Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nervousness, fear, palpitations, could be used to describe some of the myriad of feelings jumbled together as I first stepped on stage. Although I do this periodically (mostly because I am forced to, not by choice) the feelings never change. I still have a mild case of stage fear, which hits me every time. I guess its part of what makes it so you don't become too overconfident.

The view from the pulpit is much different from that of the pew side. ‪As you step up you see all the faces of your fellow believers looking back at you and you can even tell what some of them are thinking (by the way if you haven't already learned, the pastor can see that you are texting on your phone, laughing at a joke that was not his, or spaced out-even if you think you are being subtle. It brings much appreciation to the pastor who does this every Sunday and makes it look like a piece of cake. ‬

Edited (I had to add this in): I have to shout out to my honorary sister lisa who was making hand gestures and laughing (even when there was no joke). I think we trained ourselves to be suuuper supportive of each other. So this was her way of showing support--it was a bit distracting =D (just kidding- love you)- also I wonder if pastor's kids or wife do this sorta thing during the service to keep him motivated! I know I try to support new speakers as much I can by nodding along- smiling --and giving them my full attention.

As per request. It’s true it has been a while since I have done a Sunday morning thought from the pew-side, but this past Sunday I had the rare opportunity to be on the opposite end of the spectrum for a few minutes. I was asked to share the youth message over the course of spring break. I am going to share a secret…I get stage fright…..and nervous and also don’t feel that I am adequate at giving messages. I prayed and for a while there have been a few thoughts that have been stirring in my heart some of them may have been mentioned here and there in my blog. Here it is:

Leading a Victorious Christian Life - avoiding Sin and conquering the flesh:

We live in a society that is impatient with failure. I doubt that any person reading this was greeted with a “great job son, great job daughter” when they brought home a failing grade. In fact some of you may still have the scars to prove it. This intolerance of failure trickles down to our Christian walk. Often times when we see a fellow brother or sister that has failed in their Christian walk we tend to ostracize them and keep a distance from them, thinking “what could God possibly do with this downcast Christian?” But if we really think about it we all fail or have failed in our walk with God. Some of us fail more often then others; some of us fail on a greater scale; but the bottom line is we all fail.

Over the past semester and few weeks I have been able to take part in a small bible study covering the book of Romans. And I want to take this time to share with you what I have learned.

Romans 8: 4-8
in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Galations 5:16-17
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

This is crux of the Christian Dilemma: an ongoing battle between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh, which is self gratifying, self pleasing, me, me, me, me, instant gratification vs. the spirit: which is constantly in tune with spirit of God and wants to do his will.

How will we be able to conquer the flesh and walk victoriously by the Spirit?

1. Awareness
Awareness plays a key role in helping upkeep our Christian walk.

Matthew 26:41:
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Remember when you were first baptized… you still had that new Christian smell on you. It’s like you were wearing all white and trying to avoid the mud-puddles of life. Aware of your surroundings and thus escaping the 'sin that so easily ensnares'.  Often times when people get new cars they get really protective; I’ve even seen some extreme cases in which people place plastic over the seats. As time wears on—usually after your parent spills chaya on the cup holders, your kids leave lip-gloss to melt in the back, and there are a few pairs of used socks in the pockets—you become less concerned with the upkeep.
Recently there was a study done by MD Anderson on aseptic technique. The IV Room in a pharmacy is a place where aseptic technique is mandatory. The pharmacist or technician who enters the room has to be garbed in a certain attire before entering the room and follow certain procedures before beginning the prep. MD Anderson being a cancer research hospital, does several chemo drips (ALL THE TIME) so they thought it would be more efficient to keep a pharmacist in the IV ROOM at all times rather then going back and forth. Over time they wanted to test their protocol and they studied the regular pharmacist who had to garb each time they entered the room vs the pharmacist that was already garbed and stayed in the room. Which do you think had more contamination of product? The one that was inside the room (ready and prepped and had less exposure to the outside world). Although they had several hypothesis for why this was the case, one of the main reasons was because the pharmacist inside the room became “desensitized”, less conscious, less aware of his surrounding (probably taking for granted that he/she was in the “clean room”). 

You see brothers and sisters when we loose awareness of our surroundings there is a possibility that we may contaminate what was meant to be holy. Awareness is key to overcoming the flesh. Knowing that although our adversary is vanquished he has not vanished, although he is not prevailing he is definitely present, will keep things in perspective.
2. Preparation
In order to overcome the flesh and dwell in the spirit there is a certain amount of preparation that goes into place. I once heard a message on the “off season Christian” or the “Christian in training”. The best example for this can be found in sports. You see, Dirk Nowitizki and Jeremy Lin are able to make buzzer beater shots because of the prep work they put in during the off season. They train and practice and make all sorts of shots so that during game time they are able to perform. Eli Manning- Quarterback of the New York Giants- was asked by a reporter how he was able to make a particular pass. Do you know what his answer was? MUSCLE MEMORY. He had made this pass so many times that he doesn’t have to stop and thinking about it when the time comes. It comes naturally.
We like to think we are super Christians- meaning when the battle comes we are suddenly going to be filled with Spirit be able to cast out demons conquer and walk away victorious. Then when things don’t work we like to get mad at God. Any time there was a battle moment (spiritual warfare) there was always preparation before that moment.  David was filled with the Spirit several times before the famed battle with goliath, Daniel prayed 3 times a day (EVERY DAY) before his lion’s den moment. Jesus fasted 40 days for his battle with temptation against Satan.  These men of God did not wake up and just face the battle hoping God would show up. They had spent time on their knees doing the prep work and had seen the results previously.
Brothers and Sisters if we want to conquer the flesh we have to prepare- there has to be time when we are sitting in the presence of God and growing strong with him. The more we feed the spirit, the flesh is starved. It is easy to be feeding the spirit when you are constantly plugged in, when there is meetings every Monday-Saturday. But when we step away-whether college or work or elsewhere that’s when we really need to be aware of what we choose to feed. Many Christians gain the freshman 15 (which all went to the flesh and the spirit lay starved).
3. Avoid Rationalization
Rationalization is quickest relapse to sin.
What happens when you give a mouse a cookie? (IT will ask for some milk).  We like to test our temptations. WE think we can conquer them by our own might and no one likes to admit that there is something that could have power over them. Let me just say—it is better to admit that you are weak in a particular area of your life then attempt to conquer temptation, fail, and feel the guilt.
If there are areas in your life that you know are triggers for temptation, avoid them. Whether it be a party, movies, television, shopping (yes I SAID IT), it is better to avoid these things and pray so that you are constantly feeding the spirit.
So if you do all this will you avoid falling short due to sin forever?? Will never fail again? No!
Romans 7:15-20
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
This is Paul speaking- here he admits that he doesn’t always do what he wants even if he knows right from wrong. He struggles with this battle just like us everyday.
How does he feel about this?
Romans 7:24
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
He feels that he is wretched; he understands that the path that he is on leads to death. But the most significant aspect of this for me is the fact that he asks “WHO” will save me from this death. He does not ask “what” – as in what object or what plan.
Romans 7:25
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
In verse 25 he answers his own question. Jesus Christ has saved us through his grace. We alone can never be victorious only by his grace and free gift are we able to be victorious and by our faith we are justified and made righteous.
Overall I am blessed to have had the opportunity, although I complain and will always reject the offer at first glance. It is an excellent learning opportunity.
Dear Readers:
I hope you are blessed by the words- they may not be adequate or eloguent but they are helpful. We should all keep each other accountable when it comes to our Christian walk.

Thanks For Reading:
Regina Roy
Wordless Thoughts

Monday, March 5, 2012

I RAN half a mile without stopping =). At the gym, the track upstairs is much smaller then a normal track so 16 laps around is about a mile. I ran 8 laps straight. When I first started, I was way out of shape....I could barely run 2 and a half laps without feeling chest tightness and shortness of breath! I am most likely going to be in severe pain tomorrow! I just want to say thanks to God (which may sound cheesy...but as I was typing this...it kept popping in my head...and hey God is the one who is responsible for all things so appreciation is not a bad thing =) ).  Do you guys have any workout goals? Any things to cross of a check list that you are working toward?  Let me know in the comments below =)

Thoughtfully yours

Sunday, March 4, 2012