christical

Inspired by Jesus. From a Christian. For the Christian and anyone else who bothers to listen.

A Repost from Ages Ago Regarding Temptation February 28, 2013

Filed under: Applied Faith,Christian Culture — christical @ 10:00 am
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As the title states, this was a blog post from a long time ago. However, I find that remembering this list is quite useful during Lent. And now, I have a neat little picture for it, too!

I was at certain church service at my home church a long time ago, and the sermon from that service has been stuck in my head since late February.

The topic? 7 tips to overcoming temptation.

Now, another friend of mine, who happens to be a therapist, was sitting in the congregation that day as well, and there was this strange moment where we looked at each other and made a mad grab for pen and paper. The tips definitely work. So, I thought, why not throw them out on the Internet for all the world to see?

1. Know yourself. This means identifying your problem areas. What do you have a problem with? The answer to this comes from past experience, not present experimentation.

2. Think about it. Every action gets easier when done repetitively. So think of the pros and cons about each action: how will this affect your family, friends, job, even your reputation? Does the result justify the damage?

3. Keep away. This means setting boundaries. Think of being harnessed to the top of a dome. The farther you are from the top, the more likely you are to slide and fall, and you may reach the point of no return. Your boundaries may also differ at different times. Case in point: people who are frustrated at work are more susceptible to having an affair.

4. Simply say no. Take a hint from Eve and Satan in Eden. Satan tricked Eve by having a conversation and getting Eve to a wrong conclusion by mentally manipulating her. “No” is enough.

5. Swallow your pride. There is such a thing as pushing yourself too far. Reaching out for help is not an indicator of weakness; remember that part of repenting is realizing that one is not perfect.

6. Refocus. Distance yourself from the situation. It’s a lot easier to not think of a pink elephant when you’re not staring at a picture of one. Likewise, not eating ice cream tends to be easier to follow through on if you don’t look inside of Coldstone every time you pass by.

7. Willpower is a muscle: exercise it. This last one is pretty self-explanatory. But it’s true. Saying no to little things makes it easier to say no to big ones.

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Yes, I do use my notes as phone wallpaper.

•JFG

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Lukewarm February 24, 2013

Filed under: Applied Faith,Within the Church — christical @ 9:00 am
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‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:15, 16, 19 NASB)

I’ll admit that church unsettles me sometimes.

You may be the same way. If so, I don’t blame you; it’s a strange feeling, sitting on a bench in a big creaky building with red carpeting where old ladies glare at you if you smile. But that’s not what bothers me.

Look at the faces of the congregation the next time someone gives a reading from the Passion (this will likely be very soon, considering it’s Lent). You will most likely see little, if any, shows of strong emotion.

This lukewarmness is uncanny. We’re reading a story about God, who came to earth, suffered pain and humiliation, and died hanging on a cross. Mind you, he did this as a perfectly innocent human, not to justify himself, but with the entire weight of humanity on his shoulders.

And yet, most Christians will react to that quite calmly.

Part of me thinks, “They’ve come to peace with their mortality and see the beauty in Christ’s sacrifice, good for them.” Part of me flails my arms and runs out the door screaming because who can come to peace with the idea of Jesus giving Himself to pay for the damage that our own sin has caused?

Christianity is supposed to make us uncomfortable.

Christianity is supposed to make us do double takes.

God’s love is dangerous. It challenges the logic humans treasure dearly. However, as a Christian, I know I have failed to reflect that. It seems like religion has failed to reflect that, too.

Only following the Law without thinking about the Spirit behind the Law fails to reflect that. Especially now, I cannot stress enough the importance of the fact that there’s no magic number when it comes to God. Unless we seek to see God’s love, everything else is nothing.

At church, I will gaze upon that cross and see nothing but love. God did what he did because He loved us in such a way that He’d give Jesus to take our place. We’d live and love and be free in the eternal benefits of that one sacrifice: Jesus’ own life.

I don’t know about you, but with that magnitude of news, it’s impossible for me to be lukewarm.

Questions of the day: how warm is Luke? Why is he so warm? And why does he get an adjective to himself?

—The Jesus Freak Girl

 

Lent Sacrifice Withdrawl February 16, 2013

Filed under: Christian Culture — christical @ 3:15 pm
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Thanks to orthodoxcatholocism.com for the picture.

Lent is a season in the church known for (1) soup suppers and (2) sacrificing something for the duration of the season.

Among the most popular choices are candy, certain television shows, and meat.

However, among Christian circles, one of several awkward conversations can ensue when discussing Lent sacrifices.

~CONVERSATION ONE~
Person A: So what did you give up for Lent?
Me: What?
Person A: It’s Lent. What did you give up?
Me: (pauses) Um . . . Nothing?
Person A: Oh.

~CONVERSATION TWO~
Me: So did you give anything up for Lent?
Person B: Yes, I did.
Me: Cool, so did I! What did you give up?
Person B: I decided to fast every Friday and devote three hours each day to fervent prayer and Bible study, even more if I’ll feel like it. It’s great to discipline yourself and be so filled with the Holy Spirit? Did I mention that I’ve also decided to modestly deflect every compliment I receive? (laughs) What did you give up?
Me: Well . . . I gave up candy. But then I realized that the day after was Valentine’s Day, and my best friend’s mom made peppermint bark, so . . . I gave up candy every day except Valentine’s Day.

~CONVERSATION THREE~
Me: So, Pastor, did you give anything up for Lent?
Pastor: Jesus says we’re not supposed to brag.
Me: Oh . . .

At best, Lent allows us to reflect on our mortality and devote time to prayer. It seems to turn quickly into a holiness war, though, doesn’t it?

During this season, I pray that we will remain focused on our Savior. Let us remember that we can use Lent to spiritually discipline ourselves to be more like Christ.

—JFG

Has anyone experienced an awkward Lent conversation?

 

Broken February 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — christical @ 10:28 pm
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In love’s service, only the wounded can serve.

When we are at our lowest and feel the most useless and worthless, that is when God uses us the most.

You know why?

That is the moment in which we can let God in to work the most.

Do you think that you’re too damaged to do anything of worth? Think again.

Broken soil leads to soil that can bear wheat plants.

Broken clouds lead to rain which waters the wheat plants.

Broken wheat plants at harvest lead to broken wheat heads, which means grain that can be used to make bread.

Broken bread gives strength to the hungry body.

Have a thoughtful Lent. May God shine His face upon you and pour His grace onto your soul.

 

Campfire (Rend Collective Experiment) February 11, 2013

Filed under: Christian Culture — christical @ 3:29 pm
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Great album cover, isn’t it?

At the end of January, I purchased Rend Collective Experiment’s new album, Campfire. As a fun blog post, I’m writing about the album and the songs.

Kumbaya: First song on the album. You’ll hear a 30-second version of the classic song with some light chords and fresh vocals. This is a great song to get into the worship mood.

Come on My Soul: I love how the track opened with a prayer. Xylophone at certain places added to the light feel of the song. The energetic strumming patterns and (sometimes helpfully rambunctious) synchronized perfectly with the lead vocals.

Desert Soul: This track is emotionally packed. The resounding chorus of “All that I am is dry bones without you Lord, a desert soul.” combined with a full-bodied accordion brings the listener down to a more serious mood. But fear not: the upbeat tempo keeps the song enjoyable.

Build Your Kingdom Here: A total favorite of mine. The Irish accents really make the tune sparkle with some foot-stomping authenticity. Perhaps the battle anthem of the modern worshiper, anyone who sings along will feel the entire church behind them with every cry of “build your kingdom here!” I was also especially drawn in by the ad-libbed repeats of the verse in between verse and chorus and the fingerpicking pattern in the first run of the last chorus.

Movements: First, the fingerpicking at the beginning is amazing. Second, I think that the melodic lilting tune really fit the title. This song made me feel the energy of going out into the world and moving toward God, no matter what tries to stand in my way. Toward the end of the song, the singers soulfully repeat “I won’t walk away/won’t walk away,” before returning once again to the energetic chorus.

You Are My Vision: I love hymns. I love this version of the hymn. The song opens with banjo, adding a violin after the first verse, giving the listener a very folksy and familiar feel. As always, Rend Collective succeeds in timing their background vocals to sing a freeing chorus of oh‘s. If you enjoy amazing harmonies and energetic hymns, then this song was made for you.

You Bled: The accordion and syncopated strumming patterns give off an air of a more somber moment. You’ll sway to the rhythm of the hand clapping. One of the more low-octane tracks, You Bled is great when we’re in an awe-filled moment. Even when we think of something so sad and humbling as the cross Jesus bore, we remember that He did it for love. “How marvelous, how boundless/is your love, is your love.” The bridge of “Yes, Jesus loves me/yes, Jesus loves me, how wonderful/Yes, Jesus loves me/This is love, you gave yourself,” helps to affirm God’s mercy even further, even inspiring a bit of nostalgia in those who sang “Jesus Loves Me” as a child.

The Cost: The Cost starts out with a swinging, folksy, fingerpicking pattern. This song is all about seeing the value of following Jesus. A strong chorus of “I’ve counted up the cost/yes, I’ve counted up the cost/I’ve counted up the cost/and you are worth it.” The subject of the song realizes that love results in receiving wounds and feeling some pain at times, but the sweet embrace of God makes every hit worth it.

Alabaster: This wins the award for best backstory. Alabaster is a precious stone. In Biblical times, the makers of alabaster perfume jars would create the jar so that the perfume could only be poured if the jar were broken. In Matthew 26, a woman poured perfume from a jar of alabaster (probably worth her life’s savings) onto Jesus’ feet, crying and anointing him. Like the woman, we come to the cross, broken, giving our lives to God. Seeing God’s glory, we don’t know anything but to fall to our knees and let Him work us to be like Him.

Second Chance: Through the cross, God gives us forgiveness. This song describes this concept. Through Him, we have so many second chances. Sin will try to ruin us as we struggle with our humanity, but God’s infinite power is “where our world begins again.” This idea is so amazing: we repent and are forgiven always, no matter how many times we mess up!

10,000 Reasons: Those who are fans of Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons” will like this cover. The duet harmonies in the chorus blend together beautiful. More instruments come into the mix as the sing progresses, but the song remains mellow all the same. A note to worship leaders: I found the RCE version of this more “singable” than the Matt Redman version. This is the key of E, if you want to try it for your congregation.

Praise Like Fireworks: The lyrics are repetitive, but the instrumental track is a work of art. The handclap rhythms and xylophone truly contribute to a playful sound. “You’ve given us a heart, given us a home, with you,” is one of the most profound truths in Christianity, and I think that this song does well in communicating these basic truths: God’s given us a heart. We’ll lift our voices to Him and not let our humanity stop us!

Peace be with you. My next post will be on Ash Wednesday–stay tuned!

•JFG

 

 
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