Simple Statements

I’m sorry that today’s post is, again, so short.  It’s been quite the week.

But first, something that popped into my head this morning:

“My reason for being a Christian is not to make my parents happy.  It’s not because it’s all I’ve ever heard.  It’s not because I think I’m better than anyone else.  It’s not because I blindly accept what others tell me.  It is because I have found truth in God’s word.  There have been too many ‘coincidences.’  And in nothing else have I found such peace, hope, and love.”

And now, in a snippet-like form, here are some more simple statements.

“If I find in myself a desire in which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

“With every storm I face, I find a greater grace that pulls me deeper into Your heart.” – Phil Wickham

“I know my God is good and He has carved out a path for me that’s different than what I would have chosen, but on the other hand, I would not have chosen Him, either, and He came and He sought me.  I would not have been a Christian apart from His initiative.  So I can trust Him… if He gave me the good gift of salvation, I can trust Him for the rest of my life.” – Carolyn McCulley

“Don’t question in the darkness what God shows you in the light.” – unknown, heard from Michelle Duggar

“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.”

– Philippians 3:12-14

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While We Were Still Sinners

One of my sigh-and-drift-off-into-dreamland songs is “Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson.

I want to change the world, instead I sleep.

I want to believe in more than you and me.

That would be me without Christ.  I long to fix things.  I long to make things better.  But I feel so incredibly powerless on my own (which is quite accurate).  I can help you put a Band-aid on your cut, but I can’t healthily stop all of your pain.  Supposing I somehow eliminated your pain sensors, another problem arises in that you wouldn’t know when to do things like take your burning hand out of the fire.  I can’t fix it.

But I know Someone who can, and on Sunday, we celebrate the way He rose from, and conquered, death so that my sin could be erased and I could find hope.

I’m sorry that today’s post is so short, but sometimes you just have to get back to the basics and into God’s word. =)  The passage below is Romans chapter 5, verses 1-2 and 6-11.  Don’t skim over it just because you think you’ve heard it all before.  Ask God to open your eyes and your heart- you can’t preach the gospel to yourself too many times.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

…You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

And to sum it all up, in two of my most favorite verses, Acts 13:38-39:

“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law.”

Happy Easter!

Sorry. For myself.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’m something of a champion at self-pity.  Oh I went to bed so late, I have so much work to do, I’m so tired, that person was so mean, I’m so alone, nobody always never does anything everywhere (I’ve noticed that a deal of my whining involves a great number of extremes).

Do I think it’s good to never feel sad?  In a perfect world, absolutely!  But in our fallen world, where truly hurtful things happen every day, of course we can feel sad and hurt about them.  But…

Do I think it’s good to dwell on our problems, particularly if we’re doing so to feed a pity party?  No.

While I was whining about going to bed while the birds were singing good morning, somebody else might have been staying up late because it was their first night being homeless and they couldn’t find a safe place to sleep.  When we think about the homeless, I think we assume that they were sort of always there.  I don’t know the statistics, but from what I understand, most homeless people at one point had a house.  Someone recently described to me the process of learning to live on the streets.  For the first three months, he didn’t really know what to do- where to sleep, how to keep rodents away, where to look for food.  I was sitting fairly cozily in a chair in my heated living room with a book that I was able to spend hundreds of dollars purchasing.

As Matt Thiessen of Relient K sings, “When a nightmare finally does unfold, perspective is a lovely hand to hold.”

I need to be thankful for what I have.  But it’s bigger than the immediately apparent.  I don’t think it’s enough to just say to myself, though, that “Oh, someone, somewhere is probably in a worse situation than I am.  I should be grateful and stop complaining.”  I should be grateful and stop complaining (I’ll come around to why) because I’m in a pretty bad situation myself.

I’m a sinner, and there is a holy, perfect, just God.

You know that feeling?  The one where you realize you forgot your homework as everyone else is turning it in?  Or when you’re going maybe more than a bit over the speed limit and you realize that the car behind you is driven by a police officer?  It’s that sinking feeling of “Ohhhh.  I’m in trouble.”  You’re suddenly very painfully aware that you’ve messed up.

I’ve messed up.  To say the very, very least.

“’Who will have pity on you, Jerusalem?  Who will mourn for you?  Who will stop to ask how you are?  You have rejected me,’ declares the Lord” in Jeremiah 15.  I, too, rejected the Lord.  Every time I put myself first I reject Him again.  I, too, “keep on backsliding.”

But I’m blessed beyond imagination because Jesus did take pity on me.  And I doubt He did it so I could focus my energies on pitying myself.  This is not to say that I should ignore the depravity of my sinful state.  If I don’t think anything is wrong with me, what am I thankful for?  I know I’m incredibly, incredibly broken.  That’s something that’s really sinking in with me lately.  But every time I remember how bad I am, I can’t help but remember how good God is- how much He loves me and how much He wants to use me for good.

I’m not quite sure what good is coming from my whining.  Lord, break my heart for something besides me.  Give me pity like the good Samaritan’s.  Give me compassion like Paul encouraged.  Give me a heart like Yours.

It’s such a better use of the little time I have.

~~~

p.s. The chorus of Brandon Heath’s song “Give Me Your Eyes” shares a prayer with the one at the end of this post- take a listen!

Healthy Infection

I should probably come with some sort of disclaimer.

WARNING: Marissa frequently uses phrases such as “oh dear” and even more frequently bursts into song.  These habits of quaint speech and constant musicality CAN BE CONTAGIOUS.  Please take caution.

The idea of contagious behavior isn’t a new one.  Psychologists have done studies on it.  I’ve mentioned it briefly here before.  But most of the discussion has been about person-to-person behaviors.

Some of my friends are absolutely fascinated by accents.  When one of us starts on one, it’s nearly inevitable that the others will join.  I might go blabbering on in my poor attempt at a British accent with those friends, but that behavior is less likely to be spurred in a more random setting.

(This is not to say that the behavior is avoided entirely.  Apparently, I once left my apartment with an “I’ll see you later!” that led to the following exchange: “Is your roommate British?” “No.” “Ohh.”  I was very excited that someone had thought I was British, but my roommate brought me back to earth with her supposition that he probably just thought I was weird afterwards.  Ah well.)

But here’s my thinking- what if God’s behavior is contagious?

What if the more time I spend with Him- learning about Him, talking to Him, listening to Him- the more I grow to be like Him?

What if, instead of just trying my best, I could spend time getting to know my Savior and in doing so, become more like Him?

I think we often overlook the relationship aspect of our faith.  Sometimes I get caught up in ministry and busyness and making the right decisions (not necessarily in terms of rules, but in deciding between two legitimate options) and I forget about relationship.

Jesus didn’t just save us to up the count in heaven.  He wanted a relationship.  If it was all about numbers, I can’t imagine He would come and hang out with us for thirty-three years and put up with all of our nonsense and frankly, repulsiveness, until the end of this world.  I can’t imagine that He would ask us to carry everything to Him in prayer, to give Him our anxious thoughts, and to turn to Him for peace.  I can’t imagine He would not only tell, but so hugely show us that He loves us.

I too often forget how huge it is that the Creator of the universe wants a relationship with me.  Little me!  And I still tell Him that I’ve got a lot of homework tonight, I’m really tired, I just want to go out and have fun, or “maybe next time.”  I still shove Him aside.  Forgive me, Lord.

So now, I need to prioritize.  I need more one-on-one time with my God.  Group Bible studies and worship times are amazing.  They’re good things.  But they’re not enough.  A relationship with God is personal.  He saves and loves each of us individually.

It’s something I’ll have to be working on, but I know that it will yield good results.  Why?  Because His love and His characteristics are more than just contagious.  I’m His precious child- He is working in me to “to will and to act according to His good purpose.”  (See Philippians 2!)  I can’t wait to see what He has for me to learn.

Eyes Barely Open

Rest. 

I could use some, she said to herself as she watched the hours of the early morning slip by and listened to dance music to try to keep herself awake.

My school apparently isn’t very into the idea of smooth transitions.  My first few days back from break went something like…

Monday: Welcome Back.  Seven pages of work due!

Tuesday: TEST!

Wednesday: QUIZ!

Thursday: Another TEST!

Friday: Unexpected day off. (During which you should probably try to get yourself back together.  And study for another another test you’ll have on Monday.)

As a result, I haven’t been sleeping much and started this post talking about myself in the third person.  I made a bunch of grammar and spelling mistakes first drafting (is that a verb?) that last paragraph, and more errors are likely hiding somewhere out in the open that my sleepy brain isn’t noticing.  All of this brings me back to…

Rest.  Said with a dreamy sigh.

But the thing that has actually encouraged me more than 15-minute naps, surprise schedule openings, and JBiebs singing to me has been sneaking away from my computer for just a couple minutes of quiet time during study time.  I grabbed my Bible and read a few verses from Colossians while I waited for my tea water to finish heating.  Sometimes you just need a break.  A rest if you will.

So before my body decides for me that it’s time to lay down, I want to share a favorite passage with you:

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

– Colossians 1:9-14

I’ll probably come back to this one later.  It’s a great summary of how our relationship with God should be, along with a reminder of the beauty of the gospel. =)