Friday, August 7, 2015

Very, Very (Very) Exciting News!

Since I started blogging, everything I've read has said that WordPress is better.

And...then Blogger updated or something and is now more annoying than before. So I decided it was a good time to switch.

And now comes the excitingness: a few minutes ago I pushed the publish button on my very first WordPress post on my shiny new WordPress blog!

True and Pure: (and it is yet another indication that it is time to leave Blogger that I cannot get this to work as a link.)

So head over there! Read the About pages and my first post, leave me a comment, and then subscribe so you can get the new posts ASAP!

I'm super excited and hope you are too!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Quick Update

Hi all!

Just a quick update since I most likely will not get any posts up this week. I am running a second week of ballet camp for tiny kiddos so I'm very tired in the afternoons...

And I'm working on a very exciting new blog *ahem* project that will be revealed soon! I'm doing some major updating and stuff to make my blogging better than ever before. So get excited!!

In the meantime, feel free to browse around the archives and read some old posts! (You can even comment on posts from last November if you want...I check!)

See you soon!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Book Club: Generation Rising (Do Hard Things, chapter 10)

A quick blog update: Apologies for not posting this week. I was running a summer camp for little children and had zero energy to do blog posts. Regular posting will resume ASAP. Also, in the last Getting to Know Me, I said I couldn't think of a real-life role model. I thought of one the next day: William Wilberforce.

Anyway, now on to today's post...

We've examined the five kinds of hard things you can start doing right now, most of them coming into play in our everyday life. 

But what about the big things, the world-changing things?  

That's what this chapter is about. 

Building a Counterculture
"This chapter is about that response: exchanging our 'normal', comfortable world for a bigger and very real world that rarely shows up in most of our homes. This chapter is about zooming out from a focus on personal rebelution (the Five Kinds of Hard things) to look at the Rebelution as a movement: a counterculture of like-minded young people whose efforts God can bless and who together can make history." (pages 169-170)

What could happen when rebelutionaries work together to overcome problems? What could happen when we stop assuming that "someone else will take care of the brokenness in the world.." (page 170)? What could happen when a group of passionate young people find what God is calling them to do? 

Salt and Light
We are called to be salt. When Jesus talks about salt in the Bible, he's talking about something that was used as a preservative. 

"When Jesus tells us we are 'the salt of the earth', He's saying we have been placed here to preserve it until he returns: to fight against the decay of sin, to combat sickness and suffering, and to oppose corruption and injustice." (page 172)

We are also called to be light. We are called to bring truth into the secular world and reveal God to all people.

"Where secular methods and philosophies hold sway in fields of business, education, the arts, or any other area of society and culture, we are called to bring biblical philosophies and methods founded on that 'total Truth': that's what it means to be light." (page 173)

It isn't true that to "live for Jesus" you have to go into the ministry or be a missionary. The world needs Christians in every aspect of work and daily life.

"A thriving Christian counterculture will fight poverty, heal disease, and expose corruption even as we earnestly fight against the sin and spiritual darkness at the root of all suffering. A generation of rebelutionaries will write books, direct for office, and make scientific and medical discoveries. We will strive to bring the truth of God's Word and the gospel to bear on every area of life we touch." (page 175) 

The Three Pillars of the Rebelution
The next part of the book discusses the three things that will make us successful rebelutionaries. "Only when all three work together can we build an effective and sustainable counterculture." (page 176)

The three pillars are these:

  1. Character (being passionate about sharing the gospel and growing more like Christ);
  2. Competence (caring about skill, strategy, and creativity);
  3. and Collaboration (working with a community of like-minded people). 
"The honest truth is that to balance your life on these three pillars requires constant work and consistent attention. And the good news is that the surefire way to build character and competence is to do hard things. Furthermore, the best way to attract people to come alongside you is to tackle a hard thing that is too big to accomplish alone." (pages 178-179) 

A Holy Ambition
The book describes holy ambition as passion for something under the lordship of Jesus Christ. So what is yours? What large-scale thing do you feel God calling you to do?

"Think of your holy ambition as a world-sized passion placed under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Open your heart to His world in all its broken beauty, praying that He will show you how you could be salt and light in the middle of it. He will." (page 182)

Are you ready to change the world?

What do you think? Did you like this chapter? Is it inspiring to you? What big things has God given you a passion for? 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekly Challenge: Faith in the Big Things

Last week I challenged you all to pray for small things as well as the big causes. I said that if you are only praying for big things, that could be a sign that you don't believe God cares about your life. 

This week I want to talk about the opposite problem: only praying for small things and no big causes.

The Challenge
#5: Pray for really big things.

This week's challenge is to find a few big causes you care about and add them to your prayer list. Maybe your list is full of requests for family and friends, but you aren't really praying for anything bigger than that. Add something! 

You could pray for the pro-life movement, government elections, or mission work in other countries. Pick something that matters to you and commit to praying for it consistently.

Why It Matters
If your prayer list is full of small things and no big causes, that could be a sign that you don't really believe in the power of prayer. The truth is, prayer is powerful. It can change the world just to have a group of believers praying together for the cause of Christ. 

Believe and trust that prayer can change things. It's something you can easily do, no matter what your life is like right now, and it is the most important thing you could possibly do to help any cause in the world today.

Will you take the challenge? What big things will you start praying for? 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Book Club: Taking a Stand (Do Hard Things, chapter 9)

You're sitting in class one normal day when suddenly the teacher asks a question. And it's a question that has a clear answer according to the Bible, but that answer isn't the one most people would give. You sink further into your chair, focusing on your pencil, and hoping against hope that the teacher won't ask you what you think.

Has this ever happened to you? 

This chapter in Do Hard Things focuses on the final kind of hard thing: taking a stand against things we know that are wrong.

"This is one of the hardest do. It goes against our natural desire to fit in, to be liked, to make friends...We'll look honestly at some of the costs of that decision...But we'll also look at some of the genuine blessings that can come as a result of standing up for what's right." (page 148)

As they put it, a changed heart will result in a changed life. Your convictions will change. Your lifestyle will change. The way you interact with others will change. Going along with the crowd is not always an option. 

Six Principles to Guide Us

1. Start with the Bible.
"What does God's Word say on this topic? Even if the activity isn't directly forbidden, is it in line with scriptural principles in general?" (page 158) We should be regular students of God's Word so we know how to find what we need and what we need to stand up for. 

Don't get caught up with obscure things "like whether it's unbiblical for someone to dye their hair purple...Just because something is new, odd, or distasteful to some doesn't necessarily mean it's unbiblical...Always start with what God's word is clear about." (page 158) 

2. Examine Yourself.
"Challenging cultural norms starts with you and with the commands from God you already know but may be used to must be fighting the fight yourself. People who aren't even trying to practice what they preach are called hypocrites." (page 158)

If you see something going on around you that is sinful, first examine your own life for hints of that same sin. Don't judge others without judging yourself.

3. Listen to Your Conscience.
"Our conscience is our God-given sense of what is right and what is wrong, and as we read and apply His Word, it becomes more finely tuned. If you find yourself thinking that it might be time to take a stand, it's probably because your conscience is flashing the warning lights. Listen up." (page 159)

If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. Be tuned in to your gut feelings about something. Don't ignore them. 

4. Seek Godly Counsel.
Seek the help of someone more godly and experienced than you (unless you have to make a fast decision). "Tell them what you think God's Word says about the topic, as well as what your own conscience tells you; then ask them what they would do in your position." (page 160)

5. Be Humble, Loving, and Bold.
"The attitude with which you take a stand says just as much as the stand itself...We can (and must) stand boldly...but our standing should always be done with loving humility. We must hate the sin, not the sinner." (page 160) 

In other words, don't try to pick a fight through standing up for the Bible; don't treat people with contempt, remembering that apart from grace you would be no different from them.

6. Be Part of the Solution.
"Try not to point out problems without providing solutions. Make it your goal to show people a better way." (page 161)

Remember that your ultimate goal is to bring people to embrace God's way. Don't just disagree with what is bad; proclaim what is good as well.

The chapter ends with these two questions and a challenge:
  • Is there a stand you know you should be taking but haven't?
  • Is there something in your life you know is wrong but continue to do? 
"If a challenge comes to mind, don't ignore it. Take a first rebelutionary step. The hard thing you're contemplating may be the biggest, most difficult, and most rewarding hard thing you've ever done. Don't miss this good thing God is inviting you to do, and don't tell yourself it doesn't matter. 

"Doing what is right always matters--and it matters now." (page 164)

What do you think? Did you like this chapter? What right do you need to stand up for in your life? 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Getting to Know Me: Characters and Role Models

Today's random questions about me:

Who is your favorite fictional character?
I hate these questions more every time. I have to pick one favorite??

Okay. I'm going to say Aragorn, because narrowing it down and picking one from Lord of the Rings just makes it all slightly easier. And Aragorn is pretty awesome.

Who do you most admire?
Are we talking real people or fictional people? 

If fictional people, then Elsie Dinsmore. If real people, then I honestly have no idea. I'm sure there are plenty of worthy role models out there, I just can't think of any right now. 

Who is your celebrity crush?
Luke Evans. (he plays Bard in the Hobbit movies, for those who don't know) 

What is your favorite season?
Spring. Because the weather is so nice, not too hot or too cold, and it's also when all of the flower bushes in our yard are blooming and look so pretty. 

Weekly Challenge Update: 
This week's challenge was to add something small to your prayer list if you haven't already. This is something that I already do, regularly praying for family, friends, and my own life (including this blog). 

Next week we'll talk about the opposite problem: praying only for small stuff and not for the big stuff. 

What do you think? Do you agree with my favorite characters, etc.? How did you do on the weekly challenge? 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to Talk To Unbelievers About Controversial Issues

In the United States today, Christianity is going down the drain. 

We are called to speak the truth, yet Christians are being attacked for our stances on every issue from homosexuality to modesty to abortion. People are less and less accepting of believers. 

How do you speak the truth to someone who wants nothing to do with the truth? 

Witness Priorities 
If you try to defend your views to an unbeliever, what reason do they have to listen to you? How do you use the argument "the Bible says it's wrong" when they don't believe the Bible? 

As Christians, our priorities are in the wrong place. We are focusing on the wrong thing. While it's important to proclaim the truth about all aspects of Christianity, you're wasting your time if you try to convince unbelievers that something is wrong using the Bible. 

So, how can you go about talking to an unbeliever about something controversial like this? If you have a friend or family member that's involved in homosexuality or something else, how do you approach them about it?

Pray for Them
Pray for them. This is absolutely the most important thing. Only God can change a heart; you can play a part in that, but God is ultimately the one who will need to work in them.

So pray for them. Pray for them everyday. Pray for them hard. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Show Love 
The first thing you need to do is show them that you care about them. Be loving and kind. Build a relationship with the unbelievers around you so that they will be able to listen to the hard things you have to say. 

If you don't have a relationship with the person first, they won't accept that you are trying to help them with what you are saying. 

  • Take your time. This shouldn't be a rushed process.
  • Get to know them. Focus on learning more about them in conversations so you understand where they're coming from and how you can best approach them with the gospel. 
  • Invest time and energy in them. Go places and do things with them. Remember their birthday. Text or email them occasionally when you haven't seen them in a while. Show them you care about them and their well-being. 

Set a Good Example 
This can happen at the same time as the first step. Set a good example to them. Don't conceal your faith from them; openly model what the Christian life looks like. If they see that it is something you actually believe and live out, they will be more likely to listen to what you say. 

Preach the Gospel First 
The first thing you need to focus on when talking to an unbeliever is the gospel. Don't jump straight into the controversial stuff. If they don't believe the gospel, they have no reason to believe anything else you talk about. The way to approach them first is with the gospel message. 

Once they believe the Bible is true, it will become ten times easier to approach them about the controversial issues of our day and age. If you put in the time and effort to find verses that apply to whatever issue you need to talk to them about, someone who truly believes the Bible will not be unresponsive to that.

So stop with the hate-messages and the angry defensiveness. Show love and preach the gospel before confronting someone about sin in their life.

This world needs truth. It needs love. Most of all, it needs Christ. Stop hating, start loving, and preach the gospel with boldness.

Have you ever had to talk to an unbeliever about your counter-cultural opinions? How can you use these steps the next time you're in that situation? Tell me in the comments!