Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Friends, God, disappointment, and so on

This will be typed in code. The reason why is that I feel like I am mostly complaining. I wanted somewhere to let off some steam, and I feel like I can do that here. Also, I can type in a manner that most people will not be able to understand. And I kind of like that.
But, after typing it...I feel like something came out that I did not plan on or expect. So here is a hint: God = Sap. Here is another hint: 12.

Sap iuxx zaf xqmhq ad rademwq ge. Sap iuxx zaf xqf ge paiz. Rduqzpe iuxx. Rduqzpe tmhq. U wzai U zqqp fa xqmdz ftmf Sap ue ftq Azxk Azq U etagxp pqbqzp az, ngf U wqqb tabuzs U omz ruzp eayqazq ita U omz pqbqzp az ftmf ue zaf Sap. Itk?? U paz'f wzai. Ngf U wzai Tq ue fqmotuzs yq ftmf xqeeaz. U wzai Tq tme fduqp fa etai yq ftmf nqradq. U wzai U tmhq xqmdzqp uf, mf xqmef bmdfumxxk, uz ftq bmef. Mzp kqf tqdq U my msmuz, tgdf rday itmf rqqxe xuwq nquzs uszadqp.
Paqe Sap rqqx ftq emyq imk?
Ftq imk U xahq yk rduqzpe ue bdqffk uzeuszuruomzf oaybmdqp fa ftq hmef xahq ftmf Sap tme rad qmot ar ge. Ur uf tgdfe yq ftue ygot itqz U imzf fa fmxw fa eayqazq mzp ftqk mdq zaf dqebazpuzs, mzp uf rqqxe xuwq ftqk paz'f qhqz imzf fa dqebazp, tai ygot yadq ea iagxp uf tgdf ftq Xadp ar ftq gzuhqdeq itqz ftq anvqofe ar Tue xahq pa zaf dqebazp mzp fgdz fa xuefqz fa Tue iadpe? Iai. U etagxp dqmxxk efab nquzs ea eqxruet. Sap U zqqp kagd tqxb...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Heaven. People.

I just finished watching a video about a young boy who claims to have gone to heaven and come back, when he was 4 years old. After his (series of) visions, he talked to his parents about things he should not have had any knowledge of. His mother's miscarriage. His father's grandfather. Where his father was praying. These were things that he had no way of knowing, that is to say that his parents never talked to him about any of those things.
The child, 11 at the time of the interview I was watching, talked about how everyone had wings. No person was older than their 30's. There were animals there, and lots of colors. Not really what I imagined/expected heaven to be like.

I have read a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven. That account of heaven seems to give a different type of heaven, and I wonder if perhaps that is due to the age difference (the author of this book is a pastor, at least 40 years old).
Really though, to be honest, I don't think it matters. Heaven is going to be greater than what I expect, and to finally be able to give Jesus a (bodily) hug will be simply amazing :)

What stuck out to me even more however, were the comments on the video (it was on youtube). Of the ones I read, and there were probably 5-7 of them, only one was positive. And there were 0 'Thumbs Up's on it. On the negative comments, there were upwards of 40 'Thumbs Up's. Now I understand that this world is hostile to God, and that proclaiming His word will be met with resistance (read Jeremiah for evidence of that), even from people who claim to know God, but where are the ones who will encourage those that are struggling? Are they sending personal messages to the person who posted the video, so that they may see that what they (the person posting the video) are doing is appreciated?? ***

I talked with a few people tonight who were struggling with one issue or another. (Although, to be honest, who have I ever talked to that isn't/wasn't struggling with something? Everyone has issues, we just tend to hide them usually.) One person talked about how they heard people at their youth group discussing their recent adventures with drugs and/or the opposite gender. Now, it is one thing to hear someone talking about these things at school, or a restaurant perhaps, but at church? Now I am not normally the person to say that church is holier ground than any other place, but to quote a friend of mine, "You guys need to write your sins down, cuz, seriously..."
Come on people! We have to get our act together....I know none of us are perfect, but we are called to be different from this world, aren't we? (By we, I mean Christians.) I probably sound condemning. But this bothers me. I know we are all sinners, but our sin is not something we should flash around like the blue ribbon we won for the race. That is not a race that I want to win. But I really do need encouragement. I cannot, will not, should not do this by myself. I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but if His body/church is not encouraging and giving strength to those who need it, what can we expect?
We are supposed to be the turtle on a fence post. (No, I'm not going to explain it unless you ask questions. Don't be afraid to question things.) We are supposed to live lives of love and compassion, giving to those who are in need and speaking up for those who are oppressed. The person I mentioned earlier, who was struggling with the conversations they heard, they talked about how, previously, they lived for God. Every day, they would seek Him, but lately, they had not been caring as much. And that person noticed a change. A change they did not like. That change was something that they wanted to reverse, so that they could/would go back to living for God and being in constant communication with Him.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. -James 1:2-4
***This is where I realized that I was so interested in this because I personally connect with it. Sometimes I feel like what I am doing is not noticed. I feel like I am trying to show that I love those around me, I feel like I am trying to encourage the oppressed. I feel like I am trying to be who God wants me to be, I feel like I am trying to live the life God wants me to live. I feel like I am sharing part of who I am, part of what I think about and care about. And I feel like it goes unnoticed. It hurts. (Of course it hurts. I am human, and therefore I am prideful and selfish. The fact that I have also not fully given my heart to God also plays into that. But I so desperately want that to change!)
But I really do not want to tell people that. I do not want to say 'Notice me!' and wave my hands around in the air. 1) Because that is just ridiculously stupid, and 2) because I feel even more prideful and selfish when I do that. So instead of doing that, I post things on here, I write notes on facebook, I make side comments. I leave the choice to see what I am saying, what I am feeling, to those who may decide to take the time to get to know me and my thoughts. I want you to ask questions. I want to know what you think of what I say and write. I want to know some of your thoughts on my thoughts. And I know I can't always get what I want, and I know that is a good thing. So, for now, I will just leave my thoughts here. You can read them, you can question them, and you can even talk to me about them. The choice is yours.

And, concerning the earlier point of this post, you can do something that others would scoff at. You can live in such a way that people look at you and start making all sorts of snarky comments about how all you have to do to believe in God is get a lobotomy. There is a good chance you will hear things like that. People seem to think that in order to have 'religion' you must discard 'intellect' and/or 'science'. Perhaps we are all suffering from the confirmation bias. (it is a psych term, look it up or ask if you want to know it) So, if you want to find truth, do some digging. Search. Seek. Yearn, and long for it. Then, maybe you will find truth. Or, perhaps you will find some others who are also longing for truth. But how will you find unless you seek?

PS- as you may have noticed, I'm not feeling especially sympathetic right now. I am in a mood to just do it and get it done with. Quit wallowing in your sin and get moving, sluggard! Ask God what He wants you to do, and then get doing it!!!
This is most likely because I feel like I am talking to myself. And I tend to motivate myself in that sort of way. I can be kinda harsh, I don't like to be that way towards others.

Last words: Do something. God can use anything for His purposes. Seek Him. Desire to do good. But first, realize what good really is. It will take time, and you may not find definitive proof. Chances are, when tackling big questions, you won't. At least not scientific proof. But God will provide you with what you need.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. -James 2:14-17

Friday, March 11, 2011

I will call this it.

God does not call us to love when we feel like it. His call to us is not conditional on anything, except, perhaps, His love for us. But that is not really what I read.

Matthew 22:36-40
Jesus did not say, "When you are having a good day, let your friends know you care about them."
He did not say, "I know you will have some tough days, so you can just take it easy on those days, and if someone gets on your nerves, just let them have it!"
But He did say, "[L]ove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."

I read that God calls and commands us to love all the time. Everyday, good days and bad. Sunny days and rainy days. Happy days and sad days. Now, the way that you love may change from one day to the next, or from one person to the next, but the theme is love. A genuine desire for the better of another. Nah, I'll just look it up, let us see what the dictionary says (I'm not sure if this will help my case though):
a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person
(and later in the list, #9 actually) affectionate concern for the well-being of others

Affection seems to be a common theme here. Do I feel affectionate towards my enemies?
Oh but Nick, do you have any enemies?
Well does it matter? But also, who do I consider my enemies? Perhaps an opponent in a debate, a person who does not look favorably toward me, someone who makes me uncomfortable, that person who cuts in and out of traffic while driving well above the speed limit. Those people that just rub you the wrong way, sandpaper people, as I have heard them called. Do I really feel affection towards them?
Let's be honest, no, I don't. And I don't like that. I want to feel love and affection towards those who make me feel upset or uncomfortable. I want to show them something that is not expected or even found in this shriveled mess of a world. You have to look somewhere else for that kind of love.

You may have to search for that kind of love. You may have to fight to get that kind of love. (After all, there is an antithesis for that love, and the One who gives that love has many enemies. And they do not want you to know that great love of that Great One.) However, once you have experienced that love...that tender affectionate concern for your well-being...well, as it was said in the Lion King, "If he falls in love tonight/It can be assumed/His carefree days with us are history/In short, our pal is doomed."
Things will change. Priorities, choices, friends, even your thoughts. The very words that swim around in your head and come out of your mouth will be changed, will be transformed into something new, something better. (Romans 12:2)

And I am undergoing that change. It hurts, and sometimes I feel like I want to just sleep and let everything pass over me. And it is happy; there are days when I feel like my sides are exploding from how much I am laughing. There are times when I literally feel the breath squeezed out of my lungs because of the affectionate hug of a friend. There are times when I am alone, but I feel the greatest comfort, knowing that my Father is always with me and will never leave me. I have the comfort of knowing that even when I cannot see, hear, feel or touch Him, my God, my Savior, and my Friend is there for me. And what is given into His hands cannot be taken away.

Psalm 23; 116
Romans 8:18, 28

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inspired by Fight Club

Yes, the movie.

I feel like the overall message of the movie is so...potent(?)

Why do we not do what we want to do? Is it because it is socially unacceptable? Is it because it is not what our friends expect of us? Or is it because we hold ourselves back because something is 'too hard' or whatever? (As a sidenote, I understand there are things that would fit into these categories, and it is a good thing that they are not approved of, but there are also many things that

would benefit others that we don't do. And those things are what I will focus on.)

For me, I want to make other people happy. I want to make their day (better). I like to make people laugh. I like to help others to see why it is that they are valued as a friend and as a person. I want to give compliments. I want to give hugs. I want to give money. I want to give encouragement. I want to help others with the things they are going through.

Overall, I want to be more than what I am.

So I try. Sort of. There are many things I only say in my head. Some of those it is good I keep them in (I have noticed more of those lately, and I am not pleased about that.) but others...others should really be let free. There are many things in my head that I feel like I should tell people.

Thank you.

I love you.

I am glad you are in my life.

God is so good!

Can I have a hug?

You are someone I admire, and here is why...

Things like that. I want to be more positive. I want to spread the love, if you will. (as I laugh in my head :P)

And I will stop there for now. This was intended for the note I wrote on facebook, but it felt like it was too much about me, and not about the movie. So I moved it here.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

So I was thinking about...

Luxury: noun-
a material object, service, etc., conducive to sumptuous living, usually a delicacy, elegance, or refinement of living rather than a necessity: Gold cufflinks were a luxury not allowed for in his budget.

I like the last part of that definition especially. 'Or refinement of living rather than a necessity'
What are the necessities, hmm? Food and water, to start. Those are physical necessities, along with air (or Oxygen for us humans), heat, and...what else? Or is that all a human needs to just live? Of course that is the baseline for standard of living, although I would call that mere survival. So maybe something else...
What about saying physical, emotional/mental, social, and spiritual needs. (I am doing my best to include the whole of a human here, feel free to let me know if I missed anything!) Is a couch necessary? I would say it is not. It is a luxury.
Is a hot shower necessary? Again, I would say that it is a luxury.
What about running water?
A bed?
Delicious food?
Fruit juice, or pop, or tea?
Candy, or whatever tickles your fancy?

And now, I think the challenge is to find somewhere (in America) that does not have at least three of those things. Yes, most gas stations do not have beds or a hot shower, but it is pretty easy to find some candy and pop there, along with running water. I will admit my ignorance in that I do not know what it is like to live without these luxuries. I do not know what it would be like to live in America and not have a bed to sleep on. I have been very, very, very, fortunate in that respect. I do not know what it is like to live in need/want.
Paul, on the other hand, knew exactly what that was like: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12)
He also knew what it was that gave him the strength to live, even when those luxuries were not present: For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Paul knew 'the secret of being content' at all times. Since his time, certainly the standard of living has changed, and I think that is good, because it helps people (and that is good, right? Yet it has been suggested that the 8th wonder of the world is the gap between rich and poor.). So I know the analogy is not perfect, but go with me here.
We have all this luxury. We have hot food, warm beds, hot showers, running water, all these things and so much more, in such abundance (in America). Yet, who is still searching for more? I know I was, and am, and will continue to be. It seems to me that many people today search for fulfillment in luxuries: we have large houses, attractive spouses, a fast car, lots of money, or oodles of fans. But where does that get us? If the luxuries are simply 'a refinement of living rather than a necessity' do you think we may be missing out on the necessities by striving for the luxuries?
I really don't know where that question came from. Which makes me think that it did not originate in my brain.
What were the necessities? Physical, emotional/mental, social, and spiritual, right? I could be wrong, and please let me know if you think I am, but those seem to be the ones that stick out to me. Mayhaps we are searching for luxuries, such as more money, or better clothes, or a better GPA, while we neglect the necessities: sleep, friends, our own mental stability.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned much about the spiritual side of things.
That is partially because I feel like God is really the only thing we NEED. Moses was on the mountain with the Lord for forty days and forty nights, and he did not eat or drink (or probably sleep). Ok, so the verse does not literally say Moses did not eat or drink, but I'll let you decide that (Exodus 24:18).