Queens and Kings

Okay, so I gotta type this quick (I’m in-between classes and I still have to pack to go home). So (some of you will know this from my previous posts) I’m a fan of Jaimie Grace aaaaand…she just released her first new song in three years! Party like a Princess is one of the most repetitive songs I have ever heard, but it’s got an amazing message and beat. Go check it out. Anyway. Here’s how the beginning of the song goes:

When I walked into the party everybody just stopped/Even the DJ wasn’t ready, to see me without/A boy who isn’t ready, to be a king/So tell me why would I be chasing him to be his queen/Don’t you know, who my daddy is/Don’t you know, what my daddy did/Don’t you know, who my daddy is/He paid it all, I’m the belle of this ball, so I’m gonna party like a princess…

This is an idea I came across recently (there’s an app called Sprinkle of Jesus that’ll pop out ‘food for thought’ one or two times a day) that said something along the lines of ‘Why are you waiting for someone to treat you like a Queen unless you know how to treat him like a King’. Ignore the horrible grammar in that sentence for a minute. That idea stuck with me.

Isn’t that an absolutely shocking idea? We are told that the girls should be waiting for someone to treat them like a Queen and not settle for someone who will abuse that. But I also want to suggest this – when society slams girls who are super bossy and overbearing (I’m NOT talking about girls who are just confident in themselves), they are actually slamming them for not being Queens. Because you see, being a Queen is also a responsibility. Think about a Queen of a country (medieval times, not a figurehead like Queen Elizabeth). The Queen was in charge of the castle. She supported him and offered him wisdom and counsel when he needed it. If the King was away at war, SHE was the one who protected the castle. She was supposed to be just but strict. She raised their children (with help from the maids sometimes). And, perhaps most importantly, she submitted to her husband.

I’ll elaborate on this later, in a separate post. But think about that, ladies. Why are you waiting to be treated like a Queen when you don’t know how to treat him like a King?

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Continuation

In case you couldn’t tell from the title, this is a short continuation of my previous post.

So I talked about how Jesus hung out with the people who weren’t good enough – the people who would have today’s Christians shaking their heads. Today, I want to apply that to our relationships.

I have a friend. Originally, he is a friend of a friend. And while I’m not super close to him, I would still call him a friend. However, he is gay. And today, I had my roommate (who is not religious) ask about whether or not it was okay for my friend (who is a strong Christian who I admire) to be friends with him. After all, isn’t being gay something the bible tells us not to do (I’d like to point out briefly that the Bible NEVER associates being gay with…well…being. It never refers to it as an identity, only an action)? And yes, it does. And this friend is also “religious” (I only use that term because I’m not entirely sure where he stands in the “religious field”, if you will). I don’t know how he resolves the two, but that’s a discussion for another time. But if Jesus hung out with people like the apostles, what excuse could I possibly give for not hanging out with people we would refer to as “better”? None. The answer is none.

I recently read “The Lipstick Gospel”. And I encourage you to read it as well. But one of the things she talks about is how she thought Christianity was about “old grannies and ugly shoes”…-and how she found out that is isn’t. That it isn’t sterile and clean, but rather messy and dirty. At one point, she used smell references – that she thought Christianity was “boring, plain vanilla” and she was more interested in something “eukelyptic-y” (excuse my spelling). I think that maybe I have been thinking too in line with “boring, plain vanilla”. I was raised in a Christian home, I’ve been a Christian since I was four, and I’m finding out that we are rather conservative. Not that that’s bad – for example, I believe in one-piece bathing suits rather than two pieces, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, being raised in a Christian environment, you come to expect the sterile. So meeting the messy – someone who struggles with cursing, or crude jokes, or anger, or anything else – can be a bit of a shock. If you’ve never encountered it before, you might not know how to respond. Or maybe you automatically respond with a judgement about their faith. And by you I mean me. And so we forget that a foundation of Christianity is love and grace. We forget that judgement is not ours to give (James 4:11,12). We forget that God’s love is not sterile and boxed up, but unconditional and without bounds. Something that the writer of “The Lipstick Gospel” wrote struck me: she wrote that “I didn’t even have to give up having sex for God to love me”. She did – because she saw a hint of God’s plan for her life and “wanted in on it”, which is what I believe happens when you’re trying to seek God – but God would love her anyway. Rahab in Joshua 2 comes to mind.

Maybe this thought will be radical for you, but God loves the prostitutes. God loves the drunkards. God loves the unfaithful. God loves the thieves. God loves the criminals. God loves the murderers. God loves the abusers. God loves the rapists. God loves the perverts. God loves everyone. Unconditionally. He loves everyone unconditionally.

Those same people who all too often we hate? The people we look down on? The people we despise? God loves them. Even when what they do makes us sick to our stomachs, He loves them. And we are called to Love them too. Love, with a capital L. Because it isn’t dependent on our feelings, or on them. The love we are supposed to have is supposed to transcend any circumstances, and go straight to the deep, neverending, unconditional love that God has. We are supposed to love like Him.

So to wrap up, just remember. Our faith, as Christians, is not supposed to be sterile. It isn’t supposed to be squeaky clean. It’s supposed to be messy, because we are messy. We are not perfect, so neither should our faith be.

You should read “The Lipstick Gospel”. It’s interesting and has some good thoughts. You can find it at http://stephaniemaywilson.com/lipstickgospeldownload

I’m Not Good Enough

Let me jump right in here. If you’ve read any of my previous posts from months ago, you know that I struggle with masturbation. So this post is largely about some wisdom that was spoken into my life regarding that lately.

I’ve been struggling with masturbation for over a year now. I go through cycles – long period of time with no masturbation, then a short period of time with lots of it. Semi-recently, I’ve come to a spot where many of you may or may not have been – I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough for God’s love. I’m not good enough for His forgiveness, for His grace. I keep sinning! And (if you remember my post about rebellion a ways back, or if you want to go read it) not only do I just keep sinning, I rebel against him. Most of the time when I masturbate any more, I send up a prayer ahead of time apologizing for what I’m about to do. So I keep sinning, and keep rebelling, and then I don’t want to pray. I mean, why would God want to hear from me? I can’t expect him to magically fix it if I’m not willing to put in work as well, and obviously I’m failing in that area. I’m tired of saying sorry and then going back to do it again. At this point, I felt dirty. I felt absolutely disgusting. And eventually, I put it at the edge of my mind because I was tired of considering it and not getting answers. But this past weekend, someone spoke some immense wisdom into my life.

David. David was wonderful, wasn’t he? We, as Christians, look up to him. Sure, the man had some flaws, but he was a man after God’s own heart!

Exactly.

God called David a man after his heart, knowing full well that David would commit adultery in the future. And not only would he commit adultery, he would then commit murder to cover it up. And still God said something that praised David so highly. This wisdom that was spoken into my life meant something to me. It wasn’t a life-changing, earth-shattering thing – you rarely know when those are going on, they usually seem super little at the time – but it meant something. What matters, Wisdom (I’m going to start referring to this person as Wisdom) told me, was where my heart was leaning towards. Was my heart following God?

Soloman was wise. He was blessed by God, he followed God, right? Well…until he fell into idolatry (1 Kings 11). God knew that Soloman would do that far before it ever happened.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a thing on Facebook (amazing, right? I saw a thing. Excuse me, I’ll continue now). This passage that someone wrote spoke about the disciples. It’s message was about judging people who may cuss or do other things that don’t seem Christian after they were saved, and their points apply here as well. (By the way, to give credits, this was by Preston Sprinkle on faithit.com)

We all admire the disciples, right? Especially Peter. Well, he had that one bad stint where he denied Jesus (I’m sensing a pattern here…) but other than that, he was pretty close to Jesus! In Luke 9, he was the one who recognized Jesus as the Son of God. Peter denied Jesus and even cursed himself to prove it (Matthew 26:74). Also in Luke 9, James and John wanted to destroy a whole village because they did not welcome Jesus. Simon “the Zealot” (according to Preston Sprinkle, I have not checked this information) and all the other zealots were basically “Jewish jihadists” who killed people. And Matthew was a tax-collector. I like how Preston Sprinkle described this; he said it would be like “you found out that your childhood friend was making a living…funneling money to ISIS” (side note, if you can look up this article, you should. Preston Sprinkle does a good job putting this information into modern, easy-to-understand terms and the whole article was really good thoughts). That’s five of the disciples right there who would be the LAST people you’d imagine being great Christians, and Jesus chose them as his disciples. In Luke 9 (again) it says that the disciple argued about who was the greatest at one point. Can you imagine that conversation? “Murderer!” “Backstabber!” “Hotheads!”. I can’t help but remember when Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the ill”. There are times I almost wish I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, that I knew the dirt of the world, because then I’d be able to understand God’s grace so much better. But I wonder how much harder my life would have been.

So, yeah, I’m not good enough. But Jesus didn’t associate with those who were “good enough” (we see the pharisees as prideful, bad people, but in that day they were the people who were “good enough”). Jesus associated with the people that would make many Christians today recoil. He associated with the people whose faith would be questioned in today’s world. He associated with those people. So the biggest thing I should worry about is whether or not my heart is chasing God.

You’re not good enough either. That’s okay. Neither were the disciples. Neither was David. Neither was Soloman.

Intentionality

Okay, guys. I know it’s been a while. I don’t really have a good reason, so I’m just going to jump right into my message today.
I’ll try to make this brief. It’s late and I don’t really have that much time before I need to go to bed. But I really wanted to talk about intentionality. I don’t really have any Bible verses because it’s been super busy and I didn’t really have a lot of time to prepare for this post, so you’ll have to bear with my personal thoughts and experiences and stuff I’ve learned. The person whose work with me the most on the idea of intentionality is definitely my dad. I’ve only really started consciously applying it to my life recently, and it I can see the difference it’s made. The biggest part of intentionality or the biggest way I personally apply it has been in my social life. I’m a bit of an introvert – not just a bit, a lot if I’m honest – so my dad’s really weird with me on intentionality in my relationships. And no, I’m not talking about relationships with a guy that romantic relationships. I’m just talking about everyday relationships with friends, with family, with the people around me. Something I started noticing fairly recently comma although before I started applying the idea of intentionality consciously to my life, is how my dad talks to people at church. I am definitely a daddy’s girl; I take after him a lot, particularly with my personality. Hey, like me, is more of an introvert. However, every Sunday at church I see him going around and greeting people with a smile, asking how they’re doing and what’s new in their life. I see him shaking little kid’s hands and making a connection- here’s the kicker – intentionally. Not just with the little kids, either. with everybody, including the teenagers. We just recently got a new pastor at our church, and I see him speaking with this pastors kids, asking their names, trying to remember their names – we both have really bad memory with names – and in general trying to make a connection. Since I’ve noted this – here it is again – intentionality – I’ve started to admire my dad a little more. As he makes the effort to get to know these people, you can see how much it means to them that he cares enough to ask how they’re doing regularly, etc. And I started to realize that I’d like to do that, be that person, one day myself. But when can you say is a good age to start that? This was particularly tough on me at the time because I was starting to at least try to apply the idea of not waiting to my life. Not to say not being patient. But the idea that I can’t wait until this that or the other happens to change my life or some such. Well, apparently my dad rubbed off on me more than I though. I can tell you right now four of the pastor’s children’s names. I’ve spoken with three of them. I’ve been making the (uncomfortable) effort to initiate conversations and get to know them. I’m applying that idea of intentionality, and I don’t even know when I started.
And of course, the idea of intentionality isn’t limited to relationships. There’s a certain popular refrain my dad uses when one of us kids says “I didn’t mean to.” Can you guess? Everytime he responds with, “But did you mean not to?” Again, it’s applying that idea of intentionality.
One more quick example. Back in the fall, when I first started going to the academy, obviously I didn’t have any friends. Nobody did. Well, I have one friend now, and I can honestly say with complete certainty that she would either not be my friend or not be anywhere near as good a friend as she is now if I had not applied intentionality to that relationship. In the beginning, I asked her out for coffee, I talked with her, I tried to make that connection. Later on, I made sure that I checked in with her when I knew she was having some health needs or when she look down. Now, I make a point of texting her every 4 to 5 days just to check in. We live several hours away from each other, but we have some fun conversations over text. Both of us, or maybe it would be better to say neither of us, are super good at replying to text which is why it’s only every few days, but again it’s that idea of intentionality. I intentionally check in with her to let her know that she is valued and that I am thinking about her.
All right. That’s it for tonight. If I can remember, I’ll try to post some Bible verses later. ‘Night all!

Hidden Gem

I get really frustrated with myself sometimes. I was supposed to post this Sunday, and I even knew what to post! Argghh! But it’s getting posted today. So.

How many of you have ever had a moment reading the Bible when you just stumble across a whole random section of it that you can’t remember EVER really reading before? Like, maybe never ever ever? And then it’s like, woah! And of those of you that have, who found a passage that was just a little gem with double the woah factor? Yeah, that was me Sunday. And I was pretty surprised. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember (I was four when I became a Christian; I’m 16 now) and I’m a reader. I’m also smart. So between the reading, smarts, and lifetime of Bible, I’m usually sitting in class thinking I know this story, and I’ve heard these points before (Side Note: that’s pride, people. The “I know the Bible” thing, not the smarts. Stop pride before it starts). But then, I found this little nugget! And it has a name. It’s James. Yes, as in the book of James. (I’m going to smack myself for this, but James the Gem people. James the Gem. Okay, I’m gonna go sit in the corner now. Not really, ’cause I’m writing this.)

Really, you should just go read James for yourself. The whole thing is amazing. But let me highlight a few things that popped out at me.

  • Favoritism is a Sin – Yep. James 2 starts out with calling favoritism a sin. It uses the example of showing favoritism to a rich man over a beggar, but it applies everywhere. Christ’s love does not show favoritism. Neither should we.
  • Warning Against the Tongue – Not as new, sure, but still a valuable piece of advice. Even when it feels like you’re about to explode and you can’t help but think how unfair it is  (especially if they’re being mean to you), hold your tongue. It doesn’t matter who it is, do NOT let something unkind and/or venomous come out of your mouth.
  • Submit Yourselves to God – Seems obvious, but I realized I’ve been kinda prideful lately…instead of submitting. I did a post about rebellion a while ago. That and this are cousins or siblings, who knows. They’re related. I found verses 11 and 12 especially interesting. I’ll give you verse 12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”
  • Warning to Rich Oppressors – Yep, this is in here too. God doesn’t ignore those who are suffering under others. He tells them to bear with it. He tells their oppressors, Watch out. Your judgement is coming. Verse 3: “Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.”
  • Other Notes – I was not kidding when I said you should read this book yourselves. It’s extremely powerful. I just wanted to point out a couple other things that popped out to me but didn’t have a whole section. I’m just going to type the verses, since they speak for themselves.
    • James 2:26 – “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
    • James 1:26-27 – “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
    • James 2:8 – “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”
    • James 4: 5 – “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?”
    • James 5:12 – “Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.”
    • James 5:20 – “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Aaarghh! There were so many more good verses! Seriously, read this book. I love it. Anyways. One of my favorite verses in this book is James 2:26. I have this sneaking suspicion that my spiritual gift is serving – I love being able to help people, especially elderly people and anything to do with children or (ohh, yes) babies (don’t get me started on those cute little bundles). However, there is a problem with that: I am very, very, VERY socially challenged. I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m socially awkward. The worst thing in the world for me is having to start a conversation (I can order for myself at a restaurant now without too much discomfort, and just last month I called several places to get myself an internship for school, so I’m slowly improving!). Getting involved with peopleInitiating that? Umm…no. Oh, wait. James 2:6. Wow, okay, I just got sucker punched. There’s also a verse in James that says something along the lines of, If anyone knows what he’s supposed to do and doesn’t do it, he’s gonna get judged. I am caught between a rock and a hard place. But really…there’s also a verse in the Bible that basically says If you have not received, it is because you have not asked! (John 16:24 might be it, I don’t quite remember). Not too long ago I was thinking about how I would definitely join a club that would provide me with the opportunities to help people, that’d be great! Guess what happened. Yep, such a club appeared! (Side Note: While I encourage you to do it, I’m always terrified to offer myself to God to use because I know he’ll challenge me and say, are you really willing? And that usually involves social interaction. He knows where to hit *gulps*. He will absolutely put me between a million different rocks and hard places, and it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO uncomfortable. But I know it’s good for me so I do it anyway. Every once in a while (I should do it everyday. If you need something to pray for, pray that I gain the strength to do that)). So yeah, now I need to follow up on that club. But the thing is, God provides. If you want a service opportunity, ask him. If you want personal growth in Him, ask him (But be prepared to work yourself. He changes willing hearts, but your heart should be willing first). Ask, and you shall receive. Even when it’s uncomfortable and feels like a slow, torturous death, God will help you complete his commands. I know I’m supposed to be serving. I also know I’m not going to lack service opportunities anytime soon.

Anyway! Thanks for putting up with my rambling. Read James for yourself. Let God speak to you. It’s so much more effective than when I do it. Ciao!

You Learn It

Wow, okay, I am officially really bad at updating this on time. Anyway. Brief little post to get us through to next Sunday.

How many times do we get stressed out over little stuff? How many times do we let little things that go wrong get to us? I see it a lot on Facebook. “Today was so rough” or “Everything went wrong today”. It’s so easy to just let the little things pick at us. But forget, for a moment, all the standard things people tell you and let me tell you a story.

My family teases each other. All. The. Time. If we aren’t teasing each other, that’s when you know that something’s wrong. So, as a little girl, my whole family would tease me. Constantly. And I would get so annoyed! I was little; I couldn’t come up with these fabulous comebacks! And if, perchance, I did get one in, someone else had a better one to shoot me down. Oh, I got so frustrated. I cried sometimes. I threw fits. I got furious. It irritated me. Anyone wanna guess what I do today? I deal with it. Sometime between now and then, I learned that it wasn’t going to stop and I got tired of getting frustrated. The best way to deal with it (and get teased less, “coincidentally”) was to just smile, nod, and walk away. Let the have the victory and get them back later (may I just say that particular revenge is so, so sweet). But also? My family will congratulate me when I nail a particularly good comeback or insult (yeah, it’s that kind of teasing a lot of the time). And I know that if anything big happens, the jokes will disappear (or maybe not) and they will have my back like no one else. So the jokes. Let them roll off my back. It’s best for everyone.

Aaaaand let me tell you another story. I walked into the student center on the college campus. Down the stairs, straight ahead, and there’s Starbucks to the right. I get in line and order my drinks. I pay, then go to the end and wait. But when my drinks come…one of them is wrong. I tell the barista and she apologizes. You know what I tell her? (I bet you don’t). “It’s okay, I won’t die.” Wait, what? I see her startled glance at me, and then she chuckles and hands me my correct drink. “Sorry again” she says, and I shrug and walk away. It’s become my refrain of late. “I won’t die”. Getting frustrated isn’t going to change anything. And it’s a good habit to look on the bright side of things. I remember one rainy day recently when my friend who had hip surgery, I, and one other girl was waiting for her mom to pull the car up. I said: “I’d say look on the bright side, it could be raining, but…it is.” Sure enough, she cracked a smile.

The point of all these tales? Just slow down. You won’t die, whatever happens. Stressing solves nothing. The best course of action is to just take care of the problem and move on. And tease people constantly (but only if you’re willing to be teased in turn. And only if you’re not really hurting them. And…nah, just kidding). It makes life a lot more fun. And of course, if you do start getting frustrated, God’s there.

CHALLENGE TIME!!! I CHALLENGE YOU….to thank God for something different every time you get frustrated, worn out, or angry. And don’t just say the words, conjure up the feelings in your heart. Just for a minute.

Big Bang Theory

Hey! Another post so soon, yay! (Or so I’m sure you’re all saying). Well, guess where I was this morning? That’s right, Physics class! We had a Fun Physics Thursday (usually we have fun Physics Fridays every other week or so, where all we do is watch Bill Nye videos) and we watched a video (not Bill Nye) about the Magnetic field surrounding the Earth.

The first thing that caught my attention was when they described the magnetic field, how it comes out from the South pole, surrounds the earth (blocking solar winds from the sun) before going into the North Pole. Then, as the video continued, they started digging deeper. They described how clay has magnetic particles that hold magnetic fields pointed all different directions, but when fired, the magnetic fields are erased by the heat and when it’s taken out they attain new magnetic fields that align with the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field and record the intensity of said field. They described how lava does the same thing when it cools, recording magnetic information from the Earth. They described how scientists learned that the magnetic field has switched directions many times in the past, and how it might again very soon. They described how dangerous solar winds could/can be. They spoke about how part of what is generating the magnetic field (they think)) is an amazing cycle of electricity through the earth’s core, that produces the field, which produces more electricity, and so on so forth in an endless cycle. They went into all of this detail, and all I could think was, How amazing is our God.

How amazing that he would come up with such a system to protect us. How amazing that he could and would create something with so much power like our sun, or like stars exploding millions of light years away. How amazing that he would create so small a detail like magnetic fields in clay for us to discover later. People occasionally talk about how amazing He is for creating the plants and animals, but let’s think bigger…and smaller. There are 950,000 known species of bugs, 7.77 million known species of animals, 298,000 known species of plants, and 3 VERY basic types of rocks. In all of those, there are a shocking amount of cells, and each particle of cell is made up of innumerable atoms, which contains even smaller particles like electrons…and for all we know, THOSE could be made up of a huge number of smaller particles. All of these exist on one planet out of nine in our solar system, which exists on just one little branch of a galaxy we call the milky way. This galaxy contains between 200 to 400 billion stars and 100 billion planets. Scientists can only estimate that there are over 100 billion galaxies…and that just by counting galaxies in a particular region and multiplying that by an estimated number of regions. And we can measure atoms, we can see galaxies. And ONE GOD not only created all of this, but gave us the ability to (eventually) see these things ourselves. And who knows what we’ll discover in the future? The world is only about 6,000 years old. Let me say it again.

HOW AMAZING IS OUR GOD!!??

One more thing (about the title of this blog post). The most popular theory about the creation of the universe is the Big Bang Theory. How do you think the universe would react when God commanded it to be? And if anyone asks? Yeah, I believe in the Big Bang Theory. God spoke and bang! it happened. Anyways, have fun chewing over all that! Ciao!