Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Love Talks: As the Lord Forgave You (Guest blog!)

Hi friends! Yes, I know, I know, I missed my regular post on the 17th again. I know it sounds like a convenient and cliche excuse, but I really have been quite overloaded with homework. Noticing this, a friend sent me his own thoughts on relationships and friendships. Since I probably won't be getting around to my own posts again until after finals, I thought you all might enjoy what he has to say. I especially appreciate his encouragement to get into the word and seek the truth ourselves! You don't have to wait for a sermon from church, a blog post from your *favorite* Christian blog, ;) or even your morning devotional time. You can seek the truth whenever you have a Bible available. (Which is why I recommend memorizing scripture--instant availability!) So without further ado, please "forgive" me for not posting, and enjoy this guest blog from Andrew Kelley.

Do you miss LaJoie’s “Love Talks”? If so, then why not wait …while we wait? Let’s seek God to see what he says about friendships. After all, Colossians 2:3 says that in Christ is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Further, Proverbs 2:6 says that “the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” If we really believe these words, then we should diligently search the Word to find out what God says about making lasting friendships. One thing I’ve found is that forgiveness is an essential ingredient.

Let’s begin by looking at a few verses:

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9
“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17
 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4,5

God’s Word is proved true in Jesus. As Romans 5 says, he demonstrated his love for us by dying for us while we were still sinners. He forgave our offenses and is certainly the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Also, Scripture tells us that he remembers our sins no more. Yeah! In view of this mercy why wouldn’t we give our lives completely to God? Forgiveness is thus central to our relationship with God. His love, which he demonstrated on the cross, compels us to live as new creations. Because of his forgiveness we will be with him forever in heaven.

With this in mind, let’s remember how God describes the relationship we will have with him: marriage. Jesus is the bridegroom, and the church is his bride. Think about this for a second. The relationship we will have with God is like that of a wife with her husband. So if forgiveness is so important to the heavenly relationship, wouldn’t it also be necessary for the earthly relationship?

Now, what was Paul’s instruction to the Colossians about forgiveness as it relates to marriage? Well, right before mentioning marriage he says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

So, do you want lasting friendships? Do you want a lasting marriage? Forgive as the Lord forgave you. If you are single, practice now. It will serve you well. Forgiveness really is  key to marriage. One Christian couple told me this was true of them. (By the way, they’ve been married more than sixty years.) Let’s live by this then!

What else makes a friendship last? What are the other keys to successful relationships? Seek God. Study his Word. Then you will find out. That’s what Proverbs 2 tells us. Also, remember that Proverbs 20:15 says, “Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” That’s one great reason I keep reading LaJoie’s blogs. And we shouldn’t hold it against her that this semester, school has demanded a lot of her time. So, let’s seek God. Why don’t we study his Word and pray to see what he says are the keys to lasting friendships! Let me ask you this last question: What theme in Scripture (which is presented in this blog) runs deeper than forgiveness? Try to find out before LaJoie posts again. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


*Until tomorrow. ;)

Hi friends! If you’re like me, Christmas is often a time of agonizing over what to give to your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.  Well, I won’t be doing much of that this year. I’ve determined that my gifts are going to make a difference. I’ve found the perfect place to shop for Christmas!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Love Talks: Edited to Death

"Miss Ward, can I show you my story?" a little voice said. I looked down to see one of the seventeen first graders I was working with that morning. "Sure, let's take a look!" I said enthusiastically.  "I wasn't sure how to spell this word," the girl said, pointing to one word amidst a whole slew of misspelled words. I looked at her illustrations to see if I could determine the meaning of the sentence from the pictures she had drawn. Nope. I had to ask. "What are you trying to spell?"  "Brushing," she said. We sounded it out, and, with much help, she corrected the word. "Thank you!" she said, and turned to go back to her seat. "Wait," I said, "what about the other words?"  It was a fatal mistake. I had allowed the "editor" part of me to take over, and there was no stopping it now. We painstakingly corrected "am," "teeth," and several other words on the page until, finally, the exasperated and wiggly child blurted out, "Are we done now?"

It was then that I realized, this little editing session had been no more fun for me than it had been for her. She took her work back to her seat, and I was vaguely aware that, for all my editing, I had not given her a single bit of encouragement for her drawing, her creativity, or her hard work. I had been focused completely on the negative--the stuff she had done wrong.

In the Love Chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, we are told that love "Does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth."  Sometimes, like an overzealous editor, we can get so focused on the negative in other people that we completely skip over the truth of who they are. We miss out on some of the most important things because we are too busy trying to "fix" what's wrong.

Technically, I was doing my job with that child. I was pointing out and helping her fix her mistakes so that she would become a better writer. But if I was so intent on fixing errors that I caused her to become hopeless and discouraged, I may actually have done more harm than good. The enthusiastic, creative spirit of this child could have been "edited to death" because of my preoccupation with the faults of her work instead of the good points of it.

I've learned my lesson, and I will try to use that child's story as a reminder to "rejoice with the truth" of the good in people instead of becoming "delighted" or preoccupied with the bad. Certainly, editing and correction has its place, but that place is never to kill, but rather, to build up.

Are you "editing" someone to death?  For one day, try turning off the editor and thinking of only good things about him/her. Rejoice with the truth of who that person is, and you may learn things you never knew about him or her. Remember, when God looks at those of us who have been saved, he sees only the righteousness of Christ. Maybe we should do the same. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Jobs Well Done

Hello Friends!

I've written a blog post about the late Steve Jobs on my sister blog, Teachable Spirit.  Whether or not you like, or even know who Steve Jobs was, I think you'll enjoy and benefit from this post.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Introducing . . . Teachable Spirit!

Hi Friends!  

I'd like to introduce to you my new blog!  Now before you panic, don't worry!  I promise I won't abandon Thoughts of Joy.  However, as a project for a class at school and as a professional development tool, I've created a blog called Teachable Spirit, which you can find at lajoieward.wordpress.com.

I just added a new post called "Thai'd Together" on Teachable Spirit.  It's about my class trip to Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks, and about the teachers who joined us from the Kingdom of Thailand.  It was an unforgettable experience.Visit that post here, and feel free to explore and follow my site! http://lajoieward.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/thaid-together/

I should also let you know why I've been posting so infrequently. My workload at school has had me quite bogged down lately, and as much as I don't like it, I've made the rule that school has to come before my blog. I'm doing the best I can to get ahead of my work so I can get back to the "important" things. ;)  I hope to be back to posting regularly after midterms.  We'll see what happens--it's always an adventure!  

In the meantime, I encourage you: Go see the movie, Courageous!  It's one of the best movies I've ever seen--it is full of action, drama, and unequivocal humor!  (By the way, if you're emotional at all, I definitely recommend bringing tissues!  And if you're not, you can use them to wipe the butter off your hands.) :-D

Have a wonderful day!


P.S. Here is a trailer and music video for Courageous!  Love you, bye! (Hint: You have to see the movie to get that joke!)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Love Talks: I'm Into Jesus 'Cause You're Into Him and I'm Into You

Thought I wouldn't post, huh?

Well, to be honest, I've been having trouble finding inspiration. That, combined with an exhausting science project that took me nearly three full days of work to complete just barely made me miss my deadline. :P  Sorry folks!  Maybe one of these days I'll get my writing schedule a little more organized. (HA! Just kidding!) Anyway, better late than never!

Have you ever been "into" something just because someone else was?  You root for a sports team because your parents do. You pick up a hobby because your boyfriend/girlfriend likes that activity.  You go certain places and do certain things, simply because someone else whom you respect, admire, or desire does those things too. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Love Talks: My Forgotten Love

There's nothing worse than unrequited love. 

When we see it in the movies, we think, "Oh, how selfish! He would die for her, but she turns her nose up at him!"  

In some ways, most of us have personal experience in this area, whether it was just a silly celebrity crush as a child, or a friendship you desperately hoped would become something more. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Love Talks: The "Less-Shiny" Friend

For this "Love Talks" edition, I've decided to talk about friendships. Also, since I DIDN'T post a "Love Talk" on July 17th, be on the lookout for a SECOND surprise "Love Talks" post sometime during the month of August! :)  And now, our Feature Presentation. :D

I'm ADOLS.  If you've never heard of that condition, it's like ADD, except it stands for Attention Deficit OOH LOOK, SHINY!!!!

I am attracted to shiny, exciting things.  This carries over to my friendships, as well. I tend to want to be around hyper, fun-loving people who are a tad bit on the crazy side.

There's nothing wrong with hanging out with the "shiny" people, but sometimes, like a fish attracted to the shiny, metallic bait, it has gotten me in trouble. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Audio Blog #2 Smarter Pants - REMIX!

For my second Audio Blog, I've done an audio version of Smarter Pants, my popular shopping story (which may get turned into a book, one of these days!) about finding the perfect pair of jeans. Now you can listen to this Thoughts of Joy classic.  

(P.S. I've even added some "bonus features" and bloopers not found in the original, print version! Oh, Joy!)  :D

Friday, August 5, 2011

Audio Blog #1 - Mud Pies!

Hey everyone! I'm doing something new! From time to time, I'll be uploading original stories that I've recorded as audio files with myself as the narrator! It's an idea I got from Todd Busteed, one of the instructors at the Lamplighter Guild.

I realize I have a long way to go and a lot of things I can improve, but for my first one, I'm extremely pleased!

So sit back, relax, and take a listen to "Mud Pies"!

Synopsis: When I was little, I actually tried to make pies...out of mud! Silly me. I now realize it doesn't work like that. Clean things don't come from dirt, dust, and mud! ...Or do they?

When You're Made of Mud, Sometimes You Go "SPLAT!"

Dirt. Dust. Mud. Icky, nasty stuff. It's so...dirty!

Oh wait. That's the stuff I'm made of.

Couldn't be wood, or steel, or even better: titanium!  Nope, I'm made of dirt.

"Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth" Genesis 2:7

I've always wondered, is that why Jesus used mud to heal the blind man's eyes?  Earth dirt + God spit = man mud?  Seems logical enough to me.

Anyway, sometimes I feel like dirt. Don't we all, at times? Then I realize: I AM dirt. Ouch.  Talk about being tough on the self esteem!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Toothbrush Christianity

A couple of months ago, a friend (let's call her Beth) related to me her battle with recurring nightmares, which were keeping her from sleeping well at night. 

Having recently dealt with the same problem myself, I was able to offer her some advice. I suggested that she read scripture before going to bed, and spend time in prayer asking for God's peace and protection.

My friend agreed that this would probably help. Then she confided, "You know, I feel like a really bad Christian sometimes. I know I'm supposed to read my Bible more, but I just don't do it!"

I think all of us have felt that way at times, and as I began to explain this, an illustration popped into my head. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Failing Badly Vs. Failing Well - Lessons from Anne of Green Gables

This is the most tragical thing that has ever happened to me! **bursts into tears**

Okay, maybe not. Actually, I've just been watching Anne of Green Gables too much. (if there is a such thing!) But believe it or not, Anne can give us a lesson in failing well and failing badly.

You see, failing badly and failing well are terms that generally refer to a system or a structure. But I think people can also fail in either of those two ways.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I met my heroes . . . And they know my name!

John Fornof - Writer/Producer

Last week I experienced one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. I got to meet some of my heroes.

But I didn't just meet them.
I got their autographs.
I got my picture taken with them.
I listened to them speak.
I talked with them.
I had lunch with them.
I prayed with them.
I got to know the people behind the names.

It was amazing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Declaration of Independence for Dummies!

Please don't un-follow me! I promise I don't think you're a dummy. ^_^

However, if you're anything like Riley Poole from National Treasure, you may have read or heard the Declaration of Independence, been awe-inspired by it's beautiful eloquence, then realized: 

"I have NO idea what that just said!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

50 Graduation Tips - Part 2: Show me the MONEY!

I ended last month with the first post of a two-part series specifically for graduates.  Most of the high school graduations have taken place now, and I know firsthand that this is when all those college preparations start to hit you head on!  So I figured this would be a great time to bring you part two!

Last month’s post focused more on college, class, and what to expect. This month’s 25 random tips for graduates will feature the financial aspect of this new chapter in your lives.  AKA: SHOW ME THE MONEY!  Enjoy!

$              To quote Dave Ramsey, “Debt is dumb; cash is king!”

$              Don’t be above working at McDonalds. If it’s the only thing you can find, and it pays the bills, it’s better than being broke. 

$              If you work at McDonalds, be careful you don’t eat too many double cheeseburgers, or you may need to use your hard-earned money to buy a gym membership.  ;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love at First Fight?

"You're so insensitive!"
"If you really loved me, you wouldn't do so many hurtful things!"
"Well, you always have to pick on my faults...and you can't even see that you're the one causing the problem!"
"Hey! Don't you dare blame this all on me!"

Sound familiar? Read on.
Doesn't sound familiar? Good, but read on anyway.

I'm going to make a crazy statement here and then spend the rest of this blog backing it up.  Are you ready?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sheepish Smile . . .

Regrettably, I haven't had the opportunity to write my "Love Talks," post for the 17th today. I'm at a Bible Quiz tournament right now, and between the seven hour car ride and the tournament itself, I'm all tuckered out! :P

I was going to try to post tonight anyway, but my lack of inspiration and current scatter-brained mentality left a lot to be desired from the pitiful beginning I wrote. But don't worry, I'll make it up to you! Expect a spectacular post on love and relationships within the next several days. And hey, if you leave me a comment about what YOU'D like to see in that blog post, maybe you can give some direction to the whirling ideas that swarm in my head at the moment! ;)

In the meantime, if you're new to the blog, or you haven't read "Nineteen and Never Been Kissed," my other "Love Talks" blogs, or my popular series on modesty called "Smarter Pants," take this opportunity to get all caught up! :)

Stay tuned! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Hey Everyone!  Today, I'm going to take you on a trip back through time, to the distant, distant past: The beginning of 2011. ;)

First of all, I must apologize for my lack of posting lately.  Part of my absence, I must ashamedly admit, is due to my new toy: An iPad 2. (I'm loving it, in case anyone was wondering!)

However, the greater part is due to some trying circumstances that have deeply affected my life in the past week or so. They are sensitive and personal in nature, so I can't talk specifically about what's going on, but suffice it to say--it has been rough.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Graduationburg Address

Guest Blog time again! :) 

I am thrilled to tell you that I got personal permission to post for you, my readers, the most epic graduation speech I have ever heard!  Peter Day played Abe Lincoln in the Faith in History Performers' play on the Civil War era.  A few weeks later, at the homeschool graduation, he reworded the Gettysburg Address to be his graduation address. I assure you, the crowd was rolling in laughter. So, without any further nostalgic rambling, here it is:

The Gettysburg Address: Graduation Remix! :D
by Peter Day

One score minus two years ago, my parents brought forth to this world a new child, conceived in love and dedicated to God and to the proposition of homeschooling. 

They then engaged in a great struggle, testing whether they, or any couple so dedicated, could successfully educate a child at home. We are met at the graduation of that child. We have come to celebrate what all these students have accomplished over the years. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense . . .we cannot celebrate .  . . we cannot congratulate . . . we cannot commend these students. The brave parents, mothers and fathers, who struggled to raise the students deserve far more credit than the students. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did to raise these graduates. It is for us, the next generation rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who taught us have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these parents we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave so much of their devotion. That we here highly resolve that these parents shall not have labored in vain. That we as homeschooled students, under God, shall show this world how to live, and that education of the children, by the parents, for the Lord shall not perish from the earth.

Kudos, Pete. And God bless the class of 2011!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jumpstarting June! "I Have a Question . . ."

Hello!  Happy June, everyone!  I trust you all are enjoying the fine weather. (By "fine," I could mean "Ah, the weather is fine!" or, "FINE! Be rainy and nasty, see if I care!" . . . It all depends on where you live.) ;)

Anyway, I have an exciting new addition to announce for my blog!

I think we could really have some fun with an "Ask Joy" column! (You know . . . kinda like "Ask Abby," except--better!) So starting right now, ask me any of your questions about life, love, God, the Bible, your family issues, relationship questions, your car problems (okay, maybe I won't be helpful there...go ask Click and Clack!), or any of the topics you've seen on my blog, and I will give you my take on the matter!

I might not be an "expert," per se, but I do have a lot of Bible knowledge that helps me understand God's perspective on our lives. I also have nearly twenty years of experience in interpersonal relationships! (Well, I'm a person, and I live with people, hence . . .) ;)  If you happen to stump me with your question, I also have connections with some really smart people who can help me out. I promise I won't just fudge it if I don't know the answer. AND, even if you don't like my response, you're not obligated to follow my advice, you won't hurt my feelings if you disagree, and I promise not to say "I told you so!"  . . . at least, not in as many words. ;)

No question is too "silly" or insignificant . So what are you waiting for--"Ask Joy!"

You can "Ask Joy" anonymously at http://formspring.me/AskJoy17

As the old adage goes, there's more than one way to remove the epidermis from a feline! (Though I certainly hope you won't be skinning any cats!) You can leave your questions as comments on this post (where you also have the option of anonymity). Also, if you're the Facebook type, "Like" this page using the button on the left, and leave your question as a "wall post." If you are a textaholic and can only communicate in 160 characters or less, then @ThoughtofJoy17 on Twitter is the way to go. Regardless of how you submit your question, be sure to mention that it's a question for the "Ask Joy17" column!

I most likely won't be able to include every question I receive in a blog post, but I will do my best to use as many as possible. However, if you give me an email address or other electronic contact method, I will send you a reply even if I don't decide to use your question!  How cool is that?

The questions I decide to use will be featured, along with my mind-blowingly brilliant answers, in a post at least once a month.  The more questions I get, the more often I'll write! :)

I really, REALLY want to start answering your questions! Ask Joy now! :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering . . . Memorial Day Reflections

The most powerful and enduring speech of modern times, in my opinion, was not written by a team of professional writers. It wasn’t scrolled down in bite-sized pieces on a teleprompter, or broadcast to millions of television viewers.

This speech was delivered to a crowd of about 15,000, nearly 150 years ago. It contained only ten sentences, and was delivered at a cemetery dedication.  It was two minutes long, followed an eloquent and well-received speech that was nearly two hours long, and was never intended to be the highlight or focal point of the ceremonies. 

Have you guessed it yet?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Graduating? 50 Do's, Don't's, and Random Things You Should Know

These insanely awesome, accurate, and proven tips are brought to you by: 

LaJoie Ward, a recent grad of "Yale by the Jail" (aka Broome Community College) with an A.S. and a 4.0 GPA

James Lex, a 4.0 GPA student with a knack for conquering exams using only a pencil and 5 granola bars.

Part 1: Tips 1-25 are dedicated to those grads who will soon be headed off to college.
  1. Five energy drinks in a row = Bad Idea.
  2. Professors will let you out early, especially when you pay attention.
  3. Don't friend professors on Facebook!
  4. Everyone is an expert at their own opinion—professors are DEFINITELY not an exception.
  5. Don’t cut corners.
  6. Don’t cut class.
  7. Don’t cut up in class.
  8. Unless you have very thick skin, avoid professors with a degree in sarcasm.
  9. If the professor is a Yankees fan, consider your Red Sox hat a threat to your grade.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oops, I Did it Again . . .

So, I managed to get myself caught up in responding to comments on a random news article. (Which is why I don't usually let myself read the comments . . . I can't help it!!) I was researching presidential hopeful Herman Cain and came across this article: Click Here :)

I couldn't resist commenting when I saw that nearly every comment on the article slammed Cain for his strong Pro-Life, Anti-Planned-Parenthood views.  I especially couldn't help but respond to this comment:

"So how many women that need abortion to save their own lives is Mr. Cain and the other far-right evangelical wingnuts willing to sacrifice for their own political ambitions?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I "Love" This!

Hey everyone!  This was recommended to me by a friend, and I listened to all four parts today. It was REALLY good. This guy is a great speaker. His messages are clear, eye-opening, and quite funny in parts. :)  If you don't have time for all four, I'd recommend at least the first message.  I'll stop chatting and let you get right to it! :)

Here's the link to Pastor Andy Stanley's video message series on dating:

Friday, May 20, 2011

The World Ends Tomorrow

If the world ends tomorrow . . .
Are you satisfied with your last day on earth?

Did you:
~love with total abandon?
~give till you had nothing left?
~make someone smile?
~find yourself closer to Jesus than ever before?
~stop to smell the roses, gaze at a sunset, or watch a child run and play, and thank God for the simple, but beautiful things in life?
~speak an encouraging word?
~throw your arms around a friend and hug them like you were going to squeeze the life out of them?
~laugh so hard you thought you’d cry?
~dance like no one was watching?
~take a wild leap of faith, trusting you’d land in His arms?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Love Talks #2: True Love Waits . . . While it Waits

Warning: This is tough. It’s a feat that not many people can accomplish. I’m still learning it; in fact, I just messed up royally right before sitting down to write this.  Proceed with caution.

Most Christians have heard the slogan “True love waits.” But did you know that’s only half of what love is?

See, I have this theory that you can be sexually pure, save yourself completely for marriage, and still not understand love. Actually, this idea isn’t mine—it’s God’s. As my friend and fellow blogger, James Lex pointed out in a short sermon he preached last year, Paul’s definition of love in First Corinthians 13 lists many things love is NOT, but it only lists two things that love IS.

Many of us have heard the “patient” part preached over and over.” Save sex till marriage.” “You just gotta wait.” “Someday, my prince will come.” And the list goes on.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Smarter Pants 2: The Demise of the Creamy White Jeans

“Let’s see, what to wear today . . .”

We find our heroine as she usually is on a Monday morning: carefully and meticulously creating the fantastic ensemble of clothing and accessories with which she will stun the unsuspecting outside world.

“Hmm, well,” she mused aloud, “I’m feeling kind of casual today, but blue jeans day at work isn’t ‘till Friday. Oh—I know!”

She leapt across the room in a single bound to open the drawer with a flourish. From the dark blackness of the back of the drawer, she pulled a fantastic pair of creamy, off-white jeans with slightly flared legs and designer stitching on the pockets. Perfect! A long-lost love was instantly rekindled.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Awesome Song Alert! "Something in Your Eyes"

Hey everyone! I've decided to start reviewing songs periodically, alerting you to some great songs and letting you know my opinion of them. I'll review the lyrics and, if possibly, post a link or video on here so you can listen to it for yourself! Enjoy!

"Something in your Eyes" by Shonlock

I first heard this song on Family Life Network's "Resound" station. I love the sound of it, but I particularly like the words of the chorus. "I see something in your eyes tonight, and it glows, letting me know, I'm never alone." 

Those words remind me of certain people who just seem to emulate the love of Christ. Have you ever met someone who just...glows? When they look at you, they smile, maybe speak a word of encouragement or give you a hug, or even just sincerely ask, "how are you...really?" Doesn't it just makes you feel the love of Christ, like you've just gotten a hug or a loving glance from Jesus himself? Warm fuzzies all over!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama No More

Unless you live under a rock or were participating in a total media fast (aka living under a rock), you probably heard the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death. 

Ever since I heard the news, I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond.  What I mean is that, although I’m glad that justice was finally served, I don’t know whether it’s really right to be glad about a human being’s death, however terrible that person might have been.  I can rejoice that he will no longer cause evil, death, and destruction, but should I be happy that his soul was abruptly sent to its eternal destination?  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Daddy's Money

A couple of years ago, my dad had a nasty fall off of a second story roof. During his recovery period, he had my name put on one of his bank accounts so I could take care of some financial matters for him. He’s almost fully recovered now, but he still has me handle some of his banking when he is out of town on business.   I noticed that, when I’m depositing a check or making a withdrawal for him, I don’t worry about what I’m doing or whether it’s something I would want to do.  I just do exactly what he’s told me and then forget about it. 

With my own account, I am a little more concerned about how much I have, and I’m usually more reluctant to spend. But when dad tells me to do something with his money, I do it. Why? Because it’s not mine! I have no say in how it’s used.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

nybblin' on some Joy...or something like that!

I wrote another guest blog for a friend of mine, Jonathan Martin. You can find his newly launched, self-designed site at nybblr.com, and my post, "Two Sinners and a Saint" by clicking on the title. (Not here--back there--about a dozen words ago!) 

Writing guest posts for all these computer geniuses' sites makes me a little self-conscious of my own humble "blogspot.com" URL, but alas--programming has never agreed with me very much. :D

Anyway, "Two Sinners and a Saint" is about two of Jesus' disciples, Judas and Peter, and what made the difference in how their lives turned out. 

Well, what are you waiting for? I've given you three links already... Go read it! :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Resurrection Day!

I heard a wonderful gospel song on the radio yesterday.  I'm not really a southern gospel person, but all yesterday morning, I couldn't seem to change the station!  This song particularly gripped me with the idea behind it. "To pardon iniquity, He had to die. But to bring me the victory, He had to rise!"

First Corinthians chapter fifteen says, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (verse 17).

This reminds me of C. S. Lewis' allegory, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."  Edmund had betrayed his family to the White Witch, and in so doing, he had also forfeited his own life. The only way he could be saved was if another--an innocent victim--would willingly take his place. Aslan, the lion king of Narnia, did just that, and was brutally killed by the White Witch in Edmund's stead. 

But even though Edmund was pardoned, the White Witch was still waging war against Edmund, his family, and the rest of the Narnians. Now that Aslan was gone, they had no hope of winning. It seemed that his death had been in vain. For although Edmund had been saved from execution, he would surely be killed or enslaved if the battle was lost. Just when some began to despair, Aslan was raised to life and came rushing in to save the day. He defeated the witch once and for all and reestablished his kingdom in Narnia. 

If Aslan hadn't come back to life, the Narnians would have been overpowered by the witch, and Edmund, though he had been forgiven of his trespass, would still have met with a terrible fate. 

Jesus' death, like Aslan's, was absolutely necessary to take the wrath and punishment we deserved and save us from eternal death. But if he had not been raised from the dead, the grave would still hold its power over us. Instead, we have the victory, and death has lost its sting! "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:55-57)

"To pardon iniquity, He had to die . . .
But to bring me the victory, He had to rise!"

I would encourage you to listen to this beautiful song as you celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and the victory that we have in Him.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Time to Mourn

When I was first offered the part of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in my church’s Easter production, I instantly thought of dozens of reasons why I shouldn’t have that part.  I’m too young!  I can’t sing immediately after pretending to cry. And besides, I’m more inclined towards the happy, rejoicing parts, like Mary Magdeline at the resurrection! Surely someone else can do a better job, and surely there is a more fitting part for me. 

But for some reason, I couldn’t let it go, even when offered another part. After praying about it, I felt that this was, for some reason, the role I was meant to play. I accepted the part, and I began to learn the song, practice the staging, and contemplate how to put myself in Mary’s shoes.  

For the weeks and weeks of practices, I put myself in the role, cried at all the right times, and sang the song in an emotional, yet clear voice.  But I didn’t really get it. Not yet. In fact, even up through the dress rehearsals the day before and the day of the production, I was just acting. 

Yes, I know it was just a play, and I was supposed to be acting. But sometime during the final dress rehearsal and the two performances, an incredible transformation occurred in me. The tears, the sobs of anguish, and the groans of despair were not Mary’s, nor were they that of an actress just playing the part.  They were my own.  From the depths of my soul, I truly mourned my Savior’s agony and death. For a few moments, I was there.

In the days following the play and leading up to Good Friday, I have often been reminded of those incredible moments during the play, and of the remarkable, unfathomable love of my Savior. 

He didn’t have to stay there on that cross dying in excruciating pain. It was my cross, and he could have let me die. He didn’t have to take my sin upon his spotless, innocent soul and face the flames and agony of hell for me. But he did. 

Furthermore, since He is God and is outside the confines of time, the pain that he accepted, the separation from His father, and the wrath that he absorbed were not momentary, as our earthly trials are. They were, for him, forever.  A piece of him—like the nail marks in his hands and feet—remains eternally scarred by the price of his unimaginable love.  As Revelation says, He was slain from the foundation of the world.  And he is, though fully alive, slain even now. His death remains a part of him throughout eternity.

When I think of this, I am compelled to mourn. I need to mourn. Sometimes, all of us must take the time to mourn. In so doing, we can truly begin to grasp the depth of Christ’s love for us. I have been a Christ-follower since my very early youth, yet never have I so felt in my heart the richness of Christ’s love, never have I felt such deep and bitter loss, and never have I so anticipated the celebration of His resurrection, as now, having sobbed and wept and shivered with anguish at the foot of the cross. There is a time—and a reason to mourn.

Do not look away, my child
But gaze upon Him well
His face is love and agony
As Heav’n descends to hell

Oh! Do not hide your tearful eyes
From bloody nails or thorn
Look well upon the sacred wounds
Then bow your head to mourn 

Consider what has held him there
Though angels wait on call
His love has paid the bitter price
The ransom for us all

Look back, my child as he cries out
In loneliness and pain
The Father turns his face away
Let teardrops fall like rain

Yes, soon the resurrection comes
With joy no words can say
But for this moment watch and mourn
Remembering the day

Related post on the Crucifixion: The Last Words

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Love Talks #1: I Kissed Dating Goodbye . . . For Now

From the time I was nine years old and one of my peers told me to go out with the kid across the room because we “would look cute together,” I’ve had a solid response: “I don’t believe in dating; I believe in courtship.”  At that time, however, my idea of what “courtship” meant was a little bit skewed. I kid you not, the word brought to my mind visions of a young man and young woman sitting on couches across from each other and fielding questions about themselves and their ideals from interrogating parents.  

I’m nineteen now, and, as you might have learned from my incredibly popular post in March, I’ve never been kissed.  I’ve also never been on a date. (And the only “courts” I’ve been involved with were basketball, tennis, and volleyball.)  However, I now have a very different perspective about what courtship and dating really are and what their purposes should be. 

I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of dating. The first kind I decided to “kiss goodbye” forever.  The other kind—though I “kissed it goodbye” for a while—could be just around the corner for me.

The first kind of dating is what I refer to as “casual dating,” which means going out with someone just for the sake of being in a relationship or “just for fun,” without any goals for the future of the relationship. Although I must admit it worked splendidly for my grandmother (that’s a story for another time), all I see is that people get hurt from this kind of dating. The argument I get all the time is, “Well how will I know what kind of people I like when it’s time for me to get married if I don’t date around and ‘practice’ while I’m young?” I maintain my position that you don’t have to get romantically involved with someone or spend hours alone with them to find out your preferences in the opposite sex.  I can find out everything I need to know about a person by simply being friends with them. And while there will still be emotions involved, they are nothing like the rollercoaster of superficial highs and broken hearts that accompanies a lifestyle of casual dating. Millions of dating relationships end in failure, because they have no purpose besides personal fulfillment and “fun.” 

The second kind of dating is actually what some people refer to as courtship. Unlike my nine-year-old definition, what I mean by “courtship” is simply the process by which a couple determines whether or not they should get married. This is what I like to call, “dating with a purpose.” In entering the courtship, the couple should know each other as friends and be interested in the possibility of marriage to each other. The courtship ends either with the decision that the couple should not marry, or with an engagement.  Either way, the courtship ends as a success, because it has fulfilled its purpose of finding out whether the man and woman should pursue marriage.

Needless to say, “purpose-driven dating” is geared toward an older age group than casual dating, since most middle schoolers are not considering marriage. So if you’re not old enough to be thinking about marriage yet, or you have kids who are too young for courtship, you might be wondering:  Do I really think that you (or your kids) shouldn’t be dating in high school (or any time you're not considering marriage)?  

Yes, I do. Now, I’m not going to condemn you if you decide to go that route. But it is my opinion that casual dating is dangerous and unwise. If you don’t believe me, watch the Disney channel for about 10 minutes. Then realize that all that ridiculous drama from those shows actually happens in high school dating relationships. Only in reality, it’s not that humorous, somebody always gets hurt, and you can’t change the channel to escape the devastating consequences of taking things a little too far.

That’s the kind of dating I “kissed goodbye” forever. And amazingly enough, I still find my life to be exciting, complete, free of unnecessary heartbreak and stress, and full of lasting love!