Wednesday, June 13

Life Lessons from Car Washing

Just yesterday I decided it was time, once again, to wash the car. It had been a while since it was last washed, and seeing as the car is white and has traveled quite a bit, it was rather obvious that the car was not in its most pristine state. So I got out the necessary supplies and went to work with the help of my mother.
Whenever I wash the car one specific temptation presents itself. You may be wondering what on earth kind of temptation can be presented when washing the car. Well, I'm not sure if anyone else has this particular temptation, but when I wash the car I tend to lose my initial enthusiasm and get a bit tired as I progress. When this starts happening, I am always really tempted not to scrub quite as vigorously, or to overlook small spots that don't come off easily. I get tired and don't feel like cleaning the car as meticulously as I should; I am tempted not to do a completely thorough job.
This same temptation presents itself in other areas of my life as well. Often when I take a look at my heart, I realize that it's not in the most pristine state. There are sins that have lodged themselves in my heart; sins that take time and vigorous scrubbing to completely remove from my life. Jesus forgives our sins, and promises us victory over them, but I find myself struggling sometimes to stop repeating the same sins over and over again. When this happens, I am tempted not to do a thorough job in cleaning my heart. I get tired of my relapses into the same sinful habits I thought I had conquered in Christ, and I become tempted not to scrub quite as vigorously, just to overlook this one small spot.
I've always been told that any job worth doing is worth doing well. When I'm washing my car, this phrase plays over and over in my head when the temptation presents itself not to do a thorough job, and it helps me find the determination I need to scrub just a little harder. I think the same principle applies when I'm cleaning my heart. If I'm not going to have Jesus help me remove all the sin from my life, die to self, and allow his Holy Spirit to live in my heart, then it's not worth doing. I can't harbor these sins in my life and overlook one "small" spot here and there while professing to live my life for God. When I am confronted with sin that has lodged itself in my heart, I need to remember the importance of doing a thorough job and find the determination to scrub just a little harder. And when the temptation presents itself to overlook, I can draw my strength and resolve from Christ.

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." 2 Samuel 22:33
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." 1 Chronicles 16:11
"For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9a

Monday, June 11

Dark Hours

When the Virginia Tech shootings happened, my grandfather told me that he thought I should write something about it. Things had been fairly busy for a while and then I just didn't have the motivation to write, but yesterday I had a bit of inspiration. I wrote this poem, and even though it's not specifically about VA Tech and what happened there, it was inspired by thoughts on the shootings and other terrible things that have happened because of Satan's influence and our separation from God. So Grandaddy, here it is. (And Little Christen, unfortunately, I don't think it's a 10... maybe a 9. Perhaps I'll go back and fix it sometime)

The darkest hour on earth did pass
When Jesus wore the crown,
Hung on a tree between two thieves,

And to Him sin was bound.

Though dark that hour, it brought us hope;

Its darkness lets us live
To see the glory of the Lord
In freedom that He gives.

Since that dark hour more hours have come
To blacken our earth's days.
They've brought us pain beyond belief;
Satan his pow'r displays.

But Satan's pow'r, confined to earth,
Cannot deter our hearts;
For in the darkness we find hope
That faith in Christ imparts.

Friday, June 8


Quick disclaimer: This blog is not at all related to either Lorrie's or Joel's blogs. Promise :)

The other morning, my grandmother found a baby bird on the ground under a tree in our backyard. It had apparently fallen out of its nest, which was too high for my grandmother to reach to put the bird back. Luckily for this little robin both my mom and grandma have had experience raising baby birds who have been unfortunate enough to fall out of their nests. So we have all been taking care of it and have decided to keep it as a pet. In light of this decision, we thought it appropriate to name our newest pet. Thankfully, this was not quite the epic dilemma that naming the squirrels was, and we settled on a name rather quickly- Einstein.

We called him Einstein because the funny little tufts of feather that stick up on his head are somewhat reminiscent of Albert Einstein's occasionally quirky hair. Here are some pictures for your amusement.

Wednesday, June 6

The First Plunge

Lately I've been going to the local fitness center on a daily basis, and yesterday I had a short conversation with a fellow swimmer that provoked a thought. I was just finishing up my laps and getting ready to get out of the pool, when I looked over into the next lane to see a lady sitting on the edge of the pool with her legs dangling over the edge into the water. She looked at me and said, "Don't mind me, I'm just being a little bit of a baby." Understanding her hesitation to get in, I replied, "Oh, no. Trust me, I know how cold it feels when you first get in." She was glad to know that she was not the only one who felt that way about getting into the pool water, and in my attempt to respond and encourage her, I told her, "Well, I know it's really cold at first, but once you're in and start moving it's not bad at all." She smiled and said, "Yeah, I swim enough to know that once I'm about halfway through my first lap I've already forgotten how cold it was; it's just really hard to force myself to take the first plunge." We finished our conversation with pleasant well-wishes to each other and I went about my day. However, I started thinking about what we had been talking about and how analogous it was to life.
Perhaps it's just me, but I seem to have this recurring problem of getting started. It doesn't matter what the activity is, whether it's getting in the swimming pool, writing an email, starting a school project, or starting a conversation with someone, I tend to have some sort of motivational issue in which I don't want to begin. I know that once I get started, it won't be that bad, and most likely I will end up enjoying myself, but sometimes it's very difficult for me to begin.
It's the same in spiritual matters too. I see my peers preaching, giving Bible studies, reaching out to people, and living active Christian lives, and I want to do it too. Sometimes I feel like the lady I met at the pool. I'm sitting on the edge with my legs in the water, trying to summon the boldness to take the first plunge. I see others in the water, enjoying themselves and I know that they're living the life I want to live. I know that it won't be bad after I take the first plunge; in fact, it will be wonderful and the water will warm up once I start moving. Praise God that He has been helping me with this.
At school I had been wanting to start giving Bible studies, but I was very hesitant to begin. I was afraid that I would somehow mess up, or not be able to answer questions from my Bible study contacts. But finally, toward the end of this school year, I was able to be placed with a Bible study partner and we gave Bible studies together. It was one of the biggest blessings I was able to experience this year. I've often regretted waiting for so long to begin.
All too often, we sit on the edge, wanting to take the plunge, but hesitating and missing out on God's blessings because we don't want to experience that first cold shock. We see others living for Christ through mission work, preaching, or whatever it might be, and we want to join them. And sometimes it's not necessarily that we're not living for Christ, but maybe we just haven't given our lives to His service completely. God is calling. Are you ready to take the first plunge?

Tuesday, June 5

Camp Blue Ridge

I've decided to post some more pictures. Perhaps sometime soon I'll have the motivation to actually write a post worth reading, but for now pictures will have to do. These are pictures from our church retreat at Camp Blue Ridge. Most of them are from the hike we took to Spy Rock on Sabbath.

This is my cousin Kristi and me right before the hike.

My grandparents :)

That's Hudson, a boy who goes to my church.

A bird my mom got a picture of. Perhaps Thomson can tell what kind it is?

My dad and Kristi at the top.

It was kind of raining and gray, but still a nice view and definitely a good hike.