Friday, January 25, 2013

Less of me.

Lately God's been convicting me about how I'm full of me. I guess I knew, in theory, that all human being are prideful and thus I must have some pride issues, but I didn't see how self-focused I really am.

Here's an example: my resolution/goal for 2012 was to basically "discover myself." (Talk about psychology nonsense!) I was shy and insecure, and wanted to stop changing who I was based on who I was with. Well, it's true that we shouldn't fear man's opinion, but the cure is fearing God - not being more confident in ourselves. But my goal was to build SELF-confidence... and sadly, I did just that.

Another example: As of February 2012, the 5 words I wanted to describe me were: godly, beautiful, smart, lovable, and capable. I summed up of the attributes I should have been focusing on in just one spiritual-sounding word, and then listed the ones I was really after...  ones that built my image. Notice I didn't say I wanted to be loving, I wanted to be lovable. It was about me. 

Yeah.... ouch. So, why in the world am I admitting to all my readers how proud I am? Well, for one thing, it's good for me; for another, it helps keep me accountable and transparent with my brothers and sisters in Christ. And as for people reading this who don't really know me... well, maybe you'll leave encouraged somehow. 

So all that to say... I'm so sick of me. I need LESS of me. I need more of Jesus!! I am truly so grieved at how much I love me. And I have some different goals now. My number one goal this year: to make Jesus Christ shine building others up in Him. I want to accomplish that by being a listener, an encourager, a person who sees the inside of people and loves without partiality, and by not talking about and thinking about ME.

The 5 words I want to describe me: humble, loving (God and people), prayerful, servant, and (even though it's not one word) recklessly abandoned to Christ! So friends, encourage me and be the same to me! I'm so far from what I should be, but so encouraged to work towards the goal in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is so faithful!

"He must increase, but I must decrease."
John 3:30

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Grow up!

This morning I went to a meeting at our church's biblical counseling center to begin to pursue becoming a certified IABC biblical counselor. This is something I really didn't expect to find myself doing a year or two ago... I was sure that when high school was done I would marry Prince Charming right away so I could raise my 20 children ASAP, or maybe head to a Bible college and then head off to be a bush-whacking single missionary to uncharted jungles and tribes.

But God had other plans.

For one thing, He showed me that Prince Charming is not just waiting at my door to sweep me off my feet. He (if he does indeed exist for me) is off fighting the Lord's battles and becoming the Lord's man, while the Lord grows me up and teaches me to be a selfless woman who loves and serves the Lord and doesn't expect Prince Charming to be the answer to my problems in life. The Lord is showing me that a relationship isn't his plan yet - He has work for me here and now.

He also showed me that, as a woman, I should be embracing the protection and ministry of the home. I don't need to run off across the country to learn from people I've never met, and then venture alone into the darkness of the world, when I have a godly mother to learn from right here, and a local church that's full of ministry potential and teaching to edify my soul. Single women can fully recognize their role as women, just as much as married ones - the role of helping and serving, under protection and headship. My goal is to honor the authority and wisdom of my parents and serve my family, while I continue to grow spiritually and in every other way. (That's not to say college is wrong - it can be an excellent tool of the Lord! But it shouldn't just be what we default to because it's what everyone does.)

So here I am. When I went to the meeting this morning and learned the requirements of becoming a certified biblical counselor, it was a bit scary. It will demand maturity and commitment. I may have to sacrifice some care-free excursions with friends and some weekend lounging. I will have to work diligently to start something so big while still finishing my primary schooling. But I'm willing. I accept the challenge. It's time to grow up! In America, childhood is excused and continued into the 20's and 30's many times, under the excuse of adolescence. 

But here's what the Bible says: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." (1 Cor. 13:11)

So friends, let's rise up. Let's reject the poison of our culture that tells us we have time to waste. No matter how scary it may seem, let's grow up. And lets' follow God's plans for our lives - not our own - as we grow up.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rising Radiance

When morning gilds the skies, 
my heart awaking cries, 
"May Jesus Christ be praised!"

This past week I've really enjoyed getting back to school. Christmas break was wonderful and restful, and charged me up for the other half of my final year of homeschool. On Sunday, I sat down with mom and planned out a schedule (yes, another one - I love planning!) that works for both of us, and I have really enjoyed it. Each morning I get up at 6:30 and have my morning devotions. Oh, it is incredible to watch the sun rise through the leafless trees, splashing color across the sky! It's like a painting; it doesn't even seem real. It's as though the sky is a colorful piece of translucent stained glass and the sun is behind it, making it glow. And it encourages me, because it brings to mind all the verses in the Bible about the rising sun.

"For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, 
and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering.
 For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts." 
Malachi 1:11

"From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!"
Psalm 113:3

"The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth."
Psalm 50:1-2

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
his mercies never come to an end; 
 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."
Lamentation 3:22-23

"For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning."
Psalm 30:5

Our sovereign, holy God is reigning, and deserving our praise - let us remember to worship Him with our lives every waking moment. Let's praise Him early - don't wait! Let the rising sun remind you of His attributes and cause your heart to reverence Him. May we be able to say with David,

"I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning."
Psalm 59:16a

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolution Vs. Goal

Last year I made a lot of resolutions. I was so sure that this would be the year that I would become, well, perfect. Part way through the year, though, when I was still doing very well at keeping my resolutions, I realized how petty they were. As if banning movies and facebook would make me a better person! As if meeting my personal standard is what makes me righteous! As if I could ever be good enough through my own actions! As if I could ever be perfect enough to meet even my own requirements, much less God's! I realized that I was setting myself up for failure.

So I made a new resolution. No, actually two.
1) Nullify all previous resolutions.
2) Never make another resolution.

Now you're saying "What is wrong with her? She's flown to the opposite extreme!" But really, I'm not. Bear with me. I'm definitely NOT saying that we shouldn't set goals to try and meet. Without goals to strive toward, we don't make progress. But there's a difference between a resolution and a goal. With a resolution, you either succeed or fail. There's no in between. Even if you almost succeed, it's no good - you still failed. With a goal, you work toward achieving a desired result. And, no matter, how slowly you achieve it, how many times you mess up and start again, or how far from perfect you are, it's still worth doing!

For example, one of my goals this year is to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism. If it's a resolution, it's only worth doing if I memorize it all. But as a goal, it will be valuable even if I only memorize a quarter of it.

I believe this is a biblical concept. It's in line with the biblical model of progressive sanctification, in which we never "arrive" but we are always moving forward. No matter how many times we sin, it's still worth it to strive for righteousness! And, Ecclesiastes 5 warns us against making resolutions we can't keep.

So friends, let's be careful not to make rash vows this year. Only God can make a promise and be sure to keep it! We're not perfect. We simply cannot guarantee to anyone, even ourselves, that we will certainly do or not do anything. Rather, let us make goals, and move on to godliness!