Friday, February 26, 2010

Too Much Confidence?

The exciting show American Idol is on and running with its 9th season, keeping people up a little later and getting people to use their phones to vote for their favorite in the middle of the night. Some people really enjoy the criticism from the judges:

"It was way too pitchy."
"You need to work on your stage presence."
"That was not the right song for you, dawg."
(or, as Simon simply states,)
"That was horrendous."

A lot of times, especially at this stage of the competition, you hear this phrase: "I don't see any confidence in you; you need to be confident when you get up on that stage."

Looking at my life, I can see where I can place a lot of my confidence in the wrong things-- sometimes, even with the right motives. Sometimes, I feel like my relationship with God couldn't get any better, and I start thinking how great it'll be when I've gone through life with this amazing relationship with God. I've been reading my Bible and praying a lot, and I just always feel God's presence. But, interestingly, after these little bouts, I make some sort of mistake-- I do something that makes me feel bad and I know that I have definitely fallen short. I always make mistakes, even when I am really close to God, but these particular falls always are harder from which to get back up. Then, I wallow for a while in that sin and sometime in the next couple of weeks, get back up and start back at the beginning.

God has been really working in my heart over the past couple of days on this subject. When I heard that phrase, "You need to be confident," I started to think about my confidence. Where was it? How did I handle it? And how much of it do I have?

I thought about how I usually feel right before I fall. I feel really zealous about the gospel, and sharing everything I've learned with everyone else. I feel like I know God really well. Then I started to get a queue. Every one of those sentences had "I" in it. It was all about me. I recognized this as self-confidence. I was excited for what I was doing, how I was thinking, praying, reading. I realized that I really needed to get rid of this self-confidence.

Ephesians 4:20-24 says, "But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." So, I've put off the old self. What's the new self?

God has convicted me to never be satisfied with my relationship with Him. I need to want more and more of His Word and time with Him in prayer. My confidence, pride, and trust need to be in Christ and His salvation. It needs to be all in Him, and not in me. While some people struggle with too much self-confidence, there is no such thing as too much confidence in Christ.

"Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?" ~Job 4:6
"For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught." ~Proverbs 3:26
"This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him." ~Ephesians 3:11-12

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Holding Hands with God...

Holding someone's hand can bring along many different feelings. Maybe you love this person very much, and it's a form of affection. Maybe you are sad or afraid, and holding someone's hand is an act of reassurance and security. Maybe you are lost and you can't find your way, and holding someone's hand is a way to show that you are following close behind. But you wouldn't hold just anyone's hand. You'd only hold someone's hand who you trusted, and loved, and who loved you.

It's like that with God. The difference: He fulfills all of those things at once. When one is a Christian, he or she can experience God's unfailing love, His reassurance and the security of salvation, and His direction and leading in all aspects of life. If you are a Christian, you must trust and love Him. Here are a few little verses and excerpts from hymns and the Bible.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

~He Leadeth Me, Joseph Gilmore

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." ~Psalm 32:8

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." ~Isaiah 30:21

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

"And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail." ~Isaiah 58:11

Thursday, February 11, 2010

While I'm Waiting

A dear, dear friend of mine told me to listen to this song. It's really amazing. I can't believe how much I love this song! I'll just post the lyrics and a video and you can find out for yourselves.

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Takeing every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Casting All Your Anxieties On Him

When I have a dire decision to make or have to wait for someone else to make a decision that might change my life, I get anxious. I feel like I have to know what the next step in my life is before I get there. I like to prepare and organize my life before I jump into cold water. Lately, I've been coming to some decisions that I have to make: decisions that will change my life. I don't really know what exactly God wants me to do. I've been praying extensively about it. A few days ago, I wrote in my journal that I wish that God would just write what He wants me to do clearly on the wall. I thought that if God would just scribble in Sharpie on my wall, I'd do the right thing and I could get ready and prepare for that next step. But last night, I was talking with my mom: one of those late night talks in the kitchen. She told me that I really should not be so anxious and worried because, if I was praying about it and was seeking God on it, then I shouldn't have any reason to be anxious or worried. That really opened my eyes. I saw that I had been really worried about what wasn't even happening yet and trying to run my life faster than the world turns.

With all this in mind, I looked up some verses on the subject. It's amazing how many verses there are about being anxious. God knew how much people can get boggled down with useless things and stress themselves out over little things. So many of these verses are really familiar to a lot of us. But sometimes we just read it, underline it, and then forget about it the next day. But these are really going to stick in my mind.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:25-34

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 4:6-7

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Being Salty Salt

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet." (Matthew 5:13)

This verse has recently taken on a new meaning for me. Sure, I've read it many times. I can recite it. But lately, it has a significance that I can't get off my mind. I've said to myself, "Sure, this passage means that I should be a difference in a world of sin; that I should be drawing attention to the gospel." But last Friday, I heard a great quote. It made me really think.

About a quarter of the American population claims to be born-again Christian. Listen to this quote:

"A pound of meat would surely be affected by a quarter pound of salt."

It's so true! Picture yourself taking a bite of hamburger: a quarter of it's weight is salt. You wouldn't be able to stand it. You would spit it out immediately. Christ used "salt" for a reason. Salt is unmistakable. You can't miss it. Even if only an 1/8 of a pound of salt was in a pound of meat, it would still be too salty.

It's my motivation to be SALTY salt :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

In Perfect Peace

You know that time between shutting off the light and falling asleep at night? That time that you have nothing to do, so you think about your day or things that made you mad, or things that might happen tomorrow. I've always been a person who would lay awake at night and just think about random things until I fell asleep.

Well, the night before the January SAT, I was really nervous that I wouldn't get enough sleep, and I wasn't feeling well. So, as I climbed into bed that night, I decided I was not going to think about the test. I wasn't going to even think about what I needed to do in the morning. I set my alarm clock, turned off my light, and closed my eyes. As I was just waiting for sleep to come, my mind kept going to the test. I'd mentally slap myself when I got that nervous feeling again. But they still just kept coming to me. So I decided to pray and say Bible verses to myself until I fell asleep. I prayed that God would help me to sleep well and to do well in the morning for His glory. Then, I started say John 1 to myself. I've memorized about 6 verses in the KJV and so I just said that over and over again. I would say part of the verse and then explain that part to myself. Then I would say the rest of the verse, and explain that to myself. Eventually, I fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up with no problem. I felt very rested despite the fact that I only got 6 hours of sleep. I got ready to go. When we got to the school, I felt very calm and collected. The whole test, I didn't feel rushed or worried. It was amazing.

Ever since then, I've tried to go to bed praying and reciting God's Word. I also tell God exactly what He is... or try, at least. I fall asleep thinking of words that describe God. It's great to know that if I died in my sleep, my last conscious thought was about God. God truly does keep me in perfect peace.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." - Isaiah 26:3

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." - Psalms 4:8

"Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." - Psalms 121:4