Death of Selfishness

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Be ready for this week’s video! Every Monday by 6pm for the next 11 weeks.

The Story of the Supposed Missing Kid- or the Lost Sheep (PYFA Vacation Bible School)

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It’s the last day of PYFA and I’m leading children’s ministry. We’re almost done for the day when a frantic mother comes up to me and tells me her kid is missing and more importantly that this is my responsibility. (Spoiler Alert: He was with his father and brother)

You can imagine what happened next. Our volunteers stopped everything and, much like the parable of the lost sheep or the lost coin or the parodical son, we left everything behind for that one out of 80 kids we lost. (I might add we actually didn’t lose him) In that moment it was our responsibility that drove us to search for this ‘missing’ kid, but sitting with my mother she reminds me of how we serve a God who with a much greater love, not responsibility, searches for that one lost sheep. Thinking back I can’t imagine the love and pain God feels for us because he sees beyond our physical circumstance and knows who is truly lost is the crowds. He sees you and I and He, with great urgency, searches for his lost sheep.

Our supposed lost kid was with his father and brother- safe and sound. And I honestly never felt so happy to learn that a child was with his parents! I imagine how great God’s joy is when we choose to follow him and that he chooses to look for us when we’re not his responsibility- he does everything because of love.

This Sunday there is no “Sari Sunday” post. To be honest with you, before deciding to teach, I never imagined myself in children’s ministry; I’m now a Special Education Resident and will be a full time teacher next year at a high school. If anything, my passion is to work with teens, and managing large groups of young kids always seemed as a daunting, if not impossible, task.

When I thought I lost a kid I was filled with feelings of panic, sadness and doubt. This is my future career, isn’t it? But today I learned a lesson of how much it hurts to lose that one sheep in just a VBS. I worry about this VBS when I hardly think of one’s eternity. 

Luke 15: 4-7 

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the [b]open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Secret to Confidence: Know Your Worth

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Low self-esteem is easier to find than dirt on the subway as insecurity devours our culture, stripping away more than we possibly realize.  Once we forget who we are, we settle for less, we walk hunched over.  Confidence is an afterthought when survival is what we grasp for.  The problem begins because we do not know our worth. 

1.  How much are you worth?

I spoke with someone once about this, I believe it was my brother.  He calculated his worth and pointed out that some people are worth more than others.  How then do you determine yours?

I started a new tradition where I collect all my coins and turn it in at my local bank on my birthday and after Christmas.  It’s my surprise birthday/Christmas gift to myself.  Plus, if I ever find myself really strapped for cash (and assuming I haven’t recently done this) I can cash in my change.

My bank allows me to guess how much money I’ve collected.  I thought I didn’t collect much, it didn’t even really fill the jar.  I guessed $30 thinking I was being too optimistic.  I was wrong, I had collected $60 without realizing it.  I dramatically undervalued how much I saved.

I felt God pleading with me recently reminding me that I am worth so much more than I realize.

2.  Don’t use the wrong formula.  

It’s so easy to forget our worth, isn’t it?  There are all those markers that seem to define us. But, who are you beyond your job, your looks, your Facebook profile or your grades?

So many times I fear that I, as well as many people I love, do the same.  We don’t understand our worth.  We are jars of coins trying to be sold to the highest bidder, never taking the time to count what’s actually inside.

I began a new yearly bible plan, click here for a link.  When reading over Genesis I was reminded of something beautiful.  Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

How remarkable is this?  And really think about this- you are created in the image of the most beautiful God.  How much are you undervaluing yourself?

Thinking back to my conversation with my brother, I may be worth nothing “technically”, but no price can actually be put on your life.  You may try, but no one can ever measure the way you love, no one can ever measure the lengths those who care for you will go.  These barometers forget that because of God, our worth breaks any scale man can make regardless of who you are and what the world thinks of you.

3.  Turn to God

I remember loving myself growing up, maybe a little too much.  I rarely even thought about how I looked like but knew I was special, I knew I had importance.  Then puberty hit and a wave of insecurity came along with it.  I questioned everything I once knew for a fact.  Was I ugly?  Why did others do better than me in school?  Did I really have friends?  I didn’t know it at the time but these were whispers of deceit from the enemy that would tear me down- but not completely.

I wish I could say that at the age of 21 that I am immune to insecurity, that I’ve solved the problem of low self-esteem.  But I too need to stop myself from undervaluing my worth.

The difference now is that I know the truth: that I am worth more than I can possibly comprehend.

Why else would God of the universe send His Son to earth to die for me? Am I worth the life of someone so perfect, so holy….to take the place of my wretchedness, my sin, my deceit, my shame…?

I am worth it. YOU are worth it. You have value much more than you know, so much that He laid his life down for you. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13 NIV

So next time when you’re feeling down about yourself, remember that the Creator made you in His image, His beautiful and perfect image, and that your life is worth the price of His Son.

4. The Challenge 

Today I challenge you to look at yourself and let God speak. Look deeply into your heart and hear what God says.  He crafted you, he is molding you as his perfect creation.  Comment below when you do this about how God is speaking to you.

The secret to confidence is knowing your worth.  

If you see yourself through the eyes of the Father, you can be confident in the knowledge that He created you for a purpose, you are beautiful and loved, and you have worth.

Written by Nina Thomas, Edited by Shannon Mathew

Everyone feels sad sometimes

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It feels odd to write down, but it’s so true.  Everyone feels sad sometimes.  I don’t know why I imagine that I am the only person who feels the way I do when I go through rough patches in life.  Sometimes that sadness can seem engulfing and the scariest thing in the world to do is to address what I’m feeling.  The bible says that there is a time for weeping and a time for rejoicing.  But all I want to do is rejoice!

I’m sure that there are lots of people who feel the same way that I do.  I don’t want whatever situation I’m going through to burden others.  I don’t want other people to know that I’m experiencing pain.  And I imagine that everyone really is exactly the way they appear to be on the surface.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Absolutely everyone we meet in life is facing his or her own battle.  And this is all the more reason to love and to love like never before.

My mother was the first person to make me realize this.  She told me to be kindest to the people who seemed the meanest.  Because when you stopped and took time to get to know them, it’s like peeling an onion!  There are layers and layers underneath and everyone has a reason for being the way that they are.

In particular she told me there was a woman who she saw daily who seemed to hate her.  It’s so hard to love those who hate us.  The bible can vouch for this fact.  But she told me that when she learned of the pain this woman experienced in her life, she suddenly understood the bitterness.  She understood it instantly.  And her love for this woman was not in vain, now they’re actually really great friends!

The perfect biblical model for this kind of compassion is embodied in the life of Jesus.  He looked at the defects and the outcasts of the world and somehow he chose to love them.  I guess he saw us in a way that we cannot even see ourselves.  It’s funny because sometimes it’s not even people who are putting these labels and ideas on us.  We do it to ourselves.

If there is anyone like me, who is reading this, please know that you’re not alone.  Sometimes I feel so sad tears feel like tiny needles shooting from my eyeballs.  Or so angry that my veins will burst!  Or even so happy and loved that I imagine my happiness is contagious.  We are not our emotions or our temporary feelings.  Feelings change.  And we are never ever really alone, never at all.

The art of discipline

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Discipline.  This is one of the hardest things in the world to attain.  The above picture is a shout out to one of my closest friends Christine.  She’s studying in a very intensive six year program and I know she reads my blog, every post even.  Keep going love because at the end of the day you work for what you really want.

Something that I’ve been struggling with especially over these last couple of months has been my lack of discipline.  I sincerely have no idea what has been going through my mind lately!  Even those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed it.  In many ways I’ve kind of just dropped off of the face of the earth.

I was worried about my spiritual growth.  I was worried about what would happen when I started taking classes that demanded more of my time.  I’ve learned that at the end of the day, everything comes down to discipline.  It’s so easy to fall prey to procrastination and wasted time but I urge you not to do so.

There are 14 weeks in a semester, that’s not a lot of time.  If you want to pursue a deeper relationship with God, learn more in your classes and work towards finding your true purpose- you need to put in the time.

Even with something like developing a relationship with God, discipline is the only way to get to know our father.  Pursue him, spend time with him.  Make it a conscious effort and part of your everyday to make God your priority.  I’m going to try to do this and hopefully there will be a visible difference.  No, there will be a visible difference in me.

One thing that really pushes my competitive side was a quote that said something along the lines of, “one day while you slept and did nothing, someone else was working and when you meet that person- they will beat you.”  In terms of our relationship with God, it’s not a competition.  But God deserves our time for no other reason than the fact that he is God.  You become like the things you worship.  And you worship the things you give priority and time to in your life.

Hebrews 12:11

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hey there Delilah?

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I was looking through my checklist of bible passages to read when a passage about Samson appeared.  I decided to keep reading past the passage assigned and I saw something about Delilah and Samson.  I read through it and saw how unhealthy their relationship was.  She was prodding him.  She didn’t really care for him and she betrayed him.  His interests were most important.  She wanted something and that was all that mattered,
I kept looking at that passage trying to imagine myself as Samson.  I’m obviously the brolic one!  The one anointed and ordained by God, right?  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was actually like Delilah and my friends in general are Samson.  My study bible said that Delilah was never mentioned in the bible again after this passage, but she stripped Samson of his honor.  How did one person leak their poison so powerfully into another person’s life?
Sure, it was Samson’s choice!  How could he make the same mistakes over and over again?  Stupid.  Not like I’ve ever ermmm done anything like that before.  *cough*
But how many times have I been a Delilah to the people important in my life.  The best thing we could ever do in our lives is encourage people.  To love people so much that they can feel the warmth of God.  But we’re predisposed to just hate.  
Human beings feast on hurting other and I fear that one day this nature in me will really hurt me or the people close to me.  Little people talk about other people right?  And I stand by the belief that it’s okay to share feelings, but there’s a point where it crosses the line.  I think I should know how to gauge that.
I don’t want to be remembered as someone who broke other people down.  I want to build other people up.  Samson was defeated by Delilah.  But we are made strong in Christ because our weakness is perfected in him alone.
I guess the problem comes when people who are filled with the Spirit stop listening to God.  Then just as Samson, God will leave us and we will not realize it.

I hope this was interesting to you!