Time

Today begins a multi-post discussion of time… how time passes, time management, time efficiency… and how to bring it all back to the key goal of glorifying God.

This, of course, comes from a girl who is typing speedily, stuffing her face with fruit, trying to decide if she should change, and printing a few pages to look over all at once. I want to write a series on time mainly because I don’t have time to do so. That might sound a little counterintuitive. But it’s when I’m feeling like I don’t have time to sit down and think about what needs to be done, how it should be done, and whether or not I’m glorifying God in it all that I need to do so. Crazy schedules in the past have made me realize just how important it is to STOP every once in a while and, as Mary did, just sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He has to say.

Why rush somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going? You wouldn’t hop in your car to head off on a cross-country trip, take a look at the map, and then start your engine, take off, and ignore the directions for the rest of the trip! You’d need to make some rest stops, enjoy the scenery, eat some food, and make sure you’re headed in the right direction. You might be zipping along at 70 mph (though whether or not doing so is following the legal speed limit in this little metaphor is another moral matter entirely =P ), but that won’t help you if you wind up thousands of miles from your intended destination.

I am by no means an expert on time or time management (some people who have ever been a part of my schedule are probably laughing or nodding emphatically right now), but I’m willing to share what God has taught me so far. I hope you’ll share what God has taught you, and that through this series, we’ll be able to encourage one another to make the very most of every second that we have here on earth to glorify our wonderful Lord and Savior. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Taking Another Look

I love the book of Psalms.  So much of it is so relatable, and it’s exciting to think that God knew that I would be born thousands of years after the psalmist penned those words, but that some of those words would hold great significance for me.

Another great thing about the Psalms, and the Bible in general, is that you can always learn something new from it.  It doesn’t matter if you grew up in the church, or you’ve heard the story ten billion times- God can always help you see it in a new light.

This happened for me when I was rereading Psalm 119.

Typically, when I thought “Psalm 119”; “longest Psalm” and “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” would pop into my head.  But after rereading it a little while ago, I learned a lot more from it.

Psalm 119:29-32 says, “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through Your law.  I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws.  I hold fast to Your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame.  I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.”

This was the last straw.  The psalmist just kept saying how excited he was to be following God’s law and how he had set his heart on God’s law, and I was thinking, “What is he so excited about?”  We don’t usually get pumped up about following laws, so how do we do that?

I first thought about other things that I set my heart on, and tried to think of how my heart “got set” there.  How did my heart get set on singing?  Or Relient K?  Or reading?

I thought about them a lot, and I soaked up information about them.  When I hear a beautiful song, I want to learn to sing it- so I replay the song until I know all of the lyrics and can mimic every change of the artist’s voice.  When I hear that Relient K is playing a show nearby, I immediately start figuring out how I can get there.  When my favorite author comes out with a new book, I read it as soon as possible and then chat about it with other readers.

Okay, makes sense- I love and enjoy these things, so I make an effort to be more involved with them.  But how do I actively love God’s law?   How do I get excited about that?

“What is written in the Law?” Jesus asked someone in Luke 10.  “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘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.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied.  “Do this and you will live.”

So what is it that I want to set my heart on- that I want to actively and constantly love?

I want to set my heart on loving the Lord my God with my everything- with all my heart.  I want to set my heart on loving the Lord my God with all my soul.  I want to set my heart on loving the Lord my God with all my strength.  I want to set my heart on loving the Lord my God with my entire mind.  I want to set my heart on loving my neighbor as myself.

While the above paragraph may seem a little repetitive, I found it incredibly encouraging.  I can wrap my mind around the idea of getting excited about loving God with all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loving my neighbor as myself.  I can be excited that I can glorify the Creator of the Universe with my life.  My heart can be set free when it’s set on following God’s beautiful law.

I really love that last sentence in the earlier excerpt from Psalm 119. “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.”  That’s such a beautiful image to me.

I want to encourage you to find another beautiful or encouraging image or lesson in God’s word.  But sometimes the lesson comes from looking at an “old” passage in a “new” way.  Try to take a chance to revisit a Bible story or passage that you think know all about, and let God teach you something brand new!  And if you’d like, share it here on the blog!

Just to Let You Know…

This Thursday’s blog post will be coming a little later in the day than usual.  I normally try to have them up before 9:30 a.m., but tomorrow’s will be an exception and will not be up until the afternoon.  But don’t worry- it’s still coming!

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a blessed and wonderful day!

Represent!

When I was younger, I used to really want to be either an actress or a singer.  This, of course, led to my pondering the celebrity lifestyle.

One aspect of this lifestyle that I still think about to this day is the idea of celebrity spokespeople.  If I were a celebrity, who would want me as a spokesperson?  I’ve narrowed it down to the top two companies/institutions:

1.) A certain maker of technology: I absolutely love almost every product that this producer creates.  I’m constantly talking about the benefits of this company’s products over other companies’ because I really feel that they’re better and I appreciate them.

2.) The Chronicles of Narnia movies: I once knew way, way too much about the movie “Prince Caspian.”  I was watching the movie with some of my friends and at one point, one of them paused the movie, pointed emphatically at one of the extras on the screen, and yelled, “Marissa!  Who is that?!  Where are they from?!” because I knew so much about the random details of the rest of the movie that he figured I’d know that particular detail.

Conversely, the following two would likely not want me as a spokesperson:

1.) Any type of cynical or pessimistic group: I’m generally very happy and optimistic, so this wouldn’t go over very well.

2.) Horrormovies.com : I got scared just Googling an organization dedicated to horror movies.  There’s probably a more intense one out there, but I was extremely uncomfortable with the very idea of scrolling further down the page.  I really, really dislike horror movies.  A lot.

As much as I love the first two things, there is a greater Love in my life- the One who has shown me the greatest love I have ever known.  Would He want me as a spokesperson- as someone bearing His name before the world?  That’s basically what I do as a Christian.

I ought to clarify here how I am defining “spokesperson”- as someone who receives instruction and guidance from a company, then goes on to represent and be associated with that company.  The spokesperson isn’t the one who generates the truths about the company; they only learn about and then communicate them.  In my little metaphor, Christians are the “spokespeople” and God is “the company.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 calls us to “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

This tells us two things about ourselves:

~ God wants us to be like Him (we are created in His image, after all)

~ we are God’s dearly loved children

(This is not in any way meant to limit interpretations of this text; I just wanted to point out two things that stood out to me in this context.)

“Every Christian is to become a little Christ,” C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity. “The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

This can be kind of intimidating.  We’ve heard the stories of stars losing their positions as celebrity spokespeople because they did something illegal… they went against the law.  How many times a day do we go against God’s law?  But He still doesn’t change.  He still tells us that we are precious to Him, that we are HIS dearly loved children.  And it’s perhaps because of this that He calls us to imitate Him.

One of my most favorite verses speaks about this challenge.  Philippians 3:12-14 says:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

So let’s just do it… taste the rainbow… raise the bar… is it in you?

But most of all, let’s press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us, and let’s sing His praises with our lives.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you have anything that you’d like to share or discuss!  Have a wonderful and blessed week!

Words

Ephesians 4:29 says that we should “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Christians usually pick this verse out for use in specific situations, like to discourage cursing.  It greatly encouraged and challenged me when I was working on not being bitingly sarcastic.  But the verse doesn’t say “try to not curse or be sarcastic-“  it says not to let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth.  At all.

I bring this up because I’ve noticed that in our culture, we put people down all the time.  All the time.  Listen out for it coming from other people and from yourself.  Want a few examples?

~ When we disagree with or don’t like something, “lame,” “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard/seen,” or “epic fail.”

~ We tell people that they’re jerks (or some other derogatory name) when they beat us at something or prove us wrong.

~ Sometimes, we just toss around insults.

A lot of the time, we say these things in a joking or playful tone and don’t genuinely mean them.  But if we don’t mean it, why are we saying it?  We should be building one another UP, not cutting each other down.

The second part of the aforementioned verse says that what we say should “benefit those who listen.”  If a non-Christian hears Christians calling each other “lame” for liking something a little different or messing up a bit, how are they benefiting?  How are they seeing us as set apart by God?  How are they being encouraged?  And while playing around is fun, are we making our brothers and sisters in Christ stronger people and better Christians when we do it?

Every single word you say is probably not going to have a monumental effect on a person’s life, and I’m certainly not saying that Christians shouldn’t joke around and laugh together.  I am saying that, as Christians, we should try to make our everyday speech more uplifting.

I’m challenging myself to try to identify, and then eliminate, as many unnecessary insults as possible from my speech.  I know that I’ve made fun of things that other people like (that perhaps don’t have anything really wrong with them), called people names, and made unkind sarcastic comments.

But God has been increasingly showing me to value and consider the words I speak.  I want the general influence that I have on each person who I encounter to be positive and God-glorifying.  Actions definitely play a huge role in forming this influence, but my speech should be beneficial as well. ALL THE TIME.

We’ve been called to “live a life of love.”  It can be a challenging calling, but it can also be a beautiful and rewarding calling as well.

So, what do you think?  I’d love to hear back from you with your thoughts on my first blog post.  Feel free to discuss this post below or email me at sumparakaleo@gmail.com with suggestions, questions, or other comments.  Have a great day!