Get a Life

Imagine you’ve spent years – your whole life, even – collecting seashells. You have a huge collection to show for it – starfish, sand dollars, sea urchins, conch shells, clam shells, everything. You’re pretty impressed with yourself.
The public is pretty impressed with you, too. You’ve broken a world record for biggest collection of seashells. You’ve got fame, money, and lots of dead starfish to look at.
Then, one day, your whole world shatters. Your visions of you living the perfect life are bombarded by one person who tells you, "Dude, get a life."
At first you laugh to yourself. What a dork. Of course you have a life – look at all you have! Everyone knows your name!
When you go home to your penthouse by the beach after a long day of, well, doing nothing but posing for pictures, you plop onto your bed. Your head hurts. You hear that dork’s voice again: "Get a life."
You sit up and look around you. You’re wearing designer clothes. You’ve got a house Oprah would be jealous of. Everyone knows who you are, and you’ve even written a book about, of course, yourself. Because you have a life. Or do you?
You start to wonder about it all. Did you really ever have a life? You had the American Dream. You had what this world sees as the perfect life – fame, fortune, and seashells. Yet as you look back, trying to remember the happiest times in your life, you find that life simply isn’t life without more.
Since the beginning of time, people have been searching for more. More is not something we define; instead, it is simply feeling complete. We were made to worship. That’s why there are so many different religions out there. We long for two kinds of beings: one that we can take care of, and one that can take care of us. If we don’t have that, than do we really have a life?
We need someone to worship. There are so someones out there – Buddha, Allah, God…can you think of any others? The tough part is that there can only be one all-powerful ruler of the universe, and that is God.
Pious Buddhists tend to be very detached from society and other people because they believe that by casting everything of this world away – including their love and emotions – they will reach Nirvana, a sort of Heaven for Buddhists. Nirvana, unlike Heaven, is a place where all feelings, emotions, love, and life are gone; Nirvana is a place of nothingness, of no feeling, which the Buddhists think is a blessing. The god of the early Vikings (before they converted to Christianity) made a sort of heaven where there was feasting every night and beautiful women took care of the men. The Vikings wanted to encourage people to become Viking warriors, so they said that only Viking warriors could go to this heaven. Allah, the Muslim god, may seem at first glance much like God Himself, but that impression does not last long. The Muslim’s holy book does not mention once that "Allah loves you" or anything like that. Allah is not a loving god – he is powerful, Muslims believe, but there is no love.
God is different. God is all-powerful, just like Allah. God made the world with great care, like Allah. God has created a heaven, except, instead of the Buddhist Nirvana, Heaven is a wonderful place where Christians live in cities of gold and where there is no sin but only joy and peace. Instead of the Viking paradise, anyone can go to Heaven, so long as they believe that God made the earth, that they are sinners, and that Jesus died so they could live. The biggest difference is that God loves us. God loves His creation. He finds us beautiful, despite our flaws. God is more.
When people search for "more", they are searching for God. They are searching for peace and joy, comfort and security, love and life. The problem? They don’t know that God is what they’ve been searching for all along!
People throughout history – the early Vikings (before they converted to Christianity) and the ancient Egyptians – had many gods. When a rich man died, a great funeral was held for him. The Vikings would build a huge boat and set it in a pit, and the Egyptians would builds magnificent tombs. The man was placed in the tomb or ship. The man’s servants would be led from the house to be killed and put into the boat or tomb. The man’s prized horse, dog, and all his valuable possessions accompanied him so that he would have everything he needed in the afterlife. What happened to the Egyptian tombs of the richest and greatest kings? They were robbed, stripped of all their gold and wealth.
Someone once said that life is what you can take into Heaven with you. You can’t take gold, money, the latest fashions, the coolest video games, the biggest house, the sports car, to Heaven. You can’t even take your body to Heaven! But you can take your spirit – which is who you really are – to Heaven. The stuff of this world – fame, money, cars, and the best hair in class or the best player on the team – none of it will last. The one thing that will last is your spirit, so obviously you need to take care of it.
In order for you to have life as the world defines it, you must have a beating heart. To have life as God defines it, you must have a loving heart. Life is nothing if you have no one to worship. You wouldn’t be alive if God hadn’t made you. Why not rejoice in that?
YOU, no matter how nerdy or unpopular you are, no matter how many times you’ve run into a door or have done wrong things, YOU have something that everyone on earth wants. Isn’t that amazing? And no, it’s not your hair, your muscles, your wallet, or your grades. YOU have life – the kind that doesn’t fade, the kind of life that lasts forever. You have more; more to live for.
When Jesus comes back to earth to claim His people (that means you!), how will you answer him? What will you say to him? What will you have to show that you have done what He made you to do?
Will you say, "Look, Lord. See my shells?" (Or, maybe for you, it’d be, "Look, Lord. See my money, fame, looks, games, car." Fill in the blank with what material thing you have been living for.)
That, my friends, would be your entire life – wasted.
This next week, thank God that you have a life – a life that lasts forever – and a future home in Heaven. Thank God that he made you, that he is a loving God and an all-powerful God. Try to show someone else that love that He has given you. Show someone else that they can have a true, eternal, meaningful life.


The Play is this Week!

The Pride & Predjudice play is this week!! I am so excited but EXTEREMLY nervous! Terrified, even. Monday (today), Tuesday, and Wednesday are 3 hour long rehearsals, then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are the performance days (each with 2 hour rehearsal beforehand). This whole week is devoted to this play.

I wonder, what am I going to do after this? It's taken all my time since it started. What did I do before this?

I ask for your prayers to calm my nerves, that the play will go smoothly, that nobody will get sick (a lot of us are sick, including me), and that nobody will forget their lines, blocking, or cues.

I really need your prayers this week.


Your sister in Christ,


Look to the Skies

A week ago, my family was driving home from AWANA. It was about 8:00 pm and the sky was a dark blue. I looked out my window, up at the sky, and for the first time really thought about it. For the first time, I really wondered -- just how big is this universe?
The clouds were huge billowing monsters swirled in the sky. The stars were scatted across the darkness. How far away were they? How big were they? How big were those clouds?
Just looking at the night sky was awesome enough, yet the truly amazing thing was that my God actually made it! He made it all, the sky, the stars, and the clouds.
Job was a great godly guy. He was in tune with the Lord even when his children were killed and everything he owned was destroyed. Yet once, only once, he questioned God. And what did God say? Job 38 is God's reply, where God talks about being alive at the beginning, telling the waters where they must stop and measuring the skies. God gets all "snappy" with Job, saying, "Now I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!" Job was questioning God, and God answered by basically saying, "I'm God, you're not. Let Me handle things."
And ya know what? He did! And He still does! In the end, God took care of Job. In fact, Job was better off than he had been before! Job found twice as many friends as he had before and invited them to a banquet where each one gave him a piece of silver and a ring of gold. God gave Job 4,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys! Plus, God blessed him with seven sons and three daughters. And "In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job." Job lived 140 years and saw his children and grandchildren for 4 generations. Talk about blessings! Job had a great life before God tested him, and now his life was even better!
Remember that passage that talks about the lillies of the field? They do not worry about tomorrow, yet God clothes them with garments more splendid than that of kings! And what about sparrows? They don't worry about their next meal, yet God gives it to them. God loves them.
Think about how much more God loves you and me! If he will take such good care of flowers, you can be sure that we will be blessed.
Think back to the stars and those clouds I saw a week ago. God formed them and perfected the details of each one. They are massive and beautiful.
Ya know what? God thinks we are beautiful! And, this may sound crazy, but he thinks we are more beautiful than the stars, the sky, the moon, the ocean, the jungle. He loves us more than the vast seas and the high mountains.
Looking at that sky, I felt small and insignificant, more than I have ever felt before. Yet when I thought about it, that was one of the greatest discoveries I could ever make. That even though I'm small, messed up, and one out of 6,000,000,000 people, God still loves me as an individual, as me.
Despite of all the wrongs things you've done, God still loves you.


Jesus & Waffles

At youth retreat, I realized that if people saw me, they'd probably think I'm all talk and no walk about the whole reflecting Jesus thing. I'm not perfect. This blog is like my spiritual journal, and it has helped me sort my thoughts, become closer to God, and figure out what I believe.
Yet, I feel as though this IS my spiritual life. This is it. My friends are Christians, but we hardly ever talk about God (but when we did it was great). My life is like a waffle. It is divided into compartments and the compartments don't merge often. There is a family square, a friend square, a fashion square, a school square.... Heck, even my church square is mainly about my friend Hannah and seeing if I can beg my parents for hot chocolate and donuts in the room outside the sanctuary.

Am I just crazy, or do you feel the same way? Ok, I AM crazy, but I'm being serious here, Maddy. :]

Do you feel like Jesus is only being let in the Jesus compartment of your life? If he's only there, then are you truly the Christian Jesus wants you to be? We are called to give Jesus are all. We are called to SHINE -- to be a light to the world. Swiss Miss hot chocolate and all the donuts in the world won't get you there. Jesus deserves and longs for your whole life. Only then are we living how we were created to live!


What Youth Retreat Taught Me

Yesterday my friend Hannah and I got back from a teen retreat about discipleship. During the weekend, we stayed at a church member’s house and brought soda and tons of snacks (can you say "chocolate covered Chex Mix"?). We lounged in the hot tub, jumped in the freezing pool, went bowling, ate junk food, and drove around town. We even choreographed a dance routine to Beyonce’s "Single Ladies" song and performed it by the poolside at night in front of Charles, the youth leader.
Yet I’m here to tell you what else we did, what we learned. I want to share with you what I found, and what I lost, at the retreat. I want you to feel as if you were there with us when Brittney and the girls went down to the creek for bible study. I want you to feel as inspired as I was when the speaker told us about discipleship, and how amazing it felt to be a part of a worship session that led teens to take the next step in their faith. I’m here to tell you about our service project at the nursing home and about my renewed faith.
Every teen in that room dedicated the weekend to Jesus. I want to do even more than that. I want to dedicate my ENTIRE LIFE to Jesus. The speaker, worship leader, and small-group leader really opened my eyes and made it clear to me that giving my entire life to Jesus is the only way I’ll truly be happy. Sure, I’ll get excited about youth camp, new CDs, new clothes, summer vacation. But that happiness, well, I’ve found it doesn’t really last. After a while it becomes simply a memory.
Here’s a journal entry I wrote the night that I got home from the retreat.

"Hands were stretched to the sky. The hard rock music slowed into a faint whisper of sound. Bodies swayed, eyes closed, heads bent, lips formed inaudible prayers.
I felt self-conscious, as I always do, yet there were moments when I felt completely consumed by Jesus. I wanted to give God my outstretched hands as well, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I stood there, a lowly, sinful 7th grader with such small faith. Yet I was a part of this thing, this wonderful thing that was bigger than all of us. We were all one, all God’s children. And we all knew that we were meant to change the world.
I was on a spiritual high worshipping God with al I had. I felt renewed purpose. Yet I was somehow afraid of the world outside the church walls. I was afraid to return to that world and to my own old self. I wanted nothing more than to stay there forever. At that time, I was wrapped in Jesus and wrapped in love, purpose, life. I was terrified that when I went back home it would all unravel. Would I truly be the disciple we were all called to be? How, Lord, can I not return to Melissa the Jesus Groupie? Lord, please help me to be the true disciple of Christ that I am called to be! Help me to conquer my sin and use my experiences to teach others about your love. Help me to be me.


Emma Accepts Christ

Emma, from The Next Generation is Us and Emj's Life is here to give us a peek into her life for the next few weeks. Bits of the interview will be posted on One Voice and Girls for God.

"How old were you when you became a Christian?"
"I accepted Christ when I was about 6, but I didn't really start understanding what living for God meant until very recently. He's been revealing to me that being a Christian is more than just reading your Bible and praying, you have to lose your life." - Emma

How old were you when you became a Christian? When did you finally find your identity in God? Share your story in the comments.

Wondering what Emma's secret is to being beautiful inside and out?