Friday, February 26, 2010

Gandhi, Taylor Swift, and Christians

  “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” – Gandhi
 The last few days I’ve been chewing on this quite simple quote since I saw it tweeted by a band that I follow on Twitter. It has reminded me greatly about a conversation I had with my mom back in December about Gandhi. She was telling me that he at one point studied Christianity and found that it made sense but then he went to a church and he was treated poorly by the Christians there and rejected the gospel because of the Christians that he saw. *

    Gandhi was a pretty awesome man and he did some amazing things for India. He led a peaceful revolution and was able to bring about change through nonviolent means, which is absolutely great, but the question arises of “what would he have been like as a Christian?” Now Jonathan Acuff had a blog post about how Christians often wish certain celebrities where Christians and seriously, Gandhi would have been the coolest Christian ever! Yet he was repulsed by the scent that Christians where giving off.

    I can understand Gandhi on a personal level because I feel the exact same way about Taylor Swift. I’ll admit it, it’s time to confess this; I like Taylor Swift (this feels so good to get off my chest!). Despite the fact that her songs are mostly just corny love songs, she is still a talented singer/songwriter and she seems very professional in her work. She worked her way gradually to her musical success and she takes responsibility for her own career. She has her say in everything from the guitar solos to how the stage is set up for the tour and I really appreciate that.

    Her fans on the other hand… well, let’s just say that I have a natural skepticism about anyone that has millions of screaming teenage girls adoring them. I mean c’mon! Why do some people feel that they have to be defined by who they are a fan of on places like youtube and twitter? It just gets really, really annoying. Despite the fact I’m not a fan of her fans, I have chosen to put that behind me and just like Taylor’s music.

    I dearly wish that Gandhi would have looked past us imperfect Christians and seen Christ, but more then that, I wish that Christians would live in a manner that would not bring shame to the very God that saved them! Could God have saved Gandhi and is God still Sovereign? Absolutely! But we also have our duty to be the light of Christ and to show His amazing beauty and love to the world. If all we are showing to the world is pride, judgmental attitudes, apathy, and legalism; we are bringing shame to the name of Christ.

    My dad talks about how Christians will give off a scent and we can’t effect the perception of the scent, but we can control the scent. Some people will be repulsed if we give off the scent of Christ and some people will be drawn to the sweet scent of redemption. Some people will also be repulsed by us, but not because we smell of Christ, but because we smell of our flesh. Let’s pray that we stink of Christ, not of sin.

 {*If any part of this story is not accurate, I apologize. I am just speaking from what I remember my mom telling me. }

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

One Week of Water

   It’s official; I’ve made it one whole week without coffee. I can’t even remember the last time I did that! (Though truthfully, it was probably only this summer.) I’m past the nasty caffeine headache and today especially I have had more energy then normal. Despite the fact that the below zero temps are making me crave some hot coffee or tea to warm me up; my blankets, sweatshirt, and slippers do the job just fine.

 Of course I miss caffeine while doing algebra and I miss drinking tea while reading Emma, but through this “sacrifice” I’m learning something far more valuable. Firstly, it’s a reminder that I am blessed beyond imagination. I have access to water, which for too many other people is not the case. My water is also clean and I don’t have to worry that I could die from diseases in the water. Every time I’m tempted to pour some coffee or even grab a glass of milk, I am reminded that I am blessed. It’s also a reminder to pray for those that do not have what I do.

 Second, I’m realizing how much I (aka, my parents) spend on drinks. I estimated about $23 saved just in one week. Of course I’ve been very busy this week and spent the weekend in Minneapolis, which adds more then normal expenses in the beverage department. By the end of the 40 days I will likely have saved almost $100, which is really crazy! It all goes to a great cause though and I am really excited to see it be used to provide wells for people in Africa. (Check out Blood: Water Mission)

 Thirdly, it’s building both self-control and dependence on God. Saying “no” can be oh so good for a person when it comes to temptation. At the same time, it requires asking God for the strength to say no and relying on Him for what we desire. I’ve really felt dry and dull in my spiritual walk this winter, and already I feel the lethargy start to melt away. It’s not that giving something up makes you instantly closer with God, it simply shows your need for Him better and constantly reminds you of Him.

 So those are my musings and observations on my first week of 40 days of water. Feel free to check out my page and if you feel God calling you to match/sponsor me, I would love that! Be sure to check out Blood: Water Mission as well and hear more about the great work they are doing.  

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Coffee and Strength

 "Coffee is a food group." - Olivia Erickson 
 I said those words about a year ago to a friend of mine at a youth conference as she snapped a picture of me drinking my yummy mocha frapachino after a night of sleeping on a nursery floor. For me, coffee as a food group is a very real concept. I have my daily two cups and sometimes another at night if we have decaf in the house. Every time we are in Virginia, my mom and I make a stop at Starbucks, even if it's just for a black coffee refill in our special Starbucks cups. And I absolutely love Caribou (the coffee chain, not the animal) and it's a favorite place to go to have a good chat with friends or study on a Monday night when there are Medium coffees for $1.

 I do believe that I have proven to you, dear readers, that I love my coffee. I also love my tea or hot cocoa as it is usually my night time companion while I read or fiddle around on the computer. If I love coffee and tea so much, why would I ever want to give it up as I am now doing for the 40 days of water challenge from Blood Water Missions?

 The answer is simple. Because I love it.

 We've all heard the classic statement that too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and I believe that to be very true. Coffee has become more then something I just enjoy, but it's become something that I run to. When I am tired - I drink coffee for energy. When I feel dull or unfocused - I drink it for inspiration and focus. When I am cold - I drink it for warmth. When it is night time and I need something to calm me - I drink tea to relax. Are any of those things necessarily bad? No. But instead of always relying on a drink to sustain me, I should be relying on Christ.

 In Christ we have an amazing strength that most times, we do not even try to tap into. How we attain this supernatural strength is through surrender and relying fully on the power that Christ has. We admit our own defeat and weakness, and we seek to be made strong through Jesus. The Bible is full of examples where people did amazing and unbelievable things, but it was never through their own power or sheer will, it was always through the surrender of their lives to a God that had a plan to display his glory in the weak and feeble. 

"For who is God, but the LORD?
   And who is a rock, except our God?—
  the God who equipped me with strength
   and made my way blameless.
  He made my feet like the feet of a deer
   and set me secure on the heights.
   He trains my hands for war,
   so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
  You have given me the shield of your salvation,
   and your right hand supported me,
   and your gentleness made me great."
   Psalm 18:31-35

  Those verses have been on my heart lately and I am reminded that Christ needs to be my strength. Relying on anything else will only end with disappointment and defeat. Please pray for me as I do this challenge of my only beverage being water. I've already gotten past the caffeine headache and Sunday morning with no coffee. but there is still a long ways to go.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life - And Snow


It's a crazy thing really. Always changing, always moving, always keeping you on your toes... So many things come up that are unexpected. So many distractions and things that fight for your attention and admiration. So much to balance and maintain. So many good things, that may not be the right thing. So many different things going on. 

 At least that's how I feel my life is going right now. Balancing school, family, music, photography, friends, chores, the play I'm in, "church" related things, and my personal spiritual life is a definite challenge and something that I'm not doing the best at currently. On top of that, the winter that it still hanging menacingly over my head,  telling me that summer shall never come. 
 Yes, I am aware that the snow makes for some beautiful pictures... but I'm ready for it to be over! I am ready for photo shoots that I don't have to be bundled for head to toe to do. I am ready for kayaking the beautiful lakes and maybe even being convinced to go fishing with my dad (I can't catch fish... they don't like me). I am ready for tubing and trips up to my grandpa's cabin. I am ready to grow a garden all in pots and have enough herbs and spices to last me through next winter. I am ready to spend leisurely days reading Jane Austen in the hammock and writing songs under the warm sun. 

 Life just seems better without snow. 

 Some of you may hate me for saying that, but I've been looking at snow everyday since November and it gets tiresome. Some may say that I am living in the wrong place, but truly, I love Minnesota... when it's not covered with snow. Snow destroyed my beautiful fall foliage as it violently froze the still green leaves right off the trees... seriously Mr. Snow... just go away. 

 Do I sometimes trust in sunshine and summer as my "functional Savior"? Sadly, yes. Is that wrong? Yes. Do I need to repent? Yes. Am I still sick of the snow? Yes.
 Well there is nothing that I, a meager human, can do about it except wait. And be thankful that it's not April and there is still snow. I could go my entire life without another April snow storm of 24 inches and I am praying so hard that it does not happen this year. I suppose I'll just take hope in the fact that it wont last forever... and that at least I don't live in Narnia under the White Witch's reign.

"When February rolls around I'll roll my eyes

Turn a cold shoulder to these even colder skies

And by the fire my heart it heaves a sigh
For the green grass waiting on the other side"
- Relient K - In like a Lion (Always Winter)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

$10 Prom - My Epic Dress

 At Chisholm Baptist, the church that my dad has been the associate pastor at for the last five years up until this January, every year they have a fun non romantic/couple formal. But there's a catch... you can't spend more then $10 on your outfit. 

 Of course this results is some absolutely outrageous outfits from Goodwill and old dress up boxes. Sometimes people step out of even those bounds and make their outfits... in the past there have been suits and dresses out of duct tape, carpet, newspaper, and my bro has made a suit out toilet paper last year (that didn't hold up so well...). Well I decided to follow in my big bro's footsteps and made my dress out of garbage bags.

 It was actually pretty simple to do with a pair of scissors and some safety pins and that was really all I needed. It was also very, very fun to do! I tried a few different ideas, and this was the one that I finally went with. It held up pretty well and it was decently comfortable as well. All in all, I loved it and thought it was an epic success. 
Bowling shoes just totally made the outfit complete