Materialism

I was curious about the love of money – more importantly, the fact that some can afford excessive luxuries and seem to take that for granted. Almost everyone wants something they don’t have. It seems like the more money a person has, the more unnecessary things they not only want but actually possess  (in number, price, or size).

1 John 2:16 says, “Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Wesley’s Explanation:

[16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The desire of the flesh — Of the pleasure of the outward senses, whether of the taste, smell, or touch.

The desire of the eye — Of the pleasures of imagination, to which the eye chiefly is subservient; of that internal sense whereby we relish whatever is grand, new, or beautiful.

The pride of life — All that pomp in clothes, houses, furniture, equipage, manner of living, which generally procure honour from the bulk of mankind, and so gratify pride and vanity. It therefore directly includes the desire of praise, and, remotely, covetousness. All these desires are not from God, but from the prince of this world.

 

Work – More Than Gainful Employment

There’s a time for rest and doing things that we find pleasurable or bring us joy. There’s also a time to work – not just at a place of employment in exchange for money, but in your own homes. A job well done brings  brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction – joy. I am guilty in a huge way of laziness and idleness. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I am guilty in a huge way of physical laziness. My mind is never idle. I have a hyperactive mind! I have great intentions, but I lack the drive get started. I think every task on my list is going to be hard and take a very long time, so I procrastinate … an hour, a day, a week, and so on. Before long, my list of tasks has grown to something beyond overwhelming, and I shut down completely.

Genesis 2:15:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

The things we are blessed with having cannot care for themselves. Work is required. Man was not meant to be idle. This doesn’t mean we need to be working every waking moment of our days, but work is necessary in life. Even if a person were able to live off the land, cook over a fire, and read by candle light without being gainfully employed, they still work. They hunt/garden, cook, and clean.

Everything we do requires work. Unless you have a servant, getting a glass of water requires walking to the kitchen, getting a glass, perhaps filling it with some ice cubes, and filling it with water.

Blogging is work. It may be harder work for me than for someone else. It has taken me a long time to write just this much. I wrote more but deleted it because it was overkill and headed in too many directions. My mind goes in many directions, and it’s hard not to let my posts run off in all those directions as well. If I wrote the way my mind wanders, everyone would consider me completely bonkers! That may well be, but sometimes I want to make a clear point. I almost deleted the entire post because by this point, I’m feeling like none of this is going to matter much to anyone anyway.

On the off chance it might matter to just one person, I won’t delete it. If only one person can make sense of the madness that comes from my scattered brain, then YAY! :D

Now I must walk away from my greatest distraction (the internet) and work on some things on my list of tasks. I’m talking projects more than simple tasks, though. Procrastination be damned! I need that sense of accomplishment; that satisfaction in a job well done. That’s right! well done. Not just done. I don’t like approaching projects willy nilly and rushing through them just to get them done. I’m sure this is a big reason I see each project as overwhelming.

But I digress. Before I go on and on from there, I bid you adieu. Work awaits.

Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed Not From Bible

Not long ago, I was part of a … well, I’ll call it a “lively” discussion about religion. See, we stopped attending church a while back when I had been working on Sundays. I’ve since found another church with a pastor who delivers great messages. All sermons are posted on their website for easy access. I’ve attended the church in person and found it very huge, and I felt pretty invisible. They recommend getting involved in a smaller church group. A separate gathering in addition to regular worship time is hard to work into our schedules right now.

To the point, though… our conversation was about why we’ve strayed from the church we used to attend. Part of that is the recitation of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. I agree with saying The Lord’s Prayer aloud. That’s in the Bible. The creeds are not. Someone in that conversation said that the creeds were taken from the Bible. That’s inaccurate. They were written at least 150 years after the authors all died. See this article for more info.

Matthew 6:5 – right where we are given The Lord’s Prayer – even tells us:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

I have no other explanation for my hang-up with reciting the same thing every time I gather for worship like that. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it just feels strange to me. The pastor at this other church simply digs into the Bible. Of course, I haven’t made it a habit to attend there either. That’s really two-fold. I find pulling up the sermons online much more convenient and time efficient. Also, without joining a small group, there’s really no fellowship gained by attending such a large church in person.

OK, so there’s sort of a third fold. I’m disillusioned by many who attend church but don’t walk the walk. There’s this great instruction in the New Testament (Matthew 22):

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d]38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e]40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Love your neighbor as yourself. Love others as yourself. Love one another. Don’t hate! Don’t be mean to others. Don’t tear others down. Don’t gossip about others. Don’t judge others. Matthew 7:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Under the Old Testament law, we are commanded not to lie. People lie all the time! We are also commanded not to covet. That’s probably the most difficult to avoid, especially in this day and age when everyone wants the latest and greatest technological gadgets. Want, want, want! We don’t turn our backs on our friends for wanting things they can’t afford, so why do some turn their backs on people for their choice in partners? Yes, I just went there. Homosexuality. But remember, love your neighbor as yourself.

I may not be the most outgoing person. I need time alone to recharge. I’m terrible at managing time and planning, so organizing anything to do for others in some spectacular way isn’t something I do. However, I am kind to people I encounter in every day life, no matter what their life choices may be. I’m sure some people have opinions (judgments) about me. That’s fine. I still love my neighbors as myself even if they don’t see it. :)

Heaven Fest 2012

Mention Heaven Fest to someone who doesn’t know anything about it, and they seem to draw their own conclusions – much like their reaction at the mention of the “C” word (church) or the “J” word (Jesus). Why do so many people thing all Christians are crazed holy rollers? Do you even know me? :lol:

So this was my first Heaven Fest this weekend, and I really enjoyed it! It was hot and windy, and super fine dirt was blowing everywhere, but it was still a great time! Info on the site said not to bring professional type cameras, so I left mine at home. I didn’t want to carry the extra weight around that long in the heat anyway. It also said not to bring chairs taller than 12″ off the ground (stadium and low beach chairs were OK), but so many people had their regular folding camp chairs there! Now that’s one rule I would have liked to have broken as well. Logging a mental note for next time.

We made it there in time to start our day listening to Read You & Me. I work with two of the band wives! This band tours with Heaven is For Real Ministries around the world and were recently in Singapore. :)

This was Aaron Shust performing (photo below), and you can see the two main stages in the background. It looks dreadfully cloudy here, but most of this is due to the dust in the air. Some clouds did cover the sun, but it never rained!

Trace Bundy was cool. We actually got a spot under a small tree with some shade. I spread out a beach towel and put my bag behind my head to relax and enjoy his music.

Superchick was probably my favorite. They told the story behind writing We Live, which made cry a little. Tricia closed the set with a song from her solo album, You Are My Shepherd.

Jeremy Camp and Switchfoot were the last two bands on the main stages. Jeremy was awesome! We left before Switchfoot played. Hey! It was a long ride home!

As soon as we got home, we had to shower. That’s how bad it was. I’m sure I ate some dirt, and I know my lungs have never had this much dirt in them. It took a couple hours of coughing Sunday morning to clear them out!

Beautiful, Part 1 | Church

Watch this. No, seriously! Watch this!

Don’t be afraid to comment. If you make it through the first 15 minutes, that’s about the point where you might be able to make out someone saying “Dude!” (that would be me). Yes, I said “Dude!” during a sermon at Elevation Church.

That’s what’s kind of cool about this church (besides the fact that the tattooed pastor wears jeans and plaid shirts). You don’t have to sit there all prim & proper. They affectionately call themselves, “the church of the jacked up“.

I still have my issues with the whole faith thing, but there HAS to be something more out there – karma, cosmic energy, fate, or an omnipresent being we call God. There’s still a big part of me that thinks people need so desperately to give fate a name (God) or that they can’t accept that things happen as they are going to happen and leave it at that.

However… there are moments like Sunday that reach out and slap me in the face and make me wonder. I mean really spooky like. That sermon was going to happen whether we were there or not, and it had been planned in advance. We learned something rather sensitive about someone dear to us the day before, and that very thing was touched on in this sermon. I wasn’t even planning on attending until two hours before the service started!

Karma? Fate? Coincidence? Or did this supernatural entity we call God put us there to hear this?

I know exactly why I can’t just let go and believe by faith alone that God exists. I don’t like to be vulnerable. I like to be in control. I don’t want anyone to see me get caught up in something that isn’t grounded – that isn’t hard fact – that doesn’t let ME drive the bus! Honestly, I’m a little jealous of those who are comfortable lifting their hands in worship. This may sound wacky, but to do so exposes armpits, and I am extremely ticklish! To do so exposes more than that, though. It exposes my soul. I’m not comfortable with that.

KONY 2012

Watch it. Share it.

Learn more about it here, where you can also sign the pledge (show support) and get the kit (I won’t be doing that). Because I’m trained to listen to all sides of any story for my job, I also want to bring another article to your attention:  Taking ‘Kony 2012′ Down A Notch. I don’t need to hear Kony’s side. This article does bring up some good points. Why does the documentary not focus more on words directly from the “invisible children”? What happens after they capture Joseph Kony? What about the rest of the LRA? Things to ponder.

Be Humble and Content

It may be a small book in the Bible, but it tells it like it is. Go James!

James 4

Friendship with the World

1Why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires that fight to control your body? 2You want something you don’t have, and you will do anything to get it. You will even kill! But you still cannot get what you want, and you won’t get it by fighting and arguing. You should pray for it. 3Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons.

4You people aren’t faithful to God! Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5Do you doubt the Scriptures that say, “God truly cares about the Spirit he has put in us”? [a]6In fact, God treats us with even greater kindness, just as the Scriptures say,

“God opposes everyone who is proud,

but he is kind to everyone who is humble.”

7Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you. 8Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you people who can’t make up your mind. 9Be sad and sorry and weep. Stop laughing and start crying. Be gloomy instead of glad. 10Be humble in the Lord’s presence, and he will honor you.

Saying Cruel Things about Others

11My friends, don’t say cruel things about others! If you do, or if you condemn others, you are condemning God’s Law. And if you condemn the Law, you put yourself above the Law and refuse to obey either it 12or God who gave it. God is our judge, and he can save or destroy us. What right do you have to condemn anyone?

Warning against Bragging

13You should know better than to say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!” 14What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears. 15You should say, “If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things.” 16Yet you are stupid enough to brag, and it is wrong to be so proud. 17If you don’t do what you know is right, you have sinned.

Source: BibleGateway.com (Contemporary English Version)

It’s not easy for some to be content with what they have. The desire to keep up with friends and family can consume us. Especially when those same people continue to succeed and are able to afford to live such lifestyles … OR when they can’t really afford it but rely on credit cards making it appear to others that they can. But that’s beside the point. The point is that we think, for some selfish and covetous reason, that we need such things in order to be happy and content.

We should just be still and realize that we can be content with much less. We truly can be content with fewer and less elaborate possessions. Homes don’t need to be decorated like display homes. Yards don’t need to be adorned with beautiful gardens. While visually pleasing, that shouldn’t be what we desire as a means of happiness and self-fulfillment. To live life believing that having such things proves your worthiness of living among a certain “class” of society is a such a falsehood. If that’s what it takes, then I’m not so sure I would want to live among that class.

In search of the humble and content class! :D

The Case for The Bible | Evidence

I bet you thought I left yet another thing unfinished. Nope! I may get sidetracked, but sooner or later, I do get back to what I started. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes years. In this case, it has been 2.5 months since I started reading New Evidence and blogging about it.

Saturday was my first full day off after working 12 days in a row, so I spent about six hours of it getting through part one of four in this book. Part one was “The Case for The Bible”. After a bit of history explaining how we got the Bible, including the materials used to write it, some interesting things were pointed out. First of all, Christ himself witnessed to the Old Testament talking about the law, the prophets, the writings (Psalms), and the martyrs throughout the entire OT from Abel to Zechariah. (I like how that’s A-Z!)

When speaking to the historical reliability of the Bible, more interesting points were made:

  1. The unexplained is not necessarily unexplainable.
  2. Fallible interpretations do not mean fallible revelation.
  3. Make sure you understand the content of the passage.
  4. Interpret difficult passages in light of clear ones.
  5. Don’t base teaching on obscure passages. The main things are the plain things. If something is important, it will be clearly taught in scripture, and probably in more than one place. When a passage is unclear, never conclude that it means something else or opposes another plain teaching.
  6. The Bible is a human book with human characteristics.
  7. Just because a report is incomplete does not mean it’s false. Sometimes things are complimentary, not contradictory.
  8. New Testament citations of the OT need not always be exact.
  9. Context will dictate whether a word should be taken literally or figuratively.
  10. General statements don’t necessarily mean universal promises.
  11. Later revelation supersedes previous revelation. God did not reveal everything at once, but that doesn’t make contradiction.
  12. Archaeology has found evidence that proves the accuracy of the Bible.
  13. The Bible is trustworthy and historically reliable.

Translated text of the Bible compared to that of 1,000 years earlier proved to be word for word identical in more than 95% of the text. The other 5% were merely variations in spelling – nothing that affected the message. In 184 cases, evidence shows that for 2300-3900 years, the text of the proper names in the Hebrew Bible have been transmitted with minute accuracy.

Then, of course, there are the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Part two is “The Case for Jesus” – just over 200 pages. Will it be a week? Two weeks? Another 2.5 months? My goal was to finish by the end of January. I’m changing that to finish by the end of March!

Agnosticism, Skepticism, Pick an ‘ism’ | Evidence

The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict

This is the fairly large book by Josh McDowell that I found in my closet the other day. I remember buying it years ago when the left side of my brain took over and started looking for proof of many things in the Bible. I was already embarking on other Bible studies and reading the entire Bible cover to cover, though. By the time I finished those, I was satisfied … for a while.

I read “A Case for Christ” and was also satisfied with this historical facts listed in that book. I believe Jesus existed, and he was a good man. What I still struggled with were the supernatural acts of a being that no one could see, hear, or touch, and that this being was Jesus’s father and also Jesus himself. Immaculate conception???

So I picked up “A Case for a Creator” and was overwhelmed because it was a much harder read than the other book. I never finished it and have no idea what happened to either book. So I’m hoping that this Evidence book will fill in some blanks for me.

The series of posts I write while reading this book will be called “Evidence”, and it will be a place where I share my questions, feelings, doubts, answers, and revelations. My first question that I even jotted down right in the book after reading the author’s note in the beginning is this…

Why do people need to rely on something (God, Jesus, etc.) to be a loving, forgiving, generous, unselfish person? It is possible to be all of these things without believing in something you can’t see, touch, or know is real.

Josh (the author) said it himself in his note…

How could something as flimsy as Christianity stand up to an intellectual examination?

This is something very personal, and I know there are a lot of people out there who think you shouldn’t discuss “religion”. I think they’re wrong. You probably shouldn’t push your own beliefs on others, but there’s nothing wrong with discussing religious or spiritual beliefs. So feel free to reply to any post in this series with your thoughts, insight, or questions. {All replies are subject to approval. Any blatant attacks on other comments will not be approved. I invite healthy, civilized discussion only.}

I want to describe where I stand going into this study, but I don’t know how to explain thoroughly enough and still keep it brief or easy to follow. My mind is hyperactive!

OK, so I’ve already mentioned my struggle with the supernatural-ness of it all. My mind wanders to all the cults out there and how people say they’re so bad. People are easily swept into believing all sorts of things that Christians say are false. How do I know Christianity isn’t also a cult? I’m not saying it is! Don’t get your panties in a bunch! I know it’s so much bigger than any other following, but it clearly has many of the same characteristics of what we call cults.

My biggest issue with organized religion is the recitation of creeds in unison to profess our faith. These things are not in the Bible. Why do we have to do this? The Lord’s Prayer is in the Bible. I have no issue reciting that one in unison.

Then there’s the belief that “the Lord will provide”. This is even straight from the Bible, but it’s certainly tossed around by many. How do we know this supernatural being will provide? What if things turn out how they do simply because that’s how they were going to turn out – period? If God knows the number of our days and knows what will happen, then how can prayer change things? Those two things are contradictory. If we change things through prayer, then what God already knew would happen isn’t going to happen that way anymore. Is your head spinning yet? Do you have an answer for that one? Where does this free will come into play if He has already planned our days? Do we have a point A and point B in place but alter that path along the way by our own free will? Is that how it works?

These are just a few of the things I psychoanalyze. How do I know the whole concept of God isn’t purely psychological? The power of suggestion is a just that – a powerful thing! Couldn’t the idea of a Holy Spirit dwelling within us be a powerful psychological suggestion?

To the other extreme, science would have us believe that humans began as an amoeba and slowly evolved over time. They also have said that we evolved from apes. If so, then why are they still in existence? However, if you think about how life develops now from two single cells that join together and create an entire body full of vital organs and an elaborate central nervous system in just nine months, there’s no denying how amazing that is!

I see how happy and content people with strong faith are; how full of joy they are. I want that. I also see how uncomfortable some people are around those who are exuberantly overflowing with their love of Christ. I don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. Then I see the worst – people who call themselves Christians but turn their backs on people who don’t believe exactly what they believe. I can’t accept that. Love others as you love yourself. Live as Jesus lived. I don’t remember reading anything about Jesus turning his back on anyone. If I’m wrong, please give me chapter and verse so I can look it up.

Now that I’ve laid this all out here, it should be interesting to document what I learn from this book, which is technically not a true book but a compilation of notes prepared for the author’s lecture series, “Christianity: Hoax or History?”

What Exactly is Happiness?

I think it’s a misconception to think that to be happy, you have to be bursting with the emotion with a life full of laughter at every turn. People (and I think especially Americans) are always searching for happiness and often not quite feeling like they’ve found it or can maintain it. Consider Galatians 5:22-26 (Contemporary English Version):

22God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, 23gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. 24And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. 25God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. 26But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are.

Is it not possible to consider happiness found when living this way? Being content in the moment and not always looking for something more can equate to happiness. When we learn to be truly grateful for what we do have, then we can find pure joy in simply being!

I also like this quote from the movie “Eat Pray Love”:

You want to know how to be here?  Stop constantly waiting for something.

I’m content when I’m being creative. Photography, making jewelry, and even writing are all creative outlets for me. I’m content to sit and read. I’m content watching a movie or TV show. I’m content playing old-fashioned board or card games. I’m content walking around and exploring or even just sitting at a park. I’m not a high-energy person, so these things appeal to me but may seem boring to others.

When are you content?