Before I moved to Austin, my blog was a safe place. I don't feel like it is as much anymore because everyone I am surrounded by here, reads my blog and some have gone back into the archives and read (which is great!). Those of you that have been reading my blog for the past two years, KNOW that I'm the same old Amanda. My convictions are the same, my challenges are the same. But, now I am way more on display than I used to be. It's hard. This is my online journal. People do and will form opinions based solely on what I write. I can't help that unless I quit blogging. But, at times, it's kind of hard. I am realizing that there wasn't much risk I was taking when we lived in Dallas. Life was pretty easy. :) I'm still the same old Amanda. Daily I am trying to see what the Lord has for me. Some will understand, some will not but I must press on to the person I am becoming and the person I have always been. So if you read this and you think I am weird, you are correct. If you read this and think I am "churchy", you are correct. Can't help it, my butt was in a pew my entire life every single Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Oh and I was at Tuesday night visitation in the church van too. I'm extremely black and white and if I had to chose a political party, I would say I'm pretty Republican. I love George W. but I also love the Dixie Chicks. People are offended by me often and on most days I struggle to like myself. But the most important thing I can be is myself. If I try to be anything different, I will not be fulfilling God's plan for my life. If you don't agree with things on this blog, it's okay. I don't agree with what the Dixie Chicks said about my President but I still like them. I don't agree with the war so much anymore but I still support George. So, please, please, please, whatever you do, give me the benefit of the doubt. I'm not as tough as I might appear, I am not as strong as you might think, so go easy on me.
1-2Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. (The Message)
I truly believe with every fiber of my being that most conflict we have with other people stems from conflict that comes from inside of us. I would go as far to say that 99% of the time this is true. This helps me when I am feeling someone elses wrath because I know to not take it personal but realize that they are dealing with their own stuff. The same goes for me and how I treat others.
4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV)
Many times when God is working on us, a purging takes place. With that comes conviction and change. There have been many times in my life where I have no longer fit in due to the change taking place in my life. When I write a blog about GOSSIP, others may be tempted to exclude me or change the way they feel about me. And when we try to change our ways and be different and not so attached to the things of this world, people may think we are churchy, a freak or just plain weird. I'm okay with that. I really am. The pursuit of holiness is a tough road but I long to please Him. And yes, I long to please Him. I would much rather be a Jesus pleaser than a people pleaser! Lord knows I have struggled with that!
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
There is a lot to be said about this mound of scriptures but the slander thing sticks out to me the most. I think this is something that Christians justify so much. I'm not going to budge from this. We don't need to talk bad about people. Period. If you can't say anything nice, don't say it all. This is so hard because I still justify some of this. And what about our families? I have talked bad about my brother to my parents. Not recently (Are you reading this Josh?)! But, I have. I have said things about my husband's family to him. He has done the same about my family. The Lord really convicted me of this yesterday. It's slander. If I am saying anything that will change their opinion or make them think anything negatively, it's slander. And I hate, hate, hate talking about this because I know God is really showing me these things right now to change me. UGH! Just yesterday my Mom called to tell me something about a family member and before she could finish, i went off. I've been holding a grudge against this person and I just decided to let my mom know all about it. Instantly after hanging up, I felt convicted. My Mom has a relationship with this person and it was wrong for me to go off. NO, it wasn't my brother! :)
13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
Verse 17 is one I know well. How many times have I ignored something that I knew I was supposed to do? UGH! This is when I take another long sigh and think that the book of James is just bruising up my toes in a big way. Honestly I am not having fun in this book AT ALL. Instead, I am feeling extremely convicted and when I feel convicted I feel depressed. There is so much change that needs to take place in my life. Shoot!
7Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. 9Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door
Grumbling for me is something that goes on internally. That is how I interpret this scripture. How many times do we sit back and grumble about people in our lives, especially our spouse? I do it all the time. And I feel that when I am grumbling about someone that they can actually FEEL it. Things go on in the spiritual realm that we may never understand but I truly believe that when we talk about others or grumble about them, they feel it. Being patient with one another is the greatest expression of love we can show, at least it is for me. If someone is patient with me and allows me to screw up, I know they love me. Now I have to do the same with others AND myself!
12Above 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.
It's either yes or no. My youth pastor told the youth group this all the time. It stuck with me. I can't really interpret this verse for anyone but myself. I know where I need this to be active in my life.
13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
We should always be praying, always conversating with the Lord. The biggest lesson for me to learn is to praise him not only in the good but in the bad!
16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
I think this is where accountability is so important. Plus it is so nice to have someone carry a burden with you and pray for you. There is definitely power in prayer just like scripture says!
17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins
And the only way we are going to be able to turn people from death is by living a life that makes a difference.
Well, there you have it! There's James! Tomorrow morning I meet with my LTG group for coffee and we will choose another book in the Bible to read. Be praying that we choose the right one and join me again if you would like. You all inspire me so much and I love getting your emails. They bless me beyond measure.
Labels: my pursuit for holiness