Friday, October 31, 2014

The Restoration

Let me tell you the story of a young man. His name was Josiah. He was 8 years old when his father Amon was assassinated. This made him king of Judah. His father was very evil and did many horrible things during his 2 year reign in Judah. But when Josiah took over at the age of eight years, he was the complete opposite of his father. This young man took the nation of Judah and completely restored them. He destroyed all the high places and idols, the sorcerers and magicians. When the priest found the book of the law and it was read to Josiah, he wept and rent his clothes over the state of Judah. 2 Kings 22:19 says "thine heart was tender, and thou has humbled thyself before the Lord...and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord."

Josiah's zeal for God was completely unmatched in history. Even the great King David was no match compared to this young boy. In 2 Kings 23:25 it says, "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him."

How refreshing to read a story of this young man whose zeal for God was so unquenchable. Even when all his family was evil and bent on a destructive path, he saw the light and followed it. When the rest of Israel was bowing down to false gods, Josiah was weeping before the One True God.

Perhaps Josiah's story is not as well known as Abraham's or David's, but it should be. Josiah loved God with all his heart, and he made a difference by living out his faith. God used him to restore the nation of Judah, even at the age of 8. One of the biggest lies we buy is that we are too young to make much of a difference for God, so we'll just wait until we're older to follow God with all our heart. It doesn't hurt to live a little first does it? Every minute that we live for our own will and not God's is a minute that is lost. We aren't promised tomorrow. And even if we do have tomorrow, think about how much you could do tomorrow if you started now. You can't build a house in a day, and if you wait until you are old to start building yours, what's it going to look like?

Let's restore our lives to the God who paid the ultimate price for us, before it's too late.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It feels like Christmas day...

Yesterday, I got a package in the mail. It was something that I had purchased from Amazon about a week earlier. It was just a small package, that could be easily lost in a pile of bills and junk mail. Yet it held the excitement of months of waiting and anticipation that was all winding up into a glorious peak of delight. Yes, it was the new Taylor Swift CD. Why does something so insignificant in the grand scheme of things turn out to be so exciting?

Who cares, honestly. lol. I have played the album on repeat ever since the moment that I opened it. I nearly have some of the songs memorized. So yeah, here are some of my favorite lyrics at the moment. Taylor Swift, can I just be as good as you?

And that's how it works
It's how you get the girl
And then you say

I want you for worse or for better
I would wait for ever and ever
Broke your heart, I'll put it back together
I want you for ever and ever

I should just tell you to leave cause I
Know exactly where it leads but I
Watch us go round and round each time

You got that James Dean day dream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back in every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

He's so tall and handsome as hell
He's so bad but he does it so well
I can see the end as it begins
My one condition is
Say you'll remember me standing in a nice dress staring at the sunset


Sunday, October 26, 2014

But the Greatest of These...

I want to share with you one of my absolute favorite Bible passages of all time. What earthly poet can write with more elegance and splendor and magnificence?
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. . .  
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Love. Is there anything better in life? Anything sweeter? Even the most unattractive become attractive when clothed in charity. Similarly, physical beauty is never more quickly lost that with someone whose heart is cold.

Love can make such a difference. It may be easy to "love" that guy who smiles so sweetly at you, but is that really love? True love is a choice. A choice to seek the betterment of another instead of your own. As 1 Corinthians 13 so eloquently puts it - true love is patient and kind and has no evil in its heart. No self-service, no iniquity. This is agape love. Pure and raw and beautiful. It has only been mastered by One, though all humanity should strive for it.

Agape love is when you see that innocent little face looking up at you. When you reach out and wipe the dirt off the cheek of that fatherless little child and give them the shirt off your back. It is when you give your life in service to the poor and the needy and the desolate. It's when you offer hope to the hopeless and give a drink of water in Christ's name. Agape love is when you pray for and witness to the man who shot your mother. It's when you smile at the soldier who has a gun aimed at your face and offer him the plan of salvation and show him the way to forgiveness. This love is deep and full and constant. Once we have received it, we cannot help but give it in return.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Secrets from my Past 2

Read part 1 here.


Around the time that I started going to college, this new artist named Owl City was just starting to become popular. I listened to his song "Fireflies" on facebook and honestly wasn't that impressed. My brother was, however, and he immediately went out and bought all the Owl City albums he could find. I started to like some of his beginning stuff from Of June and Maybe I'm Dreaming. When I went off to college, I borrowed a couple CDs to listen to in my car. Then one day, I was bored and started looking up my favorite artists on the internet (namely Owl City and Taylor Swift). The moment I began reading Adam Young's blog, I was hooked. I connected with his writing on so many levels. He was speaking my language and I had never experienced such a deep connection with anyone in the past. I had always viewed myself as a little different, a little un-understandable.

This Adam Young seemed like an exact replica of me. He was a dreamer. He openly admitted that he was a shy guy from a small town in Minnesota. His writing was filled with so much symbolism and deep thoughts, but they weren't just out there for everyone to understand. You had to think about it and draw your own conclusions about what they meant. I loved that. I read one of his blog posts that was about introverts, and I bought the book that he recommended (The Introvert Advantage) and read it from cover to cover; I learned more about introverts than I ever hoped to know, and all the while I was coming more and more to the realization that I was perfectly normal and it was okay to be an introvert.

During this time, I also became obsessed with Owl City music. His music was just like his writing, only better. It was filled with all the same symbolism that you can draw a million meanings from, but it also has that incredibly upbeat feel to it. How can you listen to that without feeling happy and joyful? I think part of being a dreamer is being incredibly optimistic. I loved that happy feeling - I love being happy, and I nearly always am. It also helped immensely that he was so openly Christian. He had morals and similar values to me, and as a freshman in college, trying to figure out my own beliefs in this world, that was hugely encouraging to me.

It wouldn't be until much later that I would realize how much more I shared with Adam Young than just being introverted. We are both INFPs - dreamers, healers. Even though I didn't know that at the time, I felt the connection. It was so good to have someone that I actually understood and who was so similar to me. I can't tell you how many hard nights and weeks and months reading Adam Young's blog got me through. He was my beacon of hope. And whenever I thought I couldn't make it in this cruel, harsh world, I would go to his work and find happiness.

PS- I still love both Owl City and Taylor Swift. And in a way, I feel like Taylor Swift is similar to Owl City. She's not openly Christian, but most of her songs are optimistic and somewhat dreamy. She writes with a lot of symbolism that can be interpreted however you want it. I'm also a slightly hopeless romantic, which may be another reason I like her music so much. She's fun, but I'm not as much into her as I am Owl City.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Eternal Struggle

Without light, there would be no darkness. 
Without darkness, there would be no light. 

What makes a good picture? Why is art so appealing? If you take much time to think about it, the answer is probably because of contrast. This concept is so deeply fundamental to everything around us - from being able to see, to hearing noise. If the world were static, and no contrast existed, what would there be to see? The world would be one shade of grey and sound would be a monotonous buzz. Contrast is essential to everything we take for granted. When dark and light are beside each other, it is easy to see the difference, to determine the line between them.

What if there were no bad in the world? What if we never experienced a struggle within our beings? Maybe you think life would be easier - and maybe it would be - but would it be better? Would it be as beautiful? The hard times make us grateful for the good times; and the evil in the world (and inside of us) makes it possible for us to recognize the good. If the world were all good, perhaps it would only look grey to us. Perhaps we would not be able to distinguish the raw purity of its light.

It may seem difficult to be grateful for the hard times, for the evil people, for the struggle inside. But work to find gratitude in your heart, because if the bad did not exist, perhaps the good wouldn't either.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fearless Faith

A warmth so compelling breaks through the darkness,
Ever so slowly awaking the seed. 
Springing to life, its fingers push upward
Til they break free and into the light. 
As time marches onward, and the days still lengthen
A beautiful flower peeks up at the sky.
Ever growing towards the light
Its breathtaking brilliance -
Is there for all to see
As it nods in the breeze 
And smiles up at the sun in thanks for its life.

Lord, make me more like the flower, so simple -
Which smiles at Thee. 
Which turns towards the light 
And away from the dark. 
Which constantly abides and never ceases to praise Thee
Without a care in the world
Drawing glory to God through its humble existence. 

I've always preferred to look at the bright side. I want to assume the best about people and see the good in the world. I may be naive...but I would rather be that than cynical and cold. Some people have told me that I should be more careful, less trusting. I've been told that I need to protect myself. But I've always wondered....if I have faith in God, why would I have to worry about myself? Now, it would not be wise or prudent to put myself in unnecessary danger. But if I have been called to go somewhere, or do something, I have full confidence that God is in control. Why worry about it? Why even waste time thinking about it? Doing so much is giving the enemy victory in our life. God orchestrates every minute detail of the universe, and if it is my time to leave this earth - no amount of worry or planning on my part is going to change that. On the other hand, if God still has a purpose for me - no danger that confronts me is going to defeat His purpose. So why worry about the evil in this world? Why let fear have a place in your heart and mind? Talk to God, He will listen. And He will gladly take your burden from you. Our number one purpose is to follow God's will. To listen to the Holy Spirit's still small voice in our head. To obey those promptings and convictions. And when we do that, we have no place for fear. We have no place for worry. Only peace will dwell in our hearts, and we will not have fear in this world. God is in control, and no amount of worry on our part is going to change that. He always has our best interest in mind.

The end of anxiety is the beginning of faith, and the end of faith is the beginning of anxiety,