Category Archives: Spiritual Application

Sunshine Go Away Today….

Just a moment of insight from my morning commute. The vocal melodies of Jonathan Edwards comes on WOW 105.3, and the last verse of the song stood out to me more than usual:

“Sunshine come on back another day

I promise you I’ll be singin’

This whole world, she’s gonna turn around

Brand new bells will be ringin'”

What does that make you think of?

Heh. Well, I don’t really want the sunshine to go away (I waited all through winter just to SEE it…), but sometimes I do feel the sentiments of this song, where “working starts to make me wonder where/fruits of what I do are goin'” or other things that make me think this world is on it’s way to an idiocracy and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. And ya know what, that’s the way it’s been told.

2 Timothy tells us there will be terrible times in the last days. 2 Peter tells us that there will be abundant “scoffers”. Matthew 24 tells us there will be wars, rumors of wars, nations against nations, and not to mention earthquakes and famines (or recessions? ;-)). And there are many many more references.

Either way, things are going to get seemingly hopeless and just downright illogical and fruitless. BUT, we are called to have hope anyway, and LIVE like we have hope! After all,

This whole world, she’s gonna turn around

(because God will be doing some redeeming!)

And a brand new song we’ll be singin’ 🙂

(Rev 5 and 14)

So hey, listen to Jonathan, and especially the Bible. It stinketh right now, but it’s all gonna be all right. (Rev 21:4)

1 Comment

Filed under Daily Normalcy, Music, Spiritual Application, State of the world, Stress

My Bucket for the Cure

I must confess, when I first saw KFC’s ad about Buckets for the Cure, where you buy a bucket of grilled chicken and KFC donates 50 cents of the price paid to breast cancer research, I thought this:

“What?!? So buy a bucket of un-health to support health?” Really, it seems ridiculous. And counter-productive toward the cause in general.

I don’t even have to list all the reasons that it doesn’t make sense. But this is not the point.

Then I thought,

Hmmmm. How many things do I do that, while simultaneously thinking I’m doing something wondrous and “for the greater good”, doesn’t really make any sense when you really add it up?

For instance, me getting all worked up about KFC’s ironic charity efforts (enough to write a blog about it) instead of spending all that think-time coming up with my own ideas for charity, or participating with an already existing one.

Yeah. Sometimes it’s so easy to get worked up about the problem and talking about just how much a problem it is, rather than getting right down to business. Sometimes we hardly need to sit and think about it at all. Nike had it right all along. Just do it. Pay no attention to the pink bucket behind the curtain.

1 Comment

Filed under Health food, Health, general, Spiritual Application, State of the world, Uncategorized

Freedom’s little surprise

A few weeks ago, I was intrigued by a worship thought given by one of my MAU colleagues, Kris Sisodia. He had just returned from a visit in India, and had a lot of great photos and travel anecdotes that came together into practical worship thoughts. The first “thought” was my favorite, though. Our story takes place on the modern roadways of India.

Kris explained that the roads themselves are freeway-quality, comparable to many of the US’s major cities. 6 lanes, overpasses, exits, and the suburban streets are set up similarly as well. Rather nice.

Full of traffic, though. Just like here.

The best way to tell if you are in US traffic or India traffic, however, is probably the cows and the oxcarts.

cartontheroad

Yup. You’ll see the carts and cows along the roadway, sharing the same turnpike as the Corollas, Accords and Malibus. The usually go much slower, so if you’re driving by, you’ll probably want to get around them. But that can be hard to do when the traffic is like this:

traffic underpassmoretraffic

Basically, these parts of India are perfect examples of traffic anarchy. You may notice how there are lane markers, but no one is following them. There are no vehicle-type restrictions, and some people choose to just walk along the road. Not to mention, if the cows wander out onto the road, you can’t do anything to them. The cows are sacred, and must not be disturbed. Oh, and there are traffic signals, but good luck trying to go through your green light when three other cars are running their red light without a blink of an eye.

cowsonroadnolaneslilpileup

Also, Kris noted that many people still invested in nice cars. You might see BMWs and Mercedes and higher-end Toyotas, but usually the fastest you could ever get to go on these roads is about 35-40 mph….if you’re lucky. With this traffic anarchy, it doesn’t matter how fast you want to go. The cops aren’t going to stop you—but the traffic is. So all the money spent on these high-performance vehicles is pretty much wasted.

Oh, and they do have traffic rules. They even post signs of encouragement 😉

obey

It’s just that no one seems to follow them, no matter how nice the signs are. 🙂

Now Kris hardly had to summarize the symbolism in this part of his travelogue before we were all nodding our heads and saying, “ah yes, I see the connection here.”

Life is like a roadway in India.

The obvious lesson here is that the freedom to drive from A to B is increased when rules are enacted and followed. The less the rules are heeded, the less ability there is to drive safely, comfortably and even quickly!

Though some may associate anarchy with freedom, it’s not long before individual freedom is yanked away by all the other people trying to do things their own way. And we end up in a traffic jam.

In ways like this, the laws actually set us free, rather than restrict us.

I finally read Lord of the Flies last month. Cale was going over it in his sophomore literature class, and since I had never even picked it up before, I decided it was high time. The balance of rules vs freedom, of practicality vs more carnal desires, was the common theme throughout the story. People end up wanting rules. The total freedom that some twist into anarchy causes discord and fear, and people end up craving rules. Craving regulation. Yearning for order.

I’ll let y’all draw your own conclusions on how this fits into our daily lives, and our beliefs.

“To all perfection I see a limit;

but Your commands are boundless.

Oh, how I love your law!

I meditate on it all day long.

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies…”

Psalm 119: 96-98

 

 

(All photos taken by Kris. He was nice enough to share them with me.)

3 Comments

Filed under Allegories, Challenge, Daily Normalcy, Logic, Spiritual Application, State of the world

What are we all arguing about?

Really, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I even scratched out an epiphany on the back of a bulletin while at church in St. Joseph, Missouri, since the words just came to me all at once–stream of consciousness style. Soon after, I thought, “I’m glad I finally wrote this down. Now I can do something about it.” I planned to blog about it. But then just thinking about it made me weary. I realized, I am just very weary of this subject in general. When it comes to differences between denominations, especially denominations that have experience with ex-Adventists, this seems to be where we argue:

“Are we under law or under grace?”

“What commandments still stand today?”

“Are we still required to keep the literal, 7th-day Sabbath?”

Most of the time I just want to throw up my hands at both sides. Forgive me if my tone here is not incredibly tactful or smooth, but this is the state of mind I am in when I think about this, and I can’t wait any longer to write it down.

We’re not getting anywhere on this argument. Sometimes it even feels like the other side is winning because there are more of them than there are us. But we’re not coming to any common ground because we’re hovering over the deeper, SIMPLER issue. First I ask, “why NOT keep the Sabbath? Why wouldn’t we want to?” or “Why NOT keep the 10 commandments?”

If we start at the other end, I think we’ll get farther than just arguing the original question. Honestly I’m still surprised that there are people that are so against the Sabbath. To me, that seems like the most nonthreatening “law” there is! Obviously those that are in a spirit of rebellion over the Sabbath are reacting against the way our own culture has made it, not the Biblical guidelines (which I think are made intentionally vague!!!)

Anyway, we are told all throughout the Bible, especially in the New Testament, how to treat people. We find out what the fruits of the Spirit are. And we are told in many places Who the One True God is. If we live by those words and principles, we may find ourselves ENDING UP keeping the 10 commandments! Not because “it’s the law” but because it’s smart! Because it makes sense. The principles are there! And they are even recognized by most of society as the “right” things to do!

And on the other end of things, if we notice a person “breaking a commandment” and repeatedly falling into habits that are self-destructive or could make life difficult for them, we want to “restore them gently” because we CARE for this person’s WELL-BEING! And, foreseeing possible challenges in the future based on his or her behavior, we want to HELP them, not to police them or humiliate them. (If the latter is EVER the intention, than you are in much bigger trouble that wondering if you are under law or under grace. That is just plain the Wrong Spirit. Most anywhere in the Bible will tell you that.)

We don’t need to be debating this, really. Perhaps the devil is WANTING us to get caught up in the details. Yes, Paul does make a lot of references to “the law” and being “under the law or under grace.” I suppose that means that we are not to forget about the law and that we are to know its place in our lives. Because really, we only need a law when things are getting out of control and need regulation or clarification (and I’d say the world is a bit out of control!). If we daily live by the fruits of the Spirit, being guided by God Himself, we eventually won’t even NEED the words of the law to tell us to do what is right. It will be in us.

Test it. I dare you.

Good to read:

James 3:17

Galatians 5:22

Hebrews 4:9

Acts 18:1-4

Colossians 3

Deuteronomy 6

And so many more….

7 Comments

Filed under Argument, Challenge, Daily Normalcy, Logic, Spiritual Application, State of the world

The Seventh Day. Wow.

Here is the last in Christopher Smith’s creation week devotional series. Enjoy.

The Seventh Day

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:1, 2).

As the afternoon of the sixth day waned in the sky, God surveyed all that He had created—all that He would create for this earth. He knew He had finished His latest work, every facet of life had been put into place: light, sustenance, diversity, prosperity, and purpose. God had provided all for His newest world; His work here was done.

But God did not simply leave His finished product. He didn’t pack up His tools, tuck away His hard hat, and ascend back to His heavenly throne. Instead, God watches over His creations—He and Adam had a busy day of naming beasts and birds, of teaching and learning how to work the grounds, of noticing the lack of and creating a partner. God lingers.

I see Adam and Eve yawning, eyes drooping, then laying down on a bed of grass and moss, one that God has prepared just for them. He speaks to them as they hold one another, soaking in His words, the moonlight, the twinkling stars, and they fall asleep in the same way they awoke: to His voice.

With the sun down, evening has come and it is a new day. But God does not let this new hour, this new day pass by unnoticed. He watches its coming, this seventh day.

“And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:3).

While much of the world sleeps, God walks across His world—through the thick forests, the fields of waving grass and wheat, and across the waters—and He continues to pile on the blessings. He has blessed all at their creation, but He knows that life will only continue with His words, His blessings. So He gives the sun and moon and stars, the waters and land, the birds of the air and fish of the sea and beasts of the fields, and man, God gives everything a special day, one in which there is nothing to do but commune with Him, to rest, to heal—ourselves and others—to set aside everything we’ve done in the past six days and focus on one thing and one thing alone: Him.

As dawn breaks and Adam and Eve stir from their slumber, they awake to the morning sun and God’s face smiling down upon them. I see Adam stretching, eager to learn more about this world that he and his wife have just been named caretaker of, and asking “What’re we doing today?”

And I imagine God taking both Adam and Eve by the hands, lifting them up beside Him, and saying, “Come. Let me show you the world that we’ve created for you. Let us guide you. Let us be your all. For this day has been created to build our relationship with one another.”

Then they walk and eat and talk the day away, Adam and Eve drawing nearer to one another, both of them drawing closer to God, and starting their lives on the right foot by spending their first full day, together with God.

2 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Application, State of the world, the Bible

The Sixth Day, Part 2

The Sixth Day Pt. 2, by Chris Smith

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’” (Genesis 1:26).

Notice the difference in what God says here. On the other days, He says “Let there…” and “Let the…” These are commands to the items themselves. God calls directly to the light and darkness, the waters, the land and plants, the birds, fish, insects, and animals. He does not reference Himself. God is not simply musing over what the day will bring, what He will create and shape out of His words. No. He commands the light to separate from the darkness. He commands the waters to part, the earth to rise, the vegetation to grow. He commands the hearts of whales and worms and wrens and wolves to start beating, to pump the blood and let them flow. But God starts this day out differently. He does not command His creation; He commands Himself.

He says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” Already He refers to the trinity. While He is the only one of them to be referenced thus far, He does not say: “Let me make man…” or “I will make man…” He says, “us” and “our.” There is more than one that has been watching the creation, the Godhead, the Trinity, has been a part of all—for each are separate but one in the same.

And God says to the others—I doubt He is commanding, but is suggesting as one might say, “Let’s go to the park today”—“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

In this moment, God is so excited about His creation that He cannot even give the words to His scribe. He’d spent His previous days forming the world from nothing, speaking every beam of light, plant leaf, flowing river, and leaping frog all in preparation for this moment. This one act where everything that has come before—short as it was—has built up for—and where everything after will point back to. God creates man. And not simply another creation, but one that echoes and rhymes God’s own self. We were made in His image, because that is how He wanted it to be. And He is so excited about His newest creations that He skips the details of how He made us and saves them for another chapter, another verse.

For now though, He blesses man, as He did with the animals before Him, and as He would later bless Abraham. “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so” (Genesis 1:28-30)

God not only blesses us, but He also gives us two gifts: a domain and sustenance. Even from the very beginning, right after Adam took his first breath, God already had His plan to sustain each and every one of us, and give us a purpose in life: to rule over the animals. What’s more is that this blessing extended beyond us to the birds and beasts as well: God provides for all and uses all of His creations to His will.

He steps back, perhaps even hovers back into the expanse He called sky, and soaks it all in. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Things are not just good this time. God smiles even wider today, for He knows His work is complete. And this work needs a modifier, because it exceeds the simple, lonely form of good. It is very good.

“And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

Leave a comment

Filed under Spiritual Application, the Bible

More on The Beginning…

Fourth in the series of Chris Smith’s Days of Creation

The Fourth Day

Here is the world, with the pine green trees mixed with the cobalt waters and white sands and chocolate earth. The trees have slept through the night. The flowers still wait to bloom, wait for the light of morning to stretch, open, and flex their petals. Without the light breaking every morning, they would shrivel, wither, and fade—much the same as we would. Without the light, we could not survive. Without the distinct shift from darkness to light and back again, we could not mark the days as they pass, count each one down as we move closer to His return.

So God studied His handiwork, how the darkness and light He’d created three days before flitted through the universe, still marking evening from morning, but otherwise free to bounce and float, free as the soon-to-be-created birds.

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth; And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars” (Genesis 1:14-16).

He has already separated the light from the darkness, but He has not set them into forms. He speaks, and there is an implosion of light, the rays and warmth balling up by unseen hands, the beams weaving tighter and tighter, like a spool of yarn. I imagine God taking the bulb of a sun between His fingers, then pulling out a pebble for the moon, carving out tiny shards of light with His thumbnail to act as stars. Then He grabs the darkness—a swath of black silk—by the edges and spreads it over the expanse of sky. He stretches and pulls and folds the darkness in place, prepares it to cradle His sources of light.

Next, God positions the sun at a perfect distance from His creation, to keep the world from burning, to keep it from freezing. He screws the moon into place, then gives it a flick to set it into motion. And the stars… The stars He flings out like handfuls of birdseed at a wedding, letting them stick where they fall—to shine and blink and twinkle, gifts of diamonds for His son’s future bride.

“God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:17, 18).

Whatever the time, whatever the place, we would have light. God ensured that there would always be a beacon for us to latch onto, a reminder of hope, that dark as the world may seem, there is always a tiny flicker—even from the most distant of stars—of light.

“And there was evening”—this time with moon and stars—“and there was morning”—this time with sun—“the fourth day” (Genesis 1:19).

1 Comment

Filed under Spiritual Application, State of the world, the Bible