Fake It Till You Make It

“Fake it till you make it.” was one of the favorite sayings of my band director from middle and high school. He used to tell us that when we couldn’t find or hit a note. Or if we were in the middle of a concert and we got lost. We were just supposed to fake it until we found our note/place. For me, faking could be playing improv until I figured it out or just pretending to play and sneaking looks at everyone else’s fingers to see what notes they were playing in what order and then try to count and see where we were. That’s really hard to do when you’re the only bass clarinet in the band for the moment. Also really hard when your playing tuba.

More and more lately I’ve found that this phrase applies to other places in life as well, not just in band/music. Work, school, driving, socializing and conversation, finances, and last but not least – writing. So basically, this phrase applies to life as a whole. Another variation I’ve heard is “Grind it till you find it.” in reference to manual shift cars. (Of which I might be looking for one in the near future.)

And that brings me to today’s topic. I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m not just speaking about writing and it isn’t a metaphor. I just don’t know what I’m doing, here on this blog, in college, with my writing, my reading, my life.

I was reading in 1 Samuel this morning for my devotions and I read the anointing of David and then the section right after where Saul calls David to court. What stuck with me today was that David was just a shepherd, the youngest of… I think eight brothers if I do my math right. He probably had no freaking clue what was going on when he was anointed by Samuel and then suddenly called to be one of the King’s armor bearers/music player. Yet, he went.

David was put in place by God to do great things.

I know nothing about what I’m doing. I don’t even know what’s happening in my life right now. Grad school? No grad school? Writing, no writing? I’m not even sure where I am with my faith these days. I’m probably one fo the most fickle people out there. I mean, even when I’m not actively seeking God, I’m trying to live the right way. But that’s not enough.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

This is the verse that sticks in my head more than any other. Because “fake it till you make it.” isn’t always the answer. But this… this verse applies to everything. Yesterday I talked about how I’ve lost my life to my art and how art is just a part of life, a support system. But here’s the thing. I don’t think that applies to faith. I don’t think Faith is a support system for life.

I think faith is supposed to be life.

This is my pledge to myself, to God, and to you. I’m going to seek God before I seek my art, and maybe, just maybe, in my art, God will come through.

I can fake it till I make it all I want, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it if I don’t start looking in the right places and with everything I have. Dedication is what I’ve gathered as a rule from successful people. And what is dedication if not giving one’s self over to something with one’s whole heart and being?

Cavelry vs. Calvary

For the longest time, since childhood, I have pronounced the word “cavelry” as “calvary.” One refers to a military unit comprised of horsemen, and the other refers to the Cross at Calvary… the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins… to save us.

I have often heard the phrase: “The cavelry is here,” or “on its way.” When the cavelry is on its way there is hope… we might survive the battle if only the cavelry gets here in time.

If you think about it, the cavelry is coming. In fact it already came… and won the war. In this war against sin, against the world and those in it who have declared Christians as their enemies… Jesus is our cavelry. He came and He is coming again.

He won’t just arrive in the nick of time. He will arrivee at EXACTLY the right time. He sent us forward as messengers. He is the vanguard, the front of the battle, He went in first, we followed Him in and now we must follow the orders He left behind so that He could go and prepare the victory party. Though things may seem hopeless, the Cavelry is on its way and He is it.

I know who goes before me: Jesus Christ, the vanguard.

I know who is by my side: Jesus Christ, my fellow soldier, my general, my medic, my friend

I know who comes behind: Jesus Christ, the cavelry.

The cavelry is coming. Nothing can stop it. When it arrives the war will be finished.

What was begun at Calvarywill come to an end and He will take His rightful crowns.

The cavelry turns the tide of battle… He who died at Calvary turned the tide of war…

The similarity between these words is no coincedence… how can it be? We as Christians carry the banners before the Cavelry of Calvary. The tide of battle shifts… but the war is already won. In this I am confident… in this I rest with ease and keep fighting… for I know that my cavelry is coming.

Driving Straight

On Monday, August 17th I woke up; like any normal Monday I did so reluctantly. I got ready for the day, and I packed up the last few items I needed and waited for my parents. The dog was worried, he doesn’t like it when he sees people packing large amounts of their life into a vehicle… When my parents arrived at my grandparent’s house where I stayed for the summer I moved my fish out to the van and the three of us got in. I was in the driver’s seat.

My dad wanted to listen to some music that he had just gotten on amazon, but I pulled rank as the driver. I was stressed and wanted to listen to the local Christian station as far as I could go and I did. we listened to it until it fell out of range and then I hooked my tablet to the auxiliary jack and continued with the Christian music. As I drove I was thinking. I was talking with my parents, but my brain was elsewhere.

I drove from Elkhart County Indiana to Delaware County so I could move in to my dorm early. I only received my learner’s permit this past May. The three-hour drive was a test in everything I have learned so far. The most important thing I thought of though was that no matter what you have to keep your eyes on the road in front of you. Don’t pay attention to the things behind you; they don’t matter. (Or at least they don’t matter nearly as much as what is in front of you.)

Between that and the Christian music it made me think about how people talk about the path of a Christian being straight and narrow. It also made me think about how Lot’s wife looked back on the destroying angels and was turned to salt. A particular song had come on and it said something about fixing our eyes on Heaven, rather than the distractions of life. That made me think about a song we had sung in church the day before: Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God. 

I’m going to be honest with you… I think that right there God was trying to teach me something wonderful.

In this life, full of distractions, we are obsessed with the past. We hold grudges and we look back at the things we have done or haven’t done. We can’t seem to make up our minds. We forget to look forward. We stumble blindly as though in the dark because we don’t look at what’s in front of us, but more than that, we never look past the moment. Rare is the day that we look past what we want and what will benefit us right now. Rare is also the day when we look past what is already behind us, wondering what we did wrong and what we could either change or repeat. We don’t focus on the future, on what is waiting for us.

This isn’t something just for writers. This is some basic advice for life. Look at what is ahead of you. For a Christian, like myself, we need to focus on God and on Heaven, for that is our future, that is what we have to focus on. Make your choices in life in order to best reflect what is coming. do whatever it is that will get you there. For many people God is not in their future. My beliefs tell me what the end of that path holds… but that is not the point of this message.

Follow your path, keep your eyes facing forward on what is ahead. Don’t look back for too long or you will either miss what’s in front of you, or crash into it. Make the right decisions and stay on your path, no matter what problems you see ahead of you. If you stray too far you might get lost and have more problems finding your way back than you would have if you’d just tackled the original problem.

Drive straight, Christians fix your eyes on God and on Heaven. Do not stray or let your path waver into sin and don’t look back on the life you led. Drive straight and get to God, he’s waiting with arms wide open.

The Innocence of Children and the Meaning of Symbols

The Innocence of Children and the Meaning of Symbols

Yesterday was Celebration Sunday at our church. Every year on the Sunday after VBS we have a celebration of all the children who gave their hearts to Christ during the week and the children who were able to hear the message, even if they did not act on it at the time. We have old style carnival games and blow up slides and bounce houses and little entertaining things like face painting. It’s a big party. This year I got roped into volunteering for the face painting, even though painting is far from my comfort zone and I was intrigued by something.

We had 5 different designs: Snowflakes, A Dog, A Pirate, A Snow Leopard, and a Rainbow. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like a lot but for volunteers that have no idea what they are actually doing… it’s interesting, though the kids looked great in their painted faces. During my hour I had several little girls ask me to paint the rainbow on their face.

A Aymbol is what you make it

An approximation of the rainbow face painting option.

It looked a little like this rainbow that I drew on Paint. With the recent decision made by the supreme court I started thinking about the rainbow in the light of homosexuality. Then I realized… These kids don’t think of the rainbow like this. They are 6 at the most, 3 at the least. (Or the ones I had were)

They wanted this rainbow painted on their face because rainbows are pretty! They are cool pieces of nature. To these kids it did not represent gay pride.

Long ago when Noah and his family and all the male and female animal pairs got off the ark God made a rainbow in the sky as a promise that He would never flood the earth again! The rainbow, though taken as a symbol of gay pride, has no meaning to these children other than a pretty splash of color.

There are so many symbols flying around right now it’s crazy. We have the confederate flag under debate in the wake of the Charleston shootings, rainbows have been on my Facebook feed so much I’d really appreciate seeing some old version black and white photos… one person went so far as to say their Facebook feed looked like the confederates and a skittles factory got into a fight. It’s crazy!!!

People are blaming the confederate flag for racism. They call it a symbol of racism… I don’t think so. They want it banned, and while I am a Christian I do not believe that it’s the answer. The confederate flag is just a flag! A symbol is what you make it. If it is a piece of your heritage then that is what it is, if it is a representation of your sexuality that is what it is. If it’s a bunch of pretty colors, it’s bunch of pretty colors.

In high school I didn’t think about gay pride, it did not matter to me. I decided to braid my own lanyard to put my school ID on… I made a rainbow. I was not thinking of gay pride. I just put colors in the ROY G BIV pattern I had been taught in art classes and in science classes (regarding prisms and color spectrum). I liked the pattern. Until someone pointed out what its meaning had become. Then I gave the lanyard away and made something in blues and greens and browns, natural colors that I researched as having so sexual or political meaning.

Did you know the first time I encountered the word “gay” was in Black Beauty by Anna Sewell… a classic book about the life of a horse? It had something to do with a pony trotting in a gay manner down the street. Gay meant happy. It had nothing to do with sexual orientation. For the longest time that was the only meaning of it I knew. When someone used the word on me as an insult (I think they were telling me I was stupid or dumb) I thought they were telling me I was happy and told them, “No, I’m actually kinda pissed off right now so you might want to back away.” (I was a strange child and I talked funny.)

We had a speaker yesterday from Holy Wow Ministries who told us that when He first went to church and heard the name Jesus Christ he thought the pastor was swearing.

Even words only mean what you take them to mean. These days anything can be taken offensively. Whether it be a flag, a selection of colors, a word, a symbol.

The swastika originally was a Sanskrit symbol meaning “good fortune” or “well-being” and likely represented the sun rising and setting in the sky and the continuance of life as it spins. Now when we see it all we think of are Nazis and the millions of Jews they murdered in their cause. In reality the meaning of the symbol is opposite of what we think.

The point I’ve been repeating and trying to get across: A symbol only means what you think it means.

There is no way to please everyone.

People these days get offended very easily… you know it’s true.

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time, about two thousand years ago, the Romans ruled the Mediterranean and most of Europe. The Roman army was the fiercest army since Alexander The Great. No one withstood them for long. In the end, everyone fell. The Romans, like all societies had death penalties. In a time where there were no more enemies to fight (for they ruled the world) the soldiers were virtually reduced to officers of the law and nothing more. But they trained and they trained. They were great fighters. But they had nothing to fight so they took their duties seriously as peacekeepers and jailers.  Whenever an enemy of the empire was sentenced to death they took great care to learn how far a man could go in regards to pain. They became experts at inflicting pain and death. They wanted to set examples which would be remembered. No one wanted to endure punishment at the hands of Roman soldiers.

The worst method was one that could last for days if done right. People dreaded this sentence. It was horrifying, involving dislocated joints, blood, lungs and internal organs being crushed by the weight of your own body. The pain of being unable to support your own weight as you hung there, nailed through the wrists or hands and through your feet to wooden beams by something akin to a railroad spike… Crucifixion. The cross looked somewhat like a capital “T”, the ones that looked like a lowercase “t” were reserved for those whose crimes were to be posted above their heads. This was s symbol of death and pain, and the cruelest way to die. There are few methods of death worse than this, and even most of those few do not last as long as being crucified. When people saw a cross they were afraid. (There were bound to have been a few exceptions)

One day all of this changed. There was a man among the Jewish people. His name was Jeshua (J pronounced as a Y). He was the son of a carpenter. He did no wrong to anyone. Yet, the Jewish leaders did not accept Him, they did not like His teachings. His teaching threatened their religious power. They tried several times to trap Him in religious debates, but every time He answered perfectly, putting them to shame. He was more than the son of a carpenter. In fact, the carpenter was not His father.

His father was the God of the Jews, the Israelites. One day the Jewish religious leaders convinced the Romans to try Him and execute Him for He had proclaimed himself King of the Jews. This was treason. Now, they could have easily labeled him a mad man and left him alone, but his following was too great. People loved Him, Jews and Non-Jews. He taught them to love one another. He taught them that no one was beyond saving. More than that, He taught them to live as they should, with love and with compassion. So they had him captured, tried, and killed.

He was sentenced to die by Crucifixion, the people chose to set a proven murderer free over him. When the day came for Him to die His body was already ravaged from the lashing He had received. Yet He was made to carry His cross, in its entirety, a weight of around 300 pounds, to the sight of His death.

While He was on the cross He refused wine, water, and anything that might relieve the pain. He died slowly and painfully, several times before his betrayal and while He was enduring it He asked His father, if it be the will of God, let Him not need to do this, let Him live, but he needed to die. He was a sacrifice. In the end they drove a spear through His side to be certain He was dead. During the last three hours of his life the sky turned black and the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed, the earth shook, tombs broke open and holy people were raised to life and appeared to many within the holy city.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can not begin to imagine how gruesome a sight He must have been, let alone the terror as all of this happened… 3 hours of darkness in the middle of the day, earth quakes, and the dead rising.

He was taken and buried in a tomb, dead. Guards, Roman soldiers (the best in the world), were placed outside the tomb with a large stone sealed to the entrance. Within 3 days something happened. Death lost its hold on Jeshua. He came back to life. He had been the sacrifice for our sins. You and I know Jeshua by a different name, Jesus.

For many people the cross went from being a symbol of death and pain, to a symbol of hope and relief.

A Symbol is what you make of itSymbols are what we see them as. The confederate flag is a symbol of racism to some, to others it is a symbol of their southern heritage or states’ rights. The Rainbow can be a symbol of gay pride, God’s covenant with Noah and his family, or just a pretty occurrence in nature involving sunlight and water. The cross is a symbol of death to some, but to Christians all around the world it is a symbol of hope. Christ died and got off the cross. It is a symbol of what He did, what He went through to save us and take the punishment for our sins.

If someone were to ask me not to wear my cross, or to refrain from putting up images of one in my yard or house, or anywhere else because it offended them, you could bet that I would never comply with that willingly, because for me the cross is not offensive, it is not a symbol of death, condemnation, or pain. It is a symbol of hope for me, a symbol of relief. Because Christ died on the cross and then defeated death.

Symbols are what you choose to see them as. If a child can ignore the meanings that a symbol has taken on, why should we let ourselves be dictated by the meanings of the symbols. Being offended these days, is a choice. We have become a society where we are intolerant of symbols, opinions, and pretty much anything that we do not think of as agreeing with our own beliefs, and it is a sad world where the government must be asked to ban a flag, or people feel the need to take offense at the sight of a rainbow or some stars.

Symbols mean nothing, unless you give them meaning. To me, the confederate flag is meaningless. I am a white-heterosexual-Christian female from the NORTH of this country. The flag means nothing to me. Rainbows to me represent the covenant made by God when he promised never to destroy the world as He did in Noah’s time, no matter how bad it gets. Mercy! Rainbows are a symbol of mercy to me and therefore remind me to be merciful and not to condemn the people who wave it as their banner, because God will not do that, not again. His son will come first.

Supreme Court Rules on Gay Marriage

Supreme Court Rules on Gay Marriage

Recently I have heard a lot about the supreme court ruling on Gay Marriage, and while this blog is new I feel that I can not remain silent.

WordPress has put up their gay pride banners. Facebook is offering the option to overlay your profile picture with the gay pride rainbow. And I do not care for these things. I do not agree and I feel that this picture I found on Facebook sums up my opinion quite well and should sum up the opinions of all Christians, though some obviously believe very different. However I think this opinion aligns with the gospel better than other opinions.

I do not support homosexuality or gay marriage. It goes against my beliefs. I believe that God intended sex and marriage to be between one man and one woman, not two people of the same-sex.

I also believe that the Bible tells us this, that Jesus said:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35 NIV

Now there are people out there who will tell me that Jesus was talking to his disciples, telling them to love each other and not “outsiders,” but here’s the thing: Jesus loved everyone!!! The disciples were poor people, fishermen, sinners, and tax collectors. Christ preached to the gentiles as well as Jewish people. Therefore in reality, though this was during the last supper, Jesus was speaking to all of His followers. God knows everything and Jesus, as His son, also knows everything. He knows the plans of God. He knew that this command would make it into the Bible for anyone who is willing to read the Bible to hear. We are to love everyone:

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. – 1 John 5:2-4 NIV

You see, loving each other does not mean that we have to agree with each other, it does not mean that we have to show physical affection, but it does mean that we should follow God’s commands. We do as he told us.

There is something else that Jesus taught us:

At dawn [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say? They were using this question as a trap in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

But Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” – John 8:2-11 NIV

Jesus pointed out the sins of every man and woman in that room. They were so willing to stone this woman to death, yet they themselves were marred. WE CAN NOT JUDGE!!! I have sinned. You who are reading this, have sinned, we have all sinned. We have no right to tell people how to live so long as we are not perfect. Judgement belongs to God and God alone. The most we can do is strive to be perfect, but only in our own lives. All that we can do is live God’s commands. Show them the love of Christ. Christ called us to be kind to one another. Lift each other up. That is what he did to people, to sinners, to those who were despised by the world. If we follow what God tells us, what Christ tells us, we are showing love to people. We are loving them in the best way we can, by loving God, we love them, for they are children of God, perhaps defiant children, but still children of God.

It is not our place to judge.

It is not my place to judge.

It is not your place to judge.

I believe in what the Bible says about homosexuality:

[Men] Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does as one does with a woman; that is detestable. – Leviticus 18:22 NIV

Leviticus is the 3rd book in the Old Testament of the Bible. A lot of people like to say that because Christ died for us the Old Testament laws, the laws of Moses, are irrelevant and no longer have a place in society. In that case let me ask this question: Is it alright to commit murder? How about lying? Stealing? No! The answer is: No! and if this does not convince you… It’s mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible too!

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters not adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor the drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV

The Bible directly references male homosexuality and there are those that would say, well this clears the lesbians then… not exactly… God does not judge you based on your gender… sorry… He made sex to be between one man and one woman, not between two men or two women or more of either. For those of you who still say that Jesus death made the laws of Moses irrelevant let me explain something to you.

When Christ died for our sins it was not so that we could sin and still go to Heaven, it was so that we could be forgiven of our sins, which are a part of our human nature thanks to Adam and Eve’s original sin. The death of Christ did not abolish the rules. It did not mean that everything was “legal,” for lack of a better term, in God’s eyes. It meant that we had a way of being forgiven, well and truly. No more sacrifices, no more punishments.

This is not to say that people who commit crimes should not be punished. Thieves and murderers and those that bear false witness in a court of law and those that do any kind of harm to others should not be punished. But for things like homosexuality, that only truly hurt the people committing the act (whether they know it to be hurting them or not) should not be punished, at least not by us, that is God’s place, not ours. There are certain laws and punishments that must be in place for society to maintain order. Banning homosexuality, polygamy, adultery, and other sins that are considered lifestyle choices does nothing in maintaining that order other than make people angry because other people don’t follow their beliefs.

As Christians we have a right to our beliefs. We are commanded to love one another by loving God and obeying Him. That does not mean that we have to partake of these sins. We are a beacon of hope and light. (Even if not everyone realizes it.) As human beings and creations of God they have a right to free will and to choices. By making the right choices we can show them what they are missing out on by sinning. If they don’t want to hear what we are telling them it is their choice… You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink… and they will eventually find that out.

With that last statement I would like to add that I am not condemning those people to Hell or to the wrath of God. I pray sincerely that every sinner could find God and repent. In no way are these people condemned. They have a chance. The jury is out until they face the judgement of God. Until them no sentence has been passed. It’s like when a prosecutor is seeking the death penalty (in this case the eternal death penalty) and the jury has yet to decide if the defendant is guilty. There is a way for them to be declared not guilty. Accepting Christ with a sincere heart, repenting, and changing their way will wash them clean of their sin and they will be judged not guilty. The penalty will not be carried out.

There is no condemnation in my heart.

I am not judging. It is not my place but His.

To those that bully these people because of their sins: Look to your own sin first as I shall look to mine. It’s what God commands.

We can all live together peacefully. We can associate, but not partake. We are missionaries and we must take life calmly and patiently. We can have friends who are sinners and non-believers. We are all sinners and once were all non-believers.

To those who have decided that I hate them and who call me names because I don’t agree with you. This is what you have fought against. You have fought for the right to express your beliefs without being bullied or judged, so please cut down on the hypocrisy (on both sides of this argument) and allow me to express my own beliefs. I’m not calling you names. I’m not mad at you. I don’t hate you. I am still your friend. In fact I love you! You do not have to partake of my faith and my lifestyle, as I do not have to partake of yours. Remember that.

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