Church today was the best, best, best ever.
First, Pastor Ron led us in prayer for everyone affected by the tsunami: for resources to rebuild, for hope, for comfort, and more. Then we also prayed for Iraq: for peace, for the elections, for wisdom for all in authority, and more.
You know, we will forget about the disaster wreaked by this tsunami. It will leave the headlines and the news reports, and we will forget. But for everyone affected... they can not forget. It will take them generations to rebuild what has been lost. So pray... please pray. And try to keep your heart soft to things like this; even though news reports are always talking about sad or disastrous things, every event like this drastically changes the lives of very real people. And um, if you're interested in helping in whatever way you can, visit World Vision or the International Mission Board. Every dollar helps.
So yeah. Church was good. After the time of prayer, the message was about shifting priorities (not surprising for the beginning of 2005). The focus was on this, the most important commandment: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
And that, my friends, should be everyone's number one priority in the coming year, and in every year. If we do that, well, then everything else falls into place. Most people (myself included) make resolutions about external things - get fit, manage money better, get organized, etc. - but if you make internal changes, letting God change you from the inside out... those changes will then affect every aspect of your life.
Here are some thoughts from the sermon about taking care of each of these areas - my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength/body.
Take care of my heart: Guard your heart; it affects everything you do. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. How pure is my heart? Everything matters... what I look at, what I listen to, what I think about... everything. To have a pure heart, I have to rid my heart of everything un-Christ-like... and wow, that's hard. Taking care of my heart, making it molded to the heart of Christ, is way too hard for me alone.
Take care of my soul: I need to take time not only to read the Bible and other good books, but also time to just sit with God... time to be still. I think part of taking care of my soul also means getting to where I feel the things that God wants me to feel in response to any given thing.
Take care of my mind: this means not only devoting my mind to study and other good use, but also being discriminating about what I allow into my mind - about what I read, whta I listen to, what movies I watch, and everything else that goes through my mind. These shape what my mind becomes, and who I become... I need to have a super-duper God filter on everything. Every piece of information that enters my mind will remain there... so why allow anything in that is not of God?
Take care of my body: this means watching my eating, exercise, and rest. (Rest... not something that most college students take seriously enough, I guess.) The majority of Americans are malnourished and out-of-shape - they eat unhealthy foods and don't exercise enough. But you know, I need to be strong and durable enough to excell at whatever God brings my way in life! And that means being healthy and trying to maintain a surplus of energy. Anyway, this is an area where I don't know quite what to think; on the one hand, I usually go running several times a week and eat a fairly healthy and balanced diet. On the other hand, I know I could always do better... so I wonder where the balance is? At some point is it okay to decide that even though God's overarching priorities are the same for everyone, within that He provides a great deal of variation of individual interests, and exercising doesn't have to be everyone's number one priority? I wonder if I am doing okay in this area or if I should keep doing more? I don't really know.
Anyway... Pastor Ron concluded with this verse: Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24) What a verse... this is so full of promise. Together - God plus me - we're going to begin making these changes inside of me... He has called me to take a step in the right direction, and He will be faithful.
I love God. I love church. And I think maybe this year can be great.