A Short Rant.

The words we use are very important.

I don't buy into the idea that you can talk one way with one group of people, and another, and still another depending on who you're with AND STILL BE considered "genuine".

It seems evil that people adopt different attitudes, morals, and behaviors just because they're around certain people.

Where are you? Where is your soul? Who are you really??!?!
Well decide, and stick with it.

Dreams vs Ideas

Dreams are ideas you haven't yet put your faith in.

Press through the Pain.

"I'll tell you the thing that is both joyful to me... but also frightening. First of all, to think about the opportunity that I could have missed had I not pressed through that pain to the joy that I have now. And then also wondering about how many people have such a call on their life, but they stop where the pains at, rather than pressing through that to be all God wants them to be."
-Joyce Meyer

When my friends find out I became a Christian...

2008... It was one thing to share the good news that I'd accepted Jesus Christ with my Christian friends. But it was something altogether different to let my Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Secular Humanist buddies know. I recall the day I was forced to "come out" as a Christian, I was on a nice walk with Clark and Josh. I remember exactly the twinge I felt when I was asked about my facebook status change to Christianity.

 1 Peter 3:15-18
15: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
 16: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
 17: For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 

As best as I could in that moment, I described my reasons for turning to God. Then I was asked how I could possibly "narrow it down" from all other religions, declaring the God of the Bible to be the one true God and all others false. I said God exists, and that I knew I needed forgiveness, and that the only way to get that was through Jesus Christ. Did I do a good job explaining the "reason for the hope that was within me"? No, I don't think so. But I wonder if I were asked the same question now, would I do much better?

I remember Josh telling me that he's Atheist but he'd love to be convinced of the existence God. I think back on that and wish I could've been used by God to provide that answer he needed for why Faith is essential. 

Ephesians 6:12-16
"12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13: Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

It was Clark that said to me, "I see faith  in God as being a cop-out and a sign of weakness." I remember that I wasn't offended when I heard that... because after all, I'd said it so many times myself. Only a half-year before that walk with Josh and Clark, I had written about my disbelief in God and was boldly declaring that God could not possibly exist. In a short time, I'd experienced a massive shift in my understanding of the world and reality, and it was a shocker, even to me!

So if Faith in God is a cop-out, what exactly are we Christians coping-out from? I wish I had been as well-read in the Bible and understood myself then so that I could answer Clark with these important points:

Faith is indeed a covering, and a form of protection. Here a few things I can think of right now that I need to be protected from.

Negative, detrimental thoughts that seemingly come out of nowhere. In the Bible, these are described as "fiery darts."
-I'll pass on that one, thanks.
A life without true love. Separation from God.
-Sounds awful! I'm gonna cop-out on that.
A life lived in vain following after things that are a dead end.
- If copping out of this one means that I'm accepting Christ, then that's cool with me!

For so many years of my life, I looked down at the "shield of Faith" leaned up against the wall beside me and looked away thinking, I don't need that... I have fists, and a mind, and good intentions.

...But what happens when things come at you that you can't control and you begin to behave in ways that don't line up with your secular-humanist morals? When I felt myself slipping, I'd keep on living the lie! The lie was the belief that I was fighting as best I can to be the person I wanted to be.

But now I know from Ephesians 6:13 that I haven't done ALL I CAN unless I use what God has given me, placed next to me, if only I'll pick it up and put it on.

I got my Faith from continuously exposing myself to the word of God even though I didn't believe it. I wasn't stuck up living with a closed mind. I wanted truth! And I just wanted to learn, specifically so that I could better argue against it. Oh, the irony!

Romans 10:17 "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

So now that I do have my Faith, I need to work hard with God's help to make sure that it expresses itself in healthy, biblical ways... instead of yelling on street corners and causing more people to permanently count God out of the equation. I found this:

Galatians 5:6 "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."

If I were to say this in my own words, it'd go like this: Screw the details, they mean nothing... all that matters in this life after accepting Jesus Christ is DEMONSTRATING YOUR FAITH FOR HIM IN SHARING TRUE CHRISTIAN LOVE WITH OTHERS. Anything less can't be a true faith in Christ.

Faith is incredible. It's power given to us by God. But I know it has no influence if  I'm not walking in love. Joyce Meyer says it better than I could,  "I don't jump out of bed saying wwoooooo!!!! Who can I serve? What can I give away?! No, you have to do it on purpose."

I know that whether it's trying to powerfully witness to my siblings who unfortunately haven't yet placed their faith in Jesus Christ, or taking a leisurely stroll with my friends, I know that it's going to take God's grace and not my own power to make a lasting impact. All this talk only plants seeds and I know that what happens after that isn't in my hands. I do pray that I can demonstrate my faith by walking in love instead of just talking, and that I can increase my faith by continually receiving the word of God and successfully planting it in my heart.

Because, I don't want to be one of those self-declared Christians that does MASSIVE damage to the name of Jesus Christ.

Thanks for reading! :) 

Mark 4:12-20

" 12: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
13: And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
14: The sower soweth the word.
15: And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16: And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17: And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
18: And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19: And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
20: And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred."

Notes on Pastor Rick Wilder (First Baptist Church, Henderson N.V.)

Pastor Rick and I in the water, a few movements before my baptism on October 13th, 2008. I was so happy and emotional that it was hard to smile, and no, I can't really explain why that is.

December 3, 2009

"my Pastor Rick passed away today. In the single year I was blessed to know him, he demonstrated to me what it means to be a good leader, a good husband to his wife, and a loving man devoted to God. He was the one who baptized me, the only spiritual leader I've felt really connected to. While we say goodbye, I know that... on the other side, he's being greeted with the warmest welcome anyone could hope for."

The passing of Rick Wilder signifies the first time anyone I'm bonded with and have a deep respect for died. Pastor Rick's full-hearted, bold and unashamed preaching was the respite I needed from the big church blues (Central Christian). He kept me coming back to First Baptist Church to worship our God and hear His word. Eventually I felt comfortable enough to ask him to baptize me as a practical declaration of my faith and a step of obedience to God. I also attended his Bible College study classes when I could before work and school, mostly just to spend time around Pastor Rick and hear what he had to teach about life from the Bible and his personal experience.

So, when my dear friend Irene dropped me a line to let me know he was gone from this Earth, I did cry a bit, and just reflected on the things he had told me. The few conversations I shared with my Pastor are suddenly cast in gold and shine brilliantly, forever.

His time on Earth is gone and I think about what a difference he's made in so many people's lives by preaching the Gospel and serving the Lord. His passing makes me feel that I'm absolutely headed in the right direction by getting involved with Humanitarian work, whether through the Peace Corps or otherwise. There's no question in my mind that there is a "right" and "wrong" way to live. The right way is to dedicate our lives to God and follow His leading. The wrong way is... doing anything else.

Pastor Rick, THANK YOU.

Calculus Textbook

My textbook got cute with me today.

"An old saying goes, 'The first step in making rabbit stew is to catch a rabbit.' Likewise, the first step in integrating by substitution is to find a suitable change of variable u=u(x) that simplifies the integrand of the given integral ~f(x)dx without adding undesired complexity when dx is replaced by du=u'(x) dx."

Ouch. I think I just got kicked in the brain.
My initial reaction was: At least they tried. They're no storybook writers, they're mathematicians trying to write a somewhat interesting textbook.

But upon further reflection, I know that this was actually meant as a jab to all the writers and artists and poets who read this textbook, whose eyes glaze over and hearts sink as they realize they're denying themselves and enduring the crucifixion of all humanity that is Calculus. They've caught us by the leg. The broth is boiling.

Content by Laura Gabriele