The Gift of Time

I love you more
than the sand on the beaches,
and you can never run farther
than My reach is.
Your life may be short,
but in Me it’s eternal.
You make plans, but can’t thwart
the ones I have for you.

You keep looking for love
over and over again,
as if My Word isn’t enough
to reassure you of My promises,
of the inseparability of My love
from you.
Even when you reject Me,
a prodigal would-be,
I love you just the same.
It’s not Me who moves,
but you
who walks away.

I’m here eternally,
since before the existence of Time.
The seconds are my heartbeat
made tangible for you
to understand what you’re part of.
But instead, humanity
has made it
into an impending doom.
In reality,
it’s a gift from Me to you.
Understand that because
you are part of it,
you are also part of Me,
and are fully loved
even when you don’t believe.

Author’s note: Please give credit where credit is due if you plan to use this in any way (including on social networking sites), even brief quotations. This work is (c) Alena Crepea.

I Will Never Understand

After watching a video on illegal abortions that occur in the Philippines, I can say that I am conflicted about the issue of abortion. Our assignment in class was to look up Roe v. Wade, and we were to write down 1) whether we knew what the case was before this assignment, 2) a three-sentence summary of the case, 3) how the ruling was interpreted then versus now, and 4) whether we thought that the ruling should be upheld. The last one got me. After seeing the video of the illegal abortions that take place, I understood something that I’ve always somewhat understood but never realized until recently: it’s not as simple as “legal” or “illegal.”

After seeing the abject poverty that over 30% (I believe it says in the video) of the population lives in, I was empathetic to the mothers who were trying to obtain abortions. Here in the United States, we have an overabundance of families willing to adopt “unwanted” babies, or babies who are born into bad situations, if the mother chooses that rout. But in the Philippines, so many of these women have only two choices, abort or starve their children. We have a mentality in the U.S. that the only reason that a woman would want an abortion is because she selfishly does not want her child or the trouble or responsibility that children can bring. We fail to see that in many, many parts of the world, this is not the case.

The young girl in the video who is recorded during her abortion is sobbing during the entire procedure. Why is she sobbing? Because she is losing her child. She doesn’t want this to have to be an option. She doesn’t want to lose her baby. But she is faced with the decision to abort her second child, or let the 8 month old baby that she already has go hungry. Obviously this is not black and white. And obviously the mayor’s decision to make both abortion and contraception illegal was a poor one. But if you notice in the video, there is a comment made: “This is where religion and politics come together.” That sentence got me thinking even more, especially about Christians who think that there should be laws against abortion. Is more legislation really the answer? Are we going to the right place for our problems to  be fixed? What does this say about the idol of government?

The truth is, we’re trying to fix a very deep problem with a very surface-level answer. We’re putting band-aids on broken bones. We’re trying to fix sin, not through Jesus Christ, but through man-made laws. It won’t work. It will never work. I strongly believe that we need to focus on loving these men and women and children. Are we really showing the love of Christ when we stand outside abortion clinics, hiding behind signs, and yelling at women about how awful they are? Even if that’s true (and I know that every human being is born a sinner in opposition to God), we are completely eliminating love from our message. Now, some might say that it’s like a parent’s discipline. It seems harsh, but will benefit the child in the future. To me, it sounds like poor justification for beating a child. We also have to be careful not to go so far in the other direction that we eliminate God’s judgement and wrath.

A large part of why I am not in any pro-life groups is because 1) I feel that they are far too focused on making new laws and putting trust in government when it should be in God, 2) because of how nasty those groups can be toward people, and 3) because they don’t generally focus on loving and serving people, but rather focus on being aggressively legalistic in their approach.

I’d love to know why those same people who are outside of Planned Parenthood yelling at people are not also the same people raising their voices for, say, foster care reform or advocating making adoption easier, in light of the fact that there are 150,000+ children who are up for adoption through the foster care system, and over 600, 000 in the foster care system overall. This does not include the countless other kids who are living on their own with no familial support whatsoever. Why is nobody upset about this? Why is it not a huge issue? Besides this, 25% of U.S. children are not receiving regular meals every day, or live without consistent access to food. To top that off, of the women who get yelled at for having had abortions, so many of these women who had abortions say that they felt pressured into it, or that they regret it, and many even say that if they’d had the proper support they’d have kept their child. To me, this says nothing of the women but says everything about the quality of help that we are giving them. If we’re going to be against abortion, why are all of these other issues ignored when they relate directly? There’s also the fact that information about adoption is hard to obtain and not made widely available, while abortion is covered in every single sex-ed class and Planned Parenthood brochure in existence.

I would love to know why Christians are not coming alongside these men and women more often and saying, “We’re all sinners. I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner. We’ve made bad decisions. I don’t agree with the one you made, but I want to love you anyway, because Jesus loved me first.”

 

Author’s Note (added Nov. 20, 2012): I’d like to clear something up real quick. I actually don’t even know if it’s an issue, but I feel the need to address it, just to be completely, entirely, absolutely clear on this: I am not condoning abortion, nor do I support the practice in any way. I believe absolutely in the right to life, and I believe that abortion is, in fact, murder. What I was trying to convey in this post was that my heart breaks for these women, and that I wish that these sorts of things did not have to happen. I was not trying to say that abortion is a solution to poverty, unplanned pregnancies, or anything else. It is never a solution. There is one instance where both the mother and the child cannot be saved, and that is ectopic pregnancyIn this case, the baby has implanted outside the uterus and it is a life-threatening condition for the mother in which the baby will not survive. I do not believe that women should ever be denied medical attention that they need in order to save their life. However, I do not believe that abortion “on demand and without apology” is women’s health, and I do not support it in any way. I may post more on this later, but for now I’d just like to clarify what this post was attempting to get across.

God’s Grace

I’ve heard the question before, “How can God be a righteous God if He declares sinners pure before Him?” The answer is Jesus.

This is a quote from J.I. Packer on God’s grace that just about sums it up:

God’s justifying judgment seems strange, for pronouncing sinners righteous may appear to be precisely the unjust action on the judge’s part that God’s own law forbade (Deut. 25:1; Prov. 17:15). Yet it is in fact a just judgment, for its basis is the righteousness of Jesus Christ who as ‘the last Adam’ (1 Cor. 15:45), our representative head acting on our behalf, obeyed the law that bound us and endured the retribution for lawlessness that was our due and so (to use a medieval technical term) ‘merited’ our justification. So we are justified justly, on the basis of justice done (Rom. 3:25-26) and Christ’s righteousness reckoned to our account (Rom. 5:18-19).

Sinners can be declared righteous in the eyes of God because the basis of their salvation and righteousness is Jesus (all of Ephesians 1). In place of a sinful human, God sees His Son, who is completely righteous. Jesus died for the sins of His people so that God could justly declare them His own. If God were to declare a sinner righteous without justification, then God would not be a righteous or fair God. But since Jesus paid the price for the sins of God’s people, God is able to give grace.

On the flip-side, there is the question of how a righteous, good, and loving God can condemn people to hell for something that is not their fault. But God is not a mean kid with a magnifying glass who burns some ants and leaves others alone. Humans go to hell because humans are sinful. God cannot declare a sinner righteous without Jesus, and a spiritually dead person cannot follow Jesus because they are in bondage to their human nature, and therefor in opposition to Him.

In theology, the term sin translates into “without grace” or “wrongdoing.” In some cases it even translates into “missing the mark.” In the philosophical sense, sin simply means “without.” So those who are without God, or in a state of being outside of Him, are in sin by default, and we’re all born that way.

One of Plato’s operating philosophies was that “one can not do evil when one knows the good [can access the “form of the Good”]. All evil comes from an ignorance [or absence] of the good.” Obviously to Plato and other pagan cultures the “good” was not God as described in Christianity. However, the point remains that sin is basically the state of being without God. People don’t go to hell for what they do, they go to hell because everything about their being in opposition to God (Ephesians 2). It’s only through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we can become “Christian” or “Christ-like” because our natural state is one that is in opposition to Him. Another way of putting it is that we make ourselves our own lords and oppose God’s lordship over creation.

Another question that comes up is, “What if I’m a good person? Wouldn’t God let me into heaven?” No. Because good people do not exist (and I’ve had consensus on this even from non-Christians). Think about this: you don’t teach your children bad behavior. You teach them to be good. The reason that we think people are good is because we raise our children morally. When they grow up and go out into the adult world, suddenly we see them become something else. They stray from that moral path that we set down in front of them, and we say, “The world corrupted my children. They had such good hearts.” The world didn’t “do” anything. Humans are born corrupt and moral upbringing just disguises it for 18 years.

So, if we are born into sin by default, and since sin is the absence of God, then there are no good people. This also negates actions as qualifiers for “good” and “bad” if “bad” is just the natural state of mankind. Most people consider themselves good because of their actions. They think that, qualitatively or quantitatively, their actions will be the sum total of their goodness or badness. But that’s what the Pharisees did and Jesus got pretty ticked at them for trying to be righteous and holy through their own merits. We have no merits. Even the saved have no personal merits that make them “good enough” in God’s eyes. They didn’t suddenly start living a different life style or “get their life right” and God said, “Oh, well I guess now you’re good enough for Me.” The only one who was perfect (or “good enough” if you will) in God’s eyes was Jesus, and that’s why He had to die on a cross, so that God’s people could be redeemed through His sacrifice, and God could replace the image of a broken human being with the righteous image of His Son. Not one is good, not even one.

In closing, I’d like to say a couple things. One, I am deeply sorry if you’ve run into Christians who told you that your sins disqualified you from salvation. That you were too horrible for God to save. They do not believe in the all-powerful God of the Bible, or they’d know that the power of Christ can overcome any sin in anybody’s past. Second, I’d like to say that I’m sorry if you’ve ever run into Christians who were just arrogant about the fact that they were Christians. If they truly understood how depraved they were, they’d know that they have nothing to brag about, and I’m sorry for the “holier-than-thou” Christians who make you never want to talk about God or go to church ever again. But I’d also like to say that the only way to Christ is through repentance, by grace through faith. It’s not works that save us, but the evidence of Christ is in the visible transformation of a life. If you continue in sin thinking that God’s grace is a get-out-of-hell-free card, then that’s a dangerous road to be walking and I’d ask you to question whether you’ve really changed. However, if you think only of God’s wrath and miss out on His love, that you’re too horrible for any god to save, realize that Jesus’ blood already paid the price. If you’re His, then you were His before the foundations of the world. This erases the past of the chosen so that they can be made whole in Him.

Quotes

I decided to just list some quotes that I love, and maybe tell you about why I love them so much. They are in no particular order. They are from everywhere, from songs, to books, to sermons. Feel free to steal them if you want. I really enjoy quotes, and I like sharing them even more. If enough people like and respond to this post, I will find more quotes and put up another list!

1. “Writing is not just how I communicate my thoughts but how I actually think. It’s the way an experience or a fleeting thought becomes real to me instead of floating away. It’s the way I catch my thoughts and turn them over and over, testing their weight and deciding whether to keep them or throw them away. For me, to write is to become, and I can’t become [an] older, wiser person without skewering those youthful thoughts to paper, without holding them up for my scrutiny and yours.” -Alisa Harris

When I read this quote in Alisa Harris’ book Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith From Politics, I fell in love with the book. It describes my love for writing in a way that I was never able to do myself. I could never find the words, ironically. Writing really is how I think and how things become real for me. I have terrible memory, until I write things down. When I write, everything that goes onto paper seems tangible.

2. “The venn diagram of boys who don’t like smart girls and guys you don’t wanna date is a circle.” -John Green

Personally, I think that John Green is one of the best people ever. He is one half of the VlogBrothers on YouTube. If you don’t know who the VlogBrothers are, click the link right now. Yes, now. This particular quote is from a video about dating. John Green’s advice to girls seeking a boyfriend? Date nerd boys. I agree with that 100%.

3. “Even if God were to make me tyrant of the world and give me power to reshape it as I see fit, even if I won every political battle I waged, I could never create the world that Christ will one day bring to the poor and meek. The most brazen campaign promises fall short of His. The only way to defeat the politics of ressentiment is to remember that the kingdom of God is here but not yet realized: we still live in the earth’s darkness, but we hold on to the heavenly promise. Instead of seeking power, I want to work for the kingdom’s picture of peace.” -Alisa Harris

Again, a quote from Alisa Harris’ book, Raised Right. This completely describes how I feel about politics and the far-right Christians who seem to be everywhere since the 1980’s. This election is not the election that will decide the fate of everyone on earth, and our children will probably never experience that election either. Our world is full of sin, and electing one man as the Commander in Chief of one country will not change that.

4. “[My brother] knows that I love him even if I don’t say it. But like Dumbledore said, words have power. And we have to use the magic of our words on each other so that we can feel it and experience it, and the people that we love know viscerally and without a doubt how we feel.” -Hank Green

I love Hank Green. Hank Green is not just an amazing person, but he is also the other half of the VlogBrothers. You would know that if you’d clicked the link I gave you earlier. If you’re at all nerdy, you will love these videos of two brothers rambling about everything under the sun, because it’s nerdified ramblings.

5. “We hypocritically applaud men for seeking the truth, but call for the public execution of anyone arrogant enough to believe he has found it.” -Paul Washer

I love Paul Washer. He’s an awesome man of God, and one of the best preachers I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. This quote was one regarding truth, and the way we view it in society today. This relates to one of my recent posts about R.C. Sproul and the law of noncontradiction.

6. “It has been my observation that those who are most opinionated and critically outspoken of other people’s evangelism are those who say the least for Christ, if they say anything at all.” -Jon Revers

This is something that a friend of mine said, and I think that it speaks for itself.

7. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” -Ray Bradbury

First I’d like to say R.I.P. Ray Bradbury. You will be missed, and you have contributed some of the most influential pieces of literature ever written to the book-loving community. I love this quote because, well, I love Bradbury, but more than that, because staying “drunk on writing” to me means continuously creating, continuously becoming (if we connect this to the quote from Alisa Harris). Writing is the only drug I’ll ever need.

8. “This is no game. You want revival and awakening, but know this: for the most part, great awakenings have come only preceding great national catastrophes or the persecution of the church. I believe God is bringing a great awakening, but I believe that He is raising up young men who are strong in trust in the providence of God to be able to wade through the hell that’s going to break loose on us.” -Paul Washer

Yep, Washer again. I think this one speaks for itself, and I wholeheartedly agree with him. It’s from a short video on persecution in the United States, here, if you’re interested in watching it. Whether you are Christian or non-Christian, it’s a good video.

9. “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” -Martin Luther

I believe that prayer is one of the primary marks of someone who is truly saved. It is impossible to be a Christian without praying. ‘Nough said.

10. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” -Thomas Edison

This is another one of those quotes that speaks for itself, but I’d like to say, never, never, NEVER give up. You always have tomorrow, and trying again tomorrow when you fail is just as courageous as completing your goal today.

11. “Have you ever wondered how John could sit down and write all the whole gospel of John, 21 Chapters, and all through that entire thing record exactly the words of Christ? He could do it because the Holy Spirit brought him to his remembrance. That’s that promise there. Same here. We who have received it. We apostles, we writers. God has given it to us. You remember how? What was the vehicle? Inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “all Scripture is inspired by God.” Theapanustos, one word, God breathed. God breathed it out into our minds. We received it. The Bible was not made up by men. It is not the opinion of men. It is not the view of men. It is not the comment of men on certain acts of God. It was received from God a gift brought by the Holy Spirit. So important. And notice a freely given or a graciously given one, not earned, just graciously given.” -John MacArthur

I love this man.

12. “The question is not ‘do you want to go to heaven?’ The question is ‘do you want Christ?'” -Paul Washer

More of Paul. Evangelical preaching has suffered because of the implementation of the question, “Do you want to go to heaven?” in place of, “Do you want Jesus?” Everybody wants to go to heaven. Why would anyone want to go to hell, unless it’s the little kid in the corner wearing a black leather jacket reading the satanic bible? Everyone wants to go to heaven, but Jesus is the only way to get there.

13. “Unfortunately we often get praise for things that weren’t particularly difficult to achieve. If we focus on the props and encouragement of those who have low expectations for us, we become mediocre. It can be challenging to set our sights on excellence, particularly when we’re hearing that we’re already there. One of life’s greatest lessons, which we all must learn, could be expressed in the phrase “That was nothing. Watch this.” Challenge yourself and others to call the normal things normal and save that word excellent for things that really are.” ― Alex Harris

This is from a book called Do Hard Thingswritten by the younger twin brothers, Alex and Brett, of Joshua Harris. Alex and Brett’s book is awesome, and I think you should read it. It’s not just for Christians, though Alex and Brett are both Christian. It’s about doing hard things (go figure) and being the best you can be. Also check out the Rebelution website! Josh Harris is the author of I Kissed Dating GoodbyeBoy Meets GirlDug Down Deepand Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is)All of these are excellent books, and I strongly recommend Dug Down Deep for anybody, whether you are Christian or just curious about Christianity. It’s a clear, well-written, and easy to read overview of Christian doctrine and theology without getting into all of the messy denomination stuff.

(Wow, that’s a lot of links.)

Me and My Logorrhea: Relativity, R.C. Sproul, and the Law of Noncontradiction

Well, that’s officially the longest title I’ve ever used. I’ve had some very interesting thoughts today due to both a philosophy class and a book I’m reading. They’ve been bouncing around all day, driving me crazy, so I decided to dump them here, in the form of pixels on a very small number of screens, because I know that very few people actually read my blog. That’s okay, it’s more for my own personal usage anyway. In the paraphrased words of Ray Bradbury, I write so as not to be dead. Not for the amusement of other people (though if my writing amuses you, I’m glad I could make your day a little brighter, whether it be because you think I’m insane and laughable, or because you actually enjoy reading what I write).

In case you’re wondering (which, if you’re reading this, then you just might be) I am currently reading a book called Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul. Basically, his argument is that chance is a myth in modern science and cosmology. Chance is largely viewed today as a force having causal power to cause effects, but this can’t be true, since chance is nothing. Chance is simply a term used when calculating mathematical probability. What effect, Sproul argues, does chance have on a coin’s landing face up or face down? None whatsoever. But when we say that things happened “by chance,” we are ascribing casual power to chance, which is, in reality, nothing. Ex nihilo, nihil fit. “Out of nothing, nothing comes.” Chance can do nothing, because chance is nothing. Nothing cannot do something.

Sproul is a reformed protestant theologian, but this book is not “about” God. It merely refutes the idea that chance can actually cause anything. In fact, Sproul, in the beginning of the first chapter, says that if chance has the power we ascribe to it, then God need not exist. It’s not that God once existed and now is no longer needed; it’s that if chance is truly a force, then God does not need to have ever existed. If chance has the power to create something, which would be self-creation because chance is nothing, then all logic is thrown out the window. God doesn’t need to exist because chance would be so much greater than God simply based on the fact that it could do infinitely more with infinitely less. The idea of God and the idea of chance having any sort of power are mutually exclusive concepts. If you’d like to read the book, I strongly encourage you to do so, because it takes a whole book to explain in full what I just hardly covered in one paragraph.

Inspired by my philosophy class and Dr. Sproul, I began thinking about the law of noncontradiction. (My computer thinks that “noncontradiction” isn’t a word. Silly spell check.) Two diametrically opposed statements can both be false, or one can be true and the other false, but it is impossible for them both to be true. If one is true, then the other is false. If one is false, that does not make the other one true. This would be a “bona fide contradiction” (thank you, Robert Sproul, for your overuse of  “bona fide”). Even God cannot understand a contradiction. It’s something that is impossible. Now Niels Bohr famously stated that “the opposite of a profound truth may very well be a profound truth.” This is logically impossible if the law of noncontradiction holds true. Take, for example, the existence of God. I say He does exist, but plenty of people say He doesn’t. Some people choose not to take a side. But for the sake of my point, I’m going to stick with the Christians and the atheists (just to narrow it down). A Christian says, “Yes, God absolutely exists!” An atheist replies, “No, God does not.” Both of these cannot be true, because “X” cannot exist and not exist at the same time and in the same relationship. Even God cannot both exist and not exist in, say, Manhattan. He cannot be present and absent at the same time. Either He is there or He’s not. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe God is omniscient and omnipresent. But He has to either be or not be. He cannot be both.

Which leads to the thought that I’ve been trying to get at this entire time, a thought that I had while sitting outside waiting for my boyfriend: I strongly believe that the prevailing belief that truth is relative is a huge factor in the other prevailing attitude that “anyone who disagrees with me is evil/hates me.” I think that, way back in the day, that two people could believe two different things, acknowledge that only one could be true because they were contradictory, and actually have an intelligent conversation about it and remain buddies. Amazing concept. You don’t have to hate people for having a different opinion. You could just acknowledge that you thought differently and move on with your lives. If someone had a better, more grounded opinion than you did, you could listen to them and get new information from someone who knew more than you. Now truth is subjective. So truth is not only different from person to person, but truth is not something found outside of people. It has become something extremely personal, something that is “part of your core being” or something like that. (I don’t know, honestly. How do you even define it anymore?) So if someone says anything that is contradictory to someone’s personal values, their “truths,” it is taken as an assault on a personal level, because you are disagreeing with something that is a part of someone, not just something that they think or believe to be true. Truth can be objective without people getting uppity about everyone who thinks differently.

This. This, RIGHT HERE.

This. This, RIGHT HERE.

And actually, if, according to the theory that truth is relative, truth cannot be known by any one person, why bother to listen to anybody at all if the only truth that matters is my own? Why listen to what someone else has to say if they can’t possibly know Truth? I personally make it a point to listen to others, even those that I largely disagree with (I watched the DNC, give me some credit), and when I discover truth that is different than my current definition of truth, I change my definition. This especially applies to Christians, like myself. Christianity cannot exist in a world where truth is relative. It just can’t. Because God speaks in absolutes. God is an absolutely sovereign God. Jesus said that He (Jesus) is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. How can that exist if truth is just whatever you happen to think it is? And if you disagree with me, that’s okay too. It’s not a blow to your intelligence to think differently than someone else. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met can 1) make mistakes, and 2) not make a mistake and still think differently than other intelligent people. All of this goes back to the theory of noncontradiction, though: God cannot exist and not exist at the same time and in the same relationship. Whichever side you’re on, one of us is wrong, or both of us are wrong, but we cannot both be right.