Through a Zoom Call Pixelated – Sticky Note Thoughts

{this post spawned from thoughts I scrawled on a couple sticky notes this past summer}

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;

1 Corinthians 13:12a NASB

This verse inspired the title of one of my favorite albums ever (A Mirror Dimly by Citizens) and is also is one of the most profound hopes I’ve ever tried to wrap my head around. However, since we have pretty great mirrors in this century, the impact of the metaphor never actually hit me until this last year, when a significant amount of my prioritized relationships went through the wringer of video calls.

All the lagging, dropped calls, and “what??” that I’ve had to say has brought me to the place where I can finally grasp the concept of being in significant relationship with someone but eagerly awaiting interacting in person with them due to given the shortcomings of the medium we are currently getting by with. Recent studies have shown that the conversations we’ve had with professors, friends, and family over Meet, Zoom, and even Duo or Snapchat calls are more stressing to our brains than in-person conversations because we have to wait and wade through artificial buffering to interject, laugh, or even see the facial expressions of the ones we love. God programmed us to relate face-to-face, and even our best technology will never (save in an Ex Machina way) be able to truly replicate that in a way that isn’t draining for us.

At the same time, we are wearing masks over our mouths + noses, which strains our brains by taking away vital facial and tonal recognition tools. Our brains then have to work overtime to recognize people and read their body language during conversation, which makes time spent with others sometimes more draining than refreshing. (You may have been an introvert before, but now you have science backing you up!) 

Oh, that I could see your face / How I’m longing for that day

Jon Guerra, Kingdom of God

How does all of this translate to our relationship with God, as we live in this time when we’re also isolated from those He gave us to be in community with? 

Due to this past year of restricted relationships, we can now understand even deeper the coveted beauty of seeing someone you love face to face. Going back to 1 Corinthians, we see God right now as over a video call, complete with low-res video and spotty audio. Someday, however, we’ll see Him not just in HD, not even just in 4K (that our eyes can’t even see/comprehend fully!), but face to face! Right now, it feels like His face has been covered with a mask, where we can’t quite see His face or hear His voice well.

As much as I’ve been isolated in some of my relationships, I know that I’ve always been isolated from God by my sin. To address this broken relationship in the way I know I absolutely need to if I want to survive, I look first at what I’ve done to overcome the obstacles between me and my friends in this microcosm of separation. We set up times to eat outside, send letters, call, and make the most of the means of communication we’ve been given, even though they aren’t perfect. 

Translating that to God, we overcome the distance and separation by meeting Him at His appointed times and creating our own. We commune with Him and His body on Sunday mornings, and we take time out of our days to talk to Him. We ask Him to meet us in our exhaustion when we physically cannot put forth the effort, knowing that grace is not dependent on ourselves. We reread His love letter to us, the Book that tells us who He is, who Love Himself actually is, and what His face truly does look like. We cling to Him, knowing that His Spirit, the Comforter, is living inside us and working to grow us and mold us during this time.

I don’t want to look in a stranger’s eyes
When I come into this place
Let me grow familiar with the lines
The lines upon your face

Tenth Avenue North, I Confess

The greatest danger to a Christian’s life is growing complacent and confident that we can handle life on our own. Living in an era of obvious discomfort helps us keep our eyes on God, and that might not be such a bad thing after all 🙂

Thankful for Election

I had a discussion last night with a few other counselors about the regrets you have at the end of the week, the nagging “I could have done more” thoughts. The “maybe my kid could have gotten saved if I’d just said the right thing.”

Since we know the importance of our mission, we take it seriously. And when we don’t see the results we so dearly crave, we often feel like we failed.

But we’ve had a few testimonies this year that struck us bc of their relevance to this issue. Ones like “I got saved this week. This is my third year coming to camp, but it finally clicked this time.” What a wonderful thing, right? But the fact that it took three years means that there were two years of counselors feeling like they failed. But they didn’t. It was all in God’s timing.

The problem is, we don’t know which kids are going to have that testimony and which ones won’t ever come back to camp, church in general, or God.

The great news is, we don’t have to know that!

I’ve been studying Reformed theology for a while now. And of course predestination, one of the 5 components of TULIP, comes up a lot and is heavily debated in Christian communities. Last night, I finally realized why God talking about “the elect” in the Bible is so reassuring:

He doesn’t need us!! We staff remind each other over and over that WE don’t save the campers. We lead them to Christ and let Him do the work in their hearts. We’re here to pray and talk with them and help them understand what He’s leading them to do.

But if that human being is one of God’s elect, he or she (aren’t you proud of me, Mom? I didn’t use singular they) WILL be saved! Maybe not at camp, maybe not now, but our actions cannot change their eternal destination for better or for worse. God has already planned out if and how they will be saved. If we slack off and don’t let Him use us, then He’ll use someone else. And that’sOK! We want God to use us bc it’s a beautiful thing to see a child come to life in Him! We want to be a part of that process! But He doesn’t have to use us. He might just use us to plant the seeds.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

-1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV

That verse gave me a lot of comfort last year, but the doctrine of election is giving me even more. And joy!

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

-John 15:16 NIV

It’s not me out here trying really hard for God, it’s me living out what God has called me to do. It’s showing His love in everything I do and say. I’m His servant, and I know that He has me here for a reason. He has a purpose for me. I’m not flailing aimlessly, trying to prove I can love somehow.

Romans 9 talks about this too.
Actually, there are a lot of scriptures on this topic. So, here’s a link to a good list of them.

I’d like to hear thoughts, or just “mmmmm”s. Either way, it’s nice to know that I can’t make or break a kid’s salvation. Someday, I hope he or she can look back on my influence and say that I helped them positively and showed them Christ, but that’s it. God is the potter, I’m only a tool.

And I’m just fine with that. 🥰

Sydney (or, as my girls called me last week, Sweetart)

The Shedding of Perfect Blood

“In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22 CJB

I often forget that it should have been my blood shed upon the cross.  But my blood couldn’t have atoned for my sin, because I am not a spotless lamb, I am a crippled one; I should have died without ever being restored to God and would have spent eternity in the flames of Sheol.

Jesus, Yeshua, our spotless Passover Lamb, sacrificed himself to Death so we could live.  Praise God!  Forever!  Seriously!

Sydney

 

 

YouVersion’s Fluff Faith

You guys want to know what bugs me?

Oh, wait, I guess you read the title and already know.  Good for you!


The Bible is very important to me.

When I was little, I had a Story Book Bible that my parents would read to me.  Then I had an NIV Adventure Bible for kids.  Since then, I’ve upgraded to a 1999 NIV Life Application Study Bible that is heavier and thicker than two or maybe three of my family’s slim Bibles put together.  I have a black case with a handle and multiple pockets in it for my pens, sticky notes, journal, etc.

However, I also use the YouVersion Bible app on my phone.  It’s really helpful when I want to compare versions, quickly look up a verse, or just have the Bible always on me.

But I’m not satisfied with the app’s focus.

It has a number of Bible-reading plans to jump right into (I just finished one called Truth Seeker and I’m in the middle of a great Read the Bible in a Year plan), there are so few that are Biblically meat-y, if they’re not prosperity-focused.  There are a plethora of ‘Christian’ celebs who write short, promotional (for their next book and/or for a better you) devos, and it’s a bit discouraging to have to wade through all of the milk to find any of the actual meat.

Psalm 119.143

And I am almost constantly frustrated by their Bible verse images.  They make these really hip, millennial-inspired images with a Bible verse (or part of one) in some fancy script, but there’s rarely any correlation between the image and the verse!

Thankfully, they give you the option to make your own.  Unfortunately, out of the 30 or so images they give you to choose from, there is:

  • 1 person praying
  • 1 cross (looking very pretty, mind you)
  • One church steeple
  • Only a couple of straight paths (rest wind through deserts, forests, etc.)

There is NO artsy picture of a Bible (of which the internet is filled!), of Jesus on the cross, or of anything else remotely Biblical.  They are mostly pretty sunsets, mountains, forests, and windy paths or pretty lights and bokeh.  There is an option to use your own picture, but I rarely want to invest that much time Googling the perfect picture.

Plus, they recommend all these “Your Best Year Now Bible Reading Plans” at the turn of the year, and it’s really annoying, haha.

The millennial influence is pervasive and I’m not impressed it one iota.  However, there are a lot of good tools on the app, and it’s nice to be able to be friends with people and see what they’re studying, so it stays on my phone.


I’m not sure how to end this, haha, I didn’t really have an end goal in mind when I started writing this… I guess that I recommend the YouVersion Bible app, but take it with a grain of salt. 😉

Squid

Physical Training

I am not a sports person. I run 20 feet and my chest is on fire and I’m sore for the next day.   

So, Paul’s admonition to Timothy on physical vs spiritual training never has had much meaning to me.  Of course I’m going to read my Bible more than train for sports!  I don’t do the latter at all! 

But, I realized today that I do have conflicting priorities sometimes when it comes to training.  

I recently joined a homeschool band and choir program (there’s also orchestra but lol nope) and am loving it immensely.  It’s been a childhood dream of mine to play/sing music in a big group like that, and it’s totally coming true!  However, it’s a huge time commitment, especially practicing.  

I practice simple snare drum exercises over and over so that I am completely comfortable playing them at any tempo.  I sing the same lines of my alto or second soprano part more times than I ever thought possible so that, when I sing in a group, I know my part and can sing it well.

See any parallels?

This whole thing came to mind because I had two things to do last Friday and the time for only one.  

  1. Practice drums for >30 mins (preferably)
  2. Watch 3 15-min videos on this week’s parsha (Torah portion) on AlephBeta.com.  

Aaannnddd since, by order of the Rabbi (my stepdad) I had to watch the vids by the Sabbath (sundown), I decided to do that instead of practicing, since I can practice anytime (sort of).  It put a whole new spin on godliness training vs physical training.

Just some thoughts… 🙂

Squid

Our God is an Awesome God!

We all have those songs that have memories and special associations, um, associated with them. 

Awesome God is one of those for me.  

It was the first song I remember ever figuring out on the piano, just a little 9-year-old picking it out with one finger.  That fact paired with the great theological depth of truth packed inside it has led me to have a deep fondness for it.  

I grew up on Michael W. Smith’s version and always loved it, but, when I heard Carmen’s rendition, I was blown away!  He starts out in Genesis, and, in his powerful, rumbly voice, draws us into the scene of “the Spirit of God hovering over the water.”  It’s amazing.  Sooooo, check it out!!  Our God is an incredibly awesome God, and this song comes closer than most to expressing our sliver of knowledge of the glory of Elohim. (sorry for the run-on sentence) 

-Sydney

The Cup of Redemption

I’ve been participating in a drawing challenge with some friends from church and homeschool group, and yesterday’s challenge was something that has a special meaning to me.  

I thought about it for about half the day, and then realized that my Messianic Jewish heritage is something I’m proud of, and something that has defined my faith and worldview.  

So, I present to you: The Cup of Redemption!

Passover was on Monday night, kicking off the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  That means, for a week we… Actually, let’s look at God’s instructions, shall we?

“ ‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ ” -Leviticus 23:4‭-‬8 NIV

http://bible.com/111/lev.23.4-8.NIV

So, the seventh day will start/end (?) Sunday night, when we will congregate again at our synagogue in accordance to the Scriptures.

Yeshua (Hebrew version of Jesus, which is Greek) is our redemption, right, and the cup of wine He blessed during the teaching Seder (Last Supper), was the cup of Redemption.  

There’s a lot more to that, but I won’t go into it here cause I’m not quite qualified or knowledgable enough.  I do encourage you, however, to go do your own research on it!  And, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section! 🙂

%d bloggers like this: