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.

 

Love the Stillness June 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — christical @ 12:08 pm
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Summer is here. It’s time to kick back and take some time for the self.

We have freedom to do what we please. Thus, we occupy ourself with tasks until we are done with those tasks.

What do we do then? After we’re done, we don’t have anything else to do, so sometimes, we just sit in stillness.

For many, the sound of silence is one of the most unsettling sounds. We’re not sure what to do because our minds are used to being constantly stimulated. As a former teacher of mine once said something along the lines of, “In this day and age, we have trouble focusing on anything that doesn’t have a screen.”

In this stillness, we begin to focus on ourselves. I’m not talking about self-absorbed thoughts; I’m talking about introspection.

When we start to introspect, or look inward, and observe ourselves, we notice parts of ourselves that we had begun to ignore. It’s the way that your hands use a sink so gently, but a hose so forcefully. We wonder about the things we did last week (such as cleaning out the refrigerator) and whether they were worth doing (trust me, it was). Deep regrets come up, too.

I’ve said before that if you have trouble hearing God, perform a sound check on the rest of your life. Is the volume of your job, your social life, or even your moral responsibility blocking out the song of God?

Embrace the stillness, my brothers and my sisters! It’s in that unsettling silence that we’re comforted by God. When we leave a huge gap of silence, something will fill it. For Christians, God fills that gap.

~JFG

This Week: When you find yourself in a sudden silence, pray about anything. Pray about everything. God’s focused on you, and in that moment, so are you. 

 

Serving God with Goals May 14, 2013

Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 9:48 pm
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Readers, you’ve heard my rants. We find total fulfillment in God alone. I say it because it’s true.

When you think of success, though, what images come to mind? You might see financial success, raising a well-rounded family, or even being a Christian leader.

Many Christians earnestly desire to be great for God. Some want to lead a Christian nation; others want to help bring the broken to God. Helping people toward salvation is an awesome goal!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Although our goals may be entirely selfless, they may not be what God has in mind. In Jeremiah, God says that He has plans to give us a future of good and fulfillment.

“What then should I do to fulfill God’s plan for me?” you ask. “Surely He’d give me some direction in my decision, if I can’t answer every specific question by reading the Bible!”

First, God doesn’t “need” you to do something to fulfill His plan. If He wills it, it will happen. But God does tell us how to act Christian.

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17, 18 ESV)

If you live perfectly in the Lord, then you’re doing everything right and you can have confidence. This verse even says that you don’t have to organize a war against evil to be a Christian; you can just avoid it.

We’re not all perfect though. What then?

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:18, 19 ESV)

If life is good for you right now, then let your blessings be like ripples in a pond. By showing love to others, they will return the favor if anything happens to you.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33, 34 ESV)

You store up heavenly treasures for yourself, and you can work in the lives of others. Seeking God first can be difficult, especially if you’ve hit a lull in your faith. You might need some action.

If so, then explore your spiritual gifts a bit. Try volunteering somewhere. Try a different church service. Goodness, try volunteering at a church service, even! The possibilities are many.

Go and make disciples of the nations, of your street, or even yourself.

Peace to you.

—Erin

 

Ecclesiastes 7 May 10, 2013

Filed under: Let's Get Biblical! — christical @ 9:41 am
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Happy Friday, everyone! As the week culminates in the events of today, we can see how God has worked in us this week to show love to others.

I’m surprised I haven’t touched this series in a while. Today’s chapter 7 in Ecclesiastes.

A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Your reputation serves you better because it lasts, unlike a cut on your skin.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart. If you feast, you become drunk and don’t learn anything from the experience that will help your faith. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember why you need Jesus.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. If you don’t live for the party, then you’ll live more fully.
It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man
Than for one to listen to the song of fools. Again, by hearing the serious side of things, you’ll become more spiritually mature.
For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
For oppression makes a wise man mad,
And a bribe corrupts the heart.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.
Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. Today is a gift. Have no anxiety about anything that will come today, but release your worries to God.
Wisdom along with an inheritance is good
And an advantage to those who see the sun.
For wisdom is protection just as money is protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors. Money can be a danger; wisdom is a safeguard because it helps you stay safe in life.
Consider the work of God,
For who is able to straighten what He has bent?
In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him. God causes all things to work together for good. Our sin blinds us so that we do not know everything about God, but one thing we do know is that He is good.

I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them. Wisdom brings sorrow. Unfortunately, it can drive people to search frantically for meaning, which is what brought Solomon’s downfall. At the same time, some wisdom is good. If you live in wickedness (or without God), then you will die, and there will be no heavenly reward.

Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others. There is no righteous man who never sins. Jesus tells us that we cannot see clearly because of the plank in our eye. I believe that this passage serves to keep the righteous humble. Nobody’s perfect–both the writer and God realize this. I’m glad we have salvation then!

I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it? I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness. And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her. The writer wanted to know the depths of the world. He learned that it is better to leave the body behind on earth than to leave the soul behind in sin. By living for God, we can avoid being permanently trapped in our sin.

“Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.” This may point to the Messiah. He knows of one perfect man. The part about not finding a righteous woman may be in reference to his numerous wives and concubines (that none of them are role models of godly women).

–JFG

 

Sanctification: Pushing Through April 6, 2013

Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough,Within the Church — christical @ 4:52 pm
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Hello readers:

Foremost, I pray that you all had a blessed Easter!

Second: As you know (or perhaps don’t), most Christian denominations celebrated Easter this past Sunday; I say most because my friend celebrates Easter this year in May. The candy is gone. The leftovers of ham and potatoes are sitting in your fridge, cold. Frankly, the energy boost from Easter Sunday is beginning to wear off, especially if you are dealing with the stress of traveling.

Earlier this week on Twitter, someone pointed out that it’s easy to be a Christian on Easter because it’s one of two days in which the world celebrates with us (the other being Christmas). While somewhat pessimistic, it is also somewhat true. Having faith is not easy. If it were easy, Jesus probably would not have added that one sentence in Matthew 5:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In fact, if Christians were supposed to be perfect, the Beatitudes (along with the Epistles) would not even be in the bible!

On Easter Sunday, we Christians celebrated our justification. This “justification” changed our status from nonbeliever to believer; it changed our end-of-world destination. Now comes the difficult, but oh-so-rewarding sanctification. Sanctification literally means “To make holy.” By sanctification, we become better people–essentially, we start to act more like the ideal Christian.

For most people, the first change is a small one: from smiling at the grocery store clerk to using a different choice of words in your moment of frustration, we begin to notice more about the world and adapt accordingly. Wherever you are on the road of sanctification, it can be helpful to keep the following in mind:

  • Changes take time to become habit. Most people will tell you that breaking a bad habit or implementing a new habit takes about 21 days to really become a habit. However long it takes for you, remember that a problem with an overnight history will usually not have an overnight solution.
  • Changing means learning. This goes back to my earlier statement that no Christian is perfect (saint and sinner: that’s for another blog post). Consult that Bible! You can learn a lot of things about speaking appropriately (Proverbs 25:11), balance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9), and how God equips us for tested patience (Ephesians 6:10-20).
  • Trial and error are a part of learning. Sometimes the Bible does not have answers to certain specific questions (Is it okay to listen to loud music? Should I change jobs? Is my boyfriend The One?). In these situations, I find it best to pray, think through the situation thoroughly, and make an educated decision.
  • Pushing through spiritual lulls is no simple feat. However, God is with us (Matthew 28:20). With this, I urge you to go in peace about your day, having no worry of the future, whatever season you are in.

     

    Good Friday: The Buffalo. March 29, 2013

    Filed under: Uncategorized — christical @ 5:54 pm
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    Good Friday is like a buffalo in the middle of a trail you’re hiking on. Ignoring it and going on your way, as well as throwing yourself into it, is a bad idea.

    No; we respect the buffalo.

    Likewise, thinking about the gory and bloody death of Jesus on the cross (especially how He died in OUR place) is not an easy topic. However, it is the rock on which we stand. Through that cross, we have salvation and life.

    Is it hard to see that God payed the ultimate price to free us? Yes. Is it mentally painful to know that your sin did that to him? Yes. But remember John 3:16–God loved the world in such a way that He gave His son, that whoever believes in Him won’t die, but have eternal life.

    Hear that? Our guilt doesn’t have to remain! Our God doesn’t keep obsessive records of our every deed. Jesus conquered death and freed us from that obsessive record-keeping. Now, we have family. We have identity. We are healed.

    Have an observant Good Friday. May God bless our hearts.

     

    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

     

     
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