What An Opportunity!

As I approach the end (don’t remind me! I’m loving this season of my life!) of the second-to-last semester of high school, I am very aware of the opportunities and privileges I’ve been given.

  1. I am dual-enrolled in a Stats class at our local state college.
  2. I finally made it to Advanced Band as a (mainly) mallet percussionist.
  3. I help lead worship once in a while at our synagogue and church.
  4. I’ve already been accepted to both of the colleges I applied to, Covenant College and The King’s College.  I pre-qualified for a $18,000 scholarship from TKC, which makes actually going there a realistic possibility.
  5. I am eligible for a full-ride scholarship from both colleges, but I have to write some essays and jump through some other hoops first. But praise God that I had a high enough ACT score to actually qualify!

But that all fades away in light of the world-wide opportunity for ALL Christians that Adam Ford breaks down brilliantly for us in his latest CDRticle.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Ford’s work, he’s the guy who started the Babylon Bee.  Sometime last year, he sold that lovely website to the other guys who were helping him with it so that he could work full time on his newest project, the Christian Daily Reporter.  He makes podcasts and comics as a part of CDR, and they’re always insightful and hardhitting. socialism-doesn't-work

But if his political commentary is brilliant, his Christian encouragement and admonitions are even better.  His latest CDRticle is called What an Opportunity We Have as Christians Today

I hope it strengthens your resolve as much as it strengthened mine.  For Narnia! 🙂


In today’s exceedingly polarized and angry political climate, what an opportunity we have as Christians.

As warring factions fight in the streetsbombs are planted in mailboxespoisons are mailed to government officialsrocks are chucked through office windowsracist robocalls are circulatedpoliticians and their families are chased from restaurantsand parts of cities fall to manic mobs, what an opportunity we have to season our convictions with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

As social media and click-bait websites intoxicate the masses with fleeting dopamine hits as rewards for “owning” one’s foes, what an opportunity we have to care deeply about policy and social issues not out of resentment or self-importance, but as a outgrowth of our love of neighbor and care for our fellow man’s physical and eternal well-being.

As political camps, drunk on ideology, proceed to hate, curse, and wish ill upon each other, what an opportunity we have to be willing to discuss our beliefs in a civil manner, attempting to persuade using reason, logic, and grace; firmly, yet with broken hearts and love in our eyes.

As politicians and their armies on all sides will increasingly do or say anything — anything — to accrue power, what an opportunity we have to refuse to compromise truthfulness or bear false witness.

As groupthink-fueled tribes and their echo chambers become more deeply entrenched, what an opportunity we have within the body of Christ to exhibit our dedication to each other as paramount by disagreeing with one another on politics with care and affection — not as the world does, but as fellow members of the royal priesthood and siblings in God’s eternal family, in a way that might manifest Christ’s words in front of unbelievers: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As our culture increasingly worships politics, what an opportunity we have to show that our politics are subservient to — and an overflow of — our worship of the One True God and the life He has called us to live in Jesus Christ.

These are unique and furious times, and you and I are not here by accident.

What an opportunity we have.


Squid

The Christian Foundation for the Highest Human Ideals

The doctrine that we are created in the image of God gives a solid foundation for human freedom and moral significance. We do not have to resort to an irrational upper-story leap [from “fact- based science” to “value-based morality/ethics”]. Given the starting point of a personal God, our own personhood is completely explicable…The Christian worldview provides a firm basis for the highest human ideals.

-Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey (p. 111)

Doubting Doubts Gives Us Faith

I just read a really, really, really good post called Faith and Doubt (and how they coexist) at Rethink.
You should go read it. Then you can read my thoughts on it.

It starts off with a great hook:

I’d bet that at some point every person has had some doubts about their faith. But despite the prevalence of doubt in our spiritual walks it’s rarely talked about or acknowledged. And when it is, often I hear doubt talked about negatively. You shouldn’t doubt. You can’t question that. You know what the Bible says is true. We downplay this pivotal piece of our faith journeys.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to read that first paragraph. It was so good to hear someone being honest about the onslaught of doubt that most serious, thinking Christians experience.

I’ve just been reading through Job as part of my yearly Bible plan, and this quote (from the abovementioned post) resonated so much inside my soul.

I screenshot parts of posts that I really like, and this was all just so good!

I left a really long comment/testimony on the post and then realized I should just turn it into a blog post, haha, so here goes:

I am a very analytical person, so I want to understand everything. This means that I put myself in the shoes (and the brains) of other people so that I understand their position. This can get me into trouble when I don’t have a good way to rebut their ideas. I also have a strong dislike of pursuing worthless ends and wasting time. Thus, I constantly analyze what I believe so that I know it’s the truth.

I went through an intense period of examining my faith about a year ago, coming up with what-if situations for Christianity like what if it’s actually a conspiracy, a fake, a lie that we’ve been indoctrinated into? It was really hard for me, despite having grown up having no doubts that God existed and that His Word was true. I struggled mightily for a long time, asking God to confirm His Truth to me in a way I couldn’t doubt.

It all culminated during a staff Bible study this past summer when the staff of Camp Gilead were reading through and praying Psalm 139. All the doubts I had pushed away or half-explained came pouring and pounding into my head, and I realized it was a make or break moment. Either I let the doubts destroy my faith by ignoring them (making me insecure in my faith), or I needed to follow the doubts to their logical end and destroy them once and for all.

I ended up crying a lot that night, but I didn’t shy away from the doubts. I followed them to their source and dared them to try their very best to destroy me.

They couldn’t.

Our God is so much greater than any of the doubts I could ever have, and no doubts make sense without the context of absolute Truth, so they automatically fail anyway.

I was set free that night from the overwhelming doubts that had plagued me for so long, and now I have a new unshakeable confidence in credulity of the Bible and in the God whom my faith rests in.
I still have to ward off the little doubts on occassion, but that comes with the territory of being right, I suppose, haha.

God is not scared of our doubts, so we shouldn’t be either. I listened to their sales pitch and then watched them self-destruct when confronted with Scripture, logic, and The Truth.

Recently, I stumbled onto a song that gave me the title of this post, Doubting Doubts by Citizens & Saints. I wanted to imbed it, but my YouTube app is acting up so you’re getting a link, haha. I absolutely love the musicality of this song, but also the authenticity of the lyrics, their raw vulnerability.

In another vein, our God is so great. I’ve been digging Joshua Aaron’s version (half in Hebrew, half in English) of How Great Is Our God.

Thanks for reading; I hope it encourages you as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Deus est Bonus! (God is Good!)

-Sydney

Light Has to Be Fastest

Today, I had to make a left turn from a two-way street. There was a car coming towards me, so I quickly analyzed how fast he was goingl, how quickly he was going to reach me, and whether or not I had the time to turn before he reached me. The conclusion I came up with was, “No.”
So I waited.

As I was waiting for him to pass me, I looked at his headlights. It was overcast and sprinkly but not dark, so I didn’t lose my night vision or anything.

During this period of time, I had a very odd thought. “I wonder if the time that the light takes in reaching me affects my perception of where he is?”

Almost immediately, I realized how foolish of a question that was. Light is the fastest, well, thing! in all of creation!

Then, I realized that God had to make light travel seemingly-instantly because otherwise all of our actions would be disastrously delayed. Can you imagine driving when you had a 5 second delay between when someone did something and when you reacted? Even giving people high-fives would be a feat of the highest difficulty!

If light traveled even only at the speed of sound, the world as we know it wouldn’t work at all.

However, would we even notice, if this was how it had always been?

Food for thought, eh? 🙂

-Sydney

Too Good to Be True?

Have you ever met someone who told you they didn’t believe in God because it seemed too good to be true?

My cousin and I were discussing this question because, in her words, “In high school, I overheard this one guy talking to his friends and he said something like, ‘I want to believe in God, but if He existed, I feel like it would make more sense for him to care about world hunger or peace or something.  A God that cares about me?  Why would the God of the universe want to listen to me ask for help with a girl I like?'”

I’ve never heard this argument against a personal God before, but it actually makes a lot of sense in my mind; Christianity does seem too good to be true.

But, here we are!

God not only cares for our everyday problems, but He also cares about world poverty; spiritual and material.  In fact, He cares so much for our spiritual poverty that He sent his Son to die to eliminate the problem.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

The cool thing is, because of the spiritual rags-to-riches stories (called testimonies) of the most spiritually rich and healthy people in the world (called Christians), we can also help alleviate material poverty as we target the spiritual poverty of everyone, even those in first-world countries.  We call people who do this “missionaries” because they are on a mission from God.

Since we are His workers, He takes care of us.  That means that no problem is too big or too small for Him to care about and address.  He cares about every aspect of our lives because we care about those aspects.  We’re His children, His beloved.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the greatest Gospel (Greek for “good news”) you’ll ever hear.  The best part?  It’s not too good to be true.

Sqyd

P.S. I accidentally spelled “Squid” without the vowels but with a “y” instead, and now I’m in love with that spelling.  Soooo I’m going to try signing off like that for a while and see how it goes!

P.P.S. I Googled Sqyd to make sure it wasn’t anything secretly terrible or something, but the only thing that came close was “sq yd” which is shorthand for square yards.  I am absolutely OK with that! 😀

How to Live in Peace With Others, as Told to Philemon

Philemon is one of those books in the Bible that we know is in there, know is only a chapter long, and we might even know that it has to do something with a runaway slave.  But I think I just found my new favorite book of the Bible!

I’ve read it before, but it’s always been, “OK, Paul is writing to his friend about that guy’s slave who ran away and then got saved so now Paul wants him to return to his master and wants his master to be gracious.” 

That’s just the bare bones of it, though!  The letter paints a beautiful picture about how to we are to deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Before you read this post, though, pull up YouVersion or pick up your physical Bible and read through the book.  See what jumps out at you or what the Holy Spirit convicts you on.  Write down what your first impressions are, and then get back to this post.  Or, don’t, if you get too swept up in your own study.  I am more than OK with that!

Now that you’ve read it, keep it open so you can follow along.  Please read the verse(s) I mention, and then my comments.

V. 3 – A great thing about Paul’s letters is that he starts out with a blessing.  A huge part of Jewish culture is blessings, and Paul exemplifies this.  
V. 6 – This verse struck me because of the if/then statement he implies.  “If you share your faith on a regular basis, then you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” You will be telling people about what you have received and you will have to answer their questions, which leads you into a deeper understanding of what you truly believe.  That’s a great way to strengthen your faith and hopefully even somebody else’s!

V. 7 – Our service and ministry to people have an effect even beyond the people we’re directly affecting.  Paul was encouraged because Philemon was refreshing the hearts of the saints around him.  People need godly encouragement, and chain reactions occur when they get it, and you get encouraged by how encouraged they are and you can all praise the Lord together! 😀

V. 8-9 – Phew.  This verse hit me right in the pride.  Although Paul was pretty much the most widely-listened-to man at that time, the one all the churches he had planted looked up to, he didn’t bash Philemon over the head with it, but instead appealed to his brother “on the basis of love.”  He absolutely could have given Phil a what-for, without sinning (in Christ, remember?), but he knew it wouldn’t be very effective.  So he swallowed his pride and used humility to get his message across.  I really need to work on this one.

V. 14 – Alright, this one is awesome.  If more Christians had this attitude, we would have much smoother relationships.  Paul didn’t want to force Phil to do anything, either by force or passive-aggressively.  There are so many people, even Christians, who think it’s OK to be passive-aggressively manipulative, but what would Paul say? 

V. 15-16 – A cool look on why/how God uses bad situations to accomplish greater goods.

V. 21 – “knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” Do our friends, coworkers, family, have this confidence in us that we will go the extra mile, even when it means forgiving, laying down our pride, and putting people’s past behind them?  

V. 25 – This might very well be my favorite verse in the entire book!  I need a LOT of grace in my spirit because I’m not someone who forgives easily or brushes things off.  I need God’s grace in my spirit so that I live as someone who has been given the greatest gift ever… Because I have. 🙂

I’ll use it to sign off this post as well.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit.” – Philemon 25 (NIV)

Squid

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