Singleness and stuff…

1 Cor. 7: Singleness according to the Bible = a blessing. According to the world, it’s a curse. However, the world also demonizes marriage, which is also referred to over and over again as a blessing. The world doesn’t think of the opposite of “singleness” as being “marriage.” Rather, the opposite of singleness for the world, is “in a relationship that is potentially going nowhere because the idea of marriage scares me, but I can sleep with this person (use them for sex), so who cares?”

Almost everybody in society is scared of being “forever alone,” but at the same time almost nobody wants to be “forever together.” At least, not with one person, and not with a ring on their finger to actually, you know, show everybody that they’re committed. Because “I don’t need a ring.” So…what you’re saying is, “I’m afraid to commit.” Okay, dude.

Our world is so hypocritical: “Be in as many relationships as you possibly can before you get married, because once you’re married you won’t be able to sleep with or kiss countless people. This clearly shows your dedication to your spouse, because you got all of that out of your system before you married them. Marriage ties you down, and who wants that anyway? Also, you have the option of never marrying but staying with one person, because for some reason the ability to walk out whenever you want on a person that you ‘love’ is appealing even though you’re ‘committed.'” I’m pretty sure that what “ties us down” is slavery to our sinful nature so-called romance. But the world won’t tell you that.

If, as a Christian, you are seeking affirmation, happiness, and fulfillment in a boy or girl, you will never feel affirmed, never be truly happy, and you will never be fulfilled, because you are in bondage to something that is not Jesus Christ. Only He can give you what you’re craving. All relationships are to honor Him, including marriage.

And think about this: If Jesus uses marriage to illustrate His relationship with His church, then marriage itself must be very important to Jesus if He went and died for His church in order to even have said relationship with them. He doesn’t describe the church as either his bride OR “a cohabitating person that never marries me.” No, he describes it as a marriage. And a marriage that is forever, at that.

P.S. Thanks, Matt Moore, for the inspiration.

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13 things that I need to get better at in 2013.

These are not listed in order of importance. I am simply counting down because I feel like it. They are all important to me.

13. Admitting that I am wrong. I usually don’t do this, and it’s a pride issue. I don’t like being wrong. I hate it with a passion. I hate it when someone else can prove me wrong, or argues their point better. I need to admit when I’m wrong, and not get angry when someone else has an equally valid point to make that disagrees with mine. I need to stop getting mad or upset or discouraged when someone else is able to argue their point more effectively than I can, and yet I still disagree with them. I need to stop trying to force people into agreement with me.

12. I need to be more humble. This stems from #13. I tend not to be humble. I pride myself on intelligence, and especially on my ability to write. I get a big head and that is why I get so crushed when other people do better than me. I need to acknowledge that I’m good at certain things, but that other areas are not my strengths. I tend to think that I’m stupid, rather than believing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by Christ, whenever I find someone who can do something or knows something that I don’t know how to do, or didn’t know. Which leads to my next topic…

11. I need to have better discernment. I tend to take things to be true just because the person who says it is intelligent, educated, or sounded smart when they said it. This borders on naivety (right word?) and it can be dangerous if I don’t start having more discernment in what people tell me. This can be especially destructive in terms of the gospel, God, and Christianity in general. If I take everything that everyone says to be true, then it can (and has in the past) severely twist my view of myself, of Christ, and of the gospel away from what God says about it in the Bible. Which reminds me…

10. I need to read my Bible more. This is something I’ve been neglecting, and it’s something that I need  to be doing. If I don’t know what God says about me, about Himself, about the world, about Christ, how am I to become more discerning about the Truth? I can’t. If I’m not spending time learning about God, how am I to get to know Him? How will I grow in faith and spiritual maturity? How will I help my future husband, once we’re married, (or start practicing now) if I don’t know what God says about marriage and wives? Which leads me to…

9. I need to spend more time in private prayer. I don’t pray as often as I should. But I should be praying constantly. Not just in hour-long blocks of time that I set aside for prayer, but by sending up thanks for small things that happen, when I’m worshiping in my car, when things go wrong and I need assistance getting through it… This is another way to learn about God, and I don’t do it nearly enough. It is at least as important, if not more so, than academic study of God and His Word.

8. I need to start telling people that I love that I do, indeed, love them. This goes unspoken far too often.

7. I need to read more before bed without checking my phone. My phone needs to not be the last thing that I touch/see before going to sleep. Not only can it cause you to lose sleep (the light causes your body to react as if it is sensing daylight), but I feel that this just enforces an addiction to the phone and whatever is on the phone (usually Facebook). I need to tell everyone good night earlier, stop texting, stop checking social networking sites, and read a book for an hour. The only exception to this would be when I am stuck up late doing homework, but even then I need to not be paying more attention to my phone or computer than I am to learning and my education.

6. I need to get more active. I admit it… I am not as physically active as I need or would like to be. This is partially due to the fact that, for some reason, I’ve been constantly mentally and physically exhausted for no apparent reason, and I suffer from migraines. The only thing that helps the migraines is Hydrocodon-Acetomenophen pills, which knock me out cold within a few minutes. However, I’d like to start making more time to exercise, even just lightly a few times per week. A walk, a strength workout, a run, a bike ride. I hate sitting around. I get insanely bored and then start snacking, or walking aimlessly around the house and can’t focus on anything. I need to stop assuming that “extra time” will just “be there” when I need or want to exercise, and go make the time for it.

5. I need to spend more time with my fiance doing fun things, rather than sitting like a bump on a log like we do too often. I need to invest time in getting to know him even better than I already do, in showing him that I genuinely care for him and finding out what makes him feel loved. I want to spend more time holding hands, talking to each other, and even include him (as much as possible, since he lives 30 minutes from me and currently does not have a car) in my exercising, since that is low- to no-cost, fun, and is a great opportunity for both of us.

4. I need to stop stressing and start praying. I have terrible anxiety, and for some reason, it never occurred to me that I could pray about it. Time to start.

3. I need to care more about other people. I tend to shy away from people. Despite the fact that, to many, I seem outgoing, I’d really rather be in my room with a book for hours on end. (I’m addicted to Harry Potter at the moment.) I’ve always been this way, but at a young age I learned to hide it and pretend that I liked being around lots of people that I don’t know. Long story short, my introvertedness has developed into a general resentment toward people, and I need to be more loving.

2. I need to get better at keeping commitments. If I have a commitment that I don’t particularly care for coming up, I will find excuses to get out of it, usually just to regret not doing it, later on. This includes things I’ve mentioned above, including working out. I find excuses to avoid committing to a thing in the first place, or else I just refuse to talk about it or say anything, for fear that I will commit and not be able to keep it later (this is part of that anxiety stuff I mentioned). 

1. Disconnect. Unplug. Log off. I need to get off of my phone, Facebook, WordPress, and whatever else it is that I do and stop spending so much time online. I need to disconnect for a while. If someone needs to contact me, it can wait. If it’s an emergency, they’ll call. I do not need to respond to everything the minute that it comes up. Nobody is going to die.

Bonus: I need to talk less and listen more, be quicker to be joyful and slower to get angry. Words (written and spoken) in our society are “cheap, excessive, and easy to come by.” (Francis Chan). I don’t want my words to be that way. In the end, we will be held accountable for every. Idle. Word. Will we be proud of our Facebook news feed? Of our text messages? Of our blogs? Of our conversations on the phone, with family, with friends, with coworkers? Will we have talked too much about things that mean nothing? I certainly need to work on this. I cover up my shyness by talking a lot, and it tends to result in lots of “idle words.”

Maybe I’m just a cynic, but…

It seems to be a recent phenomenon, and I could be wrong, but it seems that people have gone on “awareness” campaigns out the wazoo (yes, that’s a word) about, well…about almost everything. You’ve got breast cancer awareness, abortion awareness (both pro-life and -choice), leukemia awareness, Downs syndrome awareness, feminists raising awareness about the fact that they don’t have man-parts but would like to be treated as if they do, the whole Kony2012 bit that went on last year. All of these things…and people only seem to want you to be “aware” of them. What are they hoping for?

Well, theoretically it was supposed to work like this: people become aware of an issue I care about, and suddenly I’ve got people who care enough, because of their new-found awareness, to go out and do something about this issue that I care for deeply. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but that ended up not being the case.

What actually happens when people go on these “awareness” campaigns is they end up attracting a whole bunch of like-minded people who also want to make people aware. And suddenly, the goal, far from “get up and go do something because this matters,” evolves to become more along the lines of “everybody needs to know about this.” So, really, all you wind up with is a lot of Facebook “likes” and “shares” and some people buy a t-shirt or “like” your page, but, really, you’re still stuck with the same people who originally set out to make everyone aware still doing all of the work with not many new people joining their cause and actually doing something to aid said cause. Probably because most of the people who are frantically “sharing” your cause are the people who never get off of their computers in the first place. That’s why they can share it 60 billion times in a day. It’s not reaching their friends who have kids, go to work, and have bills to pay and dinner to cook who get online once every two days via their phone. It’s reaching all those other people who don’t go outside. (Probably teenagers who are avoiding homework).

The internet, if you ask me, is such a terrible way to get people to care about, and act out of conviction for, anything. Everybody who actually cares is probably already out doing something about the thing they care about.

I mean, people don’t even really understand what it means to “get involved” anymore. If you ask someone “what are you doing to help?” the conversation might go like this:

You: So, I hear you really care about the issue of _____. How are you involved?

Person: Well, I gave the Facebook page a “like,” and I shared the video they posted.

You: No, I mean, what are you doing to help?

Person: Well…I bought a t-shirt too… I can give you their website…

You: Um, right, so, how do you get involved with this organization?

Person: I don’t understand your question.

Seriously… I’ve seen this happen. I used to be one of those people who thought that I was helping when, really, I was just one person in a mass of people who all were already “aware” of whatever it is I was “involved with” at the time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The internet itself is not to blame. People are. Using the internet or sites like Facebook to spread the word about your cause is actually really smart. Getting other people to also spread the word is smart, too. But the problem is not where we start, it’s the fact that we stop there. So many people think that all they’re supposed to do is “like” this or “share” that, and the world’s problems go away. That’s not at all what we’re called to.

Even God “so loved the world he did not send a blogger to pontificate about what others were doing. He sent his Son to get stuff done!” (via Mark Driscoll). We should be out imitating Christ by “getting stuff done,” not stopping after we’ve successfully let people know that some women end up with breast cancer, that children are killed in the womb, and that many of those children are killed because they have Downs syndrome (90% of those children are aborted, by the way). We should be out shining a light to the world, being the city on a hill. Facebook and other technology can be a wonderful tool to do that with, but I can’t help but wonder at our motivation for using these things in the first place. Do we use “spreading the gospel” as an excuse to use them, or are we using them to spread the gospel?

But now I’m off on a slightly different rant… Well, until next time.

When everything is screwed up, and we feel that we’ve failed miserably…

…God does not (Zephaniah 3:5; Deuteronomy 31:6).

For whatever reason over the past week (maybe it’s just my nerves), I’ve felt like everything I do is a screw up. I called my boyfriend fiance (*excited sqeuak*) and woke him up, forgetting that he worked at 5:30 the next morning; I got to his house about 30 minutes too early to pick him up for church on Sunday (his car is currently broken down) because I forgot that did not, in fact, need to be there at 9am, but at 9:30am to cover for my friend to look after the toddlers in child care; I looked back on conversations I’d had during the week and felt like every word that had come out of my mouth was wrong; I watched at least two friends find jobs within a couple months, while I’ve remained unemployed, despite many interviews, for nearly eight months; I was discouraged by the fact that my son’s adoptive parents are separating when all I wanted was for him to have a family that wasn’t broken.

However, last night, as all of these thoughts were running amok through my mind like toddlers who’d been left without parental supervision (and felt just as destructive), I was reminded through songs that began playing on my iPod (thank you, Jesus) that God is always present, His love never fails, and He is in control; He has a plan even when, no, despite our failed attempts, despite who or what we think we are, and He is accomplishing His plan day by day, in His timing, for His purposes.

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The lyrics to the song that came on were this:

“You’re greater than my yesterdays,
You hold me close today,
You’re the Lord of my tomorrows,
My heart will always say,

“Your mercy saved me,
Mercy made me whole.
Your mercy found me,
Called me as Your own.”

It is Mercy by Casting Crowns, if you were wondering. This reminder was incredible on a night when I thought I was going to burst from feeling like I’d failed in literally everything I’d ever done.

I had forgotten 1) that I am a broken person; 2) that, because of my brokenness, I cannot accomplish much on my own; 3) that it is precisely because I am, and everyone else is, broken that Jesus had to die; 4) that God is, always and forever, in control; 5) He has a plan; 6) He’s accomplishing it, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It’s all part of His plan to bring His children to Him. I had also forgotten that every family is broken in some way, because we’re all broken. I couldn’t have given my son an unbroken family no matter how badly I wanted to. Even Jesus family was dysfunctional. I mean, his mother was a pregnant 14 year old who was unmarried, and his father nearly had her stoned for it. The whole thing was scandalous, but look what came out of it. Jesus Christ. And then He died so that all of us could be redeemed to the Father.

Simply being reminded of how amazing God is in spite of my own brokenness and imperfection was comfort when everything seemed to be crashing down around me.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” -Deut. 31:6

“…fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

And, my personal favorite:

11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.'” -Jeremiah 29:11-13

Trying to pick a date…and plan everything else.

So recently I’ve started reading about how to pick a date for your wedding. I’m devouring everything I can find, because my parents got married so long ago that they don’t remember exactly how they planned theirs, and I, of course, am new to all of this, and so is my fiance.

Honest, I already have some looming dread creeping up on me, and we haven’t even set a date. (The dread that’s creeping up might be partially due to the fact that we haven’t chosen a date, in fact.) The more I read, the more I think, “Maybe we will need help from someone who actually knows what they’re doing.” But then the thought of hiring a wedding planner causes even more stress because of the cost involved. We’re college students, and only one of us is currently employed (hopefully that changes soon, as I just turned in a job application at the same Chick-fil-A where my fiance works). But even if I am employed, there’s just so much cost to all of this, that I don’t know where to begin. You can’t plan if you don’t have a budget, and currently, we’re not sure how much we can spend.

My dad told me that the average wedding in America costs about $29,000. Totally not happening for us. We’re working more with a budget that could end up being under $5,000. Speaking of budgeting, I’m currently freaking out about a dress. The one that I thought I wanted costs nearly $2,000 and I don’t know if I’m willing to spend that kind of money on a dress that I will only wear once, no matter how special the occasion is. I’m looking at other dresses and, although I thought that I was dead-set on the first one I picked, I am not so sure now that I’m seeing so many other ones that are much, much cheaper, and just as pretty. Also, looking at this first dress, I’m not 100% sure if it’s what I wanted in the first place.

All of this is kind of making me, like,

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GAAAAHHHHH!

Yes, I’m freaking out a little bit.

Only a little, though…

Psalm 73:26

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Pslam 73:26

Even if my heart and flesh fail, God is always God.

This song by KB is incredibly encouraging. I love it. It’s simple and well-said.

Reason v. intuition

I was recently reading an article from the website Reasons to Believe. It was about people’s intuitive feelings, specifically regarding Darwin’s theory of biological evolution. It turns out that most people have an innate, intuitive, or “gut,” feeling that this theory is not sufficient to explain the existence, diversity, and complexity of life on earth. However, we are often told to “logic away” these feelings, because we’re taught that conclusions derived from intuitive feelings are inferior to conclusions derived from what we’d like to think is reason, and/or logic.

In part one of this series of articles, the author, Roger Bennet, explains that 124 students in biology-teacher preparation programs at two universities in Korea were interviewed. It turns out that, after being asked pertinent questions, the biggest resistance to biological evolution came from a “gut feeling.” Despite being educated on the subject of evolution and being prepared to teach it, these students had a purely intuitive gut feeling that it was not an adequate explanation. But you’d never hear that taught in school, would you? In fact, these students were even set up with courses in which they were basically taught to “reason” away these gut feelings, because reason is superior to gut instincts. All of this despite the fact that (also according to Roger Bennett’s article), our acceptance of things that we learn is based on both reason and whether or not the information “feels” correct. As stated by Dr. Fazale Rana:

“Within neuroscience, there is this recognition that . . . there are two components to understanding a phenomenon. One is knowledge and the other is an intuitive feeling of certainty as to whether or not that knowledge is indeed correct.”

So we’re using intuition to arrive at conclusions every time we take in new information. And yet we’re told that intuition is inferior, and that we should not use it to make decisions, that we should suppress it because reason is better. Hmm…does that feel correct?

Furthermore, what we promote as “logic” in our culture really isn’t true logic at all. It’s actually more along the lines of selectively accepting or rejecting things that, respectively, support or do not support our preconceived beliefs. People are unwilling to come to a conclusion that they did not form on their own. People reject proof of any other viewpoint, or simply don’t bother to look for it, and then assume that it doesn’t exist or that those other views belong only to simple-minded or ignorant people because there is “no proof.” How ironic.

Did you know that small children “generate intuitive creationist beliefs about origins?” Well they do. Why don’t we hear about children who generate intuitive naturalistic or even evolutionary beliefs? I agree with Roger Bennett when he states, ” I submit that they don’t because they (and all of us) possess the image of God and because they’ve not yet been taught to rationalize away creation’s testimony.” 

In part two of Mr. Bennett’s series, he discusses where he believes this resistance comes from: the image of God in humanity. Imago Dei (Genesis 1:26–27). During the Fall of man, this image was broken and distorted, but it was not lost completely. “His image or likeness in man enables us to be receptive to the ‘testimony’ of His existence through creation, which we see in Psalm 19:1–4, Isaiah 40:26, Romans 1:18–20, and in a number of other verses as well.”

For those of us who are saved, no evidence is needed. For those who are perishing, no evidence is possible.