Broken-down Poetry: February 2008


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gifts n' all that.

Yesterday I learned that my spiritual gift is writing.

I had to take one of those spiritual gifts inventories for Jacque and Ricky's Bible study (I mean, they put a gun to my head and everything) and the one I took, all 140 questions, told me I have a gift for writing.

Well, I that like writing and that I think I'm good at it: that's all that means. Which to me is just fine.

One might question the difference between a spiritual gift and a regular secular gift. I think I'd like writing if I weren't a Christian, so does that make this concept of Spiritual gifts a fraud?

I mean, I'd probably even have a broader range of things to talk about as a secular writer because I have a tendancy to talk just about God in blogs and essays and such.

I do like what I learned about spiritual gifts though, that's kind of my point. (I'm a little woozy from the McDonald's I ate so I'm not writing as fluently as I should. I should not have eaten those burgers. Ugh, the memories of reading Fast Food Nation pour in.)

What I learned is more or less two-fold. Or three-fold... I just wanted to say "two-fold" really bad. What time is it?

1. Spiritual Gifts are different than regular run-of-the-mill heathen gifts because they are obtained AND/OR utilized after a person receives the Holy Spirit (upon conversion). For example, you cannot heal the sick, raise the dead, speak in tongues, or prophesy until you have Christ in your life.

But, you may ask, what about those other gifts like serving, teaching, and writing? Don't nonChristians have those gifts too?


2. Spiritual Gifts are not in "full bloom" until a person receives the Holy Spirit BUT that does not mean the gift is not still there, but the impetus is not. Example: A person has the gift of helps and likes to give money to those in need but they aren't a spirit-filled vessel (ah, fancy church wordage!) that does NOT mean they aren't committed to helping people. This just means that the core of their reasoning for doing such an act is not clear. They do it to be nice. A Christian would do it to be nice BECAUSE Christ has called us to do so.

3. Spiritual Gifts Change. Today my gift may be writing and pastoring, but tomorrow it may be celibacy. Just kidding. But really, times change and so do we. At one point in my life it may be good that I am all about serving and doing behind-the-scenes work, but maybe when I'm older (and wiser) God will call me to speak to large crowds--who knows. We weren't all born (or re-born... heh heh) with the same gift we have later in life. I guess we could, but usually not. Our gifts change with our seasons.

* * *

I'm just contemplating today. I don't have a conclusion (it's like AP English all over again. No, Mrs. Pickett I don't have a strong conclusion DEAL with IT!)

Just... learn your gifts and use them. There, I gave this blog some warrant.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Not a Feel-Good Faith

This Sunday I got the prestigious opportunity to do PowerPoint for the morning service at church. Now, when I say prestigious, I mean it because there is great responsibility behind that job: if I clicked too fast or too slow the entire church would notice. I was scared. But, I did okay despite Tom forgetting a verse to a song... and whatever happened to the Communion slide?

Oh well.

That's not really my point at all. My point is that I was doing PowerPoint during my pastor Paul's sermon which, in my opinion, was one of his best. Even though it was about hell.

I think I liked it because it tied in nicely to our discussion on Letter to a Christian Nation in English class. We were discussing the purpose of religion: is it just a mode of comfort? Is Christianity just about making it to heaven?

I began to think about this and considered that maybe this is how religions started. Maybe cavemen 20,000 years ago wanted to believe that there was Someone who inspired their wheel invention or caused the lightening in the sky. Maybe ancient Egyptians didn't want to have to explain every wondrous sign and gave credit to other beings--gods.

But honestly, if I think about my faith and its basic principles... it isn't very comforting at all. I mean, Christianity was birthed from the Jewish faith based on strict laws and statutes. To go back before Christ I would be obligated to sacrifice animals for every sin I committed (intentional or not), to only eat certain animals, to marry young and bare lots of children, and if I were a man... get circumcised.

No, I don't think my faith is based around comfort.

Of course, one could argue Grace. Maybe Grace is what makes Christianity a feel-good religion. But again, does it? Does God say we can do whatever we want with no eternal or earthly consequences? Of course not.

My religion--my faith--is not built upon comfort and fluffy God-moments. But yet, let's look at the other side of the coin (so to speak).

Christianity does offer hope. It offers freedom from sin and restoration both on earth and eternally in heaven. This is my impetus for trusting Christ with my life, sure, but that's not all of Christianity. I have hope, I have transcendent peace, but I still have my earthly sin-sickness.

In other words, I still have to deal with heartache here on earth.

So then, is Christianity a feel-good faith because it offers eternal happiness in heaven? I don't think it's that either. How many people sit around planning for the future--I mean REALLY planning for the future--and take no time worrying about themselves right here and now? Not many. It's hard saving up money for a future that is five years away, let alone for ten or twenty years down the road. Just knowing that when I die (in a good 60 years at least... hopefully) I will go to an everlasting (and rather vague) Paradise is not satisfying. Is it satisfying for you? Is that what you wake up for every morning?

I suppose it sounds like I am cutting down my faith right now. I make it sound like a strict "do-this, do-that" kind of religion and it's not... but it is at the same time. We have these rules because we have free-will... which seems rather contradicting, so I won't get into it. [I'll save that for another blog.]

I know my faith (my personal one). I know that without believing that God is a thought, breath, sigh, or blink away I'd be one depressed little girl. But I also know it goes deeper than that. I know God calls me to a righteous life--an unattainable life on my own, but with His help it's achievable. I truly believe that.

And so, I am eager to conclude this blog with the same two points my pastor did last Sunday....

1. How I live (right now) matters. Christianity is not just about planning for some distant judgment day, but it is about the present. What am I doing with my life now? Am I living for myself or for others?

2. There are consequences for my actions on earth. Meaning, although I am covered with Grace by giving Christ my life, I am still obligated to leave my sinful ways behind, so to speak, and be obedient to God's rules.

And, if I dare, I would like to make one more point....

3. Go in peace. Yes, our actions do matter right now. We are told to be "blameless and pure children of God" and to establish God's kingdom on earth (not just wait till we get to heaven) BUT we cannot sit and fret about it either. Seek first His kingdom. Do not worry. It'll be okay.

This argument seems a little cyclical, so let me make a sweet summary for you all:

Christianity offers forgiveness for our iniquities but does not offer a freebie to sin. It's not just about planning for some distant vacation to heaven, but focuses on the here and now. We can relish in the fact that we have hope in Christ but it shouldn't blind us to the sin in our lives. We need to repent; we need to be free from sin.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Abortion and all that

Every summer I go to Pro-Life Music Festival in Warsaw to listen to amazing bands for free.

I didn't realize until last year that this whole festival was to endorse Pro-Life legislation (well, duh).

The festival is very political. Very. I mean not only do you have abort73 (or whatever they're called) come and hand out flyers about killing babies, but you get speakers stating that it's "our job" to vote pro-life and I think Mitch Daniels came once. I think.

And yes, there are heathen-bashers (the ultra-conservatives that even moderates hate) and kiosks with Jesus junk. All the stuff that I cringe at.

Trust me, if Future of Forestry (eek! I got their autograph!!) and Flatfoot 56 didn't come last year I probably would have rethought attending. Maybe (it's a lot of fun if you ignore the politicking).

Wow I'm reallly wishy-washy.

Anyway, I was thinking about the concert today because, well, I wanted to know who's coming. [I bet The Classic Crime will come. Or Needtobreathe. Or The Glorious Unseen. One of the three (or all of them!)] And I thought that maybe there wouldn't be speakers about Pro-lifeism because the election had already passed.

Except that it won't. [June is before November, Sherlock] We will be in the midst of the last few months of the candidates' campaign. I bet this year will be the most political concert yet.

Hypothetically: Say it's Obama and McCain running against each other. Since McCain is pro-life, I just know the whole festival will be a McCain-endorsing fiesta. (If that's the case I plan on wearing a Barak Obama '08 shirt.)

I wish I was exaggerating, that I don't think this will happen. But I can guarentee it will. I'm worried that people will be naive enough to go to that concert and use it to decide on who to vote for. It shouldn't be like that.

I am going to vote for Obama in the primaries, not because I think he's rad or I just don't want Hillary to be president, it's because I've researched the candidate enough to know he's eligible to receive my vote. I want everyone to do that (and more so).

And when it comes to the pro-life issue, I believe Obama himself said it best:
"I don't know anybody who is pro-abortion. I think it's very important to start with that premise. I think people recognize what a wrenching, difficult issue it is. I do think that those who diminish the moral elements of the decision aren't expressing the full reality of it. But what I believe is that women do not make these decisions casually, and that they struggle with it fervently with their pastors, with their spouses, with their doctors.

Our goal should be to make abortion less common, that we should be discouraging unwanted pregnancies, that we should encourage adoption wherever possible. There is a range of ways that we can educate our young people about the sacredness of sex and we should not be promoting the sort of casual activities that end up resulting in so many unwanted pregnancies." [Christianity Today, Jan. 2008]

Yes, this is a very big issue (abortion). But I think that evangelicals aren't thinking. There's a deeper issue at large here: can the government make decisions for the people like this? Will it even stop abortion? (has it in the 25 years since Roe vs. Wade?)

Abortion is bad, so don't have one. Abortion is bad, so warn people-- don't make it solely political. When social justice becomes just a political issue rather than a personal conviction, it loses its heart and we become hateful Christians who stand outside abortion clinics and harass women instead of loving them.

Listening to Mitch Daniels or a dozen pro-life organizations is not going to help me change the lives of women who believe they need an abortion. God calls us to take care of the refuse of the world, just keeping a failing law in place will not be enough.