Saturday, May 30, 2009


Recently I have been thinking about a lot of stuff. I've been getting a little frustrated with believers around me who aren't acting very much like Christ. But then I have to remember that I am really not that much different from them. It is easier to cast judgment on immaturity in another than to recognize the Spirit of God at work within the other and thank God for the life of a brother or sister in Christ. As God takes each of His beloved children by the hand and loves on them no matter how spiritually mature or immature they may be, so I must regard my fellow in Christ. It is not nearly enough to simply care for another, but care must be lived out in every moment. I am beginning to think that if you do not make an effort to put others first in the simple and even mundane things of life, you will never get the permission to speak freely into another's life. I find it difficult to understand my feelings of frustration with a fellow believer and the knowledge that they are capable of so much more and should even be rebuked of selfish behavior unto godliness. My mom once wrote to me that I shouldn't be frustrated when people don't live up to my expectations. Though I may sincerely hope for others' spiritual growth and maturity, I should not be disappointed with their failure. For does not God also use great human failure to draw men closer unto Him and so break them of self-sufficiency in order that they may learn to trust Him more fully? In all this I look at myself and search through my own heart. In those areas I find it apparently difficult to obey God, it is so because I have not chosen to trust that He is fully able to provide for everything I need. I ponder deeper and discover apathy towards others and a heart filled with vain pride, selfishness, and conceit. Truly may abundant thanks be given unto God for working in and through my own failure to accomplish His work. May I never forget my need for Him and His desire for me.

Monday, May 25, 2009


My football coach for my senior year had shirts for our team made that said, "It all starts with attitude." I've been thinking about this whole subject of my attitude towards circumstances or just life in general. Nobody likes someone who has a bad attitude and yet we want people to just handle it when we're in a bad mood. How does this build up the body of Christ? How does this display a life transformed by the power of Christ working in me? I declare that it does not.

To keep this simple I will simply describe all sorts of attitude under the generalized terms of "good" and "bad". When I think of someone who has a "good" attitude I often think of cheerfulness, positivity, joy, etc. People are naturally drawn to someone who is radiating encouragement. It is almost ridiculously funny how a simple change of attitude can mean the difference between a long and tiresome road trip that is filled with bickering and arguing to one that is enjoyable and fun (I write this thinking of the sixteen hour drive to southern California that my family will take down there tomorrow). A genuine "good" attitude is more than skin deep; it flows out of a loving heart that expresses itself by putting others first. Interesting how the Word of God speaks of love: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Loves bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" (I Corinthians 13.4-8a).

My past week has been filled with reconnecting with old friends and enjoying the company of missed relatives. I have been thinking about how the words that I say and the things that I do for other people affect them and I have come to the conclusion that people are of immense importance. Can I not give of myself so that others are encouraged and strengthened? It begins with the little things like taking out the trash, writing an encouraging note, or taking the time to stop and really listen to someone.

I must say that I certainly do not condemn one who has a "bad" attitude. I also realize that behind every "bad" attitude there is a reason that needs to be understood in order to truly care for someone who has a "bad" attitude. Having a "bad" attitude can be the result of a multitude of reasons: lack of sleep, headache, sickness, etc. These are all circumstances that weaken one's constitution and can make us more vulnerable to give in to temptation. Nonetheless, when it comes down to it, a "bad" attitude is always selfish and is a result of a focus on self instead of others. Even though circumstances may seemingly justify having a "bad" attitude, it is the love of Christ that compels me to glorify God in ALL circumstances: good and bad.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Understood not in Part but in Whole

Today I began to read Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard by David Augsburger for my class Biblical Principles For Handling Conflict that begins tomorrow. Part of the first chapter talked about how people are usually quick to express the more positive aspects of their thinking, but are reluctant to share the more negative side. Though we fear sharing the negative side, all people have a deep desire for someone to listen to both their positive AND negative parts and understand them. I thought through some of the questions at the end of the chapter and came to conclusions about myself that I had never really formulated into words.

"One of the positive feelings I often have, but I do not reveal to you, is..." that I truly feel loved and accepted when I can tell that someone is excited to see me and wants to spend time with me. Even when I was a child I would eagerly wait in expectation when I knew that someone I held dear was soon to come. Many times I would anxiously wait outside for hours, turning my ear to every sound of a car approaching that might hold those I loved. When I could see them come I would break out into a big grin and wait for them to come and unload so that I could be with them. Because of this I feel loved and accepted when people act in such manner to me.

"One of the negative feelings I often have, but I do not reveal to you, is..." that it hurts me when people don't seem to care that I am even there. My freshman year of high school was a year of lonliness and hiding. My family had moved to Idaho from California during the summer and I hated it from the first I heard the news. I had gone to a private Christian school for all of my life previously and this was my first experience of a public high school. I know that it may seem weak, but I am not ashamed to admit that I was severely frightened to go to such a school. I knew about 5 people in the entire school who were from my church (none of them were in my grade). I had played flag football in junior high and so my parents encouraged me to play at my school in Idaho. They played tackle football (which I had never played before) which was extremely hard on a little freshman twig like me. I made a couple of acquaintances on the team but broke my leg about 2 games into the season. It took only about 3 more weeks for me to totally disassociate myself from everyone on the team. My days were such: I woke up and went to school, ate lunch by myself in the hallway with a book in my hand, finshed up school and went back home. This lasted the entire rest of the year broken up intermittedly by some people who would sometimes talk to me. I believe that that whole experience scarred my heart so deep that I have repressed many of my memories of that year and covered over all of the hurt. It took me the entire next year at a Christian school to actually open up and make real friends. I think that even today I am affected by all that happened for I see myself as not being able to relate very easily with others socially.

It was not until today that I more fully realized this about myself and have actually took the time to think about how all of the experiences of my life have truly shaped me into the person that I am today. Every person is a unique individual who is yet connected to all other unique individuals by the common bonds that all of humanity shares. We grow as we learn to listen to other people to understand what they really mean by their words. Only a good listener has the ability to speak rightly into another person's life.