Lost in the Forest

Lost in the Forest: How to Deal with Your Life

Blinded and barefoot you stand amongst the looming trees of the thick and ominous forest. Hopelessness invades as you struggle with feeling stuck, lost, and alone…
This is what life can feel like when trials and tribulations come; when joy turns to grief or sorrow; when contentment turns to sadness and longing. There is nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. You stumble amongst the branches and twigs at your feet as you try to feel your way out of the chaotic darkness.

So how did you get here and what do you do now? How do you turn blindness into sight and clear away the maze of trees to find the field of joy and the clear path to a happy life?

Most won’t like the answer, because if you are a believer – a follower of the One True God, then the answer truly will be – YOU WONT. Not on this earth, in this life, you won’t. Look up any verses about suffering and you will be met with a barrage of choices to pick from. God did not shy away from telling us that our lives would be hard and filled with grief and anguish at times. 2 Timothy 3:1 says, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”

Regardless of your thoughts on the timing of the tribulation or of millennialism, we have been living in the “last days” since Christ ascended to His Heavenly Father. Let’s face it, there is a reason that Paul continually told us to run the race with endurance and finish well. To be ready; find the path set before us and persevere till the end. Life is hard! If it wasn’t, Christ would not have, during His earthly ministry, continually talked about being there for us, to love us and guide us. Matt. 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

So why are we so surprised when our life is not going right or we find ourselves in, what seems like, a hopeless mess? 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”

Our response is not of surprise or shock or discontentment. But of rejoicing, blessing and honor. Again, verse upon verse showing to “consider it all joy”; “rejoice in the Lord always”; “hope in the Lord always”; “standing firm in the faith”; “glory in our sufferings” – just to name a few.

And yet, here we are – suicides are abounding among us; we are jumping from counselor to counselor and drug to drug – trying to figure out why we are not happy. Why we cannot find “joy for the moment” or contentment with our circumstances. We blame external choices, people, environments, etc., when all along God says the answer is truly simple: trust, obey, love, and rejoice.

So, why can’t we?

Let me share with you reasons I have come across in my own life as to the “why?”.

The skillful art of comparison – even more so now with social media the way it is, this lovely art of comparing oneself to another is at an all-time high. The even crazier thing is, we are comparing ourselves to fake versions of others. And even, if not completely fake, why do we “covet thy neighbor”? Why do we look at what everyone else has and become so discontented with our own lot? Our narcistic society has grown to a point where we covet all things we do not have, even if they are not actually attainable. We express our groanings to God that HE MESSED UP because we don’t look like…, don’t have…, don’t want to contend with…, need, want, etc. etc. etc. Yet, God never promised any of it to us. In fact, He called us blessed if we were the lowly, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the suffering. We have let society redefine our “happy place” and our worth. We have let the sin of our wants and desires lead us to hate God and despise our lives. But, the funny thing is – this life isn’t for you! It has never truly been about you or what you think you need or want.

Next would be the art of self-love – of course this is really the root of it all. The funny thing is, how do we say it is self-love, when we feel like hopeless pieces of dirt? Yet, if we get down to the root of the feelings, it truly is all about a “poor me” attitude, is it not? We tell ourselves that we deserve something better than what we have. We deserve to be happy, healthy, loved and content – after all it is the “American Way,” right? But tell me, where does it say that? I think the number one reason people like to change God’s Word is because they want to be able to tell themselves they deserve what makes them happy. We are like little children who always want our way, regardless of if it is right for us or not. My son wants to eat a bag of Doritos every day, but obviously that wouldn’t be the smartest choice. He may think I don’t love him because I don’t allow him that pleasure, but I am doing it for his own good. He may think, “if you love me you will want me happy, and Doritos make me happy.” Well yes, my dearest, but that will also kill you. We literally love ourselves to death. Even those, like myself, who struggle with being introverted due to what society would call a “low self-esteem,” all comes from a fear of not being loved or accepted. Why should I be in the first place? Am I not the lowest of all sinners? We set standards for our lives that will convey to ourselves that we mean something. When in all reality, all we truly deserve is an eternity in Hell. But crazy enough, we DO mean something. So, why is it not ENOUGH for us to KNOW we mean EVERYTHING to our Lord and our Savior; that HIS DEATH on the cross for our gain of eternal life with Him is the one and ONLY thing we will EVER need; the only thing that will define who we are and our value!? I am preaching to myself here – believe me!

So, what do we do? How do we turn our pain into joy and our sorrow into contentment?

Lucky for us, God gave us instructions!!

First off – we put our trust and faith in HIM:

“Cast all of your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” 1 Peter 5:9

“ and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…” Romans 5:3-8

“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. …” Ps. 23:1-6

“And Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” Matt. 21:21

“He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matt. 14:29-31

I could go on and on and on. There are so many scripture verses about having faith and trust. I love the parable of the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9:23, “And Jesus said to him…All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’” This is so powerful to me, because it shows the power of faith. We find ourselves caught in this trap of belief, but never giving it ALL over to Him. He wants it all. HE GAVE His all to us and He wants that reciprocated and He DESERVES that! But, we hold on to this life with such ferocity that we don’t see we are slowly drifting out of His care and into the arms of the world and the desires therein. Then we come before God demanding our own way. I love the song by Natalie Grant called King of the World, here are a few of the lyrics:

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you’re holding on to me

How do we argue with this? It is like in Job – when he was wanting his audience with God so he could get an answer to his WHY and God came back and graciously answered, basically what Natalie is saying here – I AM THE KING OF THE WORLD. And yet, He is miraculously, lovingly and graciously on our side. He wants us to be loved and cared for. Christ is – at this very moment – “preparing a place” just for us! This life is but a vapor – let us not waste it on ourselves, but in faith and service to our God.

Secondly – we choose joy:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

“This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” Psalm 5:11

Choosing joy isn’t easy. Many of us, in the midst of feeling like we are drowning, can’t even begin how to even contemplate how to be joyful. I would say to start with the absolute FACT that God loves you and is for you. He will NEVER turn away someone seeking Him. He has called you to Himself and will “never leave you nor forsake you.” Remember God’s Truths and memorize His Word. Truly, it is the power to defeat the Devil. If we remember who God is (read Knowledge of the Holy by Tozer!) and that He loves us, how can we not be joyful? When you lose heart of the Truths of God, read Romans 8. Remember that nothing can separate us from the Love of GOD! And be “confident of this, that He who began a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God will never leave us alone out there blind and barefoot. He is reaching out His hand to guide you through the dark forest of tribulation to the meadow of joy. He is guarding you, loving you, sacrificing for you, giving you what you need (for the body does not live on bread alone!). You need to be faithful to accept His hand with joy and trusting. Obey Him and know Him and He will never let you down. Your joy will be complete in Him.
Now, that does not mean you will not have hard days, like I said before, Paul gives us a great account of the fact that we will need to endure. Christ tells us that if we love Him we will share in His sufferings. We don’t need to walk around with a smile on our face 24/7. It is not about that. It is about finding contentment in the path the CREATOR has set before you and is leading you through – without fear or doubt. We remember He has walked this road and will guide us through it – for His glory and our good. We bear one another’s burdens and grieve with each other (If we were more honest with each other and “bore” better, we wouldn’t have half the issues we do with contentment). But through it all, are joyful that God would “save a wretch like me.” That He would take a filthy rag and, not only make it clean, but then use it to bring brilliance to His name. What a remarkable truth that we, as sinners, can be redeemed through His blood for His namesake! We remember that we were never promised an easy life, but with that we know that the God of all, is with us; not against us. “We press on toward the goal,” toward the “upward calling” of our Lord. With Him by our side, His Word guiding us, and His body of believers supporting us.

“I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime” Eccl 3:12

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.” Eccl 5:18-20

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A Bowed Knee

A BOWED KNEE

For He Himself bore our sins and tore the veil in two.
For He Himself bears the judgement that should be laid on you.

He took the nails, the cross, the pain, but more there was to this-
He was separated, scorned, and rejected by God through His Holy Justice.

Then Sunday came, Christ arose and was gloriously restored to life.
It is finished, it is done; the deathly curse would no longer be our plight.

We owe Him more than acknowledging moments or a prayer when things go wrong.
We owe Him more than raising dirty hands on a Sunday during a song.

We owe Him a life that glorifies Him in all we say and do!
We owe Him a life fully committed to all He would have us pursue.

Yet still, we owe Him so much more than we could ever strive to be.
So along with this, let us seek to always humbly bow the knee…

A bowed knee every morning as He allows us to graciously rise and shine.
A bowed knee in every moment of trial or blessing we come to find.

A bowed knee in the food and love God has put in our life to consume.
A bowed knee when our hearts are filled to the point where there’s simply no more room.

A bowed knee in the lonely struggle that molds us into Him.
A bowed knee when the light of His Hope comes completely flooding in.

A bowed knee in all things we count as great or incredibly small.
For the nails that shed His blood for thee, THIS is what paid for it all.

 

Have a Blessed Easter!

Too High a Cost

 

Too High a Cost

How do you restore what is broken?
How do you find something that’s lost?

How do you regain that which is depleted?
All has too high a cost.

How do you shake off a burden?
How do you fix all you’ve done wrong?

How do you gain a beseeched peace?
When anxieties are beating you like a gong.

There’s a reason He says “weary” and “laden.”
There’s a reason He calls us “weak.”

There’s a reason He talks of “burdens.”
He knows of what we seek!

Let Me be your refuge!
Let Me be your guide!

Let Me be your sanctuary!
I will do more than just sit by your side.

The Cross will take on all your worries.
The Cross will take on all your cares.

The Cross will take on all your sinfulness.
Come and meet Me there!

Restore that which is broken!
Find that which is lost!

Regain that which is depleted!
I have already paid the cost!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic Cred: http://www.justflow.com

Junior Project Time

We have reached that time of year again folks, where my junior’s Worldview class sets upon their Spring Project. During this project, the girls have an entire semester to gain 100 points. These points can be attained in a number of ways: Bible studies, encouragement posters/notes/posts, evangelism, leading devotionals or sharing testimonies, and my personal favorite – the video. I tell the girls that if they do a video, beware, for it may end up on my blog.

With enthusiasm, this year’s class has done the most videos.  They are all so fun to watch and offer some great messages! So without further ado, here are a few I have received so far this semester…

 

 

 

Have We Missed the Whole Point?

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Have We Missed the Whole Point?

The purpose of life: Christians will say it is to glorify God, but is that whole point of life or have we missed something? Something life changing?
Honestly, up until a week ago, I looked at life completely differently. I love the Lord; I thank Him every day for the life He has given to me; I attempt to live a life that will honor Him. So what changed you ask?
I read and fully understood Romans 14:12, “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Along with Eccl. 12:14, “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
You might be thinking, still this is nothing new, but when you combine it with everything God tells us about our lives, it starts to make more sense:
1 Cor. 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Col. 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
2 Peter 3:18, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:6 & 10, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time…After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
1 Peter 4:11b & 13, “whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever Amen…but to the degree you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”

Ok, I could go on and on in Ecclesiastes, Romans, Acts, Ephesians, and Hebrews about our lives and the purpose of glorifying God, but you get the point.
But what you still may not get is the full purpose. You see, yes we are to do good works to bring God glory now, but also at the time of judgement. Like I said above, we will all stand before the “Judgement Seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).
1 Cor. 4:5 says that the Lord will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” And 1 John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”
When I went about my life, I was always thinking about trying to bring glory to God and the end being able to just be in Heaven with my King. I didn’t really contemplate the “Judgement Seat”. Now I know that I have nothing to worry about for “there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), but there is a recompense, an answering for the life that God gave you. I don’t know about you, but when I stand across from my Lord and Savior, who gave up His Heavenly throne for an earthly death so that I might live, I want to be able to lay down a worthy sacrifice at His feet. God says that our lives are to be a sacrifice, a light, a jewel. I want to be able to have the “testing fire” that will be set on the whole my life (works, deeds, thoughts, idols, etc.) produce an enduring prize that I can lay before my God in love and adoration (1 Cor. 3:12-15). I don’t want to stand before Him and offer Him a life worth nothing. I know that I will never be able to live a life completely worthy of the calling, but I am not going to give up the fight of trying.
I hear a lot of people talk about Heaven and crowns of glory and all of these things, and that is great, but the focus on these things is still on us. Somehow we have even degraded the greatest sacrifice to still be about us. Yes, we get the benefit, but He should get the glory. We get Heaven, and if that isn’t enough, He is preparing a place for us and time for us to receive a reward. All I can say, is that if there is any reward to be handed, it will not be of my doing, but the Lord that lives within me who gave me the power to achieve it, and I will lay it at His feet in adoration and praise. May it be SO!
Hopefully, this has given new meaning to you to laying up your treasures in Heaven, waging the war, judging not a brother in Christ, living a life worthy, glorifying God, seeking first the Kingdom of God, and so on. For our lives are but a whisper of a time. Each second that passes, we cannot receive again. We get one life to make a beautiful gift for our Lord.
So may we fight the fight and live a life worthy, not because we get a reward (which we don’t deserve), but so that God may be the beneficiary of a gift of a sacrificial life and be glorified today and through eternity. If that is all I have the ability to do or give my God, may I do so willfully and with great perseverance!
So press on Christian. Press on in this sin filled world for the sake of bringing a sacrificed life of love to our Lord at His coming. May we live in a way that is not about ourselves, but a life that is a thank you card – a love letter to our Lord! To God be the glory, now and forever – Amen.

What Do You Choose?

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So much of our lives are filled with hate. People would say “these days” but unfortunately, it isn’t something new. From the time sin entered the world, so has hate. Or have we forgotten Cain and Abel?
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.’ Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”
Obviously, Cain did not master his sin of anger and jealousy at this moment! But what about us? Over and over again we have examples of temptation and failure to heed God’s warnings. God continually gives us commands to love one another and serve one another; to put away selfish ambition and conceit and put on love and adoration.
Opinions will always differ. We are different people, living different lives. Some call upon the name of the Lord and others are hardened to it. But we are all made in the image of God (whether we believe in that or not), we are all God’s children trying to figure out our place in this sin drenched world. Satan creeps around the corners, seeking to devour us all. So what are we to do? Hebrews 13 tells us our mission is to love and Matthew 22 tells us that next to loving God we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Eccl 3 tells us that there is nothing better than to rejoice and do good in one’s lifetime. So why are we spending so much time in this whisper of life in hate?
Instead of hating I choose to love:
Love my circumstances:
Love my sin filled past because it brought me to the Lord.
Love the people who have harmed me, because they are children of the King in need of restoration, so that they don’t spend eternity in painful torment.
Love the differences in our personalities because God is a beautiful tapestry maker who uses vibrant colors to complete His amazing work.
Love the gifts of this world:
Love the beauty of the rain falling on a parched ground.
Love the mist as it settles into crevices of a broken canyon.
Love the green valleys that call for the wild antlers of deer to prance across.
Love being a woman:
Love the feel of the small plum sized foot that pressed upon my kidney or the flutter of hiccups that engulfed my belly when I was carrying my children.
Love the eyes that examined my face and little sausage fingers that played with my face and hair as I nourished my young babies with the beauty of God’s design in breastfeeding.
Love the little hands that grab mine or the fear choking hugs of a child’s needs being met.
Love the long nights of illness where I get to cuddle with my sweet blessings from the Lord.
Love the compassion and sensitivity that give me the emotions to feel love, fear, guilt, pain, and happiness.
Love the intertwining fingers of my husband in mine as he guides me down paths I don’t know how to handle, or his strong arms that cradle my weak body when I am sick.
Put simply, I will love the woman God made me and the people He has put in my life. I will cherish the trials, persecutions, blessings, and honors for they all have lovingly been put in my path by my Lord to sanctify and bless me. I will understand that God made us all different, with different potentials, hobbies, passions, emotions, and tendencies and love how the Lord can direct our good in it all.
So start mastering your hate and celebrating your blessings. Yes, things will offend you and hurt you and make you feel pain, but your mentality of it is on you: the hate you feel is up to you. You can choose to love or hate, be offended or pray for the lost, seek vengeance or pray for change, be a part of the problem or a light in the dark.
As for me, I choose to love.

Don’t Let Go!

hand in hand

A little girl stands on the cusp of a sea of strangers. The path before her riddled with people obstructing her every line of sight. Fear and anxiety paralyzed her as she felt a slight tug from her left arm. She looked up into the bright eyes of her Father and looked down to the hand that embraced hers.

“You have nothing to fear my dearest child, just don’t let go.” He said in his soft authoritative voice.

She feels the comfort of His hand and trusts the power in His voice and blindly steps out into the vast unknown.  She continues on, not worried about where He was leading her, knowing He knew the way.   Quickly, the little girl becomes comfortable in His care as He guides her through the crowded way. She begins to look around and admire the surroundings, catching sight of giant helium balloons and beautiful dolls in glass windows, through the legs that surrounded her.  Her hand began to slip from the strong hand that was guiding her as she spotted a sparkling dress wafting near by.  Suddenly, an abrupt thud across her shoulder sent her tumbling slightly backward.

“Don’t let go, dear one,” her Father said, as He gripped tighter.

“Yes Daddy.” she said as she regained His hand.

“I know there are things that look beautiful out there, but trust me to get you to a place more beautiful than this. Be patient my little one.”

She smiled and held tight as she enjoyed the comforting walk, knowing He would protect her.

Yet again, after a short while, from in between the blankets of legs, she became enthralled by the beautiful objects.

“They look so beautiful,” she thought, “why does He not stop and get me what I want? This would make me happy. I don’t want to walk anymore, I want to stop and look around!”

She began to pull Him to the side, hoping His way would sway.

“This way Daddy! Please, I want to go this way and look over there.” she begged.

“That will not be good enough for you my sweet babe, we must travel on. Trust me, you will have something even better. Don’t let go now. Hold tight.”

Frustration took hold of her heart and her hand became limp in His, but His hold did not waiver.

“He doesn’t understand,” she thought. “Why does He not want me to be happy?” she started to lean again to the right, hoping His way would sway or His grip would loosen. Just like before, a thud came across her arm followed, this time, by one slamming into her back.

“Why are you letting them hurt me Daddy?” she cried.

“You need to stop leaning out and trying to let go little one. Trust me and let me guide you. I know where I am going; I can see the way and I promise I will protect you. Hold tight, don’t let go!”

“Hmpf,” puffed the girl as she began to think her Father wanted nothing good for her. He was lying. They were passing all of the wonderful places and He kept saying no. Why does He think He knows? She knew where she wanted to go and what would make her happy.

She looked up at her father in disdain now and glanced back through the crevices of flesh and spotted the perfect store. She could clearly see it now, as the legs began to part. This was it. She would go her way; she would get what she wanted without Him. She slipped out of His hand and began running for the beauty before her. She did not stop, even when she was slashed around by the few legs that bumped and bruised her. She made it to the window and gazed in wonder. She was right, she had never seen such majesty and never felt such joy. But, quickly the scene before her changed. The beauty that was but a second ago now changed to mold. This was not as beautiful as she thought. I was wrong!

Suddenly, she was swept away from the window, and found herself flying through the air away from the window and the doll within. She landed with a thud on the concrete and felt her body heave with pain.

“Daddy!” she wailed, but she didn’t see Him anywhere.

Feet were now trampling her small frame as the passerby’s did not care for her well being. Pain struck every inch of her body as she frantically searched the vast sea for her Father.

“Daddy!” she now screamed.

She closed her eyes, knowing her mistake. She should have stayed with her Father. With the one who would protect her. The one who would care for her. The one who knew the way.

Streams of tears poured down her porcelain cheeks as suddenly a warmth lifted her from the ground, “I told you not to let go little one”, He said with firmness.

She opened her eyes into the comfort and love of her Father’s face and wrapped her arms around His neck as He carried her.

“Don’t let go of me Daddy!” she squeezed as she spoke softly into His ears.

“I never did my young one, I never did.”

Living in a World of Virtual Reality

Samsung Gear VR - SM-R322 - virtual reality headset - frost white - for Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S7, S7 edge

Virtual Reality! Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (as sights and sounds) provided by a computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.

I define it as: dawning a pair of awkwardly large glasses to be transported to a world of our own making. One in which anything can happen. For a mere $100 (like the ones pictured) you can live however you would like with no one to answer to. You can frolic through the woods, fly across the ocean, collect Pokemon (oh wait…). To sum it up, virtual reality is living in a false world (wasn’t there a popular sunglasses movie about that?).

Yet, what we often don’t realize is that we already live in a world of virtual reality; for free. You see, everyday we dawn our flip flops (well maybe galoshes if you live somewhere seasons actually pay a visit) and our self-made VR glasses and head out the door. Armed with our pocket or purse full of instant gratification (also known as a cell phone), that when faced with reality we can quickly turn on and be transported back to a time where staged selfies and narcissistic hashtags live. A place where we have obtained our Masters and Doctorates from the web university and can tout our ever growing knowledge on our newsfeeds. We can, with gusto, shout our brilliant (and of course, always right) opinions for everyone to see.

You see, we have turned into a society where our social media accounts are our virtual reality. We see and live through them; they have become our identity.  All too often I see families and friends gathered at a restaurant all on their phones posting their 5th selfie of the day so everyone can see they are out having fun. When in all reality they have spent less than 10 minutes actually having fun and an hour in their virtual world. We have become a society that while children are dying from terrorists running them over, coups taking place, and cancer eating away their fragile bodies; we run around trying to find fake animals and even more disturbing, take to the streets to tell each other how much we hate each other (and in cases recently, kill one another) because of something social media told us was reality.

You see, I have sat back these last few weeks observing. I love to observe. I am one of those people who will sit at a coffee shop and just people watch and try to figure them out in the two seconds I see them.  What I have observed is alarming. We are so quick to condemn, judge, rule, shout and hate. We live to make ourselves high and others low. We have become a society of bullies. You may not outright see it as such, but isn’t it really what we are doing? We have created a virtual world of know-it-alls that say, “look at me, I know what is right and the rest of you are fools”. We treat each other with disdain and mockery. We jump to conclusions and believe the first thing we read, then make it so that if someone disagrees, they are stupid, “uniformed” or “don’t understand”. We name call and ridicule someone for believing something – that they too only read on the internet. What people have yet to learn is that this society is run by marketing.

Last year in worldview, I told my class to always be leery of what you read and hear because there is always an agenda. No matter if it is a trustworthy source or not, we are all trying to sell something. We manipulate people’s thoughts and emotions with words and pictures to evoke the opinion we are desiring to achieve.  We all do it! We are all trying to sell an idea, thought, way of life or even just a perception. This is why I am a research-a-holic. I don’t ever believe the first thing I hear or read, but I research till I can puzzle together the whole story. Whether that goes to if someone is really who they say they are on their Facebook page or if that article on garlic is right. Whether the Black Lives Matter movement is from Satan or Police officers are power hungry KKK members. Research is the key, because we all tell a story. We want everyone else’s VR world to match our own.

But research and observance can only help us if we have done one thing first: take off the glasses and start coming back to reality. We have to stop living in a world that makes us mad, jealous, narcissistic, discontent, ashamed, embarrassed, selfish, pig headed know-it-alls who lack any kind of compassion and love. We need to stop racing to our social sites (and the local street corner) to condemn everyone and love no one. We need to stop believing the lies and start fighting for the truth.

I imagine Christ coming into our VR worlds and turning over the tables in anger like He did in the temple. He would be telling everyone to drop their glasses and follow Him. Christ is the only truth. He is the light, the only way. God’s Word is the only thing we can fully trust and confide in, that’s why it needs to be our measuring tool for everything. His Word needs to be the glasses we put on to see everything else through, not the VR ones we make for ourselves.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  – We are at war with the powers of this world. Satan wants to destroy love, truth and family. He smiles when we choose our virtual worlds over each other. He smiles when we make ourselves greater than God or anything or anyone else in this world. He smiles when we choose to hate instead of love. He smiles when we gullibly believe the falsehoods that he so simply throws in our paths.

It’s time to take the worldly glasses off and put on the glasses of God. It is time to start making Truth matter! Because this world is not about you or me, but the plans that God has set forth. This world will pass away (thank the Lord) and the new one will come. One that will be God’s virtual reality at last. Nothing like we could ever imagine or program ourselves. This is the only truth that matters. We need to be less about our rightly opinions and more about saving souls for Christ – the only true reality.

Proverbs 2: 6, “For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Proverbs 19:3, “The foolishness of man ruins his way, And his heart rages against the LORD.

Jeremiah 4:22, “For My people are foolish, They know Me not; They are stupid children And have no understanding They are shrewd to do evil, But to do good they do not know.”

Romans 1:22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, ”

Isaiah 55:8, “”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. ”

So then, what does life through the glasses of God look like? Well blessed be us, we have the answers; here are just a few:

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” James 1:19

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” Gal. 6:2

“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” Eph. 5:19

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matt. 22:37+38

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Phil. 2:3

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” 1 Cor. 10:31

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Col. 3:2

The Bible completely shows us how to live. They all fit into our daily lives. But practically, in meditating on these, I would like to challenge you to a few things (I challenge myself as well!) to start the detox process and:

  • go out for a walk or for dinner with your family or friends and forget your phone (yikes!).
  • Post as many encouraging things that point people to Christ as you do photos or marketing or opinion tactics (social media is an amazing tool for encouragement. I know many people who post 10 things a day, but they are all either God honoring photos of creation or encouraging quotes).
  • when you’re screaming to shout your opinion – research first – then, in a loving way, bring about truth with grace.
  • pray for the lost!!
  • bring back a reverence in your life for God, His Word (it is the Holy Spirit written word of God that people were burned at the stake for; treat it as such) and His church (it’s the house of God – we have more reverence when we go to a friend’s house than to our Lord’s house.);
  • lastly but most importantly read Scripture as if your life depends on it – because it does!

Drowning and Starting Over

There is power in words. God’s word being the most powerful example of this.

Yes, I am biased about this as well, being that I love to write! There is just such freedom in being able to write with honesty and truth.

With this comes an absolute love of music! I often sit and just listen to music while talking to my Lord. When I can’t fully communicate how I am feeling, I often look to music to communicate it for me.

I recently was introduced to two other Christian rappers: KB & Flame. My love for Lecrae and Andy Mineo is being matched by my new found love for these guys. I love truth spoken – no matter the cost! These guys do just that!

KB’s recent song “Drowning” is amazing. It reminds me of the desperate way I felt before coming to the Lord. Feeling so lost and underneath it all that I was crying out. Praise be to God that He longs for these moments where we will cry out for Him; finally being ready and willing to come to Him! The prodigal son/daughter returning!

Flame’s song “Start Over” reminds me of how it felt actually coming to the Lord. The gospel message is clear, concise and lyrically beautiful and powerful!

I wanted to share both of them with you! May they be a blessing!

 

 

These are not “new” songs, but they are “new” to me. Know of some great christian music with awesome messages? I would love to hear about them!