Relationships

It is Good to be Near God

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For me it is good to be near God. (Psalm 73:28a)

I’ve been caught up in a lot of stuff lately. I just turned in my first two college applications, my car keeps breaking in expensive and obnoxious ways, I’ve just had to leave a steady nanny job to look for different work, and so on. My mind is always consumed with something. Will my chemistry homework get finished? When’s the last time I worked out?

I’ve always thought myself a busy person, but it’s amazing how you can handle more stuff in life than you think. Just when you think you’re at capacity, one more things is added to your schedule and you still somehow survive.

One of the things added to my schedule a few weeks ago was preparing a Bible study for a discipleship ministry that I’ve been a part of for about eight years now. I’ve done a few Bible studies for the group before and preparation often involves listening to sermons and reading commentaries on the passage (Romans 6:1-14 in this case) in order to learn as much as you can before leading the team in the study.

While listening to a sermon by Sandy Willson called “Lord, Change Me“, I began to realize how I have been drifting into trying to run my own life. One of his three lessons at the end of the sermon was to invest real time to cultivate the relationship you have with God. He said, and I quote, “You can’t microwave this, America!” (By the way, you should all go listen to Sandy Willson – he’s awesome)

A relationship with God never reaches its full potential, at least in this life. There is always more room to grow and the amount of time I have been devoting to my relationship with God is not enough. That’s why I’ve been so wrapped up in the world. That’s why my car, college, and career are such a big deal.

When we don’t pour ourselves into our relationship with God, we become envious of the wicked in Psalm 73: they seem to suffer no consequences for their sin and even seem to prosper. But when we go “into the santuary of God”, then we can discern their end (Psalm 73:17).

When we go into the sanctuary with God and spend time with Him – in His Word, in prayer, in coming to know Who He is – we realize that we do not need the things that we so greatly desire. We realize that “for me it is good to be near God.”

I’ve been learning that through drifting my own way and then coming back. For me, Kira, it is so good to be near God. And the same is true for you.

Kira

Faithful in a Little

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Dishes are not as important as changing the world. Or so I would like to believe.

I have to credit one of my very dear friends with the idea of this post and the torture that she has caused me these past few weeks as I think about her words. I love you Laura!

Luke 16:10 says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” Yes, faithfulness.

Until Laura brought the topic to my attention, I did not consider myself to be very unfaithful. I do my school assignments well and finish them on time. I read my Bible and memorize verses almost every day. I show up to work and do what needs to be done, even when I’m tired or sick or just plain unhappy. And all of those things are good. But it is not all that I am called to do.

God has put me in a family and has given me friends and classmates. Each of those relationships also come with other responsibilities and things to be faithful to.

I’m in my senior year of high school, which, of course, means college and life planning. I have huge dreams and ideas about where I want to go next and what I want to do, but that doesn’t mean I can make this year all about me. I’ve started to notice the ways I’m unfaithful to my family and friends as I put myself first.

I work for a great family a couple days a week and as I was doing some of the cooking and cleaning a while ago, I had the thought that I didn’t do things like this at home. Of course, I’m not paid for it at home, but still. I could make dinner every once in a while or take the younger kids to the park. So I began scheming about how I could be more helpful.

But then another thought came to me: You don’t even do the dishes.

I share the responsibility of doing the dishes for the family with two of my siblings. And, busy person that I am, I often don’t make time for washing dishes and the chore falls on my siblings and parents. And that’s unfaithful. Doing the dishes is such a small thing, but I am not even being faithful in that very little.

Yes, I want to be an author and I want to teach history and I want to have a family. But right now, God has placed me here. And that means making the time to do the dishes. I can’t move on to what I consider to be greater things until I learn to do the dishes.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” I must be faithful in this seemingly very little before I can ever be faithful in very much.

Kira

My Sister

Today, I decided that I felt like writing a sappy/sentimental post. I don’t usually write like this and it took at least three false starts. So buckle up. 🙂

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There is someone in my life who I treasure like no one else. She has been with me for longer than I can remember and we have shared some of the most joyful, exciting, painful, and infuriating moments of our lives with one another. When we are separated, it hurts to have no one to laugh over inside jokes with or to listen to me complain for the eight hundredth time about drama at work.

She is my sister.

My sister is a beautiful girl. She is kind and sweet and she puts other people before herself. She always wants her friends to be happy and keeps them from pain if she at all can.

We’ve grown up beside one another, learning and laughing and, occasionally, yelling. We’ve literally “done life” together for the past sixteen years. She knows my ugly side and she loves me anyway. We’ve both changed and become stronger both by ourselves and as a team.

My sister has the voice/hands/ears/heart of a musician. She improves in playing the guitar every day, pouring herself into the music and working through the frustrating chords and strumming patterns. She leads worship by example, devoted to her Lord and happy to sing to Him.

She is also an artist, crafting pictures and coming up with creative gifts for those she loves. She doesn’t paint very often any more, but her journal pages hold more sketches than notes, all of them cute, intricate, weird, or some combination of the three.

In addition to growing up physically these past years, I have seen my sister grow spiritually in ways that make me so proud of her. She devotes part of her morning, first thing, to spending time in the Word and praying. She is one of the first to offer to do things others don’t want to do. She loves spending time with people and getting to know them and showing them the love that she knows so well.

My sister is one of a kind. She dyes her hair blue if she feels like it. She builds forts with little kids out of any spare pillows and blankets found lying around. She crosses her eyes and sticks out her tongue when she thinks I’ve said something ridiculous. She wears BDUs one day and frilly tank tops the next.

I love my sister. I am so blessed to have her – to live in the same room as my best friend. I pray that we will always be so close.

Kira

Who in your life is special to you?
What makes them so dear?

Love Doesn’t Come From Me

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We love because he first loved us.

We all know 1 John 4:19 by heart. We can recite it forward, backward, and upside down. But how often do we think about the deep meaning of the verse?

I think we Christians have a tendency to “know” all the popular and spiritual verses without understanding them. We have the knowledge in our heads, but it doesn’t reach our hearts. 1 John 4:19 is one of those verses.

I’ve been thinking about love lately. Not the romantic kind – the unconditional kind. In my pathetic attempts to love people by myself recently, I have discovered just how far my stores of love go. It’s not far. I began to despair of ever being able to love people as the Bible commands.

But then God reminded me that it’s not my job to come up with all the love. It’s His. I can love the people around me (no matter how obnoxious, rude, or just plain mean they are) by using His love. And His love never runs out.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

God performed the ultimate act of love for me two thousand years ago and continues to love me to this very day. It is because of that love that I can love others. And the same holds true for you.

Kira

What verses encourage you through the difficulties of living for God? Are there any that you need to look at more closely for the truth they convey?

Book Review: Passion and Purity

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Every once in a while, a truly excellent book is born. A book that changes the perspectives and lives of thousands of people – quietly. This book isn’t made into a movie. It doesn’t go wild on the internet. It might even be rather slow to sell. But God is faithful and He uses it to further His kingdom, even decades after it was written.

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot is a quiet little book. It’s not particularly long and is the exact opposite of flashy. From the cover to the introduction to the book itself, Elliot creates an atmosphere of peace and rest. I finished this book in the space of only a few days, so eager was I to get back to the comforting read, and then was sorry when it was over.

Passion and Purity tells the love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, a gripping and sweet tale that seems as if it could come out of a storybook. But their story serves a deeper purpose, as do all of our stories. Elliot uses their years of joy and pain to discuss faithfulness to God in the midst of romantic relationships – purity in the middle of passion.

I’ve heard this book recommended countless places and will now join the voices urging that everyone desirous of living a pure life read the short volume. Passion and Purity is the first book on relationships I have read (and I have read many) to focus so pointedly on living for God in all your life and not just what to do with these feelings tangled up inside. It recognizes that we were created to glorify God and serve Him alone – even if that goes against what our heart is telling us to do (thank you, Disney, for that worldview). We must not waste these years of singleness and we must not waste future years of marriage. All is for the glory of God.

As much as I hesitate to use the word, “relatable” describes Elisabeth Elliot’s work quite well. She understands what it feels like to want marriage so badly, but to be kept from it over and over. She knows the struggles of submitting yourself to the Lord’s plan for your life. She knows the daily discipline of obedience. And she offers encouragement, through it all.

And so I say, read Passion and Purity. Read it carefully; read it slowly; read it with open heart and mind. Elisabeth Elliot holds much wisdom from the life God has given her and she generously shares it if only we are willing to listen.

Kira

Have you read any good books lately? What made them worth the read?