Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rejoice, and again I say, Rejoice

Is it just me, or has this week lasted forever? I feel like this semester will never end, and I will be at college forever. And ever. And ever. It's this never ending cycle of projects, tests, papers, late nights, homework, rain, etc. And if I'm not careful, I focus on all the negatives and forget to look at all the good things God has done for me. God has been reminding me lately to focus on Him. He keeps telling me to get my mind off of how horrible everything is and on how awesome He is. Last week was rough. I'll admit that. It was just busy. And then I started looking ahead at what I had to do this week, and it got worse. I started thinking that graduation was never going to happen. (Yeah, I am a junior and have a bad case of senioritis. I want to get out and use what I have learned, and basically be done with college stuff. I love college--don't get me wrong. It would just be a lot easier without classes I don't like and big projects. OK, I like projects. Just not a lot all due the same week). Anyway, this past weekend was amazing. God just showed me how little I really am thankful for. I mean, as a Christian who grew up in a Christian home, did Christian home-school curriculum, went to a Christian church at least 3 times in my Christian week, and now goes to a Christian college, with Christian teachers, I know that God gives us everything. I know (in my head), that all good things come from Him, and I know I need to be thankful. In my head. But when you run on 5-ish hours of sleep, jumping from one glass of mountain dew to the next, focusing on all you have to do, it's easy to forget. It gets busy. I understand. I make lists of my lists. To keep my OCD-self organized. But there is so much more than just the day-to-day stuff  of life.

This past weekend, continuing on to this week, God just showed me how absolutly good and amazing He is. There were a whole bunch of little (and not-so-little) things that happened that just reminded me that He cares about me. On Friday, we beat Omega in Schol Bowl. (For all my non-BJU-type readers, Omega is a society on campus that everyone loves to beat. They tend to be fairly cocky, and the smallest society on campus, a girls society, beat them in an academic challenge. This was huge). Then on Saturday, I got to participate in seniors on stage. This was a talent show that 10 people got to perform in. It was SOOOOOO much fun. Yes, I was really nervous the day of. But I did a comedy routine (google the 3 Little Pigs by John Branyan) in front of about 750 people-ish. Including Dr. Bob, Dr. Jones, and hundreds of others. I love getting laughed at by so many people. I'm glad I didn't win--I would have exploded on stage. That would have been bad .

(I know I look like I'm about to stab someone . . .I'm a desperate pig begging to be let into the brick house . . . )

Then on Sunday, I got to hang out with my best friends, Lisa and Beca. We went off and did homework at a coffee shop. I was able to get a lot done for this week, which was such a blessing. Monday, I got some good news in an email that almost made me scream (at work, where it's supposedly quiet.). Yesterday, I was able to finish big projects. Today, I can't wait to see what God is going to do. Tomorrow is going to be awesome. Saturday, the mercies of God are new. (And our 830 meeting got cancelled :D)

Do you get the idea? I could have looked Friday at the test I bombed. Saturday could have been spent freaking out about how I was going to forget my entire line. Sunday could have been focused on how early I had to get up for church (6:45 AM). And so on. Instead, God showed Himself to me in such amazing ways. He helped me realize that the little problems I face are no big deal compared to everything good he does for me.

This seems like a really random post, I know. I was reading through a student's file at work and I saw something that made me really stop and praise God for all the blessings He's provided. A student, in 12th grade, was in a horrific car accident last semester. He was driving a friend somewhere, when something happened (I don't have all the details). The friend was ejected and killed. He suffered a lot of physical injuries and a lot of emotional trauma (obviously). Even though he's been going through all of this, he's still focused on finishing school and getting that diploma. Emails from his parents indicate that through all of this, they are still praising God. They are still thankful and are focused on helping their son. Even he seems to be thankful. He's struggling, but he's moving on. He is praising God.

If that were me, I don't know what I would do. I'd like to think that I would be trusting in God and praising Him. But I don't know. If I forget to be thankful when the Dining Common serves something I don't like (like that tofu vegetable lasagna stuff), why would I remember to be thankful if my best friend was killed and I had all these physical problems. What would you do?

In prayer group a couple of weeks ago, we were doing "Praises Night". My prayer group does this thing where they don't talk, so I gave everyone a sheet of paper and told them to write down everything they were thankful for. I would encourage you to try it. Once you get started, it's hard to stop. It may be big things like "Salvation", "Family", and "Friends". It may be small things like "Mountain Dew", "Chocolate", and "Sharpies". Then post your paper somewhere where you will see it every morning when you wake up. I put mine above my bed on the bunk. I see it every morning, and it reminds me that there are so many things that I can be thankful for. Every day. I keep adding to the list. And there are hundreds of other reasons I should praise God. Even when I don't feel like it.

I Thessalonians 5:18--In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Have you ever played truth or dare? Or done the whole "let's take turns asking questions to learn about each other" (normally done with best friends or dating people)? Almost universally, the question comes up, "What are you most afraid of? or "When you were little, what were you most afraid of?" Don't you hate that question? I always have. Either my fears were really embarrassing, or they are stupid to other people. For instance, as a young child, I was terrified of really loud noises. Surprising, right? Considering how loud I am, people think I love loud noises. Really, the only exceptions were myself and music. I was especially terrified of the fans in bathrooms. I still hate them. That's just a stupid fear. I have always hated loud noises. Now, my biggest fear is . . . . you aren't going to believe this . . . . dogs. I hate them. They scare me. I could run marathons if you put a dog chasing me. I'd probably win the Olympic Gold Medal. Keep in mind, I'm not a runner. I just don't have it in me. But when my biggest fear is coming after me, I become a runner. A quick runner. There is a rational explanation about why I don't like dogs. Feel free to ask. I don't like bugs, I love thunder storms, and I've never been scared of the dark--because i love sleeping. We all have our fears. They are all different. 
If you've ever read the books "A Series of Unfortunate Events" you meet a lot of interesting characters. The main characters, Klaus, Violet, and Sunny, face all sorts of ridiculous circumstances. However, they never seem to show fear. However, in The Wide Window, we meet a lady named Aunt Josephine, who's life is ruled by her fears. Because she is afraid of stoves exploding, she never eats anything warm. Because she doesn't want the doorknob to explode into a thousand pieces, she leaves all doors open. Because she doesn't want to get crushed by the fridge, she avoids it. Yet she lives on this house precariously placed over a cliff. One strong wind, and it will blow into oblivion. She can't move, though, because she is afraid of realtors. Realtors. Her fears run her life, and ultimately kill her. 
Think of Joshua. Moses is dead. He's now responsible to lead these millions of people into the promised land. Think of the responsibility associated. The chance of failure is quite high, really. If all those people decide to rebel, Joshua would be dead in minutes. He's one person against so many. But he wasn't really one person. God was with him. Remember Joshua 1:9? "Be strong, and of a good courage. BE NOT AFRAID, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest." God was reminding Joshua of something he already knew--God was with him. He didn't need to be afraid. Wherever we go, God is with us. Think of the phrase "be not afraid". It's not a suggestion. It's a command. Don't be afraid. God is with you. It's mentioned hundreds of times. Don't be afraid. Fear not. Be not afraid. Trust in God. Cast all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you. Trust. Trust. Trust. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Re-evaluating. Why do you do what you do?

*****DISCLAIMER**** If, at any time, you read something that seems slightly heretical  please keep reading. My intention is not to make you mad. It is to cause you to re-think what you've always thought. It is to help you realize that sometimes, thinking is a good thing. At the end of the post, if you still feel the need to burn me at the stake, leave a comment or email me or something and let me know what you think. Because I really want to know. If I'm totally wrong or you disagree, I want to know. If you agree or have supporting stuff, I still want to know.

Anyway, now that I have caught your attention, I wish to discuss the topic of: Should we sing "Happy Birthday" in church or not! OK, no--not going there. Don't really care. However, I want to talk about something very general and non-specific, that shouldn't make anyone mad. Unfortunately  it's the type of thing that everyone will take personally, and may make some people mad. Not that it matters, because very few people read this thing anyway.

I'm rambling. Why do you do what you do? I, recently, have become very annoyed with Christians (read, good people that I respect) who hold onto their issues so tightly that they miss the whole point of being a Christian. Or so it seems to me. They get their convictions and that becomes more important to them than doctrine. Yes, it is important to have convictions. If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it. You need to know what you believe and hold to that. Ephesians 4:14 says, "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine . . . ." Stuff changes, new ideas come along, and you don't want to follow every trend that may pass by you. You need to have convictions. But they need to be rooted in something other than "well, I was always taught this". I'm thinking about issues like dress, movie theaters, music, youth group, etc. Why do you do what you do?

Our generation (as in Generation Y, born in the mid-80s and 90s) are questioning more than any others before us. We are no longer willing to accept "just because we always have" as a reason for doing anything. (this is a generalization, AKA doesn't apply to everyone). We are thinking through stuff and re-evaluating. Christianity and religion is no different. It isn't the "key doctrines of the faith" (sanctification, virgin birth, inspiration of the Bible) that we are re-considering. No, most Christians my age that were raised in a fundamental type church won't deny those. We don't hardly even think about considering that they may be wrong. We know they aren't. We are considering stuff like, "why do I never go to a movie theater?" and other issues that are issues in the church today. "Why do we only use ____ translation of the Bible?" And we are coming up short. We don't know why. The Bible doesn't say, "Thou shalt only listen to music by this producer, and never to stuff by those guys over there". But we have taken those and applied them and passed them on. Since music is a subject near and dear to my heart, I'm going to leave it alone, or this blog post will never end. Let me give you an example of movie theaters. For some of you, this is an issue. For others, you wouldn't think twice about going. I'm not telling you what I think (if you've figured it out, I'm sorry--I'm trying to be unbiased). Your grandparents were alive when movie theaters first became popular, and they weren't the most wholesome place to go for entertainment. Christians thought that they were bad. Your grandparents told your parents never to go a movie theater.  You, therefore, grew up, having never been to a movie theater. This pattern could continue. (AGAIN, I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong). However, because you are a part of Gen. Y, you are re-evaluating. "Why are movie theaters such horrible places?" And you are coming up with your own conclusion, hopefully based on God's word, about what you believe, and why.
There's this thing called "the generation gap". Older people don't understand us and how we think, and we don't understand them and how they think. We can't crawl in their brain and see what is going on. Sometimes, it would be really nice if we could. When they tell us what they think, it's from their perspective. We then run it through our own filter and come up with something completely different. For instance: you know the peace sign, right?

My mom grew up in the 60s and 70s. (Think Hippies, drugs, sexual revolution, etc.). The peace sign was a symbol of that. For her and people in her generation, that is a very bad thing. In her perspective, that represents something totally different than what I think. I just think it's a funky sign that says, "hey, what's up" or something like that. 
We think differently. The question is, why do you do what you do. Is it just because you always have? Because, honestly, Christianity has been done exactly the same since Christ returned to heaven. Except there is a lot more apathy. Change isn't bad. The reason for change may be. If it's just rebellion, there's a problem. But if you want stuff to change to spread the gospel more effectively, that's something to be considered. For instance, the way we do evangelism. Can that be changed? I'm pretty sure Martin Luther was the one who started the door-to-door thing (Wittenburg, October 31, 1517). That's almost 500 years ago. How effective is that, really? Anyway, you get my point. 
Before you start making waves and changing everything you do, stop and think. How carefully have you evaluated what you think is "dumb"? Is it worth changing? Will people be hurt by what you are doing? Will it help or hinder the cause of Christ? 
And, get help. I do believe my generation can change the world. Remember Ps. 24:6--THIS is the generation that seeks God? My generation! Your generation! But we need help. The Word of God is a great place to start. Everything you face has answers in God's word. Even if it isn't clearly stated (like the movie theater thing). Also, remember the older people who have a different perspective than we do? Titus 2 has a lot of stuff about older people teaching younger people. Even if they see things differently than you do, get their advice. Let them know what you are thinking. Often, they haven't even considered changing. I had the amazing opportunity last night to hang out with some people that are a little bit older than I am, who have had some experience in ministry, etc. We talked for well over an hour about stuff like I'm telling you know. Getting their perspective. Seeing what they thought. What God said. And what can be done. Find people that you respect that are older than you. Dig into God's Word. Find the answers. Consider why you do what you do. If it doesn't measure up, doesn't make sense, or could be done better and more effectively, consider changing. It won't kill you.
Go change the world for God!

How many baptists does it take to change a lightbulb?
What's change?