Is One Eye Enough? {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Girls

Hmmm… What does it mean to have a log in your eye?

I got a little glimpse of what it feels like a couple of weeks ago.

I woke up and felt something funny in my eye.  I reached to rub it (I know, I know…) and recoiled at my own touch.  My entire eye socket felt bruised.  It felt like it was swelling as I sat there.  I felt like I had been sucker punched in the eye.

I got out of bed and ran to the bathroom to inspect my eye in the mirror.  I was expecting to see something horrifying.  It felt terrible, at least it would be bloodshot or something.  Maybe it would be red and swollen.  But when I looked, it appeared perfectly normal.  What???

I checked closer, compared the two eyes.  Alas, there wasn’t anything to speak of.  Maybe a little swelling, but could’ve been my imagination.

I complained to my mom.  “I feel like someone punched me out.” When lamenting to my friend, she laughed, “Maybe someone did.”  Ha. Ha.

It was bugging me terribly.  Focusing on things, moving my eyeball to look in different directions, it all hurt.  I held my eye shut with my palm and applied pressure.  It made it feel better. My friend suggested that it was a stye and said that it would help to apply a hot compress.  I took a washcloth doused in hot water and pressed it to my eye.  Such relief!

I went about my business, pathetically pressing a wet washcloth to the side of my face.  And I noticed something.

I never realized how important it was that both of my eyes work together.  Obviously, as I went about my business that day, I was only using one eye.

My perspective and perception was literally off.  I would reach for something and not realize that it was closer or farther away than I had estimated.  Everything looked more dim.  I had to focus harder to read (and I don’t wear glasses or contacts). Everything was just generally harder to see.

I kept feeling a weird urge to say that I had a log in my eye.  Because seriously, that’s what it felt like.

Then I was thinking…

The scriptures ask why we should take the speck out of our brother’s eye when we have a huge log in our own.

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  ~Matthew 7:3-5

The Lord charges us to first remove the log from our own eye, then take the speck out of our brother’s eye.  I witnessed first hand what it felt like to be crippled in one eye–I probably would have been barely able to see the speck, much less help someone to remove it!

My perception would be off, I would have ended up hurting the other person because I could not see clearly enough to properly remove the speck.  In reaching toward their face, I probably would have ended up accidentally jamming their eye with the force, because my estimation was off.

When we have sin in our own lives that needs to be rooted out, it messes up the way that we see.  We may be able to see the specks in other people’s eyes, the problems that they need to take care of, but until we have taken care of our own, our perspective is off–we can’t see clearly enough to give them the proper care that they need to remove the speck!  We would probably end up hurting them rather than helping them.

I’m not saying that we should ignore the sin of other people, on the contrary!  Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be ever ready to exhort them in the truth of the Word if they are in error.  However, I believe that we should always be looking to ourselves first and foremost to make sure that we don’t have any logs in our eyes before trying to remove specks from others.

And sometimes, the log isn’t obvious to everyone else.  It may not be clearly seen, but that doesn’t make it any less the hurtful–to ourselves and to others.

Do you ever find yourself trying to take specks out of others’ eyes, only to find out that you have a log in your own?

What are the “logs” that may be hurting your vision?

Coffee Converts {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Girls

My friend jumped into the passenger seat of my car.  She sniffed, then chuckled.  “Of course.  Amy’s car would smell like coffee!”

What she actually smelling was a combination of  the new French Vanilla air freshener that I had just put up that morning, and my Starbucks Pike Place that I had grabbed on the way over.

But what she was alluding to was my (apparently) infectious and contagious love of coffee.

I don’t know what it is that I like about it so much.  Wait, maybe I do.  The smell of it captivates me…my parents laugh at me when I walk into a Starbucks, close my eyes and just take a long, deep breath.  It probably has to do with the fact that pretty much every morning for my entire life has started with the smell of fresh coffee brewing.  Nostalgia?  Call it what you will.  I love it.  As for the taste.  Ha, we won’t even go there.

Anyway, my friends tease me all the time about my love of coffee.  When two of my besties came over not too long ago, as they were stirring their cups of freshly brewed coffee they were remarking about how they actually never really liked coffee.

“I don’t know… I never used to drink it.  Then I just started drinking it all of a sudden, and I don’t know…wait…” they locked eyes, then turned and looked at me.

“What??” I shrugged.

“It’s you!”

I raised an eyebrow, chuckled slightly and lifted the mug to my lips.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Okay, so maybe I have a coffee addiction.  And maybe I talk about it too much (“it”, meaning, the coffee itself).

But you know, I was thinking.  I so easily converted my friends over to coffee drinking.  How?

I shared my excitement.  I showed them the beauty of it.  The smells, the tastes, the different ways to fix it.

What if I put this same energy into telling others about Jesus?  Hmm.  Convicting thought.

I’m so passionate about something as carnal as coffee… why can’t I have that same passion in God’s love?

The beauty of it; the smell of it, the sights of it, the feel of it, the redemption in it.  The eternal value of it!

May my love and passion for Jesus be manifest in such a way that others will be drawn to Him; that they will smell His aroma on me, and desire to have Him too.  They will see His smile on my face, and yearn for His joy.  They will hear His heart beating through my voice, and desperately seek to find the center.

May my addiction to Jesus be contagious!

 

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”  ~2 Corinthians 2:14

One Word {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Encouragement, Teen Girls

One word. The thought baffles me.

Verbosity is my weakness.

I heard the challenge on the radio a couple of days ago. Instead of writing out a list of goals and achievements; resolutions for the year, to choose one word.

One word to hold onto. One word to inspire. One word. Only one.

So I started thinking. I can do this, right? Just one word, pshaw–that should be easy…right?

Ahem. Until you start trying to narrow it down.

Words filled my mind.

Beloved?

Surrender?

Faith?

Purpose?

Trust?

Open?

All beautiful words…but they felt redundant to me. Sure, I could use them. But they didn’t feel right. So I prayed about it, and kept thinking and searching. Then I saw it:

A beautiful word. So simple. Mundane, boring even. But the thoughts that filled my mind when I read it whispered, “This is it.”

Walk

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
~Micah 6:8

To place one foot in front of the other.
To get somewhere.
Swift or slow, to progress.
Steady or shaking, intrepid or heart breaking.
To hold His hand and follow Him.
To take each step. With Him.

 

“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
~Genesis 5:24

“I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”
~Leviticus 26:12

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
~Deuteronomy 6:7

“When His lamp shone over my head, And by His light I walked through darkness;”
~Job 29:3

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
~Psalm 23:4

“For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth.”
~Psalm 26:3

“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”
~Psalm 86:11

“for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
~Ephesians 5:8

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,”
~Colossians 2:6

“so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
~1 Thessalonians 2:12

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
~1 John 1:7

“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
~1 John 2:6

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;”
~Revelation 21:23-25
What do you think of this challenge–one word for the year?
What would be a word that you would choose?

The Angel’s Message ~Part One~ {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Christmas, Teen Girls

Her hands were sweaty.  She could feel her stomach quivering, her heart racing, as she knelt before the shining being before her. Favor with God?  A baby?  The Son of God?  God, as a baby–in my womb?

The thought thrilled and terrified her all at the same time.  “The Lord is with you.”

Then, like a punch in the stomach, her thoughts came back to earth, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  Surely the angel must have made a mistake.  She could not have a child.  She was not married!  She sighed.  It had been a beautiful thought, it would have been nice if it were true.

But the angel’s face did not cloud in confusion.  He did not turn away from her.  No, instead, his face seemed to beam brighter.  A full smile lit across his face as though he was expecting the question.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of GodFor nothing will be impossible with God.”

Goosebumps ran up her neck.  The hair on her arms stood straight up.  Her legs felt weak.

The sign!  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

God with us.

God with us.

God with us.

The God of Noah, that in His righteous anger, covered the entire earth with water, destroying all life but that in the tiny rescue ship.

The God of Moses, that, struck the Egyptians with plagues, delivered the children of Israel with a mighty hand and outstretched arm.

The God of Elijah, throwing fire down from heaven, consuming the offering before the prophets of Baal.

The God of the mighty warrior David.

The God that delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the flames.

The God that held the lions mouths shut for Daniel.

The God that gave Esther, the beautiful Persian queen, the courage to save her people, and protected her from harm.

That God.  That God of judgment.  That God of power.  Strength.  Majesty.  Mercy.  Kindness.

With us.

In her womb.

She put her hands to her stomach, her mind racing.  Me?  I am the virgin?  Me?  My son, God?  The Messiah?

God is come to save us!

Jesus.  That was the name the angel said to call Him.  Jesus.  Her Son’s name.  A smile touched her lips. It was so sweet on her tongue.

A flash filled her sight.  A vision knocked her.  Blood running down.  Cold stone.  Violent quaking.  The smell of fear.  Sweat.  Blood.  The sounds of anger.  Yelling, screaming, “Harlot!  Adulteress!”  And blackness.  Death.  The ache filled her chest and escalated into a raging fire.  Anxiety ravaged her body.

What about Joseph, her betrothed?  When he discovers that she is with child, will he believe her that the Child is God?  That she is with child by the Holy Spirit?  Her throat burned.  Or would he order her to be stoned for adultery?

Immanuel.  God with us.  God with her. She was called Favored One… He would protect her.  He was always faithful.  Just like He was with Noah.  With Moses.  With David.  He was with her.

Her voice quivered, felt small,

“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

The angel was gone.

Waiting {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Girls

Waiting is so hard.  It could be be waiting for that adorable dress to go on sale, it could be waiting for that avocado to ripen (guacamole, anyone?),  it could be waiting for that phone call, a difficult relationship that you’ve been working hard to reconcile, it could be a dream you’ve held forever…whatever it is, no level of waiting is easier than another.

 

I’m stubborn.  I’m a hard nose.  I’m willing to work hard for what I want–even if it kills me.  I don’t care.  I want it, I’m willing to do what it takes to get it.  I don’t care about the pain.  The blood.  The sweat.  The tears.  Bring it on–as long as I get what I want in the end.

 

But that’s not the way that God always works.

 

He does not ask me to practically kill myself for what I want.  He doesn’t want sacrifice, it doesn’t matter how much blood, sweat, or tears I shed–trying to show Him how badly I want something.  He wants obedience.


“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,”

~from 1 Samuel 15:22

 

Sometimes I forget that what want is not necessarily what God wants for me.  Or, if it is something that I believe is within His will, I forget that He is not always working within the time schedule that I want things to occur.

 

“Come on, God!  It’s time for this to happen now!”  I point to my watch, tap my toe.

 

Amy, are you being faithful where I have you right now? 


But Lord, I have been!  And I keep trying, isn’t it time that everything pays off now???

 

Amy, trust Me.  Wait.  Wait upon the Lord.  Remain faithful.


I am reminded of the scene in the movie Fireproof.  Even now, as I write this post, I am blasting the song “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller through ear buds.  So good.

 

Anyway, the scene with the montage showing Caleb, how while he is waiting for the Lord to work he is simply being obedient.  No matter what the outcome appears to be, he does not waver in that which he believes the Lord has called him to.  He just waits.  He keeps pressing in on the commands of the Lord.  He waits.  He remains faithful.  Even if it means forever.

 

Even if it means waiting for eternity.

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good,

 for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

~Galatians 6:9

 

“At the proper time”–in God’s time.  Even if it means til eternity.

 

God’s timing is always best.  He is omniscient.  He knows the desires of your heart, He will not withhold good things from you, but He will protect you.  And because He is supreme, His will comes before yours.  Is His will first and foremost in your heart?

 

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,

On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

To deliver their soul from death

And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;

He is our help and our shield.

For our heart rejoices in Him,

Because we trust in His holy name.

Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,

According as we have hoped in You.

~Psalm 33:18-22

 

What are you waiting for?  

How can you serve the Lord while you wait?  

Talk to God about the things on your heart that you are waiting for.  Are they from Him?  Give them up to Him, trust in His holy name, and bask in His peace as He carries them for you–and be faithful wherever He calls you in the meantime.

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