Thursday, June 30, 2011

Watch Out! Don't Trip!

I have always been a klutz.... up until the age of about eight, I spent at least one night a year in the emergency room! Broken bones, a split open ear, passing out, hitting my head, all sorts of crazy things! It got the point that I'm sure we were recognized at the hospital! Most of my accidents were because I did not pay attention and then tripped or lost my balance.

At school, I see lots of "accidents". You know what I'm talking about.... "I accidently put my foot out and he fell"..... "I didn't mean to trip her"...... "my foot slipped"...... all of the excuses children give when they cause someone to trip, fall, or get hurt. (Trust me, with 8 and 9 year olds.... there are LOTS of excuses!)

As Christians, we are commanded not only to keep ourselves upright (and not trip and fall down) but we are also commanded not to cause anyone ELSE to trip.

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." I Corinthians 8:9

"Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." I Corinthians 8:13

"Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God-" I Corinthians 10:32

We (as Christians) are held to a higher standard. It is our responsibility to show God's love, mercy, and redemption plan by our words and our actions. People watch us.... some to discover what we have that is different....... some to "catch" us in sin. We have to pay close attention to how we appear to those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. We cannot live by the world's standards...... we must live by God's standards.

I have a tendency to see things in very concrete ways.... things are black or white, right or wrong..... there is very little gray area...... the Bible gives us guidance on those "big things" that are right or wrong, however many of the "little things" are open for interpretation. That's where the Holy Spirit guides us.

Most Christians agree on the "big things".... don't murder (duh!), read the Bible, pray, don't do drugs, etc. However, many unsaved people also agree with these big things.....

It is the "little things" that give us problems. (I've struggled with my own beliefs in these areas as well!) Is it acceptable to drink alcohol as long as you do not become "drunk"? Is it okay to tell a "white lie" to spare someone's feelings? What about spending lots of time alone (at his/her appartment) with a special friend, as long as you don't "do anything"? It is these questions and others like them that are just as important as the "big" things. How Christians respond to these questions is what should set us apart from unbelievers.

My belief is that if we as Christians do something that may cause another to say, "Why are they doing that? I thought they believed in Jesus" then I have no business doing it. That's not to say that I want to live my life trying to please others (because I will never be able to do that!)..... I just want people to understand where I stand and why.... I want to live a life that is pleasing to God.

I Thessalonians 2:4 "On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts."

I Thessalonians 4:7 "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."

I Thessalonians 4:11-12 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

I don't know about you, but I struggle with this calling. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I have been forgiven of my past sins. However, I still have a free will. I am still a sinner.... I am prideful, I want my own way, I am still tempted by sin. I want desperately to please God but on my own, I can't. So what can I do? I can PRAY TO GOD that He will enable me to live a pleasing life, a life that could build someone up rather than cause them to stumble.

I Thessalonians 3:13 "May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

Lord, Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You. Help me to show an example of Your love and plan to those who do not already know You. Show me areas in my life that have caused others to trip and stumble. Forgive me for those areas and help me to change my example. Provide me with Christian friends who can keep me accountable for my actions. I love You. Amen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Don't Leave Me!

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Philippians 4:6a "Do not be anxious (worry) about anything,"

I have always been afraid of abandonment. As a baby, I was given up for adoption. While growing up, I was always afraid of being "left behind". As an adult, I see all my friends getting married, having children, moving away...... all things that cause me to feel as though I was abandoned. My parents even moved away when they retired, thus the feelings of abandonment happened once again.

I have even distanced myself (consciously or subconsciously I don't know) from people when I sensed that their lives were changing in such a way that would "abandon" me. I always told myself that "they were too busy" or that "they don't need me taking up their time". Time after time I've done this.... friends in high school, college, family members.... all because they couldn't always be my friend when I wanted them to be.

These fears of abandonment are not true. While it is true that life changes (and people's lives change over time) that doesn't mean that I can't still be a part of that life. People will let you down (intentionally or not). They can't always cater to my every need or whim. Nor can I do the same to them.

However, when I feel abandoned, God is still with me..... He commands me not to fear because He will always be with me! Even when my friends can't help me, God can! Even when I feel alone, God is with me!

At the same time, I cannot compare myself to what others have and then use those "haves" to feel worse about myself. Just because we aren't the same, doesn't mean that we can't be friends and support each other. Just because we are in different seasons of life, doesn't mean we can't enjoy each other and have things in common. I have to remember that God has a purpose for me during this time in my life, just like he has a purpose for my friend who may be in a different situation.

Lord, help me to remember that You will never leave me. You are my strong foundation. You are my provider. Through You, I can do all things. Help me to remember that I am Your child and that You care for me. Help me not to be envious of what others have. Help me to be used for good according to Your plan. Teach me to be content. Amen.