November 14, 2012

Obsession

     We live in the technology era. To have technology, we are told, is what makes a person normal. We are expected to have it. We are expected to have cell phone (a smartphone of course), be on Facebook (and have tons of friends), have a computer (a laptop also), and maybe even have a tablet. I am living proof that a normal person doesn't need those things to be normal and to connect with people..... or am I?



     For me, not having a cell phone disconnects me from my friends. They know all the recent updates about each other. It kind of makes me feel like a lousy friend sometimes, but really, I'm glad I don't have one.

     There are always those people who rave about how terrible technology is, how it makes us stupid, how there are better things for us to spend our money on etc. You've heard them. I've also heard from others how we need to take advantage of these new inventions and how we should be like the hipsters (or you're doing life wrong). I've also hear that technology can be used for the advancement of God's kingdom. 

      In my mind I gravitate towards the arguments in favor of technology. Technology is an important thing. I love all the new modern ideas and the modern style. I don't know why I really like modern things, but I do. There is a reason God gave us knowledge to make these things. What I don't like, though, about technology is that it hinders my relationship time with my God.

     Before leaving for home after going on the mission trip to Nicaragua I was a different person than I was when I left. I mean living surrounded by bat poop can do a lot to a person's psyche. I no longer cared what people thought, I no longer cared about technology, I no longer cared about a lot of things I cared about before. I had my mind fixed on the things it should be on all the time.

     My mind was fixed on God. It was fixed on heaven, dwelling in truth (not just speaking it), not letting people put masks on me, and loving others. In Nicaragua all I had was God. Even my I-Pod had been wiped clear of any music even resembling non-Christian. We were living surrounded by nature and truth. We were living simply, if you can call truth simplicity. 

     Something changed once I got home. My focus slowly has been shifting from being in God's Presence to living comfortably. Sometimes I've taken notice and stopped the shift for a while, but then it just keeps on going after a while. I've been trying to figure out what causes a person to feel so close to God out in the middle of nowhere, but yet so far from God when they are back at their house. Even though I am homeschooled and spend more time by myself in my room then I did while in Nicaragua, it still happens. It make no sense unless you think about technology and all of our American comforts. 

     Here at home I have all the food I want, I have carpet on the ground, a trash can, beautiful running water, books all around, a computer at my fingertips, pretty clothing items and accessories to look at and think about, hygiene to constantly worry about (I can worry about it because I can actually do something about it, unlike while I was in Nicaragua). If you think about it, all these things take up so much of our energy. 
I could blame all my problems on my circumstances instead of on my possessions. I have a bunch of school, my social life is crazier than it has ever been, I have a bunch of student council stuff to worry about and I have various things I do at church. Those things aren't much different than the things I did in Nicaragua though.

     I need a simple life. My possessions take away from that. Those possessions in turn rob me of my energy for quality time with my Savior, and they rob me of my peace, joy, truth speaking, and love. What can I do?
I could decide to cut all ties with my possessions, but as I said in the beginning, there's good in them and I have been given them by God. I should actually be thankful for them, not discard them as trash. I could force myself to go on mission trips all the time and then to be a missionary. The problem is, I don't know if that's God's will for my life. In fact, I'm not suppose to go on more mission trips for the time being. I'm meant to be at home for now. So I can't do that.....  What can I do???

     I read this book a while back. It is by my favorite author, Ted Dekker. I have loved his books for a long time and have almost read all of his books. This particular one I'm thinking about is titled The Slumber of Christianity. Unlike most of his books this one is non-fiction. The gist of the book is that we need to be obsessed with Heaven. Our hope for Heaven is what will keep us from being a sleeping Christian. The problem is that we need to be like the brides in one of Jesus' parables and we need to be ready for the bridegroom is coming at anytime now (See. Matthew 25:1-13). The book goes on to describe different ways we can get obsessed with Heaven. 
  • Seek the Light 
  • Use your imagination to hope (dream of Heaven)
  • Meditate on scripture about Heaven 
  • Study books about meditation (The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster and The Way of the Heart by Hinri Nouwen are a couple books Ted Dekker suggests)
  • Read passages of the Bible to ignite your hope for Heaven such as Revelation, Isaiah, Ezekiel  Song of Solomon, and the teachings of Jesus near the end of His ministry. 
  • Celebrate communion (celebrate to show your hope) 
This is an answer to my question. Hopefully I can begin to be like someone who is obsessed with Heaven. 

     Today I was reading a blog by Katie Davis author of the book Kisses from Katie. She is an inspiring woman to whom God gave a big heart to for the children of Uganda, Africa. From what I remember right now from the book, she has adopted 13 African girls and continually cares for the people of her African village. In her blog post she describes how hectic and depressing her days are, but yet she still manages to maintain such a lovely view of God.
     
     She writes,"God is on the throne. All the angels and all elders and all the saints and all the believers are gathered at His feet. And they can’t stop worshiping Him. They can’t stop worshiping Him. Forever.
And so this week life is hard and it is heavy. Because I love so many and I want them to know Him and I want Him to heal them. I want the hurt to be over, but I know that one day, it will be. And in the mean time I just ask it, I beg it, that we would be people who cannot stop worshiping the Lamb who is worthy. That through the hard and the struggle and the moments that just seem so hopeless we would cling to the hope that He’s already won and our only response would be adoration and praise."

    She leads a life I would like, a simple and truth filled one in which God is the  number one, whom you turn to in your mind constantly for insight and encouragement. It's just so difficult for me to do. I go into a day claiming I will do it, but I loose track so easily. I even did this while in Nicaragua, but I succeeded in talking to Him more throughout the day there than I do now. Maybe it was the fact that I had nothing else to think about or do other than let God be glorified through what I did. That should be the goal of any Christian.

Can you all think of any other ways to be in communication with God throughout the day?

November 8, 2012

My Story of My Life

Mariposa Flower
     Different people have their different stories. In Nicaragua something that brought each of us closer together was telling our testimonies to each other. It was radical to me just to think on how God had/would work through the unique experiences in each person's life. Now, my testimony is not the most exciting and awesome as a lot of people's, but it's mine.
   
     I am growing up in a Christian household. We take our name as Christians seriously. We strive to follow God in all we do. This means that I was exposed at an early age to the gospel message of Jesus Christ coming to earth, living sinless, dying on the cross for my sins, and then coming back to life again and going to live with God in heaven where He is now. My parents were big into an organization called Child Evangelism Fellowship and strong supporters that children can understand the gospel. So, I accepted Christ as my savior from sin when I was 4. Thus, I really don't know a time when I was not saved from my sin and wallowing in pure hopelessness.
 
     I was a really good kid. Of course I had my bad days, but I respected my parents and that they were bigger than me and would punish me. Then the days came when I started growing up. I was no longer that little girl who was content to play with her Barbies and looking at picture books all day off in her own little world. What started happening is I was realizing that there was more to life then just having fun with make believe, there was more to being me than that.This began when I was in 3rd grade. I am part of a Star Wars fan family. I've been watching Star Wars since I was like 5 years old. It was only natural that I would go and see Star Wars III when it came out, even though I was only 8.
   
     I didn't know it at the time but the part about Anakin Skywalker falling into lava and burning freaked my psyche out or something like that. I was then really scared about volcanoes  I would stay up until 4 am a lot of nights just because I thought that if I went to sleep a volcano would decide to pop up in my backyard and I would be burned alive. Then one day I decided to start singing songs to God every night as I fell asleep and when I started doing that my fears went away.
   
     Up until then I had never thought about getting to know God. To me He was the powerful and mighty One ruling and controlling everything. I knew He loved me, and I knew He died for me, I just didn't appreciate it. It never occurred to me that He would want to get to know me or want anything from me. When I started singing those songs to God I realized that He could work in my life and that He cares for my life. Before that I guess in my child like way I thought He only worked in other people's life.
   
     This started my soul wanting something even more. So I decided to fill it with friends. It's hard for a homeschooler to start making friends, when before she only had one or two fellow homeschoolers as her friends. But I wanted friends, so I started living for fitting in with the girls at my church. I needed to act correctly, I need to dress correctly, I needed to listen to the correct music and I needed to talk about the right things. That was my life.
   
     It still, of course, didn't make that want for something significant in my life to go away. So, I started filling it with books, fantasy books to be exact. Those were my idols. I loved my books. I would read Gail Carson Levine, Tanith Lee, Shannon Hale, Inkheart Trilogy, Eragon (then) trilogy, .... all those books and lots of other ones. They were my new friends. I dreamed all day long that I was in their worlds, because I didn't like the non-adventure of my own.
   
     This was my life until I got into 6th grade. In my church 6th grade means that you're in Youth Group. That means you get to go to the girl's retreat. That girl's retreat changed my life. During it I saw all these other teens who were so content with God. They loved God and actually got to know Him. I learned from them. I learned all about reading the Bible and praying. I learned about what it looks like to model your life after what it says in the Bible.
   
     These girls had what I wanted, and God knew it. That girl's retreat came at just the right time. After that girl's retreat I started to get to know my God who saved me when I was younger.Everyday I would read my Bible and pray to God like I learned how to do on the retreat. God filled that void. My life still was so not perfect, but I can truthfully say that is when I started growing to be more like God and when He officially took over my life.
   
     As you have probably noticed from my blog posts a lot has happened in my life since I was in 6th grade. A lot of my desires have changed, my type of friends have changed and my hobbies have changed. Instead of reading my fantasy books I now read Ted Dekker, Elsie Dinsmore books, school books, and other devotional books. I'm O.K. with that. God gives me back so much more in return for giving up what took His place in my devotion.
   
     Because of my story of my life I now have a passion for discipleship. I do not want others to waste their time with God. Just recently I read this quote from Know What You Believe by Paul E. Little, "Because Christ is our High Priest in heaven, each of us has access to the Creator at any time and at any place. How the angels must wonder that we make so little use of this privilege of audience with the King!"
   
     Some of you who know me in real life probably know that a desire of mine is to be a missionary. A big part of me loves teaching others and helping them to get to know their Savior. My story is what causes me to want that. Ever since I started to get to know God I've wanted to act. I wanted to do something, anything, for God. When I was first starting out there wasn't much for a 6th grader to do, so I just focused on getting ready for those days God had set out for me. I guess my plan is not for sure to be a missionary, but I do want to do something with my life to enhance God's kingdom here on earth. Slowly, each year more serving/discipleship opportunities have come about. The next bigger than the one before it. My work for the past 4 years of studying the Bible and getting to know God are paying off.
   
     I am able to be a leader with my friends and someone people actually look up to. It's all because of God I tell them. Use to I had no want to follow God. It's only because I responded to God calling out for me and putting things in my path to lead me to His loving arms that I am who I am today.
   
     It's only because I am doing what human beings were made  by their creator to be. They were made to live for a being higher than themselves. They were made with something significant in their lives. It was their choice to choose what to fill it with, but God was watching. He was working through their lives, trying to make them realize that He was the thing that fit perfectly in that void. He would leave no empty spaces in the hole of their soul, unlike the other things they could find to stuff in that hole.
   
     God knew that that hole was much more than a hole. If a human could not find a way to fill it with Him that creator of all things, they would not have eternal life with Him in His home. They would go to Hell and be separated from Him. Their hole would burn in their hearts forever.

     He went so far as to even send His very one and only son to them, that they might receive eternal life. Of course, if they rejected Him they would not see life and His wrath would remain on them. Yes, He loved His creation so much, but that was how things worked. He was too just for them to rebel against His loving ways. If only they would realize that not one of them is righteous, no not one, and that they had all sinned and fallen short of His glorious standard. If only they would say that His Son, Jesus, was Lord and that He was  raised from the dead after having died, taking the replacement of what they all deserved because of their sin. Then He would be able to fill their void, and they would have eternal life with Him who loves them more than any other could.