christical

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

Turning the Other Cheek October 2, 2013

Filed under: Applied Faith — christical @ 9:20 pm
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(Please note: a social media comment is shown and referenced in this blog post. The language used may offend sensitive readers.)

After a long break, I’m back.

While I was gone . . .

  • I fell in love with playing music again.
  • I adjusted to a new school schedule.
  • I deleted my blog’s instagram and started spending more time on my personal instagram.

Although I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been eagerly looking for opportunities to “let my light shine” and allow myself to share what I know about God when possible.

When I was scrolling down my feed, I found an argument between a One Direction fan and a Doctor Who fan. For the record, One Direction is a British band who recently announced that they would hold a “live stream” video event for their fans on November 23rd. Doctor Who is a British television show that started fifty years ago. A new, super-important episode will air worldwide on, you guessed it, November 23. The One Direction fans have dubbed the 23rd “1D Day” in honor of the event. Doctor Who fans are not at all happy because they believe that the day should be dedicated to the first doctor. The below comment came from a One Direction fan, and it was directed toward a fan of both One Direction and Doctor Who.

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The part I want to comment on is, “The reason we are nene [mean] to swifties [Taylor Swift fans] and the wanted [The Wanted is another band] cuz in case you haven’t noticed they have all been rude to us first.”

This mentality really grinds my gears. I take issue with the idea that one is justified in being rude to someone because that “someone” was rude first. There’s a difference between justice and vengeance; there’s a difference between forgiving and enabling.

See, if you do something unkind to someone because he or she has done the same to you, then how does that make you any better than the other person?

Jesus taught to turn the other cheek. This means releasing the anger and the grudge that you hold against the other person. Really, withholding that forgiveness doesn’t do much for you. Letting your mind be consumed by their actions, being reminded of the ugly things they did to you, is letting their misdeed defeat you. If disharmony is a basketball, you just caught the ball and will most likely pass it down the court.

If our goal is to think like God, then how can we think like God if we aren’t willing to forgive someone else for their rudeness to us?

If we simply pay back what we have been dealt by others, then don’t we just move in circles? Where would the circle stop?

Do yourself a favor. You don’t have to be your adversary’s best friend, but at the least you can vow not to let their actions take over your life.

 

In Spite of This July 31, 2013

Filed under: Applied Faith,God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 9:40 am

I wrote this in response to a blog post where a reader commented that they found the Christian’s practice of telling people “they’re great and special and loved” unproductive and ridiculous.

If we just go and tell someone how “special and great they are,” then we have a problem.

The reality is that we’re born with these “marks” that Jon (writer of the original blog post) referenced. We look in the Law’s mirror and it tells us we’re failures and ugly and worthless. That reality makes the one-sided message of, “You’re okay, in fact, you’re special and awesome,” a problematic one. Who do we believe? If you’re one type of person, your ego will automatically inflate; if you’re another type of person, you’ll feel like someone you thought cared about you is lying to you. If you’re the former, then you’re not looking at the Law’s mirror long enough. If you’re the latter, then you see how much you need mercy, but you feel like you don’t deserve it.

That’s where God comes in. To use figurative speech, Christ’s blood washes off the guilt (not the original sin, the actual sin). His forgiveness tells us that we are His, we can become whole and joyful again, we are alive.

As for the marks of original sin? Those are the moments when we look at our Christian brother and sister and think: “I am loved in spite of this. I’m not okay, you’re not okay . . . But that’s okay.”

 

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

 

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

 

In the Moment January 29, 2013

Filed under: Applied Faith — christical @ 7:45 pm

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1, 2,3, like a bird I sing / ’cause you’ve given me the most beautiful pair of wings / I’m so glad you’re here today / ’cause tomorrow I might have to go and fly away.

Have y’all ever had those moments when you’re having a good time with someone or doing something and then you start to think about how awesome the moment is? Then the question hits you: why can’t you stay in this moment? Why must the day end?

Really, I’ve never liked long goodbyes. We draw out this painful experience, yet refuse to put our goodbyes behind us. It can be so liberating to let something go and prepare your mind for new memories. A friend of mine likes to say, “Today is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present.” A church sign once said, “The past is a point of reference, not a place of residence.”

Even so, I feel a longing sometimes to stay in a certain moment. Somehow, I find the hope and strength to accept the next day. This is because, although I enjoy revisiting memories, I am excited for what the future holds. As humans, the future tends to be quite exciting if we know the nature of what we’re going to get and are satisfied with it. As a Christian, however, we can be satisfied with our future, knowing that it rests in God’s hands.

While writing this, I am reminded of the worship song “God of This City” because of the chorus:

Greater things are yet to come/ greater things are still to be done in this city/ Greater things are yet to come/ greater things are still to be done here.

It’s sometimes laughable how much time and worry we give to the future! Jesus told us himself, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

This week, I encourage you to pick the favorite moment of your day. Then, say to yourself, “That was a beautiful moment, Lord. I thank you for it and await to see what else you have in store for me.” According to Jeremiah 29:11, God’s plans give us hope and prosperity. Whether it’s material or spiritual prosperity that you will receive, I pray that you walk led by the Lord all the days of your life.

•JFG

 

The Shootings December 15, 2012

Filed under: Applied Faith — christical @ 7:28 pm
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Many of us have already heard about the shootings in Connecticut yesterday in the morning. 28 people are now dead—18 children at the scene, 2 children in the hospital, six adults at the scene, one other adult in Connecticut (the shooter’s mother), and the gunman.

My prayers and sympathies extend to those who were affected by the shootings. I hope that the families of the 28 people who died would feel God with them. There is so much that happened because of this, and it’s caused a lot of pain and even fear all across America.

To be very honest, I’ve spent the day thinking of what I could say about this. But words cannot describe the way I feel about this tragedy. All I have are words of prayer.

God, I pray that you would keep America in your arms, especially those who are most closely affected by the shootings yesterday. As your will permits, let us learn from this experience and become closer to you. Amen.

 

The Reason for the Season December 14, 2012

Filed under: Applied Faith — christical @ 10:05 am
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Happy Advent everyone! What a beautiful time of year to spiritually readjust ourselves.

To celebrate the Christmas season, I decided to go Christmas caroling with the church choir, the members of which decided to visit three rehabilitation centers.What I saw there has changed my focus a bit on giving.

Old Folks’ Home One was clean, well-lit, and comfortable. I couldn’t help but take a second glance at a woman with sunken-in eyes, bundled in blankets. In fact, most of the residents who gathered around to hear the choir were wheelchair-bound. From grandkids to afghans, the residents loved talking to the choir. We listened and replied with a certain tone–pity in some, interest in others–in the moments before and after the visit. Perhaps the most moving moment was seeing an old woman being wheeled in, her eyes wet with tears.

The second place was a lot more saddening than the first. The moment we stepped in, I started warming up and had to take off my jacket. I was surprised to notice that none of the residents were a bit nauseated by the smell. The reaction of the choir is a different story. Later, I heard that most of the residents had no family to visit them. Watching the faces, the smiles, even the tears (again) of our audience, their happiness was apparent to me. It was more than happiness. They had joy. Every pair of eyes had stories to tell. In some, I saw snow and trees. In others, a girl who seemed to be a child crowded around the radio and listened to the news about the war. The residents there decorated candy canes as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and asked a nurse to pass them out to the choir. A woman who seemed to be the healthiest resident was so excited to see our faces. I loved seeing the enthusiasm of the residents, and it was moving to see how they poured their happiness into the choir’s visit.

Sadly, I found the last house draining. The choir stepped into the kitchen because there was no other place for us to sing. Despite this, we did comfortably fit into the house. All of four people listened: two nurses, an old man reading a magazine, and another old man whom everyone thought was asleep.

Yes, I was excited in the first place to sing at the rehabilitation centers, and I do not regret visiting. However, it’s an interesting lesson in my youth to see the personalities of people who are completely on the other ends of their lives. I learned that kind actions are often taken for granted. People often underestimate the power of a face-to-face interaction these days. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling that I have absorbed from old people who do not get visited often. You feel a warm swelling deep inside of your chest, and your eyes suddenly open up and see a great, wondrous light.

That’s the feeling of giving during the season. Do you feel it, too?

 

 
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