Monthly Archives: September 2010

Exile?

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As many of you know, Scott has been teaching and preaching 1 Peter.  In his letter, Peter is writing to people who are going through a lot and who would continue to go through a lot simply because they wear the name of Christ.  It is easy to see how christians suffered for their beliefs and the way they lived.  It was even present in their everyday lives, not just martyrdom, but the way they were treated.  Perhaps they were unable to buy goods from some non-christians, or perhaps people wouldn’t purchase their items.  Whatever it was, these christians did not have an easy life.  They suffered on a daily basis because of their beliefs.  They truly were exiles.  Later on, people gave up all of their earthly possessions in order to ‘suffer’ for Christ.  Now, when we apply this letter to ourselves, while we’re sitting in our air conditioned buildings on padded pews, we seem to think we too are suffering terrible things.  This thought really disturbs me because as christians today, in the United States, I really don’t think we suffer for our beliefs.


As christians, we purchase whatever we want from whomever we want.  We eat whatever we desire, and participate in whatever we think is fun.  We live exactly like the rest of the world except we go to worship when we don’t have some other activity planned.  This really bothers me.  Notice, I’m including myself.  If you’ve been in my home, you know we have some really nice things.  We wear nice clothes, we drive a nice car, and like to have fun just like everyone else.  When reading and studying 1 Peter, I am VERY uncomfortable.  For example, in 1 Peter 1:17, Peter says, “…live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.”  Exile?  I don’t know about you, but I look around at how I’ve been so blessed and I don’t see exile.  I know I’m not in heaven now, but I really don’t see me living the life of an exile.  


I wonder if I would live more like an exile, would I suffer more like an exile?  I wonder if all christians did these things, would we see the church grow?  I wonder if we gave up more, would we be more excited about leaving this world?  I wonder if when faced with death, we would be able to say, “to die is gain” and truly mean it?

“The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself, you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he frequently find the cross, because as his love increases, the pain of his exile also increases.”  -Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, Chapter 12

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Letting Go

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Most of us have probably either seen an episode, or at least have heard something about the A&E show “Hoarders.”  In cause you know nothing about the show, each episode follows two compulsive hoarders as they try to “clean up” their homes.  Sometimes these people have lost their children, or they are an inspection away from it.  Some people are forced out of their homes, and many lose their spouses over their disease.  During the episode, each individual works with a professional who attempts to organize, and help the hoarder learn new behaviors.  Large trucks and dumpsters are brought in, along with several workers to help the individuals sort and clean their homes.  The show ends with significant progress or failure of the person to change.


I’ve watched horrific scenes of clutter and trash being shoveled out and sorted by men in rubber suits and masks, and I have always wondered how the home owners could let their problem get so out of control.  This question is almost always answered by the person saying they just can’t let go.  They can’t let go of shopping habits, stray animals, trash, or home improvement items.  Whatever it is, they can’t let go, and eventually they are trapped in a very destructive behavior.  


Every time I see an episode of this show, I am encouraged to do some type of house cleaning.  I sort through clothes to give away one more time, or I clean out my “scrap booking” items that will probably never actually go into a scrapbook.  I am always terrified of becoming a hoarder.  This morning, as I was washing dishes, I thought about the show a little differently.  I wondered if I’m a secret hoarder.  I thought about when we moved and how much “junk” we were able to get rid of.  I decided I don’t have a problem with hoarding physical things, but I began to wonder if I hoard anything else.  


I thought back to the days in college when I was going through a really tough time.  I felt trapped in sin that I couldn’t escape.  Just like all of the hoarders on the show, I was trapped in a destructive behavior that was slowly killing me.  No, I wasn’t physically dying, but I certainly was spiritually.  Then one day, I realized I couldn’t clean up my life on my own.  I knew I needed help, so I turned back to God.  This was not easy for me.  I’m a very prideful and stubborn person.  Having to accept the fact that I failed and couldn’t fix the problem myself hurt really bad.  


Once I humbled myself to ask God for help, the first thing I needed to do was purge my life of everything I had trouble letting go of.  God knew I would need help, so He provided a clean up crew, my brothers and sisters in Christ.  This was very humiliating because all of my garbage, the skeletons in my closet, the very things I tried to keep hidden from everyone, including myself, was just laid out and being slowly sorted through and thrown out.  When I say slowly, I mean R-E-A-L-L-Y S-L-O-W.  I remember for weeks on end, night after night, of not going back to my dorm room until it was so late, there really wasn’t anything to get me into trouble.  Instead, I would hang out at the UC with several people singing, talking, reading the Bible, and just being around each other.  I avoided all the things that triggered my destructive behavior, and eventually these things weren’t a temptation for me anymore.  


I truly believe we all need a cleaning crew to help us sort through the stuff and throw it out, but without God being there to show us how to change the behavior, we are just going to get trapped again.  I also think it takes us being completely broken and our souls laid bare before God can teach us to let go.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18 (ESV) 

The Curtains; Pt.2

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On Tuesday, I put in a couple of hours at the sewing machine and finally finished Jackson’s curtains!  It’s about time huh?  After finishing, I felt a sense of accomplishment.  I finished something I had been putting off for far too long.  While I was hanging the curtains, Jackson didn’t even try to help!  He was too proud to do anything but look at them.  I think it is safe to say he likes his new curtains.  I’ve attached a couple of pictures so you can see I actually did finish! 
Jackson and Sheriff Woody are enjoying a book together.
Jackson’s room doesn’t stay clean for long…

5 Reasons Why I Choose Organic

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Several people ask this question, “Why do you spend more money to buy organic?”  I have often wondered the same thing.  It does seem like many organic foods are quite a bit pricier than the non-organic varieties.  However, some items are pretty much the same price.  To me, price doesn’t matter as much when I see the benefits to eating organic.  I’ll try to explain some of the benefits as I explain my reasons for choosing organic.  To preface this, I will be working on additional articles that will go more in depth on some of the subjects addressed.  These reasons are not in any particular order.


1.  Buying organic supports the local farmer.  Organic foods are not filled or sprayed with preservatives so they do not have the long shelf life other foods have.  For this reason, many organic products are purchased from local, or almost local farmers (even in the large chain stores).  Therefore you are helping someone close to you.  In addition, organic farmers are not subsidized by the government so you are helping farmers who are not over producing their crops for a larger paycheck.


2.  Organic foods are more like God made them.  By law, organic foods can not be genetically modified (the seeds made in a laboratory).  In addition, the animals cannot be given antibiotics, hormones, or be offspring of cloned animals.  Vegetables and fruits must be grown without being GM, without the use of chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, sewage sludge (I don’t want my strawberries to be grown in sewage sludge, do you?), or irradiation (basically chemo for produce).  I will write a bit more on the problems of these things later.


3.  Organic foods have serious health benefits.  Some of the benefits include:  Strengthened immune system, improved sleeping habits, reduced cancer & heart disease risks, and they also promote weight loss.  I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can when it comes to weight loss!


4.  Organic farming is better for the environment.  Since plants can’t be doused in chemical pesticides and fertilizers, the chemicals are not poisoning our air, water, and soil (not to mention our bodies).


5.  Organic foods often contain more nutrients.   It has recently been shown that many fruits, veggies, and even meats contain more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients than their non-organic versions.   Perhaps this is because they are grown in nutrient dense soils, and are fresher.


Like I said before, I will be expanding on some of these areas soon.  I’ll probably start with GMO’s.  It’s shocking what I have learned!