Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inherently Evil?

I'm taking a graduate class about counseling theories right now. At the end of the class, all of the students present on their own personal theory. It's actually an amazing thing, being able to think of what we want our counseling to look like. I enjoyed the first week of presentations. A lot of the theories had to do with whether or not people were inherently good or evil. One of my friends took the position that people are inherently evil. Babies don't share unless they are taught to, etc.

I agree. Not because little kids don't share, but because the Bible talks about how we are born into sin, with a nature that tends toward sin. Our heart isn't good. But, I am grateful that is not the end!

Saying that people are inherently evil somehow sounds hopeless. What can we do if we are born evil? Any work that we do to become better will be squelched immediately by that fact. What hope is there if that's true?

What I don't mind about saying that people aren't inherently good is the fact that God redeems us. We are sinners, but not without hope. That is good news. We can let God in our hearts, changing our hearts. It's a good thing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The New Me!

I don't want this blog title to imply that I've changed a ton.  I still have a huge laugh. My dimples are still deep. I still don't tolerate foolishness.  I am still a person who you probably don't mad at you because when I get mad it's just never pretty.

But, I live in Florida.  When you move 1,000 miles from home, that means a lot more than location.  There is a different weather.  There is a different culture.  A different job and school.  No friends in this new place.  Basically everything changes.

There's no way that I could stay the same.  And that is not a bad thing.  I got super homesick first semester, yearning to see my family and my friends. I was sad half of the time and spent a good amount of that mourning the life that I lost when I came to Florida.  Even though I knew I was in the right place, I struggled. Even though I wanted to meet people, I didn't want new friends. I hated everything that was different about UCF.  I was a mess.

After I went home to Michigan for about three weeks, I came back refreshed.  I was ready to jump back into school, the job, the people.  I found a Bible study to join and was gung ho about getting to know them.  

That trip to Michigan, while great, reminded me that I did not belong there anymore.  I appreciated everyone's excitement to give me a place to stay and all of that, but nothing there was mine.  As time went by, I got so excited to come back to Florida just so I could sleep in my own bed again.

This year, my perspective changed.  I think that experience helped me realize that I am not who I was in Michigan. My first 6 months here, that was what I wanted.  But I was reaching for something that is simply not to be.

It reminds me of the parable in Luke 5:36-39 where it mentions how you cannot put new wine into old wineskins.  The new wine ends up busting the old wineskin and leaking out everywhere.

And I think that's where my problem was.  I was trying to view this new experience in Florida in the context of how things were in Michigan.  It just doesn't work.  Like the old wineskin, I become drained and ragged.  And that's not a good way to live.  So, I guess we all have to see the newness for what it is - a good thing, a change.  It's a beautiful thing.  I find myself really looking forward to the new thing that God is doing during my time here. I don't know what to expect and that's exhilarating.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sins and Old Friends

Today, I fell into a sin that I had been trying to give up for awhile, something that has affected my life for years and years (okay, yes, I'm only 23, but still...).

To be honest . . .It felt like an old friend. Like comfort food. Like sitting by a warm fire in the middle of winter after coming from a long day outdoors. In the past it has been there when nobody else was. Sure, I've felt bad about it . . . sometimes . . . but it's always been my secret, special friend. When I feel good and when I feel bad, comfort comes through this old friend.

But, there is one thing that I do know about friendships: Not all friendships are meant to last. Even the ones that feel the best. I know from experience that some friendships that feel amazing are devastating. While they make us feel amazing sometimes, the consequences of the bad overwhelms all of the other. When you are broken down, the things that you once called good no longer make a difference. You have to move on, forget those things and see them for what they are. Sometimes it's difficult to see the bad in something that feels so good, even when the truth is staring you straight in the face. When it is obvious to everyone else that this thing is destructive, we can be so caught up that we don't even see it.

But the time comes when it's over. It cannot go on any longer. We have to let it go. And we have to let it go forever. It's rarely easy - that friend tempts us, deceiving us of the benefits of pursing the relationship again. Sometimes we fall for it and other times, it's easy to say no. But most of us realize that this old "friend" will keep knocking, wanting to be a part of our lives. But, it's important to say no even when we're lonely.

In fact, we even have to hate it. I listened to a sermon and the preacher/teacher said something profound about the Romans 7 passage that says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." Most Christians understand this passage very well, but I got new insight. This preacher said that Paul doesn't struggle with sin because he tolerates it, but because he hates it.

We need to change our perspective on our sin. It can no longer be a friend that we let in and out through the back door so no one else knows; it can no longer be something we flaunt. We have to hate it. We have eradicate it from every part of ourselves - thoughts, our feelings toward it, our memories. We have to repent. I read once that the definition of repentance is adopting God's perspective on a certain situation. I like that definition. I know that I am tired of calling what is evil, good, and what is good, evil. There has to be an end to it. That end begins now.

Goodbye old friend. You are no longer welcome in my life!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. . .

I think I'm addicted . . . to High School Musical.  Not just the first one but the entire trilogy.  Even though I haven't listened to any of the music for awhile, it is constantly in my head. I don't quite understand it.  I will randomly find myself playing the songs in my head, mouthing the words.  I liked the 1st one because it was every dream that I ever had about living my life as a musical.  The 2nd one, I didn't like at first. It has less songs that I found enjoyable, but the dancing was really fantastic.  High School Musical: Senior Year was definitely my favorite.  I refused to pay money for it until my roommate and I saw it with the movie gift cards we won.  I fell in love with it and we saw it again the next day.

I will admit, it's a bit like comfort food.  A guilty pleasure.  But, it's too much at this point. So, I'm giving it up for a little bit. I have asked my even more obsessed roommate to help me out.  She is being very nice about it!

I'm working on it!