Pre-break Vacation

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This past weekend, I went to Michigan with seven of my best friends.  It was a great time of friendship building, as well as fellowship.

One of my friends recently turned sixteen, and for his birthday, he wanted to go to a beach on Lake Michigan.  He couldn’t figure out a weekend that all his friends could go, so it never got planned.  Because his mom wanted him to have an awesome birthday, she planned him a surprise party.  On Saturday morning, me and five of my other friends went to this friends house and surprised him.  We drove up to Michigan in my friends big, green van.

It was a road trip like any others with a bunch of teenagers, full of singing, laughing, and teasing.  We arrived at the beach around noon.  After eating lunch, we changed into our swimsuits and tested the water.  It was cold.  Not unheated pool cold, just melted snow cold.  Numb your body cold.  Needless to say, those who splashed others were not looked upon with favor.  Despite the cold, we did have fun.  We didn’t stay in the water long.  We went to the volleyball nets and played nuke’em, a fun game which I would basically describe as volleyball for those who can’t play volleyball.

After a while, we decided to explore the town and find an ice cream shop.  Thus, we walked through the town and found a charming little place with delicious ice cream.  Most of us being teenagers without jobs, only three of us got ice cream.  I got pumpkin pie ice cream, which I shared with one of the girls.  We took selfies like any normal teenagers outside the shop while we waited for one of the guys to buy ice cream.

Before dinner, we decided to go out on this long pier and take pictures.  We walked out onto the pier until we could take pictures with a light house and the rippling water in the background.  The birthday boy got pictures with everyone, we took a couple great group photos, and a few other pictures.  That was a lot of fun.  My favorite picture was one of all the guys doing superman poses in the light of setting sun.

After dinner, we got to see one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen this year.  The colors started out pink gold and faded to purples and reds.  The sun was beautifully reflected in the calm waters of the lake.  I actually have a picture of one of the stages of the sunset, which is pictured above.

Overall, it was a great time to slow down and enjoy the life that we have been given.  I loved being with my friends, and I loved contributing to an amazing surprise for a good friend.  I’m glad for those days, they are truly a blessing from the Lord.  One of the greatest gifts God has given man is friendship.  This was a great way to enjoy this gift.

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Fall in the Suburbs

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Trying to see the deeper meaning 

As limited nature dances 

The fire of leaves in sunset’s glow

The breath of wind passes 

Behind each enlightened leaf

A dull man-made house.

Underneath the wind’s bellowing 

A siren’s wailing is heard. 

The sun that shines through nature’s crown, 

Falls onto this glass table.

The trees shed their glory

Onto manicured lawns. 

Safe and comfortable

The wild is kept away

Beyond the spice of fall

Exhaust is to be inhaled.

Know it, Back it, Live it

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As Christians, one would think we would know the gospel perfectly, inside and out.  The truth is however, that many Christians in the American culture do not.  I believe that it is our obligation as children of God to know our faith.  This does include knowing basic doctrine, but I also believe that we should find scripture texts which outline our faith.

“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” -Hebrews 4:12 

Thus, I created a list of scriptures which basically sum up my faith.  Not all of the appropriate scriptures are included in this list, but there are enough from the Old and New Testaments to give a good outline of my personal faith.  For those interested, here is a few selections from my short list:

The Holiness and Character of God (greatly condensed):

Genesis 1:1; Genesis 15:7; Genesis 16:3; Exodus 3:5-6, 13-18; Job 38-41; Psalm 2; Psalm 15; Psalm 19; Ecclesiastes 8:17; Isaiah 12; Jeremiah 22:8-9; Luke 1:46-55; John 1:1-18; Romans 9:1-29; Revelation 4:1-11

The Problem of Man’s Sin and Wickedness:

Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Genesis 2:17, 3:1-24; Romans 1:18-32

Salvation:

Genesis 3:15 (first appearance!); Isaiah 53; Micah 5:2-5; Matthew; Mark; Luke; John; John 3:16-21; Romans 5:1-11, 19-20; Romans 6:14; Romans 8; Romans 9; Colossians 1:15-23

Christian Living/Life (this list is really condensed):

Psalm 1; Colossians 3; Phillipians 4; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 1John 2:15-17

My last encouragement for the my brothers and sisters in Christ is to not only know the story of their salvation, but to live in the way sinners saved by the grace of God should.

Why Christians Can’t Reject Genesis

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Some Christians today believe that the Bible is fallible, at least some of it.  A particular book that several Christians think can be rejected is the book of Genesis.  Because modern “science” argues that the Earth is more than six thousand years old and that the world was formed by macro-evolution, some Christians reject the idea of a six-day creation.

I would argue that all scripture is inspired by God and is therefore infallible.  I would also argue that the book of Genesis, especially the first three chapters, is essential to the Christian faith and therefore cannot be rejected by Christians.

Herbert Spencer, a brilliant philosopher and proponent of Evolution of the late 19th/early 20th century, stated that all matter could be divided into five categories: time, force, action, space, matter.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”-Genesis 1:1

In the first verse of Genesis, all elements of reality are introduced.  Time: “In the beginning,” when time was first created.  Force: “God,” the greatest force in the universe.  Action: “created.”  Space: “the heavens,” the cosmos and all they contain, as well as literal space.  Matter: “and the earth,” the first matter discovered by man.  Men have tried but cannot deny what stands obviously before them, truth.

Genesis is a book of origins, and it starts with the origin of the universe.  God spoke everything into existence.  What I do not understand is why people do not want to believe that God created everything in six days.  God is God, and as God, he can do incomprehensible, amazing things that only God can do, like creating the entire cosmos in six literal days.  In six literal days, the universe and all life was created.  First light and night and day, then water in heaven and in the seas, then the land and plants, then the planets and heavenly bodies, then sea creatures and birds, then land creatures and man.  Six days.

Not only does Genesis talk about the origin of creation, but it also talks about the origins of order and complexity, man’s love for beauty, marriage, culture, government, nations, and much more.  Genesis 3, all the way at the beginning of scripture, tells of the origins of evil, judgement, and salvation.

The man and the woman were tempted and succumbed to temptation, doubting God and allowing sin to enter their hearts.  Knowing that they had sinned, they hid from the God with whom they had been able to directly communicate and have a relationship.  Adam and Eve were punished and  sent from the garden, knowing that they were mortal and doomed to death.  However, God spared them from death that day and gave them hope for a savior.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head; and you will strike his heel.”

-Genesis 3:15 

The “he” referred to in this passage is the savior, Jesus Christ, who was not due to come for four thousand years.  This gave Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, hope that someday, their relationship with God would be restored, that the savior would crush sin and death, bringing humanity back to its God.

The reason Genesis is so important is that it gives us the story of where we came from and why things are the way that they are.  In it is the story of a holy but loving God and his relationship with man.  I will not tell the whole story, because the believer must read it for himself.

If the Church tries to fit its faith to the world by twisting it and taking away fundamentals, nothing will be left of Christianity.  Thus, we must hold fast to the word of God, the inerrant scriptures.

Waiting for God’s Will

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This summer, I’ve learned about trusting God with my present and future situations.  This has been very good for my relationship with God and kept me from stressing out too much; however, I oftentimes still wish that their was a magic formula to show me God’s will for my life.  I’m sure that there are many others like me, since I’ve read a couple other blog posts and articles about finding God’s will.

The truth is, I believe that God does know what will happen in each person’s life and that he gives us certain abilities and insights to help us make life choices.  The first most obvious choice is salvation, which is when a person first surrenders his or her life to God.  After that, our job as believers is to spread the gospel and glorify God.  Though this may sound vague, it really isn’t.  Finally, I think the most important thing to do when trying to figure out what God’s will for the future is, is to step back and invest in the present.  This advice was given by an older friend in my school’s yearbook, but I did not follow it until this summer.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do after high school, but I know that I have a desire to get married and have children.  I also want to do the best I can as a high school student, sister, daughter, and friend right now.  Just because someone may be worried about the future doesn’t mean that they can’t focus on the present.  In fact, I believe that it is more important to invest in the present than to plan the future.  As I’ve learned, plans do not always go the way we want them to.  There are so many things that I thought I’d be doing by now and there are so many things that I’m doing now that I never knew I’d be doing.

I actually started blogging because I was tired of things happening without my input, specifically political things.  I have a passion for writing and a talent for it, so I started a blog.  I thought I would be doing a lot of writing about political and social events, but instead, God has turned my focus in a more spiritual direction and has revealed the desire to pour into other’s lives as a mentor and counselor.  This is an example of how investing in the present can impact one’s future.

 

I still do not know for sure what I want to do after high school, but I know that I will most likely go to college and major in communications.  I definitely have more ideas about jobs that I want now than I did at the beginning of the summer.  Thus, trusting God was a good idea, because it allowed me to take a step back from worrying about the future and focus on investing in the present.

Back to School Blues

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bored kid at schoolI just got home from a great vacation in Florida, only to realize that I have about a week until school starts back up.  A couple weeks ago I was excited to get back to school, see my friends, and get back to a schedule.  This is not unusual for me since for all my school-age life, with the exception of last year, I have been pretty excited to go back to school.  Yes, I am that kid, the one who has something good to say about every class and every teacher.  This year however, will be different.

I decided I would not worry about looking at my class schedule, assignments, etc until today because I wanted to let myself enjoy my break as long as possible.  This morning, I got my laptop out, got on my school website, and realized that I have an assignment due the second day of class.  Yippee skippee.  After going through all my classes’ syllabuses, supply lists, and welcome back letters, I was panicking about all that I have to do this year.

This is the year I enter the upper-classmen stage of highschool, the eleventh grade.  According to Hollywood, this is supposed to be the most glamorous stage of my pre-adult years.  I feel the glamour for sure, like a fifty-pound backpack.  Besides school, I will be teaching a lower-level dance class at my church.  I am excited about it, but also dreading the amount of work that this job will entail on top of my schoolwork.  This is honestly the first time I’ve ever felt the need to really pray about my schoolwork, I typically have it all figured out.

Earlier this summer, at a worship time at my youth pastor’s house, I prayed to surrender all my hopes, dreams, fears, worries, desires, and my future to Jesus.  Right now I’m praying to surrender my school year, that my work will not be done to impress my classmates and teachers or be forced out to scrape for a certain grade, but that my work at home, in school, in youth group, and at dance will be done out of love for God, to reflect His glory.  This is the big picture that I need to keep in mind this year and always.

To the Dreamers

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We love stories.  Tales of giants, adventures, pirates, princesses, and castles far away enchant us.  We dream with the characters.  We feel their anger, burn with their passion, and cry their tears.  the characters of a good story are real to us.

We know how to fear and hate the wicked villain and pity those in distress.  We weep when the hero gives his life for those he loves.

We like to watch the story blossom before our very eyes.  The best stories seem written for us, a message for us alone.  They are our treasures, locked in the vaults of our souls, feeding our hopes and dreams.

Why do these stories, which take us to places we have never seen, with people we have never met, draw us so?  Perhaps it is because each person’s life is a story, carefully written by the hand of God.  Like a spider’s web, our lives are intricately woven and no one knows where they will lead.  Some stories become long forgotten, others ever remembered, preserved by the minds and hearts of ages.

These stories are all different.  The stories created by men, though in the whole untrue, each carry truth within them.  The most fantastic and impossible often carry the most truth.

As we read or hear stories, we fall down a rabbit hole and navigate a labyrinth with only a ball of string.  We ride in a pumpkin coach and sail on a pirate ship.

The stories that carry us we never wish to leave, dreaming of them after we have turned the last page and heard the last word.

Switching It Up

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I have decided that I should take a break from my normal intellectual, applicable, real-world blogging and post some poetic essays that I have written instead; the soul-food rather than the brain-food.  Thus, expect poems and/or poetic essays on occasion.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Little Guys Can Do Big Things Too

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Often in our day and age, teenagers are underestimated.  Teenagers are not expected to be responsible, manage money well, or care about working hard.  Because the expectations are set so low, teenagers often fulfill those expectations without reaching higher.

Not all teenagers live this way though, and I believe that all teens long to do more than what they are expected to.  Some teenagers have taken action and stepped up past low expectations.

Hoosier Hometown Heroes recently interviewed two teens about their business, called Bitwise Fellows.  This company’s focus is webdesign.  The crazy part is that the entire company is run by highschoolers!

Bitwise Fellows is just one example of teens stepping up.  Brothers Alex and Brett Harris started their blog “The Rebelution” when they were sixteen.  This blog has challenged teenagers for years to step up.

The truth is, many many teenagers have challenged the low expectations set for them.  They have leaped beyond expectations in many areas, including spirituality.

My youthgroup is full of young men and women who want to know God more.  We conduct student led worship at each others homes.  We encourage each other and keep one another accountable.  We serve and go on missions trips.  I know that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, and I know that my youth group is not the only one like this.

Teenagers all over the United States and the world are making an impact.  They don’t have to be held back by low expectations.  They have shown that they can change the world as much as any adult can.

1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”