Thursday, December 18, 2014

Incredible Forgiveness

Incredible Forgiveness 

So guys. Get ready! I was once again just writing out a few thoughts and once again I decided my thoughts were a lot longer then I originally intended them to be.

"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32

I just finished reading "Unbroken." It is truly one of the most real and incredible stories I have ever read. The only words I can use to describe it as are incredible and inspiring. And the most incredible part of the story is what God was able to do to the life of a man who was ruining his life with hate and plans for revenge. In an ironic sort of way, he was broken. Louie Zamperini had survived being a crazy teenager, an Olympic athlete, a bombardier in WWII, a castaway, a POW.... But the bitterness of what had happened to him stuck with him. He tried to drink away the memories and started to plan a sort of revenge on those who had mistreated him when he was a POW…. I found the chapters about his life after the war to be rather painful to read… It was sad. But the most beautiful part of the story was basically at the end.

Louie Zamperini became a Christian. He was able to stop his horrible habits of drinking. He was able to forgive for the most part the Japanese officers and guards. And he was not able to forgive and let go by himself. It took God. That was the best and the most incredible part of Louie Zamperini’s story.

I had no idea about some of the atrocities which went on in Japanese POW camps. And atrocities is what they were… But isn’t it inspiring and comforting to know that through God, a man who had been horribly and brutally mistreated was able to forgive those who had wronged him. Isn’t that incredible?

But you know what is more incredible? (Yes, I know I keep using that word but it is just…that- INCREDIBLE). God was able to forgive us all our sins…. Every one of them. WOW.

Sometimes I struggle with being able to forgive. But you know what? We have a God who can help us to forgive. We just need to go to Him and lay it at His feet and ask Him to help us to deal with bitterness and forgiveness…. And He can. He wants us to be filled with joy. But you cannot be joyful and bitter and unforgiving at the same time. And if we are having a rough day or week or month, there is some comfort which God leaves us in James.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience….” - James 1:2-3

So if there is something you are struggling with… be it bitterness, forgiveness, lacking of peace, feeling of emptiness, or fear, why not lay it at God’s feet? 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What's So Bad About Being Sheltered?

A few weeks ago I was standing in line somewhere and listening to a couple middle school aged kids talking about homeschoolers being sheltered. They were, of course, for the most part just joking with one of their home schooled friends, and I really could care less, but I did turn around and make the comment that homeschoolers are not sheltered. I have thought about my comment several times since then...

To give a bit of back story, I am a previous homeschooler. Which pretty much means that from about the time I was 7 to the time I was 16, I received most of my education (aside from the occasional CO-OP or class at a charter school) at home. And honestly, it doesn't bother me. I can only remember wanting to be public schooled a few times... and those were mostly because my best friend went to public school and who wouldn't want to spend more time with their best friend? The last two years I have primarily done my school at a community college where I am finishing high school and college together. I am very grateful to my parents that I was home schooled. I learned things at my own pace and had extended amounts of free time from being able to just get up early and get my school done. It was awesome.

What's so bad about being sheltered? 

I have to admit. I have met a lot of kids who are, or were home schooled, who don't want to appear sheltered. I mean, who wants to look socially inept or be thought of that if they are exposed to anything they will not be able to handle it. To start this off right, I first want to clarify something. I probably am a bit more on the sheltered side. And personally I hate that word. It makes it sound like someone is curling up in a ball in a corner... refusing to come out... and sobbing the world is perfect as long as they stay within their comfort zone. So when I say that I am somewhat sheltered it does not mean in any way shape or form that I don't know a thing about the world... Somewhat sadly, for that matter. But yes, I have been sheltered from a lot of bad or unprofitable stuff, by my parents when I was younger, but also by myself as I get older.

There are so many of us homeschoolers, and even Christians, who seem so concerned with fitting in and not appearing to be squeaky clean or pure, that we have ridiculous standards as to what is sheltered. If someone chooses not to watch movies that contain unprofitable scenes or listen to music that causes one to focus on things which are unprofitable, why is that a bad thing? Romans 12:2 has some edifying things to think of:

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." 

Its pretty hard to be renewing your mind with what is right and good when you are continually filling your mind with other things - whatever they may be, whether, bad, unprofitable or not the best thing for you specifically.

So, I just had a few thoughts, if we really consider ourselves Christians, if we really want to be Christ's ambassadors, maybe we should take a little bit of time to consider what we are putting our minds on and how it affects us- both as being effectual ambassadors and in our personal walk with Jesus. I am not here to judge. What you choose to be right for you is only between you and God. And I am sure there are things in my life I can cut out that will make more time for me to read the Bible and pray, as well as just focus on more profitable things... And I know how much of a struggle it is. But these are just some thoughts. Is it really so bad to self-shelter yourself? Not to pretend like everything is just fine. Not to hide from the reality of this world. But to renew your mind. To be the ambassadors and the lights that this world so needs.