Trials

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV

 

From Abraham to Moses to Elijah to Paul, God’s people have had struggles. Some say that Christians’ lives should be perfect but that is not the case. If anything our lives can be harder than those that do not have Jesus as their Savior. Sometimes we doubt God and ask why bad things happen to us. To gain the answer to that question you must go back to Genesis. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin came into the world. This brought about all the pain and suffering we see in the world today.

Back to why Christians’ lives are sometime so hard. One word, Satan. Satan sees us following God and doing His work and he hates it. The devil hates Christians and all we stand for. So he uses everything at his disposal to hurt us and turn us from God. But the above verse says that if we go through those trials with our faith, then praise will be given to God. With help from God our faith is strengthened when we go through trials and tribulations. And when others see us and our faith they will be strengthened too and praise God. So we go through trials, but God will be praised through all of it. There is no need for worry when the devil shoots his fiery darts at us. Our faith in God who will see us through the trials and at the end of all of it we will be stronger.

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Three Fork Trail

My best friend wrote a testimony about Camp Three Forks Trail which is an amazing place in the mountains of Georgia. When she read this part I was amazed by how poetic it was and decided to share it with y’all. Enjoy!
Like many others, here at TFT as well as on mountains in general I feel closer to God. I feel the humility that comes from knowing I am so small compared to something so great. But even still Our God is that much greater than it all. Even with yells and clattering dishes, there’s a quiet peace that blows across this mountain. And in it I’ve heard God’s voice calling to me. The streams they drizzle with truths from God’s word. The trees they stand tall establishing God’s dominance over it all. The woods stretch on trying to grasp just how far our God can reach. The grass it comforts each falling limb as the Father comforts those who fall to Him. And the animals expose God’s wonder both hidden and seen amongst all the Lord has created. And yet all of this would be lost except for those willing to come and find God. The presence of God if sought can be easily found up on top of this hill. The drive gets long, the air gets cold, the ground gets wet, the chairs get uncomfortable, the table gets sticky, the food gets burnt, the skin gets cut, the lungs get weak, the legs get tired but what are these small earthly things compared to the spiritual blessings that can be obtained?

Up here God sets my soul on fire, my energy is recharged and my heart is freed from societal bonds.

I like to lay in the meadow at night looking at the stars and the clouds as they cover and reveal each one. I even like to stand just facing the moon and trying to comprehend God and all that he has blessed me with. And in the darkness silently cry out to He which is light with prayer when I’m burdened.

My Grandjim told me this past summer something that I now cling to,” You’re getting down in the valley so you’ll appreciate the mountaintops more when you get back up there.” I can’t help but think of this place and the analogy simultaneously. Both literally and metaphorically as he meant it is so true. To me this answers the question of why bad things happen, so that we can appreciate and recognize God. That we can’t do it alone. This life isn’t perfect since sin entered this world and it’ll never be again. And we have to understand that this life, this world is not our final destination. Our ultimate consequences do not lie in the losses or gains of this world but the next. And by going through earthly trials and tribulations we’re tested as to whether we’re gonna run to or from God in times of trouble. Whether or not in our hearts we truly acknowledge him as being omnipotent and trust that He’s got this. And when bad things happen as Christians it should make being drawn closer to God, seeing His hand move, and coming out of it for the better that much sweeter. So in the valley I currently call Acworth, Ga things may be rough and not make sense but then being up here is all the more peaceful and deliberating because of where I came from.

No matter how isolated I sometimes feel when I’m up here, I miss this place as soon as the bumper reaches the road.

And having moved now three times in the past 3 years and planning to move again once I graduate I feel as though I have no accurate address but this place, this is where my heart is. With the foundation of God, the roof of the lessons learned here and held up by the people that have been a part of it all through the years.

Some of our loved ones we’ve lost over the years and though the streams of tears that form at the thought of them may never run dry, it’s hard not to smile when I think of everything they must have done and given to make all of this possible. For me personally these people are my grandma, Alice Talley, and Mr. Glenn Felkel, who called me family when I went to go visit him in the hospital before he passed away. This camp is a physical representation of some of the great works they allowed God to perform through them. And though I’ll never get to thank them for all I now understand they gave me, they are in my heart every time I come up and see the evidence of their commitment to building a foundation for God’s people to be able to come up and reach for God.

I have discovered all these things for myself and I pass them on to you in hopes that you have made or will make relations with others and with God while you are up here. I hope in some ways you can find yourself, not the version you’ve crafted to fit in to society or in protest of it. But the version of yourself that was beautifully and wonderfully made by the Lord. The true you that embodies your purpose and brings honor to God. The unique you that life was breathed into so that you might help turn the world’s eyes to face God.

Three Forks is no magic realm. Being here isn’t going to automatically fix all the problems you face. But it provides an escape. If you’re willing, being up here provides an opportunity for you to reach God in a safe place. You can let the world be the world and yourself be with God. There is a peace found here, being in nature but also being looked after and guided during events. As well as staying in the woods while still in relative comfort.

So what does Three Forks mean to me? In bullet-points it means growing closer to God, family, and friends. Being exposed to nature and hidden from the troubles outside of that gate. It means experiencing all these things and more while preparing to go back out and help someone else find what I have found. Three Forks is home.

Look at the Stars

I just spent a weekend at a wonderful place called Camp Three Forks Trail. Last night was the best of all. 

The stars shine bright,

The galaxies spin

As I look up to heaven.

A break from the pace,

I love this place.

God’s beauty and glory shining brightly.

The anxieties forgotten,

My worries gone

As I look up at the stars.

Friends by my side, dew on my back,

As I lay on the ground

And look at the stars.

I never want to leave,

Never want this to end.

The stars transport me to a different place,

With no worry or shame.

So I lay here peacefully

As I look at the stars.

What is so Bad About Halloween?

Halloween has been celebrated for many years, but how many of you actually know the history? Halloween was originally celebrated as a day worshiping the dead. God does not approve of this, which is clear in His word. Let us dig in to the history and why we, as Christians, should not celebrate Halloween.

Halloween started with the Celtic celebration of Samhaim, held the day before November 1 which was their new year. October 31 was when spirits were thought to come back to earth. The prescience of these spirits supposedly helped predictions of the future to be made. Bonfires would be made and sacrifices burned to appease the spirits. Also the Celts would wear costumes to help make predictions. These costumes would also disguise them from the spirits.

The practice of carving pumpkins originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a beer with him. Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin so that Jack could use it to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years. Soon after, Jack died but God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since.

Eventually as Christianity made its way into the land ruled by the Celts, the Christian holiday of All Saints Day and Samhaim were blended. All Saints Day was also known as All Hallows, eventually becoming Halloween. As time went on Halloween became more of a fun, community oriented holiday. Now most people do not know about the pagan roots of this seemingly innocent holiday.

I know that you may give the excuse that the pagan roots do not matter and that now Halloween is not the same, but the roots matter. The roots of a tree feed the tree, just as the roots of Halloween feed the way people celebrate now. Matthew 7:17-18 says, ‘“Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”’ Nothing good can come out of a holiday with such evil roots. 1 Corinthians 10:21 says, ‘You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.’ We as Christians should not participate in evil holidays; we cannot mix holy and unholy. The holiday seems innocent enough, but 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, ‘And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.’

Dressing up for Halloween sound like fun, but not when you look at the roots. The costumes are worn to keep evil spirits away and help foretell fortunes. The Bible says in Leviticus 19:31, ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.’ God has a history for hating fortune tellers, witches, and conjurers. He does not want us having anything to do with them. That is why we should not dress in costumes in the spirit of Halloween, no matter how innocent it seems.

Bonfires are something that most everyone loves. They are great on a chilly fall night, but on Halloween they have a darker meaning. God, in Exodus 20:3, says, ‘“You shall have no other gods before Me.”’ Bonfires were used on Samhaim to sacrifice to the spirits, the Celtic gods. Unknowingly, many people are still making sacrifices with similar bonfires every year on Halloween. This goes against the first commandment God ever gave His people.

Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin carvings are also a popular tradition on Halloween. But the origins of these start with the devil himself, at least in folk lore. God does not want us, as Christians, having anything to do with the devil and his schemes. How can we continue to participate in a holiday that worships Satan? He is our enemy not our friend.

Anger Manegment Issues

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.   Colossians 3:8 NKJV

Think about your everyday life. How often do you lose your temper, say God’s name in vain, or cuss? God tells us that as Christians we should not do this. Now do not get me wrong, it is not a sin to be angry. It is a sin though to lose your temper when you are angry. How many times do you say “Oh my God” or “Jesus” to show your anger or excitement over something? That is called using God’s name in vain. That is a sin, just read the second commandment in Exodus 20:7, ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.’ This is the same as cussing, which lots of people do. Unfortunately I catch myself sometimes about to say something I would regret. But that is when you learn to hold your tongue, not literally of course. Though you know that might actually help. Anyways, all of these go together in a way, cussing and blasphemy usually come from an outburst of anger. So let us not lose our temper and then maybe our ears would not hurt as much.

Being Patient

Have you ever thought about how we will find that one person God is preparing for us? I know that I have spent many a long night thinking about that. I know that God has a plan for everyone and that if that plan includes a spouse, then God is preparing that person especially for you. And God is preparing you for that person. But how will we know who that special someone is? Here are my thoughts behind it.

If we live our whole lives for the Lord and focus on Him, not a significant other, then God will bring that person into our lives when we are ready. It is hard to watch your friends who have a boyfriend or girlfriend and you envy them. But God comes first and if you live your life for Him then He will send Mr. or Mrs. Right when you are ready.

For quite a while now I have looked into the eyes of many a Christian boy and wondered if he might be the one. But as I get more into my work for the Lord, those thoughts take a backseat. Do not get me wrong, I still have that burning desire to find a godly young man to love and serve for the rest of my life. I have just come to the realization that I presented a moment ago. I will focus on my work for God and when He thinks I am ready, He will send my Prince Charming to me. I do not have to search for him.

“But how will you know he is the one?” you ask. Well, I believe that God will move that desire to love and serve from just a nameless character to the man He has for me. And that man will be the only one I will ever have those kinds of feelings for because I will have concentrated on God my entire life. I will not have focused on a beau; I will have focused on serving God. That is how I will know that he is the one.

So I challenge you, if you are still single, to take my advice. I have prayed long and hard about this and God has revealed these things to me recently. Let us all, as singles, take that step of faith and focus on serving our Savior. Then when we are ready, God will send the perfect someone to us. We just have to be patient, which is the hard part.

Our Focus

Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.   2 John 1:8 NKJV

 

So many things in this world drag us away from Christ. Money and fame are probably the things you first thought of. But there is more to it than just those, though they do take our minds off Christ. The struggle for acceptance, the fear of making mistakes, the longing to be truly loved by another human all drag us away from Christ. John realized that and in this passage is trying to warn us to not focus on these things.

In my life, I struggle a lot with these things. I want to be accepted in certain circles. I want to stop being forgetful and making mistakes. I am always looking forward to when I will meet that special someone that will love me like Christ loves the Church. But they are pulling me away from God. I focus on them so much that I start to forget who I am. I am a beautiful child of God. He loves me, so why do I need a man. He accepts me so why do I need to be accepted by other people. He does not worry that I am always making mistakes. He knows that I am imperfect and it does not care because I am saved by the love of His Son.

But since I am human I forget that and I grow depressed and I become anxious about everything wrong with me. I dwell on the bad and not the good. This draws me away from Christ and all the work I have done to grow closer to Him is in vain. I feel separated from Him even though all I want is to feel His loving arms around me.

We cannot let our insecurities get in the way of our relationship with Jesus. If we do then this is how we feel: dry, sad, and angry. Let us not dwell on the things that this world deems important. Let us do what Paul says in Philippians 4:8, ‘Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy—meditate on these things.’