller to save her sister. The Mazdaar want her to lead them to her parents. But... Grey had no idea they were still alive.

Jupiter Winds was a pretty interesting, although dark, read. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone younger than 15 or 16. However, it did have a number of  mentions of God, the overall theme being that God is always with us. Jupiter Winds has a sequel in Jupiter Storm.

For more on C.J. Darlington visit her website and Facebook page.

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's Christmas!!!

~Friday for Friends~


It's Christmas! Amazing how quickly time passes! 

How has your day been? How have you been celebrating Christ's birth? Who have you been celebrating with? Is it a joyful holiday for you? Are you grieving for someone? Do you wish you could feel God's presence more? Are you happy where you are in your relationship with God?

Please share!  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Celebrating while in grief

~Tuesday Thoughts~



"In him [the Word] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it." John 1:4-5 (NIV)

Amen! Amen! Amen!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Follow your heart?

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Follow Your Heart" is a song by Anthem Lights. Here are the lyrics

"After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’" Acts 13:22 (NIV)

How can you follow GOD'S heart today? 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"That's how the peace of God works" and more quotes

~Saturday Stories~


“That’s how the peace of God works. Calm in the midst of trials.” ~ Thomas, Worth the Time

"You can ask for a willing spirit and opportunities, but don’t just sit around and wait to feel like serving because that’s not going to happen. You have to just do it.” ~ Heather, Me, Just Different



"He has created a way for you to come back home and be in relationship again. Nothing you have done can separate you from his goodness. And the best news of all, he has already made the way. You just have to ask.” ~ Pastor Bill, Like Moonlight at Low Tide

What about you? Did any of the quotes touch your heart? Have you asked God to give you words in your conversations? Have you tried serving even if you didn't want to? Have you experienced His peace?

Have you come back home?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sharing the joy

~Friday for Friends~


"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."" Luke 2:10 (NIV)

"Joy for all the people" includes, well, all people. Who can you share this joy with?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December's whirlwind

~Tuesday Thoughts~


With Christmas coming around, are you tired of all the commercials, the TV shows, the constant reminder of one more person you need to buy presents for?

On the other side, sometimes Christians go over the head with "just reminding people" about what it's all about.

How about picking a quiet place this week and, with no one else around, praying, reading, and listening to God in the midst of this whirlwind?

"My soul, wait in silence for God only,

For my hope is from Him." Psalm 62:5 (NASB)

Monday, December 14, 2015

What scars are for

~Monday Movies & Music~


"What Scars Are For" is a song by Mandisa. Here are the lyrics.

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
  as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
Psalm 103:11-12 (NIV)

How about you? Have you experienced His love and forgiveness?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Like every good story

~Saturday Stories~


1. Like every good story
Mine has a beginning.
And we get to know the whos, and the whats,
And the whens, and all that.
And life's just going as it should,
Plain ole life, in other words

Chorus: You are the Writer of my story;
You are the Author Almighy
You know every stroke of the pen,
Every word, every phrase, every turn, every twist.
You. Know. My. Story.

2. And like every good story
Mine has an inciting incident,
A door I pass and can't go back.
And that's Your glory,
And that's the moment
When I realize that
No, I can't be the same anymore.

Chorus

3. Like every good story
Mine has a middle.
And everything's going great
And I'm going to get to my goal.
And there's people that opposed me,
But we both know that's temporary
I'm gonna get through this oh, oh, oh.

Chorus

4. Like every good story
Mine has a black moment.
And I'm sure everything's
Gonna crash and go down.
Where is that glory?
Where is that power?
It can't get worse than this, can it?

Chorus

5. Like every good story
Mine has an ending.
And even if it seems like a sad one
It. Is. Not.
Because the end of my story
Is everlasting life in Your glory
The happily-ever-after multiplied by a million times

Friday, December 11, 2015

Take the time to hang around

~Friday for Friends~


"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

We are supposed to communicate, encourage, hang around with other Christians. We can be so encouraged! Of course, it might be discouraging at times. But even when those timed come, we can trust our Maker, who is always faithful.

Amen!

How can you communicate with other Christians this weekend?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

He is with us - everywhere

~Tuesday Thoughts~


 "Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
  If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
  If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
   even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
   If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
   even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you."
Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)

 Think about it. Think about all the places that exist on Earth. Hot places with beaches, freezing places with beautiful icicles hanging off the rooftops. Shabby homes with barely any furniture, massive palaces adorned with gold. Rockets sent to orbit Earth, submarines in the oceans' depths.

God is with us EVERYWHERE. Even of we don't feel like it.

Amen!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Start over

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Start Over" is a song by Flame featuring NF. Here are the lyrics.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!"
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

We are made new! How amazing is that?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Don't Count on Homecoming Queen by Nancy Rue

~Saturday Stories~


Tobey doesn't have to try to be cool. She just is. She can pull off most anything at school, in a good Christian way. Stuff like See You at the Pole and standing up for those being picked on. But then THIS happens. She wouldn't have believed it herself if she hadn't heard it and seen evidence. Now can she prove to everyone that the most popular coach at school did rape a freshman?


Don't Count on Homecoming Queen goes deep... way deep. Tobey is pretty sure it did happen, but she didn't actually see it, which makes it harder to tell. And telling the story isn't even the end because SO many people just won't believe her. She could not have gone through it without God's help, the support of her family, and a new group of friends. 

Rape is real. It does happen, and it can't just be dismissed. One can't just ignore it or say that (s)he asked for it. And even thought it may be hard, God can see us through. 

Tobey did look too perfect at times, and the ending wasn't as big as I expected. But the story of sticking up for what is right no matter what is so worth being told. 


For more on Nancy Rue, visit her websiteFacebook page and blogs for tweens and teens.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Build each other up

~Friday for Friends~


"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Encouragement is such a beautiful thing. What was a time when you were encouraged? When you encouraged? 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What has God done in your life recently?

~Tuesday Thoughts~


So... Wanted to ask you guys. 
  • What has God done in your life recently? 
  • What joy have you felt? 
  • Have you felt His peace? 
  • Have you told others about Him? 
  • How has He blessed you? 
  • How has He reprimanded you? 
  • Who has He used to help heal you? 
  • What grief has He helped you through?
  • What has He taught you? 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fighter

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Fighter" is a song by Jamie Grace. Here are the lyrics

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

Are you going through a hard time? How has God helped you along the path?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

"God wants you to talk to him" and more quotes

~Saturday Stories~


"God wants you to talk to him and to tell him what's worrying you or bugging you. And he wants to help you get through it." - Andrea, Harsh Pink

"Listen. Listen. Listen.
Don't criticize. Don't compare. Don't compete.
Only create.
And celebrate." - Norie, "B" is for Bad at Getting into Harvard



"“If God says no to something, it’s because He has something better for you. Always.”" - Mrs. Santana, Worth the Time

"What the Father has to offer is beyond our dreams. We just have to turn to Him." - Pastor Scott, Worth the Time

How about you? What can you talk to God about today? Who can you stop competing with? What has God said "no" to this month? Have you experienced something beyond your dreams?

Friday, November 27, 2015

What is the Christian response to ISIS?

~Friday for Friends~


I'm writing an essay on this topic. I'll appreciate it if you took the time to articulate what you believe is the best Christian response. 

What do YOU think the Christian response should be to ISIS? Should we pray and forgive? Should we fight back? Why do you think so? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rejoice, pray, give thanks

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Sometimes it is really hard to have joy. God's Word says to rejoice always. 
Sometimes it feels that prayers go unanswered. God's Word says to continually pray. 
Sometimes it feels like life is falling apart, and there is absolutely nothing to be thankful about. God's Word tells us to give thanks in all situations.  

Is it hard? Yes. Is it possible? With Christ, everything is possible.

What can you rejoice about today? What can you pray about? What can you can give thanks for?  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Your love never fails

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Your Love Never Fails" is a truth-filled song by Newsboys. Here are the lyrics

"Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:8a (NIV)
 
How about you? Have you felt God's love today? Who can you share it with? 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Why?

~Saturday Stories~


Why is there so much trouble on earth?
Why can't we all simply live merrily?
Why does life seem pointless sometimes?
Why is earth such a disaster? Why? Why?

Because everyone has sinned, all, all
Have fallen short of the glory of God.
Oh, I so long to be perfect, but no!
It is impossible. God is perfect.

Yes, only He, only God is perfect.
He wants us to follow the Only God.
I tell you, life might be hard at times.
But in the end He will come and win! Yes!

I look forward to that, but now I will
Follow Him my entire life, my whole life.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sharing in the joy and mourning

~Friday for Friends~


"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
Romans 12:15 (NIV)

Think for a minute of people you know who are rejoicing. Specific names, specific joys. Think about those who are mourning. Specific people, specific griefs.

How can God use you today to reach out to these people?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pray today

~Tuesday Thoughts~


Pray today.

And pray like you mean it. Not because everybody else is doing it. Not because it is the "only" thing you can do. Not because picture after picture of France is on Facebook.

No.

Pray because you know that there is a loving God. Pray because you know the world is broken. Pray because you know there are hearts that stopped beating, and families that wished the day could be reversed. Pray because prayer is one of the best things to do - ever. Pray because you know God does answer. Pray because He wants you to.


"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."
Jeremiah 29:12 (NIV)

Pray today.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Tell the world

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Tell the World" is a really good song by Lecrae. Here are the lyrics.

We have been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Should we not share this amazing news?

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

Who can you share this awesome truth with? Could you do it today?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Harsh Pink by Melody Carlson

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Reagan: "Even when I saw Geek Girl in school during those first few days less than a week ago, I pretended not to know her. ... The only alternative would've been to set her straight, and that's pretty harsh. Anyway, I think she got the hint. Does that make me a mean girl? No, I reassure myself ... It simply means I'm a survivor."

It's hard to be the new girl. But if you do it delicately enough, if you know just the right way, if you speak or be quiet just when it is needed, you can be in the cool crowd in no time. That's what Reagan did. After making varsity cheerleading and making big progress about being friends with the coolest girl in school, she has finally attained a good place. But then there are people who don't want her around and who will do anything to get her out. And, anyway, why does she feel like such a hypocrite?


Harsh Pink: Color Me Burned tells the story of a girl trying to fit in with the cool crowd. Reagan constantly tries to manipulate the truth and play things her way. She tries to attain a cool status, but the more she tries, the more she feels like a hypocrite. Closer to the end, she gives her life to Jesus. And then the burden on her heart is gone, and she can finally change.

Harsh Pink doesn't have that much about God. Also, there are a couple places where I raised my eyebrows a little. Technically speaking, there is a lot of "telling," without which the story could probably be better. However, it did show how much God can help us through our problems.

A story of trying to fit in and finding out that that is not the biggest treasure, Harsh Pink can capture your attention.

This is the 12th book in the True Colors series. The rest are Dark Blue: Color Me Lonely, Deep Green: Color Me Jealous, Torch Red: Color Me Torn, Pitch Black: Color Me Lost, Burnt Orange: Color Me Wasted, Fool's Gold: Color Me Consumed, Blade Silver: Color Me Scarred, Bitter Rose: Color Me Crushed, Faded Denim: Color Me Trapped, Moon White: Color Me Enchanted, and Bright Purple: Color Me Confused.

For more on Melody Carlson, visit her website and Facebook page.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kindness, compassion, forgiveness

~Friday for Friends~


"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) 

Our God has forgiven us! What a beautiful example!

Today, who can you show kindness to? What about compassion? Forgiveness?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Casting all anxiety

~Tuesday Thoughts~


Beginning on Saturday evening and into Sunday, I felt sick. First, it was mostly my head. On Sunday it was my stomach. This, amid other things, contributed to my feeling of lazy self-pity.

It's interesting that at times like this we try to "bear it," assuming that it'll pass pretty quickly by itself. But what guarantee do we have that it will pass quickly? Why do we suppose we're strong enough to handle it? Why do we not cast ALL our anxiety on Christ?

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)


How about you? What problems can you bring to God today?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Flywheel

~Monday Movies & Music~


$38,000 in debt. Due in about 2 months.

Jay Austin knows that that he needs to do something. So he works harder at his used cars dealership, professionally cheating people of a few thousand dollars at a time. His relationship with his wife and son grew tense, he cheats a minister, and the debt just doesn't seem to go away. Is there a way out of this endless cycle that might leave him without anything?

Flywheel (watch the trailer) is a good Christian movie showing that when we trust God for help and give everything to Him, He can do miracles. The turning point seemed a bit too quick, and the movie itself seemed to take a long time. However, the message it contained was beautiful.

 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
  in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]"
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

How about you? Have you watched Flywheel? What did you think of it? When was a time you trusted God?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Not forgiving someone is a real pain" and more quotes

~Saturday Stories~


"Not forgiving someone is a real pain - not as much to them as it is to you." - Andrea, Harsh Pink

“This is not about changing other people’s behavior. It’s about changing yours because you really can’t alter the way other people act. They might behave differently toward you, but that’s just because you’ve made it easier, among other things.” - Lydia, Sorry I'm Not Sorry




“God has a way of working things out if we back off and let Him.”- Lindsey's dad, Worth the Time

"I don't know if it's really possible to change all by yourself. I mean, you can act differently. But real change - the kind that starts on the inside and transforms you - only comes when you give your life to God." - Andrea, Harsh Pink

How about you? Which quote do you like? Do you have a quote you can share?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Give in secret

~Friday for Friends~


"“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.""Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)

How about you? How can you give today? But it might be better if you don't tell us. Just do it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

An impossible ideal?

~Tuesday Thoughts~


            “When we think we have it all figured out, that’s when we stop considering how we can be better.” Author Stephanie Morrill’s words ring true. Room for improvement always exists, especially in areas of faith, love, and good works.

`           However axiomatic these sound, love and good works mean a lot when thought about through the lenses of Christian faith. The world, if it tries at all, grasps at these two without giving the last a second glance. When so inclined, the world strives to love others and perform numerous good works. However, without faith these prove pointless. Works do not save men (Ephesians 2:8-9); they provide no more worth than filthy rags if done without God (Isaiah 64:6). Yet after becoming a Christian, one acquires the privilege of showing the world around him his faith by these two characteristics and many more. In the end one will never measure up to the perfect example of Christ. However, the importance of pondering His actions and trusting Him to work in us (Philippians 1:6) cannot be underestimated.

            Few Christians can boast of a faith that permeates their lives every day. Usually it serves as a side dish. Although on the plate, it serves neither as the main course nor as the much desired sweet. Waking up, most glance at their phones, not their Bibles. However, seeing it as an obligation, they will once in a while take the time to dust off their Bibles, missing the enjoyment and nourishment the Scriptures can provide. When problems come, most turn to other sources: doctors, counselors, self-help strategies that promise much but accomplish little. Often the idea of coming to God in prayer does not enter one’s mind until everything else has proved useless. Even going about their normal days, many entertain an agenda and try not to get “distracted.” They rarely go beyond others’ masks or dig deeper to see what others would want or need.

Jesus Christ has exemplified all these aspects of faith – reading Scripture, praying, reaching out – in the best way possible. Christ constantly quoted the Scriptures (for example, Matthew 22:41-46), showing the importance they held for Him. From resisting temptation (Matthew 4:1-11) to explaining prophecies (Luke 24:25-27), Scripture contained an answer, an application. Jesus, although God himself, constantly came to His Father in prayer. He gave thanks for the fish and loaves (Matthew 14:19) and prayed over His disciples and all believers (John 17:6-26). He rose early in the mornings specifically to pray (Mark 1:35). And even in the darkest, most painful hours He called out to God from the cross (Matthew 27:46). Also, for Christ, good works meant more than a hobby or extracurricular activity performed every once in a while. Executing God’s work nourished Him (John 4:34). Speaking to the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26) and washing His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17), He opened up an entirely new perspective of servitude.

            Faith portrays itself in love. One cannot love if he does not know God, and if one knows God he cannot help but love (1 John 4:7-8). Unlike what this world proclaims every day, love does not come and go away. Love is an action (1 John 3:18) and incorporates selflessness (1 Corinthians 13:5). With its constant advertisement of comfortable living, humanity encourages selfishness. It loudly declares the idea that if hardships arise one can give up on his loved one. How many divorces have been registered for the simple reason that it “got too hard”? The world puts so much into the feeling of love, it fails to consider the action of love. It applauds the first kiss much more than the first sacrifice of one’s plans for a friend or partner. 

            Christ, however, demonstrates the perfect example of love. The living God, He did not have to come into this world. Yet He came (John 6:38). He did not have to heal and teach; He does not have to be with Christians today. Yet He did (Matthew 12:15, Mark 1:21-22), and He is (Matthew 28:20). Dying for us and then rising (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), Jesus executed more action for worthless sinners than anyone on Earth can ever expect to accomplish. With an example so majestic no doubt can exist about His love and His ability to teach this love to His followers. 

            Another aspect of Christ’s life, His good works, often merit an in-depth discussion. Many people will hear of improvement and instantaneously think of “good works.” However, faith and God’s mercy always overpower whatever good works could offer. Works do not save (Ephesians 2:8-9), but can demonstrate one’s faith (James 2:18) and the transformation made by love. Over and over again the Bible tells us to remember the poor (Galatians 2:10), to encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and to proclaim the Good News (Matthew 28:19-20). Yet today few people continually reach out to the poor or put away time in their schedules to encourage one another. Few go about a typical day searching for someone to share the Gospel with or for an opportunity to fight for justice.

Jesus, on the other hand, constantly served. He healed the sick (Matthew 12:15), encouraged His disciples (John 14:16-21), and proclaimed the nearness of His kingdom (Matthew 4:17). He died for this world (Romans 4:25)! Although He could have easily passed on all the hardships involved with coming to Earth, He did not. Everyone can greatly benefit from imitating His example of serving.

            Where can one get the strength to put faith first, to love others, and to help them even when that means self-sacrifice? God calls Christians to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1), and He will not leave His disciples (Matthew 28:20) helplessly wondering how to accomplish that. One can do anything through Him (Philippians 4:13), including the improvement of his faith, love, and good works. God’s Holy Word promises in Philippians 1:6 (NIV), “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”     

Monday, November 2, 2015

Till the day we die

~Monday Movies & Music~


Sorry I didn't post last week. Hopefully, that won't become a habit.

"Til The Day I Die" is a pretty great song by TobyMac and featuring NF. Here are the lyrics.

""But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”" Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Who do we choose to serve? Are we ready to serve Him till we die?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lonely in a crowd

~Saturday Stories~


  The bus is full of noise, coming from myriads of directions. Laughter rings out. Apples to Apples is played a few rows up and on the left side. Chatter in a different language fills the double seat closer to the middle. An unallowed phone is being played on. Someone belts out a song. But also...

   People read books. People stare out windows. People listen intently to what is said in the seat behind them in case someone might actually speak to them. People glance around, hoping that someone will take that as a cue to let them join in.

  Have you ever been in a situation like that? With all the chatter everywhere but you weren't a part of it? Or were you part of a group when you spied someone looking totally out of place? What did you do?

What would Jesus do?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Don't Let It Go: Thoughts on Past and Present Friendships

~Friday for Friends~

    
        In Russia children play a game where half of the crowd stands in a line and holds hands. A kid from the opposing team charges between one person and another. They, in turn, have to hold on to each other and not let go. I have learned the importance of sticking with family and friends no matter what after I gave up on a friendship back in seventh grade. 

This friendship bloomed in first and second grade. We hung out at school, visited each other, and wore matching clothes. I could tell you in a heartbeat that she meant a lot to me.

A quarter into second grade I moved. Dad’s “home assignment” as a missionary drew to a close, and we flew back to Russia. Certain that this friendship could handle anything, I typed up emails for Dad to send. Even when after a few years she stopped writing back, I envisioned my next trip to the States. I hoped that proximity would lift the barriers between us and make our friendship solid again.

The June before seventh grade our family flew to the States, and the long-awaited meeting came. However, time had passed. She had changed; I had changed. We both sat in the swimming pool only a few feet from each other, but a world apart from one another’s hearts. Both pretty shy we hadn’t yet acquired the skill of small talk so indispensible in such situations. Mom encouraged me, saying it would get better as time went, but I didn’t take the time.  

I gave up. I chose comfort over reconnecting and avoidance over perseverance ultimately letting go of that friendship. We didn’t see each other more than half a dozen times over the seventh-month stay.

Mistakes productively manufacture guilt, hurt, and fear.  However, I know that God can break this chain. He presents us with forgiveness (1 John 1:9), heals our wounds (Psalm 147:3), and calms our fears (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT). He also gives second chances (for example, John 8:1-11).

The same year I made the mistake of giving up God brought a new friend into my life. Then, once again, I moved. For a long time fear crept into that relationship. The fear of a repeat kept me awake in bed, crying, wondering if this friendship would end in the same way. 

Despite my past mistakes, God has helped me and has pulled me through. This year, four and a half years later, I have come back to the States. This month I had the opportunity to see my new friend again. We met and we scraped up enough words for an almost-normal conversation. We went to the same party and laughed at the same jokes. I emailed her my fears and she answered with a certainty that quieted me. The fear my mistake created is being eased down. 

From this experienced I learned more than just not giving up on relationships. I have also learned the importance of constant communication, the value of keeping in contact over long distances, long years, and hard times. Now in the States, I purposefully try to keep in touch with my friends half way around the world. I see it as vital enough to be worth the effort.    

Letting go of one person doesn’t mean I’m destined to fail at friendships. Although my shyness and the decision to not overcome it lost me a friend, through His grace God gave me a new one. Now I strive to keep in contact with others and to not give up on relationships.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What are you thinking about?

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)



What do you think about most of the time? Is it true, lovely, admirable? Let's pray about it. What should we stop lingering on so often? What things should we think about?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Waiting for the Lord

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Everlasting God" is a song here sung by Lincoln Brewster. Here are the lyrics.

  "Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

How about you? Are you waiting for the Lord? When was a time you waited for Him and the wait proved worth it?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Worth the Time by Laura Jackson

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Lindsey: "I’ll figure a way out; I always do."

Required volunteering is one of the last things Lindsey wants to do. But then a certain guy catches her eye. A certain guy who won't even look at her. This is new. And that's not the only new thing because now, at almost eighteen, Lindsey gets to meet her dad for the very first time. What is he doesn't like her? And, really, is being vulnerable, honest, real, and without the mask worth it?


Worth the Time tells the tale of a typical "mean girl" changing. We get to see Lindsey's backstory, her hurt, and her fear of being rejected. Slowly, she opens up to others and to God. The book has two main settings in it, which gives it new layers and is nice. I'd have really liked it, though, if her newfound dad wasn't so "perfect." However, Laura Jackson did a great job at having faith integrated in the story.


This is the second in the Waltham Academy series. The first is Worth the Wait.

For more on Laura Jackson, visit her blog and Facebook page. You can also find her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Paige on Self-Respect vs. Conceit

~Friday for Friends~


Today I'll do something different, which I hope you don't mind.

There's this pretty good blog, In Real Life, and yesterday it had a post: Paige on Self-Respect Vs. Conceit. This is something I've been thinking about lately.

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

What do you think about the blog post and the Bible passage? Does the passage mean we should like ourselves? Respect ourselves? Love ourselves? Or not?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

10,000 hours with Jesus

 ~Tuesday Thoughts~


The Bible clearly states who Jesus is. He is God (John 1:1), He created the world (Colossians 1:15-16), He is the Messiah (John 20:31), He is the way (John 14:6), and He is King of kings, Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). When we recognize this, it is pretty amazing that God has called us to be His friends (John 15:14-15). He has called us to follow Him (Matthew 16:24). The thing is, sometimes we think we’re so crammed time-wise that we don’t have time to communicate and listen to the Creator of the World.

It is thought that 10,000 hours pursuing something- whether that be surfing, writing, or knitting-  makes you a professional at it. We often spend more time doing something like that than we do getting to know our Savior. Jesus, in His three years of ministry, spent well over 10, 000 hours proclaiming God’s kingdom, pouring into His disciples and others. And He is still alive today (Revelation 1:17-18)! It is time we got more serious about our relationship with Him.

Personally, I don’t spend enough time reading the Bible, meditating, praying, or serving. About half of the mornings, I’ll read the Bible, which takes about 15-40 minutes. I pray throughout the day - mostly selfish praying and crying out - that altogether might add up to about 15 minutes. At 45 minutes per day, I spend 5 ¼ hours doing this a week, about 22 ½  per month, and about 274 per year. What about you? How much time do you spend with Him a day? How much does that amount to in a year?

            Let us consider today the beginning of our counting.  With this pretty slow progression, in 6 months I will have spent about 136 hours doing these things. In a year it would be 274 hours. Looking ahead, when I’m 30, 40, 50, 60, and 75, I’ll be at about 3400, 6200, 8900, 11600, and 15800 hours respectively. To get those 10,000 hours said to be needed I’ll need approximately 36 ½ years! How about you? At the rate you're investing into your relationship with Christ, how long will it take you to get to 10,000 hours? 

            Obviously, this is not the most effective way to invest in my relationship with Jesus. Some things that would be good to change include spending time listening to God, reading more and applying the Word, and serving. I can take steps toward this even now, like helping in church and taking 10-15 minutes a day to just listen to God.

            Even if I only make the 45 minutes per day into an hour per day, that can add up to a lot. 10,000 hours would still take me more than 27 years, which might not seem like a very ambitious goal. However, it’s doable. Like already said, I can find opportunities to serve at church and spend time listening to God. What are ways you can invest more into your relationship with Christ?

            It’s a well-known idea that it helps one change if there is someone(s) he/she is accountable to and that will take the journey with him/her. With this in mind, I might ask my best friend to help me in these areas. Who can you ask to help you?

            Our God and Savior cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). Are we ready to put away our agendas and spend time with Him?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shining through

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Wake" is a song by Hillsong Young & Free. Here are the lyrics.

""By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”" John 13:35 (NIV)

God's love is so amazing. Are we letting it shine through us?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

"True love doesn't have to make headlines" and more quotes

~Saturday Stories~


“True love doesn’t have to make headlines.” - Gracie, Skinny

"Thankfully, ALL of us have Jesus to lean on, no matter what! On some days, it seems like He’s the only one who understands. . . ." - Catie, Catie Conrad



"Everyone needs to see a Jesus kind of love - that's like love in action." - Andrea, Harsh Pink

""Just let yourself trust Him. He’ll prove faithful.”
“What if He doesn’t?”
“That’s what makes it trust.”" - Mrs. Santana & Lindsey, Worth the Time

How about you? Which quote stands out to you? Do you have a quote you can share?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Be patient!

~Friday for Friends~


God's Word repeatedly tells us to be patient:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. " Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

"And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone."  1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)

How about you? Did any verse stand out to you? Who can you be patient with today?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Too much technology?

~Thursday Thoughts~

  
Sorry I didn't post on Tuesday. Here's the "Thursday Thoughts." This was written as a response to CGP Grey's video "Humans Need Not Apply."


   Life today differs greatly from life a century or two ago. One of the biggest changes is the machines. We no longer use horses as the major source of transportation, nor do we need as many people to work in agriculture. We have made machines that drive us, that work the ground, that carry things from place to place. This all has made manual labor less in demand and mental labor more in demand. Now we might be coming to an age when even mental labor is not needed that much.

   It might seem that machines with minds and at least some of the five sense are science fiction. Indeed, there have been many predictions about them that have not come true. An example of this is the film Back to the Future. However, some things are not just objectives and goals of programmers anymore. They are reality. From self-driving cars to virtual doctors to coffee made entirely by machines in a network that remembers your favorites, we are entering an entirely new arena. As we do we need to remember that, as creatures made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), we will always be loved by Him (Romans 8:38-39). He has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11); we need not be afraid for He is always with us (Joshua 1:9).

   I’ll look at two professions that have a prospect to change dramatically and soon. High school teaching can be very much affected by automation. More and more classes can be done online, making the need for teachers less.  It is said that employment will increase 6% over the 2012-2022 decade, which is less than the average1. The reasons said to be behind it were a smaller student-to-faculty ratio and an increased number of students. However, the webpage didn’t seem to take under account the numerous possibilities and challenges online learning has brought upon us. Today one teacher can teach many students without having to ever engage with them personally. This has impacted education at the college level, and we should be ready for it to impact high school also. Teachers need to understand technology and how to implement it in the classroom. Some should be ready to enter online teaching. However, as Bill Gates said, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”

   Writers and authors have an even smaller projected growth, only 3%2. It is thought that the publishing industry will decrease. However, there are online outlets available to almost anyone from self-publishing to websites to blogs. There are, supposedly, machines that can even make creative work. However, God has made us in His image (Genesis 1:27). I believe that no machine will ever completely annihilate our creative expression of ourselves.

   New skills and abilities will be important as we enter the age of even more technology. If/when I become a teacher, I hope to learn technological skills to keep my classroom up-to-date. However, the person factor is just too important for all teachers to leave the classroom altogether, and I’m not planning on doing that. As a writer, my first priority is to produce good material. If I do not do that, there is no purpose to learning where to post it and how to promote myself. These are important things, but they are secondary.

   As we are enveloped by technology we need to remember that technology is not God. It cannot do everything. Another Bill Gates quote says, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Many stuff will still depend on people, and we know that everything depends on God (Romans 9:16). Everything is in his hands (Job 12:10).

References:
  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014, January 8). High School Teachers : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-6
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014, January 8). Writers and Authors : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/writers-and-authors.htm#tab-6

What about you? What do you think about the amount of technology around us? What is some other area that you feel afraid of but know that God is in control?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sold out

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Sold Out" is a good song by Hawk Nelson. Here are the lyrics.

Everything we do should be done for God's glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Let's live for Christ!

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21 (NIV)
How about you? How can you be different from the world and help the world in a way that portrays Christ?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sorry I'm Not Sorry by Nancy Rue

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Kylie: "I was going to be totally cool because, like my mom said, we were just there to humor her. I could do humorous. I could do cooperative. I could do irresistible. I could do anything."

Everything has been taken from Kylie -her cheerleading position and her popularity - and it's all because of Tori, Ginger, and their so-called Tribelet that stands against bullying. Like Kylie ever really bullied. Whatever. As long as she still has her friends and her lawyer-dad figuring stuff out, this is all no sweat. But then her friends turn on her, she has to help out with six-year-old wanna-be dancers AND she's in constant contact with Tori and her group. Can life ever get better again? Or, even harder, can Kylie change from the "princess" she has been for so long?


Sorry I'm Not Sorry is deep and powerful. Kylie is a great character that changes a lot and yet the change doesn't seem forced. Kylie's transformation is absolutely beautiful and is one of the best parts in the book. Her mentor gives her lots of good advice that can apply to many of us readers, like "there are no rivals." There wasn't much about God, which was a disappointment. Also, the ending seemed drawn out. However, it's still an awesome read.

Bullying isn't a joke. It's real and it's out there. Sorry I'm Not Sorry is Nancy Rue's third book in the anti-bullying series. It is told from the bully's point of view. It shows how bullies can be made and how with some help they can soften up and learn to be themselves again.

If you want some great fiction with an even greater message, you might enjoy this series. The first book - So Not Okay- is told from the bystander's point of view. You Can't Sit With Us, the second one, is told from the bullied girl's point of view.

If you'd like more information on the anti-bullying campaign you can visit the movement's website. For more on Nancy Rue, visit her websiteFacebook page and blogs for tweensteens and new adults.