5.31.2008

forks, beanbag chairs, and postcards.

today, i went to atlanta with two friends - chelsea and nicole. nicole is from illinois, so this was her first trip to atlanta. chelsea lives 15 minutes away, so this was just a homecoming trip for her :)

we went to ikea, whole foods, and two antique stores (scarlett loves rhettro and ...something about a couch. it's next door to the first one.)

i purchased silverware, trivets, and a silverware divider from ikea, lunch and a jar of peanut butter from whole foods and a FREAKIN' AWESOME brown beanbag chair from scarlett loves rhettro.

anyways. two interesting things:

1.) the lady that owns scarlett loves rhetto (i'm getting tired of typing that...) mentioned that she got started in this business because her pastor asked her what her passion was and told her to pursue it.

2.) the other antique store had postcards that were written on from like, 1905 and onward.

my thoughts:

God is everywhere, even in Atlanta in strangers that you've never met before.

what is my passion? what is your passion? what are we doing to pursue them because God put them there to honor Him.

the postcards told stories of people's lives. loves, pains, boredom, joy. These people are dead, most likely. Someone hung onto these cards for a while, though, though. we should do nice things for people because they will hang on to them, whether we ask them to or not.

life is good.

i'm tired, and i have a freakin' awesome brown bean bag chair.

p.s. my room mate talks to her boy friend all the time and is crazy in love with him and has like a little kid voice that she uses to talk to him sometimes and she laughs really loud every three minutes and she's been talking to him for, like, the last two hours. and if i ever get crazy attached like that, please ensure that i get hit in the head with a very large and heavy, preferably bronze or granite, object. it's kinda sweet, but it is mostly irritating.

Laurie, if you read this, you guys are cute, but a little too cute. it's like dressing up Japanese cartoon kitty cats in tutus and fairy wings.

LAUGHING!





[edit! ~ like anyone read this between the hours of 1 and 8am... pictures!]

SO.

I had a not-so-happy day.

To make up for it, I decided that I was going to make cookies and invite people over, because those things, cookies and people, can make me happy. (As an aside, isn't it interesting how we find comfort in food? More on this later. Not today, later, but later, later.)

Real cookies. Butter and brown sugar and flour and baking soda cookies, my dear friend, reva! (and anyone else who may be reading this, but reva was the one who asked.). No secret family recipe or anything, though. Just the dealie on the back of the Hershey's bag.

My mom bought me chocolate chips at the beginning of the summer, so I decided those needed to go tonight. So chocolate chip cookies they were. (If you didn't already gather that from the Hershey's...curious. Hershey's is possessive. Hershey's chocolate. The chocolate belonging to or coming from Hershey. But people, myself included, use "hershey's" as a noun. I guess I can't do that anymore now that i'm enlightened.)

Yes. So I made cookies for a few friends and we played phase ten and laughed a lot. Haha. When i was cooking, we talked like we were on a cooking show. It was so silly.

And then we took some cookies to my boss's apartment and taped them on the door with a note and a brownie that we got from someone else.

The note read,

hello miss merriman and sketchy man.
we made these "special" for you.
chelsea paid particular attention to the brownie.
eat them or else.


which was funny for two reasons:

1.) miss merriman thinks chelsea is on drugs (like, honestly. she asked chelsea's boss to ask chelsea if she is smoking pot)
2.) it looks like a creepy ransom note

the "sketchy man" reference is to the fact that her boyfriend is over tonight. i hope that he doesn't take offense. i'm sure he won't. nothing i can do about it now! lol.

anyways.

we laughed really hard about alot of random stuff. i haven't done that in a while. 'twas nice.

tomorrow, we're taking a day trip to ikea. flippin' sweet :)

so i should go to bed.

BOLSA!

5.30.2008

i'm baking cookies tonight.

yay ;)

5.29.2008

:)

so i had this elaborate post talking about how happy i am right now, and i published it and then i read it and i decided that it was too mushy for you guys and that you'd probably be a little weirded out by it...or...well...yea.

it was about how i feel like i'm in love. and i think it was a little awkward. i'm really not at that point where i can just tell everyone that i'm madly, ecstatically in love.

but i am, and it's good.

and no worries. it isn't about a boy. it's about God. i'm not holding out on you.

but that entry is now saved as a draft. perhaps i'll pull it out one day.

but for right now,

i'm madly in love.
i'm giddy,
i'm dancing in my heart.

i know that everything is good and everything is going to be okay.
not because i deserve it, but because this God that loves me is really Big.

He really is.
and He loves me!
and He loves you.
and He loves the people that are His that go to church,
and He loves the people that are His that don't know they are His yet.
because He's that big, that He can love someone even when they pretend like He doesn't exist.

yay, yay, yay!

5.27.2008

updates

nothing big right now, just some things i wanted to follow up on...

1.) my roommate is back and the fish is still alive. we had some good bonding time. i still don't know his name, but i definitely think he looked forward to me coming home everyday. as far as fishes go, he's pretty good. i still don't want to be a fish, though.

2.) the blueberry muffins are gone. i gave the last two out tonight. i don't feel uber-spiritual yet, but maybe i will after the brownies next week :)

3.) i have new friends! i started my biology class at macon state today, and i met ms. helen and sarah. i am excited about meeting all of these new people! i don't know what the rule of thumb about sharing personal things about people online is, but we'll just play it safe, and i'm not really going to say anything. but it's cool.

4.) i typed the number four without really having anything else to say.

have a great night. may you continue to become grounded in the Big, BIG, BIG God that is YHWH.

bust a rhyme...

...or maybe just consider the unforced rhythm of grace.

this is really stuck on my heart. it seems like it's just another piece to the puzzle...the puzzle that is freedom in Christ. (Gal. 5:1 - "it is for freedom that Christ has set you free! Stand firm, then, and do not submit to the yoke of slavery." )

i am curious as to what this looks like, and it excites me, because any [true] learning i have about God isn't from my mind. it is the Spirit of God that has opened my eyes. this is just another step in the journey. another page.

following Christ is about freedom from fear, worries, sin, anger, pride. That is not who we are, we are taken care of. We are complete. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

i'll probably end up talking more about this throughout the week, because it just totally fascinates me.

but for right now, i'm going to go purchase a plunger and cash some checks and then go to classes (i'm taking Biology starting tonight! yippee :) )

5.25.2008

Unforced rhythms of grace

First, if you haven't read the anonymous response to my previous post, i think it is interesting, and you should read it. I suppose i'll leave a link for you lazy people... :)

Secondly, thanks to the aforementioned post-response and Ephesians 4:17-5:21, I'm feeling better. Actually, it was more like, Eph 5:1-2 - namely, that we are beloved children, and we are to walk in love. You know how certain phrases that you read often stick with you? A few years ago, I picked up the Message paraphrase of the Bible, and a segment has stuck with me ever since. It was this: "Learn the unforced rhythms of grace"

I just looked it up, and that is from Matthew 11:28-29, which reads,
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Freely and lightly.

That is what must be different about following Christ.

It's not about working, working, working. It's about the unforced rhythm of following God. Step by step, relaxing, and as my dear anonymous friend said, and just listening.

Haha. Instead of yelling and throwing a tantrum as I seem to be so accustomed to do...

He answers questions, but on his own time. For you kids who like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, He's not a tame lion.

So I'm joyful. I know that I'm here, in this place, because God is wooing my friends. I may not have answers for them, but it isn't about forcing one out or figuring out how to tell them how this God-thing works. Their salvation is not completed by my zeal. It is all done through the careful plannings of a great God who is madly in love with a people that continually breaks His heart. I'm claiming in faith that this time in their lives is just a planting or a watering of that seed that has been sitting, waiting for the right conditions to bloom. It cannot be forced.

We are the redeemed. We are saved from worrying about what tomorrow will bring. Our cares are cast on the One who cares for us.

We are the redeemed. We can rest in Him.

5 step programs to being awesome.

My heart hurts right now.

I have had two friends, in the past 24 hours, tell me that they cannot sense a higher power, and thus cannot connect to one, and thus do not follow "religion".

The first thing my heart jumps to is the thought, "Oh, but Jesus isn't a religion! He is real and He loves us and wants us..."

and I want to say "be happy", but our idea of happy isn't God's idea of happy. And I want to say blessed with good things, but our ideas of blessings are big houses and nice cars and 401ks. And then I wonder what this Jesus thing really is about.

Because we have this weird idea that following the God of the canonized, Hellenistic, Jesus Bible that we have somehow equates to a 5 step program for becoming awesome.

1. See that you're a screw-up and that you can't un-screw-up yourself, and that Jesus is the only One that can un-screw you up.
2. Pray the "Sinner's Prayer"
3. Get Baptized, get into a church, do good things.
4. Make sure you read the Bible and pray everyday, because doing that will help you accomplish step 5
5. Become a good person.

But the world is actually filled with good people who do good things, and who don't know this Jesus of whom we speak. It's like we have this mental block that says if someone doesn't love Jesus, then there is no way that they can do good things.

No. They do good things all the time. They have standards, too. They like justice, too. They love people, too. Christians are not the only ones who help the needy. In fact, sometimes we are the worst responders to their needs, because we're too concerned about our own needs and desires.

My heart knows that good works isn't Jesus. There is something more, something inexplicable and BIG BIG BIG that is this God. He isn't just the motivation to do good things. There is something more. I yearn for that something more. That experience, that taste, that touch...that knowing, beyond anything else, that there is a higher power, and that He is indeed alive and that He came and died and rose again and that this crazy story that sounds like a fairy tale is true and His...Spirit...lives...in...me...

Oh, my God. What joke are we living? What type of lie is this that we have bought into? Why do we get offended when people say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"? Let the pagans have their freaking drunken orgies. Christ's birth is in our hearts. If the Spirit is really there, we won't argue phrases and meaningless battles. We would love them and know that this battle isn't ours to fight, and then we would spend our money rebuilding wells in Africa instead of on cheap toys that will be landfilled 5 years from now, not to mention the toxic waste it encourages in the 3rd world country it, it's packaging, and it's instructions were constructed in.

I'm begging for something real. Not a Sunday-it's-time-to-look-pretty-and-pretend-that-Jesus-is-here but a it's- freakin- monday- and- i'm- dirty- and- nasty- and- feel- pretty- crappy- but- there- is- something- else- that- motivates- me- and- it's- Jesus- and- he's- real- and- I- can- feel- Him- breathe- in- my- lungs- the- refreshing- breath- of- a- life- that- really- matters.

Something real. Not just for me. Not just for you, but so that these sweet, sweet people who do so many good things can know peace and love and rest and not just because we say it is there, but because we have experienced it, and we have danced in it, and there is no question in anyone's mind that we are crazily caught up in this love of this God who sits and dines with us in the presence of our deepest fears and cruelest enemies.

We are the redeemed.

I don't know about you, but I would give anything so that [nm, cr, jm, kd, am, jc, and numerous others] would want the Jesus that is real, not the puppet jesus that is only good for giving people wine instead of water or serving as a passcode to make us feel like we're in the club.

We are the redeemed.

Dammit, what does that mean?

5.24.2008

Tidbits of my life.















The first two pictures are from the girls' retreat laurie put on last semester (and that i helped out a lot with...) the theme was "I am not defined, but refined." If you've seen me wear a black shirt with the D of defined written over with a pink R, that is the shirt that I designed for the retreat. Not to toot my own horn or anything. :)

The other poster is a painting I created at the beginning of fall semester with Jonathan House and Philip Banze. Each person pretty much took a brush and did whatever he/she felt like doing. It was great. In the top right hand corner is a sticker that I got at the "Bear Fair" from my Res Life friends. It says something like, "Live and Learn", or something ridiculous like that. That was Jessica Merriman's idea, right there. You may also notice three thumb prints. Each of us "stamped" each work we did to mark is, or sign it.

Lastly, I'm totally enjoying being a homemaker. Blueberry muffins this morning! I felt kinda bad. Yesterday, I told some coworkers that I was going to make blueberry muffins, and they were like, "Oh, when? Can I come over?" and it kinda hurt my feelings because whenever I invited said people to anything else, they totally come up with lame excuses to not come over or they just don't come at all.

So as an experiment in grace, I'm just going to give these people these muffins. I shouldn't take it personally that no one likes me without muffins. :)

It's weird, though. It's like, that's all life is, a series of pushes and pulls, learning, stretching and growing so that we become better people.

Not just so that we're better people, but that God is seen through it.

Off to shower and deliver some muffins to people :)

5.23.2008

Confidence.

I don't know who I am.

I am happy, I am sad.
I care what people think, I couldn't give a flip.
I eat healthy, I eat garbage.
I care about the environment, I am wasteful.
I love, I hate.
I'm free-spirited, I'm cautious.
I am humble, I am arrogant.
I am thankful, I am bitter.
I do nice things because I want people to like me, I do nice things because I want people to like Jesus.
I love noise, I love quiet.
I love people-time, I love alone time.
I want to drink alcohol when I turn 21, I don't know if I should drink alcohol ever.
I like to be active, I like to be lazy.
I am excitable, I am boring.

I don't know how all of these things are one person.

But they are. and that person is me.

and the only thing I really do know is that God is bigger than them and He is greater than my flaws and His grace is "made perfect in my weakness".

There is an end to these struggles.

And no fair to post anonymously, you know who i'm talking about. :)

5.22.2008

I love my family. [an email from the topher]

Beth,
I hope that you are having a good time a school. Anyways, do you have any more surprises or a chocolate bar for yourself. Let's not forget, when are coming over, anyhow?
Eraser Djin is a bad guy who erases pages.
Boxing is not that much fun. That way, he goes up and sideways and Sonic goes left and right and up and down and he breaks jars, but sometimes on the other levels he can't. But, anyways, I hope that you come over this weekend. Daddy hopes you come over , too!
Love, Christopher and Love, Dad.
Hickory Dickory Dock

I'm glad I'm not a fish.

At least, not a fish in a bowl.

My roommate is gone until Monday, and she asked me to feed her fish for her.

I am seriously concerned that this fish is going to die. He just swims around. No. He doesn't swim. He sits, barely moving, in various locations. No life, nothing. I have to tap on the glass every so often to check and see if he'll move just a little bit for me. It's so sad.

I have a feeling that there is an analogy between my life and life in a fishbowl. Wanna help me come up with it? Okay, good. You let me know what you have.

5.21.2008

It's the end of the world, as we know it...

...and I feel fine.

I don't know about the "end times" and the "apocalypse" as of yet, but this world has gone weird.

We're all worried about food and rights and freedom. We are all concerned about the spending power of our dollar. We're guzzling gasoline, polluting our Home, looking out for number one and forgetting the ramifications.

One day soon, we're going to wake up and realize there is nothing good left here. In our ploys to become God, surely we will find that we've been lost and misled. We want to be as God.

That is what brought death here in the first place.

Satan, slithering, hissing, sneaking slyly...

hello, Eve. Don't listen to the one thing God asked you to not do. The apple is really pretty. I think it will make you happy. In fact, if you eat it, you will be like God. You will be able to call the shots. You'll be able to create a utopia. You will be the god of Eden.

The builders of Babel, boisterous, bold...

hello, good people. You can build a tower. A tower to reach Heaven. forget the natural order of things. forget humility before God. forget building with rocks and forget to remember that things won't last forever. hold onto those things. hold on to the feeling that you will get as the wind blows through your hair at 3000 feet in the sky. being big, being seen, being important and well-known and honored is more important that remembering God. remember what makes you and you alone happy. ensure that your name will be remembered throughout the generations.

Capitalism, cranking out crackheads, crazies and insatiable consumers...

hello, America. Hoard, buy, waste, and buy some more. Dump, drain, bastardize and mutilate. Pretend that what you do has no repercussions to follow. close your eyes and ears to the pleas of the orphans, the widows, and the Earth. forget that God gave you a charge in the adamic covenant to take care of his creation. hide behind the prosperity gospel. imagine that if God hasn't given you everything you want, that you apparently are in sin. hang onto knickknacks, food and clothing. try day after day, year after year, to live the high life. don't listen to the birds in the morning. don't sit outside and enjoy the breeze tomorrow evening. don't be thankful for the little blessings, because if you work hard enough and worry long enough and try, try, try to go far enough, then better things await you.

and then at the end,
we must realize
that the accomplishment
of our futile wanderings
is indeed death.
death to the earth
death to relationships
death to knowledge
death to our relationship with God
and
death
to
ourselves.

and i think we will wonder why
we wasted our lives
stressing
and running around
and pushing to have more stuff
that could never,
ever,
ever,
ever
satisfy us.
Ever.

and we will wish that we weren't such gluttons
and that we would have loved those in front of us
and that we would have worked less hours
to spend more time with the things that matter.
to develop our talents
to let our hearts sing freely.
to delve into the love that is our God.

oh, when will we see our folly?
oh, when will i?

5.20.2008

i'm in a foul mood.

boo hoo.

i just wanted to tell someone.

thanks for listening.

Salvation.

A lot of times people talk about "making the salvation decision" "getting saved" or "losing their salvation", like it is a gift you buy once and WABAAAM. You're taken care of for the rest of your life on earth. It's as if salvation in Heaven is secured and oh, boo hoo, we're just resigned to a sinful life here on earth, and how we yearn for the hereafter.

It is a focus point in songs, sermons, and everyday life.

When we all fly away. I have a mansion built for me in glory. Give, and it will come back to you.

Don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to this utopia I've heard such great things about. But it's like we forget...it's like I forget what God has saved us from. It isn't just Hell. It is the Hell on earth that has come about because of our wrongs that we've committed. We're supposed to work towards healing the broken and providing for the needy. We're supposed to help and provide comfort for the orphans and widows.

For me, salvation is the recognition that God has not, and will not EVER let go of me. While I "confessed with my mouth" that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, there is something more that goes beyond that. I don't think it was truly my decision to make. Whenever I have doubts, my heart is always brought back to God. Whenever I struggle with myself, I am brought back to God. No matter how hard I try to run, my heart and mind are drawn back to God.

He won't let go.

As hard as I have tried to look at things objectively and intellectually, this God pulls me back and in. He answers questions. He encourages me, saying that this life isn't my own and that it just plays into a bigger plan. The goal for my life isn't that I would have a nice car, a nice house, a husband, a dog, and 2.5 kids. The goal for my life is to do stuff for others as the needs arise.

People fear "losing their salvation", wondering if "they really meant it" when they "prayed the Sinner's prayer". We often cross-examine those who have renounced their faith, asking if they "walked down the aisle" because everyone else was doing it or because they were trying to get that girl or to get out of a bad situation.

I think that God holds tight to those who are His, and we have no idea what tomorrow brings.

Oh, to be caught up in the Great Love that is this God we talk about.

5.19.2008

Whew!

started my internship today.

at my other job, i drew up a logo for an on-campus organization.

currently baking sweet potatoes for me and my roommate.

we're going to buy a can opener tonight from ross.

maybe going to play rock band, too.

i'm a little tired.

i think part of that is from going to bed later and waking up a little bit earlier than normal.

my roommate is going to be gone until monday.

today was fun, for the most part.

i like my bosses in the residence life office.

we heard a funny song today about the RA on duty.

it was fab.

anyways.

i love my life.

this is going to be an interesting summer.

i think i'm excited.

5.17.2008

So Balaam is dead.

You probably already know this. Either a) because it's been like, 4000 years since the Old Testament was written, or b) because you've read through Numbers already.

I struggled through Numbers 28-31 this morning. The first two chapters are about how many sacrifices have to happen and exact numbers and measurements of animals, flour and wine. Chapter 30 is about vows and mostly about women and under what conditions they can keep their vows to God (namely if they are young, their dad has the final say. If they're married, it's their husband.)

Chapter 31, however, returns to the story line of these people taking the Middle East by force.

I still don't know how I feel about this, and would appreciate [a lot] of insight into why a God that "so loves the world" would condone war and killing like this.

The story:

Israel decides to "execute the LORD's vengeance" on Midian. If you remember talking about this a few days ago, Midian is the country from which Cozbi came. Cozbi, the woman whose name means "Lie", and whose death, coupled with the death of Israeli chief Zimri, stayed the disease plaguing Israel.

So Israel brings 12,000 armed men and sweeps through Midian, killing every man they see, even Balaam. I think I know how people felt when Dobby died. Just a little bit. Okay, maybe not that much. But I liked Balaam. I was expecting really cool things out of his life. And then he dies. What gall. Didn't he know I was looking forward to reading his autobiography? Boooooo.

Anyways. And they take all of the animals and women and children and then Moses gets mad and tells them to kill the boys and women who have had sex, but leave the virgins alive (31: 14-18).

Now, stopping right here, it makes me wonder if the plague was a sexually transmitted disease. The puzzle just seems to make sense. But I don't have any proof other than those verses.

Interesting verse in there regarding Balaam, though.

Verse 16: Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord.

So the people of Midian followed Balaam's advice? Hmm. Maybe he wasn't such a good guy after all.

We all have our shining moments, don't we? And then we fade back into our fleshly existence. Consistency is lauded? I don't know.

It seems like in a world of movies and cartoons, we can immediately spot the bad guy. He's the one with the scar over his eye, the hook for a hand, the crooked teeth and plethora of warts. He says mean things and had ominous music that follows him around. He looks sleazy, he sounds sleazy. There is no doubt he is sleazy.

The good guy is just as easy to spot. He is young, handsome, funny, and good with the ladies. He is well-built, smooth talking, and he may make a mistake, but he is only that much more eager to make everything right.

If only life were so easy.

Humans aren't modified works of prose mechanics. Humans are real and have a great duality - their soul and their flesh war. Someone who does good can also do wrong. Those who are seen as evil have also had times where they have loved, laughed, and been happy.

We're all real people. Sorry. This was a lot. Tell me what you think. We'll talk later.

For now, free ribs, cokes and t-shirts at Shane's Rib Shack to the first 100 people there.

5.15.2008

Apartmementos.

I like my apartment. I like my roommate. I like my freedom.

So far.

I'm a little nervous about working. I have high standards and my boss has high standards and I really like my boss and want her to like me, too, but it makes me nervous.

So...yea.

Here is my dinner that I cooked *all by myself* tonight:


It was nice. Lonely, but nice.

I feel like this starts the beginning of something.

And geez, it's just a lousy stirfry.

Actually, it wasn't that lousy.

I don't know.

I think I'm scared to be an adult.

Lie down with the dogs...

...and you're gonna get fleas.

Today's passage is Numbers 25.

It's funny, because I heard a boy talk about this passage last year, and it made me angry. I didn't like the God that the story he told portrayed. And today, once again, I find out that I wasn't told the whole story.

This is the story:

Israel moved into Shittim and instead of killing everyone like they did everywhere else, they start "whoring with the daughters of Moab" (v.1). What a good start to the chapter following the blessing that Balaam bestowed on Israel, eh? Anyways. God gets angry, cuz, I mean, these are His people, here, and tells Moses to impale every chief of the people. Whether Israel did so or there was actually a plague isn't directly written in the text (although v. 9 mentions a plague), but what is mentioned is that the people were weeping (v. 6). It is at this time that Zimri, a chief of the house of Simeon brings in a woman, Cozbi, from Midian, in front of the whole congregation of Israel. What gall! To know that the people are hurting and grieving and to wave around your apathy and disdain for the God who brought you this far...that's just whoah. But anyway. Zimri brings Cozbi into his tent and (ahem) gets to know her. Phineas, the grandson of Aaron, decides that this is enough and spears through the both of them. And the plague is stopped.

Phineas is lauded as one who was "jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel" (v. 13).

When the boy (Benjamin) told us what he read, all I heard was that a man was praised for killing another man out of righteous indignation. That is something that I have struggled with for a year now.

But looking at the story a little bit more, it wasn't just an individual, righteous zealot. People were hurting, and that was hurting God. God was jealous that these people were running after things that were going to kill them. Cozbi means "Lie". This trusted chief, head of the tribe, was bringing in lies and death--pridefully, arrogantly.

It makes me wonder what, as a Christian, I carry in front of people, that needs to be put to death. Eating habits? Laziness? Anger? Bitterness? Grumbling? What habits do I have that are weighing down those around me? Am I jealous enough for God's jealousy that I look at the things that are killing me and recognize that those same things pain others? Am I more concerned about enjoying the fleeting pleasures than preventing the hurt they can cause in the end to myself and others?

Just a thought.

May we be zealous, not only for God's holiness alone, but for the betterment of those around us.

5.14.2008

God, Balaam and the Donkey

As a kid, we're taught to look onto Balaam with disdain. The story of him with the donkey is told with strong negativity.

Emphasis is put on the fact that Balaam went to Balak, and that Balaam hit his donkey, and that God was unhappy with Balaam for going.

But as I was reading the story (Numbers 22-24) again today, I decided that I really, really, REALLY like Balaam. One of the cool things that I think is to be noted is that Balaam wasn't an Israelite, but he followed "the LORD" (22:19). I think Balaam should be lauded, because he did what he heard God telling him to do. He refused riches and renown and earthly awesomeness in exchange for the Word of God. He did not go with the men until he felt God say "go" (v. 20). (and back to that donkey, who, honestly, if they thought they were following God, would get irritated if their car wouldn't start on their way to follow God? I know I'd probably kick some hubcaps in...) He did not curse the people of Israel the three times the King, Balak, asked him to. In fact, he even went a step further, following God's voice and blessing Israel a fourth time while turning the curse back on the men asking to undermine Israel (24:15-25). What guts to share exactly what God tells Him to share! How exciting to know that God speaks.

And He still speaks today.

I just want to leave you with a little bit of encouragement from Balaam's prophecy/oracle/blessing:

"God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them.
God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, 'What has God wrought!'"


The last verse of that oracle was a little bloody, so I'm leaving it out to be read in context of a little nation traveling around the world, taking over countries one by one by killing everyone in them. I don't plan on doing that anytime soon. Is it heresy to leave it out? LOL. And that is all from Numbers 23:18-24. The Great Love that has spoken into your life cannot lie. He will fulfill the good work that He has to do. (see also Philippians 1:6)

Have a superly great day! I plan on having a good one, myself. :)

5.13.2008

So it's been a little while.

Perhaps not as long as it feels like it has been. I haven't touched a computer in two days. That seems like forever, sometimes.

But today I am moved in to my apartment, cooked "real" oatmeal from a canister rather than a baggie over a stove rather than in a microwave, went for a run, and am thinking I'm going to enjoy this life. A fresh start. Mmmm.

I am a little paranoid, because there were some break-ins in this complex last summer, but I know it will all be okay. It's not like I need any of this stuff... haha! :)

I'll be going to work here in a little bit, so I need to go take a shower (Pee-you! Yuck for sweatiness.), but before I go, I just wanted to mention some stuff, and see what you think.

I've been reading through the Bible, and right now I'm in Numbers. One of the things that I thought was totally neat was 16:41-50. The Israelites were grumbling against Moses and Aaron, so God sends a plague. In order to stop it, Moses sends Aaron to the forefront of the plague with a censer of incense. Verse 48 says, "And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped." This verse has been sitting on my mind for the past day or so.

Reading the rest of the story again, I'm reminded that God told Moses, "You shall be as God to Aaron." And since Moses is often considered a type of Christ, perhaps you can look at Aaron as a type of Christ, too. So that totally lights up these verses in the light of what THE MESSIAH has done for us. WHOA, this is pretty awesome. I'm just going to point out a few things:

1.) Moses gave Aaron the direction to save the Israelites without them asking for it (v. 46).
2.) Aaron ran into the midst of the plague (v. 47).
3.) Aaron stood between life and death and stayed the plague (v. 48).
4.) After he stayed the plague, Aaron returned to Moses at the tent of meeting (v. 50).

1a.) God gave Jesus the direction to save the World without us asking for it, or even knowing we need it.
2a.) Jesus runs into the midst of our world, our pains, our failures, and is eager to assuage our shortcomings.
3a.) Jesus stands between life and death. He has stayed the plague of sin!
4a.) After He completed the work of staying the ever-rampant plague of sin, Jesus returned to the right hand of our God.

Just thought that was really cooooooooool.

Have a great day! You have been given new life, dear brothers and sisters. There is One who is standing between life and death for you. His Name is Jesus Christ and He is Truth. He has stayed the plague that weighs heavy on us.

He isn't just an old wives' tale. He's real :)

5.10.2008

Leaving

Leaving home has become harder and harder for me to do over the past couple months. I don't know what it is--if it is the impact of having a new baby in the house that I know little to nothing about or if it is just the fact that for a long time I wanted my family to let go of me, but that I've just realized that I don't want them to let go. I love my family, but I fear that I hang onto them too tightly. I love my family, but I don't consider risks and goals that I want to reach and accomplish for fear of being far from them.

I love my family, but I wonder if this is how I'm supposed to be living.

My sister told me today that when Toph asked when I was coming home, my mom replied, "I don't know, she might never come home. She's an adult now". That totally broke my heart. I don't know how to express the pain that statement brings me. It's that type of pain that comes straight from your chest. It kinda heaves like you're going to vomit, but it sits right there. It sits right there at your heart, maybe in your throat, stabbing, aching. You can't swallow it, you can't shake it. It will be seen, it will be heard, it will be heeded. You will consider it, you will ache over it, and you will cry before it will agree to be assuaged.

Every once in a while, though, those feel good. Kinda makes you feel alive, like you're a real person.

But I still don't know what I'm going to do with myself. I'm going to start by going to sleep and letting it rest.

5.08.2008

Ugh.

My mom said that I help people and then I'm bitter about helping them. Right now I'm really angry and I don't know if I am mad because it is true or if I am mad because it is false. She did say it in the spur of the moment, but I hate being told who I am. Whether it is who I really am or who people think I am.

I think I prefer people not knowing who I am. Which is something I'm trying to change about me. Letting people know who I really am. Or do I already do that and just don't realize it? I feel like I'm pretty transparent anyway...

I'm going to think about this.

Ugh. I'm freakin' angry.

5.06.2008

My Lali

My little sister is very wise. She is 17, but a lot of times I still think of her as 5. Which is funny, because the Topher (one of our little brothers) is going to be 5 this year. Weeeird.

Anyways. Sometimes I think she is still 5. Other times, like when I talk to her about God or I see what she is doing with her life and her friendships and I read her writing and stuff like that, I wonder if she isn't 30 years older.

With that being said, I wanted to put her in the spotlight because I just got done reading one of her posts about the new U.S. coinage, which I thought was very good. Yes, as always, I'm impressed. Just wanted to brag a little bit.

Okay, thanks for letting me brag. Now go read her post. OH! AND SPEAKING OF BRAGGING:
I made a B+ in Solid Waste Management, too. So I have a 3.747. Wowsers! Praise the Lord for His goodness :) I was like, so silly worried. And it was all good. Silly, silly Beth.

Anyways. Just thought I'd share because I've been so down about school. Hallelujah, He always gives us stuff we don't deserve!

Unintentional Sins

If you have ever had a conversation with a skeptic about the Name of Christ being the only form of salvation, you've surely had the question posed to you,

"Well, what about people in a remote tribe in [insert country, island, continent or any hybrid of the three] who have never heard about this Jesus guy? Are you saying that if they don't believe in Jesus Christ or don't follow the Ten Commandments, then this 'loving, kind, and merciful' God is going to be 'just and holy' and send them to Hell? I don't think that's right."

This has bothered me for a while, and definitely part of the story is that God speaks to tribes and cultures supernaturally. There are stories about Muslims who have never heard the name of Christ having dreams to seek more about Him. Primitive tribes who have had folklore about a "white man" bringing a book that would give them power. Stuff like that. God's name will be made known. He still speaks today, and wants everyone to know His Name.

So, with this in mind, I thought it was interesting when I read Numbers 15:22-31 today. The passage is entitled "Laws about Unintentional Sins" and it is for determining the conduct of the Israelites when someone in their midst sins and didn't know they were supposed to not do that.

And God tells Moses in these verses that all of Israel is at fault when that happens. In fact, the priest offers that sacrifice so that "all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake. (vs. 26)"

So. This just makes me wonder about those lost tribes out in the middle of nowhere. If you consider that we are now considered God's children, a modern day Hellenistic nation of Israel, and that God's land is all of the earth, couldn't those tribes, those people who don't know about God be under this same idea? That they are just sojourners with no clue what God's law is (and sometimes they may know that, but have no idea that it's not possible to keep on your own...), and that our whole spiritual nation will bear the brunt of that sin, not just that one person or tribe, alone?

And then that opens up a whole new discussion about sin. Do you not sin just because God told us not to, or because the bottom line of God is Love and that everything we do is based on that? And not world love, but bottom line, this is best for everything Love. The type of Love that is angered by sex trafficking, war, orphaned children, sickened widows, the rape of God's creation that He poured His life into not once, but twice, and still does it everyday, rising the sun on the good and the bad, alike. If all sin is sin, and no one sin is worse than another, then what are we doing pointing fingers at the kids that go out and have drunken orgies every saturday while we resort to "sins that are easier to hide" (that's from Derek Webb - I Repent) like supporting the growth of bastardized foods and materials, driving up world food costs (I haven't read this link yet, but I know the basics behind it...) because we want more efficient gasoline for our tanks we say we need for our convenience, encouraging the forced labor of children so that we can have chocolate...buying, buying, buying, and yet wasting, wasting, wasting.

Hm. If you have 20 minutes, check out www.storyofstuff.com. It's interesting, too.

These are weird times.

5.05.2008

Following the Spirit.

Warning: This is unfiltered madness.

Yesterday, a dude from a larger, more traditional church in the area came to speak at New City.

I hate to admit it, but I had a bad attitude at first. Okay. I had a bad attitude for a while. It was funny to me. He mentioned dressing down, but he still wore suit pants and dress loafers. It was kinda cute.

But it was weird listening to him. I think since I've been away from my home church and have been testing what I think I know about God and all that, I've had a hard time listening to the typical preacher. I prayed through the entire service. I knew that this man must have something to share, and that God was going to speak to me through this service. He seemed very wise and kind. But my attention was lost from his big words and scripted witticisms. He ran over redemption and imputation and some other words I can't remember. He quoted some important people and books. He put the appropriate emphasis on words like Jesus and salvation. He had five points. But looking back over my notes, I can only find one and a half. I think. It might be two. Hang on. Let me get my notes.



Yes. It's one and a half. This is exactly what my notes say:

05/04/08 - NCCd - M.W. Pastor, D.D.

Why do I do what I do?
How do I change?
2 Cor. 3

Israel asked Moses to veil his face they didn't understand and didn't care to understand.

(1) The Necessary Prerequisite of Transformation
-must first be able to behold His Glory (to be a Christian or to be able to see with spiritual eyes)
Glory of God in Righteousness and Grace
(2) The Gospel is outside of us
Jas 1:23
1 Cor 15:10 Phil 2:12-13
We are changed by gazing at Him. (gazing on Christ, focusing on Him, filling ourselves up with Him, not just changing ourselves and still being empty)
Labor diligently - it's God at work.
Col 1:28-29
It's both.
Focus on Christ it is him in the mirror.


Everything italicized is mine. You know how like, you're following along and just get random thoughts? yea. I'll explain those in a minute. But my point that I want to make right now is that God is good and the statement: "Labor diligently - it's God at work" is that thing that I've been struggling with for a while now. Doing things because I supposed to (that would be mentioned in this post, as well as if you have talked to me in person anytime in the last year) has been a struggle for me, because I want everything I do to be led by the Spirit. But the Spirit confirmed - through D.D., even though I had a horrid attitude - that (duh!!) you just keep on keepin' on and trust that it is the Godhead at work.

Okay. I changed my mind. I'm not going to explain those things. Maybe later. Right now, I'm just thankful that God is so good. I'll just leave some references. Uhm. Hindsight. I'm just going to link the notes to the Bible at esv.org. MMk? mmk.

5.04.2008

I love stuff.

This makes me sick. To top it off, it is located in India. What the people down in the slums wouldn't give for a square foot of their closet. 27 stories. 2 billion dollars.

I was reading somewhere the other day, and the person brought up the fact that in 2 Tim 3:15, God describes men in the last days as foremost "lovers of themselves", and then he goes into the other things that would characterize them (us! me! you!):

3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.


We are saved from that. From unfulfilling, selfish life. From causing people pain and evil and sickness because of our own selfish desires. A lot of times I look just like the life that I say I'm saved from. I'm a consumer. I look to meet my wants, while the needs of my neighbor gets overlooked. Tell me, friend, why do we work so hard for that which doesn't satisfy? We want to live the high live, but most of us work for 60 years only to find we're still blue collar, middle class, boring Americans.

Let's do something to challenge that idea. Let's put our stock in treasures elsewhere. Like in heaven. Let's do something big, led by the Spirit. Let's abandon this crap we think is real pleasure and pursue the higher things of God. Ooh. I'm excited.

5.03.2008

Renew Me

Just wanted to leave with you a song that has been resting on my heart for the past 24 hours. I'm about to go take my Waste water exam. It's funny. I've studied. Not near enough, but I feel like I can handle it. We'll see, I suppose. It's almost done. Just a little bit longer. One more year. Let's make it the best we can, eh?

Oh, BTW, Mr. dude from the engineering firm emailed me back, offering me a position. Looks like I'll have an internship, after all! Yippee!

Thanks. Have a great day :)

Artist: Avalon
Album: The Creed (you can listen to it here)

Why am I such a dusty window for Your light to shine through?
Why am I just a tiny star in a sky already blue?
Why do I offer everything with my heart closed like a fist?
I want to love You better than this.

Why do I live like I'm in chains when You have set me free?
and why do I have to break Your heart before I fall to my knees?
I know it's time to pray for change, give all I have to give.
I want to love you better than this.

So renew me, remake me, undo me, unbreak me.
Come into the empty spaces of my broken places and
consume me, complete me, pursue me, redeem me.
Let Your Holy Spirit living through me renew me.

I need Your power to renew me, Lord.
I need to know You're moving through me, Lord.

I need You as my refuge, my first and last resort.
Be the river always running through my deepest thoughts.
Keep my in Your arms, 'cause even when I drift,
I want to love You better than this.

So renew me, remake me, undo me, unbreak me.
Come into the empty spaces of my broken places, and
consume me, complete me, pursue me, redeem me.
Let Your Holy Spirit living through me renew me.

My life bending to Your will, seeking You until I'm more and more like You.

5.02.2008

I like smiling. Smiling's my favorite!

So I think I've been lied to a lot, and I think for the most part, I live with it. It's like, part of me enjoys living small and not exceeding my limited expectations.

God is really cool. His love lasts forever and His mercies are new everyday. He causes the sun to rise on the righteous and wicked, alike. There is none like my God.

Satan on the other hand...is a big fat stinkin' liar. It's funny, I saw this shirt this past summer, and on the front it had a picture of a cow and cheese, and on the back it said something like "Satan is a liar and he sits on a throne of lies". (I sure hope you get the Elf reference) Anyways. In search of that t-shirt to put up here, I ran across this t-shirt, but the original link wouldn't open up, so I pulled up the next link available on google, and it was this post! Wow, talk about encouragement, because this is like, exactly what I've been struggling with lately. And funny, in getting the link for the original website, I tried that first website again, and it came up without a problem. :)

So. yea. Today, I am living in the light of the God who loves me and who is Truth. I am capable, smart, fun, and doggone it, people like me! (Insert SNL reference...)

And Satan is a liar. Boooooo. No one likes liars.

~Edit: Read Romans 8...it's gooooood :)~

5.01.2008

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH

I just felt like it needed to be said.