Friday, September 30, 2011

Cheering for killing?

This morning, I check Fox News online and read an article that said Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and co-editor of Al Qaeda's web magazine Sami Khan were killed this morning by a US drone attack.


I immediately cheered inside and said "Thank you Lord."


Then I felt a little weird. I just thanked God that someone was killed.


I have never been one against war, in fact I am very far away from a pacifist. However, I have never really thought about praising God for a death.


I know this is a complicated subject that people have varying views on. The one thing I did think about right away was that God called people to go to war in the Bible. He assisted in many killings.


David, Joshua, Gideon - these men would never have been able to fight and defeat their enemies had God not assisted them in battling evil in the world.


We have people trying to kill us, trying to kill our loved ones, trying to kill our soldiers for what they consider a holy mission. I think we have a holy mission to fight back against this evil.


And although it feels weird, I thank God for helping us defeat the evil forces fighting against us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fallen (part 2)

I don't know if people don't have any opinions or no one watched video yesterday, but I guess I'll just talk about some ideas myself.

We watched the video of Fallen at my church small group on Sunday night and discussed the allegory that it was.

When the video was over, my immediate thought was, "That was depressing."

The little asteroid just had some fun flying when he realized that he was about to hit some water. A moment of fear flashes across his little hot rock face, but then he decides to have some fun before he is obliterated, considering he can't really do anything else.

Finally, the little guy splashes into the water and immediately loses all life that the fire inside of him afforded him.

Sad.

However, it's kind of like life - we are born, we realize we don't have very long on this Earth, we try to enjoy the time we do have, we die.

Really, what's the point?

That's question that people have struggled with since the beginning of time?

If we're all just going to die, what's the point of even living? Having fun? Finding someone to love? Having kids so they can pass on your name? Ruling the world?

A few weeks ago, I posted about our purpose in life - to glorify God. Without that, we don't really have a reason for living - why many people are depressed and unhappy with life I am sure.

Do you ever have those times when a topic keeps coming up and coming up until you realize that God is really just trying to teach you a lesson? I think that God has been smacking me in the face with this lesson that life is not all about me; my true purpose is supposed to be glorifying him in ALL that I do.

Without the purpose of glorifying God and serving a master that will make our life more than it is, we have nothing. We will end up with a big splash into a pool of water and will sink into forgottenness.

With God, we may splash, but hopefully those ripples will keep on growing.

In the words of C.T. Studd, spoken at church (one of the "OK, God!" moments) "Only one life will soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blessings in disguise

Wow, yesterday was a day full of great lessons from Sunday school, church and our small group. However, I want to only address one item at a time.

Yesterday, in Sunday school we focused on the life of Rebekah, and the speaker on the video talked about how Rebekah's strong arms and beauty led her to the life she was supposed to have - marrying Isaac and giving birth to Jacob and Esau.

Her arms let her be strong enough to carry enough water for Abraham's servant and all his camels, a sign from God that Rebekah was the one the servant was looking for.

Women often don't recognize their beauty or concentrate on one part of their bodies that they dislike, compared to what they see in others.

However, I think even the part of your body that you hate the most has a purpose. God created you to look just like you do. What is your least favorite body part?

I have never been a huge fan of my legs. Their strong, and if I have any fat, it automatically goes to my upper thighs.

What good can come of the body part that you hate the most?

Thinking about it, my legs have supported my dancing. The muscles have made me able to jump and leap, my favorite part of dancing. That ability to dance has also allowed me to teach dance as well.

Even my least favorite asset has a reason. What about yours?

Friday, September 23, 2011

This little light of mine

"This little light of mine. I'm gonna let it shine. Won't let Satan (blow) it out. I'm gonna let it shine."

The Holy Spirit is a fire inside of all of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Sometimes we have a little flame; sometimes we are lucky enough to get a huge fire burning inside of us.

However, the world is constantly like a wind blowing against our flame.

With small flames, all it takes is a little wind to blow it out. However, the larger the flame, the more wind it can withstand.

Stoking the fire takes fuel, time with God in prayer, reading the Bible, going to church, fellowship with other believers, worship music - the more we immerse ourselves in our faith the larger our fire gets.

The larger our fires get the more we can withstand what the world wants to throw at us.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Courageous"

video

The same church that produced "Fireproof," "Flywheel" and "Facing the Giants" has a new film for all to see - "Courageous."

It's the story of a group of law enforcement officers facing everyday challenges of faith, family and especially fatherhood.

I have seen all the movies by this church, because my parents own all of them, and I own "Fireproof."

If you have seen these movies, you may agree with me that the acting is not perfect. These people are not highly trained actors like Brad Pitt or Matt Damon. Having Kirk Cameron in "Fireproof" was definitely a help.

However, the moment that you release the thoughts of the imperfect acting and immerse yourself in these storylines is when you get what this church is doing. It's not about perfection for them, it's about reaching people with God's message through a medium that can touch the mainstream.

I have read that the movie industry is starting to create films specifically for Christian audiences, like "Soul Surfer," because there is demand for these movies.

If we want movies with good messages to continue, we have to support these films. We have to show that there is a demand for these movies and that we will go see them.

Whenever "Courageous" hits your local theatre or comes out on DVD, I highly recommend using a little bit of your hard-earned cash to see it or purchase it. It's a simple way that we can make a difference in what kinds of feature films are produced out there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back to my childhood

I have a variety of VHS tapes in a cupboard in my bedroom - "The Lion King," "Pocahontas," "It Takes Two."

They were movies that I grew up watching. Even though my VHS player isn't even plugged in anymore, I can't seem to part with these tapes that have stories that made up a lot of my childhood.

I've always been a bit of a movie buff. I love to escape into the world of stories on tape.

The other night, I decided to watch "A Little Princess" on Netflix's live streaming. It was another movie I liked to watch when I was little, a story that my mom also enjoyed. She always thought the main character looked like one of my best friends. It was fun to watch this movie and feel like childhood isn't quite so far away.

I think a lot of people feel like that. As "The Lion King: 3D" comes to theatres for a limited time, I have seen numerous people write about seeing it on their Facebook feeds.

The many Disney movies my generation grew up with is something that I think we will always remember. The movies, the soundtracks, the merchandise that kept the many Disney stores in business.

My favorite movie was always "Pocahontas," and I still get a little miffed when she is overlooked in Disney Princess merchandise. She was the best princess, and I had a Pocahontas towel, swimsuit, watch and sweatshirt among other items. I still have, and use, the beach towel.

It's fun to have items that bring you back to your childhood - movies, memorabilia, books, toys. I don't think you ever have to fully grow up. Maybe you can do something tonight that reminds you of childhood and feels a little bit like home.

By the way, I missed writing it on Monday, but it was my mom's birthday! Happy birthday Mom! I love you lots. You're the best mom that I could ever have!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moving the steering wheel

At church this week, that pastor talked about how at an amusement park kids enjoy the rides where they get to drive cars.

They turn the steering wheel back and forth, thinking that they are in control.

However, the rides are either on a track or going around in circles like a merry-go-round.

It's like us, really. We act like we have control of our lives, but we really are just spinning the wheel and going no where. Until we give up control of the wheel to Jesus, that's when we get off the ride and starting really going somewhere.

Carrie Underwood was famous for the song, "Jesus Take the Wheel," when really Jesus already has the wheel. He's in control. Although we have freedom to move and freedom to make choices, giving God control is when we really start to go somewhere.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

HGTV'd

I have some not-so-nice furniture in my apartment, although all the pieces do their function.

One of my ugliest pieces is a faux pine TV stand that I got a garage sale before I graduated college.

Watching "HGTV Design Star" I got inspired to take what I have an make it better instead of spending hundreds of dollars on new pieces.

I decided to paint my TV stand as well as an end table my dad got me out of the garbage.

I took on the end table last week - although I forgot to take a 'before' picture - painting it a khaki olive color that looks either green or taupe depending on the light.

I then made a sort of shadow box by covering a piece of cardboard in cloth and taping sepia-toned photos to it, stapling it below the glass top.

They were simple fixes, but I'm quite happy with the results and think it now looks like a classy piece of furniture instead of something that I have before I invest in a piece I will really keep.

Let's hope my HGTV skills continue as I paint the TV stand this weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Embracing fall

God promised us in Ecclesiastes that seedtime and harvest, summer and winter would not cease.

Often I wish that we didn't have to have summer AND winter. I like it when the weather is warm and I can stop shivering.

However, as the weather changes right now, I decided it was time to start embracing the season.

The window air conditioner came out of my apartment to allow for some fresh air to stream in. Last night, Nate and I went to a local pumpkin patch to select a display to put outside the apartment. I grabbed my fall welcome mat and door decoration.

Now, all I need is some hot apple cider and a Starbucks' pumpkin latte. Maybe later this week I can embrace the season.

I told Nate, if I'm going to embrace this season, I want all the things I like about fall to go along with it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

God's my windshield

Yesterday, my pretty black and turquoise sunglasses got scratched.

I don’t have any to replace them, so I wore them to help tone down the bright sun on the way to work today.

With the blurry line in my field of vision, I thought there had to be some way that I could spin that to make it a spiritual lesson.

Then, a bug splattered on the windshield in front of me. I saw it coming from a little ways away before it hit and exploded, adding to the mass of insect guts already dotting what is supposed to be the clear pane in front of me.

That’s when I saw something that had nothing to do with my sunglasses and realized a lesson has been in front of me for quite some time; I just hadn’t thought about it.

Windshields protect us from wind, weather, bugs and plenty of other things that would be harmful and would hamper our driving.

However, my windshield is usually clear so I don’t think about it being there.

When trouble hits - rain storms, snow storms, buggy nights - I can see trouble hit the windshield. Yet I am protected from all that trouble.

Sometimes I can see the bugs coming from far away, and my natural instinct is to cringe because my mind doesn’t think about the giant piece of glass protecting me. However, when the bug comes it splatters on the glass instead of exploding all over my face.

God is just like a windshield to us.

God is always there, around us. Most of the time we don’t think about what we are protected from, because we can’t see him.

However, when trouble strikes - health issues, job worries, family problems - we see God protecting us. That’s when we realize he’s been right there all along, even if we haven’t been appreciating it.

The more problems that get squashed by our almighty God, the more obvious it is that he’s there - just like the more bugs hit my windshield, the more obvious it gets that it’s there.

Sometimes we see trouble coming from a mile away, and we cringe, not trusting God. Yet, when that trouble comes, he is always there to protect us from it - even if it leaves a mark.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Still underappreciated

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, police officers and firefighters in New York had no idea what was about to occur.

Some firefighters were probably playing cards, washing their trucks or making sure their gear was in working condition while they awaited their next call.

Police officers were sitting at their desks or driving around in patrol cars, checking on the safety of the people they had sworn to protect.

The moment airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, those service members were there. They rushed up stairs to save people before the buildings collapsed and dug people out of the rubble when the buildings fell to their graves.

Some of those brave men and women made it away safely. Some lost their lives as they attempted to help the innocent in those buildings.

However, now these people have not been invited to the opening of the Ground Zero memorial in New York.

Service members are often underappreciated. Yes, they were just doing their jobs that day. However, they chose to do those jobs, and without them our world would be a much, much worse place.

Think of 9/11 and you think of chaos, terrorism and the brave firefighters and police officers working to restore peace amidst the turmoil.

Think of the Ground Zero memorial and you think of the need to remember that fateful day. Yet, without inviting our brave heroes, we are remembering the bad about the day and not the good - not the peace that these people worked to restore.

I think it's ridiculous that firefighters and police officers were not invited to the memorial ceremony in New York City. For a few years, we appreciated those people. Yet again, they have fallen by the wayside.

The people who take care of us are often in the background, whether it's police officers, firefighters, parents or anyone that works behind the scenes. We shouldn't remember people just when we need them, but appreciate their work all the time.

Even though the country hasn't recognized these people, somehow we should make them feel welcome. Thank you for your service. Thank you for what you do, even if you weren't there that fateful day.

You are not underappreciated.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sept. 11, 2001

As we prepare to remember Sept. 11, 2001, here is something that might make you think about the day a little differently.

"You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the new on Sept. 11, 2001. Neither will I.

"I was on the 110th floor in a smoke-filled room with a man who called his to say 'Good bye.' I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, 'Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK. I am ready to go.'

"I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.

"I was in the stairwell on the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to me for help. 'I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years,' I said. 'Of course I will show you the way home, only believe in me now.'

"I was at the base of the building with the priest ministering to the injured and devastated soul. I took him home to tend to his flock in heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

"I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

"I was in Texas, Virgina, California, Michigan, Afghanistan. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.

"I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all knew me. Some met me for the first time on the 86th floor. Some sought me with their last breath. Some couldn't hear me calling to them through the smoke and flames. Some chose for the final time, to ignore me. But I was there."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why am I here?

Why are did God put us on Earth?

It's a big question that all of us have to face at some point.

What are we doing here? What is our purpose?

Although we all have different callings on this planet, we all have one purpose - to glorify God.

My mom and I talked about this topic on our way to the outlet mall on Sunday - the fact that all of our problems come down to selfishness and our desire to do what we want instead of doing what glorifies God.

We both talked about having things we want to fix in our lives, but the moment we start talking to God about them, we tense up. A little voice pops in our heads and says, "Do you really want to do all that it will take to give this up?"

We often fear all the terrible struggles God will have us go through that will bring about our cleansing, but really, why do we expect that from God? God can give us blessings that will teach us lessons just as he will give us trials to teach us lessons.

The parable of the talents shows that God blesses us, but what we do with our blessings decides where we go from there. The man who was responsible with his blessings received more. He was tested with much. The man who was scared of his master - accusing him of reaping where he did not sow - was thrown out, because the master said, "If you think of me like that, I will be harsh like that."

Glorifying God doesn't mean that we will have to go through tons of bad stuff.

However, I admit that every time I try to surrender to God, my flesh fights it. I have that voice in my head that tells me all the things I will have to give up, and I don't know how to surrender all that I want.

Often, I think I only have a short time on Earth - why can't it just be fun? Why do I have to only have the purpose of glorifying God? That doesn't seem like a fun way to spend my limited time here.

However, my mom and I also discussed the need for us to relinquish ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We can't surrender ourselves to God or live for his purpose solely by ourselves. Christians have the Holy Spirit living inside them for just this reason - we have to ask for help.

As much as our flesh fights back and our mind questions it, we were put on Earth to glorify God, for his desire. How many of us are really doing that though - solely doing that?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend full of blessings

Welcome back to the real world!

Most of us got a day off yesterday thanks to the Labor Day holiday. I treasured the three-day weekend, a time when I actually got to get out of town and have a little fun.

After working late Friday night, I drove up to the Twin Cities on Saturday morning. My mom and I met there and went straight to IKEA to do some shopping. We finished up by going to a couple other stores in a strip on the way home and grabbed some food at a Rainbow mart.

Our hotel room, bought very inexpensively on Priceline, had a full kitchen and living room as well as the bedroom. For dinner, we sauteed some chicken breast and made some corn on the cob in the microwave.

The next morning we headed out to an outlet mall, having our special Bible study along the way. We had a great talk - to the point where we didn't recognize landmarks on the way back because we were obviously so involved in our talk. We talked a lot about our purpose in life and asking for God's help and blessing on what we do.

We prayed and asked God's blessing on our day, whether it be finding good shopping deals or just having a great day together.

After the outlet mall we hit up Mall of America and checked out another little mall by our hotel. We ate at Cheesecake Factory and even brought a slice of cheesecake - Brownie Sundae Cheesecake - to see "The Help" at a local movie theatre.

I have to say, we really didn't find a ton of clothes or deals at all the places we shopped. I found things, but it wasn't a crazy amount. The biggest blessing was definitely the time I got to spend with my mom.

We have a crazy pace shopping that some people would probably not enjoy - going from mall to mall to store to store. We sort through the expensive clothes to try and find some deals. It's a little crazy and we were beat each night, but that's what we often do together.

Many people might not see the trip as successful, because we didn't come home with a car full of stuff. However, I left with a full heart and a smile on my face. It's great to spend time with my mom, and I was blessed to have that time and to just have my mom in general.

Thanks for a great weekend Mom. You're the best!

Friday, September 2, 2011

So out of control

Out of control is usually looked on as a bad thing.

However, really we never have had control. Our entire lives are out of control.

I was reading in 1 Samuel last night about Saul's many attempts to kill David. Saul tried to pin him to the wall with a spear; he sent his men to David's house to kill him multiple times; he even traveled to find him when David fled.

"So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that day and night" (1 Samuel 23-24).

When Saul was overcome by evil spirits, God instead came over him so that he started prophesying instead of finding David to kill him.

Without God's help, David would have been the first, or second, or third time that Saul tried to kill him.

However, God had big plans for David's life. And God made sure that his messenger was kept alive.

Even in the most dire of circumstances, God is in control. If he can save David from Saul, he can put us wherever we are supposed to be and use us wherever we are.

It's OK to be a little out of control - well, completely out of control.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Count it pure joy

I just started my third year of teaching dance tonight, and I must say - I love it!

I come home from dancing one night a week feeling happy and content. I love dancing and love working with my dancers.

I have to admit there are challenges - I have a new girl in my first-grade class, and she just doesn't enjoy paying attention or staying quiet. However, I don't know her well enough to reprimand her as much as I would have.

It's also challenging to cater to people's different personalities. It's amazing how young a personality shows up - hard workers, flirts, introverts, extroverts. When you are in charge of a group of youngsters, you have to learn how to work with all of them, at one time.

I can't live without dance though. Even dancing one night a week is usually not enough. I love to go out and dance, and I want to take a ballroom dance class with Nate someday.

Dancing is just so fulfilling, something that I can count as pure joy, complete joy.

I hope you have a hobby that you can county as pure joy too!