Man Oh Man, It’s Time For The New One

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

— Colossians 3:12-17

This passage really could not have come at a better time. The preparation week of Lent is coming to an end, and fully-fledged Lent is upon us. It is now the time to put our proverbial money where our mouths are and make a real change in how we are living our lives. I decided to take this passage and break it down, virtue by virtue and self-reflect, and I would encourage you to do the same. Here we go:

  • Tender mercies: not just mercy, but tender mercy; that’s a whole other level of mercy. Have I been merciful to those around me? Or do I get frustrated with others, refusing to let go of their faults and refusing to give the benefit of the doubt?
  • Kindness: do I show kindness to others around me? And when I do where is it coming from? Is it coming from the little that I have or does it stem from the kindness that I am receiving from God?
  • Humility: this is a biggie. What am I focusing my life around? Is it all about me or is it about those around me? Am I doing or saying things to keep attention focused on me? What are the intentions behind my actions and words?
  • Meekness: I don’t think we always know what being meek means, but it goes along with the theme of the rest of this passage. Am I gentle with those around me? Am I soft and calm? Or am I boisterous and loud and saying whatever pops in my head without regard for the consequences?
  • Longsuffering: Am I patient with the people in my life? How about with God? Do I allow Him time to work in my life or do I decide to take matters in my own hands? Do I live my life in the “my way or the highway” mentality or do I leave room for God to do His work on His time?
  • Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another: similar to the attributes above, how am I dealing with people I interact with? Do I forgive or do I insist on holding onto grudges and what I think is owed to me? Do I bear with those who feel like a thorn in my side?

I will be honest with those of you out there reading this, I have not been the best at basically any of these things lately. I haven’t been putting on love like Paul calls for us to do.

But that’s the beauty of this season! It’s another opportunity for a fresh start, to put on love, to be ruled by the peace of God, to be filled with the word of God.

Instead of being ruled by our passions and pride and selfishness and insecurities, let’s choose to be ruled by the peace of God.

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Take Me Off This Roller Coaster

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise

— Hebrews 10:35-36

So I’ve been struggling quite a bit the last few months. The last few months have been filled with doubts and insecurities and disappointments…basically the opposite of confidence and endurance. I have depended so much on myself and on the hope I tried placing in others. So naturally I was let down. Repeatedly.

To be honest, things have really stunk lately. I have been riding an emotional roller coaster — no stability, nauseating, and filled with a lot more downs that ups. And for what? For nothing. I cast away my confidence in God and in His love and care for me, and I tried to depend on myself instead. What did I gain from that? Nothing but heartache. Nothing but misery.

I lost my confidence. I lost my endurance. If I’m really being honest, I lost my faith in God’s grace. No reward. No promise. Only bitterness and hurt. That’s what resulted.

Can anyone else relate to this? Lord, I hope not, but also kind of hope so.

But you know what? I’m done. I’m done trying to do things on my own. I’m done seeking after things that mean nothing if I’m not rooted in Christ to begin with. No more running after nonsense. It’s time to get back to where I need to be, where my soul will finally be at peace once more, where self-doubt will turn into love for who God created me to be.

I hope if you are struggling with self-worth, if you are struggling to find meaning or are just filled with hurt and doubts, that you will join me this Lenten season to throw all that out so we can fill ourselves with the thirst-quenching Living Water.

May we remember that the Holy Spirit is He who is in us. May we remember that we are the Father’s royal children. May we remember that we are the beloved of the Son.

Now is not the time to give up on hope. Now is the time to renew our confidence, to increase our endurance, and to prepare to receive the promises we have been given.

Why Am I Awake?

Restless night. Sleepless night. It’s 1:30 in the morning, and I can’t seem to fall asleep. I need to be awake in 4 hours to catch a flight, and yet my mind refuses to shut down.
Dealing with my restless self is like dealing with an infant who won’t stop crying despite all your efforts, and you just can’t figure out what it wants. The absolute worst.

Why am I so restless? Why is my mind filled with so many things? Why am I feeling so unsettled?

In a conversation with my mom earlier this evening, I realized that I’m falling back into a pattern I unfortunately know too well. I am trusting in myself. I am forgetting about where my trust is supposed to lie. I have Step 2 coming up. I have life-altering decisions to make. I have people demanding my attention. I have distractions pulling my heart every which way. And through all of this I am relying on myself to sort through the mess. No wonder I’m struggling to find peace. No wonder I can’t sleep.

There are so many things I am feeling and wanting to express, but I don’t know how to deal with it. No words seem to suffice. No emotion seems to encompass the struggle inside my heart. And maybe it’s because what is happening isn’t something I can fully understand.

Romans 8 talks about the Holy Spirit making “intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” and how He “helps us in our weaknesses” (v. 26). I can’t put my finger on what is bothering me, but I know I don’t feel right. But the Holy Spirit inside of me knows, and He is ready to intercede on my behalf, if I would just let Him. I am too focused on checking off my boxes and completing all my tasks. I am too dependent on myself that He doesn’t have a chance to speak on my behalf and give me the rest I need.

We all know the classic “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) and “Cast your burden on the LordAnd He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).
But really how easy is it for us to just let go? How many of us are truly willing to lay down our burdens, to cast all our cares on Someone else? When it comes down to it, I like to cling as tight as I can to my burdens because in my own psychotic way I think I have control over them when, in fact, they are controlling me.

It isn’t easy to hand over the reigns, to pass on the torch, to lose “control”. But if we don’t let go, where will we end up? We will be burnt out. We will be anxious and depressed. We will be lost and scared drowning in all the cares we refused to give to the One who can help us be found and refreshed and full of peace.

So I think it’s about time I lose control. How about you?

Laying Down My Gun

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.

I feel like I’m always in fight mode. I’m ready to attack, to get my own, ready to war for what I believe is owed me. I want what I believe is rightfully mine, and I’ll do what I think it takes to get it. My sword is always at the ready when I feel I am wronged.anger1

How much anger did I hold onto for months? How ready was I to attack if I ever saw the faces of they who wronged me? I allowed myself to succumb to my anger, and everything I thought or did stemmed from that anger for a while. And isn’t it always like this? Don’t I always find myself blaming and accusing others for the hurt and the loss?

But here. Here in these verses, I read of something greater than my anger and my sword. I read of forgiveness and of peace.

The forgiveness in these verses is twofold. The first is God’s willingness to forgive the people, His willingness to take them back after every betrayal and teach them His ways. The second is the forgiveness of the people towards one another by walking in His path and laying down their weapons.

When I hold onto grace and mercy and forgiveness instead of anger, I forget war. I will not “learn war anymore”. And isn’t that a better way to live? Filled with peace rather than wrath? Have I not found that since choosing to forgive I have felt more peace than any day in the preceding months?

Stop holding onto your anger. Stop your self-pity and blaming. Start turning your weapons into tools for edification. Instead of warring and tearing down, forgive and build and grow.

Just as Christ has forgiven you for your betrayals, forgive others theirs.

You are worth more than what the anger makes you. And you deserve to be happy without memories of anger to mar it.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” -Colossians 3:15

Conversational

A slightly edited version of my journal post while in Nairobi, Kenya.
(For simplicity’s sake, bolded words are the responses I received from God)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. – Psalm 46:1-3

Papa, You are supposed to be my refuge and my strength, my help when I am in trouble. Well, I am. I don’t understand what’s going on inside of me, but I need a refuge. I need a safe place. I need to be steadfast no matter what disaster comes my way. There isn’t even a disaster right now, and yet I’m freaking out inside. I don’t know if it’s sleep deprivation, or thinking about leaving this place, or all my uncertainty, but I feel shaken. I need a rock to hold onto. I need a refuge so I can lay my head down in peace.

Papa, I need You to hold me right now like You did six years ago. I need You to calm the storm inside of me, stop the internal tears that are flooding my heart.

Be still, and know that I am God (v. 10)

I don’t know how. I can’t be still. I want to do, and go, and get things going. I want to stay here. I want to be done. I want to know what will happen, where I will be, so I can just be done waiting and wondering and not knowing. I just want to know.

Know that I am God

Then help me. Help me to know this and only this. That is the only way I will be satisfied, the only way I will obtain the peace I so desperately need. I need You to help me, guide me, because I’m so easily distracted. I am a dumb, dumb sheep, and unless You make sure I’m walking the right road, I will get myself lost and, I’m sure, seriously hurt yet again.

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge (v. 11)
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn 
(v. 5)

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I know this is a slightly different kind of post that I normally write, but this quiet time was so important to me, and I felt the need to share. God answers. Whether it’s in the next verse or a year later, God answers. Not only did He answer me in the other verses of the psalms, but He answered me because for the first time in months I was able to have a real, honest, full conversation with Him. He made sure that I knew that He is here with me, beside me, inside me.

I pray that we run straight to the arms of our heavenly Father at the first sign of trouble. I pray that He fills you and guides you, dear friend. I pray that we stand firm in the faith and the hope of our salvation.

I May Sound Silly to Me and Everyone Else…

There are few mornings where I will pray my agpeya out loud. It’s unfortunate, because that’s the best way to do it. I’m usually rushing myself to finish so I can start studying and prepare for another day of doom (that is, pharmacology).

Today was an out-loud kind of day for me. And I’ll be honest, I’m no Ibrahim Ayad. In fact, I do not sound good. Those of you who know me know that I don’t have the worst voice in the world, but man when it comes to putting a tune to the psalms or the Gospel reading, hoo-wee! I sound like a dying animal to myself!

And yet, I still do it. I still pray out loud when I can, and even though I’m making my ears bleed, it still makes me so joyful. There is a level of peace that comes with praying the agpeya, but then there’s a whole other level of peace that comes with praying it with the elongated, meaningful tunes (accurate or not).

I very highly recommend you try it! It’s wonderful, guaranteed, or your money back! (Not that you’ve paid me anything, but even if you did, you wouldn’t want it back).