Monday, April 28, 2014

The Big Book

     Sorry I haven't posted for a long time but I started another blog as a requirement for my web mastery class at school and I'm required to post once of twice a week there so I 've decided that I'm going to start posting only on that one to make things easier. If you'd like to continue reading my writing this is the link to my other blog:  Hope you enjoy!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Cross: Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone

   My pastor, Dr. Edington, preached a wonderful sermon on Sunday that I'm going to recap here. We're doing a sermon series that focus on the message of different hymns and yesterday's was 'The Old Rugged Cross.' This hymn is one of the most powerful hymns because it clearly shows that our only hope in life is to cling to the cross of Christ. (disclaimer: I'm going to write this like I came up with it but just know that it's all God and Dr. Edington not me.)

   Many people think of the cross as a nice symbol to put on jewelry or bags or signs but in reality, without Jesus it is an awful symbol. The cross is probably the worst method of torture and execution humans ever came up with! (Criminals (and Jesus and martyrs) where whipped and then nails where driven through them to hang them on splintery wood that dug into the deep cuts. And there's a lot more gruesome details you can look up if you feel so inclined). We can't imagine kneeling down and worshiping at the bottom of gallows nor clinging to a noose in our time of need. We would think it insane if someone where to where a chain with a tiny, gold electric chair around their neck yet that is what we do with the cross. You see, without Jesus, the cross is simply the tool of an executioner. But because of Jesus, the cross has been transformed from an object of stark horror to profound adoration.
   When Jesus sacrificed Himself for us on the cross (Matthew 27:45-50) He did so out of love and in order to provide us with hope. Because Jesus is the only one not to cause sin, only He could cure sin and He choose to do so, for our sakes, despite the cost. I was saved on Good Friday at 3:00 about 2,000 years ago by Jesus on the cross.
   With those facts in mind, I'm going to tell a story. One day a little boy went to church for the first time in his life with his nanny. They sat down in the pews and the preacher began to tell a story about a innocent, young man who had been tortured and killed to save everyone in that room and the world. He learned that that man wanted His people to go and share the news of salvation with the rest of the world. The little boy looked around, expecting everyone to get up and go share the Good News but everyone else seemed quite unaffected by the news of Jesus. Stunned by the people's reaction the boy began to cry. At this point his nanny leaned over and whispered to him, "Don't take it so seriously, people will think you strange."
   Well, I don't think His reaction is strange at all. What I think is strange is that people can curse at a golf ball or scream at a TV screen and be normal but if one was to cry when they think of Jesus sacrifice on the cross it is odd. The cross is the most transformative event in history but not many people allow it to transform them or even give it much thought. This is not okay. We must all claim the cross of Jesus Christ because you cannot rightly live and cannot rightly die unless you make His cross your own.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Magic and Miracles

   I'm currently reading the Harry Potter series for the first time and have noticed a lot of cool parallels one of which happens on page 34 in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." 
   Mr. Weasley in discussing his work and says, "Sell them a key that keeps shrinking to nothing so they can never find it when they need it ... Of course, it's very hard to convict anyone because no Muggle would admit their key keeps shrinking--they'll insist they just keep losing it. Bless them, they'll go to any lengths to ignore magic, even if it's staring them in the face."
   This really struck me because if you connect muggles to people who don't know God (particularly atheists), wizards to people who know God, and magic to miracles(works of God) you can essentially say the same thing: A person who doesn't know God(such as an atheist) would never admit to miraculous happenings(acts of God) in their life, to the contrary they would create alternative explanations in an attempt to explain the phenomenons. 
   If we keep those connections in mind it makes this JK Rowling quote even more interesting, "Wizards represent all that the true 'Muggle' most fears: They are plainly outcasts and comfortable with being so. Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit."
   I thought this quote was really cool because portrays muggles as the "normals" in the complete world that inhabits planet earth. The muggles belong to the earth they live on but the wizards belong somewhere else just like christians. John 15:19 says, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own, As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."
   Just as muggles hate wizards because they belong to a world they cannot be a part of, those of this world hate Christians because we belong to a world they do not understand. 
   Many people feel like the world of love and grace, of mercy and redemption and sacrifice that God offers us is absurd and the we are crazy for believing it is real. However, I know that it is real because I live in it and so do many others. I don't fear death or oblivion or eternity or uncertainty ect. when I am in God's world of love because He's God it covered and when I have my trust in Him I don't worry about it (not to say I never worry, I do frequently and stupidly remove my trust from God and try to place it in another option that is worthy of it. Of course, seeing as there are no other options I end up heading back to God!:))
   Anyway, that was just some more book connections to hopefully spark your own imagination! :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Choice Prayer vs. Creative Prayer

   In Bible Study last night one of the things we talked about was creative prayer verses choice prayer. I thought it was really cool so that's what I'm going to write about today! :)
   The choice prayer is typically prayed in two different ways(there may be more I don't know of). The first one is options and would sound something like, "God, I really want to get into UT so please help me to do really good on my SAT, be in the top 8% at my school, or have a really great resume. I'll leave it up to you. Amen." That seems fine but in reality it limits God. Instead of allowing Him to work in your life freely, you are limiting Him to helping you get into UT while He might have bigger plans for you at Harvard! 
   The second is the solution prayer and I know I've prayed this one a lot! I would say something like, "God, my friend doesn't know you. Please help me to be your light in her life and lead her to you. Amen." Again, that sounds great but is restricting. I have no clue if my friend is ready to accept God or if God wants to use me to lead her to Him. It could be that He has planned for someone else to do that job so that her faith will be much more than it could be with my plan! 
   And then we have the third option, the creative prayer. In this prayer we tell God the problem and then stop. This leaves room for God to be creative and do things we could never have imagined ourselves. We see examples of this all throughout the Bible such as the feeding of the five thousand. (For a refresher read Mark 6:30-44.) When it is clear that the people have to eat, the disciples essentially pray the options prayer. They explain to Jesus that He can send the people home to eat or go buy food for everyone. Neither option is a very good one since people might faint from hunger on the way home and if they bought food they'd spend all their money and everyone would get a small bite. However, Jesus has a plan far beyond anything imaginable and it is with that plan that He feeds the people. God can do that with our prayer too. If I pray, "God, my friend doesn't know you. Amen," The possibilities for His power are so much greater than if I were to restrict him to doing what I think would be a good solution! Mary (His mother) does this at the water to wine miracle (John 2:1-12). In verse 3 Mary tells Jesus, "They have no wine." She doesn't ask Him to get some for them, she just states the problem and leaves the solution up to Him because she knows she can't imagine what He has in store, and she was right! :) So, in conclusion, pray your problems and leave room for God to be creative!


  Lately I've been slightly distraught over how little we actually focus on Jesus during His birthday (aka CHRISTmas). And though I still wish He got the attention, what CHRISTmas has become in our society reveals some of the character of Jesus. 
   For instance, it's customary to receive gifts on your birthday but on Jesus' birthday everyone else receives gifts. Jesus gave us the gift of Himself on the day of His birth so others got a huge gift from Jesus even before people started to give each other gifts! The funny thing about the gift Jesus gave us of Himself and our salvation is that it's the biggest gift possible for us receive and yet we write thank you notes to the small ones people give instead of for the most important gift ever given. That represents who Jesus is. We would never dream of letting our siblings have our presents and decide what to do on our birthday but Jesus lets us. He is generous and selfless. 
   When you ask people what their favorite day of the year is they usually respond with "CHRISTmas because it's such a happy day." This is slightly ironic because the happiness that comes from presents and seeing you family is temporary and that is usually what people are talking about. It is the joy that Jesus offers that can keep you in the CHRISTmas mood all year round.
   The CHRISTmas mood is another weird thing about CHRISTmas. It's pretty much the fact that people are nicer during the CHRISTmas season because they are looking forward to breaks and presents. Only when you pass the superficial level of CHRISTmas 
and let the magnitude of Jesus birth sink in do you find real joy and a new, lasting reason to be kind and loving all year.
   So yeah, that's pretty much me doing a little ranting about the stupidity of the human race which has replaced lasting joy with happiness and a fat man. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Proverbs 31:30 + The Hunger Games

If you have not yet read all 3 Hunger Games books, please do so before you proceed! :)

   Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
                          Proverbs 31:30

   Proverbs 31:30 is my memory verse for Bible study this week and although it is a well known one, I don't think people think a whole lot about what it actually means. I think we look at it and think to ourselves that it is a beautiful, simple verse and rings with wisdom and truth and then we move on. At least that is what I've been doing for the past 15 years and 111 days (aka until this morning). This morning I was thinking about how we never question the truth of the verse in words, it is clearly correct, but it is definitely questioned in the actions of our society. Take models for example, they clearly much more good looking than all the rest of us(whether natural or otherwise) so these lucky ducks get jobs where they don't get to pick what they wear and have to pretend to feel emotions they aren't feeling and are constantly being dissected in magazines ect. and worrying about how they look. And what do they gain (in terms of appearance)  from all this trouble? The chance to grow old and gain wrinkles and gray hair just like the rest of us. So, what was the point of that rambling you ask? Simply to make sure you are aware that beauty is indeed fleeting. Now for charm...
   This one is harder because some may like to present the argument that charm is not nearly so superficial but, alas, it is. They dictionary recently taught me that charm is a trait or feature imparting the power of pleasing people through personality or beauty. Now, if you are one of the aforementioned "charm is not superficial people" you may feel that the use of personality proves your point but it does not. You are born with a personality the same way you are born with you face. You may try to tweak it or change it to fit the image of what you or society think it should be but parts of the "real you" will always be peeking through the mask. On the other hand, character is the real deal. Character is what you have the power to change whether for better or worse.
   So, I was thinking of this while I was reading the Hunger Games and decided that a great example of this would be Peeta. Peeta is a charming guy. At school he was one of the cool kids. In his interviews, everyone loved him. During Quarter Quell training it took 2 hours for the other tributes to become his friends. Also, he's fairly attractive. But despite all this, the thing that saved his life was his character. Katniss liked Peeta but in her first games she was perfectly willing to kill him along with his charm and beauty. But when she gets a true glimpse at his character, his goodness, she can't. 
    Anyway, I thought that was a cool demonstration, hope you liked it! :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

   1 Cor. 3:10-15 (which I would recommend reading before proceeding to read this post) is Paul talking about the foundation of Jesus Christ that the Corinthians had. He basically tells them that their foundation(Jesus) will never fail but they must build upon it (the building is their faith walk) so that it will withstand fire (judgement). 
   I thought this was a really cool analogy because it is similar to many others but not quite the same. Two I'm reminded of in particular are building your house on the rock and being refined through fire. I think they are neat because although they were written by different people a different times, they all build on each other. First, we should build our house on the rock or base our lives of Jesus Christ. Secondly, we build up a big, beautiful house or allow God to work inside us and in our lives so that His richness shows on the outside too. Thirdly, our houses are tested by fire to see whether they are strong enough to withstand it or God will judge our life with Him based on whether we truly allowed Him to do the building or spent our lives creating a fake. 
   Anyway, that's what I was thinking about when I read that passage this morning. And all before 7 a.m.! :)