Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Completing the Circle

in this life

I just got home from camp yesterday afternoon. Once again, the North Carolina Conference never ceases to amaze me. I’m a sucker for good music and strong messages. That’s what makes me feel God’s presence. The theme this past week was “The Circle of Life”. The circle we talked about was cut like a pie into six pieces.

The first piece is baptism. When we get baptized, we admit to God that we are sinners and we believe that he is out God, maker of the heavens and he earth. We ask forgiveness for these sins, and are cleansed. That’s the basis of it, but it means so much more. We have eternity promised to us, in heaven. A place where there is no pain, no sorrow, no harmful things, just happiness in the glory of the Lord. You walk the streets of gold with people that have gone before you, people that you didn’t ever think you would see again. God sits, Jesus at his right hand, and you get to see him, all his glory. I don’t know about you, but I would love to see Jesus Christ, the only perfect being to ever live, to feel the holes in his hands, and to walk with him down the streets of gold. To see my aunt Debbie, and tell her how much we miss her. To finally get to meet Rashawn’s mom. It would be amazing to do such things, almost unimaginable. Giving your life to Christ grants you all these things and more. You live a life knowing that even when it feels like no one else is there, God is. He’s everywhere, and he listens when you talk.

The second piece is community. When all of the christian body, the baptized people, come together, you have a community. Not just a community, but a community united by the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are all connected by that one, overpowering love that is not possible to compare to anything else. The community of Christ can do anything. We feed the hungry, we clothe the homeless, we educate those who have never had the opportunity to go to school, we give money to those in need. But most importantly, we share the love of Christ with everyone we come in contact with, and that is beyond any other good deed, because when we witness, we cause people t believe. When we cause people to believe, those people get baptized. When those people get baptized, they join our community of believers, and they, too have eternal life in heaven.

The third piece of the circle is temptation. The devil tempted Jesus several times in the Bible, telling him to turn stone into bread, jump off the temple, and bow down and worship him. Jesus sis not give in to the devil, because he knew that his Father’s love was greater than anything the devil had to offer. We often get tempted by the devil to do things against God. We must overcome these temptations, even though sometimes it will be extremely difficult. God loves us no matter what, and if we ask forgiveness, we are forgiven, as long as we are sincere in our repentance and watch our actions carefully. God loves everyone, even if they do not choose to love him. We must keep our eyes open for the devils in our lives, and not give in to the temptation, and lead a good christian life.

The fourth piece of the circle is the cloud of witnesses. Hebrews 12:1 reads:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”What this means is that to be close to God, we should surround ourselves with people of God, and witness to others, so they, too can join in the christian community. We must cast out anything that pulls us away from God, such as burdens and trials that we face every day in life. We must focus on the positive things in life that God has given us and run the race for him, living our lives for God and being strong in our faith. By doing this, we are healthier and we can witness to others easier without problems.

The fifth piece of the circle is reconciliation. You must be on good terms with God, and on good terms with yourself. By admitting that you have sinned and asking forgiveness for those sins, you reconcile with God. You make things right, and you are forgiven. You try not to do these things and you try to lead the best life possible. When you are right with God, everything else will fall into place. Just keep your head high, your faith strong, and your heart open.

The sixth and final piece is sending forth. After you have been baptized, join the christian community, resist the temptations of the world, become a part of the cloud of witnesses, and reconcile with God, you are sent out into the world to tell it’s people about his love and all he does for them. You are an important piece of life’s puzzle, and you can help lead someone to God, and help them spend eternity in paradise.

As my growth group leader, Rachel Moser says: “You are a beloved chile of God.” Remember this every single day, and help others see that they, too are precious children, loved by the Lord their God, who sent his son to die for their mistakes. God loves everyone, and always will. All you have to do is love him back. <3

Sunday, May 23, 2010

holding on

in this life

I came across a song today that I had heard before, but never really listened to. It's called "Broken" by Lifehouse. The chorus says:

"I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing, with a broken heart, that's still beating. In the pain, there is healing. In your name, I find meaning, so I'm holding on."

This really spoke to me. Life is hard, we all know that. Whether you're having family problems, issues at work, health problems, self-esteem issues, relationship troubles, or even problems with your walk with God, you're still here, and you should make the best of it. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, and you feel like you're in a dark tunnel and can't quite get to the light at the end, God is there. He always has been, and always will be.

We often stress out over small things. Don't get me wrong, they're big at the time, but in the end, it sometimes seems foolish to have worried so much. By worrying, we miss out on the small, amazing things in life, such as birthdays, love, and family time. We get so wrapped up in ourselves, we can't seem to stop for one second to notice someone else. When is the last time you called a family member just to talk, or just to say, "I love you."? When is the last time you truly laughed? How about the last time you sat outside to listen to the crickets and look at the stars? Most people don't have enough time for that. The chirp of a cricket is my favorite sound in the world. Let me explain.
When I was nine years old, I heard the crickets for the first time. Being hearing impaired, you miss a lot of things. I was in the garage with my mom one night and I kept hearing this loud ringing. I thought it was my ears, but when i asked my mom if she heard ringing, she told me all she heard were crickets. Completely baffled, I asked her what they sounded like, because I had no idea that crickets made noises. My mom stood in the garage with me for a long time, hugging me and listening to the crickets with me as she cried.

I don't know if any of you have something sentimental like that, but that one night is something that is in my memories forever. Today was my Grandma's birthday. We sat outside at her momma's old house under the trailer shelter in the pouring rain and thunder, just talking. I have never seen someone so content in my life. My Grandma offered to say grace, and with the rain being so loud on that tin roof, I didn't quite catch all she said, but I know I heard her say how thankful she was for all God has given her, and how much she loves her family. My Grandma is one of the most important people in my life, and without her, I don't know what I would do. Seeing her smile that big was all I needed to be happy for the rest of the day.
The smallest things can make the biggest difference. A smile can change a lifetime. I have a challenge for you.

Sometime this week, I want you to stop everything you're doing. If possible, call your Mom, Dad, children, or even sibling, and just tell them that you love them. Even if that's all you say, say it. Then, get someone you're close with but haven't talked to enough lately, and go sit outside one night. Look at the stars, talk about life, and listen to the crickets for me.(:

Friday, March 5, 2010

What a Wonderful World

in this life

We, as humans, often take what we see for granted. The vibrant colors, the amazing structures of things, and the beauty of all that is around us. God gave us a magnificent world to live in. We have the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, the seas. We see deserts, arctics, and grasslands with trees. He has given us the sun, the moon, the clouds and the stars.
Everywhere we look we see the wonders that God has brought among us. Animals, from worms to giraffes, and people, people all different. No one is exactly alike, no animal is exactly alike, no location is like another. Traveling the world would be a wondrous thing to do, but how overwhelmed would one be to see the entire world in a single lifetime? Not to mention, that we are not the only planet out here. The point that we often miss is that God created it all. He holds every single bit of it in the palm of his hand.
Besides the fact that he made all that is around us, he made us. He gave us the gift of life, he sent his one and only son to die on the cross for our sins, the only man who had never committed any sin, the only man to ever be perfect. We can only thank him by accepting him into our hearts, leading the best life we can lead, and telling others about him, telling everyone. Tell your kids, your classmates, your co-workers, your peers, your parents, your teachers. God not only sent his son for all of us, but he has promised us eternity in heaven, forever in paradise, and all we have to do are those three things.
Giving your heart to God will be the best choice you will ever make in your life, and sometimes, it may seem the hardest thing to do and keep up. But God works through everyone, in his own way. Sometimes all you need is a real awakening, a kind of thump on the head or tap on the shoulder, to remind you to carry on in his name.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." -Luke 10:27

the picture above was taken by me, from the mountains in West Virginia. Our God is an awesome God.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is LOVE?

in this life

In the dictionary, love is defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection”. But to me, that really doesn’t even begin to describe it. Love is not just a feeling. Love is knowing. Knowing that you can’t live without someone, that their existence is the one thing that keeps your heart beating, your blood flowing. Love is almost un-explainable, if never felt. It’s when you can look at someone, and know that you don’t need anything else in this world, that you are complete. Love is to be broken and have a miraculous healing, to hurt one day and smile the next, a smile that never fades. A real, true, heartfelt smile, which no one else could cause you to produce. Love is holding a hand, and feeling completely invincible, like you could take on the world. Love is a kiss on the forehead that you still feel the next day, a touch that sends shivers down your spine, a hug that melts your heart. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves."

-- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7