Living To Be Freshly Pressed (Or Not)

Writing

Blogging (and all writing, for that matter) is absolutely amazing.

I love it so much.

I can press my fingertips to the keys on my keyboard, and almost magically, words come out.

It’s my joy to sit up until midnight (or 1am or 2am) and just express myself with written words that I could never formulate in speech.

I love to write about what God is doing in my life. What I’m learning. Who I am. And who I want to be. It’s a passion and a privilege of mine to be able to use my little fingertips for the glory of God.

No matter what others tell me, I’m going to keep on journaling and typing, because that is what I love to do, and it is one of my ways that I worship God.

However, there is a very interesting feature on WordPress called “Freshly Pressed”. Basically, WordPress employees find ten well-written and interestingly-expressed blog posts (that have a unique point of view and are attractive) every day from around the WordPress blogosphere and promote them on the WordPress Freshly Pressed page. To many bloggers, this is an AMAZING goal.

I mean, who wouldn’t want five million views on their blog and potentially millions of followers because one post went viral?

Tell me, who doesn’t want to be popular?

This presents a slight problem. See, I can almost assure you that people have blogs dedicated to “trying to make their posts go viral”. If you know anything about modern media, well, you’ll know that it doesn’t happen that way. You can’t produce viral content purposefully, but I suppose that people don’t really understand that.

At the same time, I think we forget this point that should be so obvious to us in life.

So many people live their lives for show. They live to be cool and popular. (Sounds to me like another way of saying ‘viral’ and ‘Freshly Pressed’.) But really, does that make a lot of sense?

Let me put it back in blogging and writing terms.

Every Monday and Friday night, I stay up late doing what I love. I eat chocolate (shh, don’t tell Mom and Dad…just kidding) and listen to instrumental music (good for the brain) and wear away my laptop keys in the beautiful silence.

And not only do I love doing it, but I write for one main reason: I do it because I love the One who saved my soul, and my life is dedicated to Him.

I don’t write to make my post popular, though high stats days are definitely nice. But see, if I were to write for being Freshly Pressed only, well, I think that would alter my content.

Hypothetically, I wouldn’t express my faith so openly.

I’d probably side with the secular world when it came to issues like marriage and politics, relationships and worldviews.

I would probably use explicit language to “blend in” with everyone else.

And honestly, to me, that sounds miserable.

I will either write to please God, or I will write to please the world.

Do I really want to write words that pacify a bunch of little mortals, or do I want to please the Almighty God of the Universe and hear Him say “Well Done”?

I’m going with the latter.

And I believe life is the same way.

As a Christian, do I want to hide my faith, act like everyone else, hold the views of the secular world (that the Bible is clearly against) use inappropriate language, and ditch the Bible for temporary popularity?

UM, NO WAY. Never in a million years.

I have made my choice that I do not need the approval of the world to live my life. I already have the approval of the Creator of EVERYTHING EVER, so what more do I need?

Am I going to live to be Freshly Pressed, or live to please my Lord and my God?

Am I going to change my lifestyle to be popular according to the world’s standards, or live to serve my Maker and Sustainer?

I choose to live in freedom. I am free from the mold that the world has set upon me to be popular and cool, and I am going to live for God.

And if no one else does? Well, I still will.

*aj

So, You Thought It Would Be Easy?

Woman on Lake

Being a Christian is hard.

Yep, you heard that right.

Maybe when you became a Christian, you expected life to get easy. And that is a really popular misconception.

See, when I was a wee little girl (I’ve always wanted to say that), being a Christian meant one thing to me: having Jesus in my heart.

Which, by the way, is the best thing that could ever happen to a person. So that little girl with the teeny little finite mind signed up for a whole new life.

A changed life. A forgiven life. A redeemed life.

And so I did. I asked Jesus to come into my heart, and it is by far the best thing I ever did.

But normally, three-year-old girls don’t get persecuted for their faith. School doesn’t come into the picture until later. Blue’s Clues is the most un-Christian show that they will watch. So in essence, the only thing that really matters when you’re a baby Christian (who is still practically a baby) is how many pictures are in the Bible storybook.

And for years, I had no idea what difficulty really was. Sure, health issues have been predominant in my family at times, but being so young, I had no idea how serious issues really were until they were over, or even years later.

But then I got older.

And I realized that life was, after all, really hard. And being a Christian on top of that made it even harder.

See, when you’re surrounded by people multiple times a week that think that the Christian music that you grew up listening to and singing is “silly religious music”, or someone comments how “innocent” you are, or condescendingly notes that you are different…it can get discouraging.

Like when you’re pressured to do things that you never would’ve dreamed of doing, and you’re ridiculed for saying no. Or when you decide not to be a rebellious teenager, and the world looks at you like you have seventeen heads. Or when you’re labeled weird or awkward because you actually enjoy Church and believe in the Bible. Or when you value modesty and purity.

And you are laughed at, because “nobody actually lives like that.” It hurts, and it cuts deep, because this is your new life…changed life…different life…life that you’ve dedicated to the Author of Your Soul…and it is really hard to hold on to what you believe.

This shouldn’t be this hard! Am I doing something wrong? Am I just not spiritual enough to block out the world?

Being a Christian should be easy…right?

Um. No.

Jesus Himself said this:

John 16:33

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

So, in this world, we will have tribulation. But in Him, we can have peace.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

I like this a lot, because we are soldiers of Christ Jesus. Imagine you’re halfway across the world, fighting for your country. And then imagine that some random people that live in the country that you’re fighting against ridicule you. At that point, you’d probably say, “I don’t care what you think. I am fighting to serve my country, and please the one that enlisted me, not to make you happy, a mere mortal in opposition to my mission.” Right? Does it really matter what others think of us when we are ultimately serving God?

(The answer is no.)

Romans 8:18

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

We for sure will suffer. That is a non-negotiable fact. But it wont last forever, for we have the amazing hope of heaven.

1 Peter 4:16

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”

Let us glorify God when we do suffer. We are suffering in the name of Jesus – not in the name of some wacko hillbilly hippie, or some smooth-talking world peace activist, or even a good moral teacher. No, we suffer in the name of JESUS, the Savior of the world, and the Son of God. Now that I think about it…it’s more of an honor than a burden.

And do you want to know something really cool?

Promises are extremely abundant in the Bible. And they’re 100% true. Like this one.

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

And this one.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

And this one too.

Psalm 22:24

“For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.”

What’s the main point of these amazing promises?

We are going to suffer. It’s going to hurt. And we will be afflicted, and at times it will feel like we are alone.

But we are not alone.

God is with us through it all. He has a plan for our lives, and He always hears us when me cry and call out to Him.

So, does that mean that being a Christian will be easy?

Nah. It’ll be really hard, because the world doesn’t like Truth and Light that radiates from us Christians.

But we do not run alone. For the One who created everything cares about us, and we will never be left on our own.

*aj

Rebel is Not a Synonym For Teenager.

Spring Flowers

Rebel is not a synonym for teenager.

I’m fifTEEN years old. A teenager. But I’m no rebel.

(Okay, so maybe I do occasionally enter through the EXIT at Walmart. But that is beside the point.)

Just because I’m between the ages of thirteen and nineteen, doesn’t mean I disagree with my parents every chance I get, try hard to do the opposite of whatever wise people tell me to, or compromise the beliefs that I grew up holding fast to.

Society would tell people like me me, “You, girl, are insane. Live a little. You are young and free. Party all you want. For this fleeting moment, life is all about fun, of course. Don’t heed advice, all those old folks have no idea what they’re talking about. Experience life for yourself. Make your own choices. Be free to ‘be yourself.’ And you’ll be happy.”

Um, no, actually. I’ll keep my head square on my shoulders, thank you very much.

Not only is this view unwise, but it leads to trouble. And frankly, I have no desire to live wastefully.

But you, reader, may be thinking, “Why is she so different?” Well, I’m glad you ask.

My Faith Is My Own.

I made a decision at a young age to become a Christian. As Jonathan Edwards once said, “Resolved I will live for God. And if no one else does, I still will.” I don’t live for God because my parents force me to, or because an author wrote it in a book that I should. This is my own choice, and no matter how hard I am pulled, I will not be torn away from my foundation that I have built my life upon. The Lord has revealed Himself to me, and I can not deny it. I will not compromise because I am pressured to. I will hold firm because I know the Truth, and it has set me free.

By Obeying Authority, I Am Obeying God.

It’s already been established that my faith is my own. I’m not a brainwashed religious freak. I have fallen in love with my Savior. The authority that humans rebel against is much bigger than parents, or the police, or even the President. If I am to disobey anyone in authority (unless it goes against the Bible), I am disobeying God.

Ouch.

Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

If God says to do something, and I do not do it, then not only am I showing disrespect to those whom I am not heeding, but I’m deliberately rebelling against the Creator of the universe, who also happens to be my Heavenly Father.

Double ouch.

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

When I do not conform to the patterns to just about every other teen on the planet, I am being obedient to God. And by doing this, I can discern His will. Is that not awesome?

The Teen Years Are Preparation For The Rest Of My Life.

Right now, I am getting ready to live the rest of my life. If I want to live wisely in ten years, how will that happen if I do not live wisely right here and now?

I’m not going to waste these precious seven years so that I can have temporary (and harmful) fun now. What’s the point?

And seriously. How many adults actually look back on their high school and college years and say, “I am so glad that I partied, did just what I wanted to, and ignored my parents because I knew better than them. It really helped me in the life that was ahead of me.”

Seriously? We are smarter than this.

I’m Not A Child Anymore, Even Though I’m Still Not An Adult.

It doesn’t make any logical sense to behave recklessly like a child and yet demand to be treated like an adult. By doing this, we prove to the world that we are immature and not ready for actual responsibility.

When I was five years old, my parents sat down with me and we had a talk. The main point was, “With age comes responsibility.” (This meant that I had to start emptying the dishwasher every day before I could watch Caillou.) If, for instance, I were to refuse to accept my responsibility, I would not prove to be mature enough for more privileges. The older I became, the more responsibility I was given, and in turn, the more freedom I was given.

Come on, guys. We can act like adults (in the way that we accept responsibility) and so prove that we are ready to be adults. If we act like foolish children, we won’t be ready for everything that life throws our way. So let’s “man up” (or “woman up,” if you prefer) and be wise. I’m not an adult yet, but that doesn’t mean I can start preparing to be one.

Yes, I am a teenager. But I’m not a rebel.

I never had the place to be rebellious anyway. So Why should I? Where is the real and true benefit?

God gave us authorities for the reason of keeping order in this world, for He knew that we all have a sin nature that wants to run rampant inside of us. But as a Christian teenager, I give no authority to my sin.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I do not live for my rebellious self anymore, but for my Savior.

And I do not let “rebel” be a synonym for “teenager”.

Note to Parents:

I’m not a parent, so I cannot guarantee to you that your kid is going to obey you or listen to you. But as for me, I have made my faith my own. I desire to heed authority, for I know it is good. Not because Mom and Dad forced me to follow a set list of dos and don’ts, but because my relationship with my Savior is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s my own choice. And it is the best choice I’ve ever made.

*aj