Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lessons From Children

For the last few weeks during my family's evening devotional time we've been studying Luke together.
Tonight's reading was Luke chapter 18. Every time I read chapter 18, the verse that always sticks out to me is verse 17 where Jesus says 

"Surely, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 

Now before I jump right into what that verse means to me, in case you aren't familiar with the context, let me fill you in. 

In this chapter, Jesus' disciples see people bringing their babies to Jesus for him to lay his hands on. They see him surrounded by children and it says they rebuked them. 

To which Jesus replies with the above verse. 

All through my early years of bible class and reading in children's bible story picture books, I've heard this story told many times. But usually it was told along the lines of "Jesus loves the little children"  and a picture of Jesus with children on his lap and his disciples looking angry. 
Which yes, Jesus does love the little children. Very much so.
But I've kept this idea/image of this story in my mind for a long time. Taking it as simply as "Yeah, Jesus loves children."
 But it wasn't till recently the meaning of the verse has really changed to me. 

Of all the things Jesus calls His people to be, isn't it crazy that becoming like a little child is one of them? 
I've been thinking a lot about what exactly it means to "become like children" and why He would call us to.

While I was thinking about this, I made a list of some qualities that little children have that I think we often lose as we grow up.  

The first thing that immediately came to my mind was simple minded.

For the most part, children are very simple minded. Taking whatever they're told as truth without hardly questioning it. (No, I'm not saying we're called to be gullible) But maybe we don't always need to read into it all. 

Not that there is anything wrong with studying deep into his word and contemplating all the different meanings something can have.
But I think we sometimes lose the simplicity of His word. We get so caught up in religion and the things that have always been taught to us, that we forget to simply read what He says and just take Him for His word. 

Another quality we all would recognize in children is how accepting of others they are. The world and all of society's ideas of "perfect people" have yet to enter their pure minds. They befriend people without reason and they love without condition. I think we all could learn a lesson from that. Once we are exposed to society's standards we start to pick and choose who we want to love and serve. We put conditions on our friendships and relationships. We control them ourselves, instead of allowing Him to have full control. 

Innocence. Sweet, sweet innocence. 
Various times in the New Testament Jesus commands us to be born again. Of all the ways He could have told us that our sins must be washed away, I've always wondered why He used the term "born again" 

(Taken out of context)
 I started thinking about the verses Luke 18:18 and John 3:3 together.

"Surely, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 

"Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.'"

We are called to be born again. Christ washes away all of our sins and we have a new life in Him. 
We are His children, and we are called to be like children. 
Simple minded. Taking His word for what it is. 
Accepting. Refusing to see people the way society pressures us to. Giving Him control and allowing Him to use us in all the lives our paths cross.
Innocent. His blood continually making us new, killing all our sin and making us alive in Him as a new creation. A new child. Pure and innocent.

Honestly, I have no idea just what Jesus meant by saying we must become like children.
But this is what I've taken out of it and even if I'm wrong, I still think they're good lessons we can learn from children. 

God bless :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015


My goodness, it was lovely outside today. Considering the last week or so has been very grey and gloomy, the upper 50's temperature and sunshine was extra nice today. 
But what made it all the nicer for me was I found an area at the park today that was FULL of dandelions!!!! I've mentioned before that I LOVE dandelions. So seeing those today in the middle of the winter made me extremely happy.

 I've been thinking about why they're so intriguing to me but I really couldn't come up with an answer. 
While I was thinking on this the quote by Marc Jacobs came to mind: 

"I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect. To me, they are much more interesting." 

I like things and people that stand out. Not the ones that are bright, shining, and capture everyone's attention immediately.
But the ones that are often overlooked and trampled on. 

The ones that are odd & imperfect. 

I took about 100 pictures (literally) but I'll share some of my favorites with you. :) Enjoy! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thriving or Simply Surviving?

On my daily drive home back from basketball practice this morning I was listening to the radio when the song "Thrive" by Casting Crowns came on the radio. From the very first time I heard this song, the lyrics really stuck out to me.

But today as I was listening to it, it was different. The words seemed to hit me a lot harder. Repeating them over and over in my head. Even after the song ended and other songs continued playing, my mind kept repeating "it's time for us to more than just survive, we were made to thrive."

Thrive.... Thrive...

As I thought about that line, one of the things I asked myself is "Am I really thriving?" 

I started thinking about my life. My weekly routines, my habits, the people I see regularly, all the tiny things that make up my little life. I couldn't stop thinking of that one question..

"Am I really thriving?"

When I wake up in the morning, am I nonchalantly getting out of bed, and moving on with life like it's just another normal day? 

Or am I thriving? Am I constantly looking for ways to help people? To encourage, to love? 

No. I'm really not. I fall into the comfortable routines and go through my days, weeks, months, and years like I'll always have more. 

I simply survive. Instead of thriving.

Once I realized this, my new 2015 resolution became "to thrive, not simply survive."

So what exactly does it mean to "thrive"?

"To develop well or to grow vigorously" is how the dictionary defines the word.  

To grow vigorously. 

Next I wrote down three ways I want to grow vigorously this year. 

Number 1. For His Kingdom.

I started to type here, "I want to step out of my comfort zone for Him" But that's not what I want to do. No, I want to completely demolish it. Not only stepping out, but leaving it far behind.
Last year I wrote a speech for class centered around the quote by Neale Walsch.

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" 

After I recited that quote to the class, I followed it with: "Whenever I'm trying to talk myself out of talking to someone about my faith or doing something I know I need to do, I take this into depth a little more.
ETERNAL life for someone else, may begin at the end of MY comfort zone."

Second Peter 3:9 says "God is not really slow in keeping His promises, as some think, instead He is waiting patiently, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to repent."

He's waiting on us to do our job. Statistics say that in the United States 246,780,000 people are "Christians".
That's 75.9% of our population. Imagine if every single one of us decided to bring just ONE person to Christ. That would be all of the United States plus more. If we claim to love God, and claim to follow Him, then we can't get comfortable. We need to step out of our comfort zones and DO what He has commanded us to do. A famous missionary in England C.T. Studd said "If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."

I want to leave my comfort zone, and all my human characteristics behind, fixing my eyes on Jesus.
Thriving for Him and His Kingdom.

Number 2. For Others.

This one hardly needs to be it's own resolution because when we do for others we are planting seeds of His kingdom inside of them. When we truly love God, we love His people.
But adding to the first, I want to thrive for others this year. Seeing the needs that I am capable of meeting and meeting them with a smile.

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." (Hebrews 13:16)

Another popular song whose lyrics always touch me is Do Something by Matthew West.
It starts with him talking about seeing the world and being disgusted with how broken it is, then asking "God, why don't you do something?" and God answers "I did, I created you." 

Yet another song that touches me (If you haven't noticed by now, lyrics really speak to me) is With Every Act of Love by Jason Gray. Towards the end of the song he says "God put a million doors in the world for His love to walk through. One of those doors is you. 
...we bring the kingdom come, with every act of love."

Number 3. In myself:

I want to thrive in every little thing I do.

In my walk with Christ, friendships, schoolwork, chores, extra curricular activities. 
Everything I do. 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for The LORD and not for men." (Colossians 3:23) 

I want to be constantly thriving for my very best. Becoming like clay and allowing Him to mold me into all He has created me to be. (See Isaiah 64:8)

Knowing how easy it is to get caught up and slip into our comfortable ways, I'm sure you've had your share of "simply surviving" as well.

Ask your self the same question about how you're living right now. Are YOU thriving? Or are you simply surviving? Are you giving only part of yourself to Him, or allowing Him to have every aspect of your life? 

I hope you decide this year and every year to thrive

God bless. :)