Who Are You Going To Be?

I would say that the best part of coming home for the holidays is seeing old friends. As years pass, the number of friends from high school that you make a priority to see simply dwindles. It can be sad, but it makes the friendships that you do keep up with all the sweeter.

My favorite person to see is my best friend from high school, Tina Herdegen, who goes to school in Michigan (aka: a million miles from West Palm Beach). Because of different school schedules, mission trips, and summer jobs, we are usually in the same town just once a year (unless one of us makes the trek to either Michigan or WPB).

One of the most precious things about my friendship with Tina is the way that God has taken us through very similar situations, at very similar times, ever since high school. He has used us in each others lives to encourage during hard times, challenge during easy times, and simply to just cry when things seemed to never get better.

Tina is recently engaged and we spent much of time together talking about wedding plans for this upcoming summer. Those conversations can be oh so fun! But, as usual, our conversation turned to our passions, callings, and deepest desires.

During your freshman year of college the basic questions that anyone (and everyone) is bound to ask you are: Where are you from? What’s your major? What dorm do you live in? During your senior year of college, the stakes seemed to be raised just a bit and the questions become: What’s your degree in? Are you going to grad school? What are you going to do? (Aka: Do you have a job? Where is it? How much money will you make?)

Ladies, those questions PALE in comparison to the question of your character. What you major in, where you work, how big your paycheck is, or what grad school you choose to attend… None of it matters.

What you do is far less important than who you are.

Tina was sharing the frustration of everyone always asking where she and her fiancé would live and work. “It doesn’t matter what we do,” she said, “doesn’t anyone care who we are going to be?!”

Bingo.

Ladies, what you do is important because it’s how you choose to use the precious time that Jesus has given you on this earth. But I want to probe… who are you going to be? What is going to define your character? Are you using this precious, but short, time in college to be transformed into his likeness?

Deciding who you are going to be may sound a bit silly. “No one really chooses these things, it just happens, right?” I would say not. For who you choose to be is the most important decision you will make, and it is a decision that you have complete control over.

When we not only heed the commands of Scripture that dictate what we do, but we allow the lifestyle of Jesus to shape our decisions and rewrite our habits, our character will begin to follow suit. It becomes the difference of whether you are going to be a slave to sin, or a slave to obedience (Romans 6:16).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everybody. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)

Imagine how different your life would look if you let this passage characterize your daily life? How would your relationships change? How would it transform your attitude?

Are you going to be a slave to sin, which leads to death? Or will you be a slave to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 2 Peter 2:15 says that a man is slave to whatever has mastered him. What are you mastered by? Is it your thought life, like Tina talked about last week? Or, like Lauren said, are you overcome by the difference that Christ has made in your life? So much so that your friends at home notice a difference? Are you mastered by complacency with no desire to let Christ transform you? Or as Michele mentioned, are you finding a connection between the words you read and memorize, and the things that you do?

Jonathan Edwards was a theologian who lived in the 18th Century. He took it upon himself to write a list of resolutions for his life. These resolutions were set to govern him in everything he did. Here’s an example: “Resolution 56: Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.” The old English is a little harder to understand, but in this he resolves to never stop fighting his sin, no matter how often he fails. Not a bad goal to set, if you ask me.

Making a conscious decision to live for Jesus, walk in obedience, and pursue righteousness is by no means easy. It is far easier, and often more comfortable, to live for yourself and to delight in sin. But fighting for righteousness and following the commands of Jesus will develop character that enables you to “fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith” (2 Timothy 3:7).

Don’t get me wrong. It is absolutely important that you pick a major that you love and pursue it wholeheartedly. It is important that you do your very best in school, find a job, and work as the best employee your place of work has ever seen. Bottom line: we are called to excellence as believers and that shouldn’t be sacrificed in any way. Just so we’re clear. J

But tonight, I want to challenge you to consider it of deeper importance and greater worth to not only know what you want to do, but to discover who you are going to be.

Be blessed, girls! I love you so!

In Christ alone,
Jennifer

 

p.s. Just for fun, you can view Tina’s engagement video here (it’s possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN91CarVat8

And you can view a list of Jonathan Edwards resolutions here: http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/resolutions.htm.

Life Is Christ

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

Can you believe it’s almost Christmas?! Can you believe that the fall semester has come to a close, and spring is just around the corner? I know for many of you this marks the end of your first college semester, and to that I say congratulations! This is just the beginning of glorious accomplishments that will come over the next four years.

I’m constantly amazed at how quickly time goes by. I wish so badly that I could slow life down, lessen my responsibilities, and spend every day with the people I love. Never working, never stressing out, never wanting more than what I already have. But alas, I haven’t such control. I think that is something I am thankful for, though it’s hard to keep up with the fast pace of life.

About three and half years ago my little brother’s best friend, and a very close friend of my family, was diagnosed with Leukemia. After too many rounds of chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, miraculous prayer, and two relapses, Blake met Jesus just over a year ago on December 14, 2010. Now I’m not sure if you’ve ever lost a close friend, but I can assure you there is nothing fun about it. Although he battled on and off for several years, his decline was very quick and we barely made it home to say goodbye.

I could write for days on the beauty of Blake’s life and the way in which he reflected Christ in absolutely everything. However, this is neither the time nor the place for such reflections.

Instead, I want to focus on you and your life. Life is short. I know that is something we often hear, and it’s usual coupled with a reminder to make the most of every opportunity. I’ve heard it a thousand times, too. But I want you to really think about it. Just over a year ago Blake was alive, and for all intensive purposes: he was well. He was living and he was pointing people to Jesus by his faithfulness and trust in the worst of situations. With merely the passing of time, it’s a year later and things are quite different.

You may not be battling cancer, facing a serious financial struggle, or fighting a major war in your walk with Christ. But you are on this earth for a very specific, very important purpose. If Jesus were done using you he would take you home. I believe that with everything inside of me. Are you making Jesus proud? Are you living in such a way that represents Him at all times? In your words, actions, and time with family and friends? Are you bold to speak truth? Humble to receive correction? Patient enough to wait for what the Lord has instead of complaining when it’s not what you want?

Although I very much long for the day that I go Home, I can’t stop thanking Jesus for allowing me to remain on this earth this long. Has my life in the last year been worth Jesus keeping me on this earth rather than taking me Home? Am I making an impact for His Kingdom and for His purposes?

I hope that these questions cause you to reflect on your life.

Have you found the purpose for which Jesus has created you?

Are you living life in a way that represents Jesus, so that death – whenever it comes – will be gain?

I hope so.