Monday, November 19, 2007

A quote from John Steinbeck

I found this quote on the blog of a 13 year old girl - I do not know her personally, but I read her blog regularly because of the struggles she is having. She had posted this quote, and then commented on how true it is for her. So, here is the quote, and I will add my two cents afterwards.

"we fight our way in, and try to buy our way out. We are alert, curious, hopeful, and we take more drugs designed to make us more unaware than any other people. We are self-reliant and at the same time completely dependent. We are aggressive, and defenseless. Americans overindulge their children and do not like them; the children in turn are overly dependent and full of hate for their parents. We are complacent in our possessions, in our houses, in our education; but it is hard to find a man or woman who does not want something better for the next generation.Americans are remarkable kind and hospitable and open with both guests and strangers; and yet they will make a wide circle around the man dying on the pavement. Fortunes are spent getting cats out of trees and dogs out of sewer pipes; but a girl screaming for help in the street draws only slammed doors, close windoww, and silence..... -john steinbeck "

My first response is to read it again. I don't want to admit it is true. The paradoxes included here are unfortunately true of our culture today. So, having finally admitted it is true all too often in our world, I will move on.

Where is the answer to the struggles that we face daily? How do we deal with the emotions that the paragraph above creates in us? I can think of only one answer. I do not want this to sound like a cheesy response to life. It is not a Sunday School answer. It does however come down to my favorite verse (today) in the Old Testament. Micah 6:8 says "And what does the Lord require of you? To have mercy, to love justice, and to walk humbly with your Lord."

I could go on and on about having mercy on people and yet loving justice, because many times these two concepts will be against each other, however, for today I am going to simply stay on the topic at hand. If our hearts, minds, souls, and strength were focused on having mercy, loving justice, and walking humbly with our Lord, then as girls, we would be able to ignore the world around us that reflects selfishness, co-dependence, and hatred for those around us, and would be able to focus more on doing our part, one person at a time, to turn the tide. So that our generations, and the generations behind us would truly be able to have a better understanding of who our Lord is. It is not just enough to "want" a better life for those who come behind us. We must take steps to make it better. In that, I am not referring to more money, more comfortable lifestyles, I am talking about a closer, deeper, stronger walk with our Lord. I am talking about loving people so much that it is worth a sacrifice on your part if they may come to know Christ. I am talking about making your generation, and the generation better because they have the hope of eternity with Christ! I am talking about living more for the next world and less for today. As is discussed here, it is not easy to stay focused on the world around you and yet have the longing for the world to come is a challenge. I am not saying ANY of this should be easy. I am saying though, that in order for us to take steps so that the quote above is no longer true about us, we cannot simply blame the generation before us, we MUST take steps ourselves.

Do you know the girl in the last sentence? Do you know of one that is crying in the streets? in your school? at your job? One who has had many doors of life closed in on her? You might have before looked at her and felt sorry for her, even made fun of her because she doesn't have rhythm to be a cheerleader, or the talent to be in the band, or the athletic ability to play softball or run track. She may be hurting on the inside. She may need someone, anyone to just walk up to her and honestly ask how she is doing. It might change her life to know that someone cares about her. She may not look as cool as you want her to. She may not dress in the newest clothes, there is no telling what the rumors are about her. But the truth is this. Jesus died for her just like He died for you. Jesus loves her as much as He loves you. He sees her heart and He sees yours. Take a moment, speak to her today.

It Starts.

Well, where do I start?

I want to do something here because of several reasons.

1. I know some girls that are really struggling with life. I don't expect them to comment details on here, they have enough trouble without telling the world about it online. So, I want you girls to feel free to email me confidentially. I will provide my email address in the profile. (Moms can email me also)

2. I want to encourage girls that are NOT yet struggling with life issues, so that maybe they can learn be reading, instead of having to take the "field trip."

3. Some people have requested that I do this specifically for a group of girls that I love dearly, having raised most of them from AWANA through high-school. I want you Alabama girls to know that I love you dearly. I also want this to be broader too. I want to hopefully present truth from the Word of God in a format and language that will be applicable to teenage girls all over the country. My heart is to know that you are walking closer with your Savior because you read this. Not that there aren't MANY other locations to get this info. But if I have the chance to write something in a way that it hasn't been written before, then great!

4. Why not?

So, here goes. I want to start at the most fundamental thing... Loving God.

The Bible states in Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:23, and Luke 10:27.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

In addition to these statements, the fact that loving God is to be an all-consuming lifestyle is protrayed over and over throughout Scripture - specifically in Paul's writings in the new-testament.

When God chooses to say something more than once, I do believe that it is VITALLY important that we listen.... and not only listen, but act on that statement. In this, it is not only a statement - it is a COMMAND! I firmly believe that this one statement could... ummm... WOULD change our entire life focus IF we would take the time to determine what this means to my day-to-day lifestyle.

Let's look at this one piece at a time.


To love the Lord is to show it. I could tell my family, friends, husband many times how much I love them - but if my actions do not show it, then do they really know? What if your parents had spent their whole life telling you how much you were loved, but you never were protected from the things around you. They let you eat bad food so that you were unhealthy, let you walk alone so that you were exposed to danger, let you watch bad TV and listen to bad music so that your mind was corrupted. This is not love. Love is protecting those put under your care. Love is an ACTION verb. (Remember 7th grade english, you learned about action verbs right??) To love someone is a choice of commitment, it requires work, time, effort, (maybe) money. (Again, if your parents had never bought clothes to put on your back to protect you from the cold/heat, would you feel loved?)

In order to Love the Lord with all your heart, you need to understand the makeup of your heart. What does this mean to you?
Your heart represents the base of your emotions. In other words, the things you care about. Your heart is the essence of what you are passionate about. You need to CHOOSE to love the Lord.

You love Him, not only by spending time with Him (in His Word, talking to Him)..

You love him by honoring your parents. (EWWW JULIA!!!! Come on!! They are SO unreasonable!!!They are SO old!!! They don't understand living today!) ..I am going to take time out for this one. The Bible says that if you love God, you will follow His commandments, but that if you do NOT follow His commandments, that you do NOT love God, and therefore are NOT His child..... now, in the Old and New testament, it is clear that children are to honor their parents... (so your days may be long upon the earth). This is not even something that stops when you "grow up." Now that I am married, I may make decisions that my parents do not agree with, however, I am STILL under the commandment to honor them with my life. In other words, to live my life in a way that is pleasing to them.

You love Him by making His Word a priority in Your life.

You love him, (as stated earlier) by following His commandments. How do you know what commandments those are unless you spend time in His Word learning what they are?

As girls, our emotions sometimes take control of us. We respond based on feelings more than facts. We need to learn that when our emotions are "loving God" more than anything else, He will help us to love ourselves, our parents and all others in our life as we SHOULD.

- I don't have much of this. Physical strength.... Yesterday, I was trying to help Ronnie move our TV, I tried to lift it (its a 55 inch). Using ALL my strength, I couldn't get it off the ground!
We are girls, we were meant to let boys do the heavy stuff! It is a wonderful thing! However, we also have emotional strength, spiritual strength... etc. All of it should be used to the glory of God. All of our strength has to be committed to serving Him. You serve Him usually by serving others! What could you do, tomorrow, to serve someone in your work, school, home. This is all part of using your strength to serve God. I know you are busy - trust me - I understand the concept! However, at the end of the day, how cool would it be to be COMPLETELY exhausted because you chose to use "ALL YOUR STRENGTH" to Love the Lord by Loving someone else around you.

This is where we lose it sometimes I think. I can love God with all my heart - and even all my strength... but in my mind.

I think this can be two fold.
1. In what we allow to influence our minds. - Do you watch TV and wish your love relationship could be like that? Do you listen to music and wonder when your "prince" is coming to "rescue you?" You can lose a lot of time in life waiting for your "prince" when instead God wants to use that "strength" and "heart capacity" to serve and love others! There are many people, in your world that need your love. They need your emotional strength. They might need your time. For those girls that I spent so much time with... I just want to take a second. I didn't always do everything right. However, I will say, that it is so cool to look back and see how God may have used me in your lives. If I had always been tied up with a boyfriend that wasted my time (cuz I was meant to be with Ronnie) - I might not have had the time to spend with you guys. The cool thing is that now, God has placed many of you in positions similar to mine, there are younger girls looking up to you - and they want your time. THIS is part of using your mind to honor God!

2. In what we do with our "future." Several of those of you that I know, are getting ready to think about college. Your minds are STRONG! You all have TONS of potential. That potential, in God's hands, could change the world. That potential in the devil's hands will leave you useless and ineffective. Don't be distracted by the small details of life when God's plan may be so much bigger than you can even imagine! Use the gifts, talents, abilities, and time that God has given you, to make a difference! Impact someone!

I hope this has been a little bit of encouragement for you all. Take a moment - ask God, as I am asking Him for you, to help you to Love Him with ALL that you are.. your emotions (heart), your power (strength) and your mind...

I love you girls