Hidden Gem

I get really frustrated with myself sometimes. I was supposed to post this Sunday, and I even knew what to post! Argghh! But it’s getting posted today. So.

How many of you have ever had a moment reading the Bible when you just stumble across a whole random section of it that you can’t remember EVER really reading before? Like, maybe never ever ever? And then it’s like, woah! And of those of you that have, who found a passage that was just a little gem with double the woah factor? Yeah, that was me Sunday. And I was pretty surprised. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember (I was four when I became a Christian; I’m 16 now) and I’m a reader. I’m also smart. So between the reading, smarts, and lifetime of Bible, I’m usually sitting in class thinking I know this story, and I’ve heard these points before (Side Note: that’s pride, people. The “I know the Bible” thing, not the smarts. Stop pride before it starts). But then, I found this little nugget! And it has a name. It’s James. Yes, as in the book of James. (I’m going to smack myself for this, but James the Gem people. James the Gem. Okay, I’m gonna go sit in the corner now. Not really, ’cause I’m writing this.)

Really, you should just go read James for yourself. The whole thing is amazing. But let me highlight a few things that popped out at me.

  • Favoritism is a Sin – Yep. James 2 starts out with calling favoritism a sin. It uses the example of showing favoritism to a rich man over a beggar, but it applies everywhere. Christ’s love does not show favoritism. Neither should we.
  • Warning Against the Tongue – Not as new, sure, but still a valuable piece of advice. Even when it feels like you’re about to explode and you can’t help but think how unfair it is  (especially if they’re being mean to you), hold your tongue. It doesn’t matter who it is, do NOT let something unkind and/or venomous come out of your mouth.
  • Submit Yourselves to God – Seems obvious, but I realized I’ve been kinda prideful lately…instead of submitting. I did a post about rebellion a while ago. That and this are cousins or siblings, who knows. They’re related. I found verses 11 and 12 especially interesting. I’ll give you verse 12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”
  • Warning to Rich Oppressors – Yep, this is in here too. God doesn’t ignore those who are suffering under others. He tells them to bear with it. He tells their oppressors, Watch out. Your judgement is coming. Verse 3: “Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.”
  • Other Notes – I was not kidding when I said you should read this book yourselves. It’s extremely powerful. I just wanted to point out a couple other things that popped out to me but didn’t have a whole section. I’m just going to type the verses, since they speak for themselves.
    • James 2:26 – “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
    • James 1:26-27 – “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
    • James 2:8 – “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”
    • James 4: 5 – “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?”
    • James 5:12 – “Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.”
    • James 5:20 – “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Aaarghh! There were so many more good verses! Seriously, read this book. I love it. Anyways. One of my favorite verses in this book is James 2:26. I have this sneaking suspicion that my spiritual gift is serving – I love being able to help people, especially elderly people and anything to do with children or (ohh, yes) babies (don’t get me started on those cute little bundles). However, there is a problem with that: I am very, very, VERY socially challenged. I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m socially awkward. The worst thing in the world for me is having to start a conversation (I can order for myself at a restaurant now without too much discomfort, and just last month I called several places to get myself an internship for school, so I’m slowly improving!). Getting involved with peopleInitiating that? Umm…no. Oh, wait. James 2:6. Wow, okay, I just got sucker punched. There’s also a verse in James that says something along the lines of, If anyone knows what he’s supposed to do and doesn’t do it, he’s gonna get judged. I am caught between a rock and a hard place. But really…there’s also a verse in the Bible that basically says If you have not received, it is because you have not asked! (John 16:24 might be it, I don’t quite remember). Not too long ago I was thinking about how I would definitely join a club that would provide me with the opportunities to help people, that’d be great! Guess what happened. Yep, such a club appeared! (Side Note: While I encourage you to do it, I’m always terrified to offer myself to God to use because I know he’ll challenge me and say, are you really willing? And that usually involves social interaction. He knows where to hit *gulps*. He will absolutely put me between a million different rocks and hard places, and it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO uncomfortable. But I know it’s good for me so I do it anyway. Every once in a while (I should do it everyday. If you need something to pray for, pray that I gain the strength to do that)). So yeah, now I need to follow up on that club. But the thing is, God provides. If you want a service opportunity, ask him. If you want personal growth in Him, ask him (But be prepared to work yourself. He changes willing hearts, but your heart should be willing first). Ask, and you shall receive. Even when it’s uncomfortable and feels like a slow, torturous death, God will help you complete his commands. I know I’m supposed to be serving. I also know I’m not going to lack service opportunities anytime soon.

Anyway! Thanks for putting up with my rambling. Read James for yourself. Let God speak to you. It’s so much more effective than when I do it. Ciao!

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Finals

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a while (I say a while, it’s only been a couple of days). I need to make this brief. So, I didn’t post Monday or Tuesday because life and my bad memory kicked in (sorry). Guess what happened today? I found out – surprise! – that I have a physics test tomorrow! I heard the teacher say it, but apparently it never sunk in my brain. My first thought was shoot. My second thought was Lord, help me. I used to pray about tests a lot. At some point I must have stopped, I don’t know why. Now I’m trying to get back into it. Someone told me one time “We pray on tests, but why? It’s not like God is going to help you remember something you didn’t even pay attention to.” While that’s true to an extent, I firmly believe that God can and will bring a memory to mind or make it more clear – or, if nothing else, calm us down so we can remember. Someone asked why we ask God to bless our food – it’s not like he’ll increase the nutritional value. Maybe, maybe not. He did that for Daniel, didn’t he? Maybe he just helps things run smoother, but I definitely believe that he works on small things in our daily lives more than we know. So I’ll keep praying, ’cause I kinda need a B on that test. And I believe that God will help me. Oh – and did I mention that I have finals next week?

How can I help?

Today was mostly quiet. There wasn’t much going on, and I enjoyed it. I used it to recuperate from yesterday. Then, after school was over and I was back in my room, a friend stopped by. She wanted my help with a video she was making about CRPS, and I easily agreed. She also happens to be the friend from my last post who’s making a nonprofit – missionsonfire.org – and a strong Christian who I admire. We tried filming three times. The first time the cards couldn’t be read easily. The second, a call interrupted the filming process. The third time my roommate walked in and interrupted filming. Since my friend needed to be back in her room by 7:00, she had to give up for today and leave. I grabbed the papers she’d forgotten and slid them under her door down the hall. Then I came back and sat down, preparing to type. As I was sitting down, I heard crying across the hall. And the first line of thinking I went to was “What can I do to help?”.

See, I love helping people. Helping people is my favorite thing to do, and if I can do it anonymously or without a to-do that’s even better. I used to help in two different sections of my church’s children’s program before I came here and had to switch churches in the process because of distance. When my friend asked if I could help her with the nonprofit, I said yes without any hesitation. I have a habit of giving candy to my roommate when she’s upset – I have a lot and I don’t eat it often. I enjoy holding the door open for people and doing those little things that make someone’s day a little better. I wonder – is this my gift from God? Is this that part of me that He strengthened? And then I wonder something else – how do I do this? This is something I want to nurture, something I want to grow. But what I haven’t said yet is that I’m a very reserved person. My dad has worked with me a lot, but there are still times when I’d do crazy, irrational things to avoid human interaction. I feel awkward interacting with most people, and I constantly wonder if I didn’t just embarrass myself or make things awkward. Most of the time I don’t care – I don’t know that person well, and it’s okay. But what about the people I know half-way well? I don’t know if I’d call them my friend, but I care enough that I don’t really want to embarrass myself. I have a hard enough time making friends, I don’t really want people I regularly interact with to think I’m that odd type of odd. So how can I grow this heart for others that God has given me?

I don’t really want to ask that question. When I ask those questions and I really want to know, coincidences stop being coincidences. It’s like I can feel God looking at me and saying “I can help with that”, and it’s almost guaranteed to make me uncomfortable on some level. Oh, wait – I was just thinking the other day about how if being on fire is uncomfortable, how can we be on fire for God if we’re comfortable where we are? …Stink. I can’t get out of this, can I? Because the fact is, God works in me whether it’s pleasant or not and whether I want him to or not. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Nothing new, right? But when was the last time you really read it? I don’t know about you, but I often skip over common verses. I get it already. I’ve heard it a thousand times. But now… I don’t think it’s just talking about how God can use bad stuff and make something good out of it. No, He works constantly and IN ALL THINGS for the good of us Christians – those who have been called according to HIS purpose. I’m not getting out of it, and neither are you, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13. I was just asking my dad about my aunts’ and uncles’ faith the other day. He told me he thought God was working in one of my uncle’s’ life even though my uncle was running away. You know what? That’s awesome. My uncle can’t get away from the God who created the universe, and in the meantime I’ll pray for my uncle, ’cause prayers never hurt. The other day I figured out that when it comes to asking people for prayer, I’m really not as shy as at other times. So, to end. I’m sure you’re tired of reading this by now. So…I’ll run after God and try to grow. No, not try to… I will, because God is working in me even now. I’ll pray. I’ll dive into the Word. I’ll do my homework (’cause that needs done) and pray for people I don’t even know about, and for people I do that it doesn’t sound like they need prayed for. I’ll pray for my growth, and your growth, and a revival in those people who need it. I’ll pray for strength for myself and for others. I will beseech the throne and when I need to, I will gather as many believers as I can to assault the throne of heaven with prayer because that’s part of caring for people. I will try my hardest to live out my faith in a way that lets Jesus shine through, even when I am quiet. And I’ll try to convince myself to let Him work in me even when I’m terrified! Haha…ha…ha…*gulp*. Now, what was I saying about homework?