“Your friend wants to add you on MeWe!”

WordPress was the only social media I was allowed to have before I turned 18. I joined both Facebook + Instagram soon after turning 18, and Snapchat about a year later. Thankfully, WordPress doesn’t really count as toxic social media in my book. The people I’ve chosen to follow on here I follow for their content, which means I don’t see what I don’t want to see! Anyway, disclaimer over. Enjoy 🙂

I’m not on social media for the political content. I’ll always laugh at the memes, but it’s not my focus.
I value the people that God has put in my life regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.
I value my relationships more than I value my ever-maturing political beliefs.

If I was on social media to share political information, I would be upset that what I believe is the truth is being taken down in favor of what I believe is misinformation meant to manipulate me + those I love. However, if I let my distrust of the Powerful (those with money who know how to use it worry me more than those with a title in our nominal government) affect my actions, then I wouldn’t be on Any social media in the first place!

I might mute you on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat if you post more about politics than about your family or faith, which can and should be an indicator that your politics IS your religion, and you and God need to have a chat about priorities.
But I mute you not because I can’t handle the viewpoint from which you post, but because too much political information takes my faith away from God and puts it in humans who can buy + be bought.

Christians need to be aware of what is going on in their respective cultures, but that applies to Every country.
How do you think Christians in a monarchy follow God? Do they serve their communities through grassroots fights for justice + peace, or do they plot to overthrow the king? (Bonheffer’s attempt on Hitler’s life will always be something I wrestle with).

We can’t idolize even the good (or less bad) leaders. For every Godly principle they uphold well publicly (think Trump’s stand for unborn life), it’s almost guaranteed that they’re breaking another in a significant way (think his public apathy in speeches towards minorities suffering, which was one of Christ’s main ministries!).

We need to rejoice in the Lord’s provision, and that includes thanking him for the fleas (if you’re familiar with the story of the Ten Boom sisters in a Nazi concentration camp) even before you know why God gave them to you.

I’m registered Libertarian, but I still mentally assign myself as Republican (or at least right-wing) when I say that We lost Congress this election. That worries me.
A) I’m worried that I still identify with a party I’m not willing to stand with in hard times and don’t agree with enough to truly identify with more than generationally (my family has always been conservative)
B) I’m worried that the balance of power is still upset, and that that will lead to more abuses of power, differing from the past 4 years merely in which side it benefits.

I’m sick of Christians neglecting to remember that we should all hold our positions that we think will truly help people the best and that will show them the heart of God towards them.
Those who think a welfare state is desirable (and I respect many who do) think so because they’ve seen studies + communities that support its effectiveness, and that God calls us to give up our Rights in order to provide for those who can’t, for whatever reason, provide for themselves.
Those who think we need to shrink the welfare state and let individuals keep the money they’ve earned so that they can support each other without a governmental middleman (thus fulfilling more holistically Jesus’ heart of serving each other + the least among you) think this is a good solution because they’ve seen studies + communities that support it!

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. There is an incredible amount of nuance that is needed when dealing with a country as large + diverse as ours is, economically + socially + politically + culturally + religiously.

Pilgrim, don’t demonize or moronize those who disagree with you. I was stuck in that trap for too long, and it kept me abrasive + unwilling to hear out those who might have information that could change my mind on the efficacy of the solutions I hold to.

The one solution that will never be proven wrong is the Gospel, which is the power of God to restore + reconcile + heal + break chains of oppression.
(If I’ve learned anything at Covenant so far as a Community Development + Economics major, it’s that!)

-Squid

Punchinello, a tribute to Max Lucado

If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Punchinello by Max Lucado, I would recommend reading it here!

——

I finally knew how to let the dots fall off.

but.

I have to let go of the stars.

too.

As long as I hold on to my
stars from those around me,
{ my value <– them }
I’m not acknowledging that
it comes from my Maker–
I come from my Maker! When
I need their stars,
I fear.

It is vital.

Let it go.
Look at Him.
Act on your freedom.
Act on the love you’ve received.
Only then will you, will I, be
able to love +
able to live.

—–

originally scrawled (by me, I think??) on the back of the program of the Vega Quartet’s performance at Covenant College – Thursday, November 14, 2019. I’ve edited it a bit + formatted it in this post, but the majority of it came from that almost undecipherable piece of paper I found in my room randomly XD

Wrestling With God + CCM

Background: Pride

For as long as I’ve had Spotify (which has been a LONG time), Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) has consistently been one of my top genres. And this has often bugged me, since I associate that label with the fluffy stuff on the radio today that often focuses too much on us and too little on God. It’s encouraging, but it’s rarely convicting. However, CCM has defined my childhood and relationship with God for so long!

  • Stellar Kart’s All In (Apologize) wrecked me as a 14 year old. I heard it the first time I ever listened to K-Love, and I googled it asap and listened to it again, amazed that a song with such radical lyrics would be on Christian radio.
  • The Afters premiered Broken Hallelujah at one of my first concerts and I WEPT. It was one of the first times I had put my heart’s sorrows into a worship song like that — where you don’t ignore the issues, but you lay them at His feet. This set a huge precedent for my life!
  • Tenth Avenue North’s songs were popular for most of my childhood (and their concert was my very first concert!), but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that they’re the one of the only Christian bands who are addressing sexual sin in their music!!!! As that’s the area of my biggest struggles, their music has brought incredible balm to my soul and such truth to combat temptation. I really recommend their EP Things We’ve Been Afraid to Say.

Having these standards, I get frustrated with a lot of the mass-produced Christian music that gets popular. It’s been a matter of pride for me that I don’t listen to the “stupid fluffy stuff,” but instead take the time to search out the lesser-known songs full of Biblical truth by people like Jon Guerra and Andrew Osenga and The Porter’s Gate and Beautiful Eulogy. I still go back to what I grew up on: dc Talk, Rich Mullins, Audio Adrenaline, and Petra. When you have Petra writing about spiritual warfare, it’s hard to be content with songs that the world can listen to and never hear the Truth in.

But I’m realizing that I actually need CCM in my life. I need Christian music. I need good to fill my soul, even if it’s occasionally frothy good. It’s still propounding a Godly worldview, even if it’s watered-down. It’s not wrong.

Part 2: Influence + Protecting Yourself

The media we consume influences what we value. I can attribute my desires to be a self-sufficient woman who kicks butt to games like Tomb Raider that I watched my dad play when I was little and to shows like Alias that I watched as a teen. I’ve always been a hopeFUL romantic, but when I listen to love songs, my heart focuses much more on that beautiful thing that I happen to lack at the moment.

My heart learns to long after other things when it marinates in music that longs after other things. Secular music doesn’t bring peace, and it doesn’t bring comfort. It’s good to rock out to, and can even be productive since I’m not being convicted all the time XD (my eMo-pOp-pUnk-rOck-oUt playlist is amazing for crunch time paper writing, for example). But it’s not ultimately beneficial for my soul; It’s junk food. In moderation, it can be great, but if it’s being used as primary sustenance, it’s destructive to what is best!

I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing sinful about listening to music of Any kind, but it’s ultimately detrimental to consume Any media (visual OR audible) without considering the worldview it both starts at + ends up at. There is no neutral music. Either it glorifies God, or it doesn’t. But you’d be surprised at what I believe Does glorify God vs what doesn’t.

The song Weak by AJR is a ROCKING song. It’s got a great hook, great mix, great feel to it. It’s not explicit, and it never talks about sex or anything. However, I cannot listen to it. it’s an extremely natural + primal cry of rejecting God’s authority over your life.

But I’m weak, and what’s wrong with that?
Boy, oh boy I love it when I fall for that

Even though obviously you can reject the message (and as a Christian, you better!), if you’re not careful, it still permeates my soul just a bit, weakening my resolve to fight temptation.
(side note, tho. AJR is an awesome group, and their song Turning Out breaks me EVERY time I listen to it)

Or, for example, there is something unavoidably destructive about listening to a song that glorifies sex outside of marriage. (mind you, a song that merely Talks about it without painting it as normal or good might be OK!) Things that God condemns are condemned for our benefit! They are harmful to us! When the music we listen to preaches a different gospel, our hearts’ focus is changed, and we’re more open to the devil’s influence. He seeks to destroy us, remember? If he gains a foothold by what we do, including what we listen to, then there will be practical consequences for our souls and relationships with God. We can choose to risk that, but we must be aware of the impact it has on us.

If the piece of media is a fly on the wall of our culture, what web is it caught in, and what kind of spider spun it?

Peter Edgar 12/18/20

But common grace is a thing! God gives insight to even those who don’t know Him!
Love songs written by even atheists can wrestle with what love actually means. Sometimes the content can be graphic, but life is graphic. We do ourselves and our witness a disservice if we hide from that.
Christians can write songs about doubt and sin and what it means to be a believer, and they might just so happen to use strong language! (more on that later)

I’ve been listening to a good deal of music recently that I couldn’t listen to in the car with my mom or my little 6 year old brother. And it’s hard to listen to sometimes! Songs like Dear God by Dax aren’t my cup of tea stylistically, but others like Dear God by Confetti are. Both of them drop a couple f-bombs and speak candidly with God about what they think He’s doing wrong, but this comforts me!! It reminds me that there are still people out there who are bold enough to wrestle with God. They’re listening to the heart He put in them, even if they don’t realize it. It reminds me that every human who rejects God is still loved by Him and coveted after by Him. It gives me an insight into their heart so I can engage with them more empathetically. It also encourages me to wrestle with God from my strong theological foundation.

On the less obvious side, I found the creative project The Narcissist Cookbook about halfway through this past semester. The creator, Matt Johnston, is British, so his accent is awesome in general, but it’s his ADHD rambling about important and complicated things that my soul just adores. He admits at one point that he doesn’t believe in God and uses female pronouns in a nod to the postmodern trend, but he’s got such a deep and intentional insight into the brokenness of the world that I cannot ignore, for the reasons above.

He has a song called Apple that rethinks how Satan temped Eve in the garden. It struck a chord in my soul, because he ends with “I don’t think God can see what I can see [the beauty of the human race post-Fall].” And I remember the first time I heard it, I wanted to yelp, because he addresses it! He addresses the problem he has with God! He doesn’t see Him properly, so he doesn’t realize that the value system he’s processing everything through comes from the One he thinks he’s thinking clearer than. He says at one point that God is afraid of what humans could become + achieve, and it’s just so fascinating to see how someone could have so much insight and yet miss the fundamental Truth! He comes to the wrong conclusion because he has the wrong starting assumptions, but his wrestling helped me process a possible reason why God let the Fall happen in the first place! Maybe God DID see what Matt saw 🙂 (taking a Doctrine class will get you excited over the coolest niche things XD)

Even agnostics’ songs wrestle honestly, and I think that that honors God, possibly even more than frothy feel-good “Christian” songs that miss the point of the mind-boggling Gospel.

However, wrestling =/= condoning. If I wrestle with my propensity to fall into temptation and enjoy it, I’m not pretending it’s OK, but I’m acknowledging the real danger and bringing it to God so that He can show me how to move forward through it. Instead of Weak, I raise you Maybe IDK by Jon Bellion.

Although I guess if I knew tomorrow
I guess I wouldn’t need faith
I guess if I never fell
I guess I wouldn’t need grace
I guess if I knew His plans
I guess He wouldn’t be God, God, God

So maybe I don’t know…
But maybe that’s okay

Maybe IDK – Jon Bellion

Songs that address brokenness as brokenness and address God as the only reason life is worth living give my soul life! even if I’m mourning what they describe.

It almost feels like I have hypocritical music standards. I don’t want to listen to Weak, because it doesn’t benefit my soul at all, but it’s technically clean. Apple (and other TNC songs) and most Jon Bellion songs are definitely not clean, but they do my soul good and bring me closer to God!! Profanity does not define the content of a song. Jon Bellion is much more an honest Christian than some CCM artists who later go on to renounce their faith, and curating that opinion has taken a long time and lots of, well, wrestling with God!

Part 3: Wrapping Up?

I started writing this post over a week ago, and then forgot my laptop existed… oops

Today, I discovered Jars of Clay’s 2013 album Inland and fell in love with it. Jars of Clay have always been extremely intentional about not being cliché in their writing; staying away from Christianese and making their music accessible to unbelievers has been one of their primary focuses.

Haseltine [the lead singer] said, “our songs … [are] not really there to explain our faith,” but are “written about our life that is affected by our faith.” Haseltine explained the decision to “shy away from … traditional religious language” as a conscious one, in part to make their music more accessible to those “put off by religion”, and to “love people in a way that isn’t exclusive to simply people that understand the language of Christianity.”

Dan Mitchell (March 30, 2002). “NPR Weekend Edition Saturday interview”. Npr.org. Archived from the original on February 13, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2011.

I think that it’s really important to have believers who make music for the Whole body of Christ. What I find inaccessible might be exactly what someone else needs to hear. What brings me back to the Lord might be offensive to you, and vice versa! I ask my friends to skip Weak when it comes on in the car. Not for their sake because I’m somehow holier than them and want to protect them from its influence, but because I know that it leads me into temptation that much easier.

Paul focuses a lot on the role that the Holy Spirit plays in individual conviction on non-essential matters. I think this falls under that. 1 Corinthians 8 warns us about exercising our rights if they’re a detriment to the faith of others; verse 13 says “If what I consume causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” Please bear with each other, listening to the weaknesses of each other’s consciences, and rejoicing in self-sacrifice.

Love you all 🙂

Squid

P.S. Don’t even get me STARTED on Kanye’s Jesus is King 😉

Death + Life

There’s too much death in the world.

That’s what I find myself thinking as I look at every social media feed I have, every news notification that pops up on my phone, even in church prayer group emails I receive. There’s just too. much. death.

I started writing this because of the recent attention the murder of Ahmaud Arbery is getting. He was killed in February, but people are only caring now. I decided to mull over this disconnect today a bit. In the midst of that, I wondered why I was so relatively numbed to the death all around me. Why it’s hard for me to care about one more person, when people are murdered every day across the globe for a variety of reasons and intersectional conflicts.

Yes, I know that white on black violence is a hot topic in media, but many more black communities are torn apart from the inside. This dynamic was something I got a hard look at in a book I read recently for Community Development 210, a class at Covenant that should be required for all students. The book is called Our America, by LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman. I wrote a paper on this book, but first I cried as I read it. It is a plea from the inner city of Chicago, for us to turn, look, and listen to the other America, the one where there isn’t hope. Where the only dream these Americans have is to get out.

This book holds a parallel to the fervor with which the media has grabbed onto Arbery’s death. In 1994, two boys dropped a 5 year old boy, Eric Morse, out of the window of a high-rise in the Ida B. Wells housing project in Chicago. Now, the way the book is laid out, you’re already used to the sickening apathy towards death in the Wells. People were killed, often, by each other. There was mourning, but just a perpetual and almost routine state of it. So when you hear about Eric Morse, you’re sickened that a 10 and 11 year old would do such a thing, but, knowing the culture they’ve been raised in, you’re not exactly surprised. However, it makes national news. Eric Morse’s name is used as the rallying cry to fix the ghetto. For us to do something.

But no one ever does anything helpful. They plant a tree or a statue in his name, sure, but what does that do? Nothing. The community has hope that things will improve, but nothing ever comes of the passionate outsiders proclaiming the need for change. Eventually, the story fades away. And more people are killed. More go to jail. More die in jail. More get out of jail and kill more people or are killed themselves. And this is normal life! It was before Eric Morse and it was still after him.

So why do these stories blow up? These stories are powerful because each one became a symbol. They each gave us someone we could picture and cite and strive to avenge. Today, there is now an investigation into why Arbery’s killers were never prosecuted, and this is good! This is outrage used well!!

But it’s not going to change much at all, ultimately. Systematic violence is systematic. We don’t have a moral compass as a culture. In a post-modern “my truth”-worshipping society, you can’t give anyone good reasons to value life.

Yet, we are saddened. We are upset. We are angry. Because someone was killed and it could be someone we know and love next. We inherently know that life is valuable. This is a good thing to come to terms with!

What are we going to do, what are we going to change in our own lifestyles to reflect that knowledge? That passion? People die everyday. We all are going to die unless Jesus comes back first.

If you haven’t noticed, on a post about death I haven’t even talked about the millions of people who are infected with the newest coronavirus, one frighteningly contagious to everyone and definitely dangerous, even fatal, to those at risk with pre-existing conditions. A lot of people have died from this disease. But a lot of people die from medical malpractice every year. A lot of people die in car crashes. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want to be a reason someone dies, period. I try to drive safely, and I try to wash my hands and stay at home.

< But I’m not living in fear. We all will die. I want to be an example on how to live >

The death surrounding us should give us, as people of Hope, that much more stimulus to live! We limit our own freedoms to protect others and even serve them in times of plague.
We are not bound to the chains of fear or of recklessness that our leaders will alternately preach to us from our news feeds.
We take action in our communities to stem the tide of violence where we can. We reach out to children and adults alike in love with the Gospel that breaks every chain.
We fight for justice for the powerless and oppressed.
We love with a fierce and confident joy, knowing that our labor will not be in vain if we follow the example of our Magnanimous Messiah.

In other words, we live out Isaiah 58 (powerfully sung by the Urban Doxology here).

I’m glad the media picked up another symbol of the oppression so many communities face every day. We need to be reminded! But we also need to be reminded that we have power in our communities to advocate for those who can’t. That that’s how we use the blessings (privilege) God has given us. We are wealthy in so much more than just money. This is a spiritual fight. How can we use our wealth to kneel before others and wash their feet, to help them stand?

Pray for your communities. Get involved in them. We’re here for a reason 🙂

Sydney

 

John Crist and the Greater Global Sexual Crisis

Earlier this semester, I wrote an article about Christian comedian John Crist. I’ve been a big fan of Crist for basically his whole career, ever since I saw him opening for Tim Hawkins online and creating rather edgy satire of American Church culture on YouTube and Instagram. I probably can’t even count the times my family and I have said “check your heart” with his inflection, sometimes mockingly, sometimes genuinely.

Apparently, though, he knew how to call people out because he needed to be called out. In November, the truth came out about his numerous sexual sins against women, both physically and online, that he and his team have been covering up for years. I would do your own research — Charisma News has a thorough article — before reading my response, but it’s not necessary.

Responding to John Crist’s Responding to John Crist’s Sexual Midconduct — THE BAGPIPE (the link takes you to my school newspaper)

I think that whatever the heck you want to call this decade, the twenty-teens?, it was marked by sexual conduct coming into the public eye. I got into politics because I saw and was interested by the controversy of Obama being first elected (my father is staunch right-wing), so I began to observe and study politics just around the turn of the decade. From what I remember, we had, in partial chronology…

  • The legalization of same-sex marriage on a national scale
  • The subsequent bullying of Christian business owners who didn’t feel comfortable supporting this behavior with their services
  • Chick-Fil-A get bullied repeatedly across the decade for giving to “non-LGBTQ-affirming organizations” but them also quietly opening on Sunday to serve the probably mostly gay Pulse shooting survivors.
  • (Also can we just mention Chick-Fil-A thriving in general, despite losing one day a week, 52 days a year, compared to their competitors. Makes ya think about how God still honors His promises to those who keep his Shabbat….)
  • Slut Walks in DC, as freedom to be however sexually loose you want is crowned the highest goal of the American people
  • The #metoo movement as a whole. Sexual abusers in Hollywood get taken to task, despite being rich and powerful (the Leverage team would approve).
  • The anger against VP Mike Pence for his strict rule against meeting with women to protect his integrity and his wife’s integrity. The juxtaposition of this with the #metoo movement was poetic and stunning and sad.
  • The Catholic church sex scandals that are Still coming out!!
  • The #believeallwomen movement, unless the woman is accusing a Democrat. Obviously. (#sorrynotsorry, still bitter about the blanket apathy towards the women who accused Former President Clinton of rape, who had legitimate proof and many witnesses who could attest, even after the circus of the Kavanaugh hearings and accusations.)
  • Planned Parenthood being proven to be selling baby parts by apathetic and even sociopathic doctors. PP aiding child prostitution. And yet, nobody on the Left has changed their tune. Still not fully defunded, tho Trump has tried and made Some progress.
  • The Pro-Life movement has swelled and is spreading across the country! People are having their eyes opened, and Trump has stood for life very openly and strongly.
  • Gosnell and Unplanned, two anti-abortion movies, had incredible opening weekends and held strong turnouts, but were dropped from many theaters absurdly and unprofitably early.
  • Trump’s explicit “grab any woman” comment from his playboy days shocked the public.
  • …as the sexually explicit Shades of Gray books and movies swept the nation. The hypocrisy should be sickening. But nobody cared. Welcome to our decade.
  • Planned Parenthood released sexually explicit sex-ed videos for schools to show in middle school classes, often without parents having any idea it was happening or what the content was. It encouraged sex, usually safe sex, and a few PP employees have gone on record as saying that they’re doing what any company does: creating customers. This has continued throughout the decade.
  • The prevalence of pedophilia (especially in Hollywood and DC) has been coming more to the public’s attention, culminating in Jeffrey Epstein becoming a household name through the meme quote “Epstein didn’t kill himself.” The Lolita Express’s roster is public domain, and the world’s elite’s secrets are coming to light.
  • Trans female (men taking testosterone blockers, to put it almost too simply) athletes are dominating in women’s sports, and guess who’s mad about it? Women. True feminists. Huzzah!
  • Oh, who can forget the bathroom confusion? Also known as, why you should never use Target bathrooms.
  • Drag Queens (esp children) are being paraded as courageous for their authenticity. It’s sickening and I dare you to watch any video of these young boys in drag, dancing for adults, that our country is applauding. It should make your heart cry.
  • Adult drag queens, including registered sex offenders, are now being paid by the government to read to children in libraries across our nation, often explaining sexuality and what it means to live in drag, or even flashing the children. All for the sake of inclusivity and freedom!
  • Even more confusion and pain in regards to those with gender dysphoria, same-sex attraction, and more, due to the arguments around gay conversion therapy, hormone-blockers, what the legal age should be to transition, what parents’ roles should be, etc. Just look at Canada. They’re even deeper than we are.

I’m missing others, I know, and I might have a a few details wrong. But this should give you a good idea of how crucial this decade was to the world’s sexual identity, especially America’s. Do your own research, check out Disrn.com, run by Adam Ford of Babylon Bee fame, and don’t be afraid to be skeptical of what the media on either side says. We have to be aware of what they’re trying to teach us, so that we can protect ourselves and our kids from the utter depravity. I’ve been trying to get better at going back to the Bible and letting God’s truth about sexuality soak into my heart, so that He can become my lens for how I view all these attacks on His normalcy. The book Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcy is also I recommended. I’m only in the first couple chapters so far, but it is SO good. She hits the nail on the head as to the why of the sexual depravity we see around us to clearly.

As a Christian, I’m deeply troubled by the blindness of those around me. But it isn’t anything that God didn’t call ahead of time, and I know I can trust Him. As the world around us plunges itself deeper into darkness, we will shine all the brighter by even just little differences we intentionally make. We will be known by our love, Love told us. It’s time to see what that looks like.

Thanks for reading??

Sydney (Squid)

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 Sanctity of Even Animal Life

This week’s parsha (weekly Torah portion) is Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16-18. In it, we find rules pertaining to killing and eating animals. The main one that I want to focus on is that you must drain the blood from the meat, for the soul (nefesh in Hebrew) is in the blood.

I read the parsha and didn’t think twice about it. Like, cool. Respect the life of an animal, don’t eat the blood. Gotcha. I’m not against hunting animals or killing pests or whatever the case may be, so I’m good.

But, as our family reads through the Torah with the rest of the Jewish community around the world, we also watch videos from the not Messianic Rabbi David Fohrman’s ministry Aleph Beta. Despite not having the rest of the story, Rabbi Fohrman has some incredible insights into the Old Testament, especially the Torah, the first five books.

This parsha’s newest video is called, “Are We Supposed to Eat Animals?” and started out sounding kinda PETA-y. “Oh, this verse makes it sound like it’s murder to kill an animal, even though God already gave us permission, so we should seriously consider vegetarianism.” So I was skeptical. #bereanwholikesagoodburger

But then I remembered Pandora. No, not the Greek myth, but the planet from the movie Avatar. I recently rewatched Avatar, so it’s been kinda rattling around in my head. It’s very obviously not a Christian movie, and it’s actually very animistic and new age-y. “God is in everything. Our spirits join the universe when we die.” whatever. HOWEVER…

In the movie, the main character, a US Marine in his Pandorian “avatar”, is about to get eaten by a pack of alien creatures. Suddenly, someone attacks Them, saving his life. The female native who saved him is very upset that she had to kill even these seemingly evil creatures to save him. She “prays” over the carcasses, releasing their spirits and apologizing for taking them. The American, as a trained Marine, is scornful of this ritual. But it was very very important to her. Why? Because all life was sacred to their culture.

And this is the point that the video gets to. God created all life as sacred. He has given animals to us for food, but we need to be considerate of the soul inside them as well. There’s a progression that He has given us as a commentary on what it means to kill.

Genesis 9
v.3 All animals, every living thing, I am now giving you as food. Just like I gave you plants, now I’m giving you everything.
v. 4 But flesh, with its soul (nefesh), its blood, you shall not eat.
v. 5-6 But your blood, of your souls, I will demand [an account]…whoever sheds the blood of man, through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man.

Plants don’t have nefesh, a soul.
Animals have nefesh.
People have nefesh, but are also made in the image of God.

Any nefesh is to be protected and cared for. When we kill an animal, we have ended the life of another being. We are to be respectful of that, not flippant. God calls us to cover up the blood, almost as a sign that He’s not holding the death of another creature against us.

And that’s where the video ends. But we have the blood of our Savior covering us, so we have even more insight into this idea. Instead of us covering up the blood of our necessary evils, Our everyday sin is covered By The Blood. And That’s the greatest news. That’s the fulfillment of the love for all that Genesis 9 first implements. God cares for all His creatures, but He created us just a little lower than the angels. He cares so much that He didn’t even spare His son’s life.

And do you realize what that means? If the soul is in the blood, then the nefesh of the Son of God covers US. I can’t even begin to fathom it. Now That’s good news.

That’s the gospel.

Squid 🙂