Hey everyone! I figured I’d let you all know that I won’t be writing an article this week because my family and I are having a lovely time together on vacation!! I’ll have something good next week, I promise I’m praying for you all! Have a blessed week!!
As I get older, repercussions of decisions that I made years ago have begun to creep back into my life–in a good way! The times when I was just doing my thing, living my life, and doing my best have had consequences over the past few months. It’s story time!
A few years ago, I attended Summit Ministries’ summer worldview camps in Manitou Springs, CO. It whetted my appetite for the knowledge these professors had to offer, so I jumped at the chance to attend Summit Semester and soak in three months of it. As I am wont to do, I spoke up in class… a lot. I loved dialoging with the professors, answering and asking questions. Recently, I’ve gotten an idea to do an internship of sorts with Summit, or just ask if there’s anything I can do to help, anything to get me back in that environment, so we started to pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance. One of my mom’s friends knows one of the new leaders of Summit Manitou, so he mentioned my name to him. Incidentally, this leader was one of the professors at the Summit Semester program, and he remembered me and how I loved speaking up and learning in class. He recommended me to one of the professors who works there, as he might need some help. It just so happens that this professor was the teacher’s assistant in the college Christian Worldview class I took online from Bryan College four years ago, and he remembers me too! He said that he remembers me because I put so much effort into the homework and really sought to understand the information, and he said he was impressed and would love to have me help him. He might have me work with him on rewriting their high school curriculum–how cool! God is so great!
I guess the moral of the story is that, even when I thought it didn’t really matter, the decisions to put 100% effort into my interactions with these people have affected me years later. I never thought they’d come back to “haunt” me! As much as possible, I have tried to do my best and now it seems to be really making a difference. Of course it doesn’t always turn out this way, but I’d definitely advise you, out of these cool experiences I’ve had lately, to put 100% into everything you do! And if you have the chance to meet and interact with people in some kind of leadership or field you’re interested in–take it! Take every chance you get. Make an impression. Be confident. Speak up. Work hard. Good things come to those who are willing to step up and take them. Pray and ask God to guide you and bless your efforts. He will help you! Trust God with the results of your work. Aaaaand that’s my story! I hope you have lots of opportunities to make connections, and that all your hard work in anonymity will pay off! Have a blessed week!
As I plunge ahead into finals week (one down, five to go!), I can’t help but stop and think every once in a while about the fact that I will be packing up and returning home in less than a week, not to return for a very long time, if ever, to this school. This year has been a full one: full of change, new people, new places, learning, laughter, tears, friends, and growth. Overall, it’s been much more hard than easy. I know the question of whether or not to go away to school is an important one, which is why I’m writing this blog. I hope you can glean some perspective from it, either for you or for someone you know! Even if you’re not faced with this issue, I hope the principles will be helpful.
I’ve been trying to pinpoint whether the difficulties I experienced stemmed from aspects of the school I attended, or whether they stemmed from other things lacking/present in my life. I’ve been reading a book recently (which, oddly enough, has nothing to do with college) about relationships and how to cultivate them well, and in it, the author gave some guidlines neccessary to having a healthy, fulfilled soul. He listed them in context of lonliness, saying that lonely and unfulfilled people often have unhealthy relationships. He gave these five necessary elements: personal growth, spiritual growth, intellectual growth, hobbies, and altruistic service. When I read that list, I found that I lacked almost all of them.
When I first came to school, I didn’t feel like I connected with anyone. I didn’t feel like I “fit in.” Because of this, it made it very challenging to make friends, and I didn’t have the opportunity to experience personal growth by interacting with new people and going deeper with new friends. Next, the classes I’ve taken (with exception of two or three) have not been as challenging as I had hoped. I love learning, but I hadn’t learned anything new or exciting to me, and so I didn’t experience much intellectual growth. Since I’m away from all the equipment and supplies I used to use for hobbies (such as art supplies, crafting supplies, cooking supplies, bikes, trampolines, dogs, hiking, rock climbing, you name it) and the necessary materials were virtually inaccessible (and even if I had them, I’d have no room to store them), I had basically no hobbies. And even though I tried to get plugged into Big Brothers/Big Sisters here, which is the ministry I really wanted to get involved in, we never could connect and I wasn’t integrated into the program, so I wasn’t involved in altruistic service. The net effect of these deficiencies was to increase my lonliness and decrease my sense of spiritual growth. I WAS growing, yes, but I didn’t feel alive. I felt disconnected from everyone: my family, my good friends, myself, and God. I was unfulfilled.
After this year, I’ve decided to change all this. My solution is to move back home and go to the secular university here. Does this mean a Christian university was a bad idea? Well, not necessarily. But I can say that for me, the Christian university (and some of the people here) in some cases brought me down in my faith instead of lifting me up . Granted, I met lots of great people, and the school is doing a good thing, but it was hard. Just because you go to a Christian university doesn’t mean you’ll grow closer to God, or grow or learn or develop what you need to be effective and fulfilled in your life. I think a lot of Christians need to realize this. I certainly did. But what now? I’ve realized I need to be intentional when I move home, and that intentionality in these five areas will help me reach the level of fulfillment I’ve been longing for.
So what’s the plan? Well, let’s start with intellectual growth. I’m going to a competitive engineering school for computer science degree. That’s going to be quite the challenge. I’ll be growing whether I like it or not, so I’m set there. Next: personal growth. I’ve plugged in with a group from my church, and I’ll start getting to know them. I’m also going to rekindle old friendships I left in Colorado, and I’m going to invest more in my family. For hobbies, I have a lot of books I want to read, and I might pick up rock climbing! I’ve gone a couple times, and there’s a huge community of young people in Colorado who do it. My brother and I also bought season passes to Elitch Gardens in Denver for the summer, so we’ll have lots of adventures there! For altruistic service, I plan on starting a discipleship Bible study for the fall and possibly mentoring a few girls in between. We’ll see. Then, for spiritual growth, I want to press into God, not just on a personal level, but on an interpersonal level. That’s what I’ve been missing: a community of people who are actively discussing and discovering truth about God and integrating it in their lives. I’ve missed that. Yes, I’ve found a few people like that here, and I’ve appreciated them so much! But I just love my family friends. They’re so dear to me. I’ve realized over this year the huge value of family and “extended” family ties. I’m excited to start again back in Colorado, and I’m going to be intentional about developing myself into a whole, fulfilled person.
I guess the point of this blog is not to tell you where to live or where to go to school, but to say that no external factors–no school, no job, no house–will fulfill you. You have to be intentional about your own life.What about you? Are there any of those five areas in which you are lacking? How can you be more intentional about developing yourself? I hope this blog has helped spark your imagination! Have a blessed week!
Lately, I’ve been reading through the gospels examining the way Jesus loved people in an attempt to learn to model his example. I’ve paid careful attention to the places where it describes Jesus’ emotions and how they influenced his actions, and I’ve noticed something! This will be a shorter post than normal, intended as a morsel of food for thought.
The main emotions we see Jesus expressing are anger, amazement, sadness, and compassion. I want to zero in on the last one, because I think it’s the most important, at least for what I want to say here. There are quite a few verses describing Jesus’ compassion, but I’ll just list a few.
Matthew 14:14: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
Matthew 20:34: “Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
Mark 6:34: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
Mark 1:40-41: “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”"
What do you notice about the bolded words in these verses? Every time Jesus has compassion, a verb describing his reaction follows. He never has pity. Pity is sympathy with no resulting action, no intention to help. But compassion is always followed by action. His actions meet their needs, and encompass both physical solutions (healing and feeding them) and spiritual solutions (teaching them).
Jesus viewed everything he possessed as a tool for helping people. He never kept his power or his words to himself to use for his own gain. In the same way, we must be willing to share our resources, whether these be our houses or cars or food or skills or money–the list goes on and on. Money is probably the most difficult one for us to give up. It’s not easy to come by, and it was often hard-earned. It just peeves me when Christians say (after discovering that someone is in need), “I just didn’t feel led to help them.” Here’s the deal: your obligations to serve people don’t depend on your “feelings.” If you see someone in need, and you have the ability to help them (within the bounds of effective ministry, of course. Be wise!), then that’s your invitation from God to do so. Jesus never asked God before he healed or served someone who needed him, he simply did it–and he instructed us to do so even to our enemies! Money is a tool. Time is a tool. None of us will ever be perfect in this aspect, but it’s always important to strive towards the perfect definition of a servant and a steward of material possessions, not a master of them. When we give to other people, we are not throwing our resources into the wind, never to see them again. We are lending to the one who owns the universe! Proverbs 19:17 says that “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord.” We are LENDING, not simply giving! Don’t you believe God will honor your investment?
In short, I thought this definition of compassion as demonstrated by Jesus was very thought-provoking and challenging. I always want to take action when I see someone in need. Of course, I can’t save the world, but I CAN tithe to my church. I can support a Compassion child. I can write a note to someone who is having a hard time. I can give money to a friend who can’t buy food. I can buy a gas card for the single mom who can’t afford to drive to work. I can spend time with someone who needs a friend. We all know people who are in need, and it is a joy and a privilege to be able to serve them like Jesus did. Find someone this week and bless them in a meaningful way! I’m sure it will bring a smile to their face–and to Jesus’ face as well. Have a blessed week!
Hello again! I know I took a detour for a couple of weeks from this topic, but I wanted to write one more to wrap it up, since I said in the last one that another part was coming. My OCD compels me. Haha. So! The last thing I will be speaking about is provision.
Now, before I begin, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page: I’m not saying you shouldn’t pursue your dreams or that you should abandon something you believe God has called you to. And I’m not trying to put a box on what a “good provider” looks like. I know we can trust God to meet our financial needs. Please remember that. I’m only speaking from my individual perspective to help you think efficiently about your future. Cool? K. =)
That said, I want to emphasize how important it is that you be able to provide for your family. I know that college is not for everyone. That’s totally fine. But I want to make some observations. I know a lot of families who struggle with money, and the mom has to work. It’s a very hard situation. Financial stresses are pretty much the number one stressors on marriages (except for things like unfaithfulness). I know a lot of moms enjoy working, and that’s great, but wouldn’t it be nice for your wife to be able to stay home with the kids if she wants to? I know that, one day, when I have kids, I want to have the option of staying home with them. That’s the way I want to run my family, so in my search for a spouse, I place the ability to provide as one of my top priorities. I want someone creative, yes, but they also need to be realistic. They need to be living in the real world, which brings me to my first point about the ability to provide: we live in the real world.
Here’s the thing: I’d like to say, “Go for your dreams! Choose a fun major and try to have fun for the rest of your life!” But unfortunately, unless you score a great paying job as a beta tester for video games, your job will not always be fun. My dad worked for almost 20 years at a job that started out enjoyably but ended with much difficultly. He worked for years this way, coming home drained and frustrated about his job that he really didn’t like. Why? Because he wanted both of his kids to have money for college, homeschooling, and fun. I am SO blessed that he chose to stay at this job so that I could have the opportunity to attend college. So often I hear people say things like, “If you don’t enjoy your job, you need to switch.” or “I just don’t like being a part of the system! I don’t need a college or trade degree.” In response to the second one: we live in the real world. In the real world, you really should have a college or trade degree. That’s just the way it works. Now, not every super successful person has a degree, but there are far more wash-out stories than success stories of people who thought they were too cool for school. Use this time in your life to work hard to be prepared for your future family. At least have a backup plan.
In response to the idea that you OUGHT to enjoy your job, let me bring us back to Genesis. When Adam and Eve sinned, what did God tell them? He said that, from now on, the ground will be cursed, and Adam would have to work hard and toil under the hot sun to make a living. This curse was equal to the curse on child-bearing for women. To me, that doesn’t sound like “Your job should always be fun, or else you’re doing it wrong!” We need to be realistic. As a woman, I realize that I will have kids someday, and my dreams will have to be put on hold. I mean, I can still dream WITH my kids, but my kids are my first priority next to my husband. And as we all know, motherhood is not necessarily all fun and games, but it is a wonderful calling. That’s just the real world. So if school is hard, just work hard and keep at it: that’s the way it is. Sorry. =)
That said, I fully believe that dreams are worth pursuing. And if God leads you somewhere, go! But when you’re considering a college education, and you’re passionate about a degree that isn’t very marketable or won’t pay the bills, there are lots of options! You could go to trade school to augment your “dream degree.” You could double major. Lots of people do that! Or you could simply get a marketable degree and then pursue your hobbies on the side. Since college is so expensive these days, it really doesn’t make sense to major in something that won’t pay the bills if you come out with $100,000+ of debt! Guys, PLEASE think about this! Make sure your degree will pay the bills before you rack up student loans. That’s another sure-fire way to get yourself into trouble.
Now please remember, I really don’t want to tell other people how to live their lives. I’m just speaking from my own perspective on an issue that is very important to me in my search for a spouse. I want my kids to have their mother at home, and I want them to be able to have the option to travel and get a good college education. I don’t want to be forced to work, so this particular attribute is very important to me. Since this is just my two cents, I figured I’d give you guys some food for thought. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series! Stay tuned! I’ll hopefully have some more interesting things to say.
Scientists today would love us to think that we can measure EVERYTHING. Even when confronted with something that science can’t explain (something we might point to as evidence for a Creator), we are met with their inevitable answer: “Well if we don’t know it now, we will someday. Science has unlocked the universe, and it will continue to do so. Just wait.”
I answered the guest speaker in my History of Quantitative Thought class today with that same statement, just to see what he’d say. I honestly didn’t think he’d have a great answer, but he actually did. But I’ll save that for the end of this blog.
What did the guest speaker lecture on? Well, he opened with the question which is the title of my blog: are there true, knowable facts that cannot be calculated? I thought he was about to go into some discussion on metaphysical reality, appealing to emotions, or beauty, or some other unquantifiable element of reality. But he surprised me by pulling an example from computer programming (he’s a programmer and a mathematician), which made the answer to this question very straightforward. Watch out, everyone! I’m about to help the least-math-minded of you understand a computer programming concept. Yep. Here goes.
Alright. When I was doing my computer programming homework assignments for my classes, there was always one kind of error that caused me a bigger headache than any other kind: infinite loops. What is an infinite loop, you ask? Well, here’s how it would look in computer programming language:
Okay, don’t check out on me! Stay with me. We’ve set x equal to five, right? This next line is a “while” loop. That basically means that whatever code comes next will continue to execute until the “while” statement is no longer true. That means that the line, “return x=x+1″ will continue to run until (x>4) is no longer true. What’s the problem with this? Well, as you can see, we started with x=5, which means that x>4. The next time, x=6, which is also greater than four. Then it’s 7, which is also greater than four. This keeps going on into infinity, because x will never stop being greater than four. This loop will eventually crash the program when it runs out of memory. But that’s not the big headache. The headache is that it is impossible for the computer to detect an infinite loop. Why can’t the computer detect it? Well, in order to check to see if an “infinity” exists in the code, the computer would have to track with the loop every step of the way, as it gets bigger and bigger, to confirm whether it is an infinity or whether it’s just a really really big number. This would effectively create another infinite loop. This wouldn’t solve our problem; it would simply perpetuate it.
This leads us to the conclusion that an infinite loop is a truth that can be known but cannot be calculated. No matter how sophisticated the artificial intelligence, it will never be able to detect an infinite loop without creating another infinite loop. Now, please keep in mind, that was an extremely simple example; they get much more complex than that. Here’s the interesting thing about that truth though: humans can calculate it. In fact, if you are in a job interview and cannot find the infinite loop, you won’t be hired. How can we be expected to do something in an interview that not even the most sophisticated computer can do? We possess a kind of knowledge that machines don’t: wisdom, a higher order of knowledge–a knowledge that can look into a system from outside of it to find truths that cannot be found by means inherent in the system. A metaphysical knowledge.
We can see from this example that, as much as materialists would love for us to believe that they can disprove the existence of metaphysical knowledge, they can’t. There IS knowledge that cannot be known through calculation alone.
Now, back to my professor’s answer to my question. Will science ever be able to find a way to detect an infinite loop, to discover this metaphysical knowledge through calculable means? Another example: will we ever find a way that something could have come from nothing, so as to support the argument of the Big Bang from a materialist’s view?
My professor said this: before Newton, and before we discovered the equation to describe gravity, people believed that all effects were caused by the physical collision of particles (atoms). They believed they had to physically connect for an effect to occur. The law of gravity, however, rendered this explanation obsolete; two bodies do not have to touch to exert a force on one another. Then, the advent of quantum physics (which says that a particle MAY or MAY NOT have this effect, or move to this spot) shattered this conception even further. Now we know that X does not always result in Y–nothing is deterministic cause/effect. We can only speak of them in terms of the probability of events occurring. These facts effectively introduce an immaterial factor (chance) into the equation: if the outcome is not completely determined by something physical, there must be another force acting in the situation from the outside. My professor said, “I can’t say if we will ever discover EVERYTHING about the universe. But I can say this: these earth-shattering conclusions formed by Newton (and those who discovered quantum physics) were made by acknowledging an immaterial variable into the situation; unless modern physicists continue to allow for, and investigate towards, immaterial forces acting in the universe, we will never understand the whole of reality.” I thought that was a pretty valid answer to my question.
But here’s the problem with modern physicists: they’re not willing to label those things as “immaterial.” They HAVE to prove a purely material universe. Richard Lewontin (an atheistic scientist) says of their position, “[Our] materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.” Here’s what their argument is: “because we can measure its effects, it was never immaterial in the first place.” There’s a problem with this, however. It begs the question–it assumes what it’s trying to prove. It’s like if I were to say, “I believe God created the world, because look, here’s the world. It couldn’t have come about through purely natural means.” Regardless of whether or not it’s true, it’s a bad argument. I’m using the presence of the earth to explain the presence of the earth. That’s a logical fallacy. These physicists are using the fact that there are material effects of this force to prove its material nature.
Here’s another example. I learned in my psychology class that scientists have “proved” that we are purely material beings, because even “immaterial” quantities like emotion can be seen in the brain. This is a bad argument. Why? Well, like I said above, just because we can measure the effects of something doesn’t mean it’s only material. Here’s a scenario: imagine I said something really offensive to you–but in Swahili. Chances are, you don’t understand Swahili, so you won’t be offended or angered by what I said, and we won’t see those chemical reactions in the brain. All we’ll see from you is confusion as you try to make out what I said. Why is this? Because it’s not the sound waves coming from my throat that make you mad, which is the material cause–it’s the meaning of my words, and meaning is an immaterial quantity. It can’t be measured, and it is independent of the physical medium over which it is transmitted. I can weigh a stack of blank papers with a stack of essays, and they’ll weigh the same regardless of the fact that the papers with words on them carry meaning (of course, they’ll weigh a tiny bit more simply because of the ink, but not because of the meaning). Thus, just because we can see the material manifestations of immaterial reality does not invalidate the existence of said immaterial reality. It’s a bad argument.
What’s the significance of all this? Well, obviously, I believe in God. He’s immaterial. But religion is being marginalized by science, which believes it can disprove the existence of an immaterial world. But the facts are these: there ARE true and knowable facts in the world that cannot be computed, a recursive argument against the metaphysical is invalid, and the existence of material manifestations of the metaphysical do not invalidate the metaphysical realm. Boom. Food for thought.
Interestingly enough, while I had grown up knowing that the resurrection was pretty much the most important doctrine of salvation that we have, I realized that I really didn’t know why until just recently. I mean, I knew WHY, but it just made more sense to me recently. I knew that Jesus had atoned for our sins and paid the price so that we wouldn’t have to, and that because of that, we could enter heaven and be with God forever. But after I took a closer look at Galatians, I better understood what it meant. Maybe you all already know this, so it might just be a refresher!
When we talk about “the law,” there are two concepts that could refer to. First, the obvious one, the Jewish law given on Sinai. But that’s not the law that all humanity is bound to. Humanity is bound to the law of sin. When Adam ate the apple, he went from belonging to God to belonging to Satan, and Satan has taken possession of all his offspring as well. To “redeem” is to “win back.” So when we say we were redeemed, it means that we changed ownership.
In Galatians 4, Paul talks about Hagar and Sarah as representing the law and grace. Hagar and all her children are bound to the law, because they were born by ordinary means under law. But the children of Sarah are a result of the promise God made to Abraham. Isaac was born by the power of God’s Spirit, not by ordinary means. Thus, Jesus, who was born by the Spirit, is a child of the promise of God. He has an inheritance promised him by God. But he didn’t claim his inheritance until he rose again. (Philippians 2:9). Why is this? Because the law first had to be satisfied. He had to live a sinless life to “fulfill” the law. This fulfillment is kind of like the stuff we see in the movies. There’s a system, and everyone is enslaved by it–until one man comes along who can beat it. He satisfies every demand, completes every challenge, and at the end, the system explodes because he’s beaten it. It’s kind of like that! Jesus exploded the law. Now, all who put their trust in him and allow him to revive their spirits can live free of the law of sin and death.
Now, what do I mean by “revive their spirits”? Humanity is spiritually dead, because it is bound to the law of sin. It cannot sense the things of God, it cannot know God, and it does not desire to, because the only thing that can know God is a spirit, for God is spirit, and our spirits must be thus revived by him in order to know him. When heaven and earth pass away and are made new, everything that is not made of spirit will be demolished forever. But we who believe will be resurrected as pure spirit, which is eternal and perfect, and we will live on earth with God as our king forever.
Baptism, then, is a physical symbol of the spiritual renewal of salvation. When we go down underwater, that is our sinful nature dying; when we come up, we symbolize the new life that is in our spirits and that we now live by the spirit. Why does Jesus say, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned”? (Mark 16:16). (Now, notice that he doesn’t say that those who are not baptized will be condemned. Don’t freak out. =P) Because the whole idea of salvation is symbolized by the act of baptism. Unless the sin nature in us dies, we cannot live by the spirit.
Because Jesus came and died, he not only bought us back from Satan, sin, and death, but he allows us to live free of guilt and inadequacy. We have merely to draw near to God, and he will change us and perfect us as we associate with him. It’s like your best friend: the more time you spend together, the more similar you become. Same with God. We do not become holy through behavior modification: we become holy by association. This association is made possible by Jesus’s sacrifice. I’m so grateful!
I hope this blog has at least reminded you of why Jesus’s sacrifice was significant. I know I often need to be reminded! Have a blessed week, and walk in the freedom that Christ gave his life for you to enjoy. =)