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Monday, December 31, 2012

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

This an excellent paper by RC Sproul. Ver convicting and thought-provoking. A truly great read!


"Bah! Humbug!” These two words are instantly associated with Charles Dickens’ immortal fictional anti-hero, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was the prototype of the Grinch who stole Christmas, the paradigm of all men cynical.

We all recognize that Ebenezer Scrooge was a mean person - stingy, insensitive, selfish, and unkind. What we often miss in our understanding of his character is that he was preeminently profane. “Bah! Humbug!” was his Victorian use of profanity.

Not that any modern editor would feel the need to delete Scrooge’s expletives. His language is not the standard currency of cursing. But it was profane in that Scrooge demeaned what was holy. He trampled on the sanctity of Christmas. He despised the sacred. He was cynical toward the sublime.

Christmas is a holiday, indeed the world’s most joyous holiday. It is called a “holiday” because the day is holy. It is a day when businesses close, when families gather, when churches are filled, and when soldiers put down their guns for a 24-hour truce. It is a day that differs from every other day.

Every generation has its abundance of Scrooges. The church is full of them. We hear endless complaints of commercialism. We are constantly told to put Christ back into Christmas. We hear that the tradition of Santa Claus is a sacrilege. We listen to those acquainted with history murmur that Christmas isn’t biblical. The Church invented Christmas to compete with the ancient Roman festival honoring the bull-god Mithras, the nay-sayers complain. Christmas? A mere capitulation to paganism.

And so we rain on Jesus’ parade and assume an Olympian detachment from the joyous holiday. All this carping is but a modern dose of Scroogeism, our own sanctimonious profanation of the holy.

Sure, Christmas is a time of commerce. The department stores are decorated to the hilt, the ad pages of the newspapers swell in size, and we tick off the number of shopping days left until Christmas. But why all the commerce? The high degree of commerce at Christmas is driven by one thing: the buying of gifts for others. To present our friends and families with gifts is not an ugly, ignoble vice. It incarnates the amorphous “spirit of Christmas.” The tradition rests ultimately on the supreme gift God has given the world. God so loved the world, the Bible says, that He gave His only begotten Son. The giving of gifts is a marvelous response to the receiving of such a gift. For one day a year at least, we taste the sweetness inherent in the truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

What about putting Christ back into Christmas? It is simply not necessary. Christ has never left Christmas. “Jingle Bells” will never replace “Silent Night.” Our holiday once known as Thanksgiving is rapidly becoming known simply as “Turkey Day.” But Christmas is still called Christmas. It is not called “Gift Day.” Christ is still in Christmas, and for one brief season the secular world broadcasts the message of Christ over every radio station and television channel in the land. Never does the church get as much free air time as during the Christmas season.

Not only music but the visual arts are present in abundance, bearing testimony to the historic significance of the birth of Jesus. Christmas displays all remind the world of the sacred Incarnation.

Doesn’t Santa Claus paganize or at least trivialize Christmas? He’s a myth, and his very mythology casts a shadow over the sober historical reality of Jesus. Not at all. Myths are not necessarily bad or harmful. Every society creates myths. They are a peculiar art form invented usually to convey a message that is deemed important by the people. When a myth is passed off as real history, that is fraud. But when it serves a different purpose it can be healthy and virtuous. Kris Kringle is a mythical hero, not a villain. He is pure fiction — but a fiction used to illustrate a glorious truth.

What about the historical origins of Christmas as a substitute for a pagan festival? I can only say, good for the early Christians who had the wisdom to flee from Mithras and direct their zeal to the celebration of the birth of Christ. Who associates Christmas today with Mithras? No one calls it “Mithrasmas.”

We celebrate Christmas because we cannot eradicate from our consciousness our profound awareness of the difference between the sacred and the profane. Man, in the generic sense, has an incurable propensity for marking sacred space and sacred time. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, the ground that was previously common suddenly became uncommon. It was now holy ground - sacred space. When Jacob awoke from his midnight vision of the presence of God, he anointed with oil the rock upon which he had rested his head. It was sacred space.

When God touches earth, the place is holy. When God appears in history, the time is holy. There was never a more holy place than the city of Bethlehem, where the Word became flesh. There was never a more holy time than Christmas morning when Emmanuel was born. Christmas is a holiday. It is the holiest of holy days. We must heed the warning of Jacob Marley: “Don’t be a Scrooge” at Christmas."

RC Sproul

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

On the fifth day of Christmas...I watched Les Miserables.

Wow.....where to start? It was amazingly beautiful.

I seriously had my doubts about it. To be honest, I'm not at all a fan of musicals. And I was afraid they might have butchered the story. But, I was very pleasantly surprised!

The clearly Christian messages of faith, redemption, forgiveness, and love are very strongly portrayed throughout the movie through beautiful, almost haunting, songs - many of them, actually, prayers. The classic and powerful story was so masterfully brought to life in the characters, and music, and script: from the heart wrenching Fantine, to the pathetic plight of Inspector Javert, to Jean Valjean, himself. And all the many others; endearing - and not so endearing - as well. The film shows (very painfully, and disturbingly, at times) a world of evil, and wretchedness, and sin. There were definitely some very disturbing, crude parts in the movie. But I do think that there is a point that's being made through showing all that depravity: when the people turn their backs on God, it's horribly vile and ugly. Because without Him, we are dead in our sins. And unable to do any good.

And at the same time, the film contrasts, with all that ugliness, the true and simple strength of forgiveness, mercy, purity, and love. That's a powerful concept. And it was a powerful film.

And, so, then we left the theatre, went home, and I made a batch of mincemeat cookies...because, well, they make me feel Christmasy :)

~allie


"Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light
For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.
They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord."

(Do You Hear the People Sing?)

Friday, December 28, 2012

On the Fourth Day of Christmas....

"For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged. "

-Bonhoffer

Thursday, December 27, 2012

On the Third Day of Christmas....

On the third day of Christmas...an Edgar Guest poem.

I know it is long, but it's really great.



At Christmas

"A man is at his finest
towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be
when the Christmas season is here;
Then he's thinking more of others
than he's thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children
is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than
at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him
he comes close to the sublime.

When it's Christmas man is bigger
and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service
that is prompted by the heart.
All the petty thoughts and narrow
seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he's seeking
is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and
somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas he is almost
what God wanted him to be.

If I had to paint a picture of a man
I think I'd wait
Till he'd fought his selfish battles
and had put aside his hate.
I'd not catch him at his labors
when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary
when he's striving for himself.
I'd not take him when he's sneering,
when he's scornful or depressed,
But I'd look for him at Christmas
when he's shining at his best.

Man is ever in a struggle
and he's oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that's in him
is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him
and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished
and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don't know how to say it,
but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost
what God sent him here to be."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Well, I hope you all had as wonderful and blessed a Christmas as I did!

We began Christmas morning at church where we sang Christmas carols and listened to a short homily, celebrating our Savior's birth and reminding us of the angels' message to the shepherds: "Fear not!" After that, we headed home to open up our presents. That evening, we had a delicious meal with our cousins And then, we finished the day off with a wonderful time of fellowship, talking, and playing games with great friends.

Well...now it's December 26.

Always a bitter-sweet sort of day for me - Christmas Day is past...but it still really is Christmas time. In fact, Christmas time is, in a way, just beginning. People used to really celebrate Christmas for 12 days, beginning on the 25th.

I really like that tradition. So I'm going to keep it, in a small way, by posting a Christmas verse, poem, song, or meditation on every one of the 12 days of Christmas.

I'm starting with this quote from Chesterton...quite a worthy way to begin, I do believe :)

"Christmas is an obstacle to modern progress. Rooted in the past, and even the remote past, it cannot assist a world in which the ignorance of history is the only clear evidence of the knowledge of science. Born among miracles reported from two thousand years ago, it cannot expect to impress that sturdy common sense which can withstand the plainest and most palpable evidence for miracles happening at this moment. . . .Christmas is not modern; Christmas is not Marxian; Christmas is not made on the pattern of that great age of the Machine, which promises to the masses an epoch of even greater happiness and prosperity than that to which it has brought the masses at this moment. Christmas is medieval; having arisen in the earlier days of the Roman Empire. Christmas is a superstition. Christmas is a survival of the past." GK Chesterton

Friday, December 21, 2012

Living House


“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 
-C.S. Lewis.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peace on Earth

Peace on earth?

. . . while evil runs rampant in the streets and lives contentedly in the homes? While everything good, or true, or beautiful is mocked and trampled on?
How could there possibly be peace on earth while little children are being hurt; while girls kill their babies?
How can you talk about "peace on earth, good will to men" when men go into schools and murder beautiful, happy children?
Emilie. . .one of the many victims of the Connecticut shooting. 


How can peace survive when all around us - and inside of us - is despair and chaos?

"Peace on earth" is not usually something people believe in. It's really become more of a fairy-tale concept to us; something we think about wishfully (but not seriously) at Christmastime. "Peace on earth" now seems to hold about as much importance as "happy holidays" or the "Christmas spirit".

Christmas has become either something we feel. . . or it's a just gift-gettting extravaganza. The true meaning of Christmas, and the true message of Christmas, have been buried in consumerism and unbelief.

Christmastime. It should be the most peaceful time of year. But people don't want to think about peace on earth especially when something horrific - like the shooting in Connecticut - happens. Peace on earth seems like a mockery in the face of so much evil. Something this terrible is completely inexplicable. We don't have answers or reasons. Those families have presents under their Christmas trees that will never be opened. They have empty little beds. And empty spots at the table. Empty holes in their hearts. And empty arms where a little boy or girl used to be.

But we are not alone. Our God willingly came into this horrible, sinful place to live with us. He rolled up His sleeves and worked alongside of us. He is not some distant Being who cannot be troubled with our human problems. Instead, He was born in the real and filthy muck of a stable.

He rubbed shoulders with lepers and paupers and tax collectors.

He lived and breathed and worked in a world that was full of evil - our world. His friends betrayed Him.

And then, He allowed soldiers to pound long nails into His palms and to crush a crown of thorns onto His head.

And, worst of all, Jesus's own Father turned His back on His Son. "The King of the Jews" the people mockingly called Him, as this King took every sin upon his innocent shoulders; every horrific, sickening, evil sin that has ever been committed.

That's one thing that separates Christianity from every other religion: No other god ever degraded Himself. No other god washed dirty feet or touched dirty sinners. No other god ever became a part of his story like ours so miraculously did.



But where was God? people ask. Where was He, when we really needed Him? Where was He last Friday?

Well, we should know the answer.

We have banned God from our government, from our schools, from our families, from our homes.  Our society has declared that God is dead and that we rule the world. What did we expect? The horrific massacre last Friday is a bitter, bitter taste of what the world is like without God. . .

Somebody said it was like setting up a nativity scene: During the month of December, they would add to the set, piece by piece and, on Christmas Day, they would add the manger and baby Jesus. Up until Christmas, there is something missing; something crucial. Mary sits with outstretched arms. But her arms are empty. Jesus has not come yet. We're like that now. The parents in Connecticut who lost their little ones are like that now. Our arms are empty. We are missing something deep inside. And many times we just don't know how to fill up that emptiness. We are - whether we know it or not - waiting for the day when Jesus comes again. In the meantime, we often try to fill our arms, and hearts, with other things, or people, or ideas, but all of that is just like a puff of warm air on a wintery day; it disappears in a moment.

But we, Christians, have comfort to cling to in the midst of all the wavering uncertainty and sorrow. We have the knowledge that one beautiful day good is going to triumph over evil. We already know what the end of this Story will be. And it's peace on earth, good will to men.





~allie


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

It Truly Is a Wonderful Life


Confession: I'm sometimes bored with my life.

Things can seem dull and monotonous. And just normal. And, like pretty much everyone else in the world, I sometimes long for something better than normal. I sometimes forget to really live my life. I sometimes don't live the moment. Sometimes I dread the everyday kinds of things, like washing dishes, changing diapers, and cleaning out the refrigerator. And instead, I live a what if-kind of world. I live and think about what I wish would be, when I should be living and thinking what really IS.

We take so much for granted. Home, family, food, children, music, laughter, books to read; it's all just normal for us, so we forget that it is far from normal for some.

You don't know what you have, until it's gone. . .
GK Chesterton once said it in a more poetic way: "The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost."

Like Clarence said, in It's a Wonderful Life, "Strange isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"Normal life is amazing. Each of us is so necessary. And we each fit just exactly where God has placed us, each a crucial piece in the puzzle; one piece is missing and the puzzle looks incomplete. That's the way things were made to be.

So stop looking around for a better spot, a better place to be, another life to live. You have to live your life. And it's a wonderful life. So live it well. You only get one chance. Savor your chapter of the story and your place in the puzzle; your moment on the stage. Don't spend your time envying someone else's part, because then that envy will become your part.

Life is fierce and hard to catch sometimes; at others, it is calm, soft, still. We don't know what tomorrow will be like. It's a mystery we can only discover by living it. Life is risky, yes, but that's part of the deal.
There's no rewind button. Time only moves forward. It's our choice, really, whether we see a beautiful and dangerous story that we are all a part of. . . or whether we see just another boring, typical day. And I don't know about you, but, to me, the first option sounds a bit more exciting.




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We Have Hope

"Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable, it begins to be useful." -G.K. Chesterton


Uganda is a country that has committed so much wickedness. 


Uganda is a country full of witch doctors.


It's a country where ritual child sacrifice increased by over 800% between the years of 2007 and 2008....


But, last week, something miraculous happened in Uganda. 


During the celebration of Uganda's 50th anniversary of independence from Britain, the president, Yoweri Museveni, publicly confessed his own sin and the sin of the nation of Uganda. 


"I stand here today," he prayed. "To close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask you for your forgiveness....We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue, and betrayal."


And then, he did something beautiful. Before his people, the president of Uganda dedicated his country to God.

"We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord A people you have chosen as your own." 

We have hope in our country. No matter how horrible things look; no matter how dark the night; no matter how evil men are, our God's love never fails and He is faithful. Stories like Museveni's just remind us how powerful God really is. We need reminders. We forget so easily. 



http://www.wnd.com/2012/11/ugandan-president-repents-of-personal-national-sins/


The Piano Guys

Okay. This is amazing. Enough said :)



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Autumn

It's the middle of November. . . I can hardly believe it!

It means that, even down here in the south, it's actually getting a little nippy outside. I can't go out without at least a sweater anymore.

It's been a great season so far. We went apple picking with good friends.  We had a Reformation celebration. We went to a birthday party last weekend, where we played games, went on a hayride, and danced. We roasted marshmallows.

The leaves are turning.

It will be Thanksgiving before we know it.

And then Christmas after that.

It's so easy to just let the busyness in your life cause everything to speed by. But I'm determined not to let that happen. You can slow things down by just enjoying every moment; really living every moment. Not spending your time wishing something else were happening, because there are blessings all around you with every breath you take. Enjoy the chilly air. Have bonfires. Watch the leaves fall, and relish their crispness under your feet. Drink lots of apple cider and hot chocolate.

Happy Autumn! :)










Tuesday, November 13, 2012

World-Changers



      
“When people stop believing in God, the problem is not that they believe in nothing, but that they believe in everything.” -Chesterton


        People used to believe in progress. Beginning in the 1600s and throughout the next three centuries, until about 1960, everyone was very excited about the new things that were happening and the new ideas that were being unearthed. They were what we now call "Modernists."

       Modernism really began with the printing press.


When people realized how easy it could be to write books, they went wild. Literacy sky-rocketed. This had some good consequences. . . as well as some very bad ones. More people could read, obviously. And that's a good thing. And since more people could read, they realized that they didn't need the priests to read the Bible for them anymore. Now that, in and of itself, is a good thing. However, this also meant that the people reading the Bible began interpreting it in different ways. This time of expansion and progress is what we call the "Age of Exploration." People were so excited. New things were happening. Never before in history had we discovered so much information in such a short span of time. In the past, it was relatively easy to learn everything there was to know about everything before you died. But now, that was becoming completely impossible. We were realizing that there was just far too much to know. We started having to pick and choose what we wanted to spend our lives learning. People began to learn more and more. . . about less and less.

       People were very excited about the dawn of the twentieth century. Everyone believed that since we had learned so much in the past few centuries, that this one would be the most progressive century in the history of the world. . . well, almost everyone. Frederick Nietzsche, on the other hand, ominously prophesied that it wouldn't be all sunshine and flowers and new inventions: "The story I have to tell, is the history of the next two centuries...For a long time now our whole civilization has been driving, with a tortured intensity growing from decade to decade, as if towards a catastrophe. Where we live, soon nobody will be able to exist. There will be wars such as have never been waged on earth. Chaos everywhere. Nothing left which is of any value; nothing which commands: Thou shalt!" And he wasn't saying that would be a bad thing, either. On the contrary, he was excited too. But he was more realistic about what the actual process and outcome would be.

       And he was right, too. The 20th century turned out to be the bloodiest, and the most depraved, in the history of the world.







  



More people died and more wars were fought than ever before. This was because people had "killed" God, as Nietzsche said. They had tried to take God out of the picture....and this was the result.
     
       The horrors of 20th century left the people in confusion and despondency. What had happened? All of their grand hopes and dreams had been dashed. People became cynical and cold. They were skeptical of all knowledge and began to believe that you cannot know anything for certain; that there isn't really any truth at all, only interpretations. This, of course, led to the belief that right and wrong did not exist either. Progress became an illusion, in their minds. Life. . . was just random. Identity is always changing; never constant: You are whoever you make yourself. And all of these beliefs stem from the one, big, important belief that there is no big story to life. There are only little stories. Big stories leave people out. An example of this idea, would be that if there is no "big story" for marriage; who's to say that a marriage is a "formal union of a man and a woman"...? Why can't marriage be a union between two willing people of any gender? If there is no big story, then what's true for one couple may not be true for another couple. Postmodernists want us to spend our little individual lives in our little individual worlds living our little individual stories.

This thinking completely and utterly goes against God's will for mankind. The Bible tells us that we can, and should, be certain of some things: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1).
     
Jesus tells us that Truth is a very real thing; that He, Himself, is Truth: "And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
   
In the Bible, we are taught very clearly that right and wrong do exist. We were given Ten Commandments to obey; why would we need to follow a standard of morality, if there wasn't any right or wrong? Also, Isaiah 5:20 says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." This verse clearly tells us that there is a right side and a wrong side; or a light side and a dark side. And that we have to be discerning to decide which things are good and which things are bad.
     
Life, for the Christian, is not meaningless. Instead we have been created for a great purpose: "For this is My Father's will and His purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:40)
     
Christians have also been given a very specific, and special, identity in Christ. "...You are a chosen raice, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)
     
And, finally, there is most certainly a big story for Christians. And it's a good story; That doesn't mean it's always a happy story. But it's good, because light triumphs over darkness in the end.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice coming from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will the with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be any mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away....Behold I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:1-5)


       Postmodernism is very prevalent in our culture today. You can see its effect in our art, in our literature, in our education, in our families. . .
     
       It has been proven that no society has ever survived after the family collapsed. We have to take that very seriously, because just look around you at our culture today. Our families are deteriorating; they are literally falling apart. We don't even really know what a family is anymore. We are trying to prove that the dad is an unnecessary part of the family; and extra wheel that we can dispose of. We keep kids away from their parents as much as possible; even every Sunday at church, for the Christians. Moms go to work everyday, and intrust the care of their children to people they don't even know. Home is just a place for a pit stop; it's where you sleep and grab some breakfast. And then you rush out the door again to wherever you really live your life, whether it's school or work or somewhere else.

       It's hard to push against the tide, but we have to. It has been said that whoever controls the school, rules the world. I would agree. And in other words, I would say that, whoever has control of what our children are learning, and of what environment they are in everyday, dictates what kind of people the next generation will be. Our culture desperately needs families who will raise up their children to be arrows in their hand; families who seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We can be those families. If you are faithful and pursue Truth with everything you have; if you pass a strong legacy of traditional and Biblical values on to your children, and they, in turn, pass this legacy on to their children, and they pass it on to their children, and to the children after that, then you, through obedience and faithfulness, will have raised up Godly generations, ready to fulfill God's purposes for them. And ready to further His Kingdom.

Faithfulness can change the world. . . .



~allie

     

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Out of These Ashes. . .

     Well, folks, looks like we have Obama for another four years. I must admit, I was quite depressed last night when I heard that he had been re-elected. Why? How in the world were there enough blinded people in our country to elect a man like that. . .not once, but twice? We have just thrown away everything that our founding fathers fought for. How infinitely ungrateful.
   
     They say that everything looks better in the morning. . .and I suppose that it's partly true. I am looking at things somewhat differently, this morning. I am still so disappointed in Americans; disappointed that we have re-elected this man. But at the same time, I am hopeful.

       G.K. Chesterton once said, "Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all...As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength."
     
       Things definitely seem pretty hopeless right now. But that doesn't mean that God has forgotten us, or that He doesn't have absolute control of the situation. Everything that happens, including the re-election of Barak Obama, is part of God's Story. When we are in a place where we have nothing left to cling to except God, then we are in a good place. We can't see right now how it all works together. It's like we're trying to see a beautiful painting...with our faces right up against it. All we can see right now is the part that is directly in front of our faces, as we move slowly along the length of the painting. Some places are dark and gloomy and we may wonder why the Artist would put something ugly in his painting. But, in order to see the beauty and magnificence of the painting, we have to be able to see it as a whole; we have to step back and admire the whole thing at once. Then, we see how the dark places fit in with the light, colorful places; we see that without the dark places, the painting wouldn't be nearly as wonderful. We can't step back right now, but we just have to trust God that it's a good story. After all, we do already know which side wins :)




"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." (Isaiah 61:3)


~allie

Monday, October 22, 2012

Give 3, Save 3 Campaign

There is a family in our church that has three boys right now, but it looks like their family is about to grow! They are in the process of adopting three darling little girls (a 4 year old and 2 year old twins) from Africa. Now, they need to raise $50,000, to bring their little girls home....

 If 16,000 people would give just $3 to help the Wilkersons, then the entire adoption would be paid for!  You can't even get a Starbucks coffee for $3. . . Would you be one of those 16,000 people? Would you be willing to give just $1 for each little girl?


Click on the link below to learn more, and to read the adoption story.
madetoorganize.com/give-3-save-3-campaign

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Two Cities


       (I know this is very long. . . sorry :P)





       There are two cities. God’s city. And man’s city. We belong to both. We are in man’s city, but we are of God’s city. Sometimes the lines between the two get blurry and sometimes you might forget where you are really from. And sometimes you might try to act like a local in the city of Man. Some people become so involved with Man’s city and its corruptions, that they forget another place even exists. They begin to think that the city of God is only an illusion; a fantasy. They tell themselves that the evil in Man’s city is normal, and that “good” isn’t realistic. But someday, there will only be one City and it will be good.

Both cities were founded by love; but by two very different loves: God’s city was founded by love for God. Man’s city was founded by love for man. Both cities seek great glory: God’s city labors for the glory of God; it is a city on its knees. While Man’s city seeks the glory of man; it is a city that throws back its head without any shame or reverence. In the city of God, the highest reward is the favor of God. He is all in all. (1 Cor. 15: 28) The people do not think of themselves as wise, but instead they look only to the wisdom of God. In the city of Man, however, although they know God, “they do not honor him, or give thanks to him, but are vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts are dark. Claiming to be wise, they have become fools and have exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and like birds, and four-footed creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-22). They glory in their own wisdom and are possessed by pride. (Augustine, City of God, pg 477).

Once, before the City of Man was founded, there was a perfect man. He was from the City of God. His home, Eden, was the most beautiful place in the world. He lived there with his wife. God had given them everything they could possibly desire. And they were perfectly happy, until they began to frantically desire the one thing that God had withheld from them. So, they disobeyed God, and listened instead to the lies of the Serpent. Because of this, God cursed them and drove them out from Eden. He placed an angel at the entrance; a guardian with a fiery sword, so that they could never, ever come back. And so sin entered the world through Adam, our federal head.  Now, God has given the men up “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator. And so, He gave them up to dishonorable passions. The women in the City of Man have exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature. And the men, as well, have given up natural relations with women and are consumed with passion for one another.” (Romans 8: 24-27). They are unashamed and unrepentant. They laugh in the very face of God, by defying his will and disobeying every single one of his commands. And, as their punishment, God allows them to continue in their depravity. They are corrupted in every possible way; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil; the children are disobedient to their parents; they are foolish; they are faithless, heartless, boastful, ruthless. They know God’s law, but they despise it. (Romans 1:29-32).

One day, a perfect Man-God will return to us. He is the Son of the King and He will not mess things up like the first man did. “For as by man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Cor. 15:21). He is the only one that has not been tainted by the sin of the first man. He died for the citizens of Man’s city and, in doing so, placed all of the sin of the corrupted world on his shoulders. He is our federal head, the second Adam. For a second time, the people are represented by another. But this Representative will clear the way for his chosen people to enter the City of God. All of the dead, good and evil, will be raised up (1 Cor. 15:12). And in that day every man, woman, and child, who has ever lived will stand before the Judge and give an account of themselves. Our Representative will breach the measureless gap between the two cities, for those that trust him enough to walk over. But for those who do not, we are told, that they will be placed under his feet (1 Cor. 15:25), and that the City of Man will be destroyed (Augustine, City of God, pg 481). Their greatest curse is that they will be apart from God forever. They will never be able to enter the heavenly City. For then, “none may cross” (Luke 16:26) the great chasm that will be fixed between God’s people and the Serpent’s people.

It has been said that everyone, all people of both cities, desires peace above everything else (Augustine, City of God, pg 481). The strivings within the Earthly City are caused by a craving for earthly peace. Men fight wars so that they may conquer their enemies, and so enjoy peace without any resistence. They believe there is not enough of anything for everyone to share, and so men fight over everything in order to enjoy it all on their own. They desire peace to have they want, and to do what they like with it. Their “peace” is the kind that won’t last, except for a moment. People in God’s City, however, desire true peace with God and with each other; quietness and security and love. It has been promised to them, that there will be peace in the end. They long for peace day after day, and work towards now it by loving one another as they have been commanded. “Those who plan peace have joy” (Proverbs 12:20). Their King’s Son is called the Prince of Peace, (Isaiah 9:6) and in his kingdom there will be no end of peace . 

Monday, October 1, 2012

October

I thought this was a fitting song for today :-) Happy October everyone!






It is so beautiful. Definitely one of my favorite U2 songs. 



Monday, September 24, 2012



It’s so easy to pass through life, only concerned about complicated, intellectual thoughts;  important facts and ideas. And, if this is the way you live, then when you get to the end of the road, you will realize, with regret, that you never even stopped to smell the flowers. You can miss so much, by overlooking beauty. God created a beautiful, joyful world just for us, and even if you spend your entire life smack dab in the middle of it, you might just miss it.

He could have just made it black and white, but he gave us color; rich, full, bright, indescribable. And he gave us eyes to see that color. 

It could have been a silent world, but God made glorious noises; roaring oceans, crying babies, barking dogs, voices to sing with and to have conversations with. 

We feel things: soft, hard, bumpy, smooth, sharp, squishy. . .and we have words to describe all those things.

We taste: not just one or two flavors, either. There’s an infinite variety of the things we can eat. And what’s the point, really? It’s only in our mouth for a moment. . . But imagine how terribly monotonous it would get if we ate only one thing (say, oatmeal) every day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

And then, of course, we smell: roses, chocolate cake, freshly-washed laundry, pine needles, lemons. . .and, yes, the garbage too. 

  God even went to the trouble to make each of the millions of billions of snowflakes unique and delicate and beautiful. Imagine how many trillions of snowflakes are scraped off of the roads and dumped to melt in dirty heaps every time the snow plow grumbles by.  


     It could have been an isolated world. One where people all lived alone and depended on themselves. But, instead, it's full of families. And friends.  

It is infinitely unthankful to take all that for granted and to just plod along ignoring. We should revel in the beauty and the risk of it all. Because there is risk: There are valleys along the path. There are nettles that sometimes grow with the flowers, so you have to be careful when you are pick them. Some people prefer to look at the ground all the time, so that they will be sure not to trip and fall down. They'd rather just ignore the flowers altogether, so they won't risk getting sore fingers. We live in an exciting world; a fast-paced, action-packed world; a dangerous world. You're going to get knocked down sometimes; you may even get the breath knocked clean out of you. We never know what will happen next. But it's when you're down there on your scraped knees, that your Father will reach down and show you that you can get back up again.

     By relishing God’s creation, you are getting to know him better. You get to know an author, not by just reading his books, but by living in them. You get to know God more by taking a walk on the beach: digging your toes in the sand, breathing in the salty air, feeling the wind toss you around, and letting the waves drench you; you will become more wise in one moment of just being real, than you will ever be from hours spent poring over thick volumes of evaluations and scholarly opinions. So, live life to its absolute fullest. Savor every moment that you are given in the Story with joy. 

And don’t forget to smell the flowers.





~allie



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Time






The Greek word, chronos means normal time; the time that goes by every day; moment by moment; the clock ticking.


Kairos, however, is something different; kairos is dynamic, important, specific, crucial moments that happen within chronos.



An easier way to understand it, would be to say that chronos is historical time. And kairos is historic time. Your historical time is your history; everything that has every happened to you. Historic time is the time that is really remembered and honored (or else, hidden away in a dark corner of our minds in a vain attempt to forget.) Both weddings and funerals are historic.

The historic events in each of our histories are what define us. The revelations, the "eureka!" moments, the tears, the partings, the friends we make, the important chapters or paragraphs in our stories: those are the things that shape us into the people we are. Sometimes shaping is painful. Sometimes things we like have to be cut away. But shaping (through the historic things that happen to you) makes you into what God wants you to be.

God holds both chronos and kairos (historical and historic times) for all of history in his hand. He has your story written out. It's been written since before time even existed. Now, at this moment. . . and this moment. . . and this one, you are living that story. Every breath you take, every word you say, every choice you make (good and bad), every life you touch, everything you mess up on, and everything you succeed in, every smile and every tear; with every moment that passes, and each historic event that occurs, you are living out your story and your purpose. And your story continues, as the historical times come, and, like a vapor, are gone, you are a page closer to your final purpose.



Christians all have new lives in Christ. We've been adopted into the King's family and now we are joint-heirs with his Son. And yet, you still are your history. The life you have lived and the choices you have made determine a good part of who you are today. You still carry the "old man" with you until you die. Your sins have been washed away, but you still remember the stain. And it still has an effect on you. We all must live with our pasts. But, that doesn't mean that we should live in fear, or in shame, because our Father has everything under control. He has your future written. You just have to live it. It may not be something safe, and that is a risk you have to be willing to take. . . but it is most definitely something good.


"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    
a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace...
....He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why Do We Say It?

I haven't posted one of these in forever, so here you go :D



Achilles' Heel:
Why do we use the phrase "Achilles' heel" to refer to a man's vulnerable spot?

Because Achelles' vulnerable spot was his heel. According to Greek mythology, Thetis, the mother of Achilles dipped him into the River Styx in an attempt to render him invulnerable. Unfortunately, she held him by his heel as she did so. And thus his heel became his one vulnerable spot. Achilles died of a wound received from an arrow shot into his heel.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summer 2012

Okay. . . . I am really sorry that I haven't posted anything in FOREVER. I promise I'm still alive :D
It's just that I've had an absolutely crazy summer.

We went to the beach in June, as I already mentioned several months ago.






And while we were at the beach, my baby sister turned 2. (I already did a post about that as well. . . but here are a few pictures of her anyway :D)
cutie!

blowing out her candle

I LOVE her expression in this one. Haha.



My cousin had a big 16th birthday party.

The slip-n-slide was a big hit. 

Even the adults joined in on the fun.....lol

It was especially fun when we added some dish soap.....:D


After swimming, we had a big dance :)


It was the longest virginia reel EVER 




My cousin came to visit for three weeks in July.




Yep. . . we put him to work in our garden :DDD


We met the Newsboys :DDD


Our friend got engaged!! And I'm one of her bridesmaids! So we've been busy with wedding plans and wedding showers and wedding decorations :DDD

The bride and all her bridesmaids 

Corina and Curtis :)

This was the day they got engaged.


My brother and I were in a play. We rehearsed all summer long and performed in August. It was amazing. We made some awesome friends. And we both loved every minute of it.

My friend (Snow White) and me (Ariel...with a crazy wig :DD)

The Entire Cast

My dear friends Alice, Snow, and Cinderella (backstage, being crazy) 

My brother, Peter Pan :P

I got my braces off!!!! :DDD

BEFORE


AFTER



We went to the beach again at the end of August...this time with our cousins :)

My cousin (left)  and me (right)

This is at our favorite seafood restaurant ever: Killer Seafood


Fishing

A couple of the fish we caught



And then we came home. . . AND school started. I'm taking 2 online classes: Greek and Omnibus V.

So that was basically my summer in a nutshell. It doesn't look as busy when it's all written out like this. . . but it sure felt busy when I was living it. I can't believe it's already over. It was really great.

Now that school has started, I might actually have time to tend to my blog. I sure hope so.

So you can be expecting another post soon.

~allie