Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Battle of Christianity

As I mentioned in my last blog post, a friend of mine lost his life in a hiking accident last weekend. Many things in the past week have been swimming around in my head. I have been reexamining my life. I have been trying to treat each day is if it will be my last. I have been trying to show other people love instead of putting them down. I have been attempting to think before I speak, I have been attempting to accomplish something in my life instead of wasting my day in bed.  I can't say I have fully succeded, but it's a challenge for me to consistently work on in my life.I have been attempting to not only spend time with God in prayer and studying the Bible, but I have been trying to gain Wisdom from it and take in every second with God that I can. I want to grow to be more like Him, I want to grow in my relationship with Him, and I pray that every day with Jesus will continually get sweeter and sweeter. But that's not the main focus of my blog tonight.

Another thing I have been attempting to do is sit down and write some of my thoughts of the past few days, and as hard as it was to find time to do it amongst so many other things, I finally found a few minutes. Anyway, let me hop off this rabbit trail and get to my main thought.

This past week, I have specifically been thinking of the family and friends of my friend that passed away last week, and how just a few moments changed their life forever. It can't be an easy time for them right now. He was supposed to be the best man at his brother's wedding this August, He was preparing to go back to the ALERT program this September, He has a little brother that could have a hard time remembering who he is. His family won't even be able to see him walk down the isle someday, but enough sad thoughts. As I was saying, my heart goes out to that family. I know that it hasn't been an easy thing for them, and the memories will continue to be sad until they see him one day in Heaven. But I have such a great respect for the family and the loved ones. For the church family, and for the people that were there to experience the accident. Through it all they have been giving God praise. They have lifted Josh up to God, and they know that Josh is in God's arms! They have quoted scripture verses, they have cherished the memories, and they have praised God through it all. Which led me to think a little bit more. I tend to do that a lot, and sometimes too much, but I feel that this thinking is good.

As I thought about the Christian life, I thought about all the struggles that come. We live in a wicked world. There is temptation all around us! From pornography, to abortion, to homosexuality, fornication, stealing, killing, even bad thoughts, or bad actions. It's everywhere! Then there are things that may come into our life, such as trials and testings. I have to be honest, and I have to say that being a Christian isn't always an easy thing, As I have read through the Bible, and I grew up hearing stories several times, there are so many stories that come to mind.

I think of Abraham who was asked to kill his one and only son that he was blessed with at an old age. I think of Daniel who was thrown into the lion's den because he was praying every day. I think of David, a young shepherd boy, who had to stand up and fight against a giant that nobody else would face. I think of Noah who had to spend several months alone on a boat with his family and animals of every kind. I think of John who got shipwrecked on the isle of Patmos. I think of Paul who had to walk miles upon miles on end just to preach the gospel. I think of Esther who had to get married to a wicked king to save God's chosen people. I think of Hosea who was told to marry a prostitute. The list could go on, and on, and on and on of people in the Bible who went through tough times in their lives.

I'm not trying to put down Christianity at all, I'm not trying to say I regret a single minute of it, but God never said in the Bible that life would be easy, He never said life would be a piece of cake, but He did say so much more.

In James 1:2 He says,

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."

Count it all joy? Wait....What? How can you count it a joy when you face a trial or temptation? It's a daily battle in our lives! The devil is always trying to put us down. He is always tempting and trying us. He wants us to be upset, Then there is the other side of things.....Christ. He says Count it all joy! It's the complete opposite.

So when we face trials and temptations in our life, how can we count it all joy? Take Paul for example. When he was on his death bed, he had been through so much in his life. He faced trials, temptations, and the battle of life in 2 Timothy 4:7 he says some of his last words,

"I have fought a good fight!"

 And that is what we should do in our lives too! It is a daily battle! It is a struggle, And No, It's not always going to be easy, but in our lives, we should fight the good fight! It's no wonder he also said in Hebrews 12:1

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

Have you ever seen a race that was easy? It takes a lot of work to race. It's a lot like a fight. You have to train for it, You have to work for it, You have to prepare for it, then you have to give it everything you've got.It's not going to be easy, but in Romans 8:28 God says

"All things work together for good to them that love God to them who are the called according to his purpose."

So of course, things in the Christian life aren't always going to be easy, but God is always going to work them out for His good.

As I am fighting the daily battle, Aside from remembering that he will work it out for His good, I also remember two things and I always rely on it. As God says in Hebrews 13:5

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"

 I always remember that no matter how tough life might seem at the time, no matter how fierce the battle, and no matter how hard the Devil is fighting, God says that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is always right beside us, and while we have to choose whose side to be on, He is always there fighting for us and carrying us, in the bad times and the good.

Another thing I remember is in Proverbs 3:5-6.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths."

So even though we don't always understand why we are facing a trial or temptation, or what the outcome will be, we can trust in the Lord, and he will direct our paths. He will take you by the hand, he will comfort you, and help you fight the good fight.

I know that was a lot for me to think about, but I know I will never regret the day I became a Christian. Jesus came into my life and changed it forever. Of course it won't be easy. God never said it would be, but if we trust in Him, He will take us by the hand, He will help us every step of the way, and in the end we can count it all joy because he worked it out for good.

Thank you so much Lord that you are always there fighting with me!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Why Am I So Blessed?

This evening as I was watching the Amazing Race on TV, I wake up from the recliner in my living room, and I can't help but wonder a few different things. First off, Who won the Amazing Race, as it was the season finale, and while the three teams left really weren't that great anyway, it really doesn't matter to me, but it's always interesting to see who wins after sitting in front of the TV for a hour each week, it would be kinda nice to know. Secondly, did my sister keep the episode for me? Due to falling asleep, she sometimes deletes the episode without my knowledge, and without me knowing the outcome of the show. Thirdly, Why haven't I written on my blog in such a long time? I know it has been a while, and I keep telling myself I will get back into it, but I somehow keep sliding away from it. And lastly, and probably the heaviest on my mind, How do I get to be so blessed?
You may be wondering, what brought that on? Of course, God is always good, but what brought that specific subject to mind? Well, let me tell you a little story. Yesterday afternoon, Saturday, May 5th, 2012, I heard a little bit of sad news. A friend of mine was hiking along Rainie Falls, enjoying the beautiful weather God had provided, and the beautiful Creation He had made. I personally have never been there, but it hear it can be quite a treacherous hike, however well worth the beauty you can behold, anyway, back to my story. This friend of mine is a photographer, and a beautiful one at that. He sees something God has made, and sees it as a masterpiece that can be captured by the eye of a camera lense. He snaps the picture, and it turns out to be a real work of art. He has a real God given talent. As he was hiking, he had one of those opportunities, He saw something God had made, and decided to snap another picture that could later on be a work of art....However that work of art never came to be. You see as he was taking the picture, he fell of the side of the mountain and fell into the Rogue River never to be seen again. His friends ran along side the River to try and follow him. They hiked over an hour to get phone reception just to reach someone who could help. They notified the Sherriff, They notified firefighters, and everyone went to work to find him. They posted all over facebook asking for prayer, and prayers were spread all over the country. All the way from Oregon, to Texas, to Georgia, and people everywhere were praying for his safety. They searched all night last night until they decided to put the search on pause for until the sun came up. They started up again in the morning with even more help, this time with pilots to search from up above.....Yet still no luck. They searched both sides of the river, and they searched all through the water for hours on end...But he was still never to be found. This evening, they called the search off. After hours of searching, there wasn't much more they could do. Hearts are broken, Family and Friends lie awake sleepless, and it may never make full sense. Which brings me to my thought, Why am I So Blessed?
Last night I lay awake in bed reading this young man's blog. Reading his testimony, and reading his thoughts as he poured out his heart. He wrote about different things, from his love for his mom, or his want to be an Emergency Search and Rescue worker, to his longing to finally go home. As I lied awake, I wondered how did I end up being the one, safe at home, in a comfy bed, reading on an ipod, and so many other people are in misery. There is a whole church family mourning over this missing young man. He had a big family who loved him very much, he had a church who loved him very much, and he had friends who thought of him as a brother. People lied awake last night wondering how the day started out wonderfully, but ended in a nightmare that they would never wake up from. They didn't even know what happened to him. "Is he still out there, safe and sound?" I'm sure many people wondered, I know I did! So why is it that we treat every day as if there could be a tomorrow? So many times we take our days for granted. We get upset over silly things such as who is going to the grocery store and who is going to stay home. We get upset over missing items because somebody has moved them without our knowledge. We get upset over a stain on our favorite shirt. We get upset over cold French Fries at our favorite fast food restaurant. We allow people to leave the house without saying "Goodbye" or "I love you".
My first thought when I think of this is, why do so many people take things for granted. We really are sooooo blessed. Think about it. Do you have a house to live in? Do you have a computer or TV to sit in front of? Do you have delicious food to eat? Do you have family and friends who love you very much? There are people in the world that don't have those kinds of luxuries. There are people who don't know where their next meal is going to come from. There are people who don't know whether they will survive another day due to a life threatening illness. Then there are people who can't sleep at night because their day started out as a dream come true, but ended as a never ending nightmare. So this has been a great reminder to me of how truly blessed I am. I can lay in a comfy bed, surrounded by a loving family, reading on my ipod, and knowing that God is good in my life. I never want to take those things for granted again!
The second thing it reminds me of, is the verse in James 4 that says "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." This young man I mentioned was 19 years old. He's my age! He's a few months older than me, but to think that my life is but a vapour. Any second I could go to do something as simple as taking a picture, and my life could vanish away. I don't want to take for granted the precious time I have. I want to spend every day as if it's my last. Because life truly is a vapour. I have heard story after story of people who have gone to do simple things, but have ended in eternity, and someday that could be me too. I know my life could end at any second, so why spend time getting upset over silly things? Why spend time teasing someone when you could show them love? Why not take a few extra seconds from your life to give someone a hug and tell them how much you love them, because life is but a vapour, and today could be your very last day.
As I ponder some of these things in my head, and I prepare myself to hop into bed, my heart goes out to the family, friends, and church of this young man. He was a great man of God. He loved the Lord, and he was loved and cherished by many. As he is now in the arms of our saviour, I read all the inspiring words from people that love him. He made a great impact in many peoples lives. In mine, in his family's, in his church's, and even in the lives of people that didn't even know him. Over fifty-five posts on facebook about him just last night. All from people that loved him. That's not including the ones posted today. I pray that God will be glorified through this whole situation, and that God would comfort the family and everyone involved. I pray that as someday, one day, it will be my last day, I will have had an impact on as many people's lives as he did. May I always show people God's love, May God be glorified in every aspect of my life, and may I always treat each day as if it will be my last.
Thank you Josh for the wonderful reminders you have given me. You have been an inspiration in the lives of many including mine, and will do so for many years to come. May God be glorified in the life that you have lived, and in the lives you have impacted. You are loved, and will be missed by many!
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." ~Revelation 21:4~
I know I look forward to that day!