Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Check box

Lately I've been noticing myself developing a habit that I'm not too happy about.
At the end of a day I will put a big X on the calendar. I like looking at all the X's on the month and realizing wow I'm almost done.

Maybe you can relate. Often we think, I can't wait until... Or my life will be better when... It's so easy to settle with hoping life will be better in the future instead of changing it for ourselves in the present.

Almost done with what though?
What am I living for is life is nothing more than surviving?
One x after the other.
Sure, I love summer but what a shame it would be to live 12 months and only love 3 of them.
Doesn't God call us to live differently? Isn't every day a gift from God- another chance to love one another and Him- a blessing and a miracle?

Yes we all have rough days. We all have struggles and rain, but we all have a chance to look up in the sky and see the rainbows that God gives us to make us smile. We also have a chance to change our lives- no one owes us anything. We have the chance to make changes if we want to live differently.

Psalm 118:24 says "This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it."

I challenge you to remember that life is more than getting through..
Life is more than that person that makes you mad,,
Then that boy or girl you wish you have or have...
That life is more than the work you hate
Your hardest class
And even your best friend
That life is a gift
Each day a chance to love someone else
Because that's the way Jesus loves you

Dear God, teach me to find joy in you. Fill my heart with more of your spirit and more of your love. Create in me a clean heart oh God. Give me strength and perseverance to fight the war on your side.
Amen.

It is well



Kirstine DiMarco "It is Well"
Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me
Far be it for me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of sea
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Church- this can't be how it's supposed to be



It's my second year in college and fourth year without a church (I spent two years in boarding academy). 4 years without a pastor and without a church family, without adult mentoring and encouragement, without children singing happy Sabbath school songs, and without people knowing my name and caring about things that happen in my life- much less hearing my testimony and stories about God's glory or my struggles in my faith.

That's not because I'm not trying. It's not because I don't love Jesus, and it's not because there aren't in any churches in my area. In fact there are over 50 churches in my area- the Seventh Day Adventist popularity hub- in Tennessee. Yet not one church has became my family, so after four years I'm still wandering.. still searching.. still trying to find that place where I belong. Trying to find that group of believers that love Jesus and want to include me, want to know me, and want to worship together.

My faith through high school and college has grown not because of church, but because of my roots I developed through middle school and in my family, through my personal experience in God's word, through my experience in service and work in summer camp, through a year of working as a missionary in Peru, and because of a small group of spiritual friends to which we have chosen to mentor each other.

Many adults question why youth are leaving the church at astounding rates (most commonly at the ages of 16, 18, and 22). First I would like to ask the church what they are doing for the 16 year olds (high school students), 18 year olds (high school graduates) and 22 year olds (college graduates). Why should we stay? And why do you choose to treat us the way you do? I would like to encourage them to step out and love more boldly and to realize the need that young people are having to feel accepted into the church.

I think there's this predisposition that most high school students and college students are selfish and immature, or that we are cliche and think we are "too cool" to be approached by pastors or elders, old people, or play with little children in Sabbath school. I know for myself personally, I would LOVE to be visited by a pastor, invited over to a family's home after church, help with a Sabbath school or a Pathfinder club once in a while, or to just help out. I would love to do more witnessing, love to lead out in Sabbath schools, love to share my testimony about Peru upfront.. but unfortunately I am timid, and in the past four years despite the fact that I spend all summer leading out in spiritual activities, I have never gotten the opportunity to be involved in a church.

When people ask me what church I go too Other than my home church Adventist Fellowship- Shout out to them I do love them =) in Oklahoma... I don't know what to say. I go to different churches every week. I've tried different Sabbath schools. I've tried going to churches a few times in a row to see if I would meet people. I come with one or two friends and 90% of the time I leave with those same friends without speaking a word to anyone new other than the greeter who smiles tells me happy Sabbath and welcome and dismisses me as "one of those college kids".

The thing is my faith is rooted- and that's why I go to church. But if I didn't have serious convictions, I would not feel welcome or accepted in such a place and I doubt I would have any desire to return. Even as a Jesus lover, I often come in feeling an intruder and leave without being reached out too. Not one person outside of my boss, teachers, and classmates know my name. Not one person. Not one family. Not ONE member of any church to which I have visited/ attended for 4 years. And honestly it makes me want to cry. It makes me feel alone. Not just for myself, but for my friends that are leaving the church because they don't feel accepted and for the hundreds of students that are labeling Adventist churches as hypocritical and refusing to go back.

I just know that something is missing in church. I know that I must try harder to get involved with a church, and that often churches are busy and don't mean to be exclusive. But I wanted to write this because this is how many college students feel about church...

Today I went to Spanish church to worship. I went there last week too. I'm hoping that if I go, maybe a few times in a row, maybe I will meet some people. I'm willing to go to a church that doesn't speak the same language as me because they are a small congregation that is friendlier. Today the pastor spoke about youth leaving the church. After his message a lady invited my friend and I to her house for lunch. We said yes and we enjoyed a nice supper at her house. Honestly, it meant alot to me that someone took the time to do something about it and took the message about young people to heart.

High school and college students have a need to be spiritually fed and mentored. They do want to play a role in the church and they do have valuable gifts to be offered. They need encouraged to speak up. They need to be shown that they are loved and cared about. They care less about rock music or contemporary styles then you think- they are just searching for some real people that care.

I know that our Adventist churches are full of God loving people yet somehow in many of our churches we are missing the friendliness and the welcoming aspects. We must somehow improve our tactics to include and reach out to young people and all visitors in general. We must start caring about each other... I hope that this blog will encourage you to reach out to visitors who may come in your church and to young people and college students. As a young person, I do want to be a leader in church. I do want to pay tithe to a church, to lead out in a church, and most importantly I really desire a genuine church family.



Friday, February 13, 2015

Dead faith



Like stench from the dead
Bones on the grave
My faith lies
Asleep in the dirt

Barely awake
It pops up his eyes
Afraid to move
Scarred and hurt

Awaiting the kiss
Of a friend or a knight
To sweep out of the dreams
Of bliss

I look around  clapping crowds of joy
And wonder what did I miss
Where is the joy, hope, and love
I've preached about day by day

Where is my best friend
To whom I must only pray
Where if life when I'm blind
How do I walk when I can't see

How can I be a witness?
Why should someone mimick me?
I'm trying to feel my way through darkness
But I'm struggling just to breathe

This is a silent war
That happens in my dreams
This is torture and chaos
The crying, mocking screams

I believe God is alive
Even when His spirit in me feels dead
I believe Jesus works
Through my biggest weaknesses

Jesus show me the light.
Resuscitate me again
Deep down I know you're real
I know your still my best friend.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Image of God

"I wish I could see myself through His eyes"- the eyes of my King and my Creator

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

Self image is such a huge struggle for many of us. Many girls will never be able to accept the word beautiful. Girls always find something wrong with them. The people you often think are the most confident and maybe even gorgeous are often the most insecure. This is Satan't doing. In the beginning we were beautiful and without shame. We were comfortable with our naked selves before the face of Christ. Write down five lies you believe about yourself and then write Bible verses and God's truths next to them to remind yourself next time you feel tempted to believe them.

Adventist Fundamentals "Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment."

The Hebrew root of the Latin phrase for image of God—imago Dei—means image, shadow or likeness of God. You have the potential to be a snapshot of Christ. 

Created in the image of Christ means you have worth. Not just you, but every human individual- acne, beautiful, short, tall, fat- these names have nothing on our CREATOR who LOVES us just the way we are. We are created to think, to be spiritual beings, to communicate with each other, and to love one another like Christ loves us.

Another special gift we are given from God is power and dominion. No other creature has power to kill, to create, to love, to hurt like we do. 

When we remember Christ Jesus- the true image of God restored- we can be forgiven through Christ and continue to represent God. By His mercy, we can demonstrate His character through our actions in our daily walk.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever- increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit.




Sunday, February 1, 2015

Relativism

I find myself troubled by a class I'm currently taking called Christian Ethics. We are discussing relativism vs absolutism in the Christian life. I just find it so interesting and troubling as well how easy it is to let relativist thinking creep in and deceive our hearts so that we feel like we are not sinning when we really are.

There is a strong verse in the Bible that gives us a stern warning. In Proverbs 14:12 it says "There is a way that seems right to a man, and in the end it leads to death."

That verse makes me think- am I really following Jesus' standards and living in His righteousness? Or am I letting the world and my environment- as well as the Devil's sneaky lies- change what I believe about God? Relativism has definitely made it's way into the Adventist church in sneaky ways and it's easy to get confused as to where God really stands on many moral issues.

A few of these questions that are relative to many in the church include:
How should I spend the Sabbath?
Is wearing jewelry and outward adornment really bad?
What does "no dancing" mean and how far should I take that? Who came up with that rule anyways?
Where should we stand on the issues of homosexuality and abortion?
Is using other people's tests and homework from the year before considered cheating in college?
What should music look like in a church?
What should a worship service be like?
Is this a good enough reason to divorce without committing adultery?
Does God want us to be vegetarians/ vegans, or meat eaters?
Is God ok with us eating out on Sabbath? Or cooking on Sabbath for that matter?

All of these issues are complex and many people have strong viewpoints one way or the other. For many of them, both sides of arguments can claim Bible verses of support. Other people simply dismiss these issues asking us not to judge each other because we say "it's all about your own walk with God. Everyone's on their own level." It can be easy to think that because of these complicated issues maybe God's rules are relative. 

But could God's standards (which are perfect) really be swayed based on us sinners? That could be scary. Why do we think that we are the individual that deserves an exception to the righteous law of God. 

Kainer, a famous book writer on Christian Ethics, writes that Lucifer originally did not claim to rebel against God but to improve upon God's moral system suggesting that the law was an unnecessary restraint upon the angels. He suggested that holy beings were capable of doing good without the law of God and that they should place confidence in their own reasoning rather than in God's revelation. In this way he introduced relativism which gives us, humans, permission to decide in certain situations the morality of an issue.

When we believe Lucifer's lie, we think that we ourselves are capable of deciding what is moral. We
 also may believe that the Ten Commandments and the Word of the Lord is not absolute teaching but
 could be changed based on situations of choice. Lucifer wants us to lose confidence with God's laws
 of love and disbelieve that they are always the most loving action. We need to recognize the limits 
of our authority and total dependence on our Maker to extents that no amount of “situational 
reasoning or rationalizing can ever change.

Why are we so afraid to say "I believe this and I believe it is absolute and unchanging." When do we 
look at God's law and realize that there are no exceptions. Why are we afraid to call ourselves and
others out if we are following God's law and His Holy Spirit?

What are your moral absolutes?
Do you think a Christian should be 100% absolutist or a little relative?
What are your thoughts on this topic? 
Please comment below thanks =)