christical

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

Sign of the Times? June 15, 2013

Filed under: Christian Culture — christical @ 11:46 am

I was watching television this morning and I put “Dragon Tales” into the VCR player (a VCR is a videocassette recording for you digital disk people) for two of my nieces. They called the tape a disk and tried to stick it into the DVD slot . . . One of the girls also learned how to use an iPad before I started using one.

Although new technologies certainly improve our lives (mostly for the better), sometimes I can’t help but long for earlier days when no parent in his/her right mind would buy their eight-year-old a mobile phone. “Who would they need to call?” they say.

Perhaps I’m just being a crotchety old person, or maybe I’m really onto something.

Part of a healthy emotional life is the ability to adapt to new changes while making decisions about what changes are beneficial for you and others, as well as to what extent the changes should take place.

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Remember these?

 

The Bible Series: Smooth Jesus April 12, 2013

Filed under: Christian Culture — christical @ 5:03 pm

The Bible series recently concluded on the History Channel. Social media has hotly discussed the show since its debut. The viewers have been pleasantly surprised to learn quite a bit about the nature of the Bible:

  • Angels aren’t chubby babies, nor are they “hot” models. They are messengers of God. And may they have mercy on you if you ever end up on the receiving end of their sword.
  • The ark was not a clean, dry, and cozy cruise ship.
  • The crucifixion of Jesus was not like a romantic scene from a war drama. You might have known this already if you saw Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.

All of these revelations stayed with me as I watched each new episode of the series. However, I left out a final point in the above list, perhaps the one which was most shocking for me:

  • Jesus was likely a charismatic kind of man.

The more I think about the potential suave personality of Jesus, the more the idea makes sense. The gentle, soft-spoken blonde shepherd follows the idea of many different passages in the Gospels.

“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 19:14

Jesus, however, was not the kind to shrink away from a problem and brush it under the rug. Remember when he said that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34)? Let us not also forget the woes of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-36)! In Matthew 21, Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers who defiled the temple.

Jesus was the meeting of two natures: fully God and fully man. This means that although he was divine (God), he had emotions and became frustrated sometimes (man). John 11:35 reads: “Jesus wept.” It’s the shortest verse in the Bible. For those who don’t know, John 35 contains the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. What many don’t understand is that Jesus was not sad when Lazarus died. The following reasons show why it makes more sense that Jesus was frustrated.

  1. When Martha sent word to Jesus saying that she wanted him to come heal Lazarus, he stayed where he was until Lazarus died.
  2. Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.
  3. Jesus was the Son of God, and the people didn’t understand that. They simply said, “Oh, see how Jesus loved Lazarus!”

Jesus, as a preacher with many followers, was likely to have a charming personality. He wasn’t like most mesmerizing preachers: there was no conning or manipulation behind the welcoming smile. No; when you live in him and desire him, he will give you those desires. Through prayer, he’s totally accessible.

“Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:13

I chose the above passage as a closing because I wanted you all to remember that we are friends of Jesus. Knowing that Jesus is a friend to all, I’m frankly not surprised anymore that he’s the alluring type.

 

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

 

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?

 

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

 

The Obligatory “Happy Thanksgiving” Post November 22, 2012

Filed under: Christian Culture — christical @ 2:24 pm
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As my readers in America know, it’s Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

An interesting fact: There are Black Friday sales that start on Thursday night.

I’m not against participation in Black Friday sales, but I find it a little disheartening that people are taking a day devoted to giving thanks and using it to value materialism.

  • I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalms 139:14 NASB)
  • We thank God because He created and cares for us. Have you noticed how you don’t have to tell your heart to beat? You might need to support it so it beats consistently, but it’s not something you have to mentally control. Same with breathing. We take a lot of God’s creations for granted. He made the sun in our solar system for heat and light, yet gave us night’s coolness by the light of the moon and the stars. Don’t even get me started on the unique sounds of the animals we see.

  • You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalms 30:11, 12 NASB)
  • We thank God because He gives us hope. Everyone seems to have those days when life is out to get them. But because we know that God is full of grace and mercy, we have freedom from the guilt and shame that seem to come so naturally. To quote Tenth Avenue North, “Hallelujah, we are free to struggle/we’re not struggling to be free/your blood bought and makes us children/children, drop your chains and sing!”

  • How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times!We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. (Psalm 106:3, Colossians 1:3 NASB)
  • We thank God for other people. Friends have a special bond. Even the most introverted person needs at least one other who cares. Becoming a part of the church is a great way to connect with people. You’ll have similar struggles, loves, and fears. You will get to deal with them together. The best part–you’ll do it in Christ.

    Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all of you, for good days, and even for bad days. Struggles bring us closer to God.

    —The Jesus Freak Girl

     

    Overcoming Anger November 6, 2012

    Filed under: Applied Faith,Christian Culture — christical @ 7:19 pm
    Tags: , ,

    How many times have you seen someone get angry and tried to make them calm down? How many times have you gotten angry and felt guilty about your anger? I mean, isn’t anger a sin?

    Actually, it isn’t. The sin occurs in what we think, say, or do while we are angry.

    Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

    A few tips for managing anger (using a fancy acronym):

    • Accept that anger is a normal emotion. The feeling of anger itself isn’t a sin.
    • Name the real root of our anger. Anger often comes as a result of other emotions, such as hurt or jealousy.
    • Get moving toward a solution by finding out how to deal with anger. For you, this may be counting to ten or taking deep breaths. I find that it helps to drop everything and pray when I’m about to lose my cool.
    • Embrace God’s power. Even though anger may be bigger than we are, God is bigger than all of our problems.
    • Reach out for help. The people we respect are often the best source of wisdom for all aspects of life, but especially with emotion.

    I’ll admit that having to control our anger and bite your tongue sometimes seems hard, and we sometimes don’t know why we should to do it. It’s honestly an attribute of wisdom; we know when to speak and when to stay silent.

    Last, remember that we tend to be most irrational when we’re angry. That’s why we should learn to manage our anger. Imagine the hurt that might happen because of a lack of emotional management.

    Oh yeah, a Bible Verse to end this positively:

    God gives us grace through Jesus to make us patient and more like Him. What is God like?

    The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. (Psalms 103:8 NASB)

    •The Jesus Freak Girl

     

     
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