Give thanks in all circumstances…

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

be thankful

Today was one of those days at work where you forget to go to the bathroom all day. Actually, this week has been like that! I’m not complaining though…for the past four weeks, we have had a winter storm or blizzard, which has prevented us from having school either 2 or 3 days each week. I was going out of my mind with boredom. And God answered my prayers and has made me very busy at work. And I am grateful.

School counselors get a bad wrap. In fact, they don’t get a wrap at all. It’s a lot of behind the scenes work, and because a lot of what we deal with is confidential, no ones knows what it all entails. Which is fine, because I don’t do what I do for praise, but with a week like this one, I can’t help but wonder if anyone truly knows a fraction of the chaos. And again, I’m grateful.

So many people don’t have work, are afraid and scared for their families and their survival. I am blessed to have job security and flexibility. On a hard and exhausting day like today, it’s easy to feel bad for ourselves and the tiredness (and of course normal frustrations that come along with any job). However, in this moment, thanks to the Holy Spirit, I feel thanks. Thanks be to God for helping me through my Master’s Degree to get me to this position. Thank you for the staff that believed in me and still believes in me to do a good job. Thank you for giving me humility to reach out to my colleagues in difficult situations. Thank you for helping me to love my students better. Thank you for giving me the right words of wisdom for the ones who need my guidance. Thank you for giving me patience with challenging parents (One that keeps you on the phone for 45 minutes an hour after school has already gotten out! But I’m not complaining).

Christianity teaches us to constantly be praising our God, the Greatness of Him. In storms and sad times, it’s hard to do. It is my heart’s desire to always remember to do this. As a woman who errs on the side of depressed, may I continue to acknowledge, share and be thankful for the mercy and blessings he has bestowed upon me even when I feel despair.
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Sinner Share #7 – Why is it so hard to give thanks when we have so much? Our society has us constantly wanting more. More material items, more fame, more appreciation, accolades, praises. This Lent already I have been transformed by being less focused on me, and more outwardly concerned. Two things in this short first week of Lent have made me feel better and made my marriage better…worrying more about others than my own needs and communicating more with God. It makes me feel so angry that I let myself sink to another level outside of Lent. Why can I only do it for 40 days? Where is the motivation for those things during Ordinary Time? Heavenly Father, thank you for this clarity. Thank you for this awareness that when I focus inwardly, I cause my own suffering. What a paradox, but thank you for helping me to see now. Speak to me God about continuing this awareness and thanksgiving. As my husband and I prepare to find out news about having a baby, Lord, if it is not what we have desired and brings us sadness, may we continue to turn to you, to praise and thank you and to find happiness regardless. What are you thankful for today?

Psalm 28: 6-7 “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.”

30-something share #7 – I’m going to contradict my post with this share. I HAVE been complaining a lot. I think back to some of the students, parents and staff that I’ve been collaborating this week and I complain about them a lot. If they cause my life to be more stressful or if I am inconvenienced or have more tasks because of them, you’ll hear about it from me. I don’t want to be so negative! I hate that about myself. May I reserve my whining for the really hard times! Can you be a Debbie Downer too??

Numbers 11:1-4 – “And [when] the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard [it]; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed [them that were] in the uttermost parts of the camp.”

Perhaps they will listen…

listen with your heart

Jeremiah 26:3-6 ‘Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.’ “And you will say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened”

Listening and hearing are two different things. One you do with your body, one you do with your mind, heart and soul. To physically hear a message means that the information was received. What you do with the message is the listening. As a female tricenarian, I find myself struggling to listen. To listen to God, to my husband and even myself sometimes when I know what’s best for me but simply can’t bring myself to follow through. Listening and obeying and connected concepts. If one does not obey it is to say that he has not listened either.

As a school counselor, the concept of listening is an important one. My full time job is to listen to my students, their parents, the teachers, the administration. As a therapist of sorts, I am expected to be a good listener. I have to stop myself from being a fixer over a listener. It’s so easy to get caught up in the need to solve problems instead of empathizing to the problems with a caring ear. Thank you God for reminding me to listen to others, and most importantly to listen to you. Thank you for coming to me through music and speaking to me through opportunities to be more like You!

Sinner share #6 – Praise God for sending the Spirit to work through me this Lent. I can’t stop with the negative thinking though. There’s something wrong—As I fall asleep and when I wake up, I lie there and let absurd thoughts run through my head about mistakes I made with the wedding or anxiety I feel about a situation I handled badly. My sin is anxiety. Heavenly Father, help me to let go of my fear and worry. Help me to know that my Savior will protect me and help my focus to be positive, and joyful in the love of my Lord. What makes you anxious?

Philippians 4: 6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

30-something share #6 – I need to find some more excitement in my life. I’m in my 30s, but I don’t have many hobbies besides blogging, movies, cooking and seeing friends sometimes. I need something more consistent because I’m getting really bored. It’s a bummer because so many of my friends live so far away, and I tend to be the one reaching out. We’re trying to save for a house, but I need to find some money in the budget for a hobby. I know it’s also the winter blues, but I’m feeling lazy and uninspired. Thankfully God provided Wednesday night Alpha classes for the next 10 weeks, so that’s something! Anyone else in their 30s feel the same?

Ecclesiastes 11:6 – “Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.”

For those who are in Christ…

…There is no condemnation! (Romans 8:1) What a comfort this passage provides. If we have Christ in our hearts, there is no disapproval. In regards to the Lenten journey, Christians may feel tempted to give up if they falter, much like a New Year’s Resolution. Upon slipping once, it’s easy to say, “Well, I gave it a fair shot, better luck next time”. And instead of committing for a year, it’s just 40 days, and the guilt may set in at our weaknesses in the face of all that Christ was able to sacrifice. Journey on the Cross, the seasonal devotional, urges us not to give up, but instead, for those who have already fallen off the Lenten wagon, so to speak, to run to the cross. I love that imagery. If then were now, how many of us would be running to the cross. I hope that if I could transport back in time, knowing what I know now, I would humble myself in the sight of the Lord.

hope found at the cross

But we don’t need a physical representation to do it. We just need to embrace this moment, this opportunity to sacrifice and to communicate with God. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He’s waiting for us to confess them. And if we aren’t yet aware, He has been trying to reach us, we just need to silence those distractions which overtake His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12). Wouldn’t it be great if the truth about Lenten abstaining came like a stork in the night with a baby? We could wake up in the morning, look on the front step and open our special package. Would we follow it still? If God sent a personalized note informing me that it was His intention for me to give up my car for 40 days, would I do it? That is more daunting than pasta, which is a task in itself! I think this is a faith test like many other trials God provides us. It’s about knowing that the conversations we do have in the privacy of our homes and our hearts, are God-driven, and are expected to be followed, regardless of any hand-written note of approval letting us know we were on track.

faith is doing what God has called you to do

While I have been writing this post, I had a GOd wink. I was searching for appropriate photos to add to my commentary, when I came across the InstaLent Photo Challenge . God spoke to me to do something similarly. I will search the Bible for words that inspire me to focus on every day throughout Lent. Today’s word is inspiration. Tomorrow’s word is Listen. Can you think of any others?
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Sinner share #5 – Faith IS doing what God has called me to do. I know He has called me to be a kinder, more patient person and I have a hard time doing that. Years of hurt and anger and frustration with the way the world works inhibits my ability to love my neighbor and to bask in the light of His love. Self-absorption and pride are sources of evil and we need to arm ourselves with the armor of God. This I pray.

Ephesians 6:10-17 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

30-something share #5 – I am stuck. I want my husband to want to go through this journey with me, but he hasn’t. I know faith is personal, but I also had grandiose ideas that it would be a “we” activity that he would want to take part of daily. It doesn’t make me love him less, but it does leave me confused about how to engage in this with him enough to satisfy my, and not too much to aggravate him. I know God wants us to enjoy Him together, I just wish I could accept that whatever we have in our faith as a couple is enough. Do you have similar struggles with your partner?

Romans 14:3 – “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.”

Search me, oh God, and know my heart…

Day 3 of Lent and I’m searching as I invite God to search me. I look for ways in which to best honor God’s ultimate sacrifice over the next 40 days. It’s easy to take so much time choosing the right things to abstain from that time flies by. Perhaps it is a stalling technique. Perhaps it is the perfectionist in me wanting to give up the “right thing” or add the “right thing”. But as we invite God into our hearts, minds and spirits this Lent, may we be able to discern what He is telling us to look it. I suppose the process of finding the true temptations to avoid comes with meditation that must go into pre-Lenten practices (I’ll have to take note of that for next year so as to not waste so much time! It snuck up on me this year!). In a late attempt, I perused an online resource for ways to better devote myself to the Lenten journey found here:. The author asks, What habits/tendencies of self-absorption do you need to tear yourself from? Where do I begin?  For starters, I must invite God into this process: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24).

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Sinner Share #4 – Self-absorption in my life comes in various forms:

Snacking
snacking
Some may think it’s a mindless, harmless hobby. For me, it’s being disobedient and ungrateful for God’s daily bread, turning it into a gluttonous, monotonous, comfort-filling habit. May I allow God’s grace to fill me more than any bag of chips ever could.

Road Rage
highway traffic
The devil certainly knows I’m vulnerable in a car. There’s something about other drivers’ and traffic that sends me to a dark place. It’s truly self-absorption in its worst form, thinking that no one can drive as I do and that everyone on the road is out to get me. It’s not about me! Help me to travel on the roads this Lent viewing every driver as a Brother or Sister and accepting it for what it is, no more, no less!

Marital Disputes
arguing
My husband’s #1 complaint about me is that I “get on him” too much. If I would just accept circumstances as I would a glass of spilled milk, I could shrug it off and move on. I am so self-righteous sometimes that I do get on my husband’s back constantly insisting that he gets things right more often. I’m a sinner and I fail all the time. I fail in my marriage when I don’t just love him instead of picking him apart. May I let our one true Judge take the reins and sit back and just love my husband.

TV
couch potato
It is a habit that keeps me from getting closer to God. The television steals my attention away from my devotionals, prayer time and being active in God’s name. It has a grip on me that lets me to sneak away from more pressing obligations. In small doses, almost anything is tolerable. Over indulgence leads to great sin! Take away my addiction to the viewing box and help me to use my time wisely and productively for our Christ.

James 3: 14-16 “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

30-something share #4 – I often wonder how many other 30-something year olds are fretting about these issues. I’ve shared it before that in the North East, many Christians are nominal and don’t discuss these struggles, let alone blog about it! I’m in a funky age bracket in my faith where I can’t connect with moms (not having any children, of course) and those younger than me don’t share the marital piece. I have no right during Lent to ask God for anything, but I do seek Christian friends to walk with me down this reflective road.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”

Return to me…

this lent repent

Day 2 of Lent and I’m already feeling challenged. I blogged about my TV addiction in one of my initial posts, so clearly I know that’s already something I need to be aware of as a fast throughout these forty days. As I sit here typing, the TV is silent, when it would typically offer a comforting buzz in the background. One small victory in the midst of a Christ who asks so much more.

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” – Joel 2:12. Return to me, come back to me, set your compass towards me, remember me, see me again. I think of all of the various ways I have turned from Christ and what it means today and for the rest of this Lenten season to turn towards Him. It’s not that hard to fathom…He asks us to put Him first in all we do. A simple yet daunting concept. Put Him before our rage, before our hunger and need to be right. Put Him before our work and savings and gossip. All of those things seem so trite as I watch the words spelled out here, but it feels like he’s asking me to give up everything.

And He is! And why can’t we? He did! The glory of redemption and His saving grace should be enough to have us throwing ourselves at His feet everyday. But that glory gets diminished in the midst of modern-day comforts, conveniences and selfishness. As I sit here, I text my husband as we argue about something stupid from the night before. All that needs to be said is, “I’m sorry, I love you, I didn’t mean it, please forgive me”. But I can’t text it for my foolish pride gets in the way – my need to be right and point out every imperfection. Part of my Lenten journey needs to be one of tolerance and acceptance as well.

This I pray:  I wish you a happy Lenten season. May the Lord lead us where we need to go through this 40 day journey. May He transform our hearts and minds to be more focused on letting go and letting God’s Spirit work through us. Help us to be real about our sins and our brokenness while we confess a true desire to be more like Him.

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Sinner share #4 – Lent is my favorite season in the Christian calendar. It forces me to take a deeper look at the ways I fall short and spend intentional time working harder to get back to my True North. As I consider the long road ahead, I am fearful and certain of failure. I hope to address my TV addiction and my swearing and to be more accepting of my husband. I pray that I may truly reject the devil and all his workings in the next 40 days.

James 4: 7-8 ” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded…”

30-something share #4- I wish I had more 30 something year old Christian friends to go through this Lenten journey with. Pastor Brian mentioned that it’s particularly challenging to find devoted Christians in the Northeast. I wonder why that is? Are we so bitter about the cold winter –which has been particularly snowy and cold this year–or are we sure we can go it alone? I know we can’t. Help me Lord to draw nearer to those who think and believe similarly over the next 6 weeks.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. “

Be fruitful and multiply…

In Genesis 1:28 we read, “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

And we’re trying to do just that!! The journey towards conception isn’t always as easy as obeying God’s command to reproduce. My husband and I have been attempting to conceive and it has proven to be thus far fruitless. desire to trust and be patient and obedient to God’s will. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Often in my life I have struggled with the notion of “Thy will or my will” and this instance is the same. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year now. I must admit that some of our “tries” have been haphazard, but we certainly thought we would be pregnant by now. As Marisa Tomei said in My Cousin Vinny, “My biological clock is ticking like this!!”, which adds pressure, a lot of pressure. And that was the theme of my therapy session today: Why do you put so much pressure on yourself? There’s all this pressure to achieve, to succeed, to be accepted with my every choice and action. And we teased out my self-doubt and selfishness, wondering why I am so hard on myself and whether it is selfish to want a child. So she asked why we want one, and here was my response:

We’re trying because we both want to bring a child into this world to love and to raise well. We want to share our love with that child and teach that child how to love and be a good person. But the question that looms while we find ourselves struggling to get pregnant is, “Is it His will?” God has shown me so much good and so many truths when I listen to Him and not to my own selfish desires. But this desire is something that my husband and I believe is aligned with God’s will. Yet obviously it’s not God’s will for everyone, or it’s not the “right time” at least when other’s feel ready. So we wait and try to be patient with the hope that if it were to happen on our timeline, we would miss out on an opportunity or blessing that God has planned for a different timeline. And that when He deems the time to be right, he will bless us with a child. But what if he decides we shouldn’t bear children? What if I am barren or my husband infertile?

I consider this from Psalm 84:11: “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” So what if God does withhold this good thing of conception? Does that mean that I am not doing what is right? We know as Christian sinners that we will never be able to reach perfection, so how much right would I need to do to have that good thing bestowed upon us? My God is a loving God, and I know that. But I posed this question to my therapist in return today, “What if God wants us to hear his message and get closer to Him more so than to revel in our own earthly happiness?” Because sometimes my happiness is not what it could be, what God could offer. If I knew what God had in store and it was magnificent, but it meant not bearing my own child, would I value the potential of his gift? Through the uncertainty and the storms, it is very difficult to appreciate that he will give us gifts. But I know he wants to bestow them. If I would just trust.

But the main part of the discussion with my therapist that vexes me is about the guilt. The old Catholic in me remembers the guilt that continuously tells me that I am not good enough and I need to repent because I’m not listening to God; that I am not obedient and that my heart and my own selfish desires get in the way of my closeness with Him. So I doubt myself and I am convinced that I need to constantly be on guard about the decisions I make. Is it my will or thy will? It’s exhausting. I know the answer is to know God better through the Word, but can’t bring myself to consistently practice it. In reading His word now, I reflect on these passages in Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 4, and 11: “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God: Your children and your crops will be blessed. The LORD will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops.” Again, if I obey the Lord these things will happen. So if I don’t they won’t? How can that be true? There are endless non-believers who bear children and reap rewards.

What also comes into question is what to do with an obstacle to achieving a personal desire. Is the answer to accept it’s inability to happen as God’s will and declaration or find a way to make it happen with God’s grace and willpower urging me on? If God didn’t want in vitro to exist, it wouldn’t exist. Or is it a temptation to go against his previously designed plan? A woman I work with said this in response to the aforementioned question: If God wants a soul in this world, He’ll get His soul, regardless of how it comes about. (She also ordered me a beautiful St. Gerard charm and necklace to pray to Him for fertility. Thank you God for sending Paula to me!)

The uncertainty of this pregnancy may be God’s way of helping me to appreciate, respect and be humble in the sight of the Lord and the miracle of birth. Perhaps my husband and I would have otherwise taken it for granted. Or maybe the timing is everything. God may have plans for a home purchase, move and delivery that would work out better if we conceived later. Whatever the reason, may I find the right reaction to whatever our news is regarding fertility.

Sinner share #3 – Trust has always been God’s desire for me. He wants me to let go and let God more often than I am comfortable doing. May this be another way that God is trying to reaching me. And may I hear his message and act upon it in order to receive His blessing and to prove my obedience. Though I am not worthy to ask anything, I pray at this time that I accept God’s will for a baby in our life and trust that He has good plans for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

30-something share #3 – Besides God sending a message, I confess that I question what it means for me to be a 30-something year-old who may not birth a child. Our society tells us that there’s something wrong with being a mother-less 30-something year-old. What a stigma and what shame. God always walks us through the storms, but that blizzard will be a long, arduous journey if that’s what He has in mind.

Isaiah 4:6 “There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”

We are what we watch…

I am a TV junkie.  I spend way too much time sitting in front of the tube, digesting random forms of entertainment.  From time to time I will watch Documentaries, which I do truly enjoy, but do not quantify enough time to rationalize my TV addiction.  It’s true, that’s what it is.  There is such comfort in the mindlessness that TV brings – an escape from the heavy weight of the daily stressors. But when I think of all the other things that could be accomplished if the TV didn’t exist in our home, it really puts things in perspective. I eluded to this point in my first share yesterday, but there’s another element to this that I would like to explore today. Is there a part of us that becomes what we watch? If we indulge in reality TV, is there a part of us that becomes more shallow and materialistic? If all we watch are violent war movies or gang series, are we more apt to have violent experiences? My pastor has preached on this subject before, cautioning us about what we expose ourselves to, warning that we may be more easily tempted towards evil.

On the other hand, there can be educational benefits to certain television content in news programs, documentaries and special reports. Television provides easy access to informational content that helps to shape our national and global perspective, which may then link to action we may take to better the planet. For example, the World Wildlife Foundation airs advertisements which remind people of the need for donors to support endangered species. In addition, there are ads for colleges and universities, encouraging adult learners to return to education, as well as public service announcements for dating violence, anti-bullying campaigns, and non-smoking initiatives. Television can serve as a medium to reach viewers and encourage them to learn, travel, and improve themselves in one way or another.

The issue lies in the addiction factor. I find myself being on TV overload sometimes. For example, as an educator living in Massachusetts in February, I am on the second day of no school due to snow days, attached to the weekend. That means that there’s no going outside, and what would I do instead? Hubby and I did some reading together, I cooked a bit for the Superbowl, he shoveled, I cleaned and folded laundry. And then what? We watched the TV for the rest of the time during those five days. I am so bored with the TV! But do I choose to exercise (Courtesy of Sports & Exercise TV On Demand of course)? No. Do I read instead? No. Do I write? Well, yes, I’m blogging, but guess what’s on in the background? When the TV makes decisions for me, and I just can’t say no to shutting it off, I fall prey to TV addiction. But how is this addiction affecting my life? I am a functioning TV addict, I guess you could call it. Hopefully with the better weather, I will be more apt to “Just say no”, and enjoy the out of doors more instead. But for now, I wake up, turn the TV on and get lost in the endless junk and information.

I consider myself to be a well-educated woman (with a Master’s Degree as specific proof), so perhaps I’m not as much in danger of absorbing all of the subconscious messages being emitted through commercials and reality TV. But think of all of the children and teens who simply don’t know any better. Think of the girls who learn about body image and society’s acceptance of making herself “perfect” to be able to get a man. And vice versa for a young boy to be the ideal image of manliness in order to be accepted. They are at serious risk for character assassination if they cannot learn to separate reality TV from reality, who they want to be versus who the media is selling and finding harmony between down time with TV and the outside world.

But back to my preliminary question…do we become what we watch? I know that I curse more, I care more about shoes and purses and I feel more unproductive the more TV and movies I watch. God knows that our country has an obesity problem, which, based on studies, has been linked to too many fatty foods, sugary drinks and lack of exercise. As a 30-something sinner, I fall into that category. While I do no qualify as obese, I am nowhere near as healthy as I would like to be. And I do believe that it is due in part to this addiction. I know I want to be healthier, yet I can’t let the couch potato in me go. Does that mean I take it to a level where I worship the TV? An article on Jesus-is-savior.com shares this Scripture passage to describe “What the Bible says about enjoying the filth on TV…”:

 

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” —Romans 1:28-32

I don’t know that I get pleasure from watching homicides on Criminal Minds. If anything, it helps me to be alert about potential psychologically disturbed murderers. And in terms of sexual immorality, if I were watching a sexually explicit scene, I think about enjoying my husband more. Is that a sin? Again, for our youth perhaps, and for those who are mentally or emotionally unstable, it may insert unhealthy ideas that lead to more sinning— but in my life, at minimum as an excuse, the most harm I see TV doing to me is that it prevents me from trying new things and allows me to remain sedentary. Perhaps knowing and admitting it is the first step.

Sinner share #2 – I am a TV addict. I don’t use my daily free time the way I should, spent in prayer with God and reflecting on his messages and Good News. I also don’t use my God-given talents to benefit myself and others because I am drawn into this TV trap.  Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I implore you, that I may gain strength from your existence to avoid earthly temptations and to put into better effect the life you have blessed me with.  I come to you as a meager sinner, in prayer, begging your mercy.

1 Corinthians 10: 13-14 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it”.

30-something share: I need a hobby. All this TV and addiction talk isn’t just complaining, it’s useful. While we struggle to save money for a home which presents a financial need to be thrifty, there are affordable activities that can get me off the couch and feeling more fulfilled.  Heavenly Father, help me to listen to your will for me.  Help me to devote time to reading your Word more and putting thoughts into action.

Jeremiah 33:3 “‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

In the beginning…

While the combination of being in my 30s and a sinner may not seem any different than being any other age, it feels different. (For a more thorough background on the genesis of this blog, see the page entitled “In the Beginning…”) And that’s what I intend to share, one of each for each blog: the sameness of being a sinner mixed with the relatable characteristics of being 30-something. While this undoubtedly will turn into a sort of confessional, my true hope is to impart wisdom as I reflect on my sins and how they begin, end and transform me day by day, week by week, month by month. Until I turn 40, I guess!

I will call these reflections “shares”, the reason for which is pretty self-evident, and pray that the Holy Spirit will lead me to post relevant Scripture passages that will awaken and energize the spirit and soul.

In summary, my first post and every one thereafter will be an attempt to confess, explore and reject sin, as well as ponder life in my 30s. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” Genesis 1:1.  He is forever my inspiration for creating a variety of beginnings and endings in my life.  So here’s to new beginnings, may we all find rejuvenation and better connectedness to God through them.

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Sinner share #1 – I have pretty negative thoughts towards an in-law of mine and need to find the strength daily to quell them. I forget to pray for joy and love for her, because I am too busy enjoying not loving her. But I can pray now since it’s on my heart and I do crave to be more forgiving, as is the Christian way. Dear God, help me to find the good in her, to heal my heart of the anger and to love her like You love us. In Jesus’ good name, Amen.

Matthew 5: 43-48  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …”

30-something share #1 – My husband and I spent most of the day on the couch watching football, the European kind. It’s a weekly ritual and can take up to 6 hours (though he watches the earlier 7 am games without me, much to my sleepy delight). I feel so unproductive and guilty sometimes, though I revel in the quality time and memories my husband and I are making. I love sleeping in on Saturday mornings, and also feel bad about it. Shouldn’t I be contributing to the world every chance I get? I know that mindset comes from my workaholic father, both inherent and engrained, but I can’t shake it. I get away Scott free by rationalizing that we won’t be able to do this when we get pregnant. It’s God’s little gift. We work hard for 5 days, mostly in anticipation of the weekends. And even God rested on the 7th day!  I pray that I find a healthy balance between work and rest, and the same  for you.

Genesis 2: 2-3 “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made”.

Worship satisfies because it’s as necessary as water, or food, or air for life

Amen!

Derek Maul: Words and Photographs for the Journey

IMG_7333 11:15 worship at WFPC

WORSHIP: I’ve been thinking about why it is that I enjoy going to church so much; but it’s much more than “enjoy” – worship satisfies.

What I’ve concluded is that church nourishes me in a fundamental way. In other words, worship achieves the same effect as a lungful of pure air, or cool water when I’m thirsty, or a good meal when I’m hungry. Worship satisfies an essential need, one that is built into the foundational fabric of my creation as a human creature.

In a sense, I am incomplete to the extent that I do not participate in worship; and I am filled up when I do. Worship is a natural requirement of the soul, not something supplemental, added on, optional, or contrived.

Sometimes – and probably because of a misplaced sense of pride – I baulk when I think about being instructed by scripture to worship God…

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