Tuesday, June 29, 2010

life is what you make it. [180]

life is not about toning down and repressing your God-given life force. it's about channeling it and focusing it and turning it loose on something beautiful, something pure and true and good, something that connects you with God, with others, with the world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

the future freaks me out. [179]

i want to help people through psychology and sociology. some Christians believe psychological disorders don't exist. they also believe the Bible tells us everything about the brain. i know this not to be true. God gives us knowledge so we can help others.
i either want to work for a high school or ministry. i would love to work for illinois student ministries and somehow start a counseling service through them.
to do this, i have to go to school and follow the footsteps God has put before me. i might intern for ism.
when i look in my future five years from now, i see me graduated from college. that's it.

all of me. [178]

the meaning of friendship to me is the ability to know that people i'm surrounding myself with are always going to be there for me and are pushing me to be a better me. i am confident that most of my friends are doing so.
i hVW great circle of friends at home and at school. i'm blessed.

all around me. [177]

one of the best memories i have is camping with my family and crying at iycm teen camp. it seems to be the only place i feel free to let the tears flow.
the world memory of my life is my dad crying as he told us he wasn't going to survive the cancer. i say that's the worst because it affected me more than his death. knowing you're going to die soon and having to tell the most important people in your life has to be devastating.

let me in. [176]

three major milestones in my life so far are going abroad to Spain, making it to college, and learning more about the outside world.
i needed to go to spain. i learned so much about culture outside america. i realized not everyone is as well off as i am.
i am the first person in my family to go to college full time and pursue a degree. my family has done well with no schooling but i've seen how that has changed and how i need to go to school to do what i've been called to do.
i have learned that the rest of the world is predominantly poor and in need. i want to help. i want to be Jesus to my world not just bring Jesus to my world.

take on me. [175]

i was born on october 23, 1989 in alton, il. i was the first born. i have a younger sister. my parents named me britney alyse. i don't know why they named me britney. maybe because it was the most popular 80s name. but they chose alyse after my grandma, alice.
my earliest memory is when i stuck a rock in my ear and i couldn't get it out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

in a sweater, poorly knit. [174]

we, as Christians, have a calling to serve those in need and impact those around us. if there are Christians in an area, then that area should be improving. but you may be thinking: i'm young. there's not much i can do. i'll wait until i'm an adult. but the Bible says in first timothy, "don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
you actually have more opportunities since you're young. no career. no spouse. no kids. no bills. well, maybe some but not as much as when you're an adult. you might be thinking you don't have enough money to donate. the thing is, Jesus doesn't need money. there are things you can do to impact your community that will only cost you your time.
Jesus talks to His disciples about the judgment. He tells about how His followers will be questioned. He asks why we didn't feed the hungry, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, clothe the hungry, house the homeless. at the end He says, "Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did to one of these brothers of mine, you did it to Me." (matthew 25:40).
Jesus never says to the poor, "come, find the church." He says to those of us in the church, "go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned." true compassion and outreach is more than giving money to the begging. if you ask the poor, they will tell you who the Christians are. poverty was created not by God but by you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves.
i read this book by an extreme follower of Christ. his name is shane claiborne. the book is called the irresistible revolution. the whole book impacted my life. but one excerpt opened my eyes to a truth of this world.
when i ask God why all of these injustices are allowed to exist in the world, i can feel the Spirit whisper to me, "you tell Me why we allow this to happen. you are My body, My hands, My feet."
we allow people to be poor, hungry, homeless.
Christianity is for sick people. in matthew 9:12-13, Jesus says this to the Pharisees, "it is not those who are healthy who need a physician but those who are sick. but go and learn what this means, 'i desire compassion, and not sacrifice for i did not come to call the righteous but the sinners.'"
if we are the body of Christ, then are here for the sinners. and being sinners as well, we are here for each other.
going back to the beginning, if there are Christians in an area then that area should be improving.
but how do we improve our area?
there are places to volunteer. community hope center, riverbend family ministries. all it takes is you contacting the ministries and centers in your area.
there are homeless people in wood river. it's sad, really. they're people in need of clothes, you could hold a clothing drive. EAWR students in need of uniforms. people in need of food, so hold a food drive. people with no a/c who are in need of fans, hold a fan drive. and find out who needs what.
it takes work but Jesus never said being a servant and helping others would be easy. He just said it would worth it.

a thousand angry panthers. [173]

With every album, Bradley Hathaway seems to grow as a person and as an artist. From spoken word to folk music, Bradley has opened up his life to others. A Thousand Angry Panthers, his recently released 4-song EP, is no different. A glimpse of love, loss, hope, faith and how they're connected. A powerful ending with The World is Screaming reminds us for how God is with us in our struggles. This EP seems darker than the previous released, A Mouth Full of Dust, but you can hear and feel the hope in each and every song.
You can (and should) pick up a physical copy of A Thousand Angry Panthers at Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, IL. You can watch him on the main stage this summer.

Bradley Hathaway's Myspace

Monday, June 21, 2010

pain. [172]

and her pain is relevant
her pain is prevalent
but he won't relent
he sees it
but he continues
she's to strong for tears
she hides them
but if you looked into her soul
you'd know
you'd see
her pain, her sorrow, her sin
you'd want to rescue her
but no one looks
ignorant to obvious pain
blind to what
they need to look for

Sunday, June 20, 2010

like father, like son. [171]

happy fatherless day.

today is the day that we celebrate our dads. the thing is, this is the third year i haven't had an earthly dad to celebrate. i have to be honest, it hurts. i love my dad. i miss him more than words can say. i truly believe he is heaven bound. i also believe he isn't looking down on me. i've had some serious wrestling with this one. i don't think that people in Heaven watch us. they have no need.
anyways, God blessed me with seventeen years with the best dad anyone could ask for. quiet and gentle. righteous anger. what i imagine Christ to be like. of course, he had flaws. we all do.
but my dad showed me how women should be treated. i'm slowly remembering that i deserve to be treated in such a way.
he taught me to work for what i desire. to do everything to my full potential.
he supported me and guided me in decisions.
he gave me the gift of music. every inch of my love of music is from him.
he taught me to love nature and time spent in the wilderness.
now, God is reminding me of all these things.
like a crashing wave.
today, i realized that God is my Heavenly Father and loves me more than my dad. He knows that i crave a hug from my earthly father and a drive to somewhere just listening to music.
so God gives me those things in different ways.

jim baker,
i love you. and i miss you. see you soon.

deathbed. [170]

i don't know how i should feel, from a Christian perspective, about death row. i know that i personally have a conviction about it. and that definitely pisses people off. they wonder if i have no sympathy for the victims. yes, i do. but i also have sympathy for the criminal. which can be convicting in itself.
how does Jesus do it?
have equal love and sympathy?
how does He see each sin as the same degree?
i feel that if Christ has sympathy for everyone, so must i.
i'm slowing learning to be more like Christ.
and even more slowly, i'm beginning to apply it to my life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

focus. [169]

there are times in my life where i have trouble focusing on God. everything in my life is distracting me from interacting with HIm. i think that's how satan gets to Christians. not by getting them to sin. but getting them from interacting with God.
it's a great strategy.
i feel completely ridiculous and stupid because i know satan is working on my life in such a manner but i do nothing to stop it.
i need to get myself busy in my relationship with God.

oil and water. [168]

all of you have heard of the oil spill in the gulf. just about everyone is freaking out. but i see a lack of Christian response.
i have seen an organization hold a prayer vigil.
it's difficult to know what to do. i mean, it;s not like with katrina. you can't just go and rebuild. but there are things that you can do.
we can pray. this is often put on the back burner but it's the most powerful thing we can do . pray for guidance, wisdom, mercy, grace, the environment and the community affected.
we can mourn. mourn for those losing their jobs and the animals covered in oil.
we can act. we must act to restore the lives of those in the gulf. we must rethink the way we consume resources in a our lives.
we can prove the Christians care by praying, mourning, and acting to positively impact the situation in the gulf.

high hopes in velvet ropes. [167]

a 6-story Jesus statue in ohio was struck by lightning.
the pastor's wife said it was a "beacon of hope."
apparently, they want to rebuild it.
use $300,000 to rebuild an obvious fleeting statue.
personally, investing that much money in a statue is not promoting hope. it's holding it back.
what if they used the money to reach out to the community and providing ways to accommodate the needs of those around the church.
we waste so much money on appearances.
no wonder people hate Christians.
i'll say it again.
people will know we're Christians by our actions, outreach and love, not our expensive statues.

Jesus, Lord of Heaven. [166]

Jesus isn't always nice.

John 2:13-16
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

jesus isn't calling us to a life of anger and fighting just to get our own way. but Jesus does call us to righteous anger and the right times.

ephesian 4:26
In your anger do not sin...

there is a way to be angry and not sin.
there is a way to turn over tables and remain holy. righteous anger is anger birthed out of wrong doing. yet leads to God-honoring actions and justice for people.
righteous anger should lead to strong feelings. but it should lead us away from hate and hostility and into action.
Jesus acted for the honor of God and the benefit of the people.
all to often, righteous anger becomes stuck in awareness, knowing needs but doing little to be a part of a solution.

the new face of american evangelism.

We don't think in terms of what is wrong; we think of what can we be doing in terms of restoring what God wants the world to look like.

where's your faith now? [164]

the stress of adult life often reveals the lack of authentic faith in our lives and often times, we don't recognize it.
it's a sobering moment when we realize our child-like faith and peace has disappeared.
it isn't until we have come face to face with uncertainty that our faith can be truly tested. recognizing a crisis in our faith is not always difficult. we are always wrestling with out faith to a certain extent and that's quite alright. it's alright to be concerned about situations in our lives. we're human.
it's when we're crippled by the lack of faith that prohibits us from living our lives. that's when we know we have a serious problem.
if faith is belief in what we cannot see then the opposite of that is fear. fear is the absence of faith. a resistance to things we can't control or see. it's important to assess on what's going on in our hearts and our heads.
refusing to question is essentially saying God Himself is too weak and His spirit incapable of bringing us full circle with our doubts and back into powerful faith living.

romans 9:20
But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"

God almighty, none compares. [163]

we sometimes forget that we can experience God anywhere. the grace of God can be experienced just as easily on a trampoline. another way to experience God is through confession. not the man behind the screen confession. but legit confessions to God. it reveals the true content of our heart. it reveals what has been previously hidden. and once it is brought out into the open to a loving listener, it leads to healing.
if spirituality is about paying attention, then the question is, what are we paying attention to?
whether we see the sacred and holy in everyday life is not a matter of whether it exists. wearing the lens of the sacred and holy will show us it has been there all along in plain sight.

tears. [162]

i have a problem with crying.
i don't like to do it and i don't cry very often. i have to be extremely upset to cry.
or my heart has to be deeply touched.
but, sometimes, crying just feels good. like all of the pain is being washed away.
it's amazing how God created us to get rid of things we don't need.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

death is an alcoholic. [161]

so i read "mere Christianity" by c.s. lewis. it was a quick read. i liked it because it reminded me of his banter in "chronicles of narnia". but that also distracted me from what he was saying. overall, i was uninterested when i read it. gasp. i felt kind of bad because it's one of the most famous books on Christianity but, honestly, i don't see the big deal. don't get me wrong, he had great things to say but you had to strip away a ton of filler to find it. but there was a passage that literally made me laugh out loud.
a great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for everyone. i do not think that. at least i know i should be very angry if the Mohammedans [muslims] tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine.
first of all, i agree with this statement. second, i read it to my mom and she said that Christians can't drink either. she has a drink [wine] every once in a while. i say this because she wouldn't deny it if you asked.
personally, i don't think it's a sin to drink. i believe that God will be extremely disappointed if we get drunk because He speaks against being drunkards. but drinking? no. only to specific people did He say something and some people decided not to drink on their and God's terms. but alcohol was/is a prominent role in Jewish culture and it was in the Early Church culture. but it was corrupted (like everything). so people got prude and made it a sin.
i think that your ability to drink should seriously taken to God in prayer because He can guide you. you might be more prone to be an alcoholic and not know it. i try to go to God for guidance in personal gray areas because He knows my life better than i do/
eat. drink. be merry.
but, above all, ask God.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

words of hope. [160]

we all do it. it's engrained in us. and it's one of the most dangerous things we can do.
take verses from the Bible out of context.
if you read the Bible looking for it to argue with you, you can most likely find verses that do but you usually take them out of context and it might not actually be agreeing with you. how we think about the Bible affects how we think about it applying to our lives. the Bible has become a tool for many to push selfish agendas that don't represent the heart of God.
when the verses remain separate from all the others, they lack the purpose they were created for.
a few verses that are misinterpreted:
matthew 18:29: i'm sure God hears our prayers even when we're alone. i've felt His presence when i was alone before.
john 12:32: Jesus was talking about His crucifixion, not being praised.
my favorite: jeremiah 29:11: read the whole chapter, please.
each of us has been guilty of misinterpreting the Bible. but the power of Scripture lives in its ability to communicate it's truth even if we mess it up.

total brutal. [159]

so if you've never read the old testament, you're missing out on a ton of metal songs. families were killed. women. children. everyone was dead.
definitely read Joshua.
seriously brutal battle scenes.
r-rated stuff.
so here's the question.
is God brutal?
i'm going to say yes because He's God and i want to.
but in reality, all of the death in this world was caused by one simple yet extreme event in human history. the fall of man. from birth we are bent towards selfishness and self-absorption. death was created in us. we are flawed and do shameful things. there are not innocent people. there is something wrong with the human condition. we think hideous thoughts. we say hurtful words. we harm others and create injustice.
throughout the old testament, God suppresses evil and upholds His justice through annihilating people who do and pleasure evil. sin deserves justice, it always has and always will, and a loving being always has wrath towards sin. God righteously does this.
the remarkable reality is that God's justice didn't wipe out all people. it is glorious He chose to be merciful.
but now, the people of God are used to show God's grace and love because He's not brutal anymore.
the brutality of God was taken out on Jesus, violence on His Son as to give us peace. God throws His arms around us and He overwhelms out failures with His love.

Friday, June 11, 2010

city of black and white. [158]

the past few weeks, i've realized how much racism is still present in my life even when it comes to Christians. i'm not racist and i'm not just saying that. i believe we were all created in God's image and that the pigment of our skin has noting to do with His love for us.
i had never been to birmingham. i wanted to go but i was told that it wasn't worth it because it was dirty and filled with blacks. i live in wood river. cleanliness of a town doesn't really matter to me. but i never go to go to birmingham. i think because it was too black. but i still see the disrespect of other races. not just black but hispanic, asian, whatever. it's quite ridiculous. don't Christians know that Jesus was persian. He probably had darker skin.
i know some play the race card. which is completely unnecessary. but they still deserve respect as much as the next person.
i'm disappointed in Christians.

coming clean. [157]

we're kind of like dirty houses. we have a ton of junk in us and a lot dirt on us. the selfishness, the stubbornness, the pride, the pettiness, the lack of self-control. so much cleaning out that needs to be done before we can be fully used to our greatest potential.
i wonder if God is heartbroken over that or overwhelmed. somehow, He can handle it. He doesn't become paralyzed. He never gives up.
God sees the great potential we have, always there encouraging us to clean house, to come to Him, to be stripped down of ourselves, so He can fill us up with clean things so we can be better. there's so much daily work that we need to be clean before the Lord. yes, He takes us as we are but when we begin to follow Him, we need to make more of an effort to please Him. get rid of the old self.
clean us out, Lord.
make us new.
clean us up, show us how to live.

generational curse. [156]

something i'm guilty of...
...everything is permissible....
we're growing up in a time where everything is permissible. and our generation is stuck in between being moral and being prude. do we obey all of the rules? or do we bend them? but why are there rules?
older Christians have built a Church of rules.
no smoking. no drinking. no sex. no cussing. nor shorts. no make-up. no piercings. no tattoos.
but some rules are ridiculous. others make sense. waiting to have is a great thing. following the ten commandments is a great guide line.
it's all gray area. it's all really confusing.
but i do know that if i seek God, i'll know right from wrong.

falling. [155]

contrary to what you thought as a kid, life is full of disappointments and those disappointments can leave you wondering if God is still involved in your life. and if He is involved, what is He doing?
i feel as though many of us base our plans, dreams and desires on our concept of God's presence. then, when things don't turn out how we planned, we question is God's there with us anymore. but the truth of it that God is most powerfully present even when He seems most apparently absent. He's always working. even when we can't see God, or feel Him, all the evidence of our lives will testify to His presence. it's normal to doubt His presence. but we need to remember that God will never change. this is why our faith must rest on His identity not necessarily His activity.
sometimes, our lack of hope we're experiencing is more about our perspectives than the circumstances we're encountering. i've come to believe meaning and hope are more often found in embracing the difficulties. i find that God is more interested in our change when we go through difficulties or things don't go our way.
God isn't asking us to understand. He's asking us to trust Him and the fact that He loves us. He's the God who has promised to be with you. God is right now engaged in the mysterious process of reshaping you into who you need to be. He can bring you joy, peace and hope.
faith will win over doubt.

may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. romans 15:14.

torches together. [154]

it takes a village to raise a child.
i've seen this to be true within the Christian community. churches are incredibly important to the growth of children and Christians. community is tough to find in our mobile, throwaway society. community means having a lot of friends on facebook or followers on twitter. (i don't have a twitter). before community was just about emotional or spiritual needs, it was about survival. neighbors were the first and last line of defense against life's problems. community was unavoidable.
in our convenient society, have we lost community?
but what is community? people who are collectively experiencing life together.
why is it so hard for us to live in community? being independent of everyone is what's normal. community is so foreign to us, to everything we know. we want all of the advantages of community and none of the obligations and have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives. every aspect of our lives is separate from each other. but, in reality, they are completely connected.
relationships and community take time and connectedness. without it, our souls are longing for it.
so maybe it does take a village.

living is simple. [153]

humanity is hard to satisfy. let me rephrase that, the well off of humanity is hard to satisfy. we're always chasing fulfillment but we never seem to reach it. we work more hours to make more money. we make more money to buy more stuff. we buy more stuff to make our leisure time more enjoyable. then we sacrifice that free time to work more. people's most stressful area of their lives is work but what if we found a way to get paid and to do something we loved?
a simplified life is a more satisfied life.
there can no joy in life without joy of work.
unfortunately, we get to an unfulfilling job because of the economic stability it gives us. we need our jobs because they support our spending habits. but what if our spending habits fit our jobs? i personally have to do this and it's a lot less stressful than trying to find a job that supports extravagant spending. i'm definitely a thrifter and i love it. a lot of times, we're living in a whole we've dug ourselves. honestly, if you don't to want too much, don't spend the money.
Jesus talked about money and economics more than any other social concern. He told the rich, young ruler that getting rid of things was the first step in a life of obedience (matthew 19). He spoke blessings to the poor and woes to the rich. He even said that it would be difficult of a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
but you can't simplify the outside of your life without simplifying the inside of it. your heart. your mind. your soul.
simplicity is about living intelligently, deliberately and doing on your and God's terms, not society's.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

because. [151]

so i've been on a cleaning spree. i cleaned as much as my basement family room as i could. while doing so, i found my dad's hand-written vinyl archive. i saw he had abbey road by the beatles [and a ton more. yes, we have a record player as well]. i got really excited. i grew up listening to my dad's music and the beatles was one of my favorite bands. [still is]. more importantly, it was my dad's. and he kept track of all his vinyl records. and it was hand-writing. chicken scratch like mine. my dad inspired my love for music. so all of this is important. and finally going through his basement after three years is important. this is a big step in my family's life. and mine. when i listen to my dad's music, i miss him more. but i love his music so there's no way i'll stop. i've been slowly putting his music on my macbook. i finally put joshua tree by u2 on my computer. what the heck was i waiting for? all in all, i know going through my dad's stuff is going to be hard but fruitful. it's going to be a fresh, clean start. a cleansing for my broken soul, perhaps. who knows?

modern morbid prophecies. [150]

sometimes, i hate the modern church and her politics but i am completely in love with Jesus Christ.