One minute blogs- keeping your testimony when responding

When a christian questions whether gay marriage is right or wrong, why do some react the way that they do? Do we honestly believe that condemnation is going to change their mind? That sarcasm is going to change their mind? That a nifty “meme” is going to make them realize their “ignorant ways”? Your testimony is not only shown in your beliefs, but how you react when some one questions your beliefs. And you never know what your actions can do. I’ve met many more non-believers who list christians and churches as the reason why they’re not interested in religion, than ones who list God or Jesus as the reason.

If you’ve ever wanted to contribute to a kickstarter campaign, this is the one to! A sad reality today is that soo much of the christian music industry has been watered down. People either want a great beat with limited God, or they want music that is sooo cliche and artificially injected with God that it ends up being horrible. And the same goes for the artists. But Jenny Simmons does not fit into either of those categories. From her days with Addison Road to now, she’s always been an artist who believes in craftsmanship, honesty and genuineness, and faith. Through her life, she’s seen and been a part of many instances where God was doing something miraculous, whether it was clear or not, and now she’s putting a book together of those stories. So if you’re looking for another cheesy christian book, or one that vaguely touches on faith, this isn’t for you, but if you’re looking for a great, honest, and faith filled book, here it is!

What is love?

The following is a paper that I wrote for English class and I thought it was a pretty good examination of love (plus it includes a Regina Spektor quote and a Jars of Clay song).

Lyrics: http://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/lyrics/new/track.asp?track_id=5144

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ooc_d3DSb0

            What is love? Copperlily described love as a legend that you can’t undo, House of Heroes said it was only for the middle class and Regina Spektor once sang that Love is a whore. So what is it? I’m not sure if you can boil it down to a single word or phrase, however I am sure that love has been twisted and many lies concerning love have been accepted. When we think of a love song, we think of a song that is happy, cute, has at least six to thirteen “awe” moments, and perhaps a chuckle or two (because we all know love makes us perpetually chuckle). But I think when we take a honest look at love, there is a lot more there and that upon honestly looking at love, we gain a better appreciation for what love is. I believe a song that accurately portrays a honest look at love is Jars of Clay’s “Mirrors and Smoke”.

            I chose “Mirrors and Smoke”, not only because of its content, but because I’ve had to explain the meaning of the song many times to people. The first time I had to explain it was when I was listening to it with my then girlfriend. At the end of the song I said “Isn’t that an awesome love song?” and with confusion in her eyes she responded “That’s not a love song”. When I asked her why it wasn’t a love song she told me it was because it wasn’t a happy song. She said the guy seemed miserable and the girl didn’t seem too happy either. She also pointed out that there was no “lovey-doviness”.  Therefore it could not have been a love song. I responded  “What made the song a true love song, was that it did lack the “lovey-doviness” . I told her that the honesty was what showed that they truly loved each other.

            In the first verse the guy says “You know it’s love that keeps me silent, it’s my silence you detest.” This is talking about the way society has painted the picture that a couple is not allowed to disagree and how people do not always want to hear the truth. He wants to be honest with the girl about how he feels, but he knows it would upset her. On the other side though, the girl wants him to be honest. She wants to hear what he has to say.

            In the second verse the guy says “I give you flowers, give you candy to even out the guilt. I send you greeting cards with messages that I could never write.” With this he’s talking about, how love has become less personal. He’s buying her all of these things to try to make up for the fact that he isn’t the perfect guy that society says he should be. I think the part about the greeting cards is awesome as well.  He is taking the easy way out. He’s afraid that he couldn’t write her anything that would bring a smile to her face, make her feel special, or bring her any of the feelings that love is supposed to bring to someone. So instead, he goes and buys a mass-produced card that has zero personal touch and then gives it to her.

            After listening to the first half of the song the listener would be really wondering what makes this a love song. The answer to that comes in the fourth verse. Throughout the song the phrase “Rivers flow into the ocean, and oceans never fill” keeps reappearing. The guy is likening rivers and the ocean to love. He is saying that if rivers constantly flowing into the ocean can never fully satisfy the ocean then, how can he ever fully satisfy her. In the fourth verse, however, the girl responds by saying “Rivers never fill the oceans, but oceans always feel the waters reaching deep inside them, I guess they always will.” The girl explains to him that love is not about a destination and that isn’t something that you just achieve. It’s about always trying your best and always becoming better at it.

            Upon the conclusion of the song, I believe that the listener sees love in a different way. Not the flashiness that is often presented but the honesty and hard work that it takes to sustain a relationship.

The Problem With Mega Churches

Since their inception, churches have served three main purposes, to Inform people of the Message of God, to offer a place of fellowship, and to help those in need. However as we look around today, we can tell that the church has not succeeded, as a whole, at these three tasks. Personally I do not believe that it is mere coincidence that the potentness of churches has weakened as satellite and mega churches have grown. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not hate satellite and mega churches, I know of ones who succeeded, greatly, at every one of those three tasks, I do however believe that satellite and mega churches are more susceptible to challenges facing todays churches.

The bigger the church, the more people, the more people, the more opinions. People and opinions aren’t necessarily bad, however they can be very detrimental to churches. If a church becomes more worried about the opinion of the masses rather than what the Bible says, they will quickly fail. Because of bankruptcy? No. Because of poor attendance? Negatory. They’ll fail because they abandoned their first mission and that is teaching the message of God. This becomes harder, the bigger the church grows. When you have a huge attendance Sunday after Sunday that means that not only do you have a lot of people coming, but you’re also bringing a lot of money in tithes every week. And whether it’s with bad intentions or good intentions, no church wants to see tithing decrease. So many churches can fall into the temptation of working for attendance numbers.

The fellowship can suffer due to a lack of intimacy between the congregation and between the congregation and the pastor. Upon coming to college it amazed me how many people had never met their pastor. Since childhood I remember eating meals with my pastor, having their home phone numbers, shaking their hands…etc. It sorta saddened me to think there were people who didn’t have that relationship with their pastor. The same goes for youth pastors. I’ve been blessed to have the four best youth pastors I could ask for. With each one, there’s been a 24/7 policy of them being available if I needed to talk and with each one they knew me as well as I knew them. It use to blow the mind of one of my friends that the youth pastor would go to the youth’s soccer games, volleyball games, that they’d check out our hobbies or outreaches we were a part of. The relationship transcended just having a guy read verses to us on Sundays and Wednesdays, our youth pastors all became close friends.

And finally the subject of helping people. An army of people and a stack of cash can be great, but it can also be horrible. Jenny Simmons once blogged about what she called “The Free Church”. She wrote about how churches have replaced quickly doing things and helping others, with “well it’s got to go through this committee first”. Many mega churches have become like corporations. Which isn’t an entirely evil thing, a church is much like a business in many aspects, they still have bills, still have contracts, and other things that they have to deal with so letting insanity reign would not be a good idea. However at the same time there’s a danger to it. When we create hoop after hoop to jump through, many people will not receive help when they need it and many will not get it at all.

Now the good news is, these are all problems that can easily be avoided. Like I said earlier, this isn’t about satellite and mega churches being evil, it’s about falling into complacency. Just like every human and every small church, the satellite and mega church face these problems. It all comes to choosing who you’re going to serve.

The Problem With Little White Girls (and Boys)

This is soo great that the word great doesn’t truly tell how great it is.

Pippa Biddle

White people aren’t told that the color of their skin is a problem very often. We sail through police check points, don’t garner sideways glances in affluent neighborhoods, and are generally understood to be predispositioned for success based on a physical characteristic (the color of our skin) we have little control over beyond sunscreen and tanning oil.

After six years of working in and traveling through a number of different countries where white people are in the numerical minority, I’ve come to realize that there is one place being white is not only a hindrance, but negative –  most of the developing world.

Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania. Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania.

In high school, I travelled to Tanzania as part of a school trip. There were 14 white girls, 1 black girl who, to her frustration, was called white by almost everyone we met in Tanzania, and a few teachers/chaperones…

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A corny song just in time for Valentine’s day!

So in honor of Valentine’s Day I figured I’d share a corny love song I finished recently. Before you read it, keep in mind that it is intentionally over the top so don’t be a hatin’ on it! The backstory of the song is I had been listening to a lot of love songs last summer and there was a girl, whom I had a crush on, so I decided why not combine the two! Enjoy!

“That Girl”

Woah here she comes walkin’ my way
her beautiful smile adorning her face
she’s lookin dead right at me
and I’m lookin’ at something heavenly
her hair filled with those highlights
has it lookin’ like a sunset in July
and her voice, when she speaks
makes my heart go beat, beat, beat

chorus
I’d try a million pick-up lines
The corny, the clever, every kind
I’d act the part of the fool
If only you’d think it was cool
Just for you
Just for you

There I go walkin’ on the sidewalk
When you appear and begin to talk
On the outside I smile and nod
But on the inside I’m all knots
I think “okay just be smooth”
But my lips wont seem to move
Suppose I’ll rely on my smile
….I hope she likes my smile

I’d try a million pick-up lines
The corny, the clever, every kind
I’d act the part of the fool
If only you’d think it was cool
Just for you
Just for you

Wish we could run through a field of flowers
Or go to France, wear berets on the tower
Run barefoot through the sand on the bay
But today, I’ll just settle for a “hey”

I’d try a million pick-up lines
The corny, the clever, every kind
I’d act the part of the fool
If only you’d think it was cool
Just for you
Just for you

That time when an athesit helped my faith…wait what?

It’s freshman year, me and my friend Keith are sitting on our side of the dorm room trying to figure things out. Up until a week ago we were told we were rooming with each other, which was awesome and had us both thrilled, however on move in day there was a third person who walked into the room with a bag on his back, his name Jesse. Me and Keith were trying to figure out just who this mysterious guy was, he seemed older, witty, and he watched Foxnews, CNN, and Comedy Central which was confusing to say the least. Long story short we all three came to grow pretty close. Everyday seemed to bring a new memory (whether good, bad, or ones that led to stories that I’ve told hundreds of times). One of the things that made it so cool, was that there were so many reasons why, by society’s standards, we shouldn’t have been friends. I was by all means a conservative, sure I consider myself pretty middle on many subjects, but in the grand scheme of things I’m still pretty right leaning. Jesse was liberal on many subjects. As far as faith goes I came into college as a huge Christian. I had volunteered at Three Crosses for a couple of summers, I helped out at a Hispanic mission, I was in a Christian band, and the school I attended had taught me the Bible from kindergarten and had given me so many modern day examples of God acting miraculously. Jesse on the other hand was an atheist who looked to science to give a reasonable explanation to everything in the world. As we lived together though it amazed me how well we got along. Every time we’d go to a gas station he’d offer to buy us something, every time I told him about something our church was doing he seemed to be interested in it, and everytime a friend of mine or family member of mine came to visit the room Jesse was always as nice as could be. And as far as witty, he’d try to explain scientific things to me and I’d just nod in agreement (always thinking to myself “wow I feel really stupid right now”). When freshmen  year finally came to a close I left CSU a lot deeper in my faith, because of an atheist, for a few reasons.

 

A huge reason was how he treated others and his respect for others. It was incredible how many fellow classmates saw my accomplishments and outreach work as unimpressive. It was disheartening to be at a Christian college where it seemed like so many people viewed me as nothing special. But with Jesse it was different, he was blown away when he found out I served on my Town’s Council and he always seemed to be interested with what we were doing at my church. And as far as religion we never had an argument about it. There was always a respect for each others beliefs, even though we disagreed, there was never a hateful comment made between us.

 

Another thing was his cleverness. I think a lot of times Christians view nonbelievers as idiots, but I didn’t see Jesse as an idiot. In the field of science he was pretty clever, I’m not sure if he was super smart or if I was just that ignorant, but he taught me new theories and experiments all of the time. He was anything but an idiot.

 

Finally, it was something he said one of the last nights we were in the dorm room together that has stuck with me. We had stayed up talking when he told how incredible it was when he saw Christians acting so brotherly to others, he said it was amazing how Christians would go out of their way to help their brothers and strangers. And for the rest of the evening it was stuck in my head. The biggest reason being, an atheist, someone that some churches preach to be the scum of the earth, was impressed by something that even many Christians find too crazy to live out.

At the end of my freshman year, I did indeed leave college with a stronger faith and better grasp on what my faith was about. My advisor had helped, some professors helped, and a few friends helped, but one of the biggest reasons, was all because of one, single, atheist.