Archives For Faith
Atheists are not always my favorite people, though there are a few exceptions (and you know who you are), and it seems like there’s no time of year like the Christmas (oops, I mean holiday) season to bring atheists out of the woodwork and into the courtroom. After all, there are insidious threats abroad during this conspicuous time of winter festivities. There is political correctness to be enforced, and nativity scenes to protest and billboards to put up, greeting cards to hijack and all manner of people, agencies, companies and more who need to be sued or at least intimidated into secular submission. Continue Reading…
For three years I dreamt of moving to Arizona. When I graduated college and found myself single, I immediately exclaimed to my roommates, “Now I can move to Arizona!” I planned and anticipated and dreamed and then it happened. I moved cross country and stepped into the life I had imagined for so long. Here I sit, in the middle of the Arizona desert, on a hot summer night, dreaming about Minnesota—the place I for so long dreamt of leaving.
Now don’t get me wrong, the journey has been sweet. I love my job, the people I’ve met, the constant sunshine and warmth, and the occasional dust storm that takes over the sky. However, there’s a piece of me that longs for greenery, endless pools of water, and the friends I’m now realizing I took for granted.
Finding community as a single 25 year old in an expansive city can be hard, especially when you’re not the girl who frequents the normal twenty-somethings scene. It takes time for people to really know you—it doesn’t happen overnight. And then there’s church, which seems to be my biggest hurdle. How in the world do you go about finding a church and is there one somewhere that offers programs for single twenty-somethings, along with a solid message? It’s always one or the other, but never both. The challenges of getting plugged in can be hard and sometimes it leaves me feeling lonely.
I’ll admit, I feel important when I go back to Minnesota and brag about the mountains, the palm trees, the sunshine, the accomplishments I’ve made at work, and the restaurants I’ve started to frequent. “Hey everyone, meet the cool, new, tan and cultured Jenna. Yeah, that’s right, I did drive myself cross country and completely uproot my life. I’m pretty grown up.” That’s the prideful me speaking.
But, if I’m to be honest, there’s still something in me that’s not totally at rest here in this wonderful city. There’s a piece of me that longs for the familiarity of home—the sounds, the smells, the people. I find myself thinking that maybe Minnesota is where I belong and maybe Arizona is just meant to be a little break from the reality I’ve always known. If I ponder it for too long, I start to get restless and begin to worry that I’m never going to get things right and that I’ll always be a wanderer.
The one thing I’m learning about myself through this journey is the fact that I struggle with being content. My entire life I have looked either behind to the past or forward to the future for my satisfaction. If only I had hung on to that moment or if only tomorrow would bring me this or that. Those are the thoughts that often run through my mind.
That’s why for three years I sat and dreamt about this new home of mine. I expected it to be the antidote to my discontentment. Instead, I find myself longing for what I once had, thinking that it perhaps was what I needed all along.
But if I’ve learned one thing in the last five months, it’s the fact that my contentment is not to be found in a place or a person or a job or a house or anything of the sort. I will always long for more if that’s where my contentment is derived. I will always be lonely and searching. My contentment, my rest, and my hope is meant to be found in Jesus. I am me no matter where I am. A new city, job and friends will change certain pieces of me, but deep down, I will still be the same Jenna with the same insecurities and feelings of discontentment. Jesus is the only one who can fully step into those pieces of me and satisfy my soul.
Jesus doesn’t change with the landscape or the tide of my fickle heart. He is constant and in Him, so too can I be.
Image credit – 1peachymama.com
In a culture infected with moral AIDS, words lose all meaning; or, they are manipulated to obscure meaning. Thus taxes become “revenue assessment enhancements” ; murder of unborn children is “freedom of choice”; Marxism in the church is called “liberation theology.” These are all good words (in the Nazi era “the final solution” had a nice ring to it also). And everyone just nods unquestioningly.
- Charles Colson, as told by Maria SwansonContinue Reading...
Could someone please tell me what being a 24 year old is supposed to look like?
Let me be more specific—what is being a single, 24 year old Christian woman supposed to look like?
Honestly, I don’t think anyone could have successfully prepared me for the reality of adulthood.
Even as a 13 year-old non-Christian, I thought my early twenties would mean marriage and a family. By the age of 18 I had discovered the beauty of a relationship with Jesus and proclaimed to my mom, “I will be married by the age of 22. I just have a ‘feeling’.”
Here I am, 6 years later, and that feeling was wrong. I am not married. I live with my parents. I’ve discovered that adulthood is nothing like I had planned or imagined.
I’ve come to realize that I’m a wanderer and a dreamer. I dream big dreams, but I often fail to make them reality. Most of this is due to fear. Another large part is due to my Type A need for common sense and rational.
I may dream big, but I also take reality heavily into consideration. I’m 24 and single, which means I need to have a job. I need to have savings—just in case. I must be able to pay my bills, including the unexpected ones. I feel a pressure to take only calculated risks—which means I tell my friends about a major desire in my heart and then chew it over for a year or more. The timing has to be “right”. I have to “feel” like it’s time to make the next move.
No giant leaps of faith for me. Just sitting and dreaming and hardly ever acting.
But I’m starting to question if sitting and dreaming is the way I’m supposed to live. There’s something about it that feels disingenuous to me. Am I really honoring God and those I care about by sitting and dreaming? Am I unknowingly trading God’s unique call on my life for a “responsible” and “safe” existence?
Didn’t God give me dreams, desires, passions, and gifts for a purpose?
Am I glorifying Him when I choose not to take a bold step of faith, simply because I’m scared or because I feel a need for financial security?
This is where my brain starts to spin and I find myself sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor with tears in my eyes. This is also where I begin to envy my married friends, because it seems like they have the answer. They don’t have to wallow through the swamp of questions. They don’t have to worry about making a mistake and being alone. Decisions are easier for them. Or so I tell myself.
These questions overwhelm me. How do I balance head and heart? How do I seek God when sometimes I feel like He’s not answering my prayers? How do I know whether it’s His voice or my sinful flesh leading me?
How, as a 24 year old single woman (with a desire for marriage and a family), do I wait for Him and seek Him, with the knowledge that He is wonderfully good to those who do so? (Lamentations 3:25-27)
How do I look to Jesus (and NOT marriage) as the answer?
These are the questions that have haunted me as of late. I want to live an authentic life. A life full of exploration and adventure. I desire to hear the stories of others and to show them Christ’s love. I hunger for a vivid life of color and movement.
I dream of things that could only be from the Lord, but I’m terrified to trust Him to make those dreams real. I’m terrified to step out boldly and take risks—even though I know those steps are what will lead me to the authenticity and color that my soul longs for. They’ll lead me to a closer relationship with Jesus, which will totally transform my life.
And herein lies the root of these questions, my unrest, and my fear—I am far less filled with faith than I ought to be. I often don’t believe that God is big enough to take my dreams and make them real. I don’t believe that He is trustworthy enough—that He will be there to help me if I make a wrong turn and stumble. I find myself believing that I am better at taking care of myself than He is. I willingly trade my dreams of authenticity and color for a life of enough money to pay the bills and enough stability to know I won’t fall.
I am one of little faith. Even though I know what Christ has done for me. Even though I read the Bible and am reminded that I have been given everything I could ever need.
So, there’s the answer to my many questions. Faith in Christ.
There’s no real formula for “successfully” being 24. The only thing that really matters is a life-changing faith in Christ. A trust that He is all that He says He is. A belief that He will follow through, even when we can’t see the next step. A willingness to say, “Lord, I’m scared and clueless, but I trust you in the midst of these feelings. I believe you are faithful and I know that you are withholding no good thing from me.”
That’s the kind of 24 year old I want to be. Actually, that’s the kind of every age I want to be. I will ask God to do the work that needs to be done in me, because apart from Him, I’m incapable of being anything other than a scared and motionless 24 year old.
There’s something rather disturbing happening in America, and, frankly, I’m surprised not more people are picking up on it. After all, if a serious philosophical shift was happening in a country, you’d expect intellectual leaders of all stripes raising their voices as one, yet I haven’t seen anything of the kind.
So, by way of introducing this trend, let me ask a question; is it within the judicial court’s province to define morality? Do we want to give the government that power? Of course, the answer would seem to be a resounding “no!” And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening.
I write, of course, of the debate between supporters of so-called “same-sex” marriage and the supporters of heterosexual marriage. On the one side, SSM supporters are attempting to get the courts to agree with them that the gender of the marriage partners isn’t important, so they have suits filed against this county for such-and-such a ruling and that state for such-and-such a bill.
On the other side, supporters of one-man-one-woman marriages are attempting to get an amendment passed that would legally define ‘marriage’ as between one man and one woman exclusively. I think they’re trying to fight fire with fire by going to the same courts that the SSM supporters are going to and trying to get them to rule in their favor.
The problem with fighting fire with fire, however, is that sometimes you just have twice as many fires.
You see, if we give the courts this power, we are essentially blurring the line between the law of the land and the law of nature, or to call it its other name, the moral law. You see, those two things are very, very different. The moral law is, simply put, a system that everyone on earth agrees upon. Everyone agrees that killing is wrong. Now, of course there are people who might bring up some cultures where cannibalism is practiced as an exception to this rule. The problem is, no cannibalistic culture eats its own members. It might laud the consumption of one’s enemies or eats its deceased members, but, if a man kills another man for food, that society would punish him. Theft is also something that we can all agree upon is wrong. In fact, along with murder and theft, we would also all agree that cheating on one’s spouse, lying, and jealousy for something someone else owns is wrong. So, I would argue, every culture on the planet agrees that murder, theft, lying, and adultery are all really bad things.
Hmm. That list sounds familiar.
But, that’s not all that Morality says on the matter of, well, morality. Because, morality simply does not matter at all if there isn’t a higher power at work. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m a Christian (although, I’m sure some readers stopped reading this article the moment I wrote that). Morality means absolutely nothing if there isn’t some kind of reward and punishment system in place. Why should I care if there isn’t some kind of punishment for all my bad deeds? I could rape little children and it really wouldn’t matter in the long run because, once I’m dead, I don’t exist.
Sorry, Rob. There must be punishment, and lots and lots of it, for morality to mean anything. Thus, if there’s punishment, there also must be a punisher, a being, better than us, who has a standard to measure a person’s conduct against. Christians call this being God. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another religion that has a being like the Judeo-Christian God, but, you’re free to call Him what you want. We call Him Yahweh, because that’s what He calls Himself. Anyway, a higher power, a punisher, must exist for morality to mean anything.
Now, this punisher, God, has a standard and, being just, He would naturally want to give people fair warning of the danger they’re in and, also, how to get out of danger. And, thus, we have a written document, the Bible. Because, you see, Christianity can be viewed as a moral system and that very system is what has given rise to our legal system and, yes, even our values of hard work, faithfulness, the value of children, etc. That is the moral system that even the least Christian of the founding fathers assumed. It was assumed all over Europe at the time and it was assumed in the thirteen colonies of America. And it greatly influenced the law of the land here.
Now, the law of the land is the law, set down by the government, for the general governance of people’s behavior. It tells us not to murder, lie, cheat, or steal; otherwise, the government will come after you and punish you for those things. But, where did the government get this idea?
Evolutionists would tell you it was developed over hundreds of thousands of years as man evolved to think and reason and, thus, for a society to survive, it created these rules. These rules then help us run a smooth and efficient society. Whether this is a valid argument or not (and I suspect it’s not), it really is peripheral to my argument that morality is based upon a higher power, whether divine or evolutionary. Either way, morality came before government. Thus, law is the acknowledgment of a pre-existing moral system. Thus, the law of the land is subservient to the law of morality.
Now, the legal system being an acknowledgment of the moral system means that the American legal system is heavily indebted to the Christian moral system. The courts simply do not have the power to change that moral system, no matter how much they may want to. It’s not their place. Any law that clashes against the established moral law immediately is invalidated, again, whether people like it or not.
Herein lays my problem with the pro-SSM organizations and pro-OMOW (I didn’t just make up that acronym. You have to dig deep into Google to find it, though) group; they are attempting to give the court the power to decide what is moral and immoral. The role of the courts is not to do that. The role of the court is to acknowledge first what is moral and immoral then decides what category the thing in question falls into.
So, what does this have to do with SSM? Actually, it has everything to do with it, because the debate about marriage is a moral debate. You see, the pro-SSM group keeps couching the legitimacy of marriage firmly in the realm of a ‘right.’ But, a ‘right’ isn’t given out by the government. If it was, then any government is perfectly welcome to oppress and enslave its people, denying the rights of women and minorities as it pleases. Of course, we fight against those kinds of governments because it’s better for people to have rights. Thus, if we say these governments are bad for denying the rights of their people, we are acknowledging two things; 1), that rights do exist outside of governmental control and, 2) that having rights is a good thing. Not just a good thing, but the value of a government is based almost entirely upon the way it treats its people. And the way it treats its people is based upon its moral system. That makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s why we fight for the freedom of others, because it’s a good and moral thing to do. So, we can easily see that any talk of ‘rights’ is a talk heavily seasoned with morality.
That being the case, the issue of homosexual rights is an issue of morality. Unfortunately, we are quickly giving the government the power to decide what the definition of “right” and “wrong” is, rather than deciding whether something is right or wrong. If we do that, then we’ve essentially given moral authority to people who can be mistaken, bought, and threatened into making something moral or immoral. That would be disastrous. Do you really want a judge who can be bought for several thousands of dollars to judge that child pornography is legal and, therefore, moral? Of course not! That’s madness! But, that’s what we’re essentially opening ourselves up for.
Thus, I am against a marriage amendment while still perfectly supporting traditional marriage. It’s just that it would be far safer to keep this debate a discussion based upon moral systems, rather than judicial precedence. It would set a far more dangerous precedent that will get us into much more trouble than a few hollow victories in the court rooms. Let’s, instead, attempt to change the hearts and minds of the people who hold the power to vote people in and out of office and, thus, affect real, lasting change in America. This is really the only safe way to move forward in this debate.
September 11, 2001 - Terrorists attacked our unsuspecting country, murdering thousands of men, women and children. What was our country’s reaction? Shock, sorrow and anger – and two wars that have lasted over a decade. These wars were initiated with the intent to destroy those who had attacked us, and protect our citizens from further harm. As the leader of the terrorists who attacked on 9/11, Osama Bin Laden was a primary target of destruction.
I have read a significant amount of the discussions and opinions on the joyous reactions of Americans to the destruction of Osama Bin Laden. The general gist of the discussions seems to center around whether or not it is acceptable for Christians to rejoice over the destruction of Bin Laden. Is this response unbiblical and wrong? Read why Goose says it’s okay to appreciate bin Laden’s death here. The conversation quickly becomes quite nuanced, involving questions of just war theory, Christian non violence and the right of nations to defend their people. I will attempt to state my view on this issue, while at the same time recognizing that thoroughly addressing all the issues involved would require a substantial document, too detailed for this medium.
I think it is important to look at the New Testament view of a government’s authority. The Apostle Paul talks about ruler’s authority being given to them by God. And themes throughout Scripture emphasize the importance of a good/righteous/just leader standing up to defend the innocent and helpless against those who would do them harm. Based on these themes, I have no problem appreciating the actions of the United States government to destroy Bin Laden. I believe that it was a just response for a government, entrusted with protecting its citizens.
I believe that the correct context in which to view this, is not one of an individual rejoicing over the lost life of one sinful man, but the triumph of a government earnestly trying to protect its people over an enemy bent on its destruction. Now immediately some will say that Bin Laden was no longer a threat to the security of the United States. He was an old man, living out the last of his days in solitude. I strongly disagree with this assertion. Bin Laden was the face of the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 and an active proponent of additional terrorist actions against America. Not only do I believe his death hurts the terrorist network, but I believe that his destruction speaks volumes about the length to which our country will go to defend itself against future attacks.
As my friend Kristina Bjorkman pointed out in her comments on this issue, Scriptures show God both laughing in the face of his enemies, (psalm 2) , but Ezekiel 33:11 also says that God takes no joy in the death of the wicked. David rejoiced over the downfall of his enemies. All of these themes need to be balanced with God’s clear passion for justice. And this justice is shown not only on personal level, but also on the broader theme of nations and their rulers. God is also loving and merciful. However, I do not believe it is wise to invoke the mercy of God when dealing with national enemies. His mercy and salvation are offered to all on a personal level, but He has also established rulers to enforce justice on those who chose not to accept that mercy.
So what should our reaction be? Be humble. Remember that all of us are sinners. But for His grace, we are all damned to the same fate that Bin Laden now finds to be his reality. Rejoice in the victory of good over evil. It is okay. God has given those in authority the means and ability to destroy evil, and that is a good thing. Temper your joy with the knowledge of your dependence on Christ for any good thing that you do. Above all, love each other, and don’t let your facebook interactions be lacking in that love
Comments? sure, let them fly!
Image Credit – longwarjournal.org
I’ve had a lot of strong Christian friends really disagree on how to approach Osama bin Laden’s death. Read Kristina’s mixed feelings on the fallen foe here. Many of them don’t feel comfortable celebrating any death – not even that of a mass murderer – and particularly someone who dies without knowing Jesus. They’ve pointed to the truth that we’re all sinners, and protested at what they see as the excessive celebrations of much of the country – including other Christians (I see their point on this one). I deeply respect their views and know they come from the best of motivations. But I do see a key distinction here – between the role of our government and the role of the individual in the eyes of our faith.
It’s not the role of individuals to seek out vengeance and retribution against those who have wronged them. But the protection and defense of its citizens is exactly the role of our government. This was an act of self defense by a government protecting its people from a man who had dedicated his life to harming our nation. As such, we as people of faith can support and appreciate what happened… while also recognizing the seriousness and sadness.
Thanks to modern technology, when the Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis occurred, the world knew within minutes, even seconds. Thanks to modern technology, millions all over the globe watched Kate Middleton walk down the aisle of Westminster Abbey, and watched Prince William kiss his bride. Thanks to modern technology, when President Obama announced an impending late night statement regarding a national security situation, I, on the other side of the world, heard about it within minutes and was online, waiting for the news.
The news, of course, preceded the statement. Between Facebook and Twitter updates pouring in through a Google Realtime search (which is also the best tool, by the way, for checking up on aftershocks in Japan), the speculations, rumors, assurances and finally confirmations of Osama bin Laden’s death were out long before President Obama (finally) walked the red carpet to the podium to address the nation. By then, it was old news, by at least thirty minutes. I agree with some of the twitterers that they wished people hadn’t stolen his thunder and had let him surprise us all. However, in that case, he shouldn’t have told all of congress first and then spent half an hour writing a speech that he could read off of a teleprompter.
For stateside Americans the news came late at night. For me, it came right before lunch, and so, even as most of my fellow countrymen were sleeping, I was watching as the news networks covered the crowds of exultant celebrants at the White House and Times Square, as they waved flags and signs and sang “Nananana, hey hey, good-bye!” One British new anchor that I heard noted particularly that much of the crowd were young people like me, and how it was their generation that had borne the blow of 9/11 as they watched it happen from silent high school classrooms. They celebrated the justice and vindication of the tragedy that had abruptly thrown them from childhood into frighteningly adult realities that would define the rest of their, our, lives as Americans.
I watched all of this unfold with mixed feelings and a faint frown, trying to put together the pieces of this event, the event of one man’s death.
I am an American. As such, there is a feeling of exultation over this. I saw the planes hit, the people leap to their deaths, the towers fall, the clouds of smoke chase survivors down abandoned streets. Osama bin Laden is dead. The man who hid in the shadows of our destruction that day has been shot down and disposed of. Justice is served. Part of me doesn’t mind laughing, flag waving and hugging strangers in the streets of New York because of the death of a common and dangerous enemy. Read why Goose says appreciating bin Laden’s death is okay.
I am a Christian. This, in and of itself, could mean many things in relationship to this event. The Bible clearly allows both for rejoicing over the defeat of one’s evil enemies, and yet also says to love them, to show compassion on them. As several facebook friends have observed today, the psalmist praises God for the death of his foes, while Prov. 24:17 says not to rejoice when your enemies are struck down. Ezekiel 33:11 says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, while in Psalms 2 God laughs in their faces. I suppose I can do both too. Osama was a perpetrator of evil and his sins are reprehensible and many. I can rejoice and thank God that such a man has been removed from this earth and has experienced both human and divine justice. At the same time, Osama was a victim of evil; he inherited false teachings of violence and hatred, he was influenced by evil men before him. He was a fallen son of Adam, a broken man in a broken world, like the rest of us, and he found no peace or redemption in the road he walked. He was God’s enemy in sin, but he was also God’s creation. God is infinite, and so I suppose He can mourn and rejoice simultaneously, but I am finite, and am trapped between the two.
I am an American overseas or, as I have called it before, American +. I look at the crowds in Times Square with the signs and flags and songs and celebrations and it reminds me of the crowds that flocked Islamic streets when 9/11 happened, rejoicing over the blow America had taken. Why are we celebrating? Because we are at war and our enemy as a whole has sustained a hard blow, and a specific threat has been eliminated. That is good cause to rejoice, as any nation might, but that is what I see as I watch the footage today. I see any nation. We’re not really that different. We receive a blow, our blood is spilled, and we mourn and we fight back. We achieve a victory, we spill blood in return, and we proclaim it together in the streets. Like any nation would do. Like Afghanistan or Egypt or Libya or anyone else might do. Such is the way of a broken world that we are only one part of after all.
I do not say that I wish him to rest in peace. I’m an American; I can’t. I’m a Christian; he won’t. I’m American +; he is just another casualty of another war. Thus perished Osama bin Laden.
Image Credit – sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com