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)

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

Bill Nye’s Ark Encounter

Despite Bill Nye’s hostility to the Gospel and those who are spreading it, I praise God for the opportunity He gave to AiG to share the Good News with him, and for the world to see how Christians should treat those that oppose them.

Squid

sixdaysblog

The largest timber-framed structure in the world just received an unlikely visitor as Bill Nye “the Science Guy” made an unscheduled visit to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky on Friday. Visitors were treated to a two-hour impromptu debate as Ken Ham graciously guided Nye on a personal tour through all three decks.

The Ark Encounter, which opened to the public on July 7, 2016, is an amazing representation of the historical Noah’s Ark- what it may have looked like, how it could have been built, and how feasible it would have been for Noah and his family to care for all the different kinds of animals that would have boarded during the year-long global flood.

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Several weeks ago Ken Ham publicly invited Bill Nye on a personal tour, and Nye accepted. The fact that he accepted is both interesting and encouraging. You could say that Bill Nye is Ken…

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The Truth is Unchanging

I hope that the reblog I posted last week made you really think about what you believe, and helped you see what you don’t. Today I’m going to repost one of my own blog posts from a while back, a poem.  This summed up what I believed and still do.  I hope you enjoy it and that it rings true in your heart.

Believed for so long
“Known” to be true.
Evolution from soup
Of me and you.

Creationists laughed at
But would you believe it?
Call it science?

Growing from soup
By process unknown.
Little to no proof,
Wait, hold the phone.

You want me to believe that?
I’m just an accident?
With the design I see
All around me?

I’m sorry, no I just can’t,
There is no evidence.
Design always spawns from a designer,
Of that I’m completely sure.

Does this beautiful world look accidental…
To you?
Perfect systems in place
To keep us all glued.

I think that they’re wrong,
That we’ve been lied to.
I believe there’s a God,
He loves me and you.

Instead of nature, creation
Purposeful and perfect
Made with a plan
But we ruined it.

Instead of our eternal happiness,
We disobeyed, and on us a curse was placed.
Death and troubles, separation from God.
Could this be the end?  No it was not.

A sacrifice for us,
Taking the penalty,
Death’s new victim,
Oh! No, it couldn’t be!

Jesus Christ, God’s only son
Loved immeasurably, loves us as one.
He took our punishment, the grave.
Overcoming death, he saves!

Oh glorious day!
The curse has been broken,
The shackles fall down,
So why does the world endlessly frown?

Because Jesus saves,
We owe a debt gladly paid,
Telling the world
That they can be changed!

But the debt is unappealing,
Bondage!  They say.
They can save themselves,
It’s “easier” that way.

But they don’t understand
The gravity of their plight.
Jesus Christ is the only way,
The only one who can save the day.

The God of the universe is calling you,
What will you answer, what will you do?
He alone is mighty to save,
For you he died, his soul he gave.

Will you let him?
Let him save you.
Throw down your pride,
Let him love you.

From Do You Believe? (written and published by me 10 months ago)

Merry Christmas To All, And A Happy New Year!

Tonight I wrapped some last minute gifts, took a shower, and threw on my new Christmas jammies.  (Cookie Monster and Star Wars mashup, what could be better?) I read some beautiful posts by some amazing bloggers and listened to my house getting ready for bed and the next day.  I’m excited for tomorrow’s plans, dinner with friends and presents of course, but as I was sitting here in my camo beanbag chair I realized that Jesus died for us.  Jesus loves me, this I know.  I do know it, but it just becomes a fact of life.  Like the fact that we’re spinning around a ball of nuclear fission in a dark, endless void, on a spherical asteroid specifically designed for us by the Creator God.  You don’t think about such things, they just are.  But the impact is amazing! 
Jesus, (the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the one who was with God in the beginning, our eternal, loving Savior) loves, (cherishes, cares for, wants to be with,) me. (Wretched worm, continual sinner, critical sibling, etc.) Wow.  Wow!  Can you believe it?  And he loves you too!  And you!  And you!  And you over there in the dark blue chair! (Yes, I can see you)
Why he still continues to love and pursue us, even when we reject him, is beyond me, but I sure don’t want to take it for granted.  That’s my New Year’s resolution.  And one I hope and pray I’ll keep.  He saved me from hell, and he can save you.  All you have to do is let him.

I’m going to share with you the lyrics to a dc Talk song from before I was born, called Jesus Loves Me.  It’s like a poem.  If you feel moved my these lyrics, go listen to the song.  It’s amazing. 

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
All of us to Him belong
We are so weak, but our God, He is strong

As I sit and ponder I begin to wonder why
God would send His only son upon this earth to die
The conviction of my heart brings a tear to my eye
And keep reality far from me, I just want to hide
Christ endured such cruelty for a sinner like me
He paid the price when He died for me on Calvary’s tree
I once was blind, but now my eyes clearly see
The sacrifice Christ became for you and me
Because Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Word of God tells me so
All of us to Him belong, it’s true
That we are weak, yet He is strong

(chorus)
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
For the Bible tells me so

He will stand by like no other man
Two sets of footprints within the sand
But at times looking back one is all I see
These are the days that He carried me
He has proven His love time and again
Pulled me from the fire, a result of my sin
Compare where I am now to where I might have been
Get on my knees just to praise Him again and again
Thank you for loving me, it’s undeserved
It doesn’t make sense, I mean the picture is blurred
I’m the one that owes the debt, but you paid my price
Now Jesus Christ, I owe you my life

(repeat chorus)

Now that I can see it, will the life I lead change
It’s kinda strange we make decisions
When they’re out of our range
But in day to day living, we tend to give up
On commitments that were made before life got tough
With compromise in our eyes and pressure from peers
We renig on a decision that we once held so dear
But let’s try keep sight of this vision foreseen
Hold tight day and night beyond the point of a dream
Because Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Word of God it tells me so
Everyone of us to Him belong, it’s true
We are so weak, yet He is so strong

(Source: http://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/lyrics/new/track.asp?track_id=2573)

Jesus. Loves. You

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!!! 

Squid

Tolerance or Love??

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From what I’ve read and seen, a large portion of Evangelical Christianity seems to think that since we are called to love in the Bible, that means we are supposed to be tolerant of people’s sin.  Because, you know, we love them, and that means we shouldn’t interfere, and God loves them just as they are anyway!  No!  Love is not tolerant!  We need to love people enough that we are willing to talk to them about hard issues such as sin, hell, and judgement.  We need to love people enough to get over our political correctness and tell them the good news!!

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV

This is amazing news!!  And we can’t just sit here and stay silent with it burning in our hearts!  Let’s do something!  Let’s “Tell the world that Jesus saves”!!  The apostles never let the popular opinion govern what they said!  They broke all social guidelines and stated the truth boldly!  Let’s do the same!!  No more fluff and candy, let’s give them life-saving food!  (Cool analogy, right? I made it up on the spot!)

Squid

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