Not Alone

6/18/2017

9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
Genesis 18: 9-15

There were couple times this past semester  I had not so busy periods with coursework and other times that seemed near impossible to survive through. I remember one particular week, I thought there was no way I could manage finishing papers and projects with really close due dates, major exams with my grades hanging in there, and social events. I was kinda freaking out––it seemed like I had little time to even breathe! There was little I could do to help myself since all of them were important, so I prayed knowing this wasn't in my hands leaving it to God to see how it would all work out and using the time I had wisely. Happily, reflecting back on that time, I can say I was relieved once I made it through that week and couldn't have done it without relying on God's strength.

But even in those moments, leading to before I realize I'm not on my own, just as Sarah scoffed at an idea that seems impossible, sometimes I almost forget who God is and His nature: that He is loving, infinite, and gracious. 

He cares about us even when we worry about things that seem out of our reach or impossible. He is good and able to do what we may not be able to understand. And He is full of grace towards us, even when we are in unbelief.

Also, Happy Father's Day!
–– Jem
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Searching for Neverland

2/27/2017


Peter Pan has to be one of my top favorite Disney movies as a kid, and even still to this day. Flying away to an adventurous, far-away land, taking fun journeys with Peter and lost boys, and dueling pirates is something I wouldn't mind doing everyday. Plus, I never have to grow up–no calling in my own doctor's appointments or dealing with Fafsa! (Yay!)


The same comfortable cycle everyday and no growing up–it's too perfect, right?

I honestly wished that Neverland was a real place for a long time. Every year I was dreaded gaining another year, because I'd be closer to being too old to  fly away. Of course, I eventually got over this thought (once I hit 18) but found myself holding onto something else I didn't quite expect: the fear of change

Nothing really changes in Neverland, which was comforting in comparison to the world we live in. Everything is always moving, whether too fast or slow, but never standing still. If I would take too long of a second to pause and think, I felt like I had to chase after the lost time.

Changing, for me,  isn't easy. With change comes pruning, which can be painful and uncomfortable. But I'm learning that change is inevitable and also good.


If it weren't for change...

I wouldn't be in a much happier major choice
I wouldn't have the most amazing group of friends in college now
I would still be fearful to try new things
I wouldn't have traveled off to some far places
I wouldn't have seen God the great things He has done in my life so far
I wouldn't grow, but wither

So because of change...

I am happy with the track I am in at college, and should be afraid if my interests change
I have a amazing support of friends who I am encouraged by and who I can encourage
Trying new things is more exciting than scary to me
I've been able to see more beautiful places and people God created
I will continue to trust God more
I will thrive, and not fade away



– Jem
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Temptations

2/20/2017


⁶So he left all that he had in Joseph's charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. ⁷And after a time his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” ⁸But he refused and said to his master's wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. ⁹He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” ¹⁰And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her." – Genesis 39:6-10

⦁ ⦁ ⦁

I was reading through this passage a little while ago and thought this would be a great post to do before Valentine's Day! Of course, being in a regular blogging schedule hasn't been a thing since this year has started (I'm working on it!). But, in this reading, I think this actually goes beyond just the "season of love" and applies to our everyday life when it comes to temptations. There is so much truth piled in this one section!

There are two ways we can respond to temptations: Give in or Give up

Q: What are temptations? How can temptations be harmful? Have you had any temptations in the past? 

Normally when reading through this I only catch Joseph's actions and response, but after reading over this again, there are two responses showing the ways we sometimes respond to temptations. 

Give in to temptationIn verse 7, Potiphar's wife "after a time" let her thoughts and emotions stir inside of her before she acted on those feelings. Instead of giving up our temptations, we find ourselves either falling slowly into a downward spiral and sliding right into our own desires; I know I'm no stranger to the more cautious way of giving in. By start off with making small compromises, adding a little this here and there, later I see myself falling into a bigger mess than anticipated. 

Give up your temptation: Joseph makes a clear decision to not give into the temptation placed around him. In verse 10,  he even makes a point to be in its presence. Joseph physically removes himself from situations that could possibly lead to temptation. Even listening to our thoughts while in the moment is dangerous and can lead to compromising boundaries.


Determining what boundaries should look like sometimes depends person-to-person, but ultimately should come from GodRead: Matthew 5:29, 6:9-13

Q: How can I pray for God to help me pull away from my temptation(s)? What are some ways I can physically deter from temptations?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Realizing where/when it starts can help in shaping limits with conviction, and prevent sorrow, shame, and regret. Try spending time in God's word to see what he says about our temptations specifically, and in cases, what was the end result for people who obeyed God versus those who followed their flesh.



Look at other parts in the bible where people were faced with temptations. Q: How did they respond similarly or differently?
Adam and Eve, Genesis 3
Jesus, Matthew 4


–Jem





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7. Sandcastle

12/26/2016

Crush my dreams, and build me new ones...

It was close to high tide, and this sand castle was built closer than the others. Beautiful sea shells and intricate details etched out with one of the dry rods nearby. Then, crash––in a few minutes it was gone––I realized I didn't really like this castle either. Built with imperfections, in the wrong spot, and at the wrong time. What I was seeking could not be built by me alone. It needed to be crafted with gentle hands, who knew when the tide would come, and where to build. So I searched, and he found me.


This image of continually trying to build our own kingdoms and enviably failing is something we seem to struggle with: either things may have went wrong or we find ourselves picking away at imperfections. We're missing something I the midst of our frustration, after watching our castles crumble. We're missing the point—that it was never meant to be built perfectly by our own hands. 

I've heard the Christmas story so many times, and over the years, layers of new realizations appear. A child was born for us, so that we can have the opportunity to know him and be saved. And in the process, that requires our own kingdoms to fall; sometimes old goals and dreams might need to fall away. It's not always easy, but necessary, because even though it's not clearly visible now, that kingdom we were looking to build can only be built by the one true King— Jesus. So I pray, that together we seek Him and the furtherment of his kingdom.


—Jem
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