Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Detox of Life!

As many of you may know, the season of lent is approaching, and in light of actually thinking about what would bring me closer to my purpose, and farther from my temptations/distractions, I would like to discuss "Detoxing Our Lives".

On average, we could say that most young people spend 15-18 hours awake each day.  Now, of those 15-18 hours, how many are spent literally wasting time??  With today's iPad's, iPhones, iPods, portable gaming devices, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Twitter, etc., even time that is meant to be reserved for school, is wasted.  All of these distractions are temptations of our time, and our character.  Do we tell mom we're studying late, so we can stay up and catch up on the Pretty Little Liars series?  Do we cheat ourselves, and God, by not fully applying every ounce of our attention to our school work, during class time?  Are our minds constantly wandering to the cyber world, because we feel it's so much safer, than the real world?  Who/what are we truly worshiping?  One heavenly God, or thousands of mind warping, materialistic gods?

What recently brought this problem to my attention, was actually.... me.  That's right!  My life has really been screwed up by 'distractions'.  For me it's: friends (who aren't the best influence in my walk with God), Facebook, Netflix, movies/dvds, junk food, and bad music.  When my life really starting going south, and I began to feel spiritually, emotionally, and physically weak, I began to wonder, "What am I really doing with the life/time God has given me?"  For many years, I thought I was living an 'okay' life. I had friends, fun, and lots of down time.  It wasn't until I was able to start truly feeling the effect of these  on my life, that I freaked out!  I was killing myself, and throwing away everything God had given me, all because I was following the lead of the media, and my friends, being apathetic towards life, and just flat out lazy!  Relationships with my family deteriorated, and I started to see the world from a sad, self-worshiping, point of view.  It was literally DEPRESSING!

As the lent season of 2012 began to roll around, I started thinking to myself, "If this season is meant for recognizing the sacrifice Jesus made for us, by sacrificing His life, shouldn't I give up these things that have become my life, and my distraction/disgrace toward Him?"  I began to think of all the things I might ACTUALLY GET DONE, with these negative distractions gone... Test taking back to a regular schedule, my driver's license, weight loss, family time, quiet time with/for God, faith strengthening, and maybe even become fluent in Spanish!  Ha, ha!  All those things, versus what I had allowed myself to become!?

After considering all I could get done, I thought of all I would be giving up... that was my comfort zone, my life, my routine... how scary would it be to walk into the darkness of change, and not know what was beyond each step?  All the cravings to return to familiar shores, all the temptations, all the torment.... was it worth it?  When I take a step back, and see who/what I've allowed myself to become, I say, "yes!  It is worth every moment!  It certainly won't be easy, and there may be days where I fail epically, but I know that God will see my repentance, my hope, and my effort to be a better person for Him, and He will lift me up, and give me the strength to finish the 'race marked out'."

If you're out there tonight, looking at your life, and wondering where it first started to slip, know that it's never too late.  Until your final breath, you have the opportunity to change who you choose to be, and to strive to live differently.  It won't be easy, and the devil will pursue you, but you will cry out, "Get behind me, Satan, for my hope rests in the Lord, God, Almighty, and you shall have no power over me, for God is on my side, and He alone remains forever in control!"  So dig deep in your hearts, find what's hurting you today, and 'cut it out' of your life for good.  I know that we can do this, but our strength must be in the Lord, our wonderful Father in Heaven, who will catch us when we fall, and cheer as we start to reach the finish line!!

God bless you, and your searching!

~ Clay

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To Mend, Or Not to Mend?.... That is the Question!

Have you ever found yourself in a relationship with someone who is, in truth, great... but you feel like something is definitely missing, or causing you to change?  It could be a friend, a boyfriend, or a superior, but it doesn't matter... cause weird stuff happens, and people change.  

Whether or not you have ever faced this predicament, you are bound to face it more than once in your life.  So here are my suggestions to you:)

1) Be aware of your surroundings, and know the people who are in your life WELL!  By doing this, you will not only be able to possibly serve them greater, as a friend/supporter, but you will also be able to pick up on potentially dangerous changes early.  This is, to me, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT KEYS to coming out of these types of relationships safely.  Sadly, I had to learn that the hard way, but will definitely know better next time.  Know your friends, their beliefs, their standards, their choices, and their families.  We become who they are, just by spending time with them, so make sure that's something you are ok with representing.

2) When this situation pops up among friends.... Although we may be hesitant about distancing ourselves from a group of people who have become our "crowd", if something in your heart tells you to get out, don't wait around to find out why!  The longer you stay with these people, the more you become apathetic to their choices!  If what they are doing is not something you started out believing in, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, or you question its purpose, THEN DON'T DO IT!  Sometimes, we have to realize that, by hanging out with these people, we are telling the world, "I'm ok with this."  If you are not ok with this, then voice your feelings to your friends... and if that doesn't work, then GET OUT, cause they were never your friends in the first place.  Now, you've got to know that the OBVIOUS won't always be obvious.  For example, growing up, and throughout my middle school life, I had a LOT of friends, and mixed with many cliques.  All of these kids were just like me, for the most part.  Usually Christian, involved in youth group, sports, or school activities.  They didn't have tattoos all over their bodies, they didn't breathe fire, or smoke pot, and they definitely didn't cuss.  I thought I had finally found a safe crowd, but then came.... High School!  All of a sudden you weren't allowed to talk to 'certain people', let alone, make EYE CONTACT!  My girl friends started dressing... different... with lots of midriffs, cleavage, and bootie shorts, and my guy friends stopped seeing me as a friend, and more, as an object.  No longer was it cool for me to shoot hoops, or talk, because to them, I now had ulterior motives!  Psh!  Now, to even have a shot at sitting at their table at youth, I felt like I had to be ok with their choices/behavior... and I wasn't.  So what was I supposed to do?  Lose ALL of my friends? .... Let me ask you this.  From my story above, were any of them really my friends in the first place?  A friend isn't a number on Facebook; a person you accept, cause he's friends with your friend's bf!  A friend is someone who knows who they are, who you are, and builds from there.  Someone who is just as much there for you, as you are for them.  Who's supportive, and helps you stick to your dreams.... Were any of those people that for me?  No.  So why hang onto them?  You gotta let 'em go.

3) When you start to question the situation developing with one of your "just friends"... Here's another really tough genre of friendly that is tough to let go of!  As girls, especially for those who don't have strong father figures in the home, we tend to thirst for someone to fill that male role in our lives.  If we don't find it at home, we look for it in friends... but the truth is, no guy-girl friendship can last as "just friends" if the girl's intention is to use the guy as filler, and the guy's intention is to use the girl as arm candy, or practice!  Sadly, and many will admit to this, this is what happens in oh too many g/g friendships!  We were wired to want to be by a guy's side, to want to fill his head with support/encouragement, and to be needed by the dude... but all of that was put in us for the purpose of marriage!  No wonder people used to marry their kids off at twelve/thirteen!  Those hormones kick in, and you better get a ring on that girl's finger, before she goes running off with the shepherd!  Lol!!  Sadly, in our society today, since it's "okay" to have sex before marriage... marriage, itself, is no longer as sacred and special.  It's like, "oh, so we've been living together for three years now, sleeping together for five, I guess we should just go ahead and do this thing, for real."  What about any of that is even left to be "real"?  Our generations are withering in our beliefs, our standards, our faith, and our self respect.  What people don't realize, is that those habits start at a young age, in the home, and in your friendships.  Most kids base their faith, standards, and future goals, off of what they see in their parents, or learn from them.  However,  have you ever taken a step back to look at your g/g friendships?  Do you see some habits being put to practice there?  Maybe some flirting?  Some hair twirling?  Some selling yourself short?  You have a choice in all of this.  They may not know about self worthy actions, but you can lead by example, and cut your ties if it doesn't rub off.   This time in our lives should be used for discovering ourselves, not wasting our time making moony eyes at a boy who is going to be someone else's husband someday!  Just be careful, ladies.

4) Woolf among the sheep:  Finally, beware of those good 'Christian' boys who are genius enough to realize that the church is the best place to pick up 'good girls'.  I've seen this happen oh too many times.  Where the boy puts on some spiritual act, to get an, "Awwww!", from the ladies, or incessant hugging/hand holding.  We almost set ourselves up for it, when we go around acting like our man's gotta be Mr. Darcy, but hey, we live and we learn.  The truth is, no guy should be Mr. Darcy, because he is a fictional character, created by a WOMAN!  All his die hard traits are WOMANLY traits, because truthfully, men were not made to be OUR helpers, we were made to be THEIRS!  So don't work yourself up, and fall in love with a woman, dressed as a tall, dark haired, brooding, lover boy... but appreciate today's real man, for what he is.  They are looking for our approval, so we need to stop messing with their minds, and treating them as objects for our use, and start treating them like brothers in Christ, who need to be guided, and supported, in this tough/tempting time in their lives.  You have a chance to truly be a friend to a guy, for the right reasons.  Help prepare his heart for life after high school, cause this mini-kingdom won't last forever.  When you are interacting with someone, ask yourself, "Is this something his wife will thank me for, someday?"  

Be careful out there ladies!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

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