Category Archives: State of the world

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

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

The Unknown’s Gravitational Pull

Knowledge is Power

Is it?
Is it really?

Now, I’m not referring to the normal and necessary pursuit of studies and exercising of common sense. I’m talking about simply….Knowing Things. Or rather, the not knowing of things. And why that can be better.

First off, on a silly little note, have you noticed how happy naive people are? Have you experienced how you can have such a wonderfully carefree time being around those that have no clue (or at least no intention of thinking about) all the deeper, sadder, depressing things going on in the world? Or have you observed how liberating it is when you choose to not know something, or at the very least choose not to worry about it? Sometimes I feel like those people are more powerful than a person like me, who has wasted much of her time worrying about things that I don’t have anything to do with or trying to find out things that I have no real need of knowing.

OK, before a bunch of you Knowers out there retort with your list of the profound gifts of knowledge, expounding on how precious the knowledge is, and how you would never give it up even for the greatest happiness because of all the parts of you that would be lost in the process, about all the new connections you have to the universe and possibly to God, as depressing as some of the facets of knowledge are that you would never relinquish it…well, you guys can be quiet for now.

I’m not saying that you Knowers are wrong. And I’m not about to say that ignorance is blissful enough to be meaningful or smart, or even close to a good way to live life. No. I am not an extremist. What I am posing is this: Knowledge may be power, but perhaps it is power we shouldn’t always feel we need to tap into. Or, we shouldn’t always feel like we deserve to know all things.

One good example is near the end of Jesus’ physical ministry on Earth. His disciples needed to know what was going to happen to Him. However, He wouldn’t just sit down and spill it all out on them. He knew that, at that time, it would be too much for them. He knew that if He said too much too soon, it would prove futile because their current understandings of His great purpose wouldn’t be able to hold it for what it’s worth.
“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now,” Jesus spoke in John 16:12.

That’s just one angle of my point: strategic withholding of knowledge. I’ve heard many arguments against Jesus’ fairness that stemmed from this verse. One person said that if Jesus was fair and really loving, He wouldn’t be so arrogant with His power as to ration it out like that, He should tell all and let everyone deal with it. No, I disagree. I’d rather have someone care about me enough to value my own understanding of such an important concept that they would nurture my process of learning. However, I certainly can relate to the opposing viewpoint. If I find out that there is something that someone (anyone, really) knows that I do not, I don’t care what it is or even how relevant it is to my life, I WANT TO KNOW IT! How annoying. I guess it’s a human tendency. But how much hassle would I save myself (and others too, probably) if I wasn’t such a baby about it. (I want i want i want!) It’s true, I admit it. I really really like to know things. And most of those things I probably didn’t really need to know.

Or, on the shallower side of things, don’t you just love being surprised? I’m not talking about near-scary surprises that can attack the heart, and I’m also not addressing bad or tragic surprises. But when something unexpected happens that turns out to be nice, it makes it all that much nicer because it was unexpected. Sometimes I’ll find out about something nice that is going to happen and it takes some of the niceness away because now I know about it. Or one year when it was nearing my birthday, I caught wind of something my friends were discussing. I didn’t actually know if it was about my birthday or not (turned out it wasn’t…) but it sounded like it could have been, and what was mentioned sounded nice. So here I was expecting a certain kind of something to happen, and it didn’t. Something else happened that was equally as awesome, but it didn’t seem as wonderful to me because I was getting excited about something else. I wish I never knew of that Something Else, because it almost ruined my Something Real.

In that sense, Knowledge’s wonderful power can be slightly dangerous if it is misused or misinterpreted. Or at least it can be a disappointment. And I’m sure you can come up with your own examples relating to my silly little example situation. But situations like that can also be slightly altered and transformed into an actual serious situation, so demonstrating the aforementioned danger of too much knowledge.

Also, as great a creation as we human beings are, we are not really that awesome. We could be, but as we are now, we are most definitely not. We have no business knowing Good from Evil. Heck, we’re having trouble enough with that right now on earth. That’s what’s behind this whole mess we’re in. We asked to learn good and evil, and we are right in the thick of this knowledge. Life could be paradise (as intended) if we weren’t so darned curious about evil. But there we go again….just because there’s something we don’t know, we automatically want to know it, as proven way back when.

So, in closing, here are some things I’ve learned, in short:

Knowledge is Power, but not such that we are automatically entitled.

and

Get over yourself. You don’t need to know everything. It’s not your job.

and, to quote The Rock: “We’re on a need-to-know basis, and you don’t need to know.”

Ok. I’m done scolding myself.
Keep it real, everybody. May your days be full of pleasant surprises.

Leave a comment

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