Stop Being a Bully

I’m going to be blunt for a minute. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but bad words will never hurt me” is the most ridiculous saying I’ve ever heard. We all know that’s a lie if we’ve ever heard one. Now I know it was meant with the intention of not letting things others say get to us, but we all know this little saying isn’t going to make the pain go away. Words are VERY hurtful. If they weren’t, depression rates would be down and suicide rates would be way down. In this day and age, it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know someone or know of someone who committed suicide because of being bullied. And the thing is, we ALL do it. It’s not just the so-called “bullies” who are the ones hurting these people, but all of us. Even if just for a moment, we have all put someone down to make us feel better about ourselves. As a post on Facebook so perfectly put this, “the problem with people is that we feel the need to make others feel inferior so that we can feel superior.”

Last night I was on Facebook, just scrolling through my newsfeed before I went to sleep and found a post that seemed odd. Not long after looking into it and texting a friend, I found out terrible news. The younger stepbrother of the girl I consider more of another sister than just a friend, committed suicide. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately called my family still not knowing much about the situation or what had triggered this. It didn’t take long to figure out that bullying was the problem. The craziest thing is that even though I hadn’t seen him in a while, he seemed “fine” the last time I saw him, happy even. But isn’t that how it normally works? The person seems “fine” and “if only we had known…” Well, what about this…If you knew something you said (or did) was going to be what pushed someone over the edge, would you still say it?

 Why can’t we live that way? We live in a time when superiority is the thing we are looking for. We put others down because that way we don’t feel AS bad about ourselves. And now we don’t even have to bully in person. With the technology we have, we can hide behind our phones and computers and bully others. So now, not only have we become bullies, but COWARDS as well. We are caught in a lie; we let Satan take over and he fills us with the thought that if we put someone else down, we will feel better about ourselves. But do we ever really feel better? No. Maybe just for a second but tearing someone else apart is never going to heal the wounds inside us. If we all learned to treat each other with love and respect, these kinds of things wouldn’t happen near as often. Bullying and cyber bullying would not be the topic of discussion on the news. We aren’t perfect. We are going to say and do things we regret. However, we can choose to make things right. APOLOGIZE to the person; tell them you love them. Don’t just hope they know you were sorry. Stop being a coward and take ownership of your actions or call someone else out on theirs. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 Dedicated to Taylor Newman, Makenzie Latham, and the Copeland family in honor of Josh Copeland

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Celebrity Status

I recently started having a newfound love for Nick Jonas (yes, fan girl moment). I bought his new album (the clean, no explicits version) and started watching interviews with him. Nick, the youngest of the former Jonas brothers band, has stepped out on his own and recently released his first self-titled album as well as started modeling and plays a role in a tv show called Kingdom (on my list of things to begin watching). Basically, he’s the newest Disney star gone Hollywood and everyone wants to know about him. Yet in every interview, what seemed to be the most important topic was the removal of his purity ring. “Why? Are you still a virgin? Did you have sex with ____?” and so on…of all the things they could ask this rising star, that’s all anyone seemed to care about. And the worst part is that Nick was fine with it, and seemed used to it. Why is it that Hollywood has become the place for anyone with even the slightest bit of morals to complete throw them all away? Maybe because that’s all our focus has become. It’s not exciting to talk about the celebrities focused on their acting or singing career, but rather those who decided to shave off all their hair and dance with foam fingers (you know who I’m referring to), who’s dating who, or the most recent run-in with the feds. And I’m guilty of it too. I want to know the latest gossip, but it’s this trending gossip that has stars thinking they have to be a certain way to make it. As Nick says about his sex symbol appeal, “I think it drives people to the music, and that’s really where my focus is,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m just having fun.” What happened to people making it because of their talent (singing, acting, etc.), you know, the reason why they came to Hollywood to begin with? It saddens me that almost everyone turns out the same way, especially if they started out with Disney. Not sure how, but no matter how much faith I have that each upcoming Disney star is going to turn out better than the last, they all seem to turn out the same way (what is Disney teaching these kids?!).

Anyways, back to Nick…at almost every interview, he went on about how he still believed in God and had a love for the church but that as he’s grown older, he’s set his own set of beliefs. Although stating he does not regret wearing the promise ring when he was younger, he says he is an adult now and that it is no longer something that is a part of him. It crushes me to hear him say that. Don’t get me wrong. I respect him for being honest and open about his beliefs, but it saddens me that somewhere along the way he lost some of the values instilled in him. However, it’s not just about the fact that he’s no longer saving himself, but about his overall view in God. He’s turned God into someone less powerful, as if he can pick and choose what parts of God’s Word he will follow. As believers, we still will stumble but we are choosing to trust in God and believe His Word, ALL of it, ALL the time. And even though Nick’s decisions and change of values cannot fully be blamed on Hollywood, there is no doubt in my mind that Hollywood has played a part in this change. And this same thing {negative influence} happens over and over again (take Miley Cyrus for example). I feel like when we talk about missions, we focus on those in the community or in other countries. But what about in the “Hollywood world”? They so badly need Jesus but how often do we take the time to pray for them? Listening to these interviews really broke my heart and made me think about his salvation and other Hollywood stars like him who lack what they need most, Jesus. So next time we find ourselves talking about the latest Hollywood gossip, we need to stop and think about that. We are so interested in seeing their latest Instagram post and Twitter update, but where is our interest in their salvation?

God Works In Some Pretty Cool Ways!

It’s been a long time since I last blogged, but after what happened on my car ride home from chapter tonight, I just felt like sharing…So earlier today my friend Kasey sent me two different blogs, one being from John Piper. She sends out blogs often, but I’m not always the best about reading them (oops, sorry Kasey). However, today I read both of them. The one from John Piper was entitled “God Strengthens Us Through Others” (sounds good, right?). Piper talks about Satan tempting Peter on the night of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus knew Peter would deny knowing Him that night (not just once, but 3 times!!), yet Jesus prayed for Peter anyways. He prayed that when Peter turned back to Christ, he would strengthen the other ten apostles, not including Judas (Luke 22:31-32). But did Jesus pray for the other apostles and if so, why not in the same way? Yes, Jesus did pray for the other apostles but no, not in the same way as He did for Peter. He had a plan for Peter and that was to be able to strengthen others from the trial he faced. Piper explains that although God does deal with us directly, and strengthens our faith alone, most of the time He strengthens our faith through another person (10/11 times, get it?). By Peter falling and getting back up again, his faith was strengthened and through that testimony, Jesus used Him to strengthen the 10 other apostles, plus so many more!

The coolest part of this whole thing was not just reading the blog and learning something from it, but actually hearing a perfect example of this! On my way home from chapter tonight, I was listening to Auburn’s Christian radio station, Praise 88.7. They had two different couples come on, one telling about a miscarriage and the other telling about the death of their newborn baby. I came in late on the story of the miscarriage, but got to hear all of the story about the couple who lost their newborn girl. The couple was pregnant for the second time. They already had a young boy and were expecting another “smooth sailing” pregnancy. However, at one of their doctor visits, they were told their child (who they soon found out was a girl) had serious complications. The ultrasound showed a heartbeat but the news didn’t sound good. The next day the couple went back in for another ultrasound. They had already come up with a name for their baby girl hoping everything would be fine (after all, they did see a heartbeat), but the news they received was not at all what they were expecting. The doctor told them their baby was going to die after she was born due to complications in the brain. They had one of two options: abort the baby now, or carry her to full-term knowing that she would die soon after birth. They chose to carry her to full-term not even considering the other. 32 weeks into pregnancy, the couple was already meeting with a funeral home in preparation for what was to come, not knowing that day would come sooner than expected. A few days later, still in the 32nd week of pregnancy (for all you boys out there, the average pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks), the wife went into premature labor. The day most people look forward to was the day they most dreaded and it had come early. Chloe was born and her parents got to spend 45 minutes with her before she passed away. Through the last half of this couple’s story, I just sat in my car and cried as if I knew them or what they were experiencing. But I don’t and I can’t even begin to imagine the pain they experienced, having people tell you congratulations on your pregnancy when they don’t even know what you know, or having to meet with a funeral home before your child is even born, and then holding her in your arms not knowing how long you have before she passes. Even writing about it is making me tear up. And in that moment when Chloe took her last breath, the song “Better is One Day in Your Courts Than 1000 Elsewhere” came on the radio that they had playing music in the background. Wow. God showed He was with them even in that moment. As the wife finished her story, the man on the radio who was doing the interview said God didn’t just use this to help strengthen your faith, but to help those who are listening and may being experiencing something similar. And then it hit me. She and her husband were Peter! In such a trial as that, their faith was strengthened, and from that, God is using them to strengthen the other “10/11”. How cool is that to have JUST read a blog about this same thing and then to be driving down the road and hear a story about it?!

And to tie that altogether, God had a reason for me reading that blog today and then hearing that story, and I think for me it was a confirmation of what God wants me to do with my life. As a nursing student, I have considered working in the NICU, or maybe even in labor and delivery. I love babies but I also love kids in general so one things for sure: (Lord willing) I will work with kids and more than anything hope to work in a Children’s Hospital. Hearing that story tonight and getting so emotionally attached made me want to consider working with babies even more, but definitely added to me wanting to work with kids. I have always been one of those people who hates seeing others upset. I want to be able to comfort them even when I don’t have any idea what to say. I can’t imagine being a parent who doesn’t get the joyful experience of bringing home their newborn, or not getting to see their child grow up. I know I won’t always know what to say, but I think God has called me to be someone who can be a comfort to the parents who will need it. And though I have experienced something like the couple who lost their child, God can use my faith and the trials He’s brought me through to help strengthen others, to help strengthen the other “10/11”.

Sorry for such a long blog. It’s just cool receiving an affirmation of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life and knowing that the trials I am experiencing now are not only to strengthen my faith just for my sake, but for the times when God uses me as “Peter”. I am not just called to be a nurse to care for those who are sick (although obviously important), but to be a light to the people I meet. And this doesn’t just apply to nursing. It applies to my everyday life. The situation in the story and where I am in school right now just made me look at this from a nursing standpoint.

Experiencing Suffering

Today I was texting a friend who is going through a hard time. As we got to talking, I was reminded of what Jesus tells us about suffering. Not only does He say that we will experience suffering, but He tells us to “consider it pure joy” whenever we do. Who’s ever heard of such a thing? I mean I’m not exactly jumping up and down for joy when I face a trial. The thing is, Jesus knows we are not always going be happy about it. We are going to be sad, maybe mad, and possibly ask why, but even Jesus questioned God when He was on the cross (Matt. 27:46). However, He tells us to see suffering as good “because you know that the test of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4). We tend to see suffering as something that makes us feel weak when in reality God is using it to mold us into something greater. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

Not everyone is going to experience the same suffering or even the same amount of suffering. God only gives us what we can handle and not everyone can handle the same things. We aren’t always going to understand why some people experience what they do, but God never intended for us to know everything. God made each and everyone one of us the same in that we are here to worship Him, but made us different in that each of us has different gifts to use for His greater plan. In that same way, the trials we face are different because what we learn from these experiences is different according to His plan for each of our lives.

*Something to remember: If Jesus is allowing us to experience suffering, He isn’t going to just leave us on our own. He is going to be there every step of the way!

Christ’s Sacrifice

**I actually wrote this at the beginning of March, but just now set up my blog.**

This past weekend I helped out with Discipleship Now at my home church. As a college leader, my responsibility was to teach the Bible studies at the host homes. The lessons were laid out for us so I already had a guide and verses to help me along the way. Session 1 was titled “Knowing the Author.” Of course, as a Christian, we think, “well of course I know who Jesus is.” But, do we really? I have been in church for 20 years and I still learn new things about Christ all the time. Even as a leader, I can say I learned more about Christ than I knew before this past weekend.

Anyways, during session 1 we were discussing how in the Old Testament, there were so many laws to follow. 613 laws were given in the first five books! What?! I struggle with just remembering what day of the week it is. I can’t imagine trying to remember that many laws. Without even knowing it, I would probably break a new one everyday. Sacrifices were given to God to pay for one’s sins. Not just any sacrifice, but a blood sacrifice. Sheep, goats, etc. were used depending on the sin. Even the way the sacrifice was prepared differed from sin to sin.

Thankfully, the Old Testament is referred to as “old” for a reason; something new and greater was yet to come (or we would’ve been doomed with those laws). No, we are not any better than the people of the Old Testament. We are sinners just as they were with as many, if not more, temptations than they experienced. We are just as guilty as they were, and because of this, blood must be shed. “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) So why is the New Testament so great? Because Jesus Christ came to be that blood sacrifice. Jesus Christ didn’t come to take away the law, but to FULFILL it! “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17.

Yes, I have heard time and time again that Christ died on a cross for my sins, but never have I looked at it as a “blood sacrifice.” In all honesty, I thought Jesus was taking away the idea of the blood sacrifice when He came to earth, not fulfilling it. It makes sense now, though, and it brings about a moment of awe when I think of how great Jesus has to be to be the one and only sacrifice for ALL sins for FOREVER AND ALWAYS. With the sinful nature we have, I can’t imagine how many animals were being slaughtered for sacrifices. If we still had to do that today, I would be living on a farm so I would be able to raise enough animals to sacrifice for all of my sins. I don’t even think we would have enough sheep and goats for everyone to use as sacrifices. But the great thing is, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to worry about it. Christ came to be what animals used to be, an intermediate between the people and God. But instead of continuous sacrifices bringing us to God, we now have ONE sacrifice, Jesus Christ. And even though, he sacrificed His life over 2,000 years ago, his bloodshed still qualifies as a sacrifice for me today and one day for my grandchildren that will fall into temptation and sin just as we have been from the beginning. Christ’s one bloodshed is greater than an infinite number of animal bloodsheds. How amazing is that?!