Monday, August 23, 2010

just one of those days...

it's funny how we have a little saying to get out of talking about a bad day.

her: "how are you amber?"
me: "oh you know, it's just one of those days."

somehow there is a solace or comfort found in being able to label a down on your luck day, as "one of those days". it's almost as though by saying "it's one of those days" i can lay it to rest. i no longer need to seek the goodness out in the day or be hopeful for a change in fate... instead i can just spend my precious day counting down the moments until i have the chance to lay in my bed and sleep off the ickyness. (i made that spelling up for sure!)

but why? why do we have to pretend like it's a day to be categorized? every day brings something new, adventurous, different into our lives... even if it's something as mundane as parking in a different spot in the work parking lot.

however, i realize i have a "just one of those people" attitude.

her: "amber, this is my friend, billy."
me: "oh you, you're just one of those people."

somehow, it doesn't flow as nicely off the tongue as "just one of those days". but it's the same attitude in my heart... i am ready to lay them to rest for whatever lame reason seems to be enough in my narrow mind. i decide i don't like the people billy hangs out with, the things i have
heard about him, or the way that he dresses (whatever it may be) and i decide he's "just one of those people".

but why? what a horrible injustice i am doing to skip out on the chance to make a new friend and have my mind expanded by their wisdom! one of my closest friends in high school was the atheist boy that sat next to me during my art history class. he was intelligent beyond comprehension and
admitted to being "too smart to believe in God". initially i was freaked out by him because of his strong stance on all things political, religious, academic - just on all things i suppose. but, he expanded my mind and tested my faith through his many questions and discussions... and
i like to think i pushed him to think too.

so, who are you writing off as "just one of those people"? or who is writing you off as "just one of those people"? my challenge to you (and to myself) is to open your mind and your heart to experience a new kind of friendship with a new kind of person... and if you are "just one of those
people" to someone, show them you're not.

"...great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve." -Jeremiah 32:19

let your eyes be opened to the greatness of Him in His creation, the people that fill your lives.

song of the day:
give me your eyes
by: brandon heath

let's find God in the people we interact with. He is there, though sometimes it can be so hard to find.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

why does God let bad things happen to good people?

this is one of the questions i have heard from believers and non-believers alike. i have spent months pondering this after the alzheimer’s diagnosis of my father, after the loss of baby hallee, after watching members of the church come down with fatal illnesses, after corruption plagues church leadership, after having good intentions and still messing up… how does this happen with the righteous right hand of God protecting us, His children, from danger?

the book of job seems to speak directly to this, but not in a fast and simple way. it takes a little bit of digging and a prayer for God’s word to speak directly into your heart. i have read through Job before, but suddenly, in this new light that the Spirit has shed on it, it is extraordinarily enlightening.

God does not stop bad things from happening for three reasons (that i have come up with and by no means is this list exhaustive or right):

1. you, as God’s child, underestimate your strength and/or abilities.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” – Romans 5:3-5
in the book of job, God hands job to satan while bragging that job is one of His most faithful servants and will remain strong despite the devil’s temptations. does job do so? yes! but not on his own. God provides friends to serve as encouragement during the most difficult of times. He is allowing for us to realize the insane muscle He has blessed us with, faith. realize that through your suffering you are growing into a better, stronger, more Hulk-like christian.

God also lays the stipulation out that satan can strip job of all he has but cannot kill him. He is holding job in His righteous right hand by ensuring that Job’s life is safe… God promised life and He is providing. He wants you to have hope in trials and tribulations so that He can come to the rescue, just as Christ rescued us from the throes of sin by hanging on the cross… maintain hope in the face of trouble because God does not disappoint.

2. He wants you to realize the condition of your heart.
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. . So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:20, 22
friedrich nietzsche once said, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” the same goes for the matters of the heart: what doesn’t kill our desires only makes them stronger. God calls us to serve His greater purpose and He provides us with talents in order to ensure our chance to participate in bringing glory to His righteous kingdom.

i have realized that all good things are worth working for; however, it’s not easy to run into tests and trials. are you truly dedicated to your convictions, your talents, His purpose? the flame will dwindle and, at times, you may fear it’s complete extinguish. but, just as nietzche says, if it doesn’t blow out that little fire will come back a full-blown, unstoppable blaze. there is a time of trial, but He will bring us into a time of rejoicing in His undeniable purpose in our lives.

3. He has faith in you, but He longs for you to grow your faith in Him.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
God has created you. He knows your greatest potential and has great faith in your ability to accomplish His goodness. but do you have enough faith in Him to endure the trials and tough times? i believe that in the face of persecution and trials you realize your (a) heart and (b) dedication. how much do you want to help others in His name? how badly do you desire to reflect Him in everything that you do?

putting yourself out there every day is difficult and being met with anything less than praise makes the task that much more daunting; however, He is rejoicing your perseverance up in heaven and will reward you (beyond anything you can fathom) for being faithful to Him. receiving criticism and negativity when you feel like you are doing what God has created you to do can breed doubt in your heart, but have faith. know that He designed you with a specific purpose for you life.

rather than think in the negative, consider tough times the ultimate compliment. God, the creator of all things, is up in Heaven wishing for you to pull close to Him and lean into the promise He has made to give a greater purpose to your life. He longs to do things in your life that are more than you would ever ask for… i’m in, how about you?
"My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.” –Psalm 71:7-8
remember that in everything you do people are watching. a person’s true character shows when they are staring adversity in the face, make sure you’re someone worth paying attention to (during good times and bad).

song of the day:
meant to live
by: switchfoot

"fumbling his confidence and wondering why the world has passed him by...
hoping that he's meant for more than arguments and failed attempts to fly...
we were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?"

i've lost myself several times, but leave it up to God to bring me right back to where i need to be. it's a confusing world, but He can serve as the ultimate GPS. just ask and believe.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

life is like cooking

i am very into making dinner. i love to plan a menu for the week, go shopping at the local grocery stores, and spend my evening working in the kitchen. it helps to have a boyfriend who serves as a human garbage disposal and who is all too often impressed by my meals... (ladies, it's true the way to a man's heart is through his stomach!)

jason, the above mentioned garbage disposal, is a natural helper. he longs to be in the kitchen assisting in making dinner and often says he wants to be in charge of meals. i have learned that jason's ideal meal is a grilled lean chicken breast (because it's packed with protein), a side of spinach splashed with a little (emphasis on little) splash of italian dressing, and possibly some brown rice (though carbs are not high on his priority list, unlike mine). taking a risk at being captain obvious, jason is not into flavor so much as practicality. he is focused on putting what's best into his body ensuring it's running at high efficiency. i, on the other hand, want to enjoy my culinary experience which requires a little bit of extra caloric intake.

these dinner experiences serve as an amazing illustration of God and his faithfulness. like jason's meal, Christ's sacrifice was enough for us. it covers all of our sin and allows us to work at full efficiency knowing that we can enter into the kingdom of heaven simply by knowing God as our personal savior. we could simply enjoy the bare bones without further pursuing greater culinary treats.

however, much like the way top chefs do in the culinary world, God has provided us with a recipe book (aka: the Bible) that not only provides us with instructions on the basics of cooking but it also has suggestions for spicing up our lives (not like the girl group from the mid-90s as great as
they were...). you see, there are many ways to make things "better" though it often requires a more complicated cooking process and sometimes a bit of thinking ahead.

"Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" -Matthew 4:4

even Jesus himself says, man cannot live on his own, but needs the word of God. i think he was saying that the words that come from God are what make life more than just a grilled lean chicken breast, let's think of them as the marinade of life. and what is the rule about marinating... the longer you let meat sit in a marinade, the better it tastes. well, marinade away my dear friends.

"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate (sounds much like marinate) on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." -Romans 1:8

don't take this as an action-based faith lesson... marinating does not change the completeness we have achieved through Christ's death. nothing we do will ever change how healthy the lean chicken breast is, just like nothing we ever do will add to or take away from the price paid by Christ on the cross. however, with a little bit of thinking ahead and a greater cooking process, we can work to transform ourselves to be more like Him. is it easy? nope. but more importantly, it's possible with Him on our side.

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

song of the day:
from the inside out
by: hillsong united

"in my heart and my soul, Lord i give You control consume me from the inside out"

... if you need some marinade, listen to some worship and pray. He will give you some flavor.