Friday, June 30, 2017

Why Are You Here?

Why are you here right now? Why are you on this earth? For that matter, why am I here too?

Sunday School Answer: Because God put us here.

True, but not the whole answer.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it quite nicely:

1. What is the chief end of man?
Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

We are here to bring glory to God. To point to Him and say, "That's my God. He is incredible beyond all imagining, powerful beyond any other strength, and the only Holy One, Who is faithful to His people."

I listened to a podcast on devotions a while ago in which the speaker (I can't remember who it was) made a lot of excellent points and suggestions about how devotions are supposed to work in our lives. One in particular stuck with me.

The first thing we should be looking for when we read the Bible is how this passage reveals God.

Not what it says about Israel. Not what it says about faith. Not how it applies to us.

How it reveals God.

I forget that this life is about God. I'm not here to be happy or successful or anything self-serving. I'm not even here to serve the people around me. I'm here to serve my God and no one else.

Yes, that means serving other people. Maybe it means happiness or success. But those things are not of first importance. God put me right here, right now to serve Him and glorify Him.

Maybe that means giving up my comfort zone. Maybe that means praying for someone who has hurt me. Maybe that means working faithfully when I want to stop.

Whatever it means for me, for you, for everyone, it all comes down to why we're here.

To glorify our God.


Friday, June 23, 2017

The Bible is Incredible (Part 2)

A few weeks ago, I read Psalm 119 all the way through for what I think was the first time. To be honest, I had put it off for a few days because I knew it would take a while, but it turned out I was wrong to dread it. Almost immediately, I was blown away by the deep longing for righteousness and the Word of God expressed by David.

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:10-11

Just take those two verses for example. David is called a man after God's own heart, and this cry shows it to be true. While David was a great sinner (like the rest of us) his desire was to be like God in righteousness and goodness.

Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
Psalm 119:40

I underlined this verse as soon as I read it. When was the last time I desperately longed to read the Bible and know God's law?

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Psalm 119:75

God doesn't give us trials just for the fun of it. He hurts for us (as shown by what He did on the cross). We are not put through hard times lightly. They are for God's glory, the ultimate purpose of our existence.

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.
Psalm 119:142

Righteousness is not subjective, nor will it ever be. Right and wrong is not an opinion. It is fact and we can know it through Scripture.

My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.
Psalm 119:171

The only right response to what God has given us.

All that to say, the more I read of the Bible, the more amazing it is! It leaves me excited to learn more and see what else God has for me to learn. I hope it is the same for you.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Devotions and To-Do Lists

"Devotions aren't something to mark off a to-do list."

I can't remember when I first heard that, but it's stuck with me for a long time. The intended meaning is that you shouldn't rush through devotions to get through the next thing, but should rather spend time on it and put in effort.

What made it into my head though was the literal meaning. I've had the subconscious thought for a long time that if I write down the word "devotions" on a to-do list, it doesn't count. If I actually do them and mark it off, it's even worse.

For the past few days, I haven't wanted to read my Bible and so I just didn't. I of course felt guilty about it and, one day, wrote devotions on my to-do list. I tried to ignore the nagging feeling that it was wrong and told myself that it was the only way that I was actually going to do devotions that day.

That's when I realized that the guilt I felt is ridiculous.

The idea behind saying devotions aren't for a to-do list is a good one. We, as believers, need to invest in our relationships with God just like we would other people. We need to spend time in His Word and in prayer on a daily basis in a deeper way than we would spend time on the dishes. The Psalmist tells us that the righteous man spends a lot of time in the Bible.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:2

But sometimes we just don't want to. We're busy or in a bad mood or don't feel like it or any number of other things. It's so easy to just shrug our shoulders and miss it for one more day.

It's only this last school year that I've been able to make a consistent habit of doing devotions. The key word there is "habit." Habits take effort to form. If you wanted to form the habit of running, you'd have to make yourself run regularly, even when you didn't want to. Day after day, you'd lace up your shoes to log some miles.

Devotions require the exact same thing. It's not different because it relates to God. It should be a normal part of our lives and we have to work to make it that way. Sometimes running makes it onto the to-do list and sometimes it is enjoyed.

The long term benefits come from investing when it's hard and when it's not. If you want to run a marathon, you have to do those long runs that make you want to die. But they make race day easier. If you want to be grounded in God's Word, you have to spend time in it when there are a million things you'd rather be doing.

So go ahead. Write devotions on your to-do list if that's what it takes to get it done. Enjoying it is a benefit that comes with time. Even now, when I generally like doing my devotions in the morning, there are still days that I dread the time and have to make myself do it.

The rewards will come, but the foundation must be laid.


Friday, June 9, 2017


It's summer. That means cut-offs, bonfires, ice cream, and boredom. One fantastic thing about the summer is that most of us don't have a full week of school to keep us busy (sorry homeschoolers who are still trudging through Saxon - I feel your pain). That usually means a lot of free time and the question of what to do with it.

I've been asking that question lately. I have a particularly free summer ahead of me and I'm a little short on ideas. One thing that will make it into my daily schedule is a couple hours of writing. I've got more time to focus on improving my skills now that they are not needed for research papers. I'll also be spending a lot of time running and swimming. But other than that, I don't have a lot going on.

Actually, what to do with my summer has entered into my prayers almost every day recently - having nothing planned has kind of been getting to me.

The first thing I had to realize is that Summer 2017 isn't actually "my summer." I have the habit of calling it that, but it's not in any way accurate. Just like the rest of my time belongs to God, so does the summer. It's not my summer - it's God's summer.

That only changes the thought process though. I am still faced with more free time than I know what to do with. But the question has now changed to what does God want me to do with all that free time?

That's a little bit of a hard one to answer. Chances are, He's not going to write me a detailed e-mail with everything He wants me to accomplish in the next few months. So here's my current conclusion, based on a lot of thought and prayer: I just need to live.

Woah, crazy, right?

What I mean by that is that maybe I don't need to be obsessing over what I'm supposed to be doing or finding some big thing to fill up a lot of time. Yes, stuff like that happens (camps, jobs, writing, etc.), but I don't need to seek it out in order to feel fulfilled. Living day to day can be just as satisfying as doing huge things.

Living isn't just going from thing to thing to thing. It's also stuff like turning on the oven so your brother can make cookies. Or maybe it's reading a book to better understand some aspect of theology. Or it could be helping with dinner because you have the time to do that.

I can't stand going to bed and feeling as if I haven't done anything all day. It drives me crazy. I used to think that meant I needed to do some big thing or complete a checklist every day. But it actually means I need to be a good steward of the time that has been given to me. If that means finishing a huge project, great. If it means going for a walk, reading a book, and swimming with my siblings, also great. The noteworthy things don't define me and I don't need them to fulfill me. Being a good steward isn't just doing the intense and big stuff that gets noticed. God gives us big blessings and little blessings. We do big things and little things. There's a place for both.

I guess my main point today is that we don't always have to be in search of what we think are important things to do. It's okay to just take what comes day by day and do it with all your heart.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Not A Real Post

Rather than writing a full post today, I'm going to direct you to Why? Because today they published an article I wrote!

Here's the link, if you want to check it out:
How to Heal Broken Relationships

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Little Things

Life is busy. Pretty much anyone who ever lived would agree. There's work, school, family, sports, church events, and everything else that claims hours and days of our lives. Most of that stuff is really good. We were made to live full lives and glorify God with our work. But often, we let it overwhelm us and forget to enjoy it.

I've been noticing the little things lately. And by little things, I mean the stuff that I would usually ignore in favor of all the work (or made up work) that I have to do. Why would I watch my little blonde, blue eyed sister pick flowers on a hill when I have a book to read? Why would I listen to my brother whistle whatever song is stuck in his head when I have finals to study for? And why would I lay in the hammock with previously mentioned little sister when I could be writing a blog post?

Reading books, studying for finals, and writing blog posts are all excellent things to do. In fact, I partake of them quite regularly. But it's also good to admire how your sister's hair glows in the setting sun, to appreciate the cuteness of your brother's off-key whistle, to let a four year old crawl all over you as you sway three feet off the ground.

A lot of times, I deny people my time and love, even in small increments, because I "have too much work to do." It's ultimately denying myself something good as well. There's always more time to do that work, but my sister won't be four forever. I won't live with my siblings for much longer. Appreciating the little tiny things now is just as responsible a way to use time as is scribbling away at notes for a test.

Yes, sometimes we do have to ignore the little things in order to get our work done. But how often could we postpone the work for five minutes to trace a hand with a crayon, climb a tree, or walk down the street.

I'm not only talking about time with siblings - that's just the biggest way little things are manifested in my life. Maybe a little thing for you would be reading a chapter of a book, actually tasting a few sips of morning coffee, or staring up at the clouds to think for a couple minutes.

The little things are good. They are refreshing. They stay in your memory and make you smile. People are often included in little things. A fifteen minute walk with my sister gives us time to talk. Sitting next to someone silently can be comfortable. The little things are what strengthen important relationships - the ones we don't want to lose.

Little things are smelling the summer air, snuggling under a blanket at the end of the day, warming your hands by a bonfire in the middle of friends on a late July night.

What little things have crept into your life lately? Take a minute and enjoy them. You won't regret it.